Are There Risks or Disadvantages in Buying Keyword Installs for Your App?

The Lure of Keyword Installs

With over 2 million apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store, visibility is everything. A popular method app publishers or marketers look into to rank higher in search results is buying keyword installs. Indeed, the prospect is alluring. You buy keyword installs, users download your app using specific keywords, and your app climbs higher in app store searches. Does it sound too good to be true? Perhaps it does because there are risks and disadvantages associated with this method.

Chart: App Store Visibility: Keyword Installs, Comparison of App Ranking Using Keyword Installs

Risk of Violating App Store Guidelines

Perhaps the most significant risk with buying keyword installs resides in potentially crossing some lines with app stores guidelines. Apple and Google have strict policies against manipulative marketing practices, and buying keyword installs could be considered as such.

  • App stores apply sophisticated algorithms and automated systems designed to detect suspicious activity
  • A sudden surge in downloads from non-organic users may raise alarm bells
  • App store guidelines clearly state that influencing the app rankings in any form, including this method, can lead to penalties
    So, before you take action, remember there's implicitly a tread-at-your-own-risk signage following this path.

Understanding the Quality Over Quantity Principle

Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to user acquisition. The main issue with users who find you from keyword installs is that they end up being of low quality. These users have low engagement rates, lead to fewer monetization opportunities, and typically have high churn rates. The reasons for this are:

  1. Download the app due to incentivization, not because of an interest in your app's service or product.
  2. Rarely contribute positively to your retention rates or in-app purchases figures.
  3. Some users uninstall the app quickly after, contributing negatively to your app's abandonment rate.
    Maintaining user quality while acquiring organically can be challenging but not impossible. In fact, AppInsight has helped businesses enhance their app user quality without any manipulative practices, focusing on innovative, data-driven strategies.

Relying on a Short-Term Boost

People who buy keyword installs often experience an instant surge in the app ranking. However, this is a short-term benefit that rarely lasts. The ranking algorithms of most app stores use several metrics, such as user reviews, user retention, engagement, and more. Once the app stores notice the lack of quality users, your app will likely drop in rank.
A business with an app named Foodinal decided to buy keyword installs in hopes of beating the competition. It saw an initial jump, but things changed a few weeks later. The ranking dropped, users who downloaded the app left negative reviews, and the organic growth was hampered. This real-world case narrates the fickle results of venturing down this path.
To correlate, all short-term marketing solutions are just that – short-term. A sustained and long-lasting strategy considers the trends and focuses largely on creating a quality user base that is inclined to stay with the app because of its value.
Right now might seem like the perfect time to buy keyword installs and gain a quick victory. However, stepping back and viewing the bigger picture on the columnist strategy board reveals what truly matters. Enhance your app’s performance and user base with a balanced, methodical approach. Invest in organic marketing strategies, engage users with valuable content, and tailor your app according to their needs.
Embrace the power of organic growth, it may be slow, but it's real, enduring, and even financially prudent. Work on delivering value to your app users; as they say, build it they will come. It’s worth the effort, even if the climb is steep. The view is more beautiful from the top when the means of ascent have been sincere and steady. Need some guidance climbing that hill? AppInsight would be delighted to lend a hand at the ascent.

Disclaimer: This article contains charts and insights informed by data references from,,, They are not direct representations but are based on our interpretations and analysis. While we've made every effort to ensure accuracy, there may be occasional discrepancies. Please use this information judiciously.