WordPress.org tracks popularity of a Plugin by counting the number of activations and deactivations for each plugin downloaded. The resulting Active Installs value establishes part of the rankings in the plugin directory.
Why do WordPress Active Installs matter?
The core ranking algorithm that drives the Plugin search results makes or breaks a Plugin business. Winning the game requires dedication and deliberate actions to improve over time. The biggest factor in who ranks highest on WordPress.org is Active Installs.
While we do not believe this represents a fair algorithm, it remains our reality. Plugin developers should prioritize growing their Active Installs because it is both hard and defensible. For example, getting 10 active installs will boost your ranking by 10,000 positions. You’d leap frog 12% of the current plugins available for WordPress. 20 Active Installs puts you above 20% of the competition. 100 active installs launches you over almost 40% of the market place.