With more than 750k apps available in the Google Play store, the big boys from Mountain View have come even with Apple in terms of the total number of mobile applications. Developers now face the same issue with discoverability as in the Apple App Store: limited features by the editors, competitive categories and keyword exploitation. App Store Optimization for Google Play can help to position your app on top of the rankings, increase visibility within your category and drive additional organic installs. My clients have seen an uplift of downloads by up to 20% after applying the basic tactics in Google Play ASO. The search and result algorithm within Google Play is actually the lean and simple version of Google´s equivalent for the web. So as you might know from web SEO seminars and learning, Google applies certain factors to define one´s website (or in our case app´s) ranking position after a search request. Based on 20 active Google apps I am able to manage and analyze, I found out that the most prominent factors are:

  • Download volume
  • Number of Active Installs
  • Number and Quality of Ratings
  • Keyword Density with the Apps Metadata
  • Number of Google+ mentions
  • Number of Backlinks

Google+ mentions and backlinks were recently introduced to the algorithm and are more important than ever for ASO: I ran a campaign for a news app in Germany in late spring, promoting only the opportunity to “G+” the app´s page in the social network as well as on the app´s Google Play page. We generated 1.500 “G+” within two weeks and saw an increase of the daily download rate by 250. No other promotion was done within those two weeks. With regards to backlinks, Google itself mentioned the importance of good inbound marketing for your app during I/O 2013 (Video link). So how you actually conquer the Google Play algorithm? I’ve always try to boil it down to the following 10 basic tactics:

  1. Use keywords wisely in your App Title: it is limited to 30 characters, so make sure, the title is readable and contains at least 2 keywords.
  2. Additionally, work your keywords into your description text. Do this intelligently, make the description readable above all other things and do not violate trademarks. I.e. a quote from a review site might help or a testimonial from one of your users. Make sure you apply a keyword at least 3-4 times.
  3. Be supportive: simply have a nice footer ready, promoting your support email, social accounts or even a dedicated landing page for anyone, who wants to get in touch.
  4. Promote your G+: On each appstore page, there is a G+ button making it possible to share the apps information and metadata via Google+. Promote this opportunity within your apps description text as well as in update texts.
  5. Take advantage of the update texts a.k.a. “What´s new”. Whenever you are running an update, user will recognize your commitment to improving the app, giving them an improved experience with it. Do not fall short here. Instead, address the user personally, thank them for their patience and support and promote any other news. I.e. I even worked out a sweepstake for a client, and had the registration email promoted to retained user via the update text field. Lookout
  6. Localize all meta data. Apple App Store and Google Play let you adjust title, description, keywords and artwork to various language settings. Use the opportunity and streamline all your marketing activities for local markets: your app is translated, your mobile marketing campaign is localized – so should your app´s meta data be.
  7. Put all your heart and soul into the icon design. Do not miss out on that one, an icon appears next to the title in every app search result. Make sure icon stand out and attractive enough to make people click. If you want to A/B test various icon designs in a simple and efficient way use an AdWord campaign during your creation phase.
  8. Have great screenshots and a promotional graphic available. Tell a story, show the nature and features of your app. Again, make the user click and download. You can be as much creative as you´d like: use mashups, photos, paintings, feature VIPs or your social accounts or even cross-promote your other apps. A great source of mobile app designs (icons, landingpage, screenshots etc.) is my partner Kristian´s Pinterest Board.
  9. Make use of your app promo trailers. Video trailers are supported by Google Play and Amazon Appstore. Go for it, companies like Apptamin or AppVideos.tv provide smart and affordable production services and can help you to make a great video for your app.
  10. Nothing worsens a user´s first impression of an appstore page than stupid mistakes. Try to proofread all your metadata before launch and before an update. Check all the links to your website, privacy policy and support email (and make sure you have them set-up in a mobile version too).

I hope these 10 basics help you, to kick-start your app in the Google Play store. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to share them with me: stefan – at – stefanbielau.com. Stefan BielauStefan Bielau has more than 11 years of experience working in the media industry. Currently he helps companies to achieve their goals in terms of mobile revenues, content distribution and digital expansion. His clients include companies like Lookout Inc., HAILO, simyo, ImmobilienScout24 and various publishing houses. Prior to his consulting assignments, he founded dailyme, the leading application for mobile video and TV in the German-speaking area. Stefan has been in various executive management positions in Poland and Germany and invests in early-stage startups and is an advisor to Codengo. He blogs about App Store Optimization (ASO), a new type of mobile marketing. App Store Optimization is the SEO approach to mobile, improving an app´s visibility in the major app stores. His blog: www.appstoreoptimization.tumblr.com He is an avid user of social media tools, feel free to follow via www.twitter.com/StefanBielau or connect via www.linkedin.com/in/StefanBielau

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