As an app developer it is already well-known that a placement in the top 25 is worth its weight in gold. However, chances are you paid almost (or more) than that weight in gold in ads to get there. New research however, confirms that users find apps through search more than half the time. So if you don’t actually own a goldmine, this is probably where you should focus your efforts as an app developer.

A study by MobileDevHQ found that buying your way to the top 25 list really only works for about 10% of the users. By far the biggest number of apps are found through search:

Source: MobileDevHQ by TUNE

With 53% of Google Play users discovering their apps through search, one would expect most developers have nailed the strategy for descriptions and keywords. In our experience however, we don’t really find this to be the case. Time and time again we see awesome apps, followed by mediocre screenshots (not the subject of this post, but hugely important as pointed out in previous posts), and even less thought put into the descriptions and keywords.

Let’s take a case study. One of our co-founders’ daughters really likes Care Bears. Or any cuddly bear for that matter. A search on Google Play for ‘bear kids game’ reveals this result:

Search results for 'Bear kids games' on Google Play web store

At the second spot is the app Cute Bear Relax Sound for Kids. The title of this app has both ‘Bear’ and ‘Kids’ in the title, and even though the word Bear is only mentioned 4 times including the title (compared to the #1 ranked app which mentions ‘Bear’ 13 times), they clearly get credit for this.  In addition the description contains 541 words and it is not a “spammy” type of description based on repeating words, generally most of the text offers new information about the app. Contrast this with an app in the 81st spot, Bear Run, which does have Bear in its title and presumably should score well, but only has 61 one words of description and only 2 similar screenshots.  It’s almost like they could not be bothered with users downloading it.

We are not advocating +500 word descriptions are needed for slot machine apps, but you do need to put real thought into describing your app, and applying sensible SEO techniques when doing so. It is so easy – just look at what the top apps in your category are doing, remove those who have clearly bought their way (i.e. the ones from big publishers – although I bet they have pretty good descriptions too), and see what gets them to the top.

And please, please do not use Google Translate. It just looks ridiculous to natives. For instance, Cute Bear Relax Sound for Kids, was translated as ‘bear lethargic songs for kids’ in Scandinavian. Not something parents would jump at we guess. CodeNgo has partnered with Tethras to provide you professionally translated descriptions. It will be worth the investment.

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