With more than 1.6 million apps already present on Google Play Store, discoverability of the app is one of the major issue being faced by app developers these days.
So when User acquisition is getting immensely competitive as the mobile app landscape is changing dramatically and everyone is gunning for mobile – how can a regular guy/team with an app but no money can get discovered and have organic growth like these without spending anything on Paid advertising ?
Running a Digital Marketing Agency who have been working with some of the hottest startups from India , we get this question a lot. In this article, I would like to share our experience on App store optimization – the process of getting better visibility for apps.
How to Get your App to rank better on Google Play Store
The concept of getting your app discoverable in Google play store is similar to getting your website listed higher in Google search results, it is just a lot more complicated since there is very little you can control on the play store.
6 major factors affecting app search rankings
1) Title and Description of your App.
Your app title and description are one of the important factors when it comes to ranking your app for various keywords. Generally, search behavior on app stores is different than that of the web. Eg. A person who is looking for food won’t search for “Order Food Online Mumbai”, he’d rather search “Food Ordering Apps)” or “Food Order” or something in those lines. You have to be choosy while deciding keywords for your app title and description and include the chosen keyword in the App Title as well as Description.
Most apps have common app title format, that is: “brand name – service”. Eg: TinyOwl – Food Ordering App, Zomato – Restaurant Finder, OYO Rooms – Branded Hotels, so you can have your app title is the same way.
2) App Ratings and Reviews
What others have to say about your app matters a lot, for example, it makes sense for play store to rank a game with lots of low ratings lower than the one with lots of Positive ones. While you are growing it’s normal to have bugs/bad UI or bad user experience and get low ratings because of it. You deserved it and in-fact user feedback helps you build a better App.
You cannot control low ratings/bad reviews, if they feel bad they will write bad anyway and people, in general, don’t tend to write a Good review (until you ask for one).
So for those users who felt good and had a positive experience with your app – You can encourage them to give a rating on play store / write a review.
It’s not a bad thing to ask them to rate your app after certain positive experiences, let’s say after a successful quick order ? a quick booking ? or a good achievement. You should be asking but not annoying.
3) App Download, Engagement & Uninstall Rate
“With great download rate, comes great ranking” – this is so true in the case of all app stores. All app stores give more preference in search results to apps which are having greater app download and engagement rate.
So once you start getting installs, use tools such as MAT, which can give you insights about user interaction with your app. Use this data to figure out how users are using your app and possible exit / uninstall points and work towards a better app experience. It’s always better to retain your users than having them go and hunting for new users.
For example: If most of your users are installing your app and bouncing off from the 1st screen(which happens to be a registration screen) , you might want to give them some information about what is it about and what to expect when they signup.
If users are bouncing from the checkout screen, you need to make sure everything looks perfect on the checkout screen, you should add trust factors and a refund policy on that screen – it varies from industry to industry but you got the point.
4) Graphic Assets of your App.
When people search for a keyword they are presented with few apps, their icons, and initial screens. Certain graphics perform much better than others in catching attention. A bad stock image kinda graphics might put people off and a modern illustration may perform better. There is no golden rule and it varies from industry to industry and depends a lot on the audience who is viewing it so you need to experiment with few sets at a time.
Gooogle play store gives you a functionality of store listing experiments with which you can test your app for various graphic assets. This A/B testing will give you exact data about graphic assets and their respective conversion rate for “your” industry and audience so that you can have the assets which give you better conversion rate and with Better Conversion rate comes better rankings.
5) Social proof – People who talk about your app on Social Media
What others say about your app matters a lot, and the way to find is – Social Signals. Google Play Store considers weight of Google+ 1 count for your app while deciding to rank. Having lot of mentions on social media sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter can help you to get better rankings on Play Store. This does not mean buying a ton of fake retweets or plus ones. Just encourage your friends and family to share the app on social media and occasional newsletter to your old time loyal users reminding them to share it with friends. A referral scheme usually gives your a lot of referral users and social shares both – Consider that 😉
6) Number of mentions for your app on the web
We call it Backlinks (Sites who link back to you/your app). A backlink is an incoming hyperlink from one web page to other. In multiple cases, we have evidence that Google gives preference to incoming backlinks to your Play Store listing and decides rank accordingly. People can argue about it and it’s a fair point to debate just like everything else in SEO.
However, the question is – Do you think a mention of your app on the web is good? Do you think it will give you a better brand visibility when people found other blogs/news sites talking about you ? If yes why not try to get it ? It might give you a better ranking in the process as well.
So go out and try to reach out to blogs in your industry , share insights , useful tips with their readers and in return they usually won’t mind giving a link back to your Play store URL and you will get a lot of referral traffic as well.