Ultimate ASO for Google PlayIt was stated in one of the previous articles that App Store Optimization for Google Play was possible, and indeed easier. Wait… Is it? Let’s take a look at Play Store Optimization basics.

To be able to answer this question, one needs to know what options they are provided with by using each of these two vast platforms; as well as the effect of these options on the ranking of their app. Let’s see what we have here.

  1. App Name: Looking at the bigger picture, what matters most is the app name for both App Store and Google Play since apps with keywords in their title rank about 10% higher than those without them. At the end of the day, you would want to make use of the title area to the maximum because of its obvious impact on the not-so-obvious app store ranking algorithms. However, there is this issue about character limits for the app name. The App Store allows you to use 50 characters for your title, whereas Google Play has a limit of only 30 characters. That’s why, if you want to rank higher in your category, you need to make sure that these 30 characters are fully utilized. Try to choose keywords that are relevant to your app in the app name field wisely. App Store Optimization is engineering your keywords at its base.

Talk is not cheap on Google Play

The most important point here is that 30 characters is a much more strict limitation. In addition to brand name, you can add some critical keywords. However, because of this limitation, you have to be more careful than you would be on Apple’s App Store. Having said this, we should analyze different Play Store apps and see their character counts and how did they decide to use those.

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Wish is a popular shopping app. Let’s look at how they chose to use their App Name space. The name “Wish – Shopping Made Fun” consists of 24 characters. Shopping is an important word here since it relates Wish to the Shopping category. Also, shopping is a strong word that even Amazon has used. Probably distinguishing them from several Amazon apps such as Amazon Video, Amazon Prime Now was another preoccupation behind naming their app with the keyword shopping, but this brings Amazon some advantage nevertheless. In Mobile Action Dashboard, shopping has a search score of 63 and this is a huge score if you look at it. Small things matter in Play Store Optimization.

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It is actually funny if you think about the fact that Amazon is one of the most renowned and biggest companies in the world. But using shopping has considerable advantages to Amazon in terms of traffic.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 4.25.38 PMImgur is an example of apps that try to make it closer to 30 characters. Solely “Imgur” spans 5 characters, whereas their official app name “Imgur: Awesome Images & GIFs” cover 28 characters.

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Runtastic managed to make it exactly 30 characters. The keywords “Running” and “Fitness” are important because they bring considerable traffic to Runtastic PRO.

  1.  Description: Unlike the App Store, Google Play has no keyword field for you to use some additional keywords. Instead, there is a description area that is limited to 4000 characters; which is, more than enough if you make good use of it. While App Store does not take the description area into account for rankings at all, this is not the case for Google Play. Since this limited field has a great impact on your app’s ranking, being to the point with using relevant keywords will probably make a difference here. You need to use and repeat (about 5 times) the target keywords that your potential user would search for while looking for an app in your category; and avoid using unnecessarily wordy language just to look fancy.  So:
  • Repeat your target keywords frequently
  • Avoid extra long descriptions.
  • Take into consideration the general limitations for Android devices, i.e, most people would not tap “Read more” to see the rest of the description, so showcase your best words in the beginning.
  • Don’t write junk clusters of tags just to attract users. This would not be fair to other developers, and reflects an unprofessional attitude to your users.

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Runtastic exemplifies how a great description should be.

But why?

They’ve made great use of their critical (i.e. target) keywords.

    • Runtastic: 15 times
    • Training: 11 times
    • Fitness: 8 times
    • Goals: 6 times
    • Workouts: times
    • Run: 6 times
  • In the first 167 characters, they used the words wisely.
  • Their description fully reveals what the user might expect from the app.

So Runtastic is a good example. Let us look at the description from an Android device’s screen.

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Views of Runtastic Pro, Imgur and Wish app descriptions as seen on an Android device

Runtastic, Imgur and Wish have well prepared and fancy descriptions. But what about the not-so-good ones? Well, the bad news is, there’s no example to show you a bad description because Google has implemented a serious anti-spam policy and it is hard to find a “bad” one. But here is an example of “not-so-good” app description.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.28.38 AMAn example of an average description on Play Store

Just as in the App Store, your description matters in Play Store. Avoid keyword spamming, i.e. using a comma-seperated list of keywords that you want to rank for. Google has serious policies against keyword spamming, you can check them from here.

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Image taken from Google’s Developer Policy Center

An important consideration is the number of characters that are visible at the first place while browsing in Play Store. In the three examples above, 640 characters on average were visible on a Samsung Note 3 device. So try to show your best features in the beginning, not the end.

Another remarkable hint: The first 167 characters of your description have the highest impact on ranking based on description. Google uses these characters as the meta description of your app page. Therefore, you might want to bear in your mind how to start describing your app meticulously.

So, be precise, avoid redundant conjunction usage and use your 4000 characters wisely, making sure that you completely utilize your first 167 characters in the description.Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.33.44 AM

Let’s look at letgo’s first 167 characters: “ A fun, unique way to buy and sell second hand stuff within your neighborhood. Free. Simple. Great Deals! Get cash for things you don’t need anymore. “let go” is faster… “. You can see that the most important and differentiating aspects of the app are presented within 167 characters.

Important note: Whether your target keywords are used in the app name or description area, it is not only the Search Score that matters, but also the Chance of ranking high for that keyword. Ranking first for a keyword that is never searched for makes no sense, just like ranking thousandth for the most searched keyword does.

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Some keywords we tracked for Letgo app

As we have mentioned in our App Store ASO basics blog post, there is a trade-off between a keyword’s search score and chance. Thrift has a search score of 44, however, if you use it in your description or app name, your chance to rank in top 10 apps is 88%. On the other hand, “shopping” has a search score of 63, but it is very hard for any app to rank in top 10 apps in that particular keyword due to a chance estimation of 38%.

  1. Review Analysis: This is an issue that is extremely important, especially for Google Play since the app will rank amongst thousands of similar apps with its reviews being considered. What does that mean? Well, in Google Play, reviews and ratings of your app are reflected in the search algorithm, and hence ranking. Number of people leaving reviews on your app and the average rating you get have some impact on the ranking system. The best you can do here is to get as much positive feedback as possible.

Leveraging your reviews

Runtastic PRO Fitness Running” took advantage of their reviews and used the keyword “Running” which was frequently mentioned in their reviews in their app name. You can look which keywords bring you positive reviews and use them in your app name.  “Run” and “Running” and “Pro” are correlated with positive reviews. Thus they could increase their downloads with this subtle trick.

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4.Other important factors: Embracing the significance of the elements of ASO mentioned above, there are some other important keys to Google Play success such as total number of downloads, date of release and frequency of updates. It is also wise to use informative visuals such as screenshots and videos highlighting the most awesome features of your app. We are going to explore the rest of the story in our second post.

Summary: Let’s be honest, ranking better than you do now in Google Play is no rocket science. Remember what you have just read:

  • Make very good use of your app name, you have only 30 characters.
  • Be to the point in your description, repeat your keywords around 5 times, take extra care of the first 167 characters.
  • Search Score and Chance! These only make sense together.
  • Get a lot of positive feedback.
  • Keep your app up to date and use visuals to make it shine!