What Influences Rankings on the Google Play Store?
This is a question that has been asked to me quite frequently, as to what influences the ranking of your app on the Google Play Store. As we know, the Google algorithm is quite complicated and always changing. While Google aims to improve the users’ experience on the Play Store, these frequent updates make it harder for app publishers to maintain high visibility.
Before you ask me the question again, yes, there are factors that Google is secretive about including the weightage of the ranking factors and its influence on keyword ranking. But there are elements you can look at to help Google pick up on to increase your app’s visibility.
Factor 1: Keywords
Google Play Store searches for keywords in your Title, Short description and Long Description. Thus, I would recommend thinking about this very carefully. You should use your most important keywords in the title to make sure you rank well on them.
For eg: All the apps that rank in the top for ‘business’ in the Google Play Store in India have the keyword ‘business’ in their app title.
Another factor that can help you comes in the form of ‘Keyword Density’. Keyword density is the number of times your keyword is repeated vs the length of your metadata (title, short description and long description). Keyword Density counts across all text fields so if you repeat the word in the title, subtitle and description, that’s even better.
The longer your description, the more you will need to repeat a word in order to maintain a good level of density. ASO best practices suggest keeping the language fluid and natural while maintaining 1-2% density of all the keywords in your long description to prevent the ‘keyword stuffing’ penalty (density above 4%) that Google might give as they frown upon this. Also, the first sentences of your description are the most visible, so make them catchy!
With AppTweak you can easily review your keyword density and compare with your main competitors.
Factor 2: Conversion and Retention Rates
Google has the capability to measure conversion/retention by keyword. Google will benchmark your app against the other apps that rank for that word, the app with the best retention for that keyword will rank higher. To help increase your conversion rate on keywords, you can do so by adding your most relevant keywords (keywords that describe your app’s functionality clearly) in your title. When people search for a certain keyword and then see that keyword in your app title they are more likely to download your app.
For eg:- Meesho uses all the relevant keywords such as work, earn money or resell in their title which helps get maximum visibility and conversion.
In terms of creative assets, I would recommend optimising these assets towards search terms as well. Visual word recognition is a well known technique to boost your search conversion rate.
With the new update, the Google Play Store has finally introduced video autoplays. Which means that once you go onto an apps store page, the promo video will automatically play. A clever promo video can help you boost your conversion rates as it can help increase engagement after the install. A user that has seen the video prior to install has a better idea of what the app has to offer and what the value of the app is, which will keep the user going. I would personally recommend this as an important metric to look into.
Factor 3: Android Vitals
A key metric to look at would be the Android Vitals. These are various metrics logged by Google to measure the performance and stability of apps. I am going to highlight the vitals I feel are important from a ranking perspective.
- Crash Rate
- Excessive Wake
- Stuck Partial Wake Lock
Google measures the impact of your app by creating benchmarks in every category and then benchmarking your app against others and then either improves your ranking if you are doing well and vice versa for eg:- One of our users which is a game studio decided to change their sub-game category and suddenly they were performing better than the category, so we saw a positive impact in overall keyword visibility.
Factor 4: Reviews and Ratings
The reviews and ratings are crucial if you want to improve your apps’ ranking in the store. The better your rating, the better it will be for the conversion of your app. And this is one of the factors that lies in your hands. In an ideal situation, the app is launched with all the bugs ironed out as this will lead to better reviews and fewer negative reviews as users won’t be able to complain about the bugs. I would recommend thoroughly testing the app before releasing it.
The velocity at which you reply to reviews also plays an important role in converting a negative experience into something more positive for the user especially at times when you are releasing new updates and features which also helps the developers make sure that these bugs are rapidly fixed in the next app release. It is a must to encourage users to give feedback on the playstore. As positive feedback and higher ratings gives your app social credibility. For eg:- A user is more inclined to download an app with a rating of 4.5 with 1000’s of reviews than an app which has 5.0 rating with 100’s of reviews.
Factor 5: Backlinks
From an SEO standpoint you can utilise the backlinks to better improve your rankings on the Play Store by having inbound links from stronger websites which helps as a positive sign when two apps are compared. From our studies we have found little correlation between the number of backlinks and power and top apps, but it is a best practice to have backlinks, it helps but the impact is small.