How to Add Keywords to Your App on Google Play
If you are preparing to launch an app or starting to focus on keyword optimization, you may be wondering how to add keywords to an app on Google Play. Not only are search volumes and rankings different on Google Play from the App Store, but the keywords that are indexed to be ranked are also different. In this article, we will identify key ranking factors and cover the differences between targeting keywords on the App Store versus on Google Play.
Where Can Keywords Be Added on Google Play?
On Google Play, there are three main areas in an app’s metadata where you should target keywords: the title, long description, and short description, each of which is indexed by Google. Notably missing is a 100-character keyword field that is hidden from users (iOS only).
The title field on Google Play can be up to 50 characters long and typically has the greatest impact on keyword rankings. Since the title allows more characters than on the App Store (which allows 30 characters), many apps choose to modify their title to take advantage of the additional characters.
For example, Amazon uses the available space on Google Play to target high-volume keywords that are relevant to the app and important to rank well for.
The short description is the next visible field to users and is 80 characters long. While this field is available to target keywords to be indexed, it typically does not have a large impact on keyword rankings and should focus on conversion while remaining relevant.
Unlike on the App Store, the long description is indexed on Google Play. The long description on both stores can be up to 4,000 characters but the keywords used for Google Play should be strategically placed. The long description also has a greater impact on rankings than the short description. Keywords that are considered the highest priority to rank and the most relevant to the app should have the highest density (the keyword density is the number of times a keyword is used among the total number of keywords in the long description). Google’s best practices suggest keeping the highest priority keyword to a density of around 3% (and this should not be the app name).
For both stores, it is important to have the right expectations of potential impact and user visibility. The chart below helps to understand the effectiveness of each field.
Where Else Can You Target Keywords?
Another option to help Google learn more about your app and identify its relevance is Google tags which help Google understand what your app is about. Google suggests that tags may affect where your app is displayed on the Google Play Store. Tags also help Google to cluster similar apps so it can show users relevant content when they are browsing the store.
Some developers have also found that adding a keyword to the product ID can impact keyword rankings.
For example, Super Mario Bros had “zara” in their product ID, likely due to a naming convention and not intended to target the clothing brand. The game was able to rank for the term on multiple brief occasions; this does necessarily not mean that adding a keyword will return rankings, but it does demonstrate that this field is indexed by Google.
What Can Impact Keyword Rankings?
Simply targeting a keyword in an indexable field does not guarantee that your app will rank well for that term. Outside of keyword placement, there are other factors that can impact how well an app ranks for a particular term. These include product vitals, user retention, and (most importantly) conversion.
Product vitals are tracked by Google to help improve the performances of Android devices. These vitals help Google decide if it likes your app, and include battery usage, app stability, app start-up time, rendering time, and permissions. The battery usage includes monitoring excessive wake-ups and excessive background scans while stability includes crash rate and ‘Application Not Responding’ rate.
Google also considers app retention for keyword rankings. If many users download an app but also uninstall it quickly, this could indicate that the app is not properly indexed or misleads users regarding its functionalities.
Conversion significantly impacts keyword rankings and is important as it identifies an app’s ability to satisfy a user’s search intent. This ultimately proves the Play Store’s ability to solve user needs. If an app that is presented to a user does not convert that user, there is less incentive for Google to continue presenting that app to store visitors.
Best Practices When Adding Keywords
Since each field is visible to Google Play Store visitors, it’s important to target keywords that are highly relevant to the app or to the app’s core functionality. It’s likely that your list of high-priority keywords to target will be shorter for the Google Play version of an app than the App Store version. Keywords should be used in phrases and sentences that are easy to comprehend. Repeating keywords throughout the metadata - specifically, the long description - should be done effectively to avoid keyword stuffing.
No matter what your keyword strategy may be, the most important best practice is to test for the impact on ranking and conversion and to be flexible in trying new strategies.
Although keyword placement for apps on Google Play is different from the App Store, there are lots of opportunities to influence keyword rankings and target the right users through search. Remember to focus on keywords that are the most relevant to the app, and when monitoring keyword rankings to not only consider keyword placement but also app vitals and conversion.
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