What Influences Rankings on the Google Play Store?

Pratham Hans Marwaha by
Former Business Developer at AppTweak

Last updated: 5 min read

What influences an app’s rankings on the Google Play Store? As we know, the Google algorithm is quite complicated and constantly changing. While Google aims to improve the user experience on the Play Store, frequent updates make it difficult for app publishers to maintain high visibility.

There are ranking factors that Google does not disclose, such as the weight of each factor and its influence on keyword rankings. However, in this blog, we will highlight the elements you can optimize to help increase your app’s visibility on the Play Store.

Factor 1: Keywords

The Play Store looks at keywords in your title, short description, and long description. Therefore, we recommend taking the time and effort to select the most relevant keywords for your app. You should add your most important keywords to your title to make sure you rank well on them.

All the apps that rank well for the keyword ‘business’ on the Google Play Store in India include the term ‘business’ in their app title.

For example, all the apps that rank well for the keyword ‘business’ on the Google Play Store in India include the term ‘business’ in their app title.

Another factor that can help to increase your visibility is your ‘keyword density’. Keyword density is the number of times a keyword is repeated compared to the length of the metadata (title, short description, or long description).

The longer your description, the more you will need to repeat a word to maintain a good density level. ASO best practices suggest keeping the language fluid and natural while maintaining a density of 1-2% for the keywords in your long description to avoid getting a ‘keyword stuffing’ penalty (density above 4%) from Google. Also, the first sentences of your description are the most visible, so make them catchy!

Using the Density Analysis Tool to compare keywords used by app's in their long description

With AppTweak, you can easily review your keyword density and compare this with your main competitors.

Factor 2: Conversion and retention rates

Conversion and retention rates play a very important role in improving the ranking of your app. Retention rate is your percentage of active users over a given period of time. This helps app publishers understand how well the app performs in terms of user engagement. Creating product dependency is a must, along with increasing app usage frequency.

Google is able to measure conversion and retention by keyword. Google benchmarks your app against other apps that rank for that word; the app with the best retention for the search term will rank highest. To help increase your conversion rate for keywords, you can do so by adding your most relevant keywords (keywords that describe your app’s functionality clearly) to your title. When people search for a certain keyword and see that keyword in your app title, they are more likely to download your app.

Meesho using their most relevant keywords in their title For example, Meesho includes relevant keywords, such as ‘work’, ‘earn money’, and ‘resell’ in its title to get maximum visibility and conversion.

In terms of creative assets, we would also recommend optimizing these assets for specific search terms. Visual word recognition is a well-known technique to boost your search conversion rate.

The Google Play Store incorporates video autoplay on its platform; once you go onto an app’s store page, its promotional video will play automatically. A clever promo video can help boost your conversion rates as it can increase engagement after the app has been installed: A user that has seen a video prior to installation has a better idea of the app’s offering and value.

Factor 3: Android Vitals

A key metric to look at is Android Vitals. These are various metrics logged by Google to measure the performance and stability of apps. Here, we highlight the vitals that are particularly important from a ranking perspective.

  • ANR’s (Application Not Responding)
  • Crash rate
  • Excessive wake
  • Stuck partial wake lock

Google measures the impact of your app by creating benchmarks for every category and then benchmarking your app against others.

Factor 4: Reviews and ratings

Reviews and ratings are crucial if you want to improve your app’s ranking in the store. The better your rating, the more your app is likely to convert. In an ideal world, apps are launched with all bugs ironed out to increase the likelihood of receiving better reviews. As a result, we would recommend thoroughly testing your app before it is released.

The speed and frequency with which you reply to reviews also play an important role in turning a negative experience into something more positive for the user. It is particularly important to encourage users to give feedback on the Play Store as positive feedback and higher ratings give your app social credibility. For example, users are more inclined to download an app with a rating of 4.5 with thousands of reviews compared to an app with a 5.0 rating with just a few reviews.

From an SEO standpoint, you can utilize backlinks to better improve your rankings on the Play Store by having inbound links from strong websites. From our studies, we have found little correlation between the number of backlinks and top apps; while it is a best practice to have backlinks, the impact is small.

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Pratham Hans Marwaha
by , Former Business Developer at AppTweak
Pratham is a former Business Developer at AppTweak India