App development is a long process that involves specific skill sets and can get complicated on the basis of the scope of the app. App developers go through the painstaking process of designing and developing an app for months. Then launch these apps and make it available to the public, that is – published on app stores. The Google Play Store and the Apple App Store are the two most popular app stores for hosting mobile applications. To make a successful app for Google Play store and to ensure that the app gets a good response – i.e. visibility, and downloads – app publishers and developers often need to engage in some Google Play Store Optimization.
In its most basic sense, Google Play Store Optimization (ASO) can be thought of as SEO for your mobile applications.
Google Play Store Optimization – SEO for Mobile Applications
SEO – Search Engine Optimization – is the process of elevating the rankings of search engine results. SEO tries to increase visibility and the click-through rate i.e. the ratio of users who click on your website after viewing its link.
Optimizing an app for Google Play Store leads to maximizing its visibility in app stores as a result of a search made in the app stores, and increasing the conversion rate by converting the potential users who discovered the app to maximize the download number. This way, ASO is similar to SEO.
However, it is key to note that there are quite some differences between ASO and SEO. SEO is a little more complicated and takes longer to execute. You have to optimize for keyword selection, page speed, no follow links, on-page backlinks, off-page backlinks, website credibility, page title, and website credibility among other things.
Although ASO also needs one to optimize for keywords in descriptions and app names, there is also a need for visual optimization. To optimize apps for Android, the app icon, screenshots, and video play a big part in ASO.
On the other hand, text is usually more important in SEO. This is because of how search results are displayed. In app store search results though, it’s the icon and screenshots that are prominently displayed. Although it’s still important to target the right keywords, the graphics are a critical factor.
There is a huge similarity between ASO and SEO as well. ASO for Google Play Store also utilizes backlinks in a very similar fashion to SEO. A backlink can be defined as a link from some other website to that web resource, in this case, the app for Google Play Store.
Apps need to be optimized using app store optimization best practices to convert users reaching the app through backlinks. This is especially important in Google Play app store optimization – backlinks are not particularly significant in the Apple App Store.
Optimizing Apps for Google Play Store vs Apple App Store
Executing the best practices for app store optimization on the Google Play Store is quite different from doing ASO for the Apple App Store especially in terms of increasing visibility.
One of the most significant differences is seen in keyword optimization. Unlike the Apple App Store, you cannot find a dedicated Keyword Field to put your keywords in, while optimizing apps for Google Play Store. Instead, publishers need to study and rank some of the keywords in the Long Description. Thus, the Long Description plays a crucial role in your Google Play Store Optimization strategy as it is directly indexed for keywords.
As the Long Description can be as long as 4000 characters, Google cannot rank the apps accurately and fairly, for every keyword used in their Long Description texts. This is why they are ranked on Keyword Density, which is also a common term in SEO. Keyword Density refers to the number of times a keyword is repeated in a body of text.
When optimizing an app for Google Play Store, one will encounter this term very often.
When a publisher is going to target some keywords for their ASO strategy, it is imperative to have a good keyword density for those keywords in your description. This shows the Google PLay app store which keywords are the most relevant to your app.
How to optimize your App for Google Play Store
It is claimed that it is easier to increase your apps’ visibility in the Play Store than in the Apple App Store. On some analysis, we find that it is easier because there are fewer factors that affect your rankings on the Google Play Store and you are not limited to a 100 character long Keyword List.
On the other hand, it could be tougher because most keywords you target should be distributed across your Long Description in a way that it still makes sense to someone who reads it. Here are some of the important things to note for Google Play Store App Optimization:
Ranking Factors in the Play Store
The app name or title has the biggest impact on your rankings in the Google Play Store. Google Play Store allows for up to 50 characters in your App Title. As the App Title is your strongest ranking factor, having 20 more characters to use in your app title can be considered an advantage.
The next one is the App Description where you can again put keywords that you want to rank for. By distributing and repeating your focus keywords up to 5 times throughout your entire Description, you will indicate to Google that those keywords are related to your app and thus, people searching for your app will use these keywords.
Keyword research is an integral analysis you need to make before implementing your ASO strategy and even before publishing your app or game. For new applications it is quite difficult to break into the top search results using head or mid-tail keywords.
Thus, the best strategy in the beginning is to go for long-tail keywords – keyword combinations that are a bit more specific than usual search request keywords and have lower competition in the market.
You can optimize for your ranking factors like the App name by incorporating more relevant keywords in the App Title. Add a couple of your most important keywords to your App Title to ensure that you rank higher for your focus keywords. It is also advised to keep your App Title short and precise on the other hand.
The app description is split into two parts: the Short Description & the Long Description. While not confirmed, it is accepted that the keywords in your Short Description rank higher provided that they are repeated also in your Long Description as well. You can thus optimize your app description by spreading the focus keywords intelligently throughout the short and long description.
The App Icon strikes the first impression of the app with a potential user that sees your app on the Google Play Store. It appears in the search results, the app listing page and basically everywhere your app is displayed. Therefore, a big part of Android app optimization best practices is to work with a good designer to create an awesome App Icon for your app.
The App Icon should be a simple, easily recognizable image that shouldn’t be too busy or complicated. It should be impressionable so that people can understand and easily associate with your app. It should also be a clean design and not be something that people can easily forget. It is also advised to avoid text in the App icon.
Screenshots are also an integral part of how Android apps are displayed on the Google Play store product page. It’s why Google Play Store app optimization requires you to show screenshots that capture the most important functions of your app.
You should also arrange their order based on their importance as only 3 of the screenshots will be visible by default. These screenshots should clearly state the value propositions and highlight the features that separate your app from the crowd.
Since most users check only the first few screenshots, it makes sense to make the first 3 screenshots the most attractive ones. The rest can be added for greater detail.
The promo video preview plays a much smaller role for Google Play ASO in terms of increasing your Conversion Rates. It’s not shown directly to the Google Play Store users as it is in the Apple App Store. It can be found on your product page just like the screenshots.
However, if people decide to watch the preview video it can be quite effective in convincing people to download your app. However, one should skip a video altogether in case the video is not informative or impressive.
Google Play Ratings and Reviews
Google Play ratings and reviews, directly and indirectly, can impact your apps’ Play Store ratings. Higher ratings on your app positively influence the conversion rates during the initial phases after the app launch. Because new store listing visitors use high app ratings as a selection or filtering criterion, they are more likely to install a higher rated app. This thus signals to Google that it is a good fit for the user intent.
Google Play Android Vitals
Android vitals are very important while designing your Android app store optimization strategy. For a successful Google Play App Store optimization plan, extensively test your apps for the core vitals (ANR rate, crash rate, Stuck partial wake locks, and Excessive wakeups), app stability issues, start-up and loading times, Rendering issues and Battery problems. This responsibility is shared by all publishers, developers and testers working on the app.
The core app vitals have high importance because these are metrics that can directly impact the app’s visibility and rankings in Google Play. Google Play gives more value to apps and games that provide excellent user experience measured by health Android vitals. Because many different mobile devices use the Android platform, as an Android app developer, you need to ensure that the app is completely supported, bug-free and optimized for issues like battery consumption.
To prepare and optimize an app for Google Play Store is and can be as long a process as the planning and conceptualization process in app development. Above is a list of factors that definitely need to be considered and worked upon, for Google Play App Store optimization. There are many elements in the Play Store you have to work on if you want to stand out from the other apps in your category. Your product strategy needs to reflect everything around your app and how it evolves.
A good practice is to conduct A/B tests for various design elements and choices. These tests can give you data-backed conclusions on how a certain feature in the app can change your apps’ reputation and performance in the app store.