Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

12 June 2020
Reading: 3 min

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

As the number of active Android users continues to grow globally, mobile app promotion on Google Play has become a promising source of new customers.

We developed an Android app for Aweb Blog where users can easily access blog posts and receive notifications about updates.

The study’s objective is to show the main stages involved in Android app promotion on Google Play and getting to the top search results for key queries. The app under consideration is Aweb Blog

This case study has no commercial value and the results will be used solely for educational purposes. 

Thanks to our team, the app reached the top position in Google Play search results for all selected queries in Ukraine and Russia in two months. 

Google Play ranking in Ukraine (Russian-language apps):

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

Google Play ranking in Ukraine (Russian-language apps)

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

Google Play ranking in Russia (Russian-language apps)

App ranking factors on Google Play 

ASO (App Store Optimization) is a set of measures for improving the visibility of your app in an app store such as the App Store or Google Play. ASO may look a lot like SEO, but there is a number of key Google Play app ranking factors that you can find below.

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

Top 10 app ranking factors influencing Google Play and the App Store search results according to ASOdesk

Similar to SEO, all app ranking factors on Google Play can be divided into internal (ON-APP) and external (OFF-APP).

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

SEO vs. ASO by AppFollow

Stages involved in keyword-based mobile app promotion on Google Play

  • Semantic core collection; 
  • Metadata, icon, and screenshot optimization; 
  • Motivated installs and reviews; 
  • Backlinks to an app page. 

Semantic core collection

One of the key differences between ASO and SEO is that there are no official statistics on search query frequency as opposed to Google search. If you’re launching Google ads, you can get keyword insights from Google Keyword Planner. If you are promoting apps, you won’t be able to obtain any official data. There are a lot of services on the market that use their own algorithms to determine the frequency of individual search queries, but they produce totally different results that can only be used to run a comparison across different key queries. Below, you will find a comparison of search query frequency data produced by different services:

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

As you can see, the frequency estimates across services are different both in absolute and relative terms. Our experts came to the conclusion that ASOdesk allows one to obtain the most accurate results. It is noteworthy that ASOdesk is the only service that adjusted its keyword frequencies after motivated installs were generated.


Metadata and image optimization

The approach behind metadata optimization on Google Play is almost the same as that behind meta tag and content optimization for SEO. 

As for the Aweb Blog app, it took two iterations of meta tag editing to achieve the desired result.

Motivated installs, ratings, and reviews

Similar to SEO where the main off-page ranking factors include the number and quality of external website links, the off-app factors in ASO include the total number of installs, the number of installs by a certain key search query, app ratings, reviews, as well as social and engagement signals. These off-app ranking factors can be emulated using various services. In ASO, this technique is called motivated (or incentivized) installs.

Note that incentivized actions are against Google Play’s policy. The platform tries to monitor and filter out incentivized installs, which can result in your app being removed from the top charts of even from the Store.

Notably, the current infrastructure level of incentivized install services and search algorithms is very similar to SEO in the period between the SAPE link market development and the first Google Penguin update. Due to various risks associated with incentivized installs, some ASO experts try to avoid using this tool. At the same time, others claim that it is impossible to get to the top of search results in a number of highly competitive niches without incentivized installs, especially when it comes to newer apps. 

Many ASO experts say that Google Play is particularly suspicious about sudden install surges. So, you have to generate incentivized installs either steadily or incrementally (as opposed to Apple’s App Store). 

It is also important that the user opens your app on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 8th day after installation. 

For Aweb Blog to get to the top position in search results for all queries, the following number of installs was required:

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

The total spend for 1316 installs —  $197.4. 

Line chart showing the dynamics of install growth:

Case Study: Mobile App Promotion on Google Play

This is the strategy we followed: first, we generated some installs for all queries. Then, we drove a large number of installs in a short period of time for the most frequent search queries. After that, we generated a small number of installs for all queries once again. 

Remarkably enough, as the number of installs from Russia increased, the app was getting higher in search results in Ukraine.

Reviews are an effective way to boost your app’s rating and get more user feedback. Apps with more reviews are ranked higher and therefore receive more organic traffic. The app’s rating usually correlates with a number of installs, as 70% of users read at least one review before installing an app. So, the more positive high-quality reviews your app has, the higher the chance the user will install it. Be sure to respond to both positive and negative reviews. Try to contact each customer who left a negative review and fix any problem they had with your app. This would be the best strategy in such a situation because you can’t delete reviews on Google Play. By the way, keywords in reviews are also a ranking factor for Google Play.

Backlinks to an app page

A lot of experts claim that backlinks to a Google Play app page do affect the app’s store ranking. Here are some of the most detailed experiments supporting this notion: 1 and 2.

To optimize app promotion on Google Play, we started placing shareware links to improve the app’s ranking.

Services we used:

  • Topvisora tool for keyword research and clustering;
  • Asodeskan ASO solution that provides competitor insights and app monitoring tools;
  • Appbooster an incentivized install service;
  • Advertmobilean incentivized install service;
  • Keyappan incentivized install service.

Author: Oleg Gavryliuk

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