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The door opens: app store optimisation for Google Play

| By Stephen Carter
The opportunity for operators who act quickly to optimise their apps in the newly opened Google Play Store is significant. App store optimisation consultant Matthew Balch runs through the basics.

With Android users far outstripping Apple/iOS in most territories, the opportunity for operators who act quickly to optimise their apps in the Google Play Store following its opening to real-money gambling this week is likely to be significant. App store optimisation consultant Matthew Balch runs through the basics.

Following eight years of deliberation and shaking of heads, Google finally lifted its ban on real-money gambling apps within the Play Store, with the first of these going live in the Android marketplace on 2 August.

With the change in policy initially benefitting operators licensed in the UK, Ireland and France, further regulated countries are set to enter the fray “at a later date”, according to Google.

This decision is likely to boost install volumes and retention rates for Android users previously consigned to a lifetime of mobile web and APK file side-loading.

But where does it leave marketers charged with the task of optimising their apps for discovery within the Play Store? In this article, we’ll explain the basics of app store optimisation (ASO) for Google Play and how brands can quickly get up to speed.

Mastering the basics

App title: though limited to 50 characters, keywords used within this are indexed and given their greatest weighting by the algorithm. 

This offers developers the opportunity to include the two or three most relevant terms with the highest search volume alongside the app title. Figure 1 right shows Sky Vegas’ use of keywords within their 50-character app title.

Publisher name:  while this is searchable, it is typically the developer’s brand name, so treat it simply as an opportunity for a brand keyword to be indexed.

Short description: limited to 80 characters, this is the first piece of description text the user will see on the landing page, so it is important to capture the app’s primary purpose within this sentence. 

Any keywords used here will be indexed and given a greater weighting than those used within the ‘long’ description, so it is important to prioritise and use keywords with a high search volume here. Figure 1 shows how Sky Vegas has used 76/80 characters (with keywords) to describe the app’s offering, complete with screen grabs to demonstrate UI/UX.

Long description: limited to 4,000 characters, the long description is where developers can insert the vast majority of keywords for indexing by the Play Store algorithm, while describing the app’s range of products, features and USPs. 

Unlike with Apple, where duplication of meta keywords has no incremental effect, duplicating keywords and key multiple word terms (up to four times is acceptable) within the long description plays a major role within Google Play ASO.

Screenshots: as we know already from the Apple App Store, screenshots offer developers a prime opportunity to display their app’s user interface, demonstrate features and drive conversion, so they are without doubt worth investing in by way of design.

Get the messaging right and your conversion rate to install will be sky high. Ignore their importance and your beautifully designed, feature-laden app may never see the light of day.

Video: the preview video appears at the top of the landing page and is a key tool developers can take advantage of to sell the app’s user experience and maximise install conversion rates. Figure 2 below left demonstrates how the app preview video is displayed for Jackpot Magic 777.

While the maximum length available to developers is 120 seconds, it may be wise to assume that the vast majority of users are unlikely to watch an entire video this length, so aim to demonstrate the app’s most important features with a call-to-action within 30-60 seconds.

Reviews and ratings: as with Apple, ratings are heavily weighted by the algorithm and therefore it is essential to actively send users likely to be satisfied towards the Play Store to rate the app. Figure 1 shows how ratings and download volume demonstrate social ‘proof’.

A simple, effective way to do this is to send either a triggered push notification or an in app message to a user who has recently either won a bet or had a winning session. 

Developers who ignore this push messaging strategy leave their app susceptible to a low volume of poor ratings left infrequently (which can have a detrimental effect on the app’s algorithm score), and negative reviews, which is likely to dissuade potential downloaders.

Keywords: while managing and implementing keywords for apps within Google Play is widely acknowledged as being more difficult than for iOS, there are opportunities for determined developers with strong language skills.

The key is to mine as many single and combination/long-tail terms as possible (between 15 and 25 is a good start) containing the greatest search volume.

At a basic level, this may be done by either typing relevant keywords into the Play Store search window to see what suggestions are offered (see Figure 3 below right for an example of this process in action) or by using a paid ASO tool that offers developers an indication of keyword search volume.*   

It is from here that both sets of terms may be weaved into the app’s title, short and long descriptions. The more often a term is used, combined with the app’s relevancy, rating scores, daily active user numbers, uninstall rates and. of course, install volumes, can determine how high the app will rank for a particular term.

While mastering the use of keywords for the Google Play ASO is clearly more challenging than with Apple, there are clear similarities and shared practices all developers can adhere to when the time comes to submitting their app. 

In conclusion
In order to thrive via organic ASO, developers must be prepared to invest the time to test each of the above elements. With the Android market far outstripping Apple/iOS smartphone device user figures in most territories, the opportunity for operators who act first is likely to be significant.

*whereas keyword search data is available for iOS apps, the same exact data is not available for Google Play. Therefore any search volume data offered by third parties is for guidance only

Matthew Balch is an independent mobile marketing consultant specialising in app store optimisation and organic growth marketing for a range of app developers within the gaming and fintech space.

Related articles: Google Play to accept gambling apps from next month
iOS 11: the challenges and opportunities for igaming operators
App Store optimisation: the importance of keywords
The evolution of igaming acquisition




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