SEO For Android Apps Within Google Play – A Case Study



Google playPromoting android apps in Google general search has many open ideas. In fact any of the conventional SEO strategy would work for promotion android apps. However, when it comes to dominating the dedicated search results within “Google Play”, none of us have any clue on what to do. We have been digging deep on this subject for a while now. There is no readymade, substantial information available online about the Google Play’s ranking factors. While some say it is the number of reviews, some others say it is the number of downloads.

Aim of the Case Study: To identify the ranking factors considered in Google Play search


According to our SEO research team, after analyzing a few search results in Google Play, downloads and the reviews are not the only factors deciding rankings in the search results. We have seen an app which has only 7 downloads and 7 ratings rank on the second place for the keyword “SEO tools” while an app with 29 downloads and 29 rating rank sixth. So, it is obvious that there is some sort of a Google Play ranking formula that is applied to the apps out there. We are in fact on a quest to reveal the formula. For that, we needed to identify the possible ranking factors. To our surprise, after seeing a couple of search results we were able to identify them.

Research and findings

For an android app to rank high in within the Google Play search results, the app need not have 1000s of downloads and ratings. Our initial research clearly shows that creating a buzz outside Google Play for the app would rank it. Here is a an example:

Keyword used to search within Google Play: “SEO Tools”
The 2nd (SEO tools Lite Morticella) and 3rd (SEO Automatic) results are taken into consideration


According to the app statistics, the app in the second place (SEO tools Lite Morticella) has poor numbers when compared to the one in the third (SEO Automatic).

Result in 2nd Position Result in 3rd Position
Number of downloads 500 – 1000 1000 – 5000
Number of ratings 7 44
Average Rating 2.9 3.4
Google plus ones 2 27
Download Spikes No info Steep spikes
Keyword in title Yes No

The statistics above clearly shows that Google play has ranked a app with poor numbers higher than the one performing well. The only factor that has high weight-age for the result in second position is the availability of the keyword in the title. For a moment, we thought that we had found the most important Google play ranking factor, which is “availability of the keyword in the app title”. But we were wrong. The result in the 1st position was titled WebRank SEO. As our search term was “SEO tools”, there is no keyword in the title for the 1st position result. So we have once again failed to prove that keyword in the app title is a valuable ranking factor

After analyzing the factors within Google play, our focus shifted to the popularity of the apps in general web and the answer for android app SEO resides there.

See the comparison of both the apps in “Google General Search”

Android SEO

As you see, “SEO tools Lite Morticella” which is highly ranked in android market has a very strong presence in general search. Notice that this particular app is listed in all the popular android app directories. All these listings have a dedicated page for the app. It is obvious that the app is promoted widely using the conventional SEO strategies and listing them in all the popular app directories.

“SEO Automatic” which is below “SEO tools Lite Morticella” in android market has a poor presence in general search. The app shows up in androidzoom and Google play alone. There no other dedicated listings outside Google play for this app. Though there are mentions about the app in some blogs and articles, there are no dedicated listings in app directories.


We see strong correlation between the app’s availability in other app directories and high ranking in Google play search results. Currently, it looks like Google play gives more importance to the popularity of the android app in general web along with the level of social media buzz. We could say, the popularity of the app in the web and social media is the key ranking factor to highlight in Google play search results.

Here are some pointers:

  • Inclusion of keyword optimized title, description, a video etc for the app within Google play (Huge Impact)
  • Presence of the app in the other markets and app directories such as app brain (Huge Impact)
  • Availability of a parent website (Moderate Impact)
  • Availability of an updated blog dedicated for the app (Moderate Impact)
  • Download number spikes. Sudden increases in the number of downloads can be achieved with promotion in social media (Huge Impact)
  • Number of Google plus ones for the app (According to us this has a very strong relation)
  • Number of tweets (According to us this has a very strong relation)
  • Number of downloads (Moderate Impact)
  • Number and the range of reviews (Moderate Impact)

Consider the dedicated page for the app in Google play as the parent website and promote it using the conventional SEO and social media marketing. Be sure not to miss listing your app in any of the android app directories available today as a part of SEO. It is just like promoting a website but the primary target url is the dedicated Google play page. The buzz you create outside Google play would get your app ranked high in Google play search.


Free BackLink Audit