Google Play Changes Ranking Criteria

Post By Hannah Downing

Google recently announced a change to their app store, Google Play, but it is of a different nature than Apple's App Store revamp—Google is changing the way they rank apps in the app store. As ExchangeWire reports, "...the [Google] store is favoring apps that are used by consumers regularly and over time, not just those that were downloaded frequently."

In other words, exclusively having your app downloaded many times will not guarantee it a top spot in the Google Play store anymore. Instead, the store will be ranking the apps based on how often users return to them and how engaged their users are overall. This change seems to be coming in an effort to help users be more informed about the apps they are downloading by showing them which apps have continued working well for other users.

This change makes sense and it begs the question if Apple will make this change to the App Store, too. The change makes sense because very few people download an app with the intention of using it only once or twice, especially when you consider people who have less storage on their devices, which forces them to consider every download they make. Instead, with this new ranking system, Google is helping users compare similar apps more easily and, therefore, make a more educated decision on what they're downloading (and sometimes buying). This is much more helpful than ranking apps by their popularity because an app's total downloads can climb to great numbers, but that does not always mean the users' expectations are being met. This new way of ranking apps will show which apps not only have met, but continue to meet, users' expectations.

ExchangeWire writes about how this change in the Google Play store means app marketers will have to focus more on quality than they may have in the past. However, this does not mean they should ignore quantity. ExchangeWire writes, "Without promoting an app and hitting some critical mass, none of the other metrics matter. Even if you have years-long retention and hourly engagement, it won't matter if your app is only installed on a hundred devices." Rather, marketers will have to keep an eye on both, making sure they are targeting quality downloads and that a significant quantity of those downloads occur.

This change means that mobile app marketing companies, like Oplytic, will have to continue to work with marketers and publishers to identify the best sources for quality downloads and find ways to track users' actions efficiently after the app is downloaded. As ExchangeWire writes, following the post-install data can help both marketers and product managers understand more about their app and users' experiences with the app. With this, user experience can be improved to keep users engaged, resulting in a high ranking in the Google Play store.

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