Improving Organic Traffic In The Google Play Store: Strategy Analysis

When analyzing an app on the Google Play Store we must identify the three main acquisition channels that visitors can come from:

  • Play Store organic traffic
  • Google Adwords Campaigns (Paid traffic)
  • Third-party referrers & UTMs (Visitors coming from a link to the Play Store)

The biggest challenge of App Store Optimization (ASO) when publishing an app is to obtain Organic installs and to keep said install figures growing.

Organic traffic in the Google Play Store is based on users who find your product page by either using the search engine of the store or by exploring the store (via Top Charts, Categories, Featured Apps, Similar Apps, etc.), as opposed to paid traffic campaigns and third-party referrers. The organic channel is the most cost-effective acquisition channel for getting new installs and a reliable long-term source of traffic.

Introducing Organic Traffic Acquisition Channels

Organic traffic is obtained by visitors in the Google Play store who are searching for a specific app (the so-called branded search) or for a term related to your app and find your product page in the page results. Or,  by visitors who find your app by navigating the store (for example, browsing a category, Top Charts or similar apps cards).

Since August 2018 the Google Play Developer Console splits organic traffic insights into Search and Explore organic traffic acquisition segments:

Organic Search traffic is generated by unique users who found your app on Google Play from search results.

On the other hand, Organic Explore traffic originates from unique users who found your app on Google Play, from browsing a category or similar apps cards,not from search results.

Therefore, optimizing your organic traffic requires a different approach depending on the type of app you have and the type of organic traffic you want to focus on: Search or Explore.

Different Organic Channels Mean Different Optimization Strategies. Analyzing Search & Explore Channels

While analyzing and optimizing your app you must keep every element of your product page on the Google Play Store in mind because their influence and impact varies depending on how visitors find you.

Optimizing Search traffic means choosing the best keywords for your app in order to appear in the search results. Besides this, you must create high-quality content and a relevant app following Google’s best practices. Doing this will allow your app to get featured in the Google Play Store and start getting Explore installs.

Search Traffic: Keywords & Conversion Rate

The main challenge of optimizing the Search traffic acquisition channel of an app is the positioning of the most relevant keywords of your app. A higher ranking in the Store means more visibility for your app in the search results. On this matter a detailed analysis of the best app-related keywords is necessary.

The traffic of a certain keyword (measured by the number of visitors the search term has) together with its app ranking (related to the number of competitors) gives you insights on the visibility of the keyword and the impact it can have on your app.

Another key factor when evaluating the importance of a keyword is its conversion rate, which is the percentage of visits that turn into installs. The more related your keyword is to your app, the more possibilities you have to receive a higher volume of installs. The relevance of the keyword is more important than the traffic.

Your app could get installs for search terms that include a brand name of a competitor app, misspellings, long-tail keywords among with the most relevant keywords of your app.

The Google Play Developer Console also gives you insights on the most popular Search terms coming from Search traffic. The keywords provided in this segment is a good starting point to analyze and optimize your app.

Explore Traffic: Featurings, Top Charts, Similar Apps & Conversion Rate

Acquiring installs from browsing through the Store through navigating Categories, Top Charts, Similar Apps cards, etc. is what Google considers Explore traffic.

When Google considers your app for a featuring in the Google Play Store (via featurings or Editor’s Choice) or your app starts to rank inside a Category, Top Charts or in Similar Apps, it means that you will be gaining more visibility than the 2.2 million Android app competitors:

Original content, great user experience and high-quality apps are what the Google Play Store searches for. A practical guide to the best Google Play practices can be found here.

An optimized product page with relevant keywords and related graphic elements (icon, screenshots, video, feature graphic) will help you boost your Explore installs. The goal is not only to be relevant but also attractive, so make your app stand out amongst your competitors with amazing graphics!

Boosting organic traffic in Search and Explore channels

When optimizing your app, the different elements of the product page need to be considered:

The icon, as the “most visible” part of your app must be relevant to your app and it should stand out from other competitors. Although the icon has an important role for both Search and Explore traffic, an icon change of the product page has a larger effect on  the visibility of the app which falls within the Explore traffic channel.

In terms of the visibility of an app, we should also talk about the importance of its title. It should include the strongest keywords and can be a branded name (in case of a popular app) or a descriptive one (when your app has no brand). For better optimization, especially for Search acquisition, it is highly recommended to use as many keywords as possible while still keeping the title attractive.

Another important point regarding the product page optimization is to align all the elements of the product page with each other. This means that the graphic elements and the texts (title, short and long descriptions) should make sense globally: Keep them relevant for a better conversion rate!

Finally, it is important to write descriptions by using the best keywords with the correct density. The relevance and importance of your current or potential keywords depend on many factors (category, competitors, type of app, etc.). Therefore, a careful optimization including the most relevant search terms is required. Using the correct keywords is the best way to boost the Search traffic of your app!

To Conclude

In order to understand your app’s performance in the Google Play Store, you must take a closer look at  the two ways a user can organically find your app. Search and Explore are organic acquisition channels with different behaviors. Search traffic is more related with the keywords your app ranks for while Explore traffic is mainly based on where your app is featured in the Google Play Store.

Lab Cave’s experience with optimizing mobile apps and games tells us to customize the analysis of an app by building a global strategy towards the different organic channels and to integrate the best tactics for the Search and Explore acquisition channels.

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