Does app description a ranking factor for Google Play?
Sadly, we all know that no one outside Google’s spectrum knows how their search algorithm correctly works. I’m not saying we don’t know a single thing about Google Play Store’s current algorithm, in fact, there are full case studies about this.
Anyway, let’s get to the topic and theorize why app description is an important part of your on-page app profile and might be a ranking factor or signal.
Theory: App Description Might Be A Ranking Signal For Google Play Store
Disclaimer: These are all theory how app description “might” be affecting and part of Google Play Store ranking algorithm.
#1 Google Blatantly Warns About Keyword Stuffing On App Description
My take on this is, Google might be using other some of its web algorithm on Google Play Store algorithms.
Keyword stuffing is the easiest way to make your app look spammy, hands down. Google has been able to detect this spamming since around 2001 and continuously upgrading their algorithm to detect such practice. It looks spammy to the crawlers who scans your app description and also to the real users who reads your app description.
Example Of Keyword Stuffing In App Description From Google
I found out this image in here: Developer Policy Center. It shows how app publisher or developer tried to manipulate the algorithm and spamming and stuffing keywords in their app description.
*What To Do About It?
Never try to stuff keywords in your app description. But the real problem is we don’t know how much keywords are enough. That is why Google discourage using long form app description and suggest to use only short app description.
The safest way to do is to follow what Google is suggesting, but if you want to have a long app description, you can use a keyword density checker. In the web, going from 2% – 5% keyword density is considered as safe, you might want to adjust your keywords density and app descriptions beyond that.
Here is a free keyword density analyzer from SEOBook (Site link).
#2 App Descriptions Are Getting Indexed
Aside from app title and developer name, app descriptions are one of the text-based assets in our app profile.
App description is where we can truly write content for our app. Although app descriptions are meant to be something similar to a sales copy, things will change if these characters and words are getting indexed.
And yes, Play Store do index app descriptions. (By the way, as the time of writing Apple App Store isn’t indexing their app descriptions)
*What You Should Do About It?
Although it doesn’t apply to all app descriptions, including a keyword in your app description can increase your position on a particular keyword. But as we know earlier, spamming keywords in your app description is like asking Google to penalize your app right?
Google will not penalize your app if you are using an optimize app description, not spammy and readable. If you are going to use LSI or Latent Semantic Index Keywords and Long-Tail Keywords instead of common keywords, your app will have a better keyword density, more keywords to target and your app will appear more on queries with your particular chosen keywords.
Reminder: Always check your keyword density.
What Are LSI Keywords?
I already talked about LSI keywords on one of my articles where you can also learn more how to find new target keywords for your app (17 Free Ways To Find New Keywords For Your App). Anyway, here is the quote from that article:
LSI keywords or Latent Semantic Indexing are keywords that are “semantically” related to your primary keywords. In other words “relative keywords” but not just a mere synonym or keywords that have the same meaning as your main keyword.
Although long-tail keywords are rarely used in app stores, optimized long-tail keyword can still add to your exposure or rankings. Any keywords with three or more set of words and are on-point and very specific to your target audience, or niche is considered as long-tail keywords.
For example, if you are selling Nike shoes, targeting for a long-tail keyword for that particular kind of Nike shoes can help you rank better for that keyword and exposure that can boost your sales.
Targeting long-tail keywords like “Blue Nike Shoes For Women”, “Black Nike Shoes For Men”, “Cheapest Nike Shoes For Girls”, etc. can boost your sales and rank for those long-tail keywords instead of targeting popular keywords like “Shoes” and “Nike Shoes”.
The Problem Using Long Tail Keyword In Google Play Store
The only problem with long-tail keywords are although they have very specific target audience, most of the time the average monthly searches is too low. What more to apps, right?
On this very own site, for example, I have targeted a long-tail keyword with <10 average monthly searches. Really not worth investing. But if I am going to publish 3 – 5 articles per day, within a year, I can have 1000+ long-tail keywords targetted.
Example Of Checking App Description If It’s Getting Indexed
How To Check If App Description Is Getting Indexed:
I would assume most of you will know how to check this. But just in case, here is the quickest way to do it.
- Pick random app in Google Play Store
- Go to app description and select random words or sentence (preferably 3 to 5 words)
- Copy and paste in on the Play Store search bar
- You get the results. Most of the time, it ranks high in position 1 to 5
To save you some time here are the actual steps and how I do it:
1.First I select a random app from Google Play Store. I’m not affiliated with this cute little alarm app.
2. Then I chose a random word or sentence in its app description. I chose to pick two random words, one from the very beginning and one near the end of the description.
3. I both copy and pasted those two selected random words and hit enter.
4. This app ranks number 49 in “alarm” keyword but here is the ranking cute little alarm app in the top ranking position. That is because those keywords don’t have any competition at all. Imagine if those random words are actual keywords.
#3 First 160 Characters Of Your App Description Is Your Meta Description
I know, meta description might not be a ranking factor regarding web SEO or only carries a little weight and might not be effective and efficient on Google Play but there is something more about the meta description.
First of all, meta descriptions might not be available on Google Play itself, but it is being used in web search. But will you ignore the potential of web search? Will you ignore the 2.3 million searches per second (source)?
With proper app indexing and on-page optimization like icons and descriptions, you can use those untapped potential traffic/audience for your app.
*What Should You Do About It?
Optimize the first 150 – 160 character in your app description. By optimizing and including your main keyword inside the first 150 -160 characters of your app description, you are optimizing your app for web search.
Optimizing your app description will make your app more visible in web search a little bit better to unoptimized app description of your competitors.
Even though it’s a ranking factor/signal or not, it is still better to at least optimize your app platforms that can expose your app to new audiences or potential users.
Example Of App Description As Meta Description On The Web
So let’s take an example here. Let us take a look at alarm clock niche where this app (Timely Alarm Clock) ranks number 17 in my search query with a keyword “alarm clock”. Note: Once again, I am not affiliated on this app. It’s just I have fond with these alarm apps the day I am doing this article. LOL.
Now, let’s take a look the app in action on the web search. Notice how the keyword in meta description is in highlight (bold)? Bolded text draws attention which slightly makes your app more visible. This why putting your main keyword in your first few sentences of your app description.
Also, notice how Timely Alarm Clock ranks better on the web compared to its ranking in Google Play. It significantly increases its ranking from number 17 to number 3 position in web search and number 17 to number 2 in mobile search.
Is it worth optimizing for web search? Yes. Here are the average monthly searches for the keyword alarm clock.
Note: I’m not saying that all you need to this is to rank higher in web search is to optimize your app description. That will not work alone but optimizing your overall on-page assets like icons which are visible in web search and off-page assets like ratings which are also visible in web search might help you attract more audience or potential app users.
Reviews in authoritative and app review sites are also important to boost your exposure on the web search.
#4 Duplicate App Description Might Rank Less
Let’s discuss first regarding web search. Google state that using duplicated content will not cause ranking penalties if you do it properly.
What Google pointing out is, it is safe to republish your content in other platforms to reach new audience and readers. Duplicate or republished articles can even outrank the source of the article; it happens the most in Medium.com where most of the articles are republish. Regarding I think Google will have a proper way to deal with it (whether a ranking penalty or deindexing it).
How Google Can Identify The Original Copy?
On the web, The web algorithm might have some ways to detect which are the original content. Google might look at the age of the content or web page while also looking for canonicalization.
Canonical or rel=canonical, in a nutshell, is a code that tells algorithm which is the original copy and the source of the article, it’s useful to sites that have different URLs. It’s also useful when launching a press release, republishing content on another platform, syndicating contents and more.
*What You Should Do About It?
Nothing, just make sure you have a high-quality app description and doesn’t use other app’s description. If you can’t hire a proper copywriter, you can do your app description instead. Making your app description might not going to be an easy path but here are some of the articles you might use.
- 6 Steps To Craft App Store Description That Converts [Inforgraphic]
- Google Play ASO: What Is Average Length Of App Description?
Here is an excellent example of apps that uses duplicate app description on Google Play.
Here is GPS Route Finder published by Prime Studio App. What we will do is to perform the same method earlier when checking if app description is getting indexed. I chose a random sentence and hit them in the search bar. You can see its app description above.
The results are great; it ranks number one position again even ranking so low in GPS keyword. But there is wrong with these results. If we open some of those apps and read their app store descriptions, it’s the same thing.
The most logical way to find the original app description is to know which apps are published first. Unfortunately, I don’t know any method to detect when an Android app was released. I checked it on various ASO tools like App Annie and Sensor Tower by looking for publishing date, and it’s ranking data but failed.
I’m not a native English speaker, and I depend on a lot in Grammarly Premium when writing my articles. I never expect their plagiarism checker feature will come in handy and reveal which is the source of that app description.
The original content is from Prime Studio App, and these are the list who have duplicate app description. I also have done a quick Google search and found out that “Onex Softech” apps (the #2 ranking app on the chart above) are selling source codes for app reskinning, and they might also be the original source of the app. These apps sucks anyway.
What We Found Out With These Duplicate App Descriptions
First, the app that has the mosts downloads, ratings and reviews dominate the query. It is followed by the source of the app description. What after this amazes me, what I expect is all the app description that have the exact phrase “Find easiest and fastest route to your destination” should be ranking high on this query since they have exact match keyword. But other apps which used the same app description isn’t doing well regarding rankings.
#5 App Description Length Have Small Correlation With Top 10 Rankings
For those who wasn’t aware, I made a small-scale data mining (Google Play ASO: What Is Average Length Of App Description?) which unveils the average app description length of top 10 apps in 25 app categories on Google Play.
The results are a not mind-blowing but I will say it’s a bit impressive; you can visit the said article to read more about it but here are the summary of what I found out. I won’t elaborate more on the details as I have already done it on my previous article. I highly suggest visiting the said section.
Let me remind you that it is all theory. We might not know if app description is a ranking factor or signal in Google Play unless Google confirms this. Although these are all theory and whether app description is a ranking signal or not, I think optimizing your app description is a must. App descriptions are unique on its own and should not be overlooked.
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