Welcome to the second post of our App Hacks series. After we discovered how to get your iOS app featured on the App Store in the last post, it’s the green robot’s turn.
After you finish building your Android app, you’re focused on the next task, which is distribution. Your app is competing with 2.2 million apps to make its way up to the Play Store’s golden spot: “Featured Apps”. Because of the nature of Google Play, instead of aiming for a specific featured section like in Apple’s App Store, the goal is to collect various collections and badges, such as Editors’ Choice, Top Developer, Top Charts, Staff Picks, and even Early Access for apps that have yet to be officially launched. Achieving these can increase your downloads from 4x up to a staggering 24,000x according to Sensor Tower.
1. High Quality
Same as iOS, no low quality app can ever get featured. So as a starting point, you have to craft your app with refinement and polish and aim to make it suitable for all devices that are running Android (tablets, wearables, TVs, etc.). And don’t forget to follow all the essentials that Google lists on their developers website. Even if your app hasn’t built up its ranking yet, Google may feature it due to its innovative use of Android features.
“It’s not bad to do one thing, but do it really really well.” Effective advice from the co-founder of WhatsApp, one of the most successful apps of all time and one that was featured in the app stores many times. Consider simplicity over feature stacking while building your app. Defining one or two use cases at most in the early versions of your app is ideal to make its function clear. This also maximizes its chances of getting featured.
3. New Technologies
Google releases tons of technologies and APIs each year at Google I/O, such as Firebase and Google Maps SDKs for developers to make use of them. They want developers to use these technologies and APIs, and they want to to see them implemented in different apps. Google tends to promote apps using these new technologies because as they not only promote these apps, but also promote their own recently released technologies.
4. Android Friendly
Each company has its own guidelines and best practices, and it’s kind of sacred. That’s why you should make sure to follow them to be considered a friend to Android. Here are a few tips:
Follow Android’s launch checklist.
Make sure to design according to Google’s material design.
Support as many Android phones as you can, as GPU hardware differs between devices and that may cause bugs to happen.
Try as many store listing experiments as you can right after your launching.
With more than one billion active Android users all over the world, consider localizing your app into as many languages as you can. Localizing your app isn’t only about translating it, it’s centered around creating good and engaging user experiences based on different cultures and seasonal occasions, such as designing a flexible layout to fit certain languages. So make sure to go through this localization checklist.
6. Regional Support
Who is a better person to help you feature your app than someone who leads mobile efforts in a certain region for Google, right? Try to get in touch with Google’s Regional Mobile Solutions Lead in your region, and asking him/her to push your app to Google’s partners in the region. This is a very important step to come closer to adding “featured on Google Play” in your app’s description.
The secret factor to get featured is firstly being noticed by the Google Play editorial team. And the best places to do so is being featured on high-traffic industry platforms, such as Product Hunt, TechCrunch, Android Authority, and Android Central. Scoring media appearances and submitting your app to these websites to feature is a proven way to improve your chances of getting featured on Google’s store.
8. Market Forces
One of the hacks for getting your app featured in the early weeks after going live is optimizing the launch timing. For instance, if your app depends on a certain specification in a particular phone that will be launched soon, play your launch wisely. A well-known example is ColorNote. Its parent company, Social & Mobile Inc., capitalized on the fact that the Motorola Droid didn’t ship with a built-in note taking app, so they developed ColorNote to be very compatible with it and launched it in sync with the Droid launch. As the phone’s sales boomed, the app boomed along with it and eventually reached 100M+ downloads.
9. Ratings and Reviews
The Google Play editorial team pay a lot of attention to user satisfaction before considering featuring an app. Negative reviews and one-star ratings will definitely harm your app’s reputation and minimize your chance of getting your app featured (luckily we’ve discovered the secret weapon to eliminate 80% negative reviews). So after building your high quality app and following all the points above, make sure to keep app ratings and reviews high (above four is safe).
10. Avoid Black Hat Tricks
As there’s no magical combination to getting your app featured on Google Play, there are definitely some obvious ways to ensure that it won’t get those coveted badges. A few big no-nos are:
Using a payment provider other than Google itself
Making your app download other apps
Bribing your users with in-app rewards in return for high app ratings.
Be sure not to fall into any of these traps.