Increasing Android app downloads without spending any money – Part 2 – Factors effecting ranking

So you have made app with great design and tested code. Ok hold on ! you don’t do this first. Part 1 is important, but what is even more important is to spend time planning go to market strategy even before you write first line of code or it will get really difficult to figure out business channels after app is done. Either it should be done side by side if you have team otherwise decide everything beforehand.

We will first understand the google play app ranking algorithm metrics. (note – these are just self realisations and surfing results, nothing official by google ) before moving to tricks in part 3.

  1.  Number of Rating/Comments of app
    Likely to be high for apps which are used often and therefore top of mind.
  2.  Overall market ratings from 5
     Apps which are in continual use are likely to have good customer satisfaction
  3.  % of active installs
    Percentage of copies of an app which stay installed. This is a very important factor in determining app rank.
  4.  Updates
     If app is maintained by developer or not because updates ~ improvements and addition of new features.
  5. Number of recent installs
    Those who have installed an app more recently are likely to use it more often.
  6. Total number of installs
    Affected only slightly by frequency of use. Maintain single APK for all devices as mentioned in part 1.

Next we talk about google play search ranking algorithm metricsPlay Store works on “organic discovery” which is search driven. Organic users seek your app on their own – without paid advertising. These users are not only free, but much likely to become loyal users than those who installed app after seeing advertisement. 75% of downloads on google play are by organic search as studied by Fiksu. Where 50% – brand name search and  25% – generic search. Data shows that users who find app by search are 50% more likely to become loyal long-term users. A study by Fiksu determined that 75% users found app on google play just by using search. Thus search is an important app discovery tool which is  largely determined by the following :

  1. Keywords in app title
    the key in your app tittle is the most important element which impacts search rank. Right keyword in app can effect position by 80-100 spots. Identify your most successful keyword and include it in the title.
  2. Keywords in App description
    Within app description, frequency of keywords increases your search rank. Try to use a keyword multiple times. This impacts rank by 10-20 spots.
  3. Keywords in promo text
    This is the tag line of your app. This convey what your app does in easy to understand fun way .
  4. Localisation
    Adding localisation of strings in android app, tells the play store that app is specific to that country and increases the rank of app in search results for that region.
  5. Page Rank
    Google uses its classic Page Rank to determine ranking of app.Page rank basically referes  to the number of inbound pages pointing to your App.  There are many traditional SEO activities you can do to generate links to your app which are discussed in part 3 .

google play app ranking algorithm metrics combined with search ranking, determines where your app will be placed in the market. We will try and attack these points learnt here in part 3 (coming soon)  to see how ranking can be improved and thus increase downloads. Our aim is to attack both Volume-driven and Rank-driven download-acquisition models :)


Startups are like a game of poker

I was listening to Fireside Chat with Chamath Palihapitiya , the guy responsible for  the so called FB growth hacking and user growth to 1 Billion users. He comes up with a very interesting analogy between Poker and Startups.

“Poker is just an amazing thing. You learn to take risk and you learn to love risk. You learn to make decisions in ambiguity.Its like cycle of a startup condensed in 2 minutes. You start with a hand, its kind of like you start a company with an idea. You have no idea whether its good or not good, because you really have no context and knowing of everything else which is out there, in this case the other hands and in startup’s case all the other companies. You try. You take a bunch of risk. You expend a bunch of capital. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t, sometimes you win for the wrong reason, sometimes you lose for the wrong reasons, sometimes you win for the right reasons. So its just like a really great teacher of life.
Other thing that I love is I really like to understand people. What makes me reasonable in that game is to my ability to understand people. And anything I can do to refine that skill is time well spent. Poker tends to be great outlet. Also, you meet all these great people, you spend time talking, you debate stuff. 

So for all those playing poker, there is good news.  You might not be wasting your time and just gaining/losing money :) you would be learning emotional balance , eliminating emotions from decision making.  Analyzing risk and reward and learning the art of understanding your competition and people in general.

Basic rules of innovation for aspiring entrepreneurs

How many times it has been that you thought of a cool idea had surge of happiness, googled it and turned away disappointed seeing 100 search results about something similar already done. How many times you come up with some small idea and think, this is not useful and throw it away. Those tiny epiphanies can actually be useful. Its these small ideas which mix together, refine themselves to make something bigger. Sometimes one hackneyed idea leads to inspire another and opens new chain of thought. So don’t let that basic idea welt in darkness but rather make good use of them. Here is how one can be more creative –

1) Write – Maintain Your ideas document 

We never forget ideas we get excited about, concepts we learn by doing and things which irritate hell out of us. They remain as background thread in our multi-processor mind. A lot of times these threads join to culminate into a great idea or new way of doing the same thing. To ensure that you still remember thoughts and ideas you had some 4-5 years ago, write them in a document (Use your smartphone or keep a pen and scratch-pad ). Read the back entries once in a while. With increased knowledge you might be able to connect the dots backward and come up with something significant.

2) Analyse Things which irritate you 

My brother told me this after coming back from his first vacation from college, as told by one of his professors in orientation to Mechanical Engineering as basic rule of innovation. Keep a constant eye on things which irk you. Possibilities are its not just that you who gets irritated by them, but hundreds and millions others as well. Things which are as trivial as shopping to travelling to maintaining expenses. You never know when you might get a new business idea. Shining example of this is – Red Bus , where the founder realized that something needs to be done about bus reservation system in india when he failed to get himself one on Diwali to go to his hometown.

3) Listen to what your users say 

I can’t stress this enough. Working at a job, coding some shit up or already have alpha test of product running? Don’t forget to understand the mindset of your users. Listening to users can a lot of times result in adding new features and or give whole new direction to your product or a new totally new idea. Sometimes they would be explicit and ask for what they need, sometimes a lot of them would be trying to tell you the same thing in subtle way. Learn to develop a third eye because at the end of the day you are making product for a person to use. I myself have interacted with users while making Spellathon and know users can be smarter than you think they are.

4) Share Ideas –  Let Ideas have sex :) 

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” — George Bernard Shaw

When people get together and share ideas, those ideas mesh, combine, and ultimately evolve into new ideas. If you talk to each other, you can ultimately come up with new ideas that are even better than the original. That’s ultimately how the world has developed. There is excellent Ted Talk by Redley about the same. Go to Meetups listen to what people are doing and share yours.

5) Surf and surf a lot ! 

Ideas and knowledge cross your path either big or small while surfing, something which held your attention long give you the ‘aha moment’, save the link. I read hackernews regularly and keep jotting down anything which impresses me enough, widens my knowledge or stuff I would want to explore more about.

6) Have experiences out of your comfort zone 

Widen your experience. Try other disciplines. You will have better realisations and understandings. From designing to travel to eating food. Don’t be afraid to try something small to test idea and fail. You will learn a lot. Failing teaches more Don’t s which in my opinion are more important than the Do’s.