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Let’s crunch the numbers: there are more than 900 million devices running on Android out there, and 1.5 million more are powered up and activated every single day. The number of downloads on Google Play just hit the 50 billion milestone and is expected to hit 60 billion faster than Apple’s App Store.
It’s a great time to build Android Apps – more users of the platform bring more sales and ad revenues for mobile developers. But there’s also one big downside to it all. Your Apps face tons of heavy competition, which means it’s harder than ever to get them noticed by the majority of users.
Google Play is designed to connect users with outstanding mobile Apps. It provides key channels to help your App get noticed and gain momentum in the marketplace. What are the steps you can take to get your App featured on Google Play?
1. Offer A Seamless UI
Back in Google’s 2012 I/O conference, developer advocates Dan Galpin and Ian Lewis hinted how good user experience and display resolution compatibility drastically increase your App’s chance to get featured on Google Play.
First, make sure your App supports high-resolution displays – meaning it has to be presented in at least 720p. As more advanced mobile devices enter Android’s ecosystem, Google Play’s editors will handpick only those Apps that seem spotless as screen resolution goes up.
Second, ensure your Apps needs minimal permissions. Otherwise, it’s not really likely to get featured if it changes the user’s Wi-Fi preferences, gobbles up information from their contacts and calendars or sends and receives SMS messages (which bills users without their consent and awareness).
You can see a detailed summary of their talk in this blog post by InsideMobileApps.
2. Stick To The Default Android Buttons
Another important bit of advice from Lewis and Galpin’s keynote from Google I/O 2012 was not to mess with Android’s default buttons on a screen. It’s a common mistake that developers tend to make while trying to make their App more unique – one that practically destroys its chances to get featured.
If you’re building a mobile game, for example, you can easily reduce their brightness to make them unobtrusive during gameplay. But you should never change their actions. The ‘Back’ button must pause your game when pressed once. You’re free to include a context menu after the user has pressed the button, but it must always trigger a pause during gameplay.
The key is to create Apps for Android without modifying the main functions of its default screen buttons. Here are the guidelines.
3. Localize Your App
Offering your App in as many languages as possible makes it more discoverable by users from different countries, which can seriously help it get featured on Google Play. Because it’s not good enough to pull off the trick with Google Translate, you’ll need to hire a team of skilled native translators to ensure that your App’s localization is appropriate and understandable. Which can be quite an expensive thing to do.
AppVersal helps developers localize their Apps.
4. Create A Dynamic Product Page
Make “a rich and colorful page that lets you promote your App, highlight its ratings and reviews, and show what your App can do” is what Google officially advises developers to do, so as to increase the visibility of their Apps on Google Play.
To create an awesome product details page for your App on Google Play, create a clear, engaging and appealing description to your target user base. Take your best advantage of the first few lines before the ‘More’ button and use them to clearly tell your users what your App does and why they should try it out.
Think about the ways that your App changes its users’ everyday lives. Does it make them more fun? Or perhaps helps them become organized? Maybe it just curates the web’s best information in a beautiful, convenient and easy-to-use interface? Whatever the benefit, make it loud and clear in your description.
To learn more on how to create a captivating description for your App, read this article by TradeMob. If you want to understand how to improve your ASO (App Store Optimization), see this blog post.
5. Be Tablet Compatible
Google’s marketplace has a special Staff Picks collection that highlights the best Apps for tablets running on Android. That’s why it’s almost essential that your App is designed for all screen sizes.
You can start by making basic adjustments to your App’s interface by tinkering with layouts, fonts and spacing. In some cases like 7-inch tablets, this may be all you need to get your App looking great. But bigger screens sometimes need a user interface redesign to make use of that extra space.
Here’s an example on how to better fill whitespace on tablets with larger screens:
You may even want to look for opportunities to add extra content or treat existing content differently with sidebars and new interface elements. See Google’s guidelines for tablet App quality for more information on how to make your App seamlessly compatible with tablets.
6. Get More Reviews and Ratings
Good user reviews and ratings are a great indicator that your App deserves to be handpicked by Google Play’s editorial staff. Your App’s rating is one of the most important factors influencing its ranking in various lists and search results on the marketplace.
One surefire way to collect objective and detailed user reviews is to list your App on App review services like AppsZoom or AndroLib. Be sure you have a ready media kit that you can send out to their editors, including a high-resolution logo, a compelling description and good highlights of your App’s features.
Check out our 5 tips to get reviewed by App review sites to make the best out of using such services.
7. Attract Media Attention
When your App receives great attention from the media, this signals the editors of Google Play that perhaps it’s time to get it featured on the marketplace.
Finding media coverage, however, isn’t an easy thing to do – your App needs to be either really popular with users worldwide, or offer an innovative feature that lets people use their Android devices in a completely new way, or (this one is probably the step you would want to take) presented in a truly captivating manner.
Which means you really need to focus on your App’s marketing, if you want it to get good media coverage. Design a beautiful and usable website/landing page that presents your App’s top features, explaining why users would love it from first sight. Boost your online advertising on Facebook and Twitter, so as to get more page likes and account followers. Finally, hire a skilled PR or copywriter to create an engaging and interesting message to pitch bloggers and news sites about your App.
If you want to improve the way you market your App, see our list of 6 marketing mistakes that App developers make – and how you can avoid them.
And there you have it. Even though there’s no guaranteed formula or recipe to get your App featured on Google Play, you can increase your chances significantly by making sure you cover the seven criteria above. As long as you build your App with its users in mind, make it intuitive and simple to use, ensure good compatibility between different screen sizes, and describe it with contagious enthusiasm on its product details page, it will get noticed by the rest of the world.