When users search the App Store and Google Play Store, they have certain expectations that come with each keyword. Just like they wouldn’t want to see a makeup app while searching for a baseball app, they don’t want to see gory content when searching for children’s games. App Store Optimization is intended to help developers ensure their apps appear before the right users in their searches, so you don’t get overlooked, or worse, flagged.
Recently, there have been reports of violent and mature apps appearing in the Google Play Store. These apps are marked as safe for young children, in spite of containing blood, gore and mutilation.
On Google Play, there is little in the way of monitoring the age ratings given to apps, which are determined based on a questionnaire the creators fill out. The rating is entire based on the honor system, so developers could lie about the content or simply not care about answering honestly when filling it out and just answer all the questions with “no.” This has resulted in several apps with content not appropriate for children receiving an “all ages” rating.
Apple is more strict about its age ratings in its review process, so there is less concern about mature apps showing up in searches for children’s’ games. However, certain keywords can occasionally result in apps with very different content appearing in the same searches. For example, searching for the keyword “Grandma” pulls up horror-themed apps like “Horror Grandma” and “Mad Granny Doctor,” even if the user is searching for an app where a grandmother character reads a bedtime story.
What’s the Impact?
Apps on Google Play with ratings for users younger than their content should allow are at risk of being reported and removed. This results in them losing their keyword rankings and having to build them up again from scratch. Even if an app is not removed, it could see negative reviews from angry parents that are shocked to see gory apps appearing in their child’s searches.
On iOS, an app appearing in search results for apps with a very different tone and category can have an odd impact. Search Ads might recommend apps from those categories as suggested terms to target, as it begins associating the apps based on their similar keywords.
In these cases, it may help to rethink the keywords you’re targeting; while “grandma” may seem like a good keyword, it could be that Apple’s algorithm has given it to the horror genre. This can be seen in other apps like “Neighbor” terms relating to the game “Hello Neighbor,” while dental offices with an app will find themselves competing with dozens of “dentist” games that involve pulling cartoon teeth.
Be sure to research keywords ahead of time and see what apps are associated with those terms. The keywords your app uses will determine what other apps it’s associated with, which could result in a mobile game about a bendy straw being put alongside “Bendy’s Nightmare Run.”
Optimize Your App
Some developers may give their apps a lower age rating than they should in order to appear in more searches without being blocked by age-based restrictions. This does not typically work. Instead, they should focus on their App Store Optimization to ensure the app shows up in searches before users that are searching for it.
If an app is focused on shooting zombies, having it show up in searches when children are looking for a new game is unlikely to result in a new download. Instead, if the app’s description were to include relevant keywords, such as “zombie game,” “shooting game” and “survival horror,” it could improve its indexation and rankings for those terms. That would put the app in front of users who are actually searching for it, without the risk of being reported and removed.
Overall, it’s better for an app’s listing to be honest with its age rating. This ensures it appears before users that can handle its content, without risking removal for using the wrong age rating. Utilizing App Store Optimization best practices can help make sure the app is being properly delivered to those users while engaging and converting them.
Developers can ensure their Search Ads campaigns don’t delivery their apps in searches for apps with unrelated genres or themes by utilizing negative keywords. For instance, the “Grandma” app can avoid appearing in searches for the horror game “Hello Granny” by listing “horror” as a negative keyword. This will ensure the app does not appear in irrelevant searches so it’s more associated with the apps and terms that are related to it.
Search Ads is a key component of ASO. Choosing your keywords and negative keywords wisely can go a long way in ensuring your app shows up in searches related to it while avoiding searches for irrelevant or inappropriate apps. Search Ads can also target demographics with specific ad campaigns and creative sets, ensuring the app appears before the users that it’s meant for.
With proper App Store Optimization, your app can show up in the right searches and for the right age of users.
Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.