Google Play featuring. How the app can become featured and get users for free

Featuring means an app getting featured on Google Play. An app gets featured and appears on the first pages of Google Play for free in one or several categories. It is the most effective way to get plenty of free targeted traffic and increase the number of page viewing and installations. To get featured on Google Play, the app shall be of quality, understandable for a user, address a specific issue, and ensure fail-free operation.

At the end of the article, you can find a 40% discount coupon for the first month of using ASOMobile - a tool for creating ASO and researching competitors in the mobile app market.

Featured apps are generated by two methods:

  1. Automatic: generated by the system based on the user's previous experience;
  2. Manual: compiled by Google Play employees.

You cannot directly manipulate an app to become featured, however using the efficient and systematic approach, you will have more chances to see your app among the featured.

The apps categories

  1. For you: formed automatically based on user's preferences.
  2. Top charts: featured apps with the highest ranking as per categories.
  3. Kids: apps approved by teachers and tutors.
  4. Premium: apps with the highest ranking available for download after purchasing.
  5. Categories: ranking as per categories.
  6. Editors' Choice: games and applications selected by Play Market editors manually.
  7. New and updated games: updated or uploaded to Google Play less than 30 days ago.

Each of the mentioned categories includes some additional sub-categories. Optimization principles are the same regardless of featured apps type. The peculiarities of each group will prompt you on what needs to be done to make your app featured by Google Play editors: increase the percentage of downloads, get in good with Google or users.

To get featured on Google Play, the app shall be unique, of quality, and comply with all Google requirements. Use the following metrics for assessment:

  • subjective: ranking, feedbacks;
  • objective: performance and operational stability.

Google Play has suggested many rules and recommendations for developers, though it has not revealed all the secrets of featured apps. The method of the best-featured app selection is a commercial secret. Nevertheless, all the featured apps have something in common. Based on this, we singled out 13 tricks that will help your app to be included in one of the featured apps groups on Google Play Market.

  1. Analyze Other Popular Mobile Apps

First of all, analyze apps in your category and pay attention to the related ones. Download the selected apps into your smartphone, assess them either manually or using ASOMobile services, e. g. the tool “Visual Comparison”.

Compare the following characteristics:

  • design and interface;
  • set of functions and convenience of their use;
  • developers' feedback availability.

Compare the obtained data with your app or those apps that were not included in the top charts. Analyze the advantages of the featured apps and what makes them so unique.

Based on these data, figure out what you can change in your app to make it reach the top in its category.

Find 3–5 successful tricks to helping the other apps outrace the competitors and use them for your app.

  1. Ensure High Performance

Before you start promoting the app, make sure that technically there are no bugs, non-functional buttons, crashes, or hanging.

All the apps being the candidate for featuring undergo their performance assessment first. Google services apply three assessment criteria:

  • rendering time (image downloading) and lack of frozen interface screens;
  • frequency of emergency program shut-down;
  • battery discharge rate.

Each of the mentioned above parameters plays its role in apps featuring, but the first two are the key ones. Image downloading shall not take more than 16 ms, while frozen screen response shall not exceed 700 ms. Fallback frequency shall remain minimal. The app may cause considerable battery discharge, but for sure, it must not be the reason for gadget overheating.

To assess performance, test the app using different gadgets. Evaluate downloading rate, frequency of errors, and compatibility with other programs active at the same time. All those factors are crucial for users and Google. Check server response and correct operation when connecting to different networks.

A game's high performance shall not affect the gadget's efficiency. Excessive RAM usage might cause the malfunction. Besides, not all users can run apps with high installation requirements. Practicality is one of the main characteristics of the featured apps on the Market.

You can use the Google Play Console to analyze the performance.

  1. Improve UI/UX

All apps featured by Google Play Market have an integral and well-thought-out user interface. It is unique, interactive, and identical to every gadget: tablets, TVs, smartphones, and other devices.

First and foremost provision for an app to become featured: the app's interface shall comply with Google requirements. The system has been switching to Material You design for several years. It is expected that Google Play and all the offered apps will conform to one concept, complement each other and look like part of an integral system.

The idea of Material You is to create a style that will adjust itself for each gadget individually. For example, all Android shades will mimic the pallet of the user wallpapers on the smartphone.

The following changes will occur in Google Translate:



Pay attention to the colors: rich, solid, and complimenting each other. Thick spaces between the elements, big fonts, well-defined edges, and a lack of acute angles add to the visuals. Just think over how to change the design to make it more consistent with the specified requirements and look like an addition to Google services. Try to make it as simple as possible.

Remember that the interface shall be equally readable and look attractive on all the gadgets that use Google Play.

  1. Improve User Experience

Analyze user behavior. There are several methods to do it. The simplest one is to monitor navigation paths, i. e. the screens the user switches to after opening the app.

The path chart looks roughly as follows:

The app launch is in the center. The next circle shows the first screen the user switched to. Then shown are the screens the user switched to after visiting the first one. It is an appropriate method to find the wrong spots on the user's path. If the users often switch between the same screens, it might indicate that they faced some navigational problems, an error on one of the screens, or a malfunction.

Fix the errors and make the interface more convenient.

Another method is to arrange a focus group and monitor how the members use the app. Remember your goal is to find supportive functions and define the annoying and interfering ones.

The app shall be simple and efficient. When you understand the users' behavior, you can improve their user experience:

  • to add new functions your clients need;
  • to perfect the available tools;
  • to improve the interface;
  • to remove all the unnecessary extras.

Do not overload the service with unnecessary functions. It's better to concentrate on the main functions and make them convenient and fast.

  1. Improve the Ranking

When creating featured groups, Google always takes into account users' feedback. More than half of the apps from the top featured ones have ranking 4.5 and higher.

To improve your app's ranking, motivate your users to rate the app and provide feedback. There are many ways to do so. We will list just a few of them:

  • constantly improve your app, and add new features;
  • provide personalized offers;
  • make the service free of charge or suggest a subscription for minimal cost;
  • for games, add a possibility to pay with virtual currency for actual products sold by the partner shops;
  • promote the app on different platforms;
  • motivate people to bring referrals or invite friends to visit the app;
  • arrange draw games on social media, and share user content, tutorials, and other information.

It is crucial to monitor the proportion between an increase in ranking and user feedback. Comments are more important as they provide specifics.

A recommendation: analyze metrics for the entire period or for a certain period. It will help you to monitor users' reactions to updates and optimization. To provide better visualization for feedback dynamics, examine weekly, monthly or specific period charts using ASOmobile's tool "Reviews."

When you see negative feedback, we recommend reacting without delay. Thus, every user who visits your app's page on Google Market will understand that you respond to what users say.

Constantly correct the errors.

  1. Optimize Your App Operation on Different Gadgets

If your app was primarily created for iOS, it is not enough to upload it into the Play Market. It shall be adapted for Android and meet the following requirements:

  • should be supported by high-resolution monitors (720p and higher);
  • shall support the latest Android versions;
  • should include Android buttons automatically;
  • file size shall not exceed 100 MB;
  • should support all types of gadgets operating with Google Play.

The final version should look like a version deliberately created solely for Android. Google stated that the apps available exclusively in the Play Market get featured in the first place.

Besides, the platform favors the apps well-optimized for various types of gadgets. So there are almost no games or apps developed exclusively for smartphones in the Editors' Choice category. All of them can be run on tablets, while some on TVs and smartwatches.

  1. Ensure High-Quality Localization with Cultural Adaptation

This issue is of particular importance for games. According to Google, the best apps shall be readily understandable. So your goal is to localize the service to a great number of countries. For each country, you can add additional keywords, and adapt the name and description. This way, you will be able to increase conversion. Apps categorization also differs from country to country.

Localization means not only the translation but cultural adaptation as well. Pay attention to the traditions and specificities of each country. Typical example: there is no sense in arranging Christmas sales in Muslim countries or New Year updates for Chinese customers who have New Year festivities two months later.

Metadata in Google Play can be changed at any moment. You can start monitoring the changes in a couple of hours after optimization.

  1. Optimize the Page on Play Market

When featuring an app, Google assesses the app's page layout on its platform as well. The system takes into account the quality of the description, header, and screenshots, as well as updating regularity, rating, and feedback. The above is just a tiny part of the ranking criteria. But their improvement will affect several metrics at once: the number of page viewing, the number of downloads, conversion percentage, and Google's rating.

Conversion is the most important metric. The higher its percentage, the more important is the app. Google analyzes the ratio between the number of people who visited the app's page and the number of users who downloaded the app.

To ensure a high conversion rate, an efficient approach to ASO optimization is required. Text optimization will display your apps owing to the relevant keyword query, while visual optimization will ensure its downloading by a user. More details about visual ASO optimization of the apps you can find in another article. For illustrative purposes, we added some case studies.

The “Text Analyzer” tool help find relevant and popular inquiries for the app. There you can look through the description of the popular apps (available key inquiries, their occurrence in the text, their impact on the traffic). While analyzing the data of competitors included in the list of the best apps, you can understand what parameters you need to keep up with.

This tool is free and available for all users after quick registration. You can try it right away.

  1. Advertise and Reach

The best way to get more users, feedbacks, and ratings is to launch a high-quality ad campaign. You can use various platforms for promotion: social networks, advertising in search engines and apps, targeting, PR, interaction with influencers, and other methods. The effectiveness of the method depends on the category and features of the app.

For example, the best way to promote games is to advertise them on bloggers' pages, in other apps, and through targeting in social networks. Promotion through search engines suits the commercial services. Publish app reviews on theme-based websites and reputable portals such as Android Central and Android Authority. The number and quality of backlinks on Google Play are of particular importance. The more references are available, the higher is the probability the app gets featured. The above is also a reason for editors to consider your app as a candidate for being manually featured in one of the categories including Editors' Choice.

  1. Build Partnership Relations in the Business Sector and Beyond

Support healthy and long-term relations with power players in your business sector by interacting with other developers and teams. Create products together, publish joint reviews or find your way to attract Google users' attention. The following is also effective for gaining authority:

  • attending Google events;
  • subscribing and communicating with Google Play managers and editors through LinkedIn;
  • inviting famous personalities to be brand ambassadors and interacting with them;
  • collaborating with other brands.

Try to establish a reliable interaction scheme with specialists from other business sectors. In this case, your app will become familiar to people of various social statuses, ages, and interests. The more universal the functions and design, the more chances the app has to become well-known, resulting in arising interest of Google Play editors.

  1. Integrate Google Technologies

Google constantly releases innovative technologies for developers and presents them during the annual conference. Use these opportunities to attract the attention of the platform reps. Pay your attention to Firebase, Flutter, Action, and other technologies.

Have your finger on the pulse. If your app is among the first users of the new technology, your app's chances to be featured by the platform increase.

  1. Optimize Taking into Account the Seasons and Holidays

Release additional updates for special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or New Year. On the eve of these holidays, Google Play editors create additional lists of the seasonal featured apps.

Release updates beforehand. Google recommends sending the request for featuring at least three weeks before the release of the featured app. So if you plan your app to be seasonally featured, the update shall be released approximately one month before the holiday.

To attract the attention of the new users and those who have not updated the app for quite a long time, substitute the app's icon with a holiday one, e. g. add Christmas elements.

  1. Update Regularly

Google Play pays attention to stability and regularity of updating. Update the app once or twice a month even though the users are happy with the available functions. It is not required to add new functions constantly. You can suggest a special holiday offer, inform the users about debugging, improvement in performance, translation of a text, screen auto-rotation block, and so on.

Monitor feedbacks to spot problems the users face on time. Make changes as soon as possible, and do not forget to inform the users about updates. Thus the users will feel their importance and will start providing positive feedbacks.

Describe all the changes and innovations in the section "Events & offers." A short and accurate description of the updates is necessary not only from the optimization point of view. It also helps maintain users' loyalty.

Add a text in the section "Events & offers" even when the updates are minor. Write the text bearing users' interests in mind. For example, AliExpress app:

We strongly recommend promoting the app openly and by fair means without using questionable services.

Google undisguised don`t:

  • use of payment systems not supported by Google Play;
  • redirecting to third party services at launching your app, including the situation when one app downloads another one;
  • bribing with bonuses or rewards for positive feedback or high ratings.

Let's have a closer look at the last issue. You can encourage users to provide feedback and offer them bonuses or discounts for the feedback. However, do not ask for positive feedback, ask for an honest one. Thus, you will not only meet Google requirements, but you will learn the true opinions of the users and will be able to plan updates and optimization.

Featuring is a new tool from ASOMobile

Featuring is a tool for checking when your apps are featured in the app stores.

The Featuring tool is located in the Market section. Select a country or several countries, and a date. You can also select the app store location, and Featuring type (search by key phrase).

As a result, you will find the following information:

  1. The country
  2. Featuring Location
  3. Type
  4. Average position - the average position of the selected application for the period featuring
  5. Trend - the position of the featured application during the selected period
  6. Days featured
  7. Date - Featuring Period

To ensure consistent optimization of an app, complete the following steps:

  1. Analyze the initial data: ranking, feedback, promotion, and performance metrics.
  2. Compare your app with other apps from the same category. Analyze what is lacking in your service.
  3. Constantly improve the performance, features, and interface.
  4. Optimize the app's page in the store.
  5. Not only localize but also adapt the interface to cultural specificities of every country.
  6. Support active marketing, and promote your app using ads and PR.
  7. Use up-to-date integration with Google technologies.
  8. Release updates regularly, and schedule the release of seasonal updates beforehand.
  9. Describe even minor innovations in detail.

Monitor constantly the number of downloads and involvement. Assess users' feedback at every stage, and continue improving the app. To reach this goal, you can use Google services or professional tools. For example, ASOMobile will assist you in selecting the keywords, monitoring the popular inquiries, analyzing the competitors, tracking the downloads, and a lot more. Try the free tools right away.

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