Google Play Store ASO in 2024: Is Google Trying to Kill App Store Optimisation?

Google Play Store ASO

As more and more companies join the shift towards an AI-centred ecosystem, the entire tech landscape faces a range of updates that are likely to change its entire sphere going forward.

Google has been making loads of changes recently. In addition to the range of AI tools they have launched over the past year, Google has been making changes to its algorithm. The algorithmic changes that we’re seeing aim to read and understand text better, reducing reliance on keywords, basing more importance on overall context of text. This will directly affect app marketers and their Google Play Store ASO efforts.

During the third quarter of 2022, the Google Play Store hosted more than twice as many apps as the Apple App Store with downloads totalling  27.1 billion compared to the 8.2 million downloads from the Apple App Store. These numbers are continually rising too. Based on these figures, there is ample opportunity within the Google Play Store underscoring the importance of implementing an effective Google Play Store ASO Strategy.

All of this said, with the implementation of Google’s, new algorithm, there have been rising concerns amongst app marketers. Over the past few months, app marketers have noticed diminishing impact from keyword density optimisation, more automation being introduced for writing store listings and organic traffic being cannibalised.

These observations may be leading to the erasure of traditional ASO strategy. This poses the question, ‘Is Google trying to kill App Store Optimisation?’

Watch below as our Strategy Growth Director, Megan Dean addresses this very question at the 2024 App Promotion Summit.

Coinciding Megan’s words, this blog explores the latest shifts in App Store Optimisation (ASO), addressing concerns such as the diminishing impact of traditional keyword optimisation, the rise of automation in app store listings, the increase in ads affecting organic traffic, and the need to stay abreast of frequent algorithm updates.

Diminishing Impact of Keyword Optimisation

The ever-evolving landscape of Google Play Store ASO means that traditional ASO methodologies, such as optimising app descriptions with targeted keywords, are losing their efficacy. The Google Play Store’s algorithms are becoming more sophisticated, reducing the impact of keyword density on app discovery and keyword rankings. This shift means that apps relying heavily on keyword stuffing are seeing diminished returns.

“Google Play’s ranking algorithms have evolved, placing more emphasis on user engagement metrics rather than just keyword density.” Now, as Megan has shared, the focus of Google Play Store ASO is moving towards providing higher-quality content and enhancing the user experience to improve app visibility more organically than ever before. Developers and marketers need to pivot from older keyword strategies to more holistic approaches that prioritise user engagement and satisfaction.

This change underscores the need for a balanced ASO strategy that integrates keywords with a focus on overall app quality.

Automation in Store Listings

While automation can streamline the process for your Google Play Store ASO, ultimately there is still scepticism around whether these tools can match the nuance and effectiveness of content created by humans.

Google’s introduction of automated tools for creating app descriptions and translating listings into multiple languages marks a significant change in ASO practices.

While these tools can save developers considerable time and resources by generating store listings quickly there is still debate around the effectiveness of automated descriptions and translations.

There are concerns around the generation of generic or inaccurate descriptions, potentially harming the app’s appeal and competitive edge, should app developers begin to build reliance on automation.

Our take is that the automation should be capitalised on for its efficiency value, but should still be used in combination with a human touch, “It’s all about finding that sweet spot where you use automation for efficiency but don’t lose the personal touch that makes your app unique.”

Google Play Store ASO

Increased Ads and Organic Traffic Cannibalisation

“Organic app discovery is becoming more challenging as ads take precedence, forcing marketers to consider more aggressive paid advertising strategies.” Megan touches on the reduced visibility of organic listings and the shift towards heavier reliance on paid advertising for marketers. “The heightened competition for visibility has led to an increase in marketing budgets allocated for paid campaigns, as organic efforts alone are no longer sufficient to maintain high visibility in search results.” This observation makes it clear that in the new Google Play ASO landscape, combined advertising efforts, both organic and paid are a necessity.

The Google Play Store has seen a noticeable increase in the presence of ads within search results. This rise in advertising content often pushes organic app listings further down the page, reducing their visibility and discoverability. For marketers, this means a greater reliance on paid advertising to maintain app visibility, potentially increasing marketing costs.

The surge in ads within Google Play Store search results has intensified competition for visibility, compelling marketers to boost their budgets for paid campaigns as part of their Google Play Store ASO strategy. As a result, organic efforts alone are now inadequate for maintaining prominent search rankings.

The cannibalisation of organic traffic by ads necessitates a strategic balance between organic ASO efforts and paid advertising campaigns. Apps need to optimise for both avenues to ensure that they capture the maximum possible audience.

Google Play Store ASO

Frequent Algorithm Updates

The Google Play Store has undergone numerous significant algorithm updates recently, leading to considerable fluctuations in keyword rankings. This in turn may make it challenging for app marketers to maintain consistent app visibility; they will have to consistently revise their Google Play Store ASO techniques and strategy.

These updates can drastically alter the performance metrics of apps, often without prior warning.

Staying informed about these changes and quickly adapting Google Play Store ASO strategies is crucial for maintaining app performance.

While an unstable algorithm can pose an inconvenience, it can also be looked at as an opportunity. Megan asserts that “for those who are quick to adapt and innovate, these frequent updates can actually present an opportunity to get ahead of competitors who are slower to respond.”

Developers and marketers must invest in ongoing education and monitoring tools to keep up with these updates, ensuring their apps remain competitive in an ever-changing digital marketplace.

Google Play Store ASO
Source: App Tweak

Conclusion

As we shift more and more towards an automated ecosystem, the field of ASO is undergoing rapid transformation. We’re seeing traditional methods becoming less effective and new technologies reshaping best practices in real-time.

So to answer our opening question ‘Is Google trying to kill App Store Optimisation?’ the straightforward answer is no. However what is happening at the moment is:

  • Google is making changes that increase its control over app rankings, thereby reducing marketers’ influence
  • The cannibalisation of organic traffic will likely lead to increased reliance on paid traffic, further blurring the line between paid and organic.

Marketers should also understand they cannot be complacent; over-reliance on Google-owned automation tools may dimmish an app’s competitive edge. Marketers should also be looking for new strategies which can put them above the competition.

Bearing these observations in mind, the best mindset to have is that Google is simply changing ASO.

Understanding these changes, from the diminishing returns of keyword optimisation to the rise of automation and the challenges posed by increased ads and frequent algorithm updates, is essential for anyone looking to succeed in the competitive app market.

By staying adaptable and informed, developers and marketers can navigate these shifts and maintain their apps’ visibility and success.

Our research into different Google Play Store ASO strategies has equipped us with a range of solutions that could help take your apps to the next level. If you need further support with your Google Play Store ASO strategy, reach out to us, here.

If you’re also looking for more detailed insights on ways to innovate your apps visibility, you can have a look through the information that we’ve shared here.

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