How Did I Manipulate Google Play Ranking and it worked.

I though a lot about ….. should I post this or should I stay quiet?
Should I tell the world how easy this stuff really is, or should I just try to make $$$ and launch a service aimed just to Android Developers…?
Should I keep eating broccoli or stick with chocolate ice cream? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
When I started to talk about app store optimization, I knew that I have a closer “warm feeling” to Google Play vs Apple. The reason is easy… I I have make a living from SEO for the last 6 years and I know Google. Google Knows me. We are best mates, sort off…
I’m an SEO dude. And believe me, us, SEO dudes… we are dodgy…. we are worse than used car salesman … we are always looking for the weakness, for the easy path, for the fast solution.
That’s why…..
For years I did what many other SEO guys out there did (although they will never tell you)… I pushed the algorithm, I tested, I tried to see if you could really rank a website by doing shady tactics.
Black hat, white hat, blue hat, grey hat… at the end of the day, Google has always change the definition of colors and things have always been moving up and down depending on the wishes of the Google team.
That’s why I knew I had to test how to manipulate Google Ranking… the results were simply crazy… and although I’m not going to reveal all on this post (more about this in a future series of posts)…. I want to mention 5 things that I learn.
Before we start let me clarify a few pointers:
– I don’t own the app.
– I had permission to test with the app.
– We didn’t not do any conventional App store optimization strategies… just “off-app” strategies –> Reviews and Link building.
Here are the results
Link building started around the 5th of September
– Reviews = Sign of life.
1-reviewA Google Play / Android app with no constant flow of reviews will not survive… Google needs, feeds from those reviews to understand you are not just buying bulk downloads. Reviews matter… matter so much is a bit scary.
– Link Building works BIG TIME…
But not as you think of conventional link building… (I will explain this later on )…  the link building for Google Play works as a constant process…. the links don’t really bring permanent ranking, but more of a flow and momentum (see the wave in the graph). Although my research still in baby steps I don’t believe all links count in Google Play and more “passive” or “soft” link building could work better than conventional SEO/Website link building.
– Authority it’s possible.
The Algorithm understand that if your app is about Dog Nutrition, it’s also going to talk about Dog food… achieving a level of Authority will bring tons of traffic for long tail keywords related to your topic/niche. The reason ? Googe LSI algorithm
– You don’t need to climb to fast.
The most interesting part of the research is that you don’t need to climb extremely fast to see a massive increase in downloads. We almost double the app downloads by just increasing 10 to 15% of the site ranking.  So a small increase in ranking can bring serious number of downloads.
– Not long term option.
I don’t think this is a long term option, specially without any proper ASO done. Although it worked, after a few weeks the ranking has drop again and the traffic and new users.
Would I do it with new clients? Yes… but only if there is an active app store optimization process and the app brings some type of value, otherwise it’s difficult to justify the strategy.
As part of my experiment…. I need to clarify:
– As far as we know I didn’t break Google Play rules (although they may think the oppositive)
– All link building was outsourced
– I only used cheap link building (we could have done better)
– The number of reviews added was very low
– I only stopped after we realized how well it worked 😉