In the last few weeks, our ASO team has noticed some significant, sudden changes in keyword rankings for major keywords in the casino category on Google Play.
On February 28th, we saw various slots apps suddenly drop or climb in keyword rankings for various high-traffic keywords including “slots”, “free slots”, “casino slots”, “slot machine”, and more.
The keyword rankings stayed at these new positions until March 18th, when they suddenly reversed track and climbed or dropped back to similar levels prior to Feb 28th.
We looked for a similar Google Play ranking pattern in other gaming verticals to check if this incident was isolated for slots apps. Looking at keyword rankings for “poker” for various poker apps, we did not notice a similar pattern. This Google Play algorithm behavior seems to indeed only apply to slots games.
On February 28th, the same day as the sudden changes, Google also announced that it will start weighing user engagement more heavily when determining app rankings. This tinkering of the Google Play algorithm may have caused these sudden changes. The fact that the keyword rankings reverted to levels prior to the Feb 28 update suggests that Google may have been testing a change that proved to be unsuccessful, as it did not enhance user experience or accurately reflect the apps’ products.
It’s too early to tell what the long-term impact of this algorithm change will be for keywords in the casino category, but we will continue monitoring and reporting as new intel comes in. Stay tuned to our blog for updates.
Update – June 27, 2017
Since the sudden ASO keyword ranking behavior in March, there continues to be volatility in the keyword ranking for “slots” for various major slots apps. The greatest fluctuations in rankings occurred towards the end of April and again in the beginning of June
The apps with the most volatility in their keyword rankings look to be the ones who ranked below the top 50 for “slots” prior to April. Another thing to note is that on June 5, Google expanded it’s title character limit from 30 to 50. With the change in character limits, a change in how the Google Play algorithm weighs keywords in titles was also expected and is likely causing this volatility. We will continue to track how this change continues to impact Google Play rankings. Stay tuned for further findings.
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