Over the last few weeks, we have been helping with the launch of Majestic SEO's new Chrome Extension. It took a few weeks, but it now seems that the extension is pretty prominent in the Chrome store. As I speak it is trending top of its class in the "Search Tools Extensions" category and ranks for most appropraite search phrases that I have tested:
This post shows you some of the insights that we learnt during the process - a checklist on how to make your Chrome store apps and extensions off to the best possible start.
If you don't want to take the risk of doing this yourself, consider getting a reliable SEO company to look at optimising your Google Chrome store for you. Infact, there is even a big advantage in letting them set up the store itself before optimising, because the optimisation started before the extension was even finished. Of course, I recommend that you talk to Receptional if you want this process managed correctly.
Chrome Store Optimisation factors
Build something that doesn't already exist in the store
This is by far the best bit of advice I can start with when creating content for the Chrome store. If you are going to build another app to share your files across directories, for example, it sounds like a good plan until you realise that Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and Skydrive are all listed on the most popular productivity apps and even the least popular of these has well over 200,000 downloads. I can show you how to get download plenty with a new app which does this, but ultimately you will not be able to challenge these tools unless you have your own angle or audience in which case your brand and reputation will ultimately transcend keyword optimisation as people will mainly check out your brand, not your keywords.
Why keywords will make a big difference
Having said that you need to make something with a unique angle, it still remains incredibly easy to get the equivalent of a "Googlewhack" on the Chrome store. Even though Google Drive has had over 10 Million installs around the world, when you type "Virtual Drive" into the Chrome Store search bar nothing resembling Google Drive appears - just onine car games and the like. When you drill down and search just within productivity tools, none of the four virtual drive systems in the category mentioned above appear. Infact I got zero results, but it appears that Google is working on their relevance algorithm when you search within a category - testing whether responding with a wider results set is stronger than returning a null set. Right now... on that keyphrase.... it makes no difference because the user is not satisfied in either instance. So the failure is in the virtual drive apps not recognising the keyword or helping Google's algorithms to recongnise that they are a valid response for this search phrase. So keywords are important. Get your keyword suggestion tools out (Majestic SEO's anchor text checking is an interesting alternative to Google's keyword tools) and start building up many different ways to describe your app or extension. You are going to need most of them when you start to write your descriptive text and writing good quality content to describe your app is going to make quite a difference.
Use an Email Address that is Already Verified in Google Webmaster Tools
This is important. When you set up the Chrome Store, you need to pay Google a one- off fee of $5, which will lock your store into a single email address. If you want your app to be an "official" app, then Google will only let you make apps which are already verified with the email address used by the store owner as official apps for given websites. So Majestic's Chrome app is only an "official MajesticSEO.com app" because the store is managed and owned by a @majesticseo.com identity and majesticseo.com is already verified and associated with that email address in GWT. So this is like authorship for Chrome store and the difference is a reassuring "green tick" on your listing. This is going to increase conversion rates and in turn, conversion rates increase install counts and that directly affects your "rankings" in the search by popularity drop down... so that's just one clear reason why having an "official" item in the store is a direct "ranking factor".
Apps get more Downloads than Extensions
We built an Extesion, not an App. If our sole objective was to generate downloads, we might think differently next time. Here's why...
There are three types of code that you can upload to the Google Chrome store: Apps, Extensions and Themes. However - if you are a user on the store and you type in a keyword trying to find something to "fix" your current need, the Chrome store defaults to its list of APPS. It does not (as of this publication date) blend the results of themes or extensions. This means that if you feel you audience doesn't know the difference, then you might want to consider building an APP rather than anything else. You can see some empirical evidence to support this theory. The category "productivity" appears in both Extensions and Apps and it does seem that this logic is backed up in download numbers - which you can see by sorting the gategories into "popular" order.
Of course - building an App instead of an extension only optimises your chance of getting seen in the Chrome store. It does not increase the chances of people actually USING your code. Building an extension means that users can easily access your tool from the Chrome Browser, but an app requires the users to actually open the app to use every time.
You need some Artwork
Specifically - when you upload your extension or app - only one image is compulsory, but you can optionally upload three banners which will greatly improve the on page real estate you occupy when a user searches the Chrome store.
Specifically, an image sixed 96x96 pixels is compulsory, but you can also optionally add:
Clearly - getting these done professionally will be a long term win for you. There is some helpful advice on how to make these banners stand out on the Google Chrome store itself.
The "Detailed Description" is a Ranking Factor
You are given 16,000 characters to describe your tool. When I added Majestic SEO's description, I happened to use the phrase "speed limits apply" in the text. Now - when I go to the Chrome store and search (in Extensions) for "speed limits apply", the Majestic Extension shows prominently - even though it is not a relevant result. So this tells us that the content in the detailed description has to be a ranking factor - although it does not seek to measure the weighting of the content. In this case I don't feel the "correlation is not causation" argument holds much water - you can go to almost any app or extension in the store and select a snippet of text which is not relevent to the product from the description and chances are the app or extension will appear at the top of your next chrome store search, even if you use a different computer and identity to do the search.
Now - 16,000 characters is a LOT of descriptive text. It is around 2,000 words. If you used all 2,000 words I suspect that many of your users would not read the whole description - so laying the text out to make a compelling case to your reader is vital in keeping up your conversion rate. This means making sure that you tell the user in the first sentence exactly what the tool or extension does, then highlighting the benefits. However, there are plenty of opportunity here to use all your keywords identified above. Knowing that they will affect the search results directly should make a huge difference when you write up the descriptive text. But be warned... if you mislead the user, then unlike traditional search where you may think there is little or no consequence, the consequences of misleading the user here will be swift and severe as the rating feedback loop will quickly demonstrate.
The descriptive text is very prominent when a user drills down on a result to see if the app or extension is right for them. They instantly see scrolling screenshots with the description to the right. This is not enough to show the whole description, so make sure the salient points and benefits fit on this screen. When the user clicks on the description itself, they get more text before having to scroll. I decided to make sure my description filled this space, but did not use the full 16,000 characters. In fact - I only used about 1,600 characters... about 200 words. Never let optimisation of an algorithm swamp the chance of getting into the head of the user. The user (in my case) can easily understand how valuable the Majestic SEO Chrome extension is within 200 words and asking them to read 2,000 would probably decrease conversion rates. Over time I may be able to test the optimum number of words here - but clarity of message, with user benefits and reducing barriers in the mind of the user seem to be the best focuses for the description... AS LONG as you use the important keywords that you want the user to find you on when searching.
Put a Prominent "Rate it" Button on your Extension or Tool
On our first "beta" we did not have a prominent "rate it" button. It dawned on me that ratings and reviews are a significant factor in a user deciding whether to install a new piece of software. If people don't give reviews and rate the product, then there is little positive reinforcement for the reader. By simply adding a tab saying "rate it" and linking this to the Googe Chrome ratings url for this extension, we were able to start gettng genuine reviews and feedback out of the gate. You could probably also add social buttons to get the message out, but rating the extension seems a stronger call to action for SEOP for us. Because you can reorder the store result by "ratings", this was an easy win for us. Of course... this is predecated by the knowledge that you have a robust and valuable piece of software before you start! Otherwsie you will get BAD ratings... which brings me on to the next tip...
Closed Beta Testing will Improve your SEO
The Chrome store back end has a really useful service which I suggest you make use of. Instead of uploading an extension directly to a live environment, you can make it only accessible to a Google group. Majestic does not use Google Groups as a rule, but in this case we set up an "email only" group. Only people on a closed email list could see and test the extension. This was really helpful because we could ask our ambassadors and testers to give us private feedback BEFORE we added the rate this button. There is nothing worse than launching a great new product that gets bad feedback due to a silly visual UX error. Get these sorted out BEFORE launch. You don't need to be totally perfect... but you do need to make sure that the vast majority of early adopters will give you good feedback and have a good experience. Those early ratings and reviews will affect everything thereafter... opinions, rankings, conversions and trust in your brand.
Use the closed beta testing also to visualise what the users are going to see when they click on your tool. Is you descriptive text reading well? Do your screenshots look as good as they can? Does it look professional?
Lastly, using the closed beta gives you the final URL that you will need to link to the item in the store after it launches. If anyone knows anything about how Receptional likes to go about launching a new product or service online, having the url in advance is a very useful asset, because you can coordinate your PR and social campaign in advance as well.
Switch on the Feedback Button
In the setup, in additon to the rate and review buttons, you can also optionally have a feedback Buttton on, where users can submit bug reports or support issues. I recommend switching this on, otherwise any bugs will not only take longer to find and rectify, but you will also force user to make their bug reports out in the "review" feedback instead... which is public! so switch the feedback button on to minimise bad reviews.
Back your Launch up with a Campaign
When we did launch our new extension, it was important that we told our friends and the industry. I cannot empirically say that having downloads out of the gate makes a difference to the results - but it certainly makes a difference to you or your client! Getting people to use the tool is, after all, the whole point. You are going to want to tell all your users and customers soon anyway so why not coordinate this message so that you friends find out from YOU, not second hand. Then THEY can tell their friends about the cool "thing" they have found in the Chrome store.
I believe this is important because success breeds success in the Chrome store. It is nothing if not meritocracy based. As downloads increase, so does the prominence in the store. As these guys give positive ratings, the prominence in the store increases. As the reviews get stronger, the potential to become a "recommended" extension increses in the Chrome store. You see how it all hangs together? Soft launching your tool in the Chrome store may be a tactical mistake either based on laziness or a lack of audience or resource. Don't do it if you want your tool to be prominent in the store sooner rather than later.
Consider Multiple Languages
If you have language skills internally, it is useful to know that the Chrome store allows you to enter the description in multiple languages. Even if you don't, you could probably get the description translated very easily on a service like Odesk.com or (if quality is not SO important) you could just try fiverr.com. We launched in French, German and Italian out of the gate and it is easy to add more languages later. The langauge choice is decided by the user's browser settings - so you are likely to get a better conversion rate if you speak to your users in their own language.
Success isn't Instant
The store does give you limited information about impressions and downloads in the store.
(The two lines are not using the same scale). When we initially launched, our listing did not appear in the Chrome store listings right out of the gate. We had to start getting traction for our Extension separately to the store. I even found myself emailing an address available from the Chrome help to ask if I had done something wrong. I did not get a reply - but it does just seem that there is a lag of a few days.
Within a couple of days we started to appear at the category level under the "trending" tab, but is took some time for the algorithm to start mirroring the success we were having on the installations with corresponding success on the impressions line.
When users typed a search phrase, our extension was highly prominent (with the provison that we had created an extension, not an app). So this was good and instant, but the store listings themselves are generally used by people browsing to see extension or apps that interest them - for generating ideas. They do not start always with a keyowrd search. So this is important because THESE users have the potential to be brand new users. But clearly from the chart, a little patience is needed here (although Christmas may also have distorted the charts considerably).
If I was Google, I would expect that over time, the impressions Google gives would generally mirror the installations Google sees... except that Google has omitted an important metric here. This chart just shows impressions and installations... but does not show installations that came as a function of the user clicking on the listing in the Chrome store. Majestic generated plenty of its own installations and I think this will have dramatically affected the graph. The more "independent" the app or extension is from Google, the more it can control its own destiny. In turn, this will increase the conversion rates Google sees for your tool and app. So again... success breeds success.
I hope these tips and ideas help you if you are going to launch something in the Chrome store. Receptional will of course be happy to help if you want to get it as right as you can. Just talk to Haydn Bass using the contact form below.
If you have other tips and ideas to make your app a success, please add them in the comments below.