August 27, 2014

Google Tweaking Market Rankings

Many have noted how ironic it is that search giant Google has not been able to get search right in its own Android Market. It’s a problem that they’ve probably been working on behind the scenes for some time, but recently some have noticed dramatic changes (generally for the better) in how search results and category rankings are weighted.

Some changes may date back to December, when Reddit users noticed that Google was making adjustments. This week, however, social networking site MyYearbook has provided data on how they’ve noticed Market search rankings of their Android apps changing in the past month.

In a post at GigaOM, MyYearbook CEO Geoff Cook noted that the main MyYearbook app recently jumped from #63 to #11 in its category ranking, while a couple of games they’ve published dropped in their categories at around the same time. For all, new installations, previously thought to be the main driver of these rankings, remained fairly steady up to the point the rankings changed.

Cook speculates that Google has begun taking into account the number of active users of each app for these rankings. Distinguishing between users who have an app installed but are not using it and those who are actively using it is something developers can accomplish by using an analytics package within their app, but it would be news to learn that Google is also tracking users’ app usage habits on a broad basis. This makes Cook’s speculation seem unlikely, though MyYearbook’s data does show that Google has changed something about how it’s ranking apps in the Market.

Have you noticed a change in how apps are ranked while browsing the Market? If you’re a developer, have you seen a change in your own apps’ rankings? Let us know in the comments.