If you talk to even the least competent search engine optimisation consultant, you will quickly realise that it is now impossible to game the system any longer. Leapfrog SEO believe the only way for your website to rise to the top of the search engine listings is by offering the most useful match for the user’s query. The website has to be of high quality and be well respected. The same applies to app store apps.

Google Play is considered by most as the best app store on any platform since it naturally promotes the best quality apps to the top. Users get the very best apps with minimal searching while the best app developers are rewarded for their efforts. The only question is, how is the “quality” of an app measured by Google?

Retention is the main criteria that Google currently uses. According to Google, if a user is still using an app one month after installing it then he/she probably has had a good experience. So, your app is essentially rated on the number of new users that are still using it a certain number of days or weeks later.

Previously, Google focused more on the ratings, updates, reviews, as well as responses to reviews. Today, all these are no longer all that important. Obviously, they will feature somewhere in Google’s algorithm, but retention trumps all of them. It even trumps star ratings, albeit counter-intuitively. So, how can you improve retention?

1. Make It Easy to Use

It is fundamentally obvious advice in numerous ways. The only question, however, is how you can actually make your software easy to use. Suffice to say a good UX/UI that makes it completely clear how the app should be used will help reduce a drop-off in terms of retention.

One common misstep is providing just a few initial instructions regarding how the app should be used. If instructions are needed for your app, then you have probably designed it poorly. If you absolutely must tell users something, you should use tooltips or similar, but only at the point where the information is likely to help them.

2. Set the Right Expectations for First Time Use

Users will probably give you app very little time; mainly looking at the screenshots or pictures as opposed to what you have written. They often have a specific experience or task in mind and will probably only give the listing a brief glance. If the listing suggests that the app is likely to meet their needs, then they will probably try it out.

If the app fails to immediately offer what the description tells them to expect, they will probably uninstall it or never use it again. Both outcomes are equivalent when it comes to retention figures.

3. Keep It Fresh

If you have a content-based app such as a level-based game as opposed to a utility, you should keep adding new content. Users are more likely to revisit apps if they expect to see something new every time. You can visit the BBC News app 10 times in one day and you will see something different each time; this helps drive reuse.

4. Improve The User Experience on First Use

If you would like users to sign up, be sure to ask for as little as possible from them. If the sign up process feels buggy, is complex, or asks too many questions, users will simply dump your app.

5. Remember To Invite Users Back

Re-invite users back to the app using push messaging. Keep your push messages personal as opposed to generic – so for instance, if a user has previously purchased something from you, tell them when there’s a special offer on something that goes with it. Avoid telling them that you have started stocking a new brand of god food since that user probably doesn’t even have a dog.