Google Play keyword searches

Did anyone else notice Google changed the way Play search worked with multiple word queries a few months ago?

What appeared to happen near April was that they started treating individual words in a search as separate criteria. Searching for “banana milk” would no longer return apps with “banana” and “milk” in the title/description. Rather, it would return any app with “banana” or “milk” in the title/description. If “banana” was a more popular term than “milk”, all the apps with “banana” only were on top and buried the ones with “milk” only. Most multi-word queries started returning 250+ results because of it., even for obscure phrases, if one of the words was common.

Since then, searching for something like “fruit bug” would almost always return Fruit Ninja as the top result, even though “bug” wasn’t in the title or description. This caused havoc with a couple of my apps, pushing them well down the results even when searching by name. It didn’t seem to affect older apps that had locked in a high position for a particular keyword.

Did anyone else notice this? I’m asking because I just had a shock when I searched Google Play and found one of my apps using its actual name. Yesterday it had been buried as usual.

I’m in Australia, so perhaps it was just us that were affected?

I know that previous algorithm changes have happened on the last day of the month, so maybe they are putting it back the way it used to be?

hmmm… that’s what I called informative post, I haven’t noticed that but yes now I can see the difference you are talking about !! :open_mouth: that’s horrible …

I can see the difference too here in the UK. One of my games used to appear way down below others when I searched by its name. Today it appears top.

Funny thing is Google won the search engine war because they were the first to do the opposite - they have been returning only results in which all words from the query were used. Their other sites like Google Play or YouTube seem to always use sub-par search engines though.

The way it was working, it favoured established apps over newcomers. Maybe I’m cynical, but I thought they’d changed it to force developers to buy ads.

Search has continued to adjust over the past 12 hours. It now seems to be fetching a list of apps that closely match all the keywords, plus every app that matches any of the keywords. The results are then interleaved, starting with a couple of the closest matches, followed by some apps from each of the separate queries, sorted by popularity of the app for its keyword.

Searching for “candy ant” will return candy themed apps, interleaved with a few ant themed apps, with candy ordered first. And, without Candy Crush in the list.

It also seems to be taking into account word relationships. Searching for “candy sweet” will include Candy Crush in the results.

At least there’s now some room to optimise an app, assuming it settles down…

Wow, I didn’t know this, but it makes perfect sense why one of my apps went from over 1k dls per day for the last 3 YEARS, to <300 dls per day. And it happened all of a sudden I think back in April.