While recently re-examining the Google Play Store policies, we took another look at the rules against keyword spam and what the company suggests for app descriptions. Developers are advised to stay away from classic spam techniques like repetitive keywords, exceedingly long descriptions, and unrelated keywords or references. Publishers will often use these tactics in an attempt to sneak their apps into unrelated search results. One of the most interesting of these recommendations comes at the tail end of the page where Google advises against referencing other apps you've published.

Excessive detail, references to your other apps

Your app description should avoid excessive detail and references to your other apps or products. For example, you should not list all of the details of content included in the app or its various components, as shown in the example below. Also, the description should not include any references to other apps you’ve published.

The explanation is followed by this example:

If you like this app try our other free apps:
★ Fun Zoo
★ CD Guns
★ Dessert House
★ Playground
★ 578 Weapons

This policy is obviously there to prevent developers with multiple titles in their portfolio from gaining an unfair advantage or inflating search results. Historically, this practice has been heavily abused by game publishers, but also shows up with many utility apps. While it's not spelled out, this rule probably doesn't apply to edge cases like game sequels, unlock keys, plugins, or apps with tight feature integration (eg. a news app that can repost to Twitter and Facebook).

Given how easy it is to find examples of this practice, it's likely most developers don't even realize they have been violating this policy. Some larger game studios, like Gameloft and Glue, have already changed their app descriptions to reflect this rule. However, there are still plenty of offenders, including everybody's favorite: King. The prolific trademark owner, and maker of Candy Crush Saga, mentions its runaway hit in 4 out of 5 games on the Play Store (Note: 1 of those is the game itself).




It's not clear if Google is actively enforcing this policy or if its presence is simply a warning to potential offenders. Nonetheless, it might be a good time to tidy up some descriptions. If your app gets removed, don't say we didn't warn you.

Source: Play Store Policy Guidelines and Practices

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • darkdude1

    Hopefully that means Candy™ Crush can be removed from the play store :D

    • Ygor Vaz

      Just a random question: did you copy the name from somewhere else or did you manually inputed the ™?

      • darkdude1


      • Chris P

        In Windows, it's alt-0153 on the numpad. I think compose-t,m works for some layouts too. :D

      • abobobilly

        You should search for some keywords which are useful universally. For example:
        Alt + 0153 = ™
        Alt + 0163 = £
        Alt + 0169 = ©

        I am a professional typist and when i am given to type a Book, i find myself using these millions of times. So yeah, its pretty useful.

        • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

          Alt + 0174 = ®


    • Alan Shearer

      Remove that TM, right now!!

  • anzensepp1987

    So please ban all this Saga-crap from King, Google. Would be highly appreciated!

    • Dave Waites

      This would please me greatly.

    • alannah mcgrowdie

      My Uncle Connor got Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
      use this link F­i­s­c­a­l­M­a­z­e­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Matthew Fry

    Not only does it mention the game in the description, it mentions it 7 times.

    Also, I'm really disappointed they aren't putting registered trademark symbols. It's like they're trying to get people to unwittingly infringe on their trademark.

    "From KingⓇ, the makers of CandyⓇ Crush SagaⓇ on Facebook and CandyⓇ Crush SagaⓇ on iOS, comes CandyⓇ Crush SagaⓇ!"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      You missed the one on iOS :)

      • Matthew Fry

        Fixed. Just for you :)

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs


      • Matthew Fry

        We can only hope that their stock will tank like Zynga's.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          I wish I could give more than one up-vote for that

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

    So, are these a violation -
    1. Share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+
    2. Latest icons added for Room 2, Flappy Bird, ....
    3. This skin pack contains widget skins for Facebook, instagram, Vine....

    How is a developer supposed to highlight that his app supports those features or what components his app has?

    In my opinion - Banning texts like "From the makers of..." is going too far. That's used in all sorts of product marketing, not only apps.

    • cmikeh2

      According to Google's text this rule only applies to including other references to apps that you've published. Since that's describing how your product relates to other products I can't imagine that that usage is banned.

      • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

        Doesn't mentioning others' popular app in your description sound more shady? i.e. you are trying to cash in on someone else's app's popularity. I can't take advantage of my own app's popularity but can do so with other's app - sounds nuts.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I was a bit curious about the social network names in particular, because that's present on almost every listing. I can't see why anybody would object to those unless it's a belligerent case of keyword shotgunning.

      All of those other examples fit within what I mentioned in the post. They specifically reference another app because their purpose is tied to it. I think Google is more concerned with phrases like, "If you like xxx launcher, you should also try xxx twitter client."

      I agree, "from the makers of..." is exceedingly common in marketing, and for good reason, but it has been used pretty heavily abused in the past by larger publishers to sorta take over and dominate the Play Store rankings. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's ruining things for indie and small publishers, but it's one of those little things that could help to balance the scales a little bit.

  • TheSparks

    I have some serious hatred towards King these days. Hope Candy Crush gets taken down.

    • abobobilly

      ... and the dev, HANGED.

      • TheSparks

        Haha maybe that's a bit too far :P

        • abobobilly

          Well "HE" started it. -.-

  • Mike Reid

    Say what !! ??

    So I can't describe the differences between the full, light or free versions of my apps ???

    That clearly makes no sense, but I presume Google isn't enforcing this strictly given that we haven't heard much about this before.

  • Kayd

    Until Google enforce this rule, most developer will simply ignore it.

  • sam

    It is clear that Google is not as strong as Apple in enforcing rules in its store like this one.

    I hope Google becomes stricter with developers. This will NOT stop developers from posting their apps. Apple has much tougher rules and apps keep raining in the appstore.

    • godutch

      Google's search technique is much better though

  • godutch

    @Cody Toombs, what horrible font rendering on those screenshots, my eyes hurt just reading these little bits of text

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      That's Chrome on Windows for ya. I normally use Chrome on Mac for my screenshots, but it wasn't next to me when I wanted to take them.

      • Roh_Mish

        The font Google uses for play store never correctly renders on my windows Laptop or PC. Works on Ubuntu though (some issues aside)

      • godutch

        It looks better on my win8.1 x86_64 and chrome (but I have office installed, so I might be using a different font).

  • The_Chlero

    I hope this also means that apps like Twitter get rid of their usual "this update include many improvements"