So let's say that you spent countless hours developing a new Android app that you believe will change the world. You submit it to Google and it passes with flying colors. The app is published but a bug prevents Android users from finding it and as a result, there are practically no installs. Is this the plot from a new Disney movie called Frozen...out of the Play Store? No, unfortunately, this is a real life situation that was affecting Android developers. For example, a post on the Google Issue Tracker dated November 23rd by the developer of an app called Tire Valet complained that the approved listing could not be found in the Play Store unless a search was made for tire_valet (with the underscore). Another developer complained that he published three apps since October and none of them appeared when he was searching for the titles.
several Reddit posts revealed other examples of apps that were not appearing on the Play Store. Some with hundreds of thousands of installs failed to show up when users searched for them in Google's Android app storefront. And the company's initial response to complaining developers was just self-serving; Google told some of these developers that they should expand their marketing campaigns and spend more on Google's AdWords. But some developers spent as much as $350 a day on the platform and their app (or apps) still were missing in action.While Tire Valet can now be found,
Google has just sent out an update that exterminates the Play Store indexing bug
A Reddit post by a user named omeysalvi sums up the typical reaction by affected developers. "Hi guys, I just launched an Android game a few days ago. The app is published and downloadable through its link. But I cannot find the game in the Google Play Store if I search for it by name. I even added the company name to the game name. Still couldn't find it. It has 10 downloads so far. What am I doing wrong?" Another developer echoed the same complaint. Reddit user neupanedinesh wrote, "Same exact issue for me. I released a new game like a week ago and run an ad campaign just to index the app. I've done a lot of keyword research for it still it's not ranked for any keyword, not even a single keyword. It's so frustrating."
Android Police notes that Google has apparently disseminated a fix exterminating a bug that prevented the Play Store from indexing these newly published apps. Once an app is indexed, the title and keywords associated with the app help it surface during a search. This process can take up to a couple of weeks; a good example of this is the Android version of the official Craigslist app which still does not appear when you search for it in the Play Store. And while this usually resolves itself after a few weeks, many of the developers complaining had published their apps months ago. The good news is that developers have been sending updated posts over the last 24 hours stating that their missing apps are now discoverable using the search tool in the Google Play Store.
An indexing bug has affected Google before. Earlier this year, recently published webpages weren't appearing on Google Search because of a software issue. At the time, the Google Webmasters Twitter account posted a tweet that said indexing issues were causing "stale" search results. Google's recently published report, "How Google Play Works: 2019 Google Play Public Policy Report," mentions how important the Play Store search tool is to users who are looking for an app with specific capabilities. "We want users to have a unique, personalized Google Play Store experience every time they visit the store, and the search functionality in the Google Play Store is an important tool for helping users find the apps and games they’re seeking," the company wrote.