April 16, 2012

Publishing a Chrome Extension? 7 Tips to Get More Downloads

Ecquire in the Chrome Web Store

Launching your Chrome Extension is technically very straightforward. However, getting the most from Google’s Chrome Web Store (especially in terms of traffic) is less obvious. Here’s what we at Ecquire have learned from launching on the Chrome Web Store.

Ecquire in the Chrome Web Store

Image credit:

1. Beautify Your Chrome Extension

Load the Chrome Web Store – look at all the pretty pictures:

The Store was designed to be endlessly browsable. It’s meant to look good. If you make the Chrome Web Store look good, you will be rewarded.

Invest a lot in these assets. Don’t just slap up your logo on a white background. Make something eye-popping that will stand out among all the gorgeous graphics you have to compete with.

When Chrome Store team members are choosing a product to feature, what do you think is one of their biggest minimum requirements? That it has beautiful assets!

We recommend involving a professional graphic designer to build all three asset sizes. Have them look around, especially at the top-featured extensions and apps and figure out what they’re doing right. Point them to Google’s recommendations to get started.

For example, Google says: “Use saturated colors if possible” I don’t know what that means, but a designer certainly would.

Also, do this as soon as possible in your development process because it takes a few days to a few weeks for the CWS team to manually approve your assets.

(Wait, what did you say? Google doing something manually? Yep – that just goes to show how much they value good-looking assets.)

Would you rather show up above the fold

Featured Chrome Extensions
or below the fold?

Chrome Extensions Below the Fold
The difference is whether you uploaded assets or not. We immediately started seeing a spike in downloads when our assets were approved because Chrome started rotating our listing above the fold, on their front page.

2. Pitch Your Chrome Extension in 5 Seconds

Now that you have beautiful assets, you’re going to show up on thousands of computer screens and get thousands of clicks.

It’s time to convert those clicks to installations. You’re not safe yet; to paraphrase Paul Graham, “your biggest competitor is the back button.” That means people need to quickly understand what the heck your extension DOES. Otherwise they will return to the colorful candyland they just came from.

What do you think is the most important element in keeping someone past the first five seconds? Like anything else on the web, the visual slides and video!

A rookie mistake would be to simply toss in some screenshots and get back to coding. That will be a huge waste of traffic that the Chrome Web Store is sending your way.

The smarter route is to tell a story. Choose the top 3-4 points you want to highlight about your product and display them prominently. Include text, and graphically enhance your screenshots. Here’s an example from the Ecquire entry.

Ecquire Automates Contact Entry
Evernote is another example of elegantly explaining a feature through an enhanced screenshot:

Chrome Extension Enhanced Screenshot
Chrome Web Store users have many alternatives to try out, and are expecting visually appealing, easily understandable graphical assets *inside* your app as well.


3. Allow Users to Download Your Chrome Extension Directly from Your Website

It’s important to get those download numbers up. For visitors that find you through your own website, the Chrome Web Store makes it possible to continue channeling them through the same hosted extension, but without having to actually divert them to the Chrome Web Store.

Here’s what a user will see pop up right over your page (yep – your page)

This is an absolutely fantastic feature everyone should be using. Not only do users not have to leave your website, their download raises your user count back on your Chrome page.

(Check out the benefits of the Chrome Inline Installer and see what it did to Ecquire’s metrics.)

4. Choose the Right Category for Chrome Extension

Chances are your app falls into several categories and you’re wondering what to choose.

Recall that the Chrome Web Store is designed primarily for people who browse without a specific aim in mind.

Here’s my advice – go into each category you’re considering (even those that may sound logically ridiculous) and see which has the least competition yet the most downloads per extension. That’s the sweet spot.

We’re listing Ecquire in “Social Media and Communication” even though we felt that we also fit “Productivity” because after trying both, we found that the former gets us more downloads.

5. Pump up your Reviews, Ratings, and +1’s

When someone lands on your extension page, the next thing they’ll check is for social proof. How popular is this? Can I trust these guys?

In the Chrome Store this means reviews, ratings, and +1’s

Ecquire 5 Star Reviews
If you want to see more downloads you need to reassure people that they’re not the first to try this and there are many other happy customers already using your extension.

Work to put your extension in front of as many people in your network as you can, and ask them to leave a review if they’re happy. This takes a lot of door-to-door manual work but your first batch of users is always the hardest to earn, in any business.

Once you have more +1’s and ratings your Chrome Web Store page will become more credible (and I’d wager more highly promoted by the Chrome Web Store’s algorithm)

There’s a fine line of ethics not to be crossed here – don’t just manually create fake reviews or get the guy next to you to click five stars. People aren’t stupid.

6. Do you Request Scary Permissions? Explain Yo’ Self

So you got someone all the way to clicking the magical “Add to Chrome” button. And suddenly they see this:

Evernote Privacy Settings
Unless you have a strong brand like Evernote, they’re probably going to turn back and go download Yahtzee instead. You can do something about this.

Since most of the explanation for your product is done in the visual slides, you can use the description to explain any scary moments people may experience.

Ecquire used to include our privacy policy in our description, and today we’ve moved to highlighting testimonials. We have heard from users that they got past their privacy fears thanks to reading that.

7. Create a Welcome Page for your Chrome Extension

Don’t leave your new users hanging. When people download your extension, Chrome pops up a welcome message showing them where to find it.

Successfully Downloaded Ecquire Chrome Extension
That’s very useful for Chrome to do, but we feel it’s not enough for our users and may leave them hanging, saying “um, what’s next?”

To make sure our users knew what the next thing to do was, we made sure to pop up a new tab with our own welcome message and instructions on what to do next. I highly recommend doing this for extensions applying to a specific website where it’s not obvious to the user to head to that website.

Ecquire Welcome Page

You’ve already gotten this user to download your extension – don’t lose them to confusion. Keep the process smooth.



As you’ve seen, uploading your zip file to the Chrome Web Store isn’t enough. There’s a lot of thinking that goes into a high-traffic entry, but there’s no magic. It’s the same principles that go into promoting any page on the web. The Chrome Web Store hasn’t even shown the world its full potential and better to understand its inner workings before the rest of the world catches on.

Any more tips we missed that you want others to know about? Tell us in the comments below we’ll happily include your tip with a link to your extension up here.


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