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Google had announced changes to its Chrome Web Store policies to combat spam. Developers and publishers have until August 27th to comply with the updated policies or risk being removed from the Web Store.  These developments have presented publishers and developers with a host of tricky challenges – but by following these eight tips, can help in introducing successful extensions that deliver real value for users.

 

1. Avoid duplicates

Your extension should be unique to your company. Developers should not publish more than one extension that offers the same experience or functionality, or they will likely be banned for spamming. That means each extension should solve a distinct problem or present a unique purpose for the user. You cannot offer three weather forecast extensions, for example.

2. Keep the description clear and concise

When writing the meta description for your extension, keep in mind that it should be original and descriptive. Excessive or misleading content in any part of the app overview, including the developer name, title, icon, and screenshots, can get your app disabled. Anonymous testimonials are not allowed, so it would be better to avoid testimonials in the extension description. Savvy end users on the lookout for malicious extensions will be on the lookout for suspicious testimonials or an unusually high volume of users.

3. Avoid an excess of keywords

Keyword spamming is understandably not allowed. To that end, Google allows a maximum of five keywords in the description. Choose carefully to maximize your exposure within the Web Store to high-intent users.

4. Be thoughtful about reviews

Reviews should be real and not anonymous. Incentivizing users to download or review your extension is prohibited. Installing counters or other mechanisms that can inflate your product rating is considered misleading and is also not allowed. Note that end-users have their eyes peeled for suspicious reviews; a nearly 1:1 ratio of users to positive reviews is often a telltale sign of fake reviews and downloads.  

5. Keep data requests to a minimum

Chrome requires apps and extensions to protect user data by asking for the bare minimum of data absolutely necessary for implementing their features. Developers should ensure that data requests are minimized – both to stay in compliance with Chrome’s new policies and to build user trust.

6. Have a privacy policy on hand

Any extension that uses personal data, user-provided content, or personal communications requires posting a privacy policy. While working to minimize data collection, developers should see to it that their extensions comply with data security best practices. Asking users to opt-in to sharing personal data is advisable over making it the default.

7. Check open source code

When developing your extension, avoid using unchecked open source code. Open source code packages are useful and save developers a lot of time. However, hackers often exploit these packages to insert malicious code into an app. Accordingly, developers should track the origin of the source code as much as possible, staying vigilant for any anomalies or loopholes.

8. Steer clear of prohibited extensions

Chrome bans extensions whose function is simply to launch another app or webpage; extensions that send spam or unwanted messages; and extensions that publish messages or posts on the user’s behalf without requesting the user’s confirmation. There’s no way around this – and any attempt to skirt the rules is a surefire recipe for getting banned.  

The widespread popularity of Chrome extensions should not make users vulnerable to fraudulent and misleading apps. The new Google policy tries to make extensions more secure for users while helping developers and publishers elevate the quality of their offers. By complying with these new policies, publishers and developers can not only provide value but also gain trust.