How to Boost Your App Ranking with Quality Ratings and Reviews

By George Nader | February 26th, 2015

There’s no denying the importance of app ratings and reviews - they are the social proof that determines your app’s success. Visitors to the app stores flock to highly rated apps and read reviews to see if an app is worth downloading.

But what is the real effect of ratings and review? Are they only there to affect the downloader’s decision? In fact, ratings and reviews are taken highly into consideration when a new user is browsing the stores for that new helpful app or addictive game. However, app ratings and reviews also affect your ASO and search rankings.

Effect of App Reviews and Ratings on Store Ranking

Ratings and reviews are all about gaining users’ trust, but they also have an impact on rankings and where your app shows up in an app store search. Proving that they have a direct effect isn’t simple, but the widely rumored algorithms used by the Apple Store and Google Play do confirm their importance:

Apple’s: (# of installs weighted for the past few hours) + (# of installs weighted for the past few days) + REVIEWS (star rating + number of reviews) + Engagement (# of times app opened etc.) + Sales ($).

Google Play’s: [temporary relevance * t + keyword frequency in the title * u + keyword frequency in the description * v + ratings * w + composite score * x + active installs in per cent * y + black magic * z ].

Unfortunately, we don’t have a confirmed formula, but what we can demonstrate is a case study done by MobileDevHQ. They set up this test to see how an app's average ratings affect its position in search results. For each set of keywords (easy, medium, hard), they noted the average rating of the first apps to appear.

app ratings-app reviews-app ranking

We can also take a look at the ratings of the Top 1000 apps, as Appurify has done, to see that ratings play a significant role in ranking.

As we see from the chart, more than 70% of the top 1000 apps have a rating of 4 or higher, showing that top rated apps are also the most downloaded. In short, breaking into the top lists and going viral is pretty tough without a high ranking.

app ratings-app reviews-app ranking-appsbuilder

So what can you start doing today to improve your rankings? Get more high quality reviews & ratings! With approximately two-thirds of the apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store missing a single review, it's one of the best ways to flex some ASO muscle. Plus, on the App Store, your average rating will only appear once you have at least 5 reviews - so meeting that milestone should be on every app marketers plan!

Driving Quality Ratings and Reviews

App marketing tasks to generate app reviews and ratings can be split into two channels. The first is in-store and through your app:

  • Get featured on Apple Store or reviewed on Google Play under editor's choice: this would be awesome for obvious reasons!
  • Localize your app: to get rankings in as many key countries as possible. 56.2% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. Google Play offers in its platform an option to translate the app description and tags into whichever language you desire for custom prices.
  • Use push notification or pop-up messages in your app to ask for active users to give their feedback
  • Counteract negative feedback by creating an in-app form for users to report bugs or issues
  • After fixing bugs and re-publishing your app, reply and ask users who gave a bad review to reconsider

The second way is through external and inbound services:

  • TapStream for instance offers a free tool to add to your website or landing page so users can rate directly from the website!
  • During Beta releases, ask bloggers and early adopters to rate and review your app in order to have an average rating once the app is out.
  • Experiment with app engagement advertising to re-target your super-users with CTAs
  • Segment your email list to target app users (by OS) and ask them to review your app (make sure you link to the correct stores)
  • Include a CTA to review your app in your email signature

Beware of Using Unethical Techniques

It may be tempting to reply to an ad you find by companies who provide fake ratings and reviews. Being truthful, it is tempting to invest in a tool with a 100% ROI guarantee. But is the reward as real as it sounds? Apple has started to break down fake reviews done from fake profiles and the consequences are pretty harsh. Depending on how much lying and faking has been done, the penalty goes from banning your app to taking away your publisher accounts. Google Play still hasn’t specified how they would penalize such actions, however, they take into consideration app usage as well as ratings and reviews. Which means that buying reviews and having zero to few active users will not enough to get you top listed.

That being said, there's been so much study into what real vs fake reviews looks like that you'll be sure to be caught. Penalties aside, reviews and ratings give you valuable insight into how users see your app, and that's marketing gold!

This article was originally published on the AppsBuilder Blog and it can be found here.

George Nader
This article was generously submitted by George Nader, App Marketer at AppsBuilder – a cloud-based development platform that makes app creation easy. George writes blog posts about app marketing, promotion and user acquisition. Born in Lebanon, he is a mountain and outdoor enthusiast. You can read more of his posts on the AppsBuilder Blog or by following them @appsbuilder.