Every app marketer (you and I included) dream of 5 star ratings on the app store. But what exactly is all the fuss about? To put it simply, more positive reviews will help us attract new users. Users searching for new apps, read reviews, see how many stars, Google +’s or Facebook Likes you have and then decide to download, or not!
Social proof is one of the main reasons to build up your reviews & ratings, but do app ratings and reviews affect your app discoverability in other way? The answer is YES – they actually affect your overall ranking!
How do reviews & rating affect ranking?
Looking at the app store lists of best rated apps, it’s clear that a high rating will help your app move up the ranking. However, a high rating alone won’t ensure ranking success – it’s a competitive world out there! In fact, if we look at the top 100 apps, a sizeable majority of the apps (75%) were at least rated 4-stars.
So how exactly do ratings and reviews mathematically influence ranking?
The secret formula for Apple is rumored to be: (# 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, on the other hand has a slightly different formula: [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 ].
As you can see, ratings are a parameter found in both algorithms for both stores. This is mathematical proof that reviews and ratings ARE in fact a consideration when ranking your app. Need more proof?
MobileDevHQ set up a test to see how an app’s average ratings affect its position in search results. Taking easy, medium, and competitive keywords, they tracked the search results. What did they find? The top ranking apps, no matter how competitive the keyword, almost always had a better rating than the ones that came after (see graph).
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 don’t having a single review, it’s one of the best ways to flex some ASO muscle (appfigures blog, 2014) 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!
How to get more reviews
So what to do? How do you get reviews and ratings? Ask for them! Have a call to action to “Rate and Review Our App” on your product description, in your marketing materials, your emails and newsletters, your social networks – wherever it makes sense. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started: Website:
- TapStream 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
- Get featured on Apple Store or reviewed on Google Play under editor’s choice: this would be awesome for all 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 Promotional pop-ups in your app to ask for active users to give their feedback
- Tip: Counteract negative feedback by creating an in-app form for users to report bugs or issues
- 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
- After fixing bugs and re-publishing your app, ask users who gave a bad review to reconsider
Cheating the system?
If you attempt to cheat the system (for example, by trying to trick the review process, manipulate the ratings, or offering incentives for reviews) your app will likely be removed from the store and worst case scenario, you’ll be expelled from the developer program. Google Play still did not specify any penalty for buying reviews (yet!). However, they monitor both your app reviews and daily users to see if the positive comments match. If your downloads count increases by some buying hack and your app does not deliver the promised, you are bound to get negative reviews. At this point, Google Play will penalize you by giving you a lower store ranking. 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!