There are a lot of factors that have a direct impact on app ranking and conversion in the App Store and Google Play. In this article, you will find first-hand information and recommendation from a RadASO specialist about the impact of rankings and reviews on ASO and app promotion in both app stores.
1. What is a mobile app rating?
First of all, it is an indicator of the app's quality. Users' star ratings, where 1 represents the lowest score and 5 the highest, are used to determine the rating.
Reviews are written comments in which users share their opinion about the app.
In both stores, the rating of the application is displayed:
- in search results;
- on the app listing page;
- in the reviews section:
To understand how rating and reviews affect conversion, let's look at how these indicators are displayed in the stores.
1.1 Number of ratings received
Users pay attention not only to the rating itself but also to the total number of ratings received, based on which the overall rating is calculated. After all, it is one thing when the app rating is 5 stars and it has received more than hundreds or thousands of evaluations, and another when the high rating is the result of only a few dozen evaluations:
1.2 Average rating indicator
The Apptentive study shows that most users tend to install apps with a rating of at least 4*:
At the same time, an increase in rating from 2 to 3 stars can boost conversion rates by 306%, and from 3 to 4 stars – by 92%:
Therefore, to get as many downloads as possible, it is very important to maintain an app rating of at least 4 in both app stores, and in highly competitive conditions – at least 4.5.
Featured-reviews (ТОP-reviews) – these are reviews selected by page algorithms and displayed directly on the app listing page.
1.3.1 Display in the App Store
In the App Store, only 1 review left by an iPhone user and 2 reviews left by iPad users are displayed in the visible part of the app listing page (we also refer to them as featured reviews), so they should be the main focus.
To view the others, click See All, and then you will see all the reviews that can be sorted:
1.3.2 Display in the Google Play
The visible part of Google Play displays 3 reviews (featured). By clicking the See All Reviews button, you will be able to view all of them and sort the results if need be:
It should also be noted that when users rate the app and post a review in Google Play, the page gives them a prompt where they can answer additional questions, but this is optional, and not all users spend time on it.
What responses can be included in Featured-reviews:
- lengthy comments with a large number of characters (the average length of featured-reviews is approximately >40 words, while the value among reviews that were not featured is <10 words);
- reviews which most users agree with (the average number of likes in the featured reviews is 30, in other reviews it’s roughly 2)
1.3.3 How to delete negative featured reviews
1. It is possible to displace the negative review from the featured section if it gains a certain number of "not useful" marks – this number is determined experimentally for each app.
2. You can displace other featured reviews by increasing the number of "Helpful" marks on the positive reviews you want to see on the first page of the app listing.
3. You can request the removal of reviews that go against the app store’s policies. For instance, you can send a complaint or write to the support chat. In this case, the recommended practice is to file a complaint both on behalf of the developer as well as the users.
For example, this is how you can file a complaint about any review in the Google Play console by sending it for revision and requesting a manual moderator review:
And this is how you can file a complaint on behalf of the user:
However, there is no guarantee that a positive review will replace a negative one. According to our experience, Google Play most often features reviews with different ratings, meaning that among 3 featured reviews, there are likely to be both positive as well as negative ones. Therefore, if you manage to displace one negative review from the visible part of the app listing page, another one will appear instead; unfortunately, there is a high probability that it will also be negative.
The same does not apply to App Store reviews: the visible part of the app can contain both exclusively negative and only positive reviews. Based on the sample size consisting of many apps we’ve analyzed, we’ve spotted a tendency that the most recent user comments are usually included in the featured reviews.
2. Examples of how ratings and reviews impact conversion
Assuming you want to install an app for choosing or making hairstyles. In Google Play search results, you will find several apps that are similar in functionality. Now try to ignore the icon, screenshots, videos, description, and title, and pay attention only to the rating and reviews. Which app would you choose?
The first app has 40 thousand ratings in total and an overall rating of 4.6. In the featured reviews section, users have commented that the app is very useful. The developers reply to each review and show their appreciation for the good feedback.
The second app has less ratings – nine thousand, and the rating is lower – 2.7. After reading the comments of dissatisfied users, which the developers failed to respond to, you are not going to install this app, are you?
Let's consider one more example for the App Store and another niche.
If we look at the results for the search term "English", at first sight, the app "English Grammar in Use" is the least likely to be installed – it has the lowest overall rating and the lowest number of ratings received among all the others.
After opening the app page and seeing negative reviews, your opinion about this app definitely won't change for the better:
The developers often demonstrate their high rating and positive reviews on screenshots in order to convey the app’s advantages in the form of social proof to the target audience:
So, if you want to increase app conversion, you need to focus not only on incorporating graphic elements, but also on getting great reviews and ratings. At the same time, it is important to maintain an average of not lower than 4, and even better – to have a 4.5 or more.
App rating and reviews affect:
- conversion to installs;
- app visibility and sorting in search results;
- brand reputation;
- further app development.
2.1 Impact on conversion to installs
Phiture conducted an interesting study on the impact of rating and reviews on conversion.
A brief summary of the key takeaways:
- Reviews and ratings are one of the most important elements that users take into account before they download an app.
- More than 40% of respondents, according to their claims, highly appreciated the ratings and reviews when deciding to install the app.
- The majority of users pay attention to the rating and favor those apps with higher values for this indicator.
- Out of all reviews, users tend to read a handful of the newest or most relevant comments. Among the respondents, there are also those who use a filter and read negative reviews to identify app problems. Several respondents said they are more trusting of reviews where developers have left a response.
Based on the above, we can conclude that the conversion to installation is mainly influenced by the following:
- Average rating indicator.
- Number of ratings received, based on which the overall rating is calculated.
2.2 Impact on app visibility
The rating score significantly affects the app's visibility:
- Google Play has a filter that allows you to select only the apps with a minimum rating of 4 or even 4.5, so if the user chooses to apply it, apps with a low rating will not appear in the search results.
Therefore, if your app's rating is lower than your competitors', your app will be ranking much lower in the search results, and the likelihood of a user installing it will be lower, too.
2. As we have already stated, ratings and reviews significantly affect the conversion from impressions to installs. In turn, this is reflected in the app's position and visibility in search. As you know, one of the main ranking factors in both app stores is the number of installs. Therefore, we can conclude the following pattern.
Pay attention to the search results for any query – it is very rare to find apps with a low rating in the TOP:
Moreover, the more highly your app is ranked and the more commonly users choose to install it, the more likely it is to be featured – as a result, your app can appear in the top categories, thematic collections, etc. It means that your app will appear in the most visible parts of the app store and can thus get even more installs. We've done some analysis to back this up, and the findings are here for you to see.
App rating analysis in the top App Store categories
We have chosen several parameters for the analysis:
- all countries with more than 7 million users according to the table;
- all App Store categories.
- The majority of the apps ranking in the TOP-3 among the TOP categories have a rating of 4 and above. The UK has the most apps that fit the criteria – 91%, and Korea has the least – 68%. The average figure among all countries is 78%.
- There are much fewer apps in the top categories, the rating of which stands between 3 and 4. Most of them are in Japan – 21%, the least in the UK – only 7%. The average figure among all countries stands at 14%.
- The least number of apps in the TOP categories ranking among the TOP-3 had a rating below 3. Most of these applications are located in Korea – 12%, the least in the UK – 2%. The average figure for all countries is 7.5%.
- The average rating among all categories in all countries is 4.29. The lowest average rating is for apps in the Education category – 3.59. The highest average rating is in the Health & Fitness category – 4.63.
The conclusions that can be drawn:
- The rating definitely has an effect on the conversion rate, and, consequently, on the number of installs and the app's appearance in the TOP categories. That is why most applications have a rating above 4.
- The rating is only an additional factor of influence. More important are the number of installs, frequency and duration of app usage, regular updates, etc. That is why you will also find certain apps with a rating of less than 3 in the TOP app categories.
- The number of ratings on which a rating is based does not matter. This is supported by the fact that, in the App Store’s TOP categories, you can find applications with several million ratings, as well as the ones that only have a rating or two.
2.3 Impact on purchases
Ratings and reviews also affect in-app purchases.
For example, Netpeak research proves that most users read online reviews before buying a product:
With mobile apps, the case is the same – before installing and, moreover, buying, the user almost always looks closely at the app and reads the reviews.
Developers who know about this can use it to their advantage. For example, focus on obtaining a high rating and positive reviews by optimizing the subscription page
2.4 Impact on brand reputation
Mobile apps are an additional modern channel for brand promotion. App Store and Google Play provide great opportunities for interacting with your audience. It is important to maintain a high rating and monitor the app reviews at any stage of its operation:
- when the app is new and you haven't made an impression with it yet;
- when the app is well known and has a certain reputation.
When users see a new app for the first time, most of them are quite skeptical about it because they know that there are often many bugs and flaws in the initial stages. And if from the very beginning users start to give you high ratings and leave good reviews, it will positively affect the decision of other users whether to interact with your application.
When the app already has a certain number of ratings and reviews, it is necessary to keep the averages at the proper level. This will allow for retaining existing users and encourage new users to download it.
Let's consider the impact of reviews on the brand through the example of the famous Japanese restaurant Osama Sushi.
Yes, this company is getting a lot of reviews on the Internet – positive as well as negative. But, you must admit, not all fans of Japanese cuisine read them on third-party sites. Another thing is the mobile app, which most people primarily use for placing orders.
After opening the app and seeing reviews about oversalted food and problems with delivery, you will involuntarily have a negative impression of the brand as a whole, and you will probably look for another restaurant and another app.
2.5 Impact of feedback on app evolution
Thanks to regular feedback analysis, you can find ways to improve and further develop the product. For example, users in their reviews can:
- Offer their ideas for improving the product:
- Point out shortcomings or mistakes:
- Make comments about the interface:
- Point out bugs after the app update:
3. The building blocks of a mobile app rating
In the App Store, the average rating is calculated on the basis of ratings received throughout the entire period of the app's existence.
The rating is unique for each country.
In Google Play, the rating is calculated on the basis of assessments of the current level of app quality (a recent state of the app), and not as an average of user ratings received over the entire period of the app's existence. Observations show that in Android apps, 10-20% of the rating consists of ratings received in the entire period of the app's existence in a particular country, and 80-90% consists of ratings received in the last month in the same country.
The rating in Google Play is based on the type of device people are using to run your app, and reviews are presented in accordance with the language device settings:
The unique aspect of Google Play is that, if there were flaws in the previous release and there was a lot of negativity in general, this is likely to cause a significant drop in the rating. However, if users start leaving 5-star and 4-star marks after fixing the bugs, the negative ones will be removed and the rating will be restored again:
The graph below shows how negative marks are removed when positive ones appear, and vice versa:
Just like in the App Store, in Google Play, the rating is displayed for each country individually, so you need to pay attention to the rating and reviews in all countries.
4. Rating reset in the App Store
A feature of the App Store allows you to reset the rating with the release of a new version of the application:
This feature is bound to come in handy in some cases For example, the new release had a lot of bugs. Users instantly responded with negative reviews and voicing their dissatisfaction by giving it low ratings:
As a result, new users who are looking for a similar app see the negativity, and therefore it's much less likely that they will install this particular app.
It will take a lot of time to fix the rating through organic means because human brains are wired to spew out negativity much more often and more willingly than expressing positive emotions.
If a developer has taken the users’ recommendations into consideration, fixed everything, and reset the rating with a new release, it will be easier to gain a good reputation.
However, there are some important things to consider when resetting the rating:
- Old reviews are not deleted. If your app has a high rating, but also negative reviews reviews at the same time – it will cause suspicion among users;
- Not only is the rating visible on app listings pages, but also the number of ratings on which it is based. Apps with a higher overall rating and more marks will be perceived as more trustworthy. Therefore, if your app already has a lot of ratings and you don't want to build up your reputation from scratch, it's better not to use this method;
- There is no reason to reset the rating if you are not 100% sure that all bugs have been fixed and the app works as it should.
5. Reviews indexing in Google Play
Compared to the App Store, Google Play reviews are being indexed – the store selects certain keywords for which your app can be displayed from the written user reviews. That's why it's important to use key search traffic terms while responding to reviews. This will help you to:
- get additional traffic;
- improve the app's position in search results;
- increase the number of keywords for which you are indexed.
For example, this is how taxi service developers respond to comments from their users using the necessary key phrases:
6. Changes in the way that Google Play ratings and reviews work
After a recent update in Google Play, ratings and reviews will now be published within 24 hours of being written.
That is, ratings and reviews are now displayed in the Google Play Console, and the developer can respond to comments, but they will not be immediately visible on the application page.
This allows app developers to resolve the issue within 24 hours, or complain about an unfair review, preventing it from appearing on the app page. It also allows you to fix bugs quickly, and to prevent false reviews or competitors' attacks. However, this requires monitoring the emergence of new ratings and reviews on an ongoing basis.
7. Services for monitoring ratings and reviews
There are many services that allow you to monitor the dynamics of ratings and keep a watchful eye on reviews your app is getting. Let's examine the available free methods.
How to monitor ratings and reviews for an iOS application in App Store Connect:
log in to Connect => select the app => in the General field select Ratings and Reviews.
Convenient to use filters:
- by country;
- by recency or criticality;
- by version;
- by ratings;
- by reviews.
The tool also allows for replying to reviews. To do this, select the desired comment and click "Reply".
In this tool, you can track the rating and reviews of an Android app in the Quality section:
What information is available:
- Default Google Play rating – based on the latest ratings in all countries.
- Lifetime average rating – the average rating based on ratings accumulated since the first release of the app.
- Users – the number of users who have rated the app.
- Rating vs. peers – you can compare the rating of your app with your competitors:
- Rating distribution – view the ratings distribution in absolute values or as a percentage:
- Rating breakdown – view the total number of ratings and the average rating for the following key parameters:
- application version;
- Android version;
- device type;
- device model;
What actions you can take in the Google Play Console regarding reviews:
- respond to comments immediately:
- track data on reviews with and without replies:
- in the Benchmarks section, you can see how users rate the app by various criteria, as well as compare these ratings with similar apps in the Performance category. Available for reviews written in English.
- The Topics section contains the words that users most often mention in app reviews. You can see how reviews that mention each of these topics affect the app's score.
Very useful service where you can monitor app ratings and reviews in the App Store and Google Play.
Here you can see the rating of the mobile app with a distribution of all ratings in terms of percentages:
You can also track the dynamics of the rating in graphical form:
It is convenient to view all reviews from different countries and versions on a single dashboard:
It is also possible to view the app rating in all countries at the same time and see the number of ratings:
This service has the most comprehensive functionality for working with reviews and ratings.
- how many ratings the app received in a certain period of time, and how many of them were responded to by the developer:
- it allows you to respond to reviews directly. You can conveniently sort new comments, starting with those that have been featured in different countries, or sort them as needed:
- you can translate reviews directly in the platform itself, and filter them by several parameters:
- general data on recent ratings and reviews, and separately issued reviews that require your attention:
- it is convenient to visually monitor how many ratings were deleted by the store on each day and how many new ones appeared:
- you can see the dynamics of the rating in different countries:
- you can see the dynamics of the rating for separate app releases, so you can identify which version contained bugs:
8. Ways to incentivize users to rate and review your app
Human psychology dictates that if the users like an app, they just use it as is without interacting with the developer. On their own, they very rarely consider showing their praise.
However, when something goes wrong, users are immediately compelled to leave a negative review or a low rating to attract attention and vent their dissatisfaction. That is why negative reviews appear more often, but positive ones need to be encouraged.
Most users are ready to review or rate an app if they are asked to do so.
How to incentivize users to leave a review/rating:
- Incorporate a pop-up form in the app asking users to leave a review. However, choosing the right moment is crucial for this approach. Typically, this would be after the user has experienced a positive emotion. You should not ask for a rating when the free trial period is over or the user fails to pass a certain game level.
- Integrate the "Rate app" button inside the app in such a way that it harmoniously fits into the interface and does not interfere with the flow.
- Create an in-app event the users can participate in only after leaving a review.
- Keep reminding them about rating your app on social networks.
- Incentivize users to leave a review and rate the app with in-app bonuses.
However, keep in mind that it is against most app store’s policies to incentivize users to leave a review in exchange for an in-app bonus and you can get banned as a result.
The key takeaways
- Impact of ratings and reviews on the promotion of mobile applications. Reviews and ratings have a significant impact on the conversion rate and how many installs you’re going to get, as well as on the visibility of the application in search, on purchases, brand reputation, and development in general.
- Purpose of ratings and reviews. The average rating represents an assessment of the app's quality, and reviews specify both its weak and strong points.
- Impact on conversion. The average rating, the number of ratings, and featured reviews affect the conversion to installs.
- Average rating. Most users tend to install an app that has a rating of at least 4, but it's better to keep it at 4.5+ to allow for some leeway.
- Number of ratings. It is important for users to see the number of ratings on which the overall rating is based – the higher the number of ratings, the more users trust the rating.
- Featured reviews. They most often include extended reviews with a certain number of likes. Such reviews have the greatest influence on user decisions, so they should be paid the most attention to.
- Filtering and sorting apps by rating. Google Play gives you access to a filter you can use to search exclusively for those applications that have a rating of at least 4 or 4.5. In the App Store search, you can sort applications from the highest to the lowest, based on their rating.
- TOP categories. Applications with a rating higher than 4 are more likely to get placed in the TOP-3 among the TOP categories because 78% of all App Store apps meet the criteria. However, the rating is only one of the many factors that are at play when trying to get an application into the TOP categories.
- Average rating in the TOP categories. The average rating in the TOP-3 among applications placed in the TOP categories in all countries is 4.3. You can find the desired category and see the approximate rating that you should focus on in our template.
- Brand reputation. Reviews and average rating form the reputation of new mobile apps, as well as help retain current users and ignite interest in new ones when it comes to existing apps.
- Mobile app development. Analysis of reviews helps identify product shortcomings, post-release bugs, or ideas for its improvement.
- Competitors' reviews. Monitoring competitors' reviews allows you to find ways to improve your app.
- App rating formation. In the App Store, app rating is calculated based on the ratings received through the app’s entire lifespan, and in Google Play – on the basis of the latest ratings.
- Rating individuality. Both Google Play and App Store display unique individual ratings for each different region.
- Rating reset. In the App Store, you can reset the rating, but it’s an option you should consider only in the event of trying to repair negative ratings you’ve received recently.
- Displaying the rating. In Google Play, the rating displayed is adjusted to the type of device the individual is using, and reviews are displayed depending on the language settings on the device.
- Indexing of reviews. Google Play indexes reviews and responses to them, so it is advisable to use highly-searched keywords in your responses for which you want to be indexed in your responses.
- Updates in Google Play. As it relates to the update introduced in Google Play, new ratings and reviews become publicly available in 24 hours, but until this moment, developers have the opportunity to address issues with bugs or file a complaint against spam or malicious reviews.
- Incentivizing. Incentivize users to leave positive reviews and ratings. This allows you to maintain a high overall app rating and thereby increase conversion.
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