Impact of App Store Ratings & Reviews on App Visibility
Your app ratings and reviews are primary indicators of how users feel about your app. This makes it imperative for ASO practitioners to monitor app reviews and ratings constantly and make it an integral part of their ASO efforts. In this blog, we’ll understand why app ratings and reviewsare vital to a solid app growth strategy, and how they impact your app visibility on the app stores.
Ratings & reviews: App Store vs Google Play
Let’s start with the definitions of ratings and reviews to better understand the differences.
- Ratings: A score is given between 1 – 5 stars that may or may not also include a written comment.
- Reviews: A score given between 1 – 5 stars that include a written comment.
An app’s rating score is a lot more visible to users than the reviews. While Apple and Google both define ratings and reviews the same, there are some key differences between both platforms:
- Reviews and ratings tend to have a bigger impact on Google Play than on iOS. On Google Play, the rating score is much more visible than it is on iOS. The rating score essentially appears everywhere an app icon does, such as featured app collection lists, category rankings, offers section, search results, and the store listing page. Google Play’s algorithm also puts more of an emphasis on recent ratings and reviews. This means an app’s overall rating score on Google Play is more impacted by recent reviews and ratings.
On iOS, ratings and reviews are only visible from the search results and when a user clicks through to the product page. The rating score on iOS does not emphasize recent reviews and ratings. So, a review from 2 years ago has as much weight as a review that was just written.
The importance of app rating and reviews to users
A majority of users consider the rating of an app before they download it. This means that your app’s star rating will have a huge impact on your conversion rate. Here’s why:
- Increasing your app’s rating from 3 to 4 stars can increase conversion by up to 89%. About 79% of users check ratings and reviews before downloading an app and 71% users say that a 4- or 5-star rating positively impacts their view of a brand (Apptentive).
- A majority of apps with a high category ranking have a star rating above 4.0. Since category ranking is based on the velocity of downloads, your conversion rate will also impact how likely your app can achieve a high category ranking.
- An app’s conversion rate for a keyword is determined by its conversion rate, which is impacted by the app’s ratings and reviews.
- Ranking high for a keyword is also determined by how well you convert for that keyword. Since your star rating directly impacts your overall conversion rate, it will also impact your visibility for priority keywords.
- Lastly, both iOS and Google Play tend to only feature apps that have a rating above 4.0. If your app has a low rating, it most likely will not get featured and limit the potential visibility of your app.
Impact of ratings & reviews on your app conversion rate
We highlighted earlier that 79% of users check ratings and reviews before they download an app, while 71% of users say a 4 or 5-star rating positively impacts their view of a brand. This explains why increasing your star rating from 3 to 4 stars can lead up to an 89% increase in your app’s conversion rate. Your app’s ratings and reviews directly impact conversion rate for two main reasons:
- Visibility: Users tend to see ratings before reviews (due to their positioning on the store page), and they are a simple metric to understand. So users tend to pay close attention to it.
- Credibility: This can vary from category to category, but if a user is deciding between two apps and everything else is equal, they will download the app with the higher rating. The finance category, for example, is especially important to have a high rating because users do not want to invest their time and money in an app they do not believe is credible. An app should aim at keeping a rating between 4.3 and 4.9 stars but, at the minimum, needs to have a rating of at least 4.0. Otherwise, conversion will be significantly negatively impacted.
Which ASO components are affected by app conversion rate?
Now that we established that an app’s ratings and reviews have a direct impact on conversion, it is important to understand which aspects of both the app stores are impacted by an app’s conversion rate:
1. App category ranking
Category ranking is determined by an app’s velocity of downloads. The velocity of downloads is the number of downloads your app gets a day. The more daily downloads your app gets, the higher your category ranking will be. If your app has a star rating below 4, it’s going to be difficult to convince users to download the app. As a result, achieving a high category ranking will be extremely difficult.
2. Organic keyword visibility
The biggest factor for ranking in the top 20 for a priority keyword is conversion rate. Apple and Google Play’s algorithms will look at how apps convert for a specific keyword and apps with the highest conversion rate will rank the highest. If your app has a low rating, your conversion rate will be negatively impacted, which will make it extremely difficult to rank for competitive high-volume keywords.
3. Apple Search Ads campaigns
The amount that you bid for a certain keyword is determined by how relevant Apple thinks you are for that keyword. One component of how Apple determines how relevant your app is to a keyword is your organic rankings for that term. If you are not converting well for that keyword, you will not rank well organically for it and your bid for that keyword will be higher compared to an app ranking higher for that term organically.
4. Getting featured on iOS & Google Play
Apple and Google both look at the rating scores of an app before deciding to feature it on their platform. If your app has a rating lower than 4 stars, you will not be featured on iOS and will not be placed in a featured app list by Google Play. A quick look at each app featured on Google Play’s “Editors’ Choice Apps” shows that they all have a star rating of at least 4.3 or above.
How does conversion rate affect your app’s visibility?
We highlighted before how having a low-star rating will negatively impact your app’s conversion rate. Additionally, having a low conversion rate will negatively impact your keyword and category rankings, ASA strategy, and ability to be featured.
Performing badly in one of these categories will hurt your app’s visibility potential. Having a low conversion rate because of a bad star rating will limit your potential for success for all four components, which will significantly limit your app’s visibility. The main reason for this is that your app’s organic keyword and category rankings, ASA performance, and potential to be featured are all directly or indirectly impacted by each other.
Synergy between ASA & ASO
As we highlighted earlier, there is a direct correlation between the cost to bid on keywords for your ASA campaigns and your organic keyword rankings for that keyword. When you run an ASA campaign, you are going to see an increase in impressions and downloads for the keywords you bid on. If you convert well on the keywords you are bidding on, your organic rankings for those keywords will increase, which will make you more relevant for those keywords and lower the cost to bid on them. The cheaper it is to bid on a keyword, the more impressions and downloads you will get – and the cycle continues. When implemented properly, your ASO and ASA strategies can positively impact each other.
But the opposite is true as well. If you have a poor conversion rate and not ranking well organically for the keywords you are targeting. Your bids will be higher and the potential visibility of your ASO and ASA strategy will be significantly limited.
Getting featured on the app stores is a great way to temporarily boost your impressions and downloads to increase your category ranking. While this increase in downloads and category rankings is temporary, any advantage you can get over your competitors is worth pursuing. In the following example, you can see the increase in category rankings a game achieved by receiving the “Game of the Day” featurings on iOS. While the boost is temporary, the 2 “Game of the Day” featurings would not have been possible had the game had a low star rating.
To summarize, it is extremely important to constantly monitor, analyze and work to improve your app’s rating and reviews. Not only will having a low star rating negatively impact how users perceive your app, but it will also significantly hinder your ability to implement an effective ASO strategy. Having a positive rating score, in general, will make it much easier to reach your apps’ visibility potential and your ASO goals!