Importance of Ratings, Reviews and Downloads to Apple Store Apps
Here is a quick fact there are over 1.3 million apps on the Apple App store right now. Yes that’s right 1.3 MILLION. Now how is your application supposed to differentiate itself from all the chaos?
Well the ranking factor that Google and Apple uses relies on 3 major factors. These factors are the amount of downloads the apps has, the average ratings and the reviews the app has been able to rack up. There are other minor factors they use like Facebook and Google Plus shares but we first need to build a solid foundation based on the 3 factors mentioned. We will discuss the ranking algorithm each platform uses and how they decide what app sits where.
Apple ranking algorithm (App Store Optimization)
Since early 2013 Apple changed the way it ranked apps. Less emphasis was placed on the amount of downloads but rather on the average ratings. This meant apps with ratings under 2.5 stars were penalized and descended in rankings regardless of the amount of downloads they have. This does not mean downloads are no longer considered in rankings, they just don’t focus all your energy on them.
Apple and Google do not make their ranking algorithm public but with several case studies one can safely assume this is how they rank apps. One case study that was done on app ranking showed that these are the factors both Apple and Google use to rank apps.
- The amount of reviews
- The quality of the reviews
- Amount of downloads
- The amount of uninstalls
- How quickly your app is growing (Amount of downloads divided by time on app market)
- On store optimization (Keywords, tittle, Icon, video and screenshot)
Why should you worry about ratings and reviews?
Ratings are simply what other people think of your app and how much they rate your app out of 5 stars. According to a study done by CPIMobi you can quadruple your exposure by improve or jumping up a rate. This mean you have to average a rating of at least 4 stars so you can achieve the maximum downloads possible. Trying to get ratings can be a tedious task. Not everyone will leave a rating, so you can get them in two ways: by using white hat methods which means you will just let your ratings come in naturally (it can take months). It also means you cannot do anything when you get poor ratings. The second way is more popular but a grey hat method. Using a grey hat method just means, you are influencing your ratings not all of them but a few to increase your overall rating. You can buy downloads and reviews at certain internet vendors. This approach will save your time and help to make profit faster.
Now that we got the ratings, we can’t neglect reviews. They may not be as significant as ratings but they make a difference especially if you have a paid app. They are an indication of your app and what other people think of it. A few good detailed reviews can make all the difference in converting potential leads. Not all people tend to leave reviews after using your application that can make it difficult for you to get reviews. An alternate to this is paid reviews and downloads. In this way, you just give people a reason why they should leave a review and make it positive.
Reviews are also important in terms of they allow your user base to give constructive feedback which will allow you to improve or add features that may get you even more downloads. More than often your users will share any problems they have or suggestions in a form of review instead of contacting you via your developer email.
Downloads used to be the number one ranking factor a few years back but in 2017 they have proved to be less important. They still account for 35-65% of the ranking algorithm in a case study we did.
We launched an app on the Google Play store (easier to get apps accepted) we gave the app 3000 downloads in a time of 2 weeks, we decided to drip feed the downloads, so they look more natural to Google. After this we left the app for a month and it was able to garner 1200 downloads naturally without any intervention from us.
A similar app in the same category with the same function was released on the Play Store. We changed only the icon, name and description slightly. We did not push any downloads to the app. It is important to note we went completely white hat this time with no external influence from us. The app was left for just over a month and it was able to get 389 in total downloads.
From the results we were able to conclude that downloads are still a factor to consider when trying to rank apps, especially if you just released your app. In addition, we did not do anything different from the first app either than push downloads to it.