Why App Rating Matters and How to Manage It

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11 min read
May 8, 2024
This trend underscores the importance of maintaining a high rating for app visibility and user trust. Our experience suggests that the rating affects the app’s ranking on the store, though not as critically as the number of installs and metadata do. This proves the necessity of handling the rating effectively if one aims for their app to climb higher in search results and gain more downloads.
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A glance at the App Store and Google Play shows that highly recommended or popular apps usually have ratings of four stars or higher.
Rating VS Reviews
Ratings, given as 1 to 5 stars, provide a quick quantitative assessment of an app, while reviews combine these ratings with written feedback.
Both elements are crucial in shaping user perceptions and app discoverability, with ratings often being the first metric potential users see.
How Rating Is Calculated on the App Store and Google Play
It’s worth noting that Apple and Google employ different approaches to calculating the average rating and displaying the reviews.
The rating is displayed in search results both on the App Store and on Google Play. The number of reviews is shown on the app page on both stores.
App Store
The App Store calculates an app’s average rating using all ratings received over its lifetime. This comprehensive approach ensures that every user’s feedback is considered in the app’s overall score.

However, if an app undergoes significant improvements or fixes, the App Store offers a unique feature allowing developers to reset their app’s rating with each new update via App Store Connect.

This reset means only ratings for the current version are considered in the new average, though all previous reviews remain visible to users. This function provides an opportunity for apps to recover from earlier setbacks, such as negative reviews due to temporary technical issues.

Additionally, the App Store selectively showcases a limited number of reviews on an app’s page, displaying six reviews in its mobile app and ten in the browser version. This curated selection typically includes the most liked reviews, which may range from recent to a year old. It’s important to note that Apple does not use keywords from user reviews for indexing purposes, focusing solely on the content within the app’s title, subtitle, and metadata.
Google Play
Contrastingly, Google Play employs a different strategy for calculating an app’s average rating, placing greater emphasis on the ratings of its most current version. This approach can benefit apps that are frequently updated and improved, as only the ratings of the latest version play a key role in the average rating calculation.

Google Play also extends its indexing to include not only the app’s title, brief, and full description but also the text of user reviews. This means that incorporating relevant keywords into reviews can potentially help improve an app’s search rankings, although this has a subtler impact compared to keywords in the title or description.

Furthermore, on Google Play, both reviews and ratings are given more prominence and are heavily featured in various sections such as app collections, rating categories, and suggestions. This visibility underscores the importance of maintaining a high rating and positive reviews on Google Play, as they significantly influence user discovery and choice.
The Influence of App Ratings on Installation Rates: Insights and Case Studies
Significance of App Ratings
Research and real-world cases demonstrate the profound impact of app ratings on user installation behavior. For instance, a study by Alchemer revealed a striking finding: an upgrade in an app’s rating from 3 to 4 stars can lead to an 89% boost in conversion rates. This data underscores the critical role that app ratings play in influencing user decisions and the success of an app in the app stores.
The company has also presented the average rating of the apps, the number of reviews, and user ratings on both stores.
Average Ratings Across Different App Verticals
An intriguing aspect of app ratings is their variation across different app categories or verticals. On the App Store, the Healthcare and Shopping categories boast the highest average ratings, reaching 4.82. Meanwhile, on Google Play, the Personal Services category leads with an average rating of 4.68. These differences highlight the varying user expectations and experiences in different app sectors.
Comparison of Average Ratings on App Store and Google Play
One notable observation is that the average rating on Google Play tends to be lower compared to the App Store. This discrepancy can be attributed to the App Store’s feature that allows developers to reset their app’s rating with each new update.
This function enables apps to recover from earlier negative ratings, a feature not available on Google Play, leading to a generally higher average rating for iOS apps.
Check the paragraph “How Rating Is Calculated on the App Store and Google Play” to learn how the app rating is formed on the App Store and on Google Play.
Case Study — The North Face App
A practical example of how ratings can impact an app’s performance is illustrated in the case of the North Face app.

Initially, the app had a rating of 3.64 on the App Store and 3.86 on Google Play. After implementing a strategy suggested by AppTweak, which involved adding a pop-up to motivate users to leave feedback, significant improvements were observed. On the App Store, the app’s rating increased to 4.23, showing a 14.96% increase. This adjustment was not just cosmetic; it corresponded with a nearly 60% rise in impression-to-install conversions during the first three months of implementing the pop-up.

Similarly, on Google Play, the app’s rating climbed to 4.54, a growth of 22.25%. Additionally, since the implementation of the feedback pop-up, the app received 75% more ratings than in the preceding period.
Strategic Timing for Adjusting App Ratings: Key Scenarios and Approaches
1. Addressing Poor Download Conversions

If an app is experiencing low download conversions despite high click-through rates (CTR), it’s essential to scrutinize and adjust the app rating.
The rating is a key factor influencing user decisions, especially in regions where the app is actively promoted. Regularly managing the app rating can significantly enhance the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and improve return on investment.
Moreover, for apps relying predominantly on organic traffic sources, such as keyword promotion, maintaining a high rating is even more critical, as it prominently influences visibility and credibility on search pages.
User trust, especially for unfamiliar apps, often relies heavily on the experiences of others, as reflected in ratings and reviews.

2. Establishing Ratings for New Apps

New apps entering the market face the challenge of establishing credibility without existing user feedback. This absence of ratings can hinder marketing performance and user conversions, particularly in sectors dealing with sensitive information, like banking apps.
To mitigate this, it’s advisable to cultivate the app’s page on the App Store and Google Play before commencing marketing efforts. Ensuring the page is visually appealing and populated with a few initial reviews and ratings can prevent it from appearing barren, thereby attracting potential users. Engaging existing users through newsletters or in-app prompts for feedback can help accumulate authentic reviews.

3. Recovering from Technical Issues

Apps are not immune to technical problems, and such issues can lead to negative reviews or lower ratings. On the App Store, developers have the option to reset their app rating after an update, which can be valuable for distancing the app from past issues. However, if an app already has a substantial number of reviews, completely resetting the rating might not be desirable.
In such cases, adjusting the rating by showcasing positive reviews and emphasizing recent improvements becomes crucial. Updating the “What’s New” section to highlight bug fixes and improvements can help regain user trust.
Additionally, actively responding to both negative and positive user reviews demonstrates a commitment to the app and its users, fostering a positive perception among the potential user base.
Don’t forget it!
It’s important to remember that users who love your app may not immediately leave a review or rating. Often, satisfied users don’t think to share their positive experiences, whereas dissatisfied users are more likely to leave negative feedback. Therefore, actively encouraging happy users to leave reviews is vital. Creative approaches, such as in-app prompts after a positive milestone or achievement, can significantly increase the likelihood of receiving feedback from these users.
Effective Strategies for Managing Reviews and Increasing App Ratings
Balancing Ratings and Reviews
Simply having a high rating isn’t always enough, especially if it’s coupled with a significant number of negative reviews. A balanced approach that includes generating positive reviews is essential for maintaining credibility. This means not only focusing on the numerical rating but also encouraging genuine, positive feedback from users.
Review Indexing on Google Play
On Google Play, reviews are indexed, meaning that they can contribute to search query optimization. Strategically including relevant keywords in reviews can help improve an app’s visibility, although this should be done ethically and naturally.
Methods to Increase App Ratings
Method 1. Direct Feedback Requests
System requests on both the App Store and Google Play can be effective for soliciting user feedback.

When implementing these requests, timing is key. Choose moments when users are likely to be most satisfied, such as after winning a game, receiving a reward, or successfully using the app for its intended purpose.

For users who may be dissatisfied, direct them to a support desk to understand and address their concerns.
Method 2. Using Incentivized Traffic (App Store Only)
Incent traffic can be a method to adjust and maintain your app’s rating on the App Store. This involves real users installing the app in exchange for a reward and leaving a rating or review. The influx of positive ratings can improve the overall score and balance out negative feedback.

Since the App Store strictly monitors any manipulations with the app rating, your users will leave their feedback on the third day after download, and launch the app a few times right after download and on the following days. Thus, incentivized ratings are as close as possible to organic ones.

  • The average conversion rate for incentivized downloads to ratings is around 20%. Various billing options exist, such as paying for each incentivized download or for the ratings directly.
  • Initially, incentivized ratings should not outnumber organic ratings. If your app is receiving a steady flow of organic ratings, start with a lower volume of incentivized ratings and gradually increase.
  • Monitor the download-to-rating conversion rates to maintain authenticity. If your app has limited incoming traffic, consider a mix of incentivized models, including “install + rating” and “just install.”
  • Once the target rating is achieved, reduce the volume of incentivized ratings gradually to avoid raising suspicions of manipulation. For example, if you purchase 20 incentivized ratings every day and already see the desired rating value on the app page, you want to reduce the volume to 15, then 10, 5, and 2 ratings within a week.
Follow the same good rules when managing the ratings:
  • The number of incentivized ratings shouldn’t exceed the number of organic ratings in the beginning.
  • Not every user, who downloads your app, should leave a positive review.
Understanding the Timeframe for Adjusting App Ratings with Incentivized Traffic
The duration required to adjust an app’s rating using incent traffic varies, largely depending on the specific challenges and goals of each case. Key factors influencing this timeframe include the total number of existing ratings, the nature and frequency of organic ratings (particularly negative ones), and the app’s daily installation rate.

For example, if an app typically sees 100 installations per day with only 5 users leaving ratings, it’s prudent to start with a proportionate number of incentivized reviews and then incrementally increase this number. This gradual approach ensures a more natural and credible improvement in the app’s rating.

In general, the process of rating adjustment can take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. However, certain scenarios may require additional time to achieve the desired outcome. At LoveMobile Agency, we recognize the unique nature of each app and its specific needs. Our approach is always customized, and all campaigns are closely monitored by an account manager. This manager not only tracks the campaign’s performance but also adjusts the strategy and pace as needed to optimize results.
Learn More and Take Action
For more detailed insights into our services and approaches to app rating management, we invite you to visit our website at LoveMobile Agency and submit a request.
We’re here to help you navigate the intricacies of app ratings and devise a strategy that aligns with your app’s specific needs and goals.