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It’s not easy getting your app discovered in the app store, and it’s getting increasingly challenging every day as more apps are added. As the popularity of mobile apps rises, Google and Apple are feeling pressure to refine and improve their search algorithms. One of the biggest changes in recent months was the increased weight of ratings and reviews in Apple’s app store.
The change made the number of ratings you have and the ratings themselves become more influential in the ranking of your app. This is a way for Apple to legitimize apps, establish app credibility, and make sure people don’t cheat the system by purchasing downloads from bots to boost their Top Charts rankings. It is similar to linkbuilding in SEO. If a lot of other websites are linking to a certain site, that site must be credible. If a lot of users are rating and reviewing apps, not only do you know that the downloads are coming from real people, but you can also measure overall satisfaction with the app.
At MobileDevHQ we are in the business of helping apps improve their organic discovery. Ratings and reviews have now become an important part of app store optimization (ASO), so we decided to sift through our data to see what kind of information we could find about the ratings of top 10 apps.
Ratings By The Numbers
Our data comes from analyzing the top 10 apps in every category, and pulling the number of ratings along with what those ratings were.
So what can you get from these numbers? First, I want to stress again that these are not rating numbers you need to hit in order to make it in the Top Charts, but rather the average of the apps that are currently in the top 10 for every category. There are more factors that influence your ranking than just ratings.
That being said, there are some interesting patterns in, and differences between, the numbers.
Apps In The Top 5 Have More Than Twice The Number Of Ratings
The numbers show that, on average, the apps in the top 5 of any Top Chart have more than twice the number of ratings as apps in ranked between 6 and 10. It is clear that ratings are important and have some relationship, direct or indirect, to breaking into the top 5 apps.
Top Apps Get Good Ratings (*Surprise!*)
There isn’t a lot of world-changing information in the analysis of what the ratings actually are for top apps. Overall, the difference between apps in the top 5 and apps ranked 6-10 is 0.4 stars. The takeaway? Top apps have high ratings. Only 13% of the apps had a rating of less than 3, and over 60% of the apps had a rating greater than 4. We can’t claim any causation here, but it’s clear that high ratings are a shared characteristic between top rated apps, and shouldn’t be ignored.
Free Gets Rated More but Paid Gets Rated Higher
It’s no surprise that social networking apps get the most ratings as they will, by their nature, receive the most downloads. However, it’s also interesting to note that they are not in the list of top 10 categories that receive the highest ratings.
Paid apps seem to get very high ratings. There are 7 paid categories in the top 10 rated categories, compared to just 0 in the top 10 number of ratings.
Free iPhone Games Apps and Free iPhone Apps seem to take the cake overall. They are the only two categories that are in both of the top 10 lists. Reference, Photo & Video, and Lifestyle Apps see a lot of ratings when they are free (most likely due to higher download numbers), but the paid versions get rated higher. Although the Free versions get downloaded more, consumers are happier with the paid versions.
In contrast, two of the under-performing categories were Paid Medical Apps and Paid Travel Apps. The top 10 apps in Paid Medical Apps received an average of 13,052 ratings at 3.8 stars. The top 10 in Paid Travel Apps had an average of 10,440 ratings at 3.8 stars.
What can you take away from this information? Well, if we make the assumption that the number of ratings and what the ratings are is a good measure of user happiness, it seems that if you are thinking of creating an app, these two categories have not yet been hit with a killer app users love. Both of them are right at the average star rating and well below the average number of ratings, and they are both very lucrative markets. Just something to consider :)
Wrapping It Up
Ratings are important. That’s clear and simple. Although there isn’t a magic number that will guarantee a spot in the Top Charts, it is clear that if you are trying to get into them, you can’t ignore ratings. You should be proactively prompting users to rate your app, and creating a great product to make sure those ratings are good.
About the Author:
Alex Klein is in charge of marketing at MobileDevHQ. He is a graduate of University of Washington, and has passions for marketing, tech, and sports. Connect with him on Twitter.