Do Reviews Affect iOS App Rankings? – Case Study


In any business, the motto of ‘if they build it, they will come’ often falls short of its promise. A million people can make a website or app but those who actually market it correctly will come out victorious. These days, apps can be made for as low as $20 as shared with us by Braydon Batungbacal of Sitrusy LLC that you’ll learn soon in their upcoming success story. Like websites, apps have similar elements that impact the ranking within the iTunes App Store. The most common elements that are controllable by you are the app name, description, and meta keywords. But what about reviews? We’ll find out in this quick case study if reviews make a difference.

Since only Apple knows why certain apps rank higher than others, we can only look at similar trends across the top ranking apps and what they have in common. It’s commonly agreed that these are the major factors that play a role in an apps ranking within the iTunes Store:

  • Keyword in app name
  • Keywords in description
  • Keywords in meta data (hidden)
  • Keywords in developer name
  • Download rate
  • Total Installs
  • Install Rate
  • Uninstalls
  • Active Users
  • Ratings and Reviews

Obviously, many of those factors are out of our control but the solution to that is to create a ‘good’ app with significant value. The higher the ranking, the more likely someone will find your app and download it. Since the rankings are based on an algorithm, we thought it’d be interesting to see what happens if you  generate a large number of favorable reviews. Here’s what we found…

Getting reviews for anything is quite challenging. It doesn’t matter if it’s a restaurant on Yelp or a iPhone app. The normal way to get reviews is again, to make a good app with significant value. The other way is to remind users to leave a review which you have probably seen before. We’ve also seen other app developers partner up and do a review for a review type of exchange. Definitely leverage your network as much as you can. This includes your social media profiles, offline, and even email lists.

The first thing you want to do is identify the keyword you are ranking for. People go to Google to find something and the very same is for the iTunes store. Most likely your app name is a reflection of the keyword you are after.

The next thing you want to do is track where your app currently ranks at. We found a free tool at SensorTower that can track your app rankings and much more. Your app should come up even if its 50+.

The last thing you want to do is generate a large number of reviews. There are tons of ways to do this but you will have to think outside the box to get more than just a couple. Apple won’t even show your star rating unless you have 10 reviews anyways.

The app in this case study started with about 11 reviews and a full on review blitz started on 9/3. There are now over 50+ reviews for this app and more continue to drip in.


Before the reviews started coming in, the app was hovering around the #32 ranking spot for quite some time. It actually had a slight dip a few days later but has continued to increase to where it sits at #25 right now. But even with a higher ranking, does that guarantee more downloads? In our case, it actually benefited from it.

2013-09-13 20_45_51-iTunes Connect

Downloads did start to increase around the 5th and have been consistently higher than in the past. In fact, the delta between this week and last is a 87.5% increase. Is this all a coincidence?

To be fair, this case study is still in the early phases but the results do look promising. Only time will tell if the reviews actually helped long term rather than just the last few days. Also keep in mind that all of the new reviews are 4/5 stars which may be an additional factor. Another thing to keep in mind is that the actual keywords being used in the reviews might be a contributing factor. We know Google used to use them so we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple followed suit.

At the end of the day, the key take away is to get reviews whether good or bad. If good then great. If bad then work to improve your app. Hopefully this case study has shed some light on the theory of app reviews impacting rankings!