When trying to figure out how to improve app ratings, some companies consider buying fake reviews. Buying App Store (or Play Store) reviews for your iOS or Android mobile app is a risky decision. You may feel hesitant, or worry about being caught. But seeing a flood of negative reviews on your app’s listing can feel devastating — and even worse, tank your business!

Find out about the risks of buying app reviews, and what you can do to organically manage your app store ratings and reviews long-term.

Risks of Buying App Reviews

Aside from potential ethical concerns, buying App Store reviews entails some pretty big risks:

Suspicious reviews get removed regularly. If you shell out big bucks for App Store reviews, it might be for nothing when the reviews get purged from your mobile app listing. Apple has been ramping up their review detection for at least 5 years now. And if we know anything about Apple, they don’t give up.

Improve App Store Ratings (picture of an iPad with a screen saying "New to the App Store?" showing app icons underneath)Your app listing can get deleted. Apple and Google take fraudulent reviews very seriously. In 2017 alone, Google removed over 700,000 Play Store listings. It’s unknown what percentage of these were for suspicious reviews, but it’s clear that they’re vigilant in removing what they consider to be inappropriate content (which definitely includes illegitimate reviews).

Revoking your developer account.¬†Without a developer account, you can’t list apps in the App or Play Store, period. If Apple or Google suspect that you’ve been buying app reviews, they can suspend your developer account completely. This can affect your career far beyond your current mobile app(s).

If you get caught, your users may not trust you again. When you’re caught or even suspected of buying app reviews, it can be almost impossible to earn your users’ trust back. If the removal of your mobile app listing doesn’t cut off your business’s income stream, a mass exodus of users likely will.

How to Improve App Ratings

Luckily, buying app reviews isn’t the only way to improve your ratings in the App or Play Stores. If you’re willing to spend a little time and/or money, you’ve got options! For example:

1. Improve your app’s quality.

People aren’t usually leaving bad reviews for no reason. Even when it’s not fun to read negative comments about your app, keep in mind that learning from them can be the key to getting great reviews. If people are consistently complaining about bugs that you didn’t know about, hiring a QA team can be a game-changer.

Improve App Reviews (icon of a Caucasian hand holding an iPhone, overlaid with sample star ratings/reviews)2. Add an app rating prompt.

This one can go either way, as having an intrusive pop-up can bother users. However, research has shown that adding an app rating prompt significantly increases the number of ratings. In addition, the average star rating goes up about 90% of the time. (One thing to note: while app rating prompts increase the number of star ratings, they tend to decrease the number of text reviews. This is because users often skip the second step of the prompt after rating.)

3. Follow up with the complainers (respectfully).

When people feel heard and/or have their concerns addressed, they’ll often update a bad review (or take it down completely). But whatever you do, don’t reply lecturing the person or attempting to make them look bad. Even when your gripes are legitimate, this will usually make you look overly aggressive and unpleasant to other users reading your replies. It’s good to take a helpful tone, and demonstrate care in each reply.

4. Audit your development process.

Why are bugs slipping through? Is QA not catching them, or is management not prioritizing bug tickets effectively? If the issue isn’t outright bugs but rather users disliking the general interface/experience, are you missing user experience consulting? Analyze your software development process, and see if you can find areas of improvement.

Improve App Reviews (cartoon showing five gold stars above a man with a green t-shirt, blue jeans, and green converse typing on a laptop)5. Promote your app.

After you’ve optimized your software development life cycle and improved the quality, launching a promotional campaign can make a big difference. Getting an influx of new users onto your improved app often brings in fresh positive reviews — not to mention new customers. If you don’t want to pay for ads, you can also look into improving your SEO.

Next Step: 5 Stars!

Not all of these steps can improve your app’s ratings overnight. But if they could, Apple and Google would probably flag it as suspicious! If you follow one or more of them, chances are you’ll be well on your way to better app ratings and happier customers. If you’re looking for support on your journey to 5 stars, we’re here to provide QA testing services.