Google has announced some changes that they’re bringing to the reviews and ratings of apps on Google Play so that they will be more useful for both users and developers. Later this year, mobile users will be able to see ratings specific to their countries and then by early 2022, they will see ratings for apps specific to the device they’re using. The Play Console for developers will also see some new features including seeing device type dimensions on the ratings page and filtering more granular ratings over specific time periods.
Google play to show country-specific ratings and reviews
Google says that beginning November 2021, it’ll only show app ratings on mobile from the country the user is so that they’re more relevant to them.
This will ensure that an app receiving negative reviews for a bug that only affects users in one country doesn’t impact its ratings and ranking in other countries. Additionally, it’ll help surface localized and more relevant Play Store reviews.
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Google play ratings and reviews will soon be more localized than ever
Up until now, Google Play ratings and reviews were calculated across markets, causing users to get a less-than-accurate idea of an app or game’s user satisfaction for their region. On many occasions, developers have complained that low ratings in one market caused the app’s total rating to take a dive. Fortunately, it seems those days will soon be over.
Google aims to recommend apps that perform best, using user ratings as a prime indicator of satisfaction and performance. As a result, an app’s reviews and rating play a major role in conversion.
Ratings also play a crucial part in determining if, when, and where an app will get featured in the Play store. Doing this helps it gain even more Explore traffic and users. If you’re thinking “the rich are only getting richer,” you’re right.
And it’s even more drastic when it comes to search results, where users can filter results to only show competitors with ratings higher than 4 or 4.5, causing a drop in search traffic for apps that don’t meet those requirements (which is also the case in the iOS App store)
Developers invest tons of time and effort into making sure users will be satisfied, so they obviously want the ratings and reviews to reflect their hard work.
Prompting users to give good reviews is a very important part of the app lifecycle, and optimizing that metric can boost conversion and increase installs.
One client we work with, a director of product marketing for an app that’s a leader in their vertical, says ratings and reviews are extremely important when it comes to marketing efforts.
“Ratings and reviews have a significant impact on our brand perception, awareness, and ultimately our ability to draw in new users. In our industry, word of mouth is still the key driver in bringing in new users. Users consider reviews very carefully before committing to download our app. That’s why we’ve put a lot of time and resources—including working with YellowHEAD—into figuring out how to get the best reviews and ratings from our most satisfied customers.”
Indeed, ratings can help developers reach powerful insights regarding their product. For example, from reviews, developers can learn what users really think about certain features and even get ideas for keyword targeting!
The client added that they rely on reviews, both good and bad, to drive product decisions. “Discovering common themes in what users do and don’t like about our product plays a huge role in how we operate as a product and determine what features to prioritize.”
Google to help developers with the transition
To help make the transition easier for developers, Google will analyze all existing apps on the Play Store 10 weeks before the changes go live. It’ll inform developers if their app rating suffers from quite 0.2 stars on any device type during a key market.
The company has also added new features to the Google Play Console, including Device Type dimensions within the rating page and, therefore, filter reviews by device type. Developers also can download rating distributions and average data in CSV format for extra analysis.
In 2022, form factor will affect play store ratings
Starting early 2022, Google will show reviews and ratings depending on the device's form factor. This means that if you access the Play Store using an Android tablet, you'll only see the ratings and reviews submitted for the tablet version of the app. Similarly, on Chromebooks, the Play Store will show ratings and reviews submitted by other Chromebook users.
Localized ratings will start happening this year. Sometime next year, though, Google will incorporate at least one more variable: form factor. This means app reviews from tablet users will aggregate differently from reviews from phone users.
Google explained this change by using an example of “positive improvements in a tablet experience” for an app getting “overlooked because of the number of users on phones.”
A step in the right direction
The Play Store was initially available just for Android smartphones and tablets. However, over time, Google has expanded it to Chromebooks and devices with other varying sorts of form factors.
Thus, this alteration from Google to only surface ratings and reviews relevant to a user’s country and device type may be a step in the right direction. In addition, it’ll help offer a more personalized Play Store experience.