App reviews are a big deal in the Google Play store. They can make or break your app’s future. And just like any other valuable asset, it’s caught the attention of bad actors, people who will go to any length to secure good reviews, even if it means paying someone to fake them.

This unscrupulous tactic works so well to fool both the store algorithm and people, that apps with fake reviews get very high rankings in the Play store and many more downloads than those without them. Competition is tough.

The practice has become so rampant that some people have made careers off of it. The desire to make shortcuts is driving some developers to commit to unethical marketing techniques such as false promotion and fake reviews. Several companies have popped up offering black hat app marketing services.
Companies like BuyAppStoreReviews, BestReviewApp, and AppRebates will help you get the reviews you need to climb the ladder in exchange for a fee. But this is illegal. If Google finds you doing this, your account could be suspended. It’s just like rigging an election.

When you come across reviews that clearly appear to be spam, here are some suggestions on how to properly deal with them:

Report Fraudulent Reviews

Person rating his experience with stars on smartphone app screen

Person rating his experience with 4 stars on smartphone app screen,

Providing fake app reviews in app stores is against the policies of the Google Play Developer Program and Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines. Fraudulent activities can actually result in the removal of the app or worse, the expulsion of the developer from the program. It’s just a matter of reporting them.

Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store have a process for fraudulent activities like fake reviews. In the Apple App Store, you can report fake reviews through iTunes support.

Android developers can report suspicious reviews using the Play Console. A specialist will then decide if the review is in violation of policy and needs to be removed or not. This also protects developers from losing ranking due to competitors intentionally reporting them to Google in order to take them down.

Be Proactive: Get Authentic Reviews

You actually have the right people to give you real positive reviews that will improve your ratings – your customers. Reach out to them. Customers who love your app will easily and freely tell the world why they love it and how it has been useful to them. In-app rating prompts are a good tool for connecting with your customers to politely ask them for reviews. Asking the question at the right time can increase reviews without faking them.

Change Begins With You

Using black hat strategies can be tempting but it comes with a lot of risks. It damages the user experience in the app stores and is not a sustainable way to promote your app. Refuse to be part of the problem and never resort to such tactics. Only use legitimate ways to promote your app. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Mwenge Ngona

Mwenge Ngona

Head of Marketing at Andromo. Without marketing, we would never know anything about anything. Think about that. We'd be missing out on life!