Podcasters often ask for ratings and reviews, and I created My Podcast Reviews to get all your reviews and more. But do ratings and reviews actually matter? Here are 7 ways ratings and reviews are important for your podcast’s growth and success.

Before I tell you what good ratings and reviews are, here’s some information for how to get more reviews:

Learn how to get more podcast reviews!

1. Podcast ratings and reviews are NOT for iTunes rankings

Podcast ratings and reviews are NOT for iTunes rankingsClick To Tweet

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how iTunes rankings work (and even what they are!). One of these biggest is the power of ratings and reviews.

You’ll hear many podcasting marketeers pressure push for podcast reviews during launch or throughout your podcast. Usually they imply or explicitly say that ratings and reviews help your podcast “climb the charts.”

But that’s not true.

First, iTunes’s “New and Noteworthy” is not a ranking system. Most of the podcasts that are featured on the front page are hand-picked by the iTunes Podcasts team. You’ll often see podcasts in there with few or no ratings and reviews.

Second, the true rankings in iTunes (the “Top Podcasts” lists) have been tested and confirmed by Rob Walch to be based almost entirely on subscriptions with a weighted average on the most recent days. Thus, to rank well for a short time, you must get a lot of new subscribers within a short period of time. To maintain that position, you must have a large number of subscriptions over the lifetime of your podcast.

Ratings and reviews appear to have nothing to do with your podcast’s true ranking. After all, when would someone review a podcast without being subscribed (unless it’s a shady review exchange)? Like a “bestsellers” list, doesn’t it make sense for rankings to be based on actual consumption, and not merely reviews?

Yes, ratings and reviews may help Apple notice your podcast more, but this is most likely cross-compared with your actual audience growth (subscriptions, plays, and downloads).

Now that you know what ratings and reviews are not, I’ll tell you what they are.

2. Podcast ratings and reviews are social proof

Podcast ratings and reviews are social proofClick To Tweet

While ratings and reviews don’t help your podcast rank better, it’s possible for them to contribute to your podcast’s success by boosting your “social proof.” This is a psychological effect that can influence decisions. Think of it this way. If you see two restaurants next to each other, but one is crowded with a long line to get in but the other is almost empty. What are your impressions of these two restaurants?

For most people, the “social proof” of the crowd influences more positive opinions about the place with more activity. This is especially true when someone is unsure of a choice; they will usually conform to what they see others doing.

It’s the same for podcasts. When there are two podcasts about the same subject, the higher number and score of the ratings and reviews will highly influence that person’s decision.

Thus, the power of ratings and reviews can increase exponentially and help you to get a larger audience, simply because potential subscribers see who the larger crowd is following.

3. Podcast ratings and reviews are public testimonials

Podcast ratings and reviews are public testimonialsClick To Tweet

Look past the raw number of ratings and reviews and read the content (the reviews). These can be powerful testimonials of how your podcast has positively affected others.

Like any testimonials, the written reviews are great for quoting and displaying so others can read them. This goes beyond the basic influence of “social proof” and starts giving more personable influence.

People relate with people, not rankings or ratings. A testimonial is one person telling another why they should subscribe to your podcast.

So when you receive great reviews, showcase them! They may even work for promoting your business, too!

4. Podcast ratings and reviews allow other people to praise you

Podcast ratings and reviews allow other people to praise youClick To Tweet

We often form a bad opinion of others when we see them bragging.

Consider, for example, if I said this of my own podcast.

I share my vast knowledge of podcasting freely because I truly want you to succeed. You will be impressed with everything I offer.

That seems quite arrogant, doesn’t it? But how about this actual review I based that on?

Daniel is a down to earth real guy with a love for helping people. He shares his vast knowledge of podcasting freely because he truly wants other podcasters to succeed. I was so impressed with everything that he offers that I joined his Podcasters’ Society and I couldn’t be happier with the decision.

—Mark Des Cotes [via My Podcast Reviews]

When someone else says nice things about me, I no longer seem arrogant.

I like the way King Solomon of Israel said it, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2, ESV).

5. Podcast ratings and reviews engage your audience

Podcast ratings and reviews engage your audienceClick To Tweet

You may have podcast subscribers who never send you feedback because they think they have nothing to add to the conversation. But writing a review for your podcast is a way to get them engaged.

When you publicly praise something, it’s a simple step that gets you more connected and even more loyal. When your audience takes a simple action like rating and reviewing your podcast, they become more invested and will be more likely to take further actions when you ask.

If you read all your global podcast reviews in your podcast, it also validates your audience.

6. Podcast ratings and reviews highlight your strengths

Podcast ratings and reviews highlight your strengthsClick To Tweet

My Podcast Reviews is now tracking more than 80,000 international podcast reviews for more than 1,100 podcasters. In all that data, we see an overwhelming 93% of reviews include a 5-star rating! Add the 4-star reviews to that, and that totals a 96.8% average positive ranking. That’s a lot of good reviews!

Quality podcast reviews (those from your actual audience, not from shady review-exchanges) will often highlight something the subscriber particularly likes about your podcast. This not only tells you what you’re doing well, but it can also help you know what you should do more.

7. Podcast ratings and reviews reveal your weaknesses

Podcast ratings and reviews reveal your weaknessesClick To Tweet

Not all ratings and reviews are positive. Looking back at the data My Podcast Reviews has from over 1,200 podcasts, 2.1% are “negative” 1- and 2-star reviews. Although someone can leave a star-rating without writing a review, every review must include a star rating. Thus, the negative reviews are usually from those who cared enough to take the time to explain why they don’t like the podcast.

It might be a little painful, but you can learn a lot from negative reviews. It’s especially helpful when you can see a pattern in the negativity. This doesn’t mean you must change something, but it can help you know where you need to improve or what you might want to avoid.

For example, when I filter the reviews for The Audacity to Podcast to only those with 3 stars and below (you can do this kind of filtering and sorting with a premium My Podcast Reviews account), I see a small pattern about some audio quality issues and promotion techniques. Since then, I’ve addressed those and changed how I do some things.

So when a review reveals a weakness, you can then know to either fix, avoid, or ignore that issue and your show could improve while remaining authentic.

Want more reviews?

Now that you know the true value in podcast reviews, you probably would like to know how to get more. The best two tips are:

  1. Make it easy for your audience.
  2. Thank your existing reviewers by name with excerpts of their reviews in your podcast.

More more tips, get this email series from My Podcast Reviews.

Click here to learn 7 ways to get more podcast reviews!

Thank you for the podcast reviews!

    Your written iTunes reviews encourage me and they help other people find the podcast. If you appreciate the podcasting information I share, please write your own review on iTunes or Stitcher!

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    Disclosure

    This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

    About the Author
    As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

    13 comments on “What Good Are Podcast Ratings and Reviews? – TAP263

    1. Sarah Rhea Werner says:

      Daniel, thank you for providing a free tier to My Podcast Reviews! I’m a hobby podcaster and funds are tight. I just signed up and am loving it already. 😀

    2. Sea Hawkers Podcast says:

      I also wanted to say thanks for providing a free tier. We monetized our show recently and this show reminded me that I had planned to contribute and add our second podcast to the $5/month plan. Now I don’t have to wait a full month to get the latest reviews!

    3. Darrin Keller says:

      If I have listeners in other countries such as Russia, are they able to leave ratings and reviews? How does the country of origin impact one’s ability to leave ratings and reviews. For example, if the podcast is produced in Russia, will only Apple ID’s in Russia be able to rate that podcast?

      1. Hi, Darrin!

        When you submit your podcast to Apple via Podcasts Connect (or formerly via iTunes), it is automatically published to 155 iTunes stores for 155 countries. It’s possible for users to switch their iTunes app to a different country, but they’ll most likely subscribe, rate, and review in their current country’s store. Thus, your show has different ranking, ratings, and reviews in 155 different iTunes stores. That’s why I created https://MyPodcastReviews.com/, to gather your reviews from all of those other countries.

        1. Darrin Keller says:

          Thanks Daniel. I loved the information you provided. Very useful.

          I’m trying to help a friend who cannot leave a review. He seems to be running into some problems. I wanted to see if there was anything restricting his ability to submit reviews. It seems that there shouldn’t be so I’ll work directly with him.

          1. It is possible his account is linked to a particular country.

    4. podcaster says:

      Anyone know how you can link directly to the itunes ratings and review page for your podcast ?

    5. Matt says:

      True, but the problem since this article came out is now, many podcasts are just asking for people to leave 5 star reviews. Most podcast reviews are not critical and are just 5 stars. I find they have become worthless and not meaningful. I think people should be able to say they love a podcasts. If the reviews are not used for the makers of podcasts to improve their shows, what is the purpose.

      1. Hi, Matt!

        For years, even before I published this podcast episode, podcasters have been asking for 5-star reviews and thinking that affected their ranking. But like I say in the episode, ratings and reviews don’t affect ranking, but they can help help your reputation. That’s why I made MyPodcastReviews.com. It helps you engage with your audience better and use your reviews better.

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