Ratings and reviews are one of the first things new listeners see about your podcast. Reviews are genuine opinions from people like them. So new listeners rely on them to give a true indication of whether your show is worth their time.
Reviews give your podcast social proof and additional credibility. New listeners don’t have to take you at your word that your show is great. Instead, they can quickly see what other people are saying about it.
Reviews provide social proof that your podcast is worth listening to. But they won’t boost your rankings on Apple Podcasts.
While reviews are great for providing social proof and encouraging new listeners to take a chance on the show, the Apple Podcast algorithm has recently deprioritised them as a ranking signal. Unfortunately, gaining more reviews is unlikely to have a big influence on rankings. Times have changed in the podcast world!
So how do you actually get more reviews? Well, having a good show to begin with is the most important requirement (believe it or not!). But there’s a bunch of other stuff you can do to improve your chances, and get more listeners to give their feedback. Let’s go through all the best tips and tricks.
Who Do You Want Reviews From?
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. Offers from people who want to sell or swap rave reviews and ratings are tempting. But fake reviews from people who have never actually listened to an episode of your show are easy to spot. A bunch of generic, vague reviews all written on the same day are going to look suspicious to new listeners. And if they guess you’ve bought your way in, you’ll never gain their trust in you as a podcast host. Bottom line is, never pay for reviews.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways of encouraging more podcast reviews. You’ve just got to make sure the people you ask to rate your show are actually listeners. Ideally, you want to target your most loyal listeners.
Where & When to Ask for Reviews
The best place to ask your listeners for ratings and reviews is in your episodes. Leave a link in your show notes that people can follow to writing a review too. The easier you make it for your listeners, the better.
Some podcast hosts use the intro to ask for ratings, but we’d recommend waiting till the end. If they like your content, listeners will want to get into it straight away. Going on about other things before you start the show will get boring very quickly. It’s amazing how short human attention spans can be!
Wait till the outro to ask for reviews
If the first impression they get of your podcast is you asking them for something, they’re going to feel like they’re listening to an ad. People don’t want to feel like you’re just trying to get something from them before you’ve even given anything to enjoy. So the intro isn’t always the best place for asking listeners to rate and review.
It’s best to wait until the outro for your request. That way only your most dedicated listeners are still there to hear it, and they’re not going to feel like you’re asking too much of them. They’re also the ones most likely to leave a nice long review that’ll explain exactly how amazing your show is to everyone.
For many podcast hosts, reviews from regular listeners are more than enough. But it never hurts to get some expert reviews too. Submit your show to websites like Podcast Review, for a chance at getting a professional deep-dive into your podcast. You can quote the review to entice new listeners in.
How to Ask for Reviews
You’ve reached the outro of your podcast episode, and it’s time to get those reviews. But what do you actually say?
Some podcast hosts prefer to ask for an honest rating and review rather than a 5 star rating. Chances are, anyone who’s stuck around to listen to the end of your podcast isn’t going to give it 1 star. And if they give a 4 star review, that’s still really valuable. Many listeners will pay more attention to those reviews than 5 star ones, to get a realistic feel for what your show’s about.
Explain clearly to listeners why you’re requesting reviews.
Explaining to your audience why reviews and ratings matter helps. If a listener understands their actions actually affect how you’re doing, they’re more likely to bother. So say a sentence or two on how reviews help podcasts like yours grow, making it more possible to devote your time and money to the show they love. It’s easier to motivate action from someone who gets the point of your request.
Offering an Extra Incentive
There’s nothing like a prize to get people excited. If they’re not going to be persuaded to leave a review out of the kindness of their hearts, maybe all your audience needs is a bit of incentive. Bribing people to leave fake reviews is definitely a bad idea. But there’s nothing wrong with giving your listeners more reason to leave an honest one.
Running a Review Competition
A competition is a great way to spice up your normal request for reviews. Give people a deadline to submit a review on Apple Podcasts for a chance to win an exciting prize. Ask people to enter by taking a screenshot of their review and emailing it to you with a certain subject line. This makes life a lot easier as you won’t then have to track the winner down from their username, you can simply email them back.
Consider making it a regular competition too, if you have a good idea for prizes you can easily hand out. You could give a prize to a new reviewer at the end of every month. Announcing the winners in your outro too will add to the excitement of the whole thing.
You probably want your competition to be open to everyone, to make your whole audience feel involved. So if your prize is physical, make sure you can cover the shipping costs to wherever your listeners live, even if it’s across the world. If this sounds difficult, you can always offer a digital prize to winners. A copy of your ebook, a free online course, or a 15 minute conversation with you can all work. Think about what your audience would want and what you can offer.
The fitness podcast Mind Pump used this strategy for years to gain more reviews. They consistently gave away 3 Mind Pump t-shirts every week for months on end! You can check out our interview with Sal DiStefnao, host of Mind Pump below:
Set a Reward For Reaching a Target
Another way to make reviews more exciting for your listeners is to set them a goal to reach. Do something special for them when they reach a certain number of reviews on Apple Podcasts. The reward can be pretty much anything your listeners would find exciting.
You could release an extra episode of your podcast with a particularly special guest, or film yourself doing something funny. You could even get listeners to pitch in with suggestions of what they want you to do. We’d recommend being specific about what it is listeners will gain once they’ve reached your goal, so they trust you’ll follow through.
Keeping Track of Your Reviews
It’s surprisingly complicated keeping all your reviews in one place. Even within one podcast app, reviews are often separated in different places according to the country listeners are in. Reviews in the US Apple Podcasts page are completely different to the ones that show up in the UK store. With Apple Podcasts available in 175 countries each with a different store, just knowing how many reviews you have can be a bit of a hassle.
There’s also more than one podcast app out there, and they’re all going to have different ratings and reviews systems. Apple Podcasts, Podbean, Podchaser, Stitcher - the list goes on. You’d have to check them all if you never want to miss a single rating.
You can save considerable time and energy by using a site to collect all your reviews together for you. My Podcast Reviews looks at reviews from all the stores in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podchaser and Castbox, and combines them in one place. Podrover does the same thing for Apple Podcasts and Stitcher. The only caveat is you do have to pay a small fee for these services. My Podcast Reviews is $5 a month to keep track of up to 2 podcasts, and Podrover is $5 a month for 3 podcasts. They both have free trials though, so you can always check them out to see if they’re worth the money for you.
If you’re not willing to pay for the convenience of these services, you can always keep track of your reviews yourself. But you’ll need to be prepared to set aside some time each week to check them!
What to Do With Your Reviews
So, you’ve got your first glowing review! Now what? Just having a review there for new listeners to read can help your podcast tremendously. But there’s some stuff you can do to make each review go even further, and help you out more.
One great way to use a good review is to share quotes on social media or relevant websites. If anyone’s on the fence about checking out your show, seeing a flattering quote about it might just persuade them to give it a go. And being quoted on your social media might actually be pretty exciting for whoever left you the review - they’ll know their words were really appreciated by you.
Another good idea is to read out reviews in your outros, when asking others to leave more for you. This makes it clear to your listeners you do care about these things, and you actually read what they’re writing. Plus, people love getting shouted out by their favourite podcast host. If there’s a chance their words will be read out in the next episode, listeners are more likely to leave a sparkling review for you.
There’s your guide to getting podcast reviews and ratings. After a week or two of using these tips, you should see a rise in feedback from your listeners.
Podcast reviews are really helpful when trying to grow your audience, but remember to have a little patience. You don’t need hoards of new ones overnight to be making progress. Numbers are helpful, but obsessing over them probably isn’t, especially if it’s taking time away from other parts of your podcasting. So do what you can, keep an eye out for new reviews you can use, but at the end of the day what matters the most is making a worthy podcast. 5 star reviews are just the icing on the cake.