Genuine Play Store reviews are getting deleted by Google assuming it as fake!

This post is for android developers who publish their apps in google play store. We all know that Android reviews are easy to get compared to apple and there are many Facebook communities which exchange reviews and many websites selling reviews too. Many developers purchase these reviews to manipulate the ranking in the store which is definitely a bad thing. It is like abusing the genuine efforts of real, hard working developers actually. I have seen reviews are selling for as low as $0.25 and I personally know many people who purchased such packages to manipulate their app ranking.

Before the end of 2016, Google decided to crack down the fake reviews (Source here ). I believed it as a big move and thought it will help the real developers like us to promote our apps better with lesser competition from apps with fake reviews. Because it can take 1–2 months for an average app to get 100 real reviews. At the same time anybody can purchase 100 reviews for $25 or $30 in one day (I am not sure how effective it is. I am getting emails from such providers several times a week. But never tried it). Anyway, I have definitely hoped for the end of such crappy services which is manipulating the stores with fake reviews.

After this announcement, it was definitely evident in store. Many of the fake review providers stopped business too. I have discussed with people who used such services early. They all said, it is dead. What is happening now is, they purchase 100 reviews, the sellers provide the same in 2–3 days, In the next 2–3 days all reviews gone (In fact, all fake reviews are deleted by google). Good. isn’t it? I said ‘Google Engineers are smart’. But still, I am getting several emails from many such providers offering fake reviews and ratings. Not sure they can deliver it or not.

After some weeks, I have started noticing a drop in the percentage of reviews I am getting for my apps. First I thought it was due to some other parameters such as app type, Geo of users etc. I have asked some of the fellow developers. They are also getting a low number of reviews for most of the apps. Then I have decided to closely watch my most downloaded app in play store. I can say this app is 100% clean (Never bought any reviews, never exchanged reviews, never encouraged my friends to review etc). To my surprise, Google is deleting many real reviews from the app on a daily basis ( It is definitely real reviews as I am not engaged in any such activities to boost reviews). Now I am afraid of the smartness of Google engineers! They believe some of the reviews are fake and deleting it. Not sure how they assume the same. In fact, short reviews are getting deleted easily.

Some stats about the analysis

  • The app has a total download of 200K +, But Total Reviews below 400 (Many of my other old apps even below 100K download range has 800–1000 reviews)
  • At least 5 reviews are deleted almost every day ( Overall count is not getting reduced usually. But I am getting up to 8 reviews/day and 4–6 deleted on same day)
  • This app has 1000–1500 daily downloads and there are many days with zero reviews (can you believe it ?)
  • 1 star or 2-star reviews are not getting deleted ever. Only 4 and 5 stars are getting vanished regularly (As a result, my app rating is down to 4.1 now which was consistently in 4.4–4.5 range)
  • Reviews from Tier 3 countries are getting deleted most (eg: India)

Anybody having such issues here? You may not be noticing it. If you think your review rates are lower than last year, Please have a close watch on the store page. Check the count every hour and note down the latest 1–2 reviews. You can see some disappearing for sure (You may not be able to check it for small apps with low number of downloads and reviews)

Please share your experiences below. Any help in avoiding this crisis will be highly appreciated. Thanks for reading my post. Really looking for your similar experiences, if any.

Update on 15–11–2017
Sad to see that the problem still exists. But I believe it is slightly better now. The only advantage we have now is the ability to report reviews in play store console. Now I am able to delete some reviews by reporting. So the average review score is slightly better.

Here is the current status of the above discussed app.
Downloads : 640K
Total Reviews: 1273
Review Score : 4.3

Please note that some other apps with similar download range having 4000–5000 reviews. Let us hope Google will fix the issue permanently soon!