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Do ratings and reviews really help you get featured in 'What's Hot'?

December 18, 2018 · By Daniel J. Lewis · 1.3 minutes to read

Do you need good ratings and reviews to be featured in the What’s Hot section of Apple Podcasts?

This is an idea that’s floated around for a while and seems the most reasonable of the ideas of how ratings and reviews affect your podcast position in Apple Podcasts.

But inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter, I dug into a little data.

Looking at the News & Politics “What’s Hot” section, the top most-reviewed podcasts in that genre actually aren’t featured in that list. And most of the podcasts featured there have far fewer ratings and reviews than the top shows of the same genre. This is looking both at podcasts that simply list News & Politics among several genres, and those shows that have that genre selected as the primary.

Furthermore, the podcasts that appear in “What’s Hot” are not always the most popular shows you would expect would have a lot of recent activity (ratings, reviews, subscriptions, and downloads).

I even have access to stats for some of the podcasts in “What’s Hot” sections and I can confirm they’ve had no major increase in recent activity.

My theory, based on this data and observation, is that while there probably are algorithms in place that cause a podcast to get Apple’s attention, Apple still maintains 100% editorial control. They probably have to intentionally approve podcasts for those sections, no matter how well the podcast is performing. But if there’s no one to approve the feature of those podcasts, or they’re busy with something else, then “What’s Hot” and “New & Noteworthy” would seem to stagnate.

After all: you’ll probably never see Apple allow a “We’re Racist Nazis and Apple Is Stupid” podcast to be featured in those sections, regardless of how much recent activity it gets.

—Daniel J. Lewis runs My Podcast Reviews, a service that allows you to see and share all your podcast’s reviews from every country.


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