Exploring the SEO Potential of Reddit Responsibly

Discover how Reddit's rising Google visibility influences SEO and learn practical strategies for integrating Reddit marketing into your SEO efforts.

Reddit has gone public. 

In SEO, Reddit is now an unavoidable, tempting channel for content strategy. Google has over-indexed on the social platform. The experience and expertise of anonymous Redditors published daily rank high across industries and queries. It’s a slice of the social web that’s become a legitimate and/or spammy strategy for marketers and SEOs.

Is Reddit the ultimate barometer of social sentiment online?

Seriously. Reddit skews young. It skews male. It skews progressive. It skews white. 

But that’s where we’re going.

SEOs have seen Reddit’s visibility explode since June of 2023 and they’re foaming at the mouth for the opportunity to siphon organic traffic back to their brands and affiliate links. 

But just like Google, Reddit is rented territory. Having an active presence on Reddit can have significant benefits. As the platform’s visibility rises, being a trusted expert or brand in the communities that your audience frequent can drive traffic, purchases, and loyalty. But you need to be authentic, consistent, and transparent to drive value from Redditors. They see through the bullshit. 

If you’re thinking about adding this channel to your marketing strategy and are likely to cut corners or exploit opportunities, you should turn around. Because it will bite you in the ass.

Approach with integrity or not at all.

Table of Contents

The Reddit SEO Backstory

For the uninitiated, Reddit is a massive website that combines elements of social media, news sites, and discussion forums to create a unique community-driven experience. 

  • Founded in 2005
  • Acquired by Conde Nast in 2006
  • Independently operational in 2011
  • Massive round of funding led by Sam Altman in 2014
  • Reddit goes public on the stock market at a valuation of $6.5M on March 21st

It becomes the self-proclaimed front page of the internet:

It’s organized into thousands of “subreddits,” each dedicated to a specific topic, interest, or theme. These can range from broad subjects like science, technology, and entertainment to niche hobbies and everything in between.

A display of the top 30 Reddit communities

On Reddit, users can submit content, including text posts, links, images, and videos, which other members can upvote or downvote. This voting system determines the visibility of posts within the subreddit and on the site’s front page, ensuring that popular and engaging content rises to the top. 

The platform encourages anonymity, allowing people to share their thoughts and opinions freely without the need for a real-name policy. Some people choose to be themselves, but that’s the exception not the rule.

Subreddits are self-moderated. Each has its own set of rules and social guidelines. 

Reddit’s structure fosters a sense of community and belonging among users, who can join as many subreddits as they like, tailoring their feed to their interests. 

Reddit has become a go-to source for real-time news, expert advice, and community support, making it one of the most popular and influential websites on the internet.

  • Want to figure out what the hell is going on in the world? Visit the Out of the Loop subreddit for concise TL;DR summaries of news and cultural phenomena.
  • Need some guidance on SEO? Check out the SEO or BigSEO subreddits (YMMV).
  • Want to see people unsuccessfully taking pictures of mirrors to sell online? Catch an unintentional reflection in Mirrorsforsale.
  • Love a gorgeous chart, table, or infographic? Welcome to Dataisbeautiful.

You get the point.

So where does SEO come into the picture?

Reddit’s organic search visibility has been skyrocketing since June of 2023. From ~80M visits to ~500M in 9 months. That’s unprecedented.

You could make the argument that Google’s addition of ‘Experience’ to the concept of E-E-A-T in 2022 would massively benefit Reddit. It’s a huge source of user-generated content that includes a cache of direct personal experience. 

You might also look to 2022’s Helpful Content Update which rewards websites that provide genuinely helpful content that specifically satisfies search intent.

Or maybe, it’s Google’s more recent prevalence of a Discussions and Forums feature that aims to surface ‘hidden gems.’  We’ll dive deeper into that momentarily.

Coincidentally, in June of 2023, an interesting thing happened on the social platform. Reddit execs announced that they were increasing the cost of access to their API for 3rd party developers.

A screenshot of a post on reddit about how they were increasing the pricing of their API

Source: Reddit

The greater community revolted. 1000s of subreddits went dark. They go private. Only community members subscribed to the subreddits can access them. Access is shut off to the rest of the internet. 

All of a sudden, Google execs are panicking behind the scenes. People who were appending Reddit to their searches could not get to the content they were looking for via Google. 

Another narrative had been plaguing Google since the previous year. Pundits were lamenting that search results were not nearly as good as they used to be. Billions of people were adding Reddit to their queries. 

A screenshot of Google Trends showing the growing interest of Reddit as a search term over the past 10 years

Even Reddit boasts this statistic in their marketing materials to potential Brand advertisers.

Reddit claims that people add Reddit to Google Searches 1.92 billion times sin 2022

Source: The Retail Advertising Handbook

Behind the scenes, Reddit’s been strategically positioning itself for the biggest social media platform IPO in years. With a $6.5B valuation of the company, there’s a lot of money at stake.

So what does Reddit do? In October of 2023, the Washington Post reported that Reddit “considered blocking search crawlers from Google and Bing which would prevent the forum from being discovered in searches and reduce the number of visitors to the site.” A spokesperson from the brand claimed that “Reddit can survive without search.”

Without knowing the partnership conversations behind closed doors, It’s hard to definitively claim whether Reddit was bluffing or whether Google was desperate.

But we can see the dots connect.

  • Reddit’s data price hike. 
  • A timely growth in organic search traffic. 
  • A threat to Google. 
  • A march to an IPO.

Was anyone shocked when Google and Reddit announced a data partnership quickly followed by the impending IPO?

Nope. 

Reddit's Growing Visibility in the SERPs

The questionable increase in visibility of Reddit was highlighted by Lily Ray of Amsive Digital in her annual 2023 SEO winners and losers. Reddit saw an increased visibility of 867% in 2023. 

What contributed to the growth?

Glen Allsopp of Detailed published a study on the impact of the Discussions and forums feature on product-related queries and found that Reddit’s presence dominated the results.  This feature was officially announced in September of 2022 and gained significant importance as Google focused on 1st person experience and the hidden gems.

Screenshot of Google's Discussions and forum snippet in Search Results

Phillip Petrecu of Advanced Web Rankings highlighted the growth of the Discussions and forums feature was only about 2.62% in the US, but across millions of searches, that amounts to substantial search volume visibility.

Advanced Web Rankings Screenshot of the visibility of the Discussions and forums snippet

The Discussions and forums feature appears up and down the search journey everywhere from informational queries to bottom-of-the-funnel comparison and review searchers.

In his research, Glen found that Reddit appeared in 7,509 out of 10,000 product review searches and was featured 14,263 times. Reddit was present in 97.5% of the Discussions and forums features and on average had 1.9 of three possible listings.

More recently, Google has renamed the Perspectives filter at the top of search results to Forums.

Unsurprisingly, Reddit threads tend to show up at the top of this filter:

Screenshot for Google search results when the Forums filter is clicked

Replacing the Perspectives filter with forums is a surprising choice. Google had implemented the feature with the intention of surfacing more social media takes from YouTube and TikTok, in addition to Reddit, Quora and other forums. I spoke a bit about the implications of ranking perspectives for incredibly subjective topics and how it didn’t seem like a sustainable choice in the long run.

That said, there are still instances of Perspectives that will show up in the search results in the form of the carousels and other filter bubbles.

This is another mechanism that fuels Reddit’s visibility.

But ultimately, it’s hard to ignore the 7 major updates since June (none of which happened specifically around that time when Reddit ascended).

Screenshot of Google Algorithm Updates

The big question among the SEO community regarding Reddit’s growth is, will Google make a correction or is this a new status quo?

Relying too heavily on Reddit for search results could present several challenges and potential issues for Google and its users:

  • Quality Control: Reddit content varies widely in quality, and high upvotes do not always indicate factual or valuable information.
  • Bias and Echo Chambers: Subreddits can have biases and foster echo chambers, skewing perspectives presented in search results.
  • Spam and Manipulation: There’s potential for manipulation of upvotes and content by brands or individuals, affecting the integrity of search results.
  • Outdated Information: Threads on Reddit can quickly become outdated, leading to the dissemination of old or incorrect information in search results.
  • Content Relevance: Highly upvoted content on Reddit may not always be relevant to the specific queries or the intent behind them.
  • Demographic Skew: Reddit’s user base does not represent the entire internet population, potentially biasing search results toward the interests and opinions of a specific demographic.
  • Misinformation and False Narratives: Popular discussions may spread misinformation or unsupported claims, impacting the quality of information accessible through searches.

It feels like Google over-indexed on Reddit. There are finally signs that Reddit’s traffic is decreasing after the 6-month bender.

But with this newfound visibility, what do SEOs need to pay attention to?

Reddit's Impact Across the Organic Search Journey

As Reddit threads continue to rank in Google’s search results across a variety of queries, SEOs will inevitably look to leverage this trend. The allure of tapping into Reddit’s audience for traffic and visibility is strong.

The Reddit experience influence stretches across the entire customer search journey, from initial awareness to decision-making. 

Let’s look at how Reddit might appear in Google search results for queries related to basketball shoes across different stages of the buyer’s journey, using specific examples for each stage:

Awareness Stage

  • Query Example: “What are the best basketball shoes for ankle support?”
  • Reddit Appearance: A thread in a basketball or sports gear subreddit discussing various basketball shoes known for their superior ankle support, highlighting user experiences and recommendations.

Familiarity Stage

  • Query Example: “Air Jordan vs. Nike”
  • Reddit Appearance: Comparative discussions in subreddits dedicated to sneakers or basketball, where enthusiasts share their personal experiences, pros, and cons of each brand for basketball performance.

Consideration Stage

  • Query Example: “Is the LeBron 20 worth the price for a point guard?”
  • Reddit Appearance: A detailed analysis or review thread where users debate the LeBron 20s value, focusing on its design, durability, and performance specifically for point guards.

Decision Stage

  • Query Example: “Where to buy Lebrons in size 15? reddit”
  • Reddit Appearance: A subreddit thread offering advice on purchasing hard-to-find size 15 LeBron shoes.

Note: This result does have a Reddit thread because ‘reddit’ is explicitly in the query. Typically, a decision query will provide end-point solutions. That said, searchers will include Reddit for this type of decision query for advice from the community and real people.

Loyalty Stage

  • Query Example: “customize your own nike basketball shoes”
  • Reddit Appearance: A discussion or guide in a sneaker customization subreddit where users share tips, techniques, and their own custom designs, fostering a community of brand enthusiasts and repeat customers.

Reddit threads are valid results for consumers at every point in the buyer’s journey, from initial interest to post-purchase engagement and brand loyalty. Despite the anonymity element, for a large active community, upvoted comments serve as validated consensus. For hardcore niches, Reddit can serve as the legitimate hub and home for the pockets of the internet.

You can see why SEOs are scrambling to understand and leverage Reddit. It’s touching so many different queries and it’s jumping the line on Google search results. It’s a form of Barnacle SEO – leveraging other sites to increase your own brand’s visibility.

So what should brands do without spamming?

The exploitation of Reddit threads at different levels of ethics by SEOs already manifests in several ways:

  • Brand accounts or brand representatives create content specifically designed to generate discussion on Reddit, aiming for high engagement and visibility. Spam level: Harmless
  • Brand accounts or brand representatives engage in, or even initiate, threads to subtly promote their services or products, blending marketing efforts with genuine user interactions. Spam level: Somewhat shady and risky.
  • Brand accounts or brand representatives monitor popular Reddit threads for opportunities to insert their content or links, thereby piggybacking on the thread’s visibility to enhance their SEO. Spam level: Somewhat shady and risky.

Note: Avoid engaging in any inauthentic strategies! If your brand is manipulative or deceptive, you’ll likely reap consequences. Redditors are expert detectives. They’ll discover your schemes. On Reddit maintain a ‘servant mentality.’

That leads to an impending glaring issue with the platform: content quality and spam.

Reddit’s Spam Problem

Reddit threads are swamped with affiliate content. It’s a fundamental axiom of the internet: anything that can be exploited will be exploited. 

Returning to Glen’s research, he went through 122 URLs and found that more than half of the top comments were explicit or disguised affiliate links.

Now, I didn’t run into as many spam comments as he did, though I did see a ton of threads where: 

  • – The Redditor posting the thread had their own ‘spam’ recommendations. It seemed that these posts were disingenuous SEO plants.
  • – Top results had been moderated or deleted.
  • ✅ Several threads had helpful suggestions that weren’t linked.

There’s always been an element of spam in various subreddits. Perhaps due to the recent SEO spotlight on Reddit and a surge in spam, some subreddits have strengthened their moderation significantly. Moderation serves a critical function to spam results since we’ll inevitably see a continued influx in SEO and affiliate spam.

An example of a payday loan thread with a planted link and a moderated top comment. 

But despite the best efforts from the moderators, even some of the spam referenced in Glen’s original article still exists.

You can see which subreddits have a strong set of rules. One commonly ranking subreddit in the eCommerce product review space is the BuyItForLive subreddit. 

The responsibility of moderation is one particularly important element of the safety of Reddit’s content. If the spam situation were to get out of hand, it would severely impact the quality of Google Search results. 

Reddit Strategy Recommendations for Content Teams and SEOs

Every online community has a culture. They’re generally allergic to brands shilling themselves.

To be frank, as a brand or brand representative, you cannot enter a Reddit community and market your product or service explicitly. Most of the spammy affiliate marketers are either have their comments deleted, are banned, or unethically yet subtly promote their products disguised as a normal user. This typically backfires, but they don’t care about any reputation consequences. Legitimate brands cannot afford to (nor should they attempt) to use this strategy.

How Brands Should Approach Marketing on Reddit?

Before attempting to grow your brand on Reddit, you need to ask yourself some critical questions:

  • Can you have a person dedicated to actively and consistently participating in various subreddits?
  • Are you prepared to invest in the channel without any initial clear performance metrics?
  • Can you handle the criticism, address skepticism, and ignore or constructively manage unhelpful negativity when it’s directed at your brand or representatives?
  • Are you willing to be transparent, honest, and act with integrity on the subreddits you choose to engage with?

If the answer to any of those questions is no. You should rethink your marketing strategy with the channel. Assuming that you’re prepared to invest in Reddit with SEO in mind, you can take a measured and strategic approach.

Identify your brand representation

You can either set up your account and represent your brand as an individual or create a branded Reddit account.

Repping your brand on Reddit requires a nuanced approach. Tread lightly and expect a healthy dose of criticism, skepticism, and mocking/bullying. 

Even though the majority of Redditors use anonymous usernames, if you’re going to participate on Reddit in a professional capacity, you should choose your name as your username. It’s part of the risk/reward of advocating for your brand on the platform. Redditors know that you have more skin in the game if you come on the site as yourself. Not hiding behind an internet alias.

Typically the person that’s representing your brand on Reddit will either be a social media manager, subject matter expert, evangelist, general marketer, or the founder. 

For larger organizations, participation from a founder or CEO tends to be risky for two reasons:

  1. Legal or PR might be overcautious resulting in a Reddit experience that’s inauthentic and negatively impacts the brand.
  2. The leader might write something that’s not received well by the community. Training is required for leaders that aren’t known to be particularly successful at communication on social.

Here’s the harsh truth: no brand can get Reddit 100% perfect, but if you keep these guidelines in mind, you can ingratiate yourself into the community.

  • Understand the Subreddit: Reddit is composed of thousands of subreddits, each with its own culture, rules, and interests. Before posting, spend time lurking in these communities to understand what they value and how they communicate. You can get a sense of the community’s opinions on general topics. Most of them have a long history based on viral threads, memes, language, moderators, and inside jokes.
  • Be a Member First: Participate in subreddits as a regular member before participating under your brand account. Comment on other posts, share relevant content not related to your business, and engage in conversations. This helps build credibility and shows you’re not just there for self-promotion.
  • Offer Value: Don’t ever ask for anything from the subreddit. Try your best to provide value in the subreddit. Do not try to get them to your website. Do not ask them to click on your link. This could be expert advice, unique insights, or non-branded helpful resources. Your contributions should feel like they’re enriching the conversation, not hijacking it. You can give free shit away, but even that has risks.
  • Be Transparent: Reddit users appreciate honesty. If you’re representing a brand, be upfront about it. Trying to disguise promotional content as organic engagement can backfire and damage your reputation. They see through the bullshit.
  • Customize Your Approach: Each subreddit has its own vibe. Customize your message to fit the tone and rules of the community you’re engaging with. What works in one subreddit may not work in another. Authenticity is a general rule of thumb. Inauthentic content can feel rude and hurt the integrity of your brand.
  • Encourage Feedback: Show that you’re open to feedback and genuinely interested in what the community has to say. This can foster positive discussions and provide valuable insights into how your brand can serve them better. For instance, Reddit ads give brands the ability to turn off comments. Most do. Those that don’t earn a significant amount of respect from the community. A bunch of chiding, but respect for having tough skin and being willing to take the heat from a slew of harsh comments.
  • Follow the Rules: Every subreddit has a set of rules. Make sure to read and follow them to avoid getting banned or having your posts removed. If in doubt, reach out to the moderators before posting. And don’t expect the moderators to be welcoming or open. Many subreddits do not welcome a corporate presence in any capacity. They don’t owe you or your brand anything.
  • Use Reddit’s Tools Wisely: Reddit offers various advertising tools designed to blend in with the platform’s content. If you choose to use these, tailor your ads to feel as native and unobtrusive as possible. Hence the open comments recommendation.

Once your brand representative has been selected and trained, you can begin mapping out your SEO driven participation strategy.

Note: Most reddit marketing strategies won’t be SEO driven. If you’re an SEO pitching Reddit as a channel or trying to leverage an existing Reddit social media presence, you should loop in, strategize, and collaborate with your marketing colleagues first. Don’t try to commandeer a channel out of your wheelhouse.

Research Your Keywords, Topics, and Subreddits

A Reddit SEO strategy can start with the threads that are ranking for your targeted keywords. Reddit threads present an opportunity to be visible for out of reach keywords. But you can’t just go into a thread guns ablazed.

Map out the Reddit threads across your keywords. Document:

  • Keyword
  • Rank
  • URL
  • Subreddit
  • Age of thread

As you review the Reddit threads, you’ll see subreddit patterns emerge for different topics. Once you’ve identified the top 3-5 subreddits, you can expand your keyword list by reversing the process. Use a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs to find the queries that your specific subreddit is ranking for in the top 10 spots.

So let’s say I have a shoe brand and I see a range of threads popping up on my keywords in the r/Sneakers subreddit.

Check out what you can discover. First look at how much general traffic has appeared over the past few months:

Even with the dip from February to March, you still see over 50% growth from last November. You can now reverse research the subreddit and look at where it’s ranking top 10, sorted by search volume.

While there’s a lot of branded keywords, there are opportunities within here and since Google prefers fresh content, you can investigate and determine whether the threads are recent enough to participate.

One caveat, it’s pretty obvious to Redittors that when you comment on a threads published more than 3 months ago, it’s not organic or authentic. That’s why you want to record the thread date when you’re documenting opportunities to participate.

In addition to past threads, you can now monitor threads going forward for thread titles with valuable keywords that have a strong likelihood to rank.

Now you can prioritize threads that are relevant to your niche, but ones that are highly visible for keywords where you’re not ranking.

As you participate in more of these threads, do not explicitly mention or link to your brand at first unless it’s appropriate to disclose that you’re the founder or an employee.

Methodically add comments that contribute value and insight. As mentioned before, have a servant mentality. Be so helpful that people reach out to you or ask for more advice via direct message. 

Individual contributions to Reddit at this level don’t scale easily. That’s why this strategy is a resource-intensive investment. Who are the founders and brand reps effectively building a valued presence on Reddit?

Personal Brand Redditors

Travis Hancock – Founder of Facade Games

  • Username: u/Travisto888
  • Redditor since: 2014
  • Bio: Travis is a Columbus, Ohio-based board game inventor and publisher, who launched his first game, Salem 1692, in 2015 through his company, Facade Games. With a strong reception on Kickstarter, Travis transitioned from part-time game development to pursuing his passion full-time alongside his family, eventually achieving significant success with six published games and nearly half a million copies sold.

Melissa Urban – Creator of the Whole30 Diet

  • Username: u/melissaurban
  • Redditor since: 2019
  • Bio: Melissa Urban is the author behind Whole30, a program focused on changing dietary habits to improve health and well-being. With seven bestsellers, she provides practical advice on nutrition, habit change, and healthy boundaries. Melissa lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her family and their poodle, Henry.

Duane Brown​​ – CEO of Take Some Risk

  • Username: u/fathom53
  • Redditor since: 2015
  • Bio: Duane Brown leads an ad agency specializing in scaling PPC and paid advertising for e-commerce, DTC, and SaaS brands. With 17 years of global experience in digital marketing and branding, Duane has worked with companies like ASOS and Walmart, leveraging large data sets to optimize PPC, CRO, and budget management strategies. Based on his extensive expertise in performance marketing and analytics, Duane offers valuable insights on platforms ranging from Google Ads to Google Analytics.

John Mueller​ – Google Search Team

  • Username: u/johnmu
  • Redditor since: 2010
  • Bio: John Mueller plays a crucial role at Google as a Search Advocate, where he connects the dots between search engineering and website optimization from Zurich, Switzerland, since 2007. His active participation in the SEO community is so notable, it’s almost as if he’s trying to rank #1 in being everywhere at once—despite his site being recently deindexed.
     

Not every business has the time, resources, or social personnel to invest in a personal Reddit presence. Or maybe you do, but you want to drive more value from the platform as your brand grows. What other options do you have?

Branded Subreddits

A branded subreddit offers a strategic way to scale brand marketing efforts on Reddit. This method not only enables brands to cultivate a centralized hub for community engagement but also significantly enhances brand visibility and fosters a sense of loyalty among the audience.

By launching a branded subreddit, companies can efficiently scale their interactions, share content directly, and maintain a continuous dialogue with their community. While this approach can lead to increased brand awareness and growth, it’s not without its challenges.

Negative perceptions can escalate quickly if the community disagrees with the brand’s actions or offerings, and managing the subreddit’s content can become complex. Keep in mind, the subreddits created by users outside of your brand’s influence underscores the importance of engaging with these community-led spaces. Otherwise, things could get ugly quickly.

Branded Subreddit Pros:

  • Scales brand interactions and content sharing more efficiently than individual efforts.
  • Enhances brand visibility and loyalty through direct community engagement.
  • Provides a centralized hub for fostering discussions and sharing valuable information.

Branded Subreddit Cons:

  • Potential for rapid spread of negative feedback and public relations issues.
  • Requires diligent management and moderation to maintain brand reputation.
  • Risk of unofficial subreddits creating mixed messages about the brand.

Like most of Reddit, branded subreddits have benefited from increased visibility and traffic across the board.

Let’s look at a few brands that are getting it right.

Soylent

  • Subreddit: r/soylent
  • Members: 40K
  • Description: Soylent is a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in producing meal replacement products, designed to provide a nutritionally complete, convenient alternative to traditional meals. Their product range includes ready-to-drink beverages, powders, and bars, catering to consumers seeking efficient and sustainable nutrition solutions.

The Soylent subreddit community is incredibly active and slightly cultish. Posts cover everything from health recommendations, recipes, memes, the products in public spaces, deals, and academic research. The founder drops in from time to time and the employees have an active presence in many of the threads.

Yeti Coolers

  • Subreddit: r/YetiCoolers
  • Members: 27K
  • Description: Yeti Coolers is a premium outdoor brand known for its high-quality, durable coolers and ice chests designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor adventures. Their product lineup extends to drinkware, bags, and accessories, all engineered for exceptional performance in extreme conditions. They’ve grown a ravenous fan base over the past couple of years.

Despite the Yeti Cooler subreddit having 25% less members than Soylent, the traffic is 10x more. Members love showcasing their customized Yetis, their orders, and their lifestyles. Yeti also facilitates a ton of raffles, promotions, and contests on the subreddit.

BestBuy

  • Subreddit: r/BestBuy
  • Members: 82K
  • Description: Best Buy is a leading retailer specializing in consumer electronics, offering a wide range of products from computers and smartphones to appliances and entertainment systems. Known for its extensive inventory and expert services, it caters to customers seeking the latest technology solutions and support.

While not a cautionary tale, it’s worth acknowledging that the larger your brand, the more diverse opinions to support. Best Buy’s community on Reddit does not have the same fanaticism as Yeti or Soylent. Perhaps retailers don’t always have the same level of loyalty. But even though the search traffic is large, many of the posts discuss difficult brand topics: store closures, poor customer service, and issues with the products. That’s a massive challenge for any customer service or marketing team. 

Bloomberg

Member name: u/bloomberg

Bloomberg has a unique approach to Reddit. Their Reddit account shamelessly posts their content around a variety of subreddits including r/economics, r/worldnews, and  r/politics.

Their articles generate interesting conversations on Reddit and they rarely get called out by Redditors for promoting their own content. They provide summaries of their articles in the comments. Sometimes, they’ll host Ask Me Anything threads with their journalists. Something about the brand alignment with the essence of the subreddits they post in allows them to get away with this.

It speaks to the opportunity for brands that have an affinity to the audience. The point is, just because there are certain expectations across communities, some brands can get away with breaking the rules, but it’s questionable whether the risk of a reputation hit is worth it. Your mileage may vary.

The Reddit user base demographic is an interesting consideration for brands. A major announcement in February also brings the content of Reddit to the forefront of the future of Google Search.

The Impact of the AI Data Training Partnership

On February 22nd, Google announced a deal with Reddit, leveraging Vertex AI and Reddit’s Data API, underscoring a strategic move to enhance search functionalities and content accessibility. 

Posted on Reddit’s blog:

“With this partnership, and via our Data API, we’re ushering in new ways for Reddit content to be displayed across Google products by providing programmatic access to new, constantly evolving, and dynamic public posts, comments, etc., on Reddit. This enhanced collaboration provides Google with an efficient and structured way to access the vast corpus of existing content on Reddit and enables Google to use the Reddit Data API to improve its products and services – including supporting new ways to display Reddit content and providing more efficient ways to train models.”

The collaboration opens doors to a vast repository of human conversations for Google’s AI, potentially enriching its learning data. 

Beyond the detrimental effects of misinformation content polluting Google’s training data, Reddit’s demographic is skewed towards younger, predominantly male users, raising concerns about bias and the quality of data feeding into Google’s AI systems.

This partnership reflects the intricate dance between leveraging diverse, real-world data and the imperative to maintain AI’s integrity and impartiality.

Source: Pew Research

Only 22% of adults have ever even used the platform.

We don’t know the implications of this deal, but it won’t necessarily impact search. Reddit’s user base publishes unvarnished authentic content. But it’s a specific demographic that’s not representative of everyone online. The use of content from this corner of the internet could have unexpected implications for Google’s LLMs. 

Why does the Google announcement specifically call out real-time content? 

One has to believe that there are safety precautions in place for the amount of unhelpful, spam, misinformation, and malicious content that gets past moderators of the various subreddits. 

Misinformation. It’s a dangerous risk of surfacing Reddit content in search results. One that Reddit’s familiar with.  

In 2016, According to a research paper by Rishab Nithyanand of the Data & Society Research Institute, CNET reported that “Reddit represents an important part of the story about the spread of misinformation or ‘fake news’ across social media platforms”.

As we approach the 2024 presidential election, Reddit’s growing visibility on Google feels problematic.

A recent data partnership between Google and Reddit makes the relationship between the two even more frightening.

Apocalyptic Reddit aside, choosing any marketing channel depends on where your audience spends time. 

Should you pursue a Reddit presence purely for SEO?

No. Reddit has earned blanket visibility on Google. In many ways, the content generated by real people on the site serves the intent of searchers. It’s why people have been appending Reddit to their Google searches. But Reddit communities are biased, complicated, socially demanding, and aren’t always as authentic as the brands they might reject.

If you’re a solopreneur, content creator, journalist, or have a personal brand, Reddit’s a great way to grow your presence, earn trust, and participate in a community of your ideal audience. But if you’re a brand, sometimes the risk is greater than the reward. 

Larger brands or brands with a fanatic customer base benefit from branded subreddits. For the sake of your reputation, you can decide on a case-by-case basis whether to facilitate, support, or avoid your own branded subreddit. They can grow organically and out of your control quickly.

Subreddits are forums, but there’s an underlying subculture that permeates them. Don’t try to influence or manipulate. Participate. Reap indirect organic search benefits.

Next Steps

Here are 3 ways iPullRank can help you combine SEO and content to earn visibility for your business and drive revenue:

  1. Schedule a 30-Minute Strategy Session: Share your biggest SEO and content challenges so we can put together a custom discovery deck after looking through your digital presence. No one-size-fits-all solutions, only tailored advice to grow your business. Schedule your session now.
  2. Mitigate SGE’s Potential Impact: How prepared is your SEO strategy for Google’s Search Generative Experience? Get ahead of potential threats and ensure your site remains competitive with our comprehensive SGE Threat Report. Get your report.
  3. Enhance Your Content Relevancy with Orbitwise: Not sure if your content is mathematically relevant? Use Orbitwise to test and improve your content’s relevancy, ensuring it ranks for your targeted keywords. Test your content today.

Want more? Visit our Resources Page for access to past webinars, exclusive guides, and insightful blogs crafted by our team of experts. Everything you need to keep your business ahead of the curve is right at your fingertips.

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Garrett Sussman

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