November 8th, 2019

If you think this sounds a little random, it is. The idea was sparked by a random conversation with a complete stranger in the depths of Soho. After explaining what Yellowball did, the person in question asked whether her Reddit presence would be beneficial to SEO. Some questioning and a quick Google was followed by a, “I’m actually going to have to look into that because on the face of it I would say no…..but Reddit is huge so there may be something in it”.

I originally wanted this article to be purely related to the potential SEO benefits of Reddit. However, whilst this is one of the main focal points, we’ve also explored some adjacent topics related to Reddit and digital marketing.

What the hell is Reddit?

Outrage! Blasphemy! Well, this may come as a surprise for all you Redditors out there, but Reddit is a lot like Twitter.

If you use it, you probably love it.

But if you don’t use Reddit, like Twitter, you don’t really care.

For those in the latter half, Reddit is essentially a forum of massive proportions. Described as “the frontpage of the internet”, there are over 150,000 threads with a highly active community, ranging from detailed analytical advice through to the r/aww subreddit purely for cute things. To put Reddit’s scale into perspective, the latter subreddit has over 22 million subscribers! If that doesn’t make you scratch your head, Reddit has more MAUs (Monthly Active Users) than Twitter.

In short, you should care about Reddit. In early 2019 they secured a further $300 million in investment as part of their Series D funding. They continue to grow and whilst they may be a long way from the MAU figures and the level of data available to advertisers through Facebook and Instagram, it wasn’t so long ago that Instagram was just a platform for sharing pictures of poached eggs & smashed avocado on rye bread.

Does Reddit Boost SEO Rankings?

Firstly, it’s really important to define what we mean by ‘boosting SEO’. We are looking for factors that would have a positive effect on a website’s ability to rank. Factors that are either generally accepted by the SEO community, or have been clearly stated by Google to have an impact.

Driving traffic to your site doesn’t count. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be beneficial. It’s just that it wouldn’t have a direct impact on your search rankings. It’s a little bit like saying that having a popular profile on Facebook or Instagram drives a lot of traffic to your site. That’s social media, it’s not SEO.

Indexing Reddit

Let’s start right from the very beginning. Can Reddit be crawled by bots and be indexed?

Yes, Google can crawl and index Reddit. If you search for specific subreddits you can see that they appear in the SERPs. However, they are often outranked by more specific sites and indeed smaller sites that offer a similar format. More on this under ‘relevance’.

This is where Reddit differs from other social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram, in that the posts there do not appear in the search results.

Reddit’s Authority & Link building

You can’t get away from the fact that Reddit is a bit of a behemoth. For those that love the stats, and all of you SEOs out there, Reddit has a Domain Authority of 90, 2.8 billion (yes with a B) backlinks and around 1.5 billion visits per month. Decent.

No wonder people are asking themselves whether a strong presence on Reddit can be helpful for SEO!

The most obvious potential would be in the form of backlinks. DAs of 90 are few and far between, especially in a forum format where links can be posted at will. However, forums have historically been a hotbed of linkspam, prompting many to impose a sitewide “no follow” on all outbound links. Clearly, this would significantly reduce the impact of a link posted on Reddit.

Reddit also do not allow for bio links to be included, although the value associated with your bio page is likely to be low, no matter how much karma you have.

All is not lost.

Not all links are “no follow” on Reddit. Most discussions out there on the efficacy of links from Reddit will comment on the two following points:

All links start out with an automatic no follow. At some point, usually dependent on the amount of upvotes that a comment gets, the link has the no follow removed.

Be careful. Forums are full of discerning users so if you contribute to Reddit for the sole purpose of gaining a backlink, it’s not going to work. Redditors will be quick to realise and downvote the comment.

Relevance

In addition to the comments made with regards to Reddit being indexed, we have to take into account relevance. After all, we don’t live in a pre-Penguin world so PageRank is not the only metric in play here.

Whilst subreddits themselves are likely to be relevant, Reddit is a forum that discusses everything and anything. Subreddits can appear quickly…and be archived to the depths of Reddit just as quickly. As such, you do have to question whether a link will have sustainable value for your website as the associated time decay could be drastic.

Furthermore, gaining a backlink from a website devoted to a particular subject may have more influence due to its relevance. This subreddit raises an interesting point in that a lot of subreddits fail to outrank other more specific sites for queries. On the other hand, Quora also tends to cover everything and anything, but often outranks Reddit. The only answer therefore (and one that we know already) is that Google doesn’t apply a single rule when looking to rank content. For example, Quora operates a much simpler URL structure than Reddit.

Co-occurrence and Co-citation

Another argument towards the potential impact of Reddit on SEO would be Co-occurrence and Co-Citation. To put it simply, if your website is referenced as part of a conversation around a particular topic, or are connected through linking to/from similar websites.

The issue here goes back to the indexation and relevance of individual subreddits. Sure, your comment/reference might be upvoted a load of times and therefore float to the top of the thread, but if the thread fails to rank for the search term you do have to question the value that Google places on it.

To be clear, upvotes are not going to count as backlinks or add direct weight to a comment. Google does not control Reddit’s up/downvote system so is highly unlikely to base any sort of ranking metric on it. The impact of an upvote may mean that your comment/reference/link appears higher in a thread and therefore more visible to crawlers, but there is almost certainly no direct impact on SEO.

So is Reddit Worth It?

Reddit is still valuable, but not from a pure SEO perspective

You can get links with no follow removed, but it’s going to take effort and they may not be as valuable as a DA of 90 might initially look.

You might benefit from co-citation/co-occurrence but again the value may be low depending on the visibility of a subreddit.

To summarise. If you want to increase your organic search visibility, the likelihood is that there are other tactics/links to pursue. Utilising Reddit from a purely link building view is probably not going to be the best use of time.

You can still use Reddit!

Reddit can still help with your SEO campaigns indirectly. One of the best ways to use Reddit is for market research. With 330 million MAU, Reddit gives you an insight into the most popular topics being discussed. Simply filter these according to your subject area and you may well be exposed to some great content ideas.

Over time, Reddit is going to incorporate more ads on the platform (hopefully without losing users), it’s the way these businesses make money. Furthermore, whilst websites like Reddit are notoriously resistant to adverts, it can be incredibly effective. Smaller businesses have been seen to capitalise on highly specific subreddits, whereas larger corporates need to be creative to succeed. Follow any traditional formats and you’re likely to be ripped apart.

So, if you want your SEO to be more effective, invest in other areas. If you want to become part of the community, utilise the collective knowledge or advertise, maybe don’t dive in. Dip your toes in and slowly lower yourself in. Get some upvotes and karma. Roll with the downvotes. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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