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Why is Google Obsessed With Reddit?

 

Have you been seeing Reddit results for a huge number of your Google search queries recently? It’s not just you. Once a fringe forum for discussions on anime and D&D, Reddit is now the leading search engine’s go-to source of information. 

But why is Google obsessed with Reddit?

Is it because users are crying out for unfiltered opinions? Is it because Google has pumped a lot of money into the forum? Or is the algorithm being weird? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

 

The Evidence

Detailed found that the ‘Discussions and Forums’ search feature shows for 77% of product review search queries. Reddit results show in 95.7% of these.

A simple search on Semrush or Ahrefs will tell you that Reddit’s organic search traffic has increased by 400% in the last year. 

A line chart shows a 400% increase in traffic over a year period.

This is Google’s doing!

In February 2024, Google announced an ‘expanded partnership’ with Reddit. This involves:

  • A Cloud partnership that enables Reddit to integrate new AI-powered capabilities
  • More content-forward displays of Reddit information in Google results, thanks to the Reddit Data API

A word from Google: Reddit plays a unique role on the open internet as a large platform with an incredible breadth of authentic, human conversations and experiences, and we’re excited to partner to make it even easier for people to benefit from that useful information.’

 

A man (Google) holds hands with a woman (High quality content) but looks back at another woman (Some comment on Reddit).

 

The Journey

The kind of results Google chooses to display for different searches has changed a lot over the years. But the search engine has always prioritised high-quality, valuable content.

Some would say the average quality level of content on the web has declined. This is because people are producing more and more content to try to rank on search engines and get people to their websites. Much of this content is written by people with no expertise in the topic or – these days – by ChatGPT.

 

Google and E-E-A-T

In 2014, Google updated its Quality Rating Guidelines to include the concept of E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. They want the highest-ranking search results to display these qualities. 

Though you may find experts in niche topics on Reddit, it’s not considered the most authoritative of websites. Trust is a more complicated matter. Reddit contains real opinions from real people. Though it’s more logical to go to the NHS website for a query relating to weight loss or to GOV.uk for visa advice, human instinct draws us to unpolished stories of first-hand experience.

Fast-forward to 2022 and E-A-T becomes E-E-A-T. Google now values experience as much as expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Many websites churn out recycled information, but forum users share real, recent experiences. They offer substance and emotion and reality. If you can look past all the spam.

 

Is this what the people want?

Google’s Feb 2024 announcement included a hyperlink to a search of ‘reddit’ on Google Trends. It shows that searches including the brand name have more than doubled in the past year. So the folks at Google have gone all in and are now showing Reddit results for more searches, branded or not.

It’s evident that people are seeking out more authentic, human content, and that Reddit is meeting some of this need. But has Google taken it too far? With the prevalence of spam on the forum and the de-ranking of much more trustworthy sources for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) searches, we think yes.

 

Why SEOs are angry

Of course, most of the people complaining about Google favouring Reddit are SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) professionals. Why are they upset?

  • They deem Reddit forums to be lower quality than traditional formats like articles and reviews.
  • Users are being exposed to higher rates of spam on Reddit.
  • People are playing the system and paying for votes on Reddit comments from accounts with enough ‘karma’ to outrank the competition (Parasite SEO).
  • They question the relevancy of the Reddit results for some searches.
  • They’re personally losing hard-earned rankings.
  • It’s very easy to make a Reddit post rank on Google.

 

When Reddit Can’t be Trusted

Though we tend to trust human experience above claims made by businesses, there’s a danger in promoting content that doesn’t go through a peer-review process. Most content online has to meet standards set by some higher authority. People on Reddit can say whatever they want.

With Google using the Reddit Data API to train its AI models, this is particularly concerning. Nothing demonstrates this better than a viral screenshot of the SGE (Search Generative Experience) result one user received when they searched ‘i’m feeling depressed’.

 

Maybe Google AI was a mistake
byu/RBPro0 inHolUp

 

So, why is Google obsessed with Reddit?

Google is obsessed with Reddit because:

  1. People who contribute to Reddit write from experience and have trust with many searchers, helping the results to meet Google’s ‘experience’ requirements. 
  2. People are now using TikTok as a search engine because they value the opinions and information they receive from people they admire. Google has to compete with social media platforms for searchers.
  3. Google has an expanded partnership with Reddit and has invested a lot of money in the company.
  4. Users are increasingly searching for Reddit results.
  5. Reddit has 73.1 million daily active users posting specific and up-to-date content about millions of niche topics. 
  6. The platform offers valuable data that can be used to train AI models.
  7. www.reddit.com has a domain authority score of 100 and 8.3 billion backlinks (Semrush).
A screenshot showing Reddit's domain authority score of 100 on Semrush.

How you can protect your rankings from Reddit

It’s happening. Google is favouring forum results, especially those from Reddit, and that doesn’t look like it’s about to change. But you can compete.

  1. Work on improving your E-E-A-T. Ensure all the content you put out is written or reviewed by experts in each field and strive to share personal experience as often as possible.
  2. Include trust signals on your website so users know they can believe what you say. These could be reviews, testimonials or awards.
  3. Try to get more high-quality backlinks by building relationships with other businesses in your industry. You’ll probably never have a domain authority rating as high as Reddit’s, but get as close as you can! 
  4. Update old and out-of-date content on your site and put out fresh content as often as you can (without sacrificing quality). 

 

Work with an SEO Expert

To outrank popular Reddit results, you need to craft original, high-quality content that conveys human experience. You also need to get good backlinks. And you might need to review your technical SEO

Our team of SEO specialists and content marketing pros can help you demonstrate E-E-A-T and rank higher on Google. You are not powerless against Google’s algorithm. You just need to know how to work it.

We’re always happy to book in a free, no-obligation call to chat about your SEO strategy and offer advice. Pop us a message now and let’s outrank Reddit!

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