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The Google Reddit partnership: What it means for SEO

Michael Carden-Edwards

Posted by Michael Carden-Edwards

29 April 2024

On 22 February, Google announced an expanded partnership with Reddit that was framed around using Reddit’s content for AI training purposes. From Google’s standpoint, this is intended to use Reddit’s human conversations and writing styles to improve search results and make them more helpful for the user. What does this mean for SEO and how can brands adjust their content strategies? Let’s take a thorough look.

Understanding the details of Google’s partnership with Reddit

There was a lot of noise in the SEO community about the increased visibility of Reddit posts in Google search results at the beginning of the year. Search Engine Land reported on a huge jump in visibility and dominance of the site in the discussions and forums arena in early February.

Several days later, Google officially announced that they had deepened a partnership with Reddit to allow the forum giant to use Google’s Vertex AI to enhance search capabilities within the platform. In return, Google now has access to Reddit’s Data API, allowing Google to better understand and train on Reddit content it has called “uniquely helpful”, among other things.

It’s clear Google has recognised that users often rely on Reddit to seek information, follow discussions and gain advice on a variety of topics. Not only has this resulted in a heightened visibility of Reddit in search results, but it is a clear sign that Google’s move to improve its own search results based on Reddit’s content is indicative of what it deems helpful. 

What is the impact on SEO?

Some have expressed their frustrations at the heightened visibility of Reddit in search results. They argue that many traditional webpage-based results offering content that is equally high quality and useful, and arguably more in-depth and expert-led, are being unfairly gazumped by Reddit posts because of this deal.

Visibility of Reddit aside, taking a step back and assessing the growth of Reddit’s own SEO performance does present valid food for thought. Looking at the wording of Google’s announcement of the partnership, it uses a number of familiar phrases that we’ve seen across various updates and articles across its own SEO documentation. Helpful content. Content freshness. Authentic human conversations. All of this can be tied back to the type of content Google is favouring in its search results in recent years. This is particularly prescient following Google’s recent spam update, which saw a lot of disruption in tackling low-quality search results. 

Does this mean that every brand will need to pursue a Reddit-like approach of opening up a forum on their website to get users talking? Of course not. Forums can be resource-heavy and unwieldy from an SEO perspective. Unless your brand has an active forum that is integral to its ethos and website, this isn’t necessarily something to pursue.

However, partnership announcement aside, there are signs that Google clearly favours Reddit and deems it as a source of useful and relevant content. Regardless of some concerns over the accuracy of content and potential bias and misinformation present in such forums, this presents brands with plenty of opportunities to utilise this in their own keyword research and content marketing strategies.

Leveraging Reddit for content marketing purposes 

The term “Reddit Keyword Research” is something that should very much be part of your brand’s content strategy lexicon moving forward. Alongside using traditional keyword research methods, such as assessing what keywords your competitors are performing on and researching relevant topics, uncovering further opportunities using Reddit is an additional tool that can put you ahead of the rest.

Many traditional keyword research tools won’t return data on some of the more long-tail, low-competition keywords that reside around Reddit posts. While the data on monthly search volume won’t be as high as certain keywords found in some of the more popular tools, these tangential keyword types are often representative of a highly engaged user base.

Moreover, if people are unable to find their answers in traditional search results, they may turn to Reddit to get insights from a highly engaged and knowledgeable user base. If you’re seeing certain long-tail queries, such as investigative questions or pain points around your niche, represented by Reddit in search results, this can present a lot of opportunities to bring this into your own content.

For example, take a look at the Google result for long-tail search term “Does Guinness taste different in Ireland”:

Below the top spot, an answer by a renowned Ireland travel advice site is a Reddit result. Plugging this Reddit URL into a popular keyword research tool and extracting the keywords it ranks for can give you a quick breakdown of opportunities to go after. It’s also likely that this keyword, or the topic of Guinness tasting different in Ireland, has been asked frequently across Reddit and the r/beer subreddit multiple times. With that in mind, we can extend our search beyond this sole Reddit post URL by plugging in the URLs of the r/beer, r/Guiness, and even r/Ireland subreddits and filtering accordingly to get even more content ideas.

A lot of the long-tail keyword variants around “Does Guinness taste different in Ireland” may return low numbers in terms of monthly search volume. However, clustering them all together may present an opportunity to plug this gap, with an article that provides a fresh insight or study, and performs well enough to outrank the Reddit result and compete with the top spot. While the debate around whether Guinness tastes better in Ireland is an ever-raging one that will likely continue on Reddit indefinitely, there is an opportunity for brands to emulate this and capture the search intent around this topic in a well-structured article.

Reddit keyword research continued

Another quick way to generate content ideas of Reddit threads is to modify your Google searches.

As we mentioned earlier, many users are now seeing prompts to include the appended term “Reddit” in their search bars when entering search terms. Take a look at what happens to the prompt box when we enter the search term “where to stay in Lisbon”:

This will of course depend on your search behaviour and browsing history, but in this instance, the very first prompt beneath this search term is encouraging us to see what Reddit users are saying about this topic.

The subsequent search result returns a number of different Reddit posts across various subreddits addressing this question:

In contrast, looking at the traditional search query (minus the “Reddit), we are presented with a usual array of listicle-type articles from well-known news and travel publications: 

While the latter may have use in giving users travelling to Lisbon a rough idea of where to stay, the Reddit threads are likely to be populated with ongoing answers from Lisbon travel experts, be it in the form of regular visitors, expats, or, of course, locals. Users will be able to scroll through the various replies to these threads and get a sense of the popular answers and why certain areas are recommended over others. There will also be detailed minutiae on which areas are better suited to families, young couples, solo travellers, and Lisbon first-timers, as well as the areas’ public transport connections and proximity to restaurants and tourist attractions. That’s before you even get into topics such as which area is best to stay in depending on the time of year or around certain events.

From this, brands can get inspiration on the type of content users are really looking for when it comes to certain search queries. While you won’t be able to replicate forum-type content like for like, you can use the keyword research steps we mentioned earlier to get keyword ideas and start creating in-depth content.

Start this process by getting a list of search terms relevant to your business, or search terms that you are currently tracking in your keyword ranking tools, and assessing what the SERPs are returning when you add the term “Reddit” at the end.

Creating content using Reddit keyword research

Once we’ve got our list of content ideas, it’s time to form this into a coherent piece of content that performs well on Google. Looking back at our Lisbon example, let’s pull out one of the Reddit results shown in the SERP: “Lisbon for the first time. Best neighbourhood to stay when…” We can plug this URL into a keyword research tool to get a sense of some of the search terms it ranks for to help formulate this brief. However, we may be missing out on some of the key themes and topics that make this particular post perform well.

One approach here is to scroll through the post and pluck out a number of potential ideas to touch on. What are the key recurring themes mentioned throughout the post? How can they be structured as subheadings under the main heading “Where to stay in Lisbon?” In this post, there are a number of references to times of the year, the pros and cons of certain neighbourhoods for certain demographics, where things are in terms of public transport connections and tourist attractions, and which areas are quiet or have more of a party atmosphere. 

Straight away, you’ve got plenty of ammunition to devise a great article on the topic of where to stay in Lisbon that offers a more useful and engaging experience than many listicle-type articles from the usual travel blogs. This is if the article is researched thoroughly and written well, of course. 

What will the future look like for Google search with Reddit in mind?

Google’s use of Reddit’s content as a means to improve its search results is a clear signal as to what type of content it favours. With its continued emphasis on helpful content and E-EAT, brands should really look to plug gaps where Reddit posts are appearing prominently in search results around certain keywords. Content that is authentic and user-centric in its nature, and isn’t simply there to serve search engines, is likely to continue to perform strongly, regardless of whether Google is favouring partner brands such as Reddit in SERPs.

Of course, things may change when it comes to Reddit’s heightened presence. As we mentioned, many in the SEO community and beyond have been raising concerns at Reddit posts which seem to lack credibility appearing in search results. A quick look at some of the popular SEO-based subreddits across the forum giant will often result in free-flowing conversation and advice on SEO best practices that is mixed in terms of usefulness and accuracy. E-EAT may be one thing when it comes to Reddit. However, user-generated content in its nature can be varied in terms of authenticity and expertise on any topic, with personal bias, subjectivity, and even outright misinformation being common tropes of user-generated forums. 

With this in mind, be sure to keep an eye on how things change here when it comes to Google’s evaluation of Reddit through the lens of helpful content and E-EAT. Regardless of how Google is treating Reddit in SERPs in lieu of this partnership, there is ample opportunity for brands to explore the potential goldmines of content opportunities that deep Reddit keyword research and audience listening offers.

About the author

Michael Carden-Edwards is SEO Strategy Lead at Reddico. A seasoned SEO and digital marketing expert with 13+ years of experience, Michael has directed SEO strategies for major brands like British Airways and O2 as well as conducting countless public and internal SEO training sessions. Based in Sevilla, he joined Reddico in 2021, enjoying the flexible working and unique culture from a sunnier climate.

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