I am sick of Reddit in Google’s SERP!

jordan koene profile picture size small

29 Feb, 2024

5 mins read

Google Reddit Marriage

Did Reddit just change SEO…forever?

Last week was a big week for Reddit and Google. To start, they jointly announced their “long standing relationship,” which aims to make Reddit’s wealth of content and communities easier to find and engage with via Google. According to Google, Reddit content is an “incredible breadth of authentic, human conversations and experiences,” and access to this content is forged via “Reddit’s Data API, which delivers real-time, structured, unique content.” This new relationship promises to create an online search experience that makes it easier for people to access this community forum-based content via Google. 

In addition to this new partnership, Reddit made a major announcement that they will IPO this year. They are planning to list on the NYSE under “RDDT” in what would be the first major tech IPO of the year and the first social media IPO since Pinterest in 2019. The company reported $804 million in annual sales for 2023, a 20% increase from the previous year, despite a history of net losses, including a $90.8 million loss in 2023. It is important to note that Reddit is one of the most-visited sites in the U.S., ranking 10th according to Similarweb, right next to Wikipedia. Reddit has faced challenges in building an online advertising business that is competitive with giants like Facebook and Google. It’s funny that the Google partnership is coming at a time of recent growth and uncertainty in how Social Media content should be used. Reddit, however, navigates a complex experience and community that has reached a point of scale amidst the evolving digital landscape.

Making both of these announcements within the same week is undoubtedly a momentum builder and a clear driver in Reddit’s ambition to raise capital in this IPO. With Reddit’s recent focus on revenue generation, the partnership couldn’t come at a more opportune time, as this new match is the best possible channel to drive user activity and profitability. Due to Google’s desire for Reddit Content, the IPO could yield higher profit margins, but, more importantly, it will expose billions of searchers to this vat of forum-based community content. 

This kind of exchange or direct access to unfettered content has been done before by Google.  Despite the uncompromising view that Google might portray as being unbiased, the public display of such relationships indicates that this is simply untrue. Historically, this approach has been repeated by Google on countless occasions, for example, in 2015, when Google and Twitter announced “access to the firehouse,” or the fact that Google is paying Wikipedia to feed all Knowledge panels. Although you might believe that Google is paying Wikipedia out of charitable kindness, you would be wrong, as regulation (Digital Markets Act) pressed the issue and likely has pushed Google to pay the foundation and countless news outlets. 

Why is Reddit ruining my Google results?

Over the past 18 years, Reddit has grown into a vast archive of human-generated content, from conversations to advice to personal experiences. I am a member of the Reddit community and an early adopter of Reddit ads. However, I still believe that the average online Google searcher (8.5 billion per day) has no practical use for Reddit content in search results. I also want to acknowledge that 73 million daily active users are on the Reddit platform, and this number is notably less than Facebook, YouTube, and Whatsapp, three of the largest daily active user platforms. Reddit usage will grow, which, in part, will be driven by Google’s insistence on keeping Reddit content in search results. Since July of 2023, the number of ranking keywords for Reddit has more than doubled, reaching over 269 million keywords. 

With this growth, Reddit has topped the charts and reached higher levels than even Wikipedia in overall ranking keywords. In recent months, Reddit has achieved a YouTube-like visibility status, showing up with multiple results, various sub-links, and features for users to engage. This includes 35M featured snippets, 18M sitelinks, and 1.2M “people also ask” placements within the Google search results. Many of these enhanced placements are up 450% since July of 2023.  But the realities of this explosive growth may not be what Google hoped for, and the benefits could be lost on the average searcher. 

But why? Why so much Reddit content in Google search results? 

I have no idea what metric Google is using to justify the continued proliferation of Reddit content. This week alone, I have found countless irrelevant, unuseful, and tasteless Reddit results. Reddit is a particular brand of content that contains every useless conversation ever had, stored in one place and now visible for the world to see in Google. 

Just today, I performed a simple search within Google for my Son’s baseball game. I wanted to know the location of the game, so I entered the field name “South Sunset D2” in Google. I am certain I’m not the only parent, and in many cases, child, performing the same search. The Reddit result that turned up showed a post titled “You can use any sunset weapon in Deep Dive without…”, which is a reference to the Xbox game Destiny 2.

Better yet, when users online are performing more informational intent searches (something like, “Why is food getting so expensive?”), the SERP is rendering Reddit conversations targeting the specific cost of fast food. With this SERP, nearly all of the other ranking pages, many of which are newer than the Reddit page, are focused on groceries. This is a painful reminder that low-value conversations are not always suited for informing consumers. 

It is important to note that Google is experimenting with a new product, Perspectives, geared towards helping Google searchers “Find helpful information from people on forums and social media sites.” This product launched in May of 2023. This is hardly a new phenomenon. Google has launched and entertained various evolutions of incorporating forum and social media contact within search results. Back in 2009, Google announced Google Real Time Search, a product focused on improving the search results page by including a scrolling box of links that constantly update, even as you scan through the other results. These results included Facebook and Twitter in its stream and eventually added companies like MySpace and Quora.

It didn’t take long for Google to conclude this product and remove it from the Google results. In fact, in 2011, as the business climate changed for advertising, so did Google Real Time Search. I don’t blame Google for trying to innovate and these experiments are important to improving the experience they provide to billions of people every day. We are however seeing a repetition of history and a trend worth storing in our memory banks on how Google is accessing content to build a more profitable business. 

How or why should this concern the SEO community? 

Maybe it shouldn’t concern us, but I do know that as a community (SEO), we have been told to build better experiences for our customers. In January alone, Google reminded us that  Core Web Vitals would improve, and in this effort, we must “ensure a great user experience generally.” Generally speaking, the Reddit results in Google just don’t make a great user experience! 

As I share this post feel free to comment and share your ideas within LinkedIn

jordan koene profile picture size small

Jordan Koene is the co-founder and CEO of Previsible. With a deep expertise in search engine optimization, Jordan has been instrumental in driving digital marketing strategies for various companies. His career highlights include roles in high-profile organizations like eBay and leading Searchmetrics as CEO.

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