In the last 6 months we have seen Reddit hijack the search results, climbing the ranks of top traffic referral sources for publishers like never before. According to SemRush in this study, Reddit is currently the eighth most visited website in the world. This places them ahead of major sites such as Amazon, Bing and TikTok.

As traffic from Facebook and X to publishers has declined, we’ve been paying particular attention to potentially new traffic driving players but this platform isn’t new at all. Reddit launched in 2005 and is majority owned by Advance Publications, — “owner of magazine publisher Condé Nast among other properties, acquired the startup for $10 million 18 months after it launched.”.

With the rise in Reddit-infused SERPs, I started thinking about what it is that Google considers so valuable from this community. Like you, I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of discussions and debates in these communities, so it didn’t take long to compile a list of reasons why people are visiting the site in record numbers.

Why Reddit is on the Rise

1. Reddit is based on user generated content. The writers of articles and the people commenting from their own experiences increase the trust of users. In the site’s purest (non-sponcon) form, people contributing have no monetary gain from interacting. 

2. Reddit has focused on community involvement and authenticity over marketing efforts, and ad revenue. Google favors content that helps other people, and their engagement metrics show high time on page and pages per session.

3. Reddit also has such an expansive knowledge base that you can find almost anything. As a user, this give me more opportunities to enter the site and as long as my experiences there are generally positive, trust builds over time and repeat visits increase. 

4. Reddit users are the ones who are directly controlling the internal cataloging of content on the site. When poor quality content is posted, it gets 0 user interaction and down voted to quickly be lost in the depths of the internet. And helpful content is moved to the top of the rankings through upvotes, user interaction, and how many people are viewing the page. 

5. Google is paying Reddit in a content licensing deal to use as training for their AI bot, Gemini. It must be mentioned, as I can only imagine that when the deal was struck, Reddit’s indexing improved, more conversations were exposed and SERP real estate allotted for these threads. After all, the more people see them, the more they engage and that gives more conversations to Google to use for Gemini.

How Publishers Can Replicate Reddit’s Helpfulness

Not every brand is a fit for a messaging board type environment, but there are still things we can take away from their recent successes. 

View the content you are publishing through the lens of a writer whose sole purpose is providing first hand information that they care about, to the average user on the internet. Produce content that is user first, helpful, and engaging. Being personal in the way we communicate with users brings a trust and a humanity to writing in the age of AI.

Strategize and brainstorm how you can leverage user generated content to keep your site active and moving. This is not a cookie cutter solution. Discuss with your team (or with Freestar’s Audience Development team!) how to best implement user generated content to make your site more helpful to the users! 

Lastly, stay in your lane of expertise. Don’t stretch to make your site a jack of all trades if you focus on cooking. Expand to what you can expand to, but don’t compromise your quality for quantity. Reddit has shown us that only the good stuff thrives, and they aren’t jumping around making changes everyday. They are experts at what they do, and they let that stand the test of time.