Using Reddit for Traffic, Social Signals, and SERP Improvements

Reddit Traffic

“Reddit is a social news and entertainment website where the registered users submit content in the form of either a link or a text “self” post. Other users then vote the submission “up” or “down”, which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site’s pages and front page.” – Wikipedia

Reddit.com has an Alexa ranking of 69 for US traffic. In October 2012 alone reddit was up to over 3.8 billion page-views and more than 46 million unique visitors. Reddit is literally a traffic gold mine if you can make it to the first page.

On several occasions I have witnessed a website make it to the front page of reddit only to have its hosting plans bandwidth exceeded within minutes or hours causing the site to crash or become unavailable. I started this case study for two reasons, to understand how reddit traffic works and to gain traffic to one of my websites.

The Experiment

I own a website that generates roughly 16,000 organic hits a day through search engine traffic. The site provides free products to a specific community and is funded based on advertising revenue. We decided to post some of our products on reddit as well as other miscellaneous interesting content to generate traffic to our website.

We found significant success in this strategy as you can see in our analytics below:
traffic from reddit marketing
The traffic dip in the middle is from when I went on vacation to a country with horrible & slow internet. I estimate I would have received around 10-12k hits had I had time to focus on this daily.

Reddit User Avg. Visit Duration
The statistics show that the average reddit user doesn’t stick around for long. Reddit users are fast paced with an information addiction. Users see the title and click it which instantly brings them to my pages. The average on-page time from Reddit users was around 00:57.

Do reddit users interact with websites and click ads?
Yes, during this experiment there was definitely a spike in ad revenue and email addresses submitted to the newsletter.

Were you able to make it to the 1st page of reddit?
YES! A random filler post I made into /r/funny actually was front paged for a few hours.
End results = 596 upvotes, 144 downvotes
first page of reddit post

Isn’t frowned upon to try and “game” reddit?

Two rules from Reddiquette that I strictly followed:

  • Post to the most appropriate community possible. Also, consider cross posting if the contents fits more communities.
  • Feel free to post links to your own content (within reason). But if that’s all you ever post, and it always seems to get voted down, take a good hard look in the mirror — you just might be a spammer. A widely used rule of thumb is the 9:1 ratio, i.e. only 1 out of every 10 of your submissions should be your own content.

We agree that artificially acquiring traffic under the pretense of making money via advertising usually degrades the medium that pushes the traffic. However, the integrity of reddits traffic direction is upheld due to it’s structure. Links only garner traffic because they were up-voted by others that were entertained regardless if the post was to score some reddit gold or advertising clicks. There are many established companies that “game” reddit traffic or copy reddit’s material to capitalize on the content spotlighted by reddit. Our method of “gaming” traffic from reddit, actually required me to post entertaining content that tied me into the community. Basically, I believe the reddit community is sophisticated enough to ferret the majority of users trying to capitalize on their clicks which will keep the quality consistent whether it’s artificial posts or not. Therefore, I don’t feel bad about my experiment.

What precautions did you use?
1 – I only posted relevant content into relevant subreddits.
2 – I used 5 different aged accounts that all had existing karma and 1 brand new account.
3 – I changed my IP daily during the experiment. Changed via MAC spoof @ router level and power cycle modem and router to force new IP. I also traveled around and used multiple IPs. I’m positive there is an IP filter of sorts. I attempted to connect to a US VPN and then sign into reddit and kept getting a login error, although that could just be timeout issues.
4 – After each drop of my own URL into a subreddit I would immediately go post legit replies to threads on the 1st page of reddit as well as go submit a relevant content into small subreddits ie. submit an epic punk rock video to /r/punk.

Does reddit have anti-spam measures?
You bet your nerdy ass it does! Reddit has a culture similar to wikipedia in their ethical honestly. The reddit staff work very hard on spam preventative measures including both automatic and manual reviews to filter spam. This means you have to play by their rules if you want traffic meaning you can’t just set-up auto-scripts or pay cheap laborers to spam posts. To play in the reddit game, you need to play by reddit’s rules which are generated by it’s community.
- Votes and comments are automatically down-voted by the system. Its called Vote Fuzzing.
Reddit Vote FuzzingReddit Vote Fuzzing
- Time/IP filters (8 minute timeout usually inbetween posting new threads)

you are doing that too much. try again in  minutes.
you are doing that too much. try again in minutes.

How to bypass reddits duplicate content filter.
I stumbled upon this loop-hole by accident. I was attempting to post a music video into /r/Music and upon trying to submit I got an error telling me it had already been submitted and then it forwards you to the original post. However the original posting had no traction and the title was uninformative.I knew this song would reap some sweet reddit karma points so T devised a way to post it again with a more attractive title. This can be done by manipulating the URL and http/https.

This is what happens when you try to submit a music video to /r/Music that has already been submitted

Reddit duplicate content filter

Which then immediately redirects you to the original post of when the URL was posted last ->

reddit duplicate content filter bypass

So how are they detecting this? Obviously by URL, lets play with some stuff!

Original URL = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE0WYB8bZxA

Lets submit = https://youtube.com/watch?v=IE0WYB8bZxA?= and see what happens
OMG SUCCESS!

There are many other ways you can alter the URL in order to make it bypass existing posts, just be creative and use that nerdy lil mind of yours.

How to tell all the accounts posting a URL into reddit:

http://www.reddit.com/domain/AnyURLhere.com/

Here are several weird and cool subreddits and things discovered along my adventure:
/r/heavymetal
/r/satan (weird)
/r/ggggg (my favorite)
/r/spacedicks (dont go there. trust me.)
/r/fightclub (lol, should have known)
/r/firstworldanarchists
Install RES – Reddit Enhancement Suite for your browser. its awesome.

TL;DR
What does your website benefit out of being posted into reddit?

- Social signals
- Direct traffic
- Steady recurring traffic
- SERP improvements for short and long tails

Need help promoting your business/website on Reddit? Want to talk further about this case study?
Contact me = edmond [@] bluereach.com

17 Comments

  1. Adam Steele

    I am surprised by “The average on-page time from Reddit users was around 00:57″ as I typically get no better than :25 on avg. Does my content just suck? Wrong sub reddit? Strange.

    You mentioned how to sneak past duplicate links…I wonder if you used something like bit.ly would you be able to get around it?

    Great post : )

  2. edmond

    I assume if you used a custom 301 url shortener you could bypass this perhaps. further testing needed.

  3. Felix

    Awesome case study. I have tried using reddit for some of my sites, but never got to the first page. I will give it another try though.

  4. Bill

    You don’t need to manipulate the URL to post something, just click ‘Submit it again’

  5. zigojacko

    It’s a completely $hite network, it amazes me why anybody uses it. Even most of the “news” stories that do well on the site are equally rubbish.

    There’s obviously quite a few million that think it’s wonderful though.

  6. Federico Sasso

    Good article, thanks for sharing it.
    Can you elaborate on how would this lead to a SERP improvement?

    • edmond

      Lets say you had a eCom store about boots.

      You would want to post a few submits into /r/boots and /r/shopping with titles such as ‘Cheap Winter Boots’ or ‘Where can I buy boots at?’ as a self.post and link directly to your eCom site URL.

      I saw a huge correlation in the titles (the title being the keyword I was wanting to rank for) I would use on Reddit. In 1-3 days, I the URL i submitted into reddit would be ranking better in the SERPS for the Title(long tail keyword) I used.

      • Federico Sasso

        ah, that’s clearer, thank you for your reply.
        Looking forward a follow-up of your article, if you plan it.

  7. Kenny A

    Funny thing is I got to this article from Reddit. (r/seo)

  8. Jon

    Tl;dr: make good stuff and submit to reddit

  9. Samuel Lavoie

    Reddit did build an awesome community. A lot of the great things the internet can bring us start there. For the SEO point of view, good content can make it but honestly think it through, the level of dedication you need to put into the community and the content creation does not necessarily worth it.

  10. Ricky Shah

    Don’t get me wrong,but I was expecting some research about SERP movement after submitting your article to reddit. In fact, it would be cool if you can come up with some conclusion or study case.
    Since you are already an active member, I guess it would be easy for you to come to some solid conclusion.

    • edmond

      I do realize this but if I released the finding of all my SERP improvements, it would give away my niche/industry/website and I would rather not flood the market

      Posting into reddit helps with SERP improvements and helps get you listed on 1st page for many keywords. I was able to replicate this over and over again for 20-30 keywords.

      Feel free to post your Skype and we can discuss more about it there.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Search Engine Weekly Round-Up #9 - Wow Internet Blog
  2. The Best of Inbound 2012 - Virante Orange Juice
  3. Traffic Tips to Kickstart your Crowdfunding Campaign

Want to Connect?

We're always excited to meet new people. Send us a message to find out how we can work together.

Send a Message