By NEIL PATEL at Search Engine Journal
Like Pinterest and Tumblr, Reddit isn’t a perfect fit for all web marketers…yet, if you can figure out how to use it as a tool in your SEO toolbox you can drive massive traffic to your site.
But be warned…unlike Pinterest or Tumblr, take the wrong marketing steps on reddit and you could get eaten alive.
Sounds pretty tough for a massive sharing community, doesn’t it? That’s what happens when you are dealing with a young, skeptical, liberal, geeky, internet-literate, and ever-so-meta audience.
On Tumblr or Pinterest the penalty for not knowing how to interact with the community will result in you being ignored, and your time and marketing dollars will be wasted.
Your dollars and time will be wasted on Reddit, too, but you’ll also be laughed at, scorned, flagged as spam and literally driven out.
It’s happened hundreds…if not thousands…of times.
So should marketers take the risk to help drive traffic to websites with reddit? Well, way back in December Reddit served over 2 billion page views…
Meaning if you can figure out how to bring value to this community through great content that relates to your brand…then they’ll reward you with massive traffic.
Why a Marketer Might use Reddit
With over 2 billion page views in one month, the potential to send your site major traffic from reddit is huge…even if you barely make it on the front page of a small subreddit that only has 20,000 readers.
And you don’t need something crazy like 1,000 upvotes to drive heavy traffic.
I’ve seen results for clients where they’ve gotten 54 votes on a subreddit with 61,000 readers nearly crash their site. I’ve seen heavy traffic to sites from a submission that got 92 votes in a subreddit under 30,000 readers.
Reddit is a very powerful social site…and those who use it are just as influential as the Robert Scobles of Google+ or Chris Brogans of Twitter.
But what is interesting, unlike Digg, reddit doesn’t look at your influence. In other words, you can reach the front page today with the right submission.
The trick is knowing what to give the community.
What is on Reddit?
Reddit content falls into some pretty distinct categories. The community likes humor, sarcasm, geeky and cool stuff.
Some of the more popular subreddits will give you a hint of what the site is like:
- IAMA – This stands for “I am a.” This is a sub-section of the site that allows experts or people with unique experiences to allow the reddit community to ask them questions. For example, IAMA might be from the director Morgan Spurlock or someone who was coerced into lying about sexual abuse.
- TIL – This is the acronym for Today I Learned. Examples include “TIL your pupils dilate when you see someone attractive” or “TIL that after Germany surrendered in WWII, everyone in Moscow partied until the entire city actually ran out of vodka.”
- Askreddit – Large forum to ask questions that pertain to reddit (What happened to reddequette?) or more broad in scope (What was the biggest lie of your generation?).
- Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu – This is devoted to comics, which tend to be funny and work-related.
You can also view content in subjects like gaming, world news, politics, humor, videos, technology, advice, science and music. Use this simple little tool to find subreddits based upon their activity levels.
Keep in mind, the broader the subreddit, the more traffic you get. A narrow subreddit like “copywriting” or “SEO” won’t have much action…if any at all. So if you’re going for sheer exposure, stay away from the narrow subreddits.
How to Submit
Submitting to reddit is a piece of cake. Your first step is to create your reddit account handle. There are two options to think about:
- Setting up an anonymous account – While this allows you to do or say anything you want…it won’t help you out if one of your posts lands on the front page of reddit. I can’t think of any reason, except for testing out reddit, that you would create a dummy account.
- Creating a legit account handle – I would recommend you use something that reflects you…maybe it’s your name or what you do for a living. This is your best bet if you want to build credibility if one of your posts makes the front page.
Once you’ve establish a reddit handle, now’s your chance to submit a link. Start with the button on the home page…
Then fill out the form:
As you can see from my arrow, you can also share a text-based submission. Let’s look at how you fill out this form since it can impact the results you want:
- Title – When it comes to crafting a title, make sure you use the same rules behind writing compelling headlines for blog posts. Reddit users zoom through their feeds looking for only the most interesting and strange content. You need to write something that stands out.
- Link – Do not use a link shortener when you share a link. These are used by people who hide spam or executable files behind these short links. You will get more credibility with your post if you provide the actual link…no matter how long it is.
- Choose a subreddit– Become very familiar with all the subreddits so that you post to the appropriate one. As a general rule of thumb, look for subreddits with over 20,000 readers. Choose the wrong one and your post won’t go anywhere…or worse, people will give you a hard time for posting in the wrong one, which can lead to bad karma.
Keep in mind that humor, intelligence and sarcasm are loved on reddit. If you can deliver that kind of content…then you’ll go far.
And here are a few things that are not loved on reddit:
- Submit too many posts from a single URL to a single subreddit– Moderators will immediately jump on any behavior that looks like you are trying to game Reddit…and submitting this one will definitely smell fishy to them.
- Don’t use auto–submit forms – There used to be a WordPress plugin called Sharing Is Sexy. It would automatically share stuff on reddit. Reddit users will spot this kind of activity and root it out. If you can’t submit it manually, don’t submit it all.
- Reposting old posts – This is lazy, and reddit users hate laziness.
- Posting spam – If all you do is submit content that promotes you, your brand and your products…you will fail in reddit.
- Buy upvotes – This is another no-no…even though it is not as easy to spot for reddit users.There are clues and even clear admissions that this is happening.
Do any of these just once and you might get away with it…do it more than that and you and your domain could get kicked off.
The key is to give the community what it wants…and then learning when to share your own content in a balanced way.
What to Submit
There’s really only one good way to share content that will go viral on reddit…and that is to think just like you were creating link bait:
- Infographics – Because of the nature of the community, I’d avoid infographics on narrow topics like SEO or web marketing and try to share content that is funny, political or just really interesting. A good subreddit for an infographic might be /r/TIL.
- Interviews – This can go two ways. You can share a link to an interesting and compelling interview or you can host an interview on a subreddit like /r/IAMA. This is what CK Louis did before he put his comedy routine up for sale on his site and made $1 million in 12 days.
- Drawings – Again, anything humorous or interesting, dropping it in the /r/comics would be the most appropriate subreddit.
- Videos – When videos like “Everything you know about skipping is wrong” and “The chance of this happening is 0.0000001%” can land at the top of a subreddit, you’ll see that just plain funny stuff really works in /r/videos.
- Questions – Asking the right questions can drive a ton of comments. And it really just depends on what works. Research /r/askreddit for example, and pay attention to what is popular. This is a great way to build karma if you can strike a chord.
If you are genuinely trying to contribute to the Reddit community, then anything you share will get you traffic.
When to Submit on Reddit
Like on other social sites, when you submit content matters…before 5PM EST time being the best time, but…
There are other things that will affect your ranking on your submissions including newer stories will rank higher than older stories. For example, getting 100 upvotes in the first hour will count more than if you get 100 votes in 10 hours.
This chart explains…
Also, the first 10 upvotes have has much impact as the next 100, which have the same impact as the following 1,000…
Interestingly enough, controversial stories don’t work as well on reddit. That’s because content that gets a lot of upvotes and downvotes will not rank as high as a post that gets just upvotes…
In addition, reddit’s algo will give more weight to posts with more comments, so make sure you use good strategies to generate more comments.
Buy traffic From Reddit
Of course as a marketer you can skip the organic approach and just buy an ad on reddit. You could:
- Buy an ad that will show across all reddit.
- Buy an ad that is more targeted and shows up on certain subreddits that you choose.
Can this approach drive traffic?
As Sherice Jacobs mentioned in her Marketer’s Guide to Reddit, using reddit ads to reach a highly-engaged, targeted segment that gives you valuable feedback about a product like it did for Gabriel Weinberg of search engine startup DuckDuckGo can turn out to only give you traffic, but also give you valuable insight as well.
Reddit is a great tool to add to your a web marketer or SEO toolbox…along with tools like Google+and Twitter…that could help create a flood of visits on a routine basis to your site.
And just think…if you have the right audience that matches the reddit community…your content may fall in perfectly and prove to be very successful on the social site.
Have you had any success driving traffic to your site with reddit?
Written By: Neil Patel is a digital marketing consultant and the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions.