Over the years, I’ve found Reddit to be one of the most powerful traffic-driving forces on the Web. Its slogan is “the front page of the internet,” and for many people it is just that.
Reddit has referred millions of people to my content. It consistently falls into my top ten referring sites, and occasionally it hits #1. But using Reddit to drive massive traffic isn’t as straightforward as you’d probably like—so in this guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know about tapping into the world’s largest social news site.
First and foremost, you need to have an understanding of what Reddit is and how it works. In the simplest of terms, Reddit is:
an entertainment, social networking and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links.
Reddit is divided into different sections and communities, known as “subreddits.” Each subreddit typically revolves around a single topic or area of interest. Here are a few examples of popular subreddits:
I could list many more, but redditlist.com already has a great collection of the top 5,000 subreddits here.
Users of a given subreddit can share relevant links or text posts with the community, which can then be “upvoted” or “downvoted” by others.
The more upvotes a post gets, the more visible it becomes to other users.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Reddit users do not typically use their real names. While you do need an account to post, the whole community is very much anonymous.
What NOT To Do On Reddit
Most marketers use the same shitty promotional technique on every platform: post link after link after link and hope people click. That’s a bad strategy on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s not even an option on Reddit.
If there’s one thing redditors hate, it’s blatant self-promotion. If you’re constantly posting links to your own content, you may find yourself shadowbanned—which is a ban that allows you to continue submitting content but hides it from everyone except you, so you don’t even know you’ve been banned. You don’t want that to happen, so your self-promotional posts should be few and far between (more on this later).
The /r/ShadowBan subreddit has a full list of things you shouldn’t do on Reddit to avoid being shadowbanned.
Create Reddit-Worthy Content
Content is king.
That phrase has become such a cliché, but it’s true. If your content isn’t amazing, it’s not good enough. When someone clicks through to your site from Reddit, they expect it to be worth their time. If it’s not, they’ll close your site and keep scrolling, or worse—downvote it.
So put some serious time and effort into making your content the best it can be. If you do this consistently, Reddit will (eventually) become a source of traffic without you having to do anything, because your readers will start sharing your content on the subreddits they frequent. I get a constant stream of traffic from Reddit to articles I’ve never shared there myself. Keep that in mind.
It’s not hard to optimize your content for Reddit—you just have to do some research. Pick an appropriate subreddit and spend some time looking at the most popular threads. What kinds of things get a lot of upvotes? What are people saying in the comments? What can you create that those people will love?
Let’s say, for example, that I write a blog about aviation. If I want to create some Reddit-friendly content, I’ll start looking for related subreddits on redditlist.com:
Now I’ll look into those, determine how active they are, and try to figure out what types of content perform well on each of them.
On /r/aviation, for instance, people seem to love photos and videos of different aircraft in action. With that in mind, one potential blog post could be a compilation of photos and/or videos of a particular jet. The subreddit also contains quite a few news stories, so covering the latest aviation news might be a good idea as well.
Another great source of inspiration is a tool called BuzzSumo. You enter a topic, and it shows you the most shared content on the Web related to that topic. Take a look:
Again, aviation is just an example. You can substitute any niche and get an idea of what content gets shared by the people you want to reach, and then you can use that data to create something epic.
Once you’ve created a killer piece of content that you just know Reddit will love, your first impulse will be to pull up a subreddit and share it. Don’t do that yet.
Remember what I said earlier: redditors hate shameless self-promotion, and they can smell it from a mile away. You will be called out by other users and possibly even banned.
The key to using Reddit as a marketer is to not be a marketer. I’ll say it again: you don’t want to be a marketer; you want to be a redditor. Create an account and start using the platform just like everyone else. Share interesting content (not your own) from a variety of sources, upvote other users’ posts, and participate in conversations. This will help you get to know your niche a little bit better, and you may even make some friends along the way.
After you’ve done this for a while, you’ll have a solid reputation and some karma under your belt. Then and only then is it appropriate to submit a link to your own content.
And once you’ve shared your own content, you’ll want to lay off the self-promotion again for a while. I would encourage you to limit your own content to 10 percent or less of your submissions. That means for every link to your own site, you’ll need to post at least nine links to other sites.
Because you’re actually being a member of the community, the risk of a shadowban is significantly lower, and your links won’t appear spammy (especially if they provide VALUE).
You can also ask redditor friends and your audience to share your content. Hardcore fans are always happy to help.
Put This Into Action
Reddit has been a big source of traffic for me, and you can make it work for you as well. Just remember these key points:
- Create awesome content.
- Reddit hates marketers, so don’t be a marketer. Be a redditor.
- Provide value to the community, and you’ll get value in return.
If you have any questions or other suggestions to add, feel free to leave them in the comments below!