Discovery is Better than Relevance: How to Use Reddit



These days finding the specific content you’re looking for is fairly simple. You plug a term into a search engine, and relevant results await you. Ta-da, you got what you came for. Google’s done its job, right?

Sure, it’s the SEO strategist’s job to get their clients to the top of search engines based on the most relevant content, but that’s not where the fun is. In using the most current SEO strategies, we’ve forgotten the biggest appeal of the Internet. And that’s discovery, plain and simple.

Here’s what I mean: finding what you’re not actually looking for online can be far more interesting than knowing what you’re going to get. Otherwise, it’s like going to see The Sixth Sense for the first time with previous knowledge that (spoiler alert), Bruce Willis is really dead all along.

We may not realize it, but far more people log on to the Internet with no specific agenda. They want to learn something, to waste time looking at the latest memes, or to watch the Gangham Style video for the 80th time. In fact, when surfers are in the discovery mode, that’s when they spend the most time on a particular website.

What does this mean for SEO? It means we need to gather data on what people want to talk about. At first, this task seems practically impossible. (Honestly, how are you supposed to read peoples’ minds and figure out what they want to talk about?)

Here’s how: go to Reddit.

Now Reddit is largely considered your average boss’ worst nightmare. It’s the perfect source of entertainment, education, and time-wasting all in one spot. But what’s important to know for SEO, is that Reddit is community curated. That means we find out on the front page what people want to talk about most.

Think about the last conversation you held with a client. Not business-related, but a casual conversation about any topic. You may not be able to remember, because the conversation involved the weather, a new recipe, or something even more…well, boring.

We hold conversations like these because common sense tells us to stay away from controversial topics of any sort. Logic argues even the slightest mention of last year’s election, Vladimir Putin, or the BP oil spill may send your client into a tizzy.

To be effective in your content and communication, you have to know your target market inside and out–what they like and don’t like, what their hopes and dreams are, what makes them laugh and what makes them angry.

Depending on when you read this blog (and when you click the link above,) you’ve embarked on what’s on the Internet’s mind. On, March 22, 2013, at 2:18 p.m. Central Time, most web surfers were thinking about Boxer dogs, Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” video, and the prison system in New Hampshire.

This is vital data for content creation. Knowing what’s on peoples’ minds tells us where to focus our efforts, keep web traffic on sites longer, and how to deliver memorable content that locks in their interest.

So whether or not you’re wasting time or gathering data on Reddit, here’s some important factors to consider to find good information:

  • Who do people want to know more about? Unless you’re part of the 2% of the population who hasn’t used Reddit, one of the most popular features on the community is Ask Me Anything. From Barack Obama to McDonalds’ employees, the “Ask Me Anything” forum allows the Internet to ask anything they want with the expectation that the host will answer. Often times, Reddit users will request an AMA from a celebrity, politician, or someone with a particular job. There you have it, perfect data.

  • Getting data from Reddit isn’t necessarily about getting more hits on websites; it’s about providing fodder for discovery. Yes, the bottom line of SEO is to get a website higher on the search rankings. But you may draw more people in by providing interesting facts and content that people want to share.

  • Consider Reddit a break from studying Google Algorithms. In other words, this isn’t technical; it’s field research. Knowing what’s going on with web surfers on Reddit is like walking up to a client and saying, “Hey, what kind of jelly do you like on your toast?” While the question seems irrelevant, it allows for discovery, which is equally important.

Think of this strategy as ethical eavesdropping for content creation that people what to know more about.

After you spend a few minutes on Reddit today, ask me anything in the comments.

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