I have one simple goal for my blog:
Increase traffic every month.
I’ve been doing a pretty damn good job meeting that goal, as traffic has doubled each month for the last 4.
However, in March I ran into a problem. Traffic was leveling off and beginning to decline.
I promote content hard through online forums and social media groups. These efforts were producing diminishing returns, as I wasn’t reaching new users.
I knew I had to explore new and larger platforms – I had to start using Reddit.
Well, let me rephrase that. I had to start successfully using Reddit.
I’d been halfheartedly promoting content on Reddit since my site launched but got no traction. I decided to put in the effort to figure it out.
I bought info products from “gurus”, asked questions in forums and I read blogs, but they were all telling me information I already knew:
- Redditors are a pain in the ass
- Redditors hate link spam
Come on man, anyone who has EVER posted a link to Reddit knows that!
I was desperate.
I took to Elance and posted a job:
I got an interesting reply from a 17 year old kid who’d been using Reddit for 8 years. He showed me screenshots from his Analytics account with over 400,000 referral visits from Reddit in the last year.
I hired him.
Over the next 2 weeks I paid the kid a consulting fee to show me the ropes.
At first, I was skeptical of his advice – he wasn’t telling me anything revolutionary like I expected. Nevertheless, I took his advice and implemented the changes he suggested.
In the last 27 days I’ve driven 1,691 visits from Reddit.
More importantly, each post I make drives consistent results. Reddit is now a platform I can rely on for quality traffic.
In this post, I’m going to share his consulting advice and exactly how I’m applying it to drive traffic.
Quick Usability Guide to Reddit (Feel Free to Skip)
Before we get into it, I need to cover some basics. I’d be using Reddit for almost 2 years and admittedly, I didn’t fully understand how it worked.
1. Reddit is, for the most part, an anonymous network. While you create your own username, you can’t change it. There is nothing to customize – no avatar, bio, links, etc. You are what you post, that’s it.
2. You can contribute content in 2 ways: text and links. When a text submission is clicked, it takes the user to an interim screen where you can add unlimited text to explain more (you can also include links within your text). When a link submission is clicked, it takes the user to the link’s destination page.
This is an example of a text submission. As you can see, you can still include links in a text submission. Text submissions are denoted by (self.subreddit)
Example of a link submission. When you click on the thread, it takes you directly to the link’s destination page.
3. You have to select a Subreddit for each submission. A subreddit is a collection of similar content (i.e. /r/marketing, /r/funny, etc). Each Subreddit has a corresponding list of subscribers – your content gets sent to the feeds’ of those users.
4. Submissions are interacted with by other Redditors in 3 ways: upvotes, downvotes and comments. The more upvotes your post receives, the higher it climbs in the Subreddit feed. Getting upvotes on your content is the key to visibility.
The Keys to Reddit Success
I can’t completely discredit what I learned from the other “gurus”.
Redditors are a pain in the ass. They hate link spam. They won’t hesitate to ban your account without notice. It’s really important you understand that.
With that being said, let’s dive into the advice the consultant gave me.
I can break it down into 2 main lessons:
- Establishing an account with authority
- Following Reddit best practices
I was too.
I was looking for a shortcut, a way to growth hack Reddit. When I took the advice and started applying it to my own marketing, I realized he was right.
"The biggest secret to Reddit marketing is that there is no secret."
Everyone wants their content to go viral so they ignore the basics. When you try and hit every ball out of the park, more often than not you swing and miss.
By following the basics, you can drive steady traffic every time you post.
Lesson 1: Building Accounts with Authority
On Reddit, “authority” = karma and gold.
Karma comes from two places:
- When your links are upvoted
- When your comments are upvoted
NOTE: upvoted text posts (self.post) do not count towards karma, even if links are included within the text.
I’m a data driven marketer, so naturally, I had to test this out for myself.
The account I’d been using had a karma of 4, his had a karma of 34,567. Over the course of 2 weeks we both posted the same link, with the same title, in the same Subreddit (on different days).
The one with karma always performed better.
You can’t see the poster’s karma count:
Reddit is desktop network (site is not mobile responsive and there is no official app). That means Redditors can easily click on your profile to see your history.
The higher your karma, the more trust you command.
More trust = more clicks = more traffic.
How to Build Accounts with Karma
The account I was using had a total karma of 4 and a long history of spamming links.
We went to work building a new account with a clear history.
Before, I was pushing my own content over and over in the same Subreddits. Once you get a bad rep in a Subreddit, you’ll never get past it.
The best way to get karma is to find large, active Subreddits and replicate posts that are working.
I did this a couple of times daily for a 8 weeks and was able to build over 5,000 link karma on my account.
My mom drinks a shit load of wine (love you ma!). I was back in Boston last week for a wedding so I stopped by her house. When I tried to say hi to her, she was in the zone reading this article:
I thought to myself:
Hmm, if my mom loves wine and she loves this article. There’s just gotta be other wine lovers who will love it too!”
So, I searched for a Subreddit about wine and posted it. It got me 21 link karma.
I played football in college. A few of my teammates and I are in a group chat and keep in touch daily.
We’re a group of meat heads – most of the things we pass through are funny pictures, videos and sneakers.
All I do is take the content that they send and post it Reddit:
An easy 24 link karma.
This is something that gets a lot easier with practice. Some other easy ways I build up link karma, are:
- Repost articles trending on my Twitter or Facebook Feeds
- Repost funny memes or pictures I see on Instagram
- Repost new songs that just come out
Do this 5 times a day for 60 days – your karma will grow!
Lesson 2: Following Best Practices
There are thousands of web guides about Reddit best practices. I can summarize them into 4 buckets:
- Posting useful content
- Finding the right Subreddit
- Writing perfect titles
- Posting at the right time
I’m going to walk you through some basic guidance for each of these best practices. Then, I’m going to illustrate with a real example of one of my recent posts.
Best Practice #1: Posting Great Content
Before, I was dumping everything from my blog onto Reddit.
I was consistently link spamming bad articles:
- 5 Reasons to Live in Florida
- 5 Things to Ask your Marketing Firm
- 3 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring an SEO
They were more unhelpful than the titles suggest; the responses I got support that.
Redditors do an incredible job policing their territory – if you post unhelpful links, you’re going to get called out for it.
Redditors can (and will) click through to see your profile. When they see you’ve got a history of posting unhelpful links, you can expect an influx of down-votes or bans.
Read through the content being posted in your target Subreddit.
Does your link align with it?
If it doesn’t, don’t post it! Redditors are smart, you can’t force feed them content.
Not too long ago I wrote a post about how to increase organic traffic to your blog.
It’s a killer 5,000+ word guide on the exact steps I’ve used to drive over 10,000,000 organic visits for my clients over the past year.
Not much else to say here – It’s a great piece of content and got a great response from my network. I knew it would perform well on Reddit.
Category #2: Finding the Right Subreddit
Before, I was making a critical mistake by posting content without checking the Subreddit.
This is an extremely easy mistake to make because the “choose a subreddit” field auto populates based on the keywords you type in.
This is deceiving for 2 reasons:
- Subreddit titles don’t always reflect what the Subreddit is about
- You can’t see Subreddit size or activity
- r/blog/ is the official Reddit blog. Posting a link in there would be considered spam and detrimental to my account.
- r/bloggers/ is the right community topically, but it’s small and inactive. It’s deceiving because it shows up in the top of the Subreddit drop down.
Before you post, do your research!
From your home screen, click “edit” in the top right corner. Then, enter some keywords in the search bar.
You’ll be given a list of Subreddits based loosely on your keyword. Click on each of them. Look for:
- Subreddit size
- Content posted in the Subreddit
- Content performing well in the Subreddit
- How many active users are in the Subreddit
Make sure the content you plan to post will be received well. If it’s not, keep looking. There’s a Subreddit out there for you.
I went with /r/Entrepreneur/.
The Subreddit has good size, activity and some very similar content was performing well at that time.
Best Practice #3: Creating Great Titles
Before, I was simply copying and pasting the article’s title.
Reddit has an old school UI – it’s difficult for your content to stand out.
Your title is really the only chance you’ve got to grab users’ attention. It needs convey 3 things:
- Why they should click on your link
- Why they should read it
- Why they should upvote
You also want to make sure your title aligns with your Subreddit.
In my example, I selected the r/entrepreneur/ Subreddit. I had to make sure that my title was geared towards entrepreneurs, not digital marketers.
r/entrepreneur/ only allows text posts. Text posts are useful in this case because you’re afforded more space to explain the post.
Here’s how I set up it up:
I chose to write it from the 3rd person point of view. Since I have multiple accounts, and Reddit is anonymous, I’ve had good success with this. Redditors are sensitive to blog spam and self promotion – if you can find a way to get a 3rd party to promote you, you’ll have increased chances of success.
Category #4: Timing Content Delivery
Before, I was posting around my time schedule.
If you’re posting to Subreddits with no active users, your content will get no views.
Reddit doesn’t care about your time schedule. Each Subreddit will ebb and flow based on when the user base is online.
I keep a spreadsheet tracking user data from my target Subreddits. This data helps me to figure out when mu audience is online so I can maximize views on my content.
I wish I could give you a set time to post on Reddit. The fact is, you have to do some research on your own. Here’s what I do:
- Bookmark target Subreddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/)
- Visit it throughout the day at different times
- Record number of active users
- Do this for a week
Simply visit your target Subreddit – each time you refresh the page you will see how many user that are subscribed to that Subreddit are online.
I kept a week’s worth of data on 3 Subreddits (see chart below).
I found that the peak times to post were at 6 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I posted my article on blog SEO on Tuesday at 6 PM.
Wrapping It Up
Reddit is a lot of work in the beginning. It takes time to build an account, research Subreddits and get used to writing quality copy.
If you do, you’ll have the keys to quality traffic every time you post a link.
How are you using Reddit in your online marketing strategy?
Leave a comment below.