Niche Pursuits

Reddit Marketing: How We Got 10,000 Pageviews and a PA 48 Link from Reddit in 2 Weeks

What if I told you getting 10,000 pageviews to your site was relatively easy and took about 45 minutes? Would you even believe me? Probably not. You’d probably think old Perrin had finally gone off the deep end.

Well listen up. Because I have something to tell you, and I want you to take me seriously…

Getting 10,000 pageviews to your site is relatively easy and takes about 45 minutes! For real.

Of course, this isn’t some trick that’s going to make you rich. And it’s not all rainbows and butterflies; there are plenty of catches here. And it’s really not even particularly easy (it's not easy when you start, anyway; it's really easy after you learn it).

However, the methods I’m about to show you have a few other things going for them: (1) they make traffic-driving efforts incredibly efficient, (2) they can get you big numbers, and (3) they can get you absolutely amazing links.

Interested? Good! Because I’ve been pumped to show you these hacks for a while, and I’m excited to finally unveil them!

Quick disclaimer:

This post has a pretty long introduction. The tactics are in the second half, so please feel free to skip down there. However, I think understanding the Reddit site, community, audience and technical structure is vital to optimally promoting your content there, which is why I’m spending so much time on that stuff.

First, what is Reddit, and why should you use it?

Most social media marketing is a grind. With Facebook, you almost always have to spend money to get likes, and likes have been absolutely plummeting in value, since Facebook is throttling the organic reach of business pages. Then there’s Twitter, which heavily polices the rate at which you can follow people, which, for the little guy, drastically affects the rate at which you can get followers.

You get the idea.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying social media marketing is bad. I think it’s great. And there are hyper-successful people building businesses on every platform.

I’m just saying that as time goes on, it becomes more and more of a grind. It’s very tough to log onto Facebook or Twitter and generate 10,000 visitors in a month’s time from scratch—unless you fork over gigantic fistfuls of cash.

Reddit is different.

At its simplest, Reddit is a platform for people to share interesting things they find on the internet. When something is submitted, it gets “upvoted” or “downvoted” by Reddit users. As a submission gets upvotes, it can get bumped to the “Hot” page.

This can happen in smaller sub-communities (called “subreddits), but it can also happen across the whole site. So, a very, very popular submission might end up on the front page for a short period of time.

In other words, the more upvotes something has, the more visibility it gets.

The difference between Reddit and other platforms, though, is in the sheer number of submissions, the insane traffic volume, the immediate access to all users, and the speed at which the site changes/updates.

Let’s look at it another way.

Suppose you have a great post that you want to market on Facebook, and you’re really hoping it’ll go viral. When you post that thing on Facebook, the only users you have access to at first are the people connected to your page—and of those people, only a fraction will see it because that’s just how Facebook’s algorithm works.

You could buy ads, of course, but you’re still limited to the number of eyeballs you’re willing to pay for.

No one else is going to see it until someone likes it, shares it, or comments on it. Maybe someone will, and maybe it will set off a viral chain reaction, but the chances are relatively low, since only a few hundred people will even be exposed to it in the first place—and that’s only if you’ve already built a business page that has many thousands of likes.

The same goes for Twitter. When you tweet something, you only have access to your followers, and only a small percentage of those folks will even see it.

Reddit is different. Anyone can submit anything anywhere, since it’s essentially (and mostly) a free-for-all forum. There are rules, of course, but as long as you’re not posting something stupid, you can basically post anything.

Every post has to be submitted to a subreddits (sub-community), and the front page of Reddit aggregates the best posts from the most popular subreddits. So, when you post something to Reddit, you have immediate access to all the people in that subreddit (as low as zero people, but up to millions), although your post still needs upvotes for visibility, and you have potential access to the entire user base of the website.

This is why, in my opinion, Reddit is the single best viral engine in existence.

It’s so good, in fact, that Reddit users have coined a phrase for a fairly frequent phenomenon: the “Reddit Hug of Death”, which happens when a site hits the front page of Reddit and immediate gets destroyed by the traffic. It happens more often than you’d think.

I’m not just pulling this out of my patootie, either. People have launched whole businesses on Reddit. If you remember, we interviewed one of those folks on our podcast: Dhanish Semar, whose blog generates 1 million pageviews a month in Reddit traffic alone.

But here’s the great thing…

Even posts that only get a few dozen upvotes on Reddit are often worth hundreds of visitors. So you don’t even have to knock it out of the park to enjoy the traffic.

Here’s a brief cross-section of our own results.

We post on Reddit when it makes sense, but we wanted to perform a controlled test with a new site. So, we spent two weeks testing Reddit promotion for our authority site, which didn’t have many visitors yet.

The result was that the traffic was easy, easy, easy. Our site isn’t yet set up to convert that type of traffic, though, so we’re focusing on other things (kindle publishing, outreach, Google News) for now. However, we’ll be diving back into Reddit posting at some point. The traffic is too good to ignore.

Anyway, here’s the traffic we got from about a dozen total posts sporadically posted for two weeks in October 2014.

All told, our little experiment netted us around 7,000 visitors and about 10,000 pageviews. It probably took 45 minutes TOTAL to get that traffic (it only takes a few minutes to post something to Reddit).

We’ve since repeated this kind of success with our site, and I’ve talked to many people who’ve done the same thing, and they’ve done it much more systematically that we did here.

Remember, we were just kind of posting when we felt like it. And we were only posting once a day. You can really ramp this up if you have a good content creation machine and post several times a day (you’ll have to be careful here, though, since it’s easy to get banned if you do that).

Reddit can also give you really powerful, contextual, dofollow links. Here’s a link we got for our authority site project:

That link is amazing. It’s one of our best. And it has all these amazing perks:

Whether you want traffic or links, Reddit can be totally amazing. I’ve spent the better part of a year “hacking” Reddit (mostly because I’m on the site in my spare time anyway). Today, I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can leverage it for you own blogs.

This isn’t the same old advice…

When I read about out how to promote things on Reddit on other blogs, I found the same exact advice over and over again. That advice had a whopping two steps:

And that’s it.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that that doesn’t work consistently. I’m not saying that it won’t or can’t work. It can. And it can actually work well. And really, I think it’s an important part of the overall strategy.

But it’s basically just telling you to post your stuff and hope for the best. When has that ever worked in any internet marketing arena?

In other words, it can work, but it’s very, very far from optimal. First, it doesn’t take the audience into account, and the Reddit audience has a really specific internet personality type. Second, it’s not systematized. Third, it doesn’t recognize the power of seemingly irrelevant subreddits (I get a LOT of traffic from “irrelevant” subreddits). And lastly, it doesn’t take into account that each Reddit post needs its own promotion (just a tiny bit).

The strategies in this post are the opposite of that. They’ll help you promote things in exactly the way Reddit prefers. They’ll also help you systematize your posting and give each post a tiny boost while staying totally within Reddit’s guidelines.

Let’s go over some ground rules…

Before we launch into these hacks, there are a few things you need to understand about Reddit. A few of them are technical things. A few of them are about the nature of the site. And a few of them have to do with the users.

But they’re all very important for both the success of your posts and your long-term visibility on Reddit. So listen up.

Social Ground Rules

1. Reddit loves to ban people.

It’s ridiculous. They have an absolute zero tolerance policy about banning. If there’s even a whiff of a hint of someone spamming the site at all, they’ll ban the account—no questions asked. But it can get even worse. If that account was associated with any website, they’ll sometimes ban the entire domain from ever appearing on Reddit again. And it doesn’t take much at all to get banned. All that has to happen is for another user to report you. That’s it.

Aside from getting banned from the whole site, you can also get banned from individual subreddits by the moderators of that community; this can happen even if you’re within Reddit guidelines, since those communities are policed by their own moderators. And there’s nothing worse than being banned by r/Fitness if you’re a fitness blog. Trust me.

Stuff that will get you banned (taken from their guidelines):

2. Reddit generally hates self-promotion.

With only a few exceptions, Reddit users don’t like to feel like you’re selling them anything. They hate feeling like you are just using the site to generate traffic. They do not like marketing teams. They don’t like being duped.

The same amazing click-bait title that generated thousands of shares on Facebook will get absolutely destroyed on Reddit, and the first comment will be “Take this click-bait @$*#! somewhere else.”

The general rule for Reddit is that you should only be posting to your own content one out of every 10 posts. And people will check. Literally. The actual users of the site will go check your posting history and downvote you into oblivion if you’re only posting content from your own site.

This is slowly changing. A few key members of the community started really good discussions about the merits and benefits of self-promotion. But for now, in general, it’s still very much frowned upon.

3. Reddit is, generally, much smarter than any other social network.

Reddit is one of the few internet communities where intellectualism is highly valued. Smart content gets blasted to the top. Dumb content gets buried. Smart comments garner thousands of upvotes. Dumb comments don’t make it past the first couple of readers.

I’m not exaggerating here. Reddit users pride themselves on being smart.

And they are. Spend a few minutes in r/AskScience, a subreddit in which the comments are almost entirely composed by actual scientists. Or, take a peek at r/dataisbeautiful, a subreddit dedicated to amazing data visualizations.

I’m not saying there aren’t idiots on there. Of course there are. There are going to be dummies and weirdos in any population of millions of people. But on the whole, Reddit users are wicked smart and reward stuff like wit, data, empiricism, facts, and honest dialogue.

4. There is a subreddit for everything.

There is literally a subreddit for everything. If you’re a League of Legends player, r/LeagueofLegends has millions of readers. If you’re a reader, r/Books will give you access to hundreds of thousands of like-minded word nerds (can you tell these are my favorite subreddits?).

There are subreddits for design, engineering, funny gifs, fitness, random thoughts, jokes, news, politics, any religion and marketing. There are subreddits for virtually every city, profession and hobby. There are dirty ones and clean ones, stupid ones and serious ones.

Whatever your market is, there are probably several dozen subreddits for you to troll. It’s part of what makes the site so fun.

5. Long titles with tons of information written in full sentences perform best.

I’m not sure why this is, but it’s true for almost every one of my posts. It’s also been well established by other Reddit marketers. Reddit titles have a character limit of 300 characters. That’s a lot of room, and you should use it. I’ve written several full sentences in titles before.

So go nuts. Write long, informational titles. Include numbers if possible.

And try to sound like a natural, honest person. Avoid sounding like a marketer. Avoid buzz words. Avoid capitalizing every word. And absolutely steer clear of titles that sound like they could have come from BuzzFeed.

Here are some great examples of the kinds of titles I’m talking about (I just snagged these of Reddit today).

The average Redditor likes to feel as if they are talking to and sharing stuff with other people, not businesses and not marketers. So your best bet is to present yourself that way.

6. Most importantly, you need a decent, natural profile.

If don’t want to get ripped to shreds on Reddit, you need a strong, natural profile. This won’t make your links stronger, and the Reddit doesn’t penalize the submissions of new accounts. So why do you need it?

Because the actual individual users will check your profile to make sure you’re not spamming. This is especially true in subreddits with strong communities or if they think you might be spamming. They WILL check your profile, and if they find something sketchy, they’ll post it in the comments and report you.

The good news: it doesn’t take much to build a decent profile. You only need:

You can take care of most of that in an afternoon. However, you’ll probably notice the best performance if you actually take part in the site. Just find a few subreddits you like and join then community casually.

Technical Ground Rules

1. Upvotes determine if a link is dofollow or nofollow.

This took me a surprisingly long time to figure out. I still don’t totally understand it because it seems to change all the time, and I think it changes from subreddit to subreddit. But what mechanism exactly makes a link dofollow or nofollow is still a mystery.

This is what I know: when you first post a link to Reddit, it will be nofollow. After a certain number of upvotes, it will change to a dofollow link.

Here’s an example of a new post I created. Using Mozbar, you can see it’s a nofollow link.

And here is a post I made that got just a few upvotes:

In most subreddits, a post needs around 5 upvotes to change from a nofollow link to a dofollow link, although it seems higher in some subreddits.

This is also true for links in comments:  the comment must pass a certain upvote threshold before the link in the comment becomes a dofollow link.

If you see exceptions to this rule, it’s probably because Reddit automatically follows links to authoritative sites. So, a brand new post linking to Google.com will automatically be a dofollow link, for example.

2. Only upvotes from real, aged accounts seem to stick.

Back in the days of my youth, I tried to manipulate Reddit. I got banned almost immediately (ha), but I learned a few things in the process. Most importantly, I learned that you can’t just create new accounts and use them to upvote your content. They will seem to work from the point of view of the account that is doing the upvoting, but to the rest of the world, they’ll either not appear at all, or they’ll appear and then disappear a few hours later.

So, don’t create a bunch of fake accounts. It’s pointless. And don’t ask your mom to create an account just to upvote your stuff. That’s pointless, too. You’ll need actual Redditors with real accounts to upvote your stuff naturally (more on this below).

3. There are two types of posts: links and text posts

You can create two types of posts on Reddit. The first is just a link to an external site, which is pretty self-explanatory, and the images above are examples of that.

The second, however, is a text post (the technical term is actually “self-post,” but I didn’t want to confuse it with self-promotion; they’re NOT the same thing). It’s just text post hosted on Reddit instead of a link to a different site. In a self-post, the creator can write as much text as he or she wants, and other Redditors can comment below.

(A few quick things to note about that text post that we’ll talk more about later: it’s super interesting, it’s long, it’s a good resource, and it includes dofollow links to a bunch of stuff. Keep that in mind when we talk about successful posting).

It’s important to understand each type of post because the results of each are drastically different. In general though, here’s what you need to remember:

4. An upvote is usually worth 2-5 unique visitors.

This varies. Usually, the subreddit is the biggest factor in how many visitors will click a link and go to your blog. In some subreddits, people tend to only read titles. In others, people tend to spend more time in the comment section of the post.

For the most part, though, every upvote your post gets is usually worth 2-5 unique visitors. Here’s how that looks compared to our traffic during our Reddit promotion experiment (just a few examples from the posts I haven’t deleted).

5. Karma doesn’t matter.

“Karma,” (your accounts “points,” essentially) doesn’t matter at all. It’s best to have at least some karma, but it doesn’t really contribute to the success or failure of your posts. So don’t worry about it, and don’t spend time building it unless you enjoy Redditing (like I do).

Ok… that was officially the longest introduction ever. Now let’s talk about how to put it into motion.

How to promote stuff on Reddit for traffic

Promoting your stuff on Reddit for traffic largely depends on finding a good subreddit to post to (hint: I don’t just mean subreddits in your niche). And there are a couple of different ways to define what a really good subreddit for your site is. Usually, you’ll end up with a handful that work well for your site.

So what makes a good subreddit?

First, you can look for highly relevant subreddits. That’s the advice you’ll get from everyone, and it should be more or less obvious. If you have a blog about knitting, there are 31,000 people over at r/Knitting who would probably love to read what you’re publishing.

The advantage of posting to highly relevant subreddits is that those readers are much more likely to convert. The disadvantage, though, is that highly relevant subreddits usually don’t have that many subscribers.

The alternative, then, is to find a way to appropriately post your content to BIG, general subreddits. In the big subreddits, your post may not be super relevant to the interests of each reader, but you’ll typically get much, much more traffic, since those communities have a lot more readers.

So, the advantage of posting to a BIG subreddit is mostly that each upvote is worth more traffic. The disadvantage is that these folks are tougher to convert.

You’ve got to mix it up.

The very most important thing to remember, though, is this: you have to totally follow the rules and conventions of whatever subreddit you’re posting to.

Here’s what I mean. If you post to r/News, your title should look like a headline. If you’re posting to r/Jokes, your title should be a set up for a joke, and the text should be the punchline. If you’re posting in r/LifeProTips, your title should be structured like every other post on that subreddit.

If you do that, you can get your best content to fit on lots of different subreddits. Here’s an example. This particularly strategy has worked REALLY well for me.

One of my favorite subreddits is r/Todayilearned. It’s basically a subreddit for interesting facts. Every post is structured like this “TIL [interesting fact].” “TIL” stands for “Today I learned.” The titles are usually long sentences that give almost all of the information.

Here are some examples:

This is a gigantic subreddit (7 million subscribers), and it’s very easy to promote in. I’ll just take a good post of mine and pull out an interesting fact. The best ones have numbers in them. Then, I’ll create a new post in that subreddit, and I’ll frame it as a TIL. So, for example, if I had a knitting website, I might write “TIL Harvard researchers discovered knitting reduces symptoms of anxiety by up to 40%, making it more effective than 15 of the 20 most popular anti-depressants on the market.” That’s not true, by the way. Just showing you an example.

See what I’m getting at? I took content from my blog and structured it to fit into a gigantic, popular subreddit.

Then, you just have to do some promotion.

This is very important and pretty easy. For a post on a popular subreddit to get rolling, you only need about 5 upvotes. It’s against Reddit’s guidelines to ask for upvotes, of course. But it’s perfectly fine to share it with your friends.

So after you make your post, just send it to a dozen friends. Post it on Facebook, tweet it. Whatever. You only need a few upvotes. If it’s a good post, Reddit will take it from there. This works best if you show it to friends who are fellow Redditors, since they’ll understand they should upvote it if they like it without you having to ask.

Here’s the process I just described in a nutshell:

BUT HERE’S THE SECRET. This is my secret sauce for getting traffic on Reddit…

Remember when I said you need a natural looking profile? You can’t just post your own content over and over again. You’ll get banned—quick.

When you’re posting for traffic, delete your previous promotional post before you create your next one. That way, your profile will always only have one link to your blog in it, since it only displays posts that have not been deleted.

Usually, you want to leave a post up for about eight ours. But you can afford to take it down whenever you see traffic starting to die off. Alternatively, you could manage a few accounts that all post one thing per day.

I’m not advocating anything fishy here. I think you should actually take part in other areas of Reddit that interest you. And don’t do it just to make a strong profile. Enjoy the site! But if you don’t want to spend countless hours maintaining a diverse profile, just delete your promotional posts (and ONLY your promotional posts) before you create new ones.

How to promote stuff on Reddit for links

For this, you’ll want to use text posts instead of link posts.

In some ways, getting a link from Reddit is much easier than getting traffic, but in some ways, it can be tough.

This is the basic principle: create an extremely useful post in a highly relevant subreddit (relevant to your post–not necessarily to your site) that attracts links on its own (even if it’s only one). Go back and add your link a few days later.

Essentially, you want to give the people of a certain subreddit something they would really get a lot of value from. Most of the time, if you do this, it will attract at least one link, which will in turn give the page PA/PR. For our authority site, it only took one try.

It’s almost like writing an epic guest post. In fact, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You want it to be so obviously and absurdly useful that people would be crazy not to upvote it and that people would want to share it on their blogs.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be long. It can’t be 100 words, usually, but it doesn’t have to be 5,000 words either. Here’s an actual post that got me a PA47 link (sorry it’s blurry; I’m not giving you vultures my Reddit name!).

 

This didn’t take me long.

I came up with the idea, wrote it, posted it, and promoted it in a single afternoon. Not only did everyone on that subreddit LOVE it, but the moderators personally thanked me and sent me a gift! How cool is that?

Of course, you’ll have to come up with ideas for these kinds of posts on your own, but here are some ideas that usually work really well:

There are lots of ideas. And remember, you can also go through the top posts of that subreddit to see what tends to do well.

HERE’S THE SECRET. The secret to really generating great links is to go back and add your link a few days AFTER you post.

Unless your post is archived by Reddit, you can edit it for a long, long time. And you can certainly edit it a few days later. Plus, even the most popular posts on Reddit only stay on top for about a day before they fall off everyone’s radar.

You do this because you don’t want to seem like a self-promotional wanker (remember, Redditors hate that kind of thing). In fact, in my opinion, you’re doing people a favor by not promoting yourself at all while people are actually reading it.

In other words, this is the process:

This is what makes links so powerful on Reddit. You have complete control.

Final Word…

I’m not the only one promoting stuff on Reddit, and I’m certainly not the most successful. There are many, many other strategies out there.

I’ve tried to present you with some robust, efficient strategies that adhere to Reddit’s Guidelines and provide real value for everyone.

Want me to do the work for you?

Want me to help you find some good subreddits to promote your blog in? Leave a comment below with your specific niche, and I'll give you some ideas!