Insights / SEO

PUBLISHED: May 8, 2024 17 min read

Reddit is Seeing Explosive SEO Growth. But Is It Truly Helpful to Users?

Silvia Gituto

Silvia Gituto

SEO Data Analyst & Content Writer

If you have noticed an influx of Reddit results ranking at the top of Google, it’s not just you.

Since late July 2023, has seen a 1,328% increase in SEO visibility on, according to SEO monitoring tool, Sistrix.

Using the same dataset, in the past 8 months, Reddit has moved from the 85th to the 7th position on the Sistrix list of “Top Domains,” which measures the overall SEO visibility of a given domain in Google’s organic search results in the U.S.

Looking at the data from a second SEO monitoring tool, Ahrefs, the chart below shows the projected organic traffic growth of over the past year. Ahrefs estimates that Reddit has gone from receiving 57 million visits from Google U.S. organic search in July 2023 to 427 million in April 2024.

During a period of significant volatility on Google, with numerous major algorithm updates rolling out over the past 8 months, many site owners have been surprised to see that has become one of their greatest SEO competitors. Especially in light of the significant traffic declines that many sites experienced during the Helpful Content Update, Reddit appears to be earning many of the positions lost by sites whose visibility recently declined across many categories.

These changes did not go unnoticed. Around the time of the September Helpful Content Update, users began noticing an increase in the rankings of Reddit and other forums.

In this article, we will explore how Reddit and other user-generated content sites and forums have come to dominate search engine results pages, why we believe Google made these changes, and what Google has said about the increased visibility of forums. In addition, we will analyze user discussions on Reddit and Quora to see how helpful these results are for users.

What does Reddit’s unexpected growth look like?

Beginning around the time of the August Core Update in 2023, Reddit’s visibility has seen an unusual and rapid increase, which has continued steadily since. The platform was also among the biggest index winners in 2023.

The number of Reddit answers appearing on the top search results has increased significantly, and there are several ways that Google might display Reddit content organically, such as:

This format can lead to a substantial increase in both impressions and clicks, given that one organic result might link to six different URLs on the same site.

Discussions and Forums:

There has been a substantial increase in a relatively new type of SERP (search engine result page) feature called “Discussions and Forums,” which Google uses to showcase individual experiences and advice found in forums. The data below shows the growth in this SERP feature over time, according to Stat:

Since Reddit is frequently featured in Discussions and Forums, this is another way that Reddit, in addition to other forum websites like Quora, has seen increased visibility in recent months.

SGE (Search Generative Experience):

Reddit can even be cited in Google’s AI overview feature, SGE (Search Generative Experience).

However, no confirmed core update has been tied to Reddit’s sudden increase in visibility, but the “Hidden Gems” update launched around November 2023, which was aimed at elevating high-quality content buried in forums and social media, seems to be the most likely explanation for this growth.

Could Google’s new partnership with Reddit explain the increased visibility?

In a surprising turn of events, Google and Reddit announced an official partnership in February 2024. In this new deal, Reddit will receive $60 million annually in exchange for giving Google access to their data API. The access to Reddit’s API provides Google with a structured and real-time feed of the unique content constantly being generated on Reddit, which Google can use to train its AI models.

The goal of the partnership is to make Reddit content more discoverable through Google search, potentially improving the user experience for both platforms. According to the announcement, this partnership comes with “more content-forward displays of Reddit information that will make [Google’s] products more helpful for our users and make it easier to participate in Reddit communities and conversations.”

While this collaboration certainly seems like it could explain Reddit’s increased SEO visibility, it’s important to note the timeline and what Google has stated on the record about this partnership.

The surge in Reddit’s visibility in the search results started around August 2023, 6 months before the partnership announcement. As stated before, around this time, Google indicated that the Hidden Gems update would cause forums, social media sites, and other “hidden gems” to see increased visibility. This suggests that other factors might be contributing to Reddit’s rise in search prominence, although the timing of the partnership announcement has led to many theories and suspicions.

What has Google said about Reddit’s growth?

To start, Google has denied that its new partnership with Reddit had any impact on how Reddit appears in organic results. In a recent Business Insider article on this topic, a spokesperson from Google stated, “Our agreement with Reddit absolutely did not include ranking its content higher on Search.”

Google has made several other claims related to the increase in visibility seen by Reddit and other forums:

  • Google shows the “Discussions and Forums” SERP feature when it is relevant to the search query
  • Searchers find forum content useful, even if some SEO professionals don’t always agree
  • Google understands the complaints that some have raised around showing Reddit and other forum answers to highly sensitive queries, such as YMYL queries like “weight loss”

Google’s various responses related to Reddit’s growth have implied that this growth is indicative of the demand for relevant and satisfying results for searchers, according to a recent article by Business Insider. “Our systems surface content from hundreds of forums and other communities across the web, and we conduct rigorous testing to ensure results are helpful and high quality.”

Responding to a recent Tweet and a post on LinkedIn by Lily Ray about why Reddit keeps showing up in the ‘Discussion and Forums’ panel even for E-E-A-T medical-driven results previously provided by the likes of the Mayo Clinic and Harvard, Google responded, “That unit appears automatically if the systems think it might be relevant and useful. Our ranking systems are not perfect, and we’ll keep improving them — including this type of feedback, which is appreciated.”

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Google also indicated that these updates were intended to increase the visibility of content from various forums, not just Reddit.

In the same LinkedIn response, Danny Sullivan continued, “That is not that we somehow add Reddit to a query, much less every query. That’s not how the forums unit — that shows content from many forums works.” He also added, “Actual searchers seem to like it. They proactively seek it out. It makes sense for us to be showing it to keep the search results relevant and satisfying for everyone.”

What types of queries are affected by Reddit’s growth?

We took a look at some ranking changes for some keywords between 07/31/2023 and 05/05/2024 to look for Reddit’s ranking increases and identify what types of keywords Reddit earned top positions for.

According to Ahrefs data, here are the subreddits that have gained the most traffic between September 2023 to May 2024, as seen in the image below:

Additionally, here are keywords where Reddit has driven the most new traffic within the last eight months, according to Ahrefs data, as seen in the image below:

Here are the findings in a few categories:


We analyzed ranking changes from July 2023 to April 2024. During this time, Reddit saw a surge of new keywords appearing in top rankings for various types of searches, including eCommerce queries. For instance, after analyzing the search results, we found Reddit newly ranking for the keyword ‘microwave’ in the fourth position, unexpectedly competing with established brands like Home Depot, Best Buy, Amazon, and Home Depot. It even outranked Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Wikipedia.

For the commercial keyword “‘Groomsmen gifts,” Reddit newly appeared in position 2 in search results, beating niche eCommerce sites like GroomShop, Grooms Day, and the Man Registry despite the fact that they all had an extensive list of gift ideas and products for sale.

Instead, the answer highlighted on Reddit provided a different alternative from the other organic shopping results and ads.

Home and Appliance:

The home and appliance category also seemed to have a mix of helpful and unhelpful answers for search queries from Reddit.

For the keyword “plumbing”, Reddit gained the #4 ranking after not ranking anywhere in the top 20, beating YouTube and niche sites like to rank in the top five alongside sites like Wikipedia, Home Depot, and Lowes.

The query that generated the below Reddit result was ”What is this white stuff coming out my sink,” where the user wanted to know, “Is this soap? Why is this building up in my pipes and is there something else I can use to break this down because my sinks are still clogged.” for which they didn’t get a particularly helpful answer. They instead got a one-word response — “Grease”.

Comparing this to the top result on Google, which explains at length that it could be “calcium or other minerals,” this one-word Reddit response is not particularly helpful.


We found a YMYL (your money, your life) keyword, “how to lose weight quickly,” where Reddit ranks #9 on Google, answering a user question: “What are some good options to [lose] weight fast?” One of the top commenters suggested “cutting your arm off,” which is obviously a joke but could be dangerous for searchers.

We also came across another YMYL keyword, “finasteride for hair loss,” for a user query, “What has been your experience with taking finasteride (Propecia) for hair loss?” This Reddit result, ranking number three, contains a top-rated answer stating that the user did not experience side effects from the drug finasteride.

While Google is elevating first-hand experience from a user of the drug who did not experience side effects, this might not be true for all people who take the drug. Google confirms that finasteride has several side effects.

For another query, “What is the best way to lose weight fast?” the user was advised to go on a caloric deficit by eating very little and exercising frequently. They were also advised to dehydrate. The user even indicated that the answer was not healthy.

Google, however, contradicted this and suggested eating fruits, vegetables, and proteins in smaller portions and drinking more water to stay full. This answer does more to take user safety into consideration:


We also sampled a few finance YMYL keywords where Reddit is ranking in top positions. One of the keywords we looked at was “affordable pet insurance,” for which Reddit ranked in position 9. One of the top-most answers provided an interesting viewpoint: the user is seen advising people to ditch pet insurance and instead open a savings account, as shown in the image below.

After querying Google about whether pet insurance was helpful, It was interesting that they gave a completely different answer as shown in the image below. Unsurprisingly, the information in this article was sponsored by pet insurance companies.

This could be an example of why Google is elevating first-hand experience from forums over many other results, which are usually sponsored.

Another search query we looked at was “What are some realistic ways to get rich in 5 years?” for which Reddit ranked in position 4 in Google search results. However the answer provided, as shown in the image below, was a joke and not particularly helpful.

Google contradicted this answer and gave a more formal answer, recommending multiple income streams, building financial literacy and getting in the wealth mindset.

Food and Nutrition:

We looked at the keyword “biscuits and gravy recipe” between late July 2023 and mid-April 2024, for which Reddit now ranks in position 1 in Google search results. It was interesting to see that they ranked for this keyword, beating recipe sites like,, and the Food Network.

For another keyword “deviled eggs recipe”, Reddit ranked in position 3 in search results.

It also appeared in the ” Forums and discussions” section.

Despite this, the answer the user got for the query “Give me your best deviled eggs recipe” where they also asked “Do any of you usually add vinegar? What other tips and recommendations do you guys have?”, was not very helpful. While they received a list of ingredients, their question wasn’t fully answered and didn’t respond to her vinegar concerns.


Looking at the keyword “dog training” for which Reddit ranks 4th in Google search, it was interesting to note that what Reddit gave as the answer to the query, “What are your most useful dog training tips for beginners?” was different from what Google gave.

The top Reddit response to this query was “Dogs don’t generalize well, whenever you train change the time and location of training to really cement the behavior you’re teaching. It’s very common to train specific behaviors and not be able to extrapolate them to unfamiliar environments.” Google on the other hand gave a response emphasizing rewarding the dog, positive reinforcement and giving small treats as seen in the image below. This goes to show how first-hand experience might differ from the formal advice offered by authoritative websites.

What was even more surprising is that Reddit beat authority sites like RSPCA, Bark Busters and in search for that keyword.

Another keyword, “deal with fleas at home,” in the pet category showed up in the ‘ Discussions and Forums” section in Google search results.

For this keyword, the search query was “How to deal with fleas?” where the searcher wanted to know how to clean up their space so their dog being treated for the fleas doesn’t get reinfected. The response they got was incomplete compared to some of the other results on Google as they were asked to “Vacuum daily, immediately empty the bin into a small bag, and get that bag into an outside trash can. Must be done daily.” Google, on the other hand, gave the response in the image below.

Affiliate Products:

Many sites that rely on transactional, product review, and affiliate keywords have seen declines recently as keywords in the /r/buyitforlife subreddit have gained traffic in the past 8 months. Data from Ahrefs offers an explanation that this traffic could be going to Reddit instead, as seen in the image below.

Is Quora any different from Reddit?

Quora is a UGC forum that has also seen significant growth since August 2023, as seen in the image below.

We also researched YMYL keywords that ranked on Quora and discovered some interesting findings.

As was the case with Reddit, we found many examples of queries ranking in the top positions of search results that followed Google’s guidelines of creating helpful content that satisfies E-E-A-T. 

Interestingly, we also found sponsored posts that had unrelated content right after the top answer and had zero answers as shown in the image below. This ad format is frequently displayed across Quora.

One concerning example was content that ranked for the keyword “accredited debt relief reviews,” which ranked sixth on search results and answered Reddit’s user query, “What additional support does Accredited Debt Relief offer beyond debt relief?” 

While the answer provided was accurate, it may have been generated with AI, as is a common experience found throughout Quora answers, and even further supported by answers generated by Quora’s own AI assistant.

Example answer generated by Quora’s AI assistant:

We also came across the keyword “best dental insurance,” which ranked in the 4th position on the search results, answering a Reddit user’s question, “Is dental insurance better than a dental plan” displaying answers showing highly opinionated real-life experience that might not be found on other publisher sites. “In a word, dental insurance “sucks!” Most dental plans also suck.”

There was also an answer to the same question that stated, “I’m so sorry to say I’ve no clue or knowledge about the dental insurance policies,” which was actually not helpful at all (the respondent even says the answer is not helpful).

We also sampled a few YMYL keywords in the medical niche and found helpful and unhelpful content. The keyword “signs of kidney problems” ranked eighth on Google. The user’s answer displayed at the top explained how they “reversed” their chronic kidney disease, as shown in the image below.

We then went ahead and looked up the topic on Google about reversing chronic kidney disease. We found an opposite answer that chronic kidney disease cannot be reversed but managed, as shown in the image below.

This is an example of how first-hand experience can actually contradict scientific and medical consensus, which Google has attempted to elevate for YMYL queries for years. The Quora answer could even be interpreted as dangerous for the user’s health or safety.

This shows how forums can be spammed by users whose answers are motivated by a financial incentive, which can be can be quite dangerous to other users.

What’s the state of other user-generated platforms?

Reddit and Quora aren’t the only user-generated content (UGC) or forums that have seen a significant increase in visibility over recent months. Platforms like Superuser, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Medium have all seen similar growth, although not quite as explosive as Reddit’s.

Nearly all the user-generated websites started increasing in visibility around August and have been consistently seeing an increase to date.

Medium and Substack experienced a significant loss of visibility in April 2024 after consistently increasing visibility from August 2023. This may be connected to the March Core Update or even the “site reputation abuse” component of the update that began rolling out in May 2024 (but may have been tested in the weeks prior). has even taken new steps to reduce AI content on its platform. According to Cyberdaily, a new Medium policy regarding AI-generated content is coming into effect on May 1st, 2024. The platform will be cracking down on AI-written content, potentially revoking Partner Program enrollment for anyone who publishes it. This might serve as a clue about what is to come on other platforms that accept user-generated content.

What’s next?

The surge in visibility for user-generated content websites and forums in the search results marks a significant shift in SEO and digital marketing. While this may reflect the growing demand for diverse perspectives and authentic experiences, it also raises questions regarding the reliability and trustworthiness of the information being displayed. Or in some cases, these results can even present safety risks to the users who read them.

Interestingly, Google claimed to have not found any indication that the content published on forums was unhelpful, of low quality or harmful, as published in the Business Insider article.

According to Sistrix marketing manager, Steve Pain, 48.9% of all rankings appear in the Top 10 of search results. It’s a high-performance figure, but it also means that over 50% of rankings have potential for improvement. 

Based on this data, users need to exercise caution when relying solely on answers based on user-generated content, especially for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) topics. Verifying information from multiple credible sources and official channels is important to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Website owners, on the other hand, may consider prioritizing authentic user experience when it makes sense to do so as one method of publishing high-quality and helpful content. While this digital shift might have intensified with the increased visibility of UGC, sites should always focus on delivering trustworthy content to be rewarded in the long term.

Learn about updates to Google’s Helpful Content Update & Ranking System in 2024, or, let’s talk about how to achieve more for your marketing—and your business.