Everyone has at least one friend who's always sharing memes or interesting content.
Chances are, that friend is an active Reddit user.
The signs and symptoms are obvious.
They're online all the time.
Ready whenever you don't understand a trendy gif and ask them to ELI5 (explain like I'm five).
Talking about upvoting things.
You can find every kind of content format imaginable under the sun on Reddit, which means it's a goldmine for link builders
But to get legitimate Reddit backlinks, you need to be resourceful and innovative.
If you think creating awesome content, conducting outreach and subsequently praying for a link is gonna work here, you’re in for a nasty surprise.
Reddit is a community-driven niche website. There’s no guest blogging or emailing the site owner, asking them to link to you.
You’ll have to earn your link through blood, sweat and tears (well, not literally).
Redditors know good content when they see it.
Bad content gets devoured by downvotes and a hailstorm of harsh comments.
On the bright side, something real, meaningful and original will often get the credit it deserves here.
So, if you’re ready to earn some powerful backlinks, let’s walk you through how to play and win the Reddit backlink game.
First of all, what the heck is Reddit?
For a top ranking website, many people are surprisingly unfamiliar with Reddit.
The site started way back in 2005 and has steadily become a popular hangout spot for young, tech-savvy millennials.
If you ask “what is reddit?” on Google, you’ll get broad answers. The following suggestions are all attributed to Reddit: social network, content aggregator and forum.
And if you’ve been around the internet long enough, you’ll know each of those mediums is significantly different.
Perhaps then, the best way to describe Reddit is that it combines features from a social network (news feed layout), content aggregator and forum (aggregates content) to create something quite unique.
Here’s a snapshot of the homepage:
To the untrained eye, this may look like a historic 90's message board more than anything else. But if you explore a little, you’ll catch on quick to the ease of using Reddit.
Reddit functions by allowing users (signing up for a free account is required) to submit content from other sites or text posts, which are then displayed on the Reddit page (more on this later).
Where a post ranks on the page depends on votes by other users.
An upvote, or vote in favor, boosts the submission higher (increases visibility), and a downvote pushes it further down and out of view.
This allows Reddit to curate content that people find valuable. It also allows them to keep users on their site longer.
But does that mean you can post whatever you want, wherever you want?
Think of Reddit as a large office building. Inside this office, there are many rooms (subreddits) where people interested in a specific niche topic hang out and interact.
Examples of subreddit topics range from personal finance to soccer to solo travel, and each subreddit has its own unique page. For example, the soccer subreddit is found here.
Why should I care about visibility and votes Reddit?
Firstly, Reddit has an Alexa Rank of 6, and a Domain Authority of 97.
That means acquiring a backlink from Reddit will not only deliver a ton of traffic, but also considerably boost your page rank.
Secondly, 1.7 billion unique visitors explore the site every month. That’s pretty close to Facebook’s monthly active user count, which averages around 2.19 billion.
That's a lot of eyes on your content.
And thirdly, as of January 2018, there are at least 1.2 million unique subreddits. And visitors to these subreddits aren’t casual stumblers.
Redditors are highly engaged users and the site has an average bounce rate of just 29%.
No matter how you look at it, the bottom line is clear:
If there's a topic that people are interested in, there’ll be a subreddit for it—and opportunities to build backlinks from it.
The value of Reddit backlinks
Since people are free to share anything in Reddit posts (including links to their own content), Reddit classifies each post as nofollow by default initially. This disincentivizes webmasters or paid third parties to spam their links on the site.
But that doesn’t mean every backlink from Reddit is always nofollow.
A complex algorithm is at work behind the scenes. It converts nofollow links into dofollow links when certain conditions are met.
While no one knows the exact formula, there's plenty of information which hints at how to increase the odds of converting the link status of your submission.
The general belief is that once a submission acquires five upvotes, Reddit will convert the link or any links shared in a text post into dofollow.
Note: This isn't an exact science. There are a lot of variables at play here, like whether upvotes come from active accounts, and whether the accounts were recently created or have been around for a while.
This makes sense if you put yourself in Reddit's shoes. They don't want people to create a ton of new accounts to upvote their own links or employ a third party to engage in shady upvoting behavior.
With that said, here’s what you'll need to do if you want to make your Reddit backlinks count.
Posting on Reddit can be scary. It’s not exactly the friendliest place if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Like mentioned previously, Redditors (Reddit users) are mostly young, tech-savvy males. They absolutely hate any form of sales and marketing.
Don't believe it?
Go to Reddit and try marketing your site. You'll be torn apart in no time.
Your efforts will earn you a permanent ban from posting on the relevant subreddit and maybe even an account deactivation.
So heed the advice carefully, because Redditors have stated their stance loud and clear. They don't want to be marketed to. So, avoid blindly blasting your links.
But enough of the bad news.
Redditors aren't all bad. Just like they can make your (online) life difficult, they can also show you a ton of love if you get on their good side.
To do that, here’s what you'll need to do:
Step #1: Find a community that suits your niche
Popular topics usually have multiple subreddit communities.
An example of this includes the SEO domain, which has numerous related subreddits such as r/seo and r/seo_infographics.
Utilize Reddit's search function to uncover the pool of subreddits who's audience might be interested in your content.
You can search using broad terms and specific keywords.
It's advisable to use broad terms first. While this will give you the most results, you'll have to be careful using this approach, because some of the results will be irrelevant to you.
To filter down results from this list and isolate subreddits appropriate for you, use specific keywords next.
Tip: Use more than a few keywords to ensure you've covered every possibility.
Make a final list of all subreddits that qualify and note down the number of users each of these subreddits have.
You're going to pick a winner from this list by looking at user count and activity. While larger subreddits are preferred (50,000+ users), they also have a tougher crowd.
If you’re a new Redditor, pick a subreddit that has roughly 5-10k users with activity every day.
Once you've selected a target, it's on to the next step.
Step #2: Become an active participant
Yep, that’s right. Your first job isn't to pump links from day 1.
After you sign up for a Reddit account (choose a username that isn't your brand name), take time to explore your target subreddit and get a feel for it.
Each subreddit has its own rules and guidelines for posting, so make sure you read them carefully before you do anything. Here's an example of the rules over at r/worldnews.
Next, go through the content that’s posted on your target subreddit. Make note of what's liked by users, the types of comments people leave and the reactions the content receives (if any).
A trick to easily find what's popular on a subreddit is to sort content by the "top" option. This will show you popular submissions on a subreddit over a period of time.
If you want to get more specific, choose the "links from" option on the upper left-hand side and specify a timeframe.
No two subreddits will be the same in their preferences. For example, on r/getmotivated, you’ll see image content is loved by the audience.
But on r/finance, notice how the top posts are links to interesting content hosted on websites outside of Reddit.
Armed with this knowledge, start commenting on other people’s posts without mentioning your brand or sharing links to your content.
Remember, you have to be a part of the community first.
Also, you have to engage consistently. This isn’t something you do for a month or two and then forget about. If you do, Redditors will forget about you, and you'll have to start over again from scratch.
Fortunately, thanks to the laid-back and casual approach of Reddit, being an active participant won't feel like too much work.
Engage for at least three to four weeks (ideally a few months) before you make any reference to something that leads users back to your site.
Bonus tip: Some subreddits allow users to add flairs next to their username. If this is the case, add a flair that references your brand in some way, or better yet, directs users to your social profile.
Here's an example of a flair that directs users to a Twitter profile on r/bigseo:
While this doesn’t give you a backlink per se, it’s a great way to spread brand awareness with each comment. Doing this also establishes trust and authority, and humanizes the user. They're no longer an anonymous poster.
Step #3: Submit your own content
Once you’ve been active long enough, you're ready to start promoting your own content.
The first question that always comes to mind when this is mentioned is "what do I submit?" If you’ve done your work in the last step, you should already have a pretty good idea of what content format works with your audience.
Here’s a recap of content formats that get a lot of love:
If you're noticing a lot of videos getting love on your subreddit, post your own video content. However, if Q&A's are well-received, consider hosting your own session. You might need to repurpose existing content in order to post something on Reddit.
When posting, ensure your submission is optimized for visibility.
You’ll absolutely need a great title since this is what every user sees first. If your title doesn’t entice someone to click or read further, it doesn’t matter how great your content is.
Check out this great resource by CoSchedule to get some inspiration for what a good headline looks like. Generally, these same rules are also applicable to Reddit headlines.
Another trick is to use tags (similar to hashtags on Instagram and Twitter). On Reddit, tags are defined as words or categories within brackets or button-like boxes. Here are some examples of the tags used on r/science:
Tags in headlines help people quickly identify whether a submission is worth clicking on. Some subreddits, like r/science, strictly enforce the use of tags on each submission—so keep an eye out for the rules before you submit a post.
And speaking of submitting content, there's one more thing you need to know.
You can make two kinds of posts on Reddit. The first is a link post and the second is a text post.
A link post is basically when you submit something that's a clickable link which leads users to a third-party site. Users can vote on the link and comment on Reddit.
Here's an example of a link post from r/futurology:
Notice the Forbes logo on the right? When any user clicks on this link, they'll be taken to the article posted on Forbes's website. To see the discussion of that article on Reddit, you'll need to click on the comments.
Utilize this option only if you’re absolutely confident in your reputation as a trusted source of information.
Otherwise, go with a text post. This is when you make a post which contains only text. The idea is to drop a link back to your content or your brand within this text (but not always).
Here's a text post from r/history:
To get upvotes on these posts, you'll need to evoke curiosity. A great way to do this is to give away some insight but withhold the main takeaway. This will entice users to not only click on the link in your text but also upvote it.
It’s important to make your post genuine. If readers catch on to your content being an elaborate ruse and self-promotion tactic, you can forget about dofollow backlinks.
Step #4: Wait and repeat
If you've reached this far, there's some good news: The hard part is over!
It's finally time to sit back and wait for your hard work to pay off—in the form of some juicy Reddit backlinks.
Generally, if you're a new Reddit user, you should wait a few months before checking for backlinks. It'll take some time for the new backlink to be crawled, and possibly longer for it to become dofollow.
But once you've become a trusted source of information on Reddit, you should see a new backlink within a few days of making a new post (especially if your content reaches the top of the page).
Just remember not to post links too frequently (leave at least a month or two between them), and spend the rest of your time maintaining an active profile and participating in relevant communities.
Know how to play the Reddit backlink game
No matter how you break it down, Reddit is a great platform to score some high-quality backlinks.
Submissions that receive upvotes boost your page rank and deliver a healthy dose of traffic. In short, you're really killing two birds with one stone here.
Of course, to enjoy the fruits of your labor is a long game.
But if you follow the steps and formula (which can easily be replicated), you're bound to have success.
Being an active community member sure beats sending emails and follow-ups to inboxes of strangers every time you want a backlink.
And who knows—if you spend enough time on Reddit, you might actually start enjoying the platform and forget you're even link building to start with!