Does Reddit Belong in Google Search Results?

Mar 27, 2024 | SEO

Have you Googled any questions recently? You might have noticed user-generated content from sites such as Reddit are appearing. Here’s an example for the query “how do you roast a chicken”:

So why’s that an issue? It might not be. But how can you know if these results are accurate? Have these people roasted many chickens? And if so, do they do it well? I can give advice on the best route to take to avoid traffic, but might not be great at directions.

Roger Montti, a member of the SEJ staff, raises concerns over this exact issue: the increasing inclusion of Reddit content in Google search results. He delves into the implications of prioritizing user-generated content, particularly from Reddit, within Google’s search framework. Despite the intention to reflect real user opinions, this shift appears to compromise the overall quality of search outcomes—a critique seemingly overlooked by Google itself.

Understanding the Expertise Issue with Online Content

One concern is how much we depend on content from the internet that anyone can write—like Reddit posts, product reviews, and online forums. Because anyone can write these without showing who they are or proving they know what they’re talking about, the information can be more about personal thoughts than real knowledge. This can be confusing, especially when ideas that seem right but are actually wrong get a lot of likes, similar to how sometimes computers can make mistakes by thinking something sounds right when it isn’t.

Chef Jenn Allen’s Views on Reddit for Cooking Tips

Chef Jenn Allen says Reddit isn’t a good place to find cooking recipes because you can’t be sure they’ve been tested properly. This shows a bigger problem with Reddit: you can’t always trust the advice because you don’t know if the people giving it really know their stuff.

How Reddit Affects SEO Advice

The article also talks about how Reddit’s popular opinions can sometimes clash with real facts, like with SEO (how websites rank on Google) and the importance of links. It’s hard to tell the difference on Reddit between what’s really true and what just seems popular.

Why Reddit Might Not Deserve High Google Ranks

There are many problems with Reddit being so visible on Google, like the lack of real knowledge, people hiding who they are, biased opinions, and the tendency for similar opinions to just echo back and forth without challenge. These issues mean the advice you find might not be reliable.

Google’s Challenge with Reddit Content

The article ends by questioning if Google is doing the right thing by making Reddit content so prominent. It suggests that Google might be valuing the wrong type of information—ones without real expertise or trustworthiness. It’s a call for Google to find a better balance between showing real-life experiences and advice from actual experts.

Websites Still Rank Higher than Reddit

The only aspect of Reddit in the SERP’s the article doesn’t address is this: websites are still ranking higher than Reddit and other forums. This signals that Google isn’t valuing Reddit more so than credible websites. As a result, the issue is more about whether Reddit results should be included at all. Furthermore, you can’t assume that every article, recipe, piece of advice posted online, even by so-called credible sources is accurate. The only way to accomplish this would be to vet each piece of content, and at least for now that’s impossible, and would border on an infringement of freedom of speech.

The Future of Reddit in Google SERP’s

Keeping the above in mind, does that mean Google will cease the inclusion of answers/info from Reddit and other forums in the future? Not necessarily. As long as the content is popular, and receives traffic, and continues to be posted on a high authority site, it might not. Now, we all know Google can change their mind on a whim, so it’s entirely possible they’ll devalue this content. But I don’t foresee this trend changing any time soon.

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