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How to Plan & Run an SEO Campaign (Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Plan & Run an SEO Campaign (Step-by-Step Guide)

An SEO campaign is a structured set of tasks that should lead to better rankings on search engines. If you actively do SEO, you likely engage in SEO campaigns, whether you call it that or not.

But what should the process from campaign idea to evaluation look like? There are often many steps and people involved, so proper planning is needed to achieve effectiveness and the desired outcome.

We’ve run many SEO campaigns, including some unique ones. You’ll learn to navigate the process from start to finish with many examples along the way.

These are the steps we’ll go through:

  1. Discover and prioritize your SEO opportunities
  2. Set up an SEO objective
  3. Outline the process to achieve the objective
  4. (Re)write the content
  5. Acquire and build backlinks
  6. Monitor the results
  7. Evaluate the campaign

Let’s dive in.

1. Discover and prioritize your SEO opportunities

The first rule of planning SEO campaigns is simple. Don’t start if you lack information and data to back up your decisions. You can come up with countless SEO campaign ideas. But without research, you can’t tell which opportunities are worth pursuing and prioritizing.

The research we’re going to dive into will help us estimate the effort needed to run any SEO campaign and its potential impact. This concept can be illustrated by the Impact Effort Matrix:

Impact Effort Matrix. Y axis labeled "impact." X axis labeled "effort." 4 sections from top in clockwise direction: "quick wins," "long term project," "not going to happen," and "backlog."

Now, because an SEO campaign is defined as a set of tasks, we’ll assume that all the ideas will fall into the two quadrants on the right side.

We need two essential sets of SEO data that will help us come up with the SEO campaign ideas and add them into the matrix. Welcome to keyword and backlink research. If you’ve already done this, feel free to skip to the second step.

Keyword research

Keyword research is the process of understanding the language your target customers use when searching for your products, services, and content. It then involves analyzing, comparing, and prioritizing the best keyword opportunities for your website.

Now, I’m not going to dive into the process of keyword research, as we have a whole guide about that. But do note planning and running a campaign is more advanced than just picking a few keywords and writing content about them.

Here are a few use cases that are worth pursuing as an SEO campaign based on keyword data:

Most of these require an outreach campaign on top of the content creation to maximize the potential. That’s where the other set of data comes into play.

Backlink research

Backlink research is the process of understanding what makes websites link to one another in your niche and gathering link opportunities for your own pages. Basically, it’s about getting all the necessary information to grow a strong backlink profile for your website that should lead to better rankings.

A lot of backlink research stems from a sort of SEO competitive analysis. It can be in the form of analyzing intersecting links where you check which websites link to your competitors but not to you. This Link Intersect report can be accessed in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer:

Link Intersect results

Then we can analyze the type of content that gets the most links (link bait) in your niche in the Best by links report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer:

Best by links report results

Or do the most straightforward analysis, which is going through the Backlinks and Referring domains reports—all in Site Explorer:

Backlinks report results

Getting all this research and processes right allows you to launch outreach campaigns that should get high-quality backlinks to your most important pieces of content. Technically, any outreach campaign can be considered an SEO campaign on its own. (Ideally, it’s best to launch it right after the “content creation” step.)

2. Set up an SEO objective

Got an SEO campaign idea that’s worth pursuing? Great! You should set up an objective for that. In other words, what should be the quantifiable outcome of that campaign? What are you aiming to achieve?

Everyone’s SEO objectives are different. But generally, the four most common ones revolve around:

  • Increasing conversions and sales from organic traffic.
  • Increasing search visibility (share of voice) for a set of keywords.
  • Ranking higher for a highly competitive keyword (to outrank a competitor, drive a lot of traffic, etc.).
  • Getting high-quality backlinks.

If you’re not sure which objective to choose, these four are always a good starting point.

For example, one of our latest SEO campaigns revolved around creating a “stats” page and then building links to it (to test how successful we’d be so that we could create a case study about it).

The main SEO objective was to rank in the top three for “seo statistics” within three months. Another objective that would help to get us there was to build at least 20 high-quality backlinks to the page from an outreach campaign. 

We SEOs can’t really guarantee any results, but these objectives should still adhere to the popular SMART objectives guidelines. You need to find a good balance between the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely parameters of the objectives.

The time period is arguably the most difficult parameter to estimate. For better ranking objectives, I suggest going for at least three months, preferably even six months and more if your website isn’t generally highly competitive on the SERPs.

Based on our research, only 5.7% of newly published pages get to the top 10 search results within a year. And if they do, it mostly takes between two to six months:

Bar graph showing most pages achieve high DR in 2 to 6 months

Domain Ranking (DR) shows the strength of a website’s backlink profile compared to the others in our database on a 100-point scale. It’s a solid proxy for assessing how competitive a website can be on the SERPs.

By the way, if your time frame is long enough (six months+), your keyword ranking and backlink objectives may eventually go hand in hand. The better the content’s backlinks, the higher the chances that content will rank well. And the higher a page ranks, the more people will see it and link to it naturally.

Once you know what you’re aiming for with the campaign, it’s time to start planning.

Recommended reading: How to Set the Right SEO Goals With 3 Examples

3. Outline the process to achieve the objective

Let’s now dissect the one big SEO campaign into a structured set of tasks. To help us get there, we’ll use the “SEO goals” pyramid concept:

SEO goal pyramid divided into 3 sections (from top to bottom): outcome, performance, process

What we’ve set up in the previous step is the outcome goal and maybe even some performance goals that are evident right away, such as the need to build backlinks. We’re going to uncover the rest of the steps and goals now.

Let’s continue with the example of the SEO campaign for our “stats” page. The outcome goal was to rank in the top three search results for “seo statistics” within three months.

Here, we can tell there are two performance goals that serve as the best way to achieve the outcome goal:

  1. Write the best SEO statistics page
  2. Build at least 20 high-quality backlinks to the page via an outreach campaign

The first performance goal is obvious. But setting up the second goal is more nuanced because pages ranking at the top for the most competitive keywords tend to have hundreds, if not thousands, of backlinks earned throughout many years—numbers that you can’t achieve with an outreach campaign.

That’s now largely the case of the “seo statistics” keyword as well. There are pages with thousands of backlinks from thousands of referring domains:

Don’t be discouraged by these numbers, though. Most backlinks come from spammy websites and can be completely disregarded.

Since you should only go after potentially high-quality backlinks, it’s better to look at the whole backlink profile of those pages ranking at the top by clicking on the caret and going over to the Backlinks report:

SERP overview for "seo statistics"; notably, caret showing "backlinks"

What I’ve just discovered is the #4 page doesn’t have any backlinks from pages that drive solid organic traffic despite it having thousands of backlinks:

Backlinks report results

Some other pages there do indeed have hard-to-beat backlink portfolios. But getting to the top of this SERP seems achievable for us within a relatively short period of time.

Based on some basic research, we can see hundreds of link prospects. This makes getting more than 20 acquired backlinks a doable task.

What’s left is to further dissect the performance goals into process goals:

  1. What do we need to do to write the best SEO statistics page?
  2. What do we need to do to build over 20 high-quality backlinks?

I already went ahead with the link building aspect, so I’ll stick to expanding on this area. It’s reasonable to expect a 5% outreach conversion rate. This means, on average, we need to reach out to 400 email addresses to get 20 backlinks.

This outreach process may include the following steps:

  • Narrow down link prospects to include only high-quality websites with the potential to link to you
  • Automatically find and validate email addresses
  • Have a convincing reason to reach out (e.g., they were missing some SEO stats or included outdated ones)
  • Put it all together into a table for automation purposes and/or tracking your progress
  • Write the outreach emails
  • Send the outreach emails
  • Do follow-ups

If you want to see this process in action, we’ve documented it in a video for the SEO campaign I mentioned earlier:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMcA-8nalL8

The completed SEO goals pyramid can then look like this:

SEO goal pyramid divided into 3 sections (from top to bottom): outcome, performance, process. Each section now has short writeup about the goal and how to measure said goal

You can also do this for the other performance goals. Now, you’ll have the whole SEO campaign process outlined. You can then start assigning tasks that will take you from start to finish.

As discussed earlier, most SEO campaigns largely revolve around writing or rewriting content. That content should either rank well on the SERPs by itself or at least help your other pages rank by passing link equity from all the attracted backlinks to these pages.

Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you (re)write both keyword-focused content and link bait content. And if you come across a good keyword that can be covered in a way that will also attract many backlinks, even better—just combine both approaches.

Writing keyword-focused content

I’ll use this very article as an example. We had an older version of this article targeting the keyword “seo campaign” on our blog for a long time, but it never ranked well:

Site Explorer overview of original article on SEO campaign

The reason seems evident. When we take a look at the top-ranking pages for “seo campaign,” we see that the vast majority of them are guides. There’s not even one case study in sight:

SERP overview for "seo campaign"; all results are guides

One of the most important aspects of creating content to rank well on search engines is to align with search intent. It’s the “why” behind a search query.

In this case, most people looking up “seo campaign” want to see a guide on how to plan and run one. That’s exactly what this updated version does and why it has a much higher chance of ranking well.

Providing the right angle of the content to the readers is only one of the main aspects we have to take into account here.

For example, before I even write an outline, I think about the goal of the article, the expected search intent, my angle, how I can make it stand out (i.e., USP, which stands for unique selling proposition), and how much I can naturally mention our product (business potential on a scale from 0 to 3):

Michal's plan for the article

These are all general tips on writing whole pieces of content. You may want to plan and run a more specific type of SEO campaign, such as optimizing for featured snippets in bulk.

Writing link bait content

You should already know what type of content attracts the most links in your niche based on the backlink research mentioned earlier. That’s the easy part. Creating link-worthy content can be quite challenging and often requires a lot of effort.

In the marketing software industry that we’re in, the types of pages that get links most easily are:

  • Industry insights and data studies.
  • Landing pages with free, ready-to-use marketing tools.
  • Statistics pages.

Apart from the statistics pages, it’s close to impossible to develop such content without help from your data science and engineering teams.

But this also means there is a lack of such content types. Thus, having them on your site may result in you getting great links. Make your content the best entry on the SERP to be worth those links.

Recommended reading: Deconstructing Linkbait: How to Create Content That Attracts Backlinks

5. Acquire and build backlinks

SEO campaigns rarely end at just publishing content. That’s half of the job. What matters as much as content creation is content distribution that triggers link acquisition.

It’s even more important with link bait content that isn’t made for getting organic traffic. All the work will be in vain without proper content distribution.

Here’s what I mean by proper content distribution:

  • Plan an outreach campaign to get backlinks and/or exposure from prominent people in your niche
  • Promote the content with social media ads on top of the standard organic social posts that usually have limited reach
  • Share it with your email subscribers
  • Repurpose your content into social media posts, Quora answers, newsletters, etc., and share repeatedly
  • Update your internal links so readers of your other articles can click through and pages can pass their link equities

Of course, the outreach campaign is most relevant for the link building point. Sure, you can get links by simply getting the content in front of many people’s eyes, but it’s the direct email with a specific link building pitch that can get you the results quickly.

We have already looked into the steps and analysis required for planning an outreach campaign and creating link bait content. But we still haven’t discussed the power of public relations (PR) that can take the content distribution and link acquisition to a whole different level.

For example, when I analyzed the SEO strategy of Wise, I found one of the many aspects that stood out is how its creative PR campaigns intertwined with SEO goals.

Here’s its “nothing to hide” campaign, which addresses the issue of hidden fees in finance and banking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZufqOLl6ajE

What makes this clearly successful in terms of SEO is the supporting content on its website that attracts some of the links from big media names:

Referring domains report results

All this being said, there are no limits to link building campaigns. You can choose the good old proven way of attracting links or go with something even more creative as part of a larger PR campaign.

We’re now beyond the tactical execution of the campaign, and it’s time to shift to “analytics” mode. That’s a piece of cake when compared to all the planning and running of the campaign.

Get back to your SEO objectives and think about the KPIs and metrics needed to evaluate the campaign. Here are a few use cases of what metrics to track for some example outcome objectives:

  • Sales objectives – Organic conversions and assisted conversions in Google Analytics (or alternatives) from the pages that were part of the campaign.
Conversions data in Google Analytics
  • Search visibility objectives – Set up a keywords tracking project in Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker and tag keywords relevant to the campaign.
Rank Tracker overview
  • Keyword rankings objectives – Keyword rankings in Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker or Organic keywords report for the campaign page in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
Organic keywords report results
  • Backlinks acquisition objectives – Backlinks and Referring domains reports in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to check retrospectively. You can use Ahrefs Alerts to get regular backlink acquisition updates.
Page to edit/set up alert in Ahrefs Alerts

First of all, I recommend making notes during the campaign and right after it ends. Did it go as planned? Is it replicable? Can you use any of the processes in the future? What can you do better next time? You won’t recall all the details weeks or months later when it’s time to finally evaluate the campaign, so jot down what’s important as you go along.

If all the monitoring and tracking have been set up, you may find out that you achieved your campaign objectives sooner than expected. In this case, weekly checks should be fine. Anything more frequent than that isn’t necessary.

But as we all know, SEO can be quite volatile, so don’t celebrate just yet if you encounter better rankings for the first time.

When the rather arbitrary date of your campaign evaluation comes (e.g., rank top three for “seo statistics” within three months), look at the historical performance. If you see somewhat consistent higher rankings or higher sales over a longer period, you can finally wrap things up and tell yourself it’s been a successful campaign.

For example, the SEO stats page I was referring to throughout the article ranks at the top positions consistently. It also got to #1 in two months:

Organic keywords report results; notably, line graph showing "position history" trends

But if you don’t meet your objectives, don’t take it as a failure.

We do try and set up SMART objectives. But in all honesty, it’s often a guessing game in SEO, especially when it comes to estimating the period of when the effects of the campaign should kick in.

I was once involved in an SEO project where it took two years to achieve an objective that many people thought would be a question of just a few months.

Staying curious, being patient, and learning from mistakes are invaluable SEO skills.

Final thoughts

Properly planning, running, and evaluating big SEO campaigns requires advanced SEO knowledge, experience, and skills. But as we’ve shown in the article, you can also take part in smaller but still impactful campaigns like outreach campaigns or on-page optimization campaigns.

Start small, and you’ll eventually get to work on achieving the most ambitious SEO objectives.

A great benefit of launching SEO campaigns is that you’ll get better at project management and communication, as these campaigns often require the cooperation of many people—sometimes even outside of the marketing team.

Got any questions? Ping me on Twitter.




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How Do I Get A Job With A PPC Agency

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Conversion Tracking In PPC Campaigns

This month’s “Ask A PPC” question is particularly significant because the job market has been quite volatile.

“How do I get a job with a PPC agency when I have only worked in-house. What experience would they want?” – Karl Toronto

It’s understandable that people want to know which skills employers seek when hiring for a PPC team. There can be a disparity between what people think they need and what the market actually demands.

We’ll delve into some data and commentary to explain why various traits are valued.

It’s crucial to understand that the ideal candidates will be versatile and have an aptitude for all aspects of digital marketing.

However, no one can excel at everything, so leveraging your strengths or preferences is beneficial.

Ensure that you’re securing the best role for yourself while the company hiring you finds the best fit for them.

Here Are The Essential Skills

  • Analytics.
  • Creativity.
  • Ad network knowledge.
  • Willingness to test/learn.
  • Culture fit.

Discrepancy Between Market Demands And Perceived Needs

I conducted a poll on my LinkedIn to gauge the skills desired by current employers and practitioners.

Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Analytical skills emerged as the most sought-after trait. Employers seek individuals who can interpret numbers and discern the story behind them.

However, relying solely on analytical prowess may overlook the importance of creativity.

Creative skills are vital in today’s ad networks, especially emphasizing visual content like videos and campaign types that force visual content (Performace Max/Demand Gen). Neglecting creativity can hinder a company’s branding efforts.

Unexpectedly, ad network skills and cultural fit were deemed far less critical than analytical skills. Brands should prioritize team cohesion for long-term success, yet this aspect is often undervalued.

The disparity between job descriptions and actual skill requirements contributes to the difficulty in the job market.

Agencies that hire for how PPC used to work will be left wanting. Practitioners who only focus on popular skills instead of needed ones will be made obsolete by the privacy-first era obscuring data and AI owning creative.

Analytical Skills

Analytical abilities involve knowing where to find relevant data sources and understanding how they contribute to success.

While PPC historically relied on measurable outcomes, the landscape is evolving, necessitating adaptability in data analysis. Technical proficiency and strategic acumen are crucial for navigating different data sources.

These include:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
  • Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
  • Ecommerce platforms.
  • Content management platforms (CMS).

Empathy for various ad channels improves your candidacy, and knowing how to work with post-click data will give you an edge over those who can only work with ad platform data.

While being highly technical isn’t required, having empathy for coding and scripts will give you a better chance to stay current with evolving data mechanics (especially as APIs become even more important for accessing data blocked by privacy-first regulations).

Here are some takes from PPC experts on why analytics is the most important:

A screenshot of a LinkedIn comment by Georgi Zayakov, who describes himself as analytical Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
A LinkedIn post by Kathryn B., a paid media specialist at a PPC agencyScreenshot from LinkedIn, April 2024
Screenshot of a LinkedIn post by Nikolaos B., discussing how marketers must become data-savvyScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Creativity

Creativity is essential for crafting compelling ad content, yet many PPC agencies struggle in this area.

Clients are often tasked with providing creative materials due to cost or complexity constraints.

You’ll get a competitive edge if you have these skills:

  • Video Editing: With the rise of PMax, as well as many ad networks leaning heavily into connected TV, having video editing chops will be a huge asset for any team. If you’re not comfortable using conventional editing tools, AI tools like Descript are a great way to take on those tasks.
  • Graphic Design: No matter the ad network your potential employer is hiring for, you will need some ability to design static images. Whether you use stock photos or AI-generated images or come up with the creative yourself, the days of purely text ads are over. Tools like Canva can help bridge the gap for less technical designers, but don’t discount ad network AI.
  • Content Creation: While the first two categories leaned toward visual content, written content is still important (i.e., most ad formats include some text). Having the ability to understand how diverse audiences prefer to be addressed while respecting the specific requirements of each format is a great skill to hone.

While some roles may prioritize analytics or ad network knowledge, emphasizing creative abilities can distinguish you during the hiring process.

Here are some experts who value creativity:

A screenshot of a LinkedIn post by Erik PetersonScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
A screenshot of a Linkedin post by Amy HebdonScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Ad Network Knowledge

Ad network expertise is valuable, but adaptability is paramount as platforms evolve rapidly.

Some agencies will have specialists, while others hire folks they expect to be passable at every network they service. It’s important to understand what workflow will enable you to succeed.

If you’re happy working with all platforms, then don’t shy away from it. However, if you do better in focusing on one aspect of PPC, that’s totally valid. Just know it might limit your ability to get hired into smaller “familyesque” agencies.

Understanding auction dynamics and bidding strategies is crucial.

Many of us who entered the industry when manual bidding was more popular have an unfair advantage over those who came in during the Smart Bidding era (i.e., anything from 2020).

This is because manual bidding requires you to think about the mechanics of each ad platform’s auction and how you could use those mechanics to your advantage in building account structure.

Knowing what to track and allocating appropriate budgets are key considerations.

Understanding that some networks require more conversions than others to run (e.g., Meta Ads’ 50 in a 7-day period vs. Google Ads’ 15 in a 30-day period) should influence what you choose to track, as well as how you report the data.

Additionally, if you are under or over budget, you’ll set yourself up to fail. Knowing which channels require a big investment upfront and what the breaking point for each network is (either on underspending or spending too much) is critical.

Awareness of potential pitfalls, such as false positives or negatives, enhances campaign effectiveness. For example, it’s important to know how to check if automatically applying recommendations is on and what tasks it’s on for.

It’s worth noting that none of the experts who chimed in on the poll made a clear case for ad network knowledge specifically.

Willingness To Test

Success in PPC requires openness to experimentation and a willingness to adapt. While this wasn’t one of the criteria in the poll, it was one of the most popular traits experts look for in hiring.

Perfectionism can hinder progress in a fast-changing environment. Testing new ideas and embracing failure as an opportunity for growth are essential.

While analytical skills aid in test design, empathy and creativity are equally vital for devising effective experiments.

Here is an expert who favors a willingness to test:

Screenshot of a social media post by Mike RhodesScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Cultural Fit

Cultural alignment with an agency fosters productivity and job satisfaction. However, you can only achieve that by being honest with yourself about what you want and the mechanics of how you work.

Agencies demand intense effort and collaboration, making compatibility with colleagues crucial.

Anyone looking to make the shift from in-house to agency needs to be prepared for a much faster pace of work and a lot more agency.

Open communication with leadership regarding preferred management and learning styles will ensure a positive working relationship.

Respect for peers and a supportive atmosphere contribute to a fulfilling work environment.

Here are a few thoughts on cultural fit from polled experts:

The image shows a LinkedIn post by David Zebrout containing text discussing the importance of integrating PPC network knowledge with intertimed optimizations in generating profitable growth.Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
LinkedIn post by Lisa Erschbamer discussing the importance of cultural fit and individual personality in team dynamics for effective performance at a PPC Agency.Screenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024
A screenshot of a LinkedIn post by Aaron Davies discussing the importance of cultural fit, individual skills, and team communication in marketing for a PPC agency. The post has reactions and a question comment by NavahScreenshot from author, LinkedIn, April 2024

Final Thoughts

Navigating the current job market can be challenging, but understanding industry needs and honing relevant skills increases your chances of success.

Balancing technical proficiency with creativity and cultural fit is essential for thriving in a PPC role. By aligning with market demands and showcasing your strengths, you can secure rewarding opportunities in the field.

Have a question you’d like us to address? Fill out the form!

More resources:


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

In its nearly 20 years of existence, Reddit has built a robust, dynamic, and highly engaged community.

It has cemented itself as not only one of the key influencers for the internet culture we have come to know today, but also as one of the top 10 social media sites in the world, with more than 500,000 monthly visitors across more than 100,000 active communities.

Despite its size and influence, marketers have long avoided, overlooked, and failed to establish a presence on what is arguably one of the most influential social media sites today.

To be fair, Reddit has always been known as one of the hardest communities to have marketing success with, requiring months (if not years) of dedicated commitment to actually being a part of the community and engaging with your audience through meaningful, genuine, and honest interactions.

To many, that is just too much risk and too much work, but let’s be honest – most amazing things take risk and hard work. And for all of you who put in that work to be successful on Reddit, you already see the payoff it brings.

Regardless of the reasons, marketers who continue to overlook Reddit’s potential are missing out on an extremely influential community with ideal targeted demographics, where authenticity and genuine connections lead to valuable information, positive branding, and marketing success.

Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at Reddit!

Reddit Stats You Cannot Ignore

Reddit users are dedicated to their use of the platform, with a reported 82 million (16.4%) of its 500 million users visiting the site daily, sharing over 1 billion posts, with over 16 billion comments across 100,000+ active communities, making it easily one of the top visited and most active sites in the United States today.

The user base is so loyal that they spend, on average, 20 minutes on the platform each day (and over 45 minutes a day for long-time users of more than 7 years) and, in many cases, are inactive on other social platforms.

This makes Reddit one of the only places to actually get in front of this massive audience, with 32% being inactive on Facebook, 37% on Instagram, 41% on TikTok, and 53% on X.

When it comes to demographics, a 2019 survey concluded that the overall Reddit audience was majority male (59%), ranged in age (36% aged 18-29; 25% aged 30-49), and well educated (42% college degree; 31% some college) making them an ideal audience many businesses looking for success.

They also helped Reddit improve revenues by 21% to $804 million in 2023, with a global addressable market for advertising estimated at $1.4 trillion by 2027.

Thought by many to be mostly a North American audience, Reddit claims more than 50% of its traffic comes from international users, a rather impressive climb from its earlier years.

It is important to remember, though, that Reddit is a platform that allows communities to grow and thrive, so those demographics change from subreddit to subreddit.

If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, surveys have found that 75% of users find Reddit a trustworthy source for making purchasing decisions.

For years now, it has been included heavily and prominently in Google search results, which have become even more visible due to reports following their inclusion in SGE results and with Google’s recent $60 million a year deal with Reddit to have real-time access to Reddit content and to use its content to train Google’s future AI models.

Speaking of Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results, let’s take a closer look at why that deal is so important, especially to search marketers.

Reddit In Google Search, SGE, And Google’s Reddit Deal

For years, Reddit results have been prominently displayed in Google’s search results – so much so that users have even started adding the term “reddit” to the end of their search queries.

So often, you will see Google suggest search lines with the term “reddit” prefilled at the end.

Screenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

Even without selecting the query that includes “reddit,” you will notice Reddit’s prominent placement in two places: discussions and forums, and Reddit sitelinks, which are both just below the ads and the first organic result.

Reddit resultsScreenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

This was amplified by Google’s recent Helpful Content Update (HCU), which allowed platforms like Reddit and other forums to show up more frequently in search results,

Reddit’s ability to be helpful in satisfying a user’s search for information is so successful – in combination with reported shortages in new content for AI models from all major platforms – it is not surprising Google struck a deal with Reddit to show its content faster in search results and to use the content in training future AI models.

Since news of the deal between Reddit and Google was reported, there has been a lot of additional focus on Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results.

Experts throughout the search industry report an increase in not only the total visibility of Reddit going up within search but also the speed at which a Reddit post is indexed and shown to users.

Google responded to concerns about Reddit showing up more in search results, saying that “some of the SEO folks who tend to be vocal on this platform (X) really dislike seeing more forum content in our search results. But 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.”

Google responded to concerns of Reddit showing up more in search resultsScreenshot by author from X (Twitter), May 2024

Although disputed by Google, Roger Montii wrote about one report of Reddit content being indexed within five minutes.

ChatGPT to Surface Reddit Content

Adding to the deal Reddit made with Google, it was recently reported that OpenAI has partnered with Reddit to surface their content in ChatGPT, adding to the clear value that both OpenAI and Google see in Reddit’s content today and in the future.

Of course, this has sparked a lot of interest in companies of all sizes. They want to figure out how their brands can participate and succeed on Reddit in hopes of increasing their visibility in Google’s search results, SGE, and ChatGPT and building their brand’s visibility amongst one of the most influential audiences on the internet today.

**Quick warning: Reddit requires genuine, long-term engagement and a strategy for success. So, I would definitely advise individuals and businesses to avoid trying to game, spam, or blindly jump into marketing on Reddit and take the time to really understand the platform, its audience, and your place of value within its communities.

Let’s look at how some major brands have been successful on Reddit in the past.

noosa Yoghurt

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit was a great example of tapping into niche audiences to create engaging, user-driven content.

To capitalize on Reddit’s community of vocal yogurt enthusiasts, noosa launched a Flavor Poll that invited Redditors to upvote their favorite noosa flavors in the comments. This created a sense of community and interactivity around what could have been a standard poll.

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After tallying the upvotes, noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results using a sleek custom infographic, highlighting the community’s favorites while also giving the brand important insight into consumer preferences.

Noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • 49% increase in brand recall among Reddit users who were exposed to the campaign.
  • 30% increase in brand favorability.
  • 39% increase in purchase intent (15X the typical lift observed in the food vertical).
  • 50+ billion monthly views.

Sony Pictures Germany

To drum up excitement around the release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” in Germany, Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign that combined organic and promoted content to engage the platform’s robust fan communities.

The brand created a Reddit account under the protagonist’s name, u/MilesMorales, and used it to share exclusive content directly within Spiderman-related subreddits.

It also organized an AMA with the German voice actor Miles Morales to create a more personal connection with fans and promoted video posts featuring the movie trailer to amplify the excitement.

Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • Sony Pictures Germany achieved a click-through rate (CTR) that was 344% higher than that of its standard paid media.
  • 831 upvotes.
  • 618,000 impressions.
  • The film remained No. 1 on the German movie charts for three consecutive weeks.

It is important to note that promoting your content and your brand on Reddit is definitely not the only value Reddit can bring you and your business.

Reddit is an amazing place to get honest feedback.

Whether you are trying to figure out what your target audience wants from your brand, test out a new feature or concept before investing and launching it openly, or even just to have continued open communication with your customers to support them and keep them connected to your brand, Reddit can help you succeed in an amazing way.

Transamerica Helping Reddit Make Dollars Make Sense

Transamerica’s campaign on Reddit is a great example of a company identifying an opportunity to connect with its target audience on the subreddit /r/finance.

This allows the company to better understand its customers’ needs and focus on content creation and future marketing plans.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

Aligning itself with its audience by demonstrating awareness of the topics around personal finance happening in the subreddit, as well as acknowledging the Redditors working at the company, it asked what topics it could create “specifically for the reddit community” around the topic of finance.

It stayed involved and engaged throughout the campaign, responding to threads and maintaining a lighthearted and sometimes humorous tone.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After getting all the feedback it needed, it created content around the more popular requests, going as far as branding and designing them similar to Reddit.

IRA vs 401K venn diagramScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

It even took the time to individually comment a link to the published content on its site, bringing attention back to the overall campaign and the content it created.

This campaign was 10 years ago, and it is still referenced as a core example of engaging on Reddit as a brand in a respectful, thoughtful, and meaningful way.

Why You Should Be On Reddit Wrapup

TL;DR: If your brand has something meaningful to say and is interested in truly connecting with your audience, then yes, you should be on Reddit.

These successful brand campaign examples showcase Reddit’s power when used correctly. With research to understand the specific communities you want to reach, Reddit can have exceptional performance compared to other channels.

The stakes are high to get it right because Reddit communities can be highly negative toward self-serving promotion. But if you put in the effort and solve people’s needs and problems, Reddit has the potential to be a high-performance channel.

Edit: Updated daily active users figure based on Reddit’s Q1 Earnings Report

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SEO

No Algorithmic Actions For Site Reputation Abuse Yet

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Looking up at an angle at the Google sign on the Head Office for Canada

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has confirmed that the search engine hasn’t launched algorithmic actions targeting site reputation abuse.

This clarification addresses speculation within the SEO community that recent traffic drops are related to Google’s previously announced policy update.

Sullivan Says No Update Rolled Out

Lily Ray, an SEO professional, shared a screenshot on Twitter showing a significant drop in traffic for the website Groupon starting on May 6.

Ray suggested this was evidence that Google had begun rolling out algorithmic penalties for sites violating the company’s site reputation abuse policy.

However, Sullivan quickly stepped in, stating:

“We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse. I well imagine when we do, we’ll be very clear about that. Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons.”

Sullivan added that when the actions are rolled out, they will only impact specific content, not entire websites.

This is an important distinction, as it suggests that even if a site has some pages manually penalized, the rest of the domain can rank normally.

Background On Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy

Earlier this year, Google announced a new policy to combat what it calls “site reputation abuse.”

This refers to situations where third-party content is published on authoritative domains with little oversight or involvement from the host site.

Examples include sponsored posts, advertorials, and partner content that is loosely related to or unrelated to a site’s primary purpose.

Under the new policy, Google is taking manual action against offending pages and plans to incorporate algorithmic detection.

What This Means For Publishers & SEOs

While Google hasn’t launched any algorithmic updates related to site reputation abuse, the manual actions have publishers on high alert.

Those who rely heavily on sponsored content or partner posts to drive traffic should audit their sites and remove any potential policy violations.

Sullivan’s confirmation that algorithmic changes haven’t occurred may provide temporary relief.

Additionally, his statements also serve as a reminder that significant ranking fluctuations can happen at any time due to various factors, not just specific policy rollouts.


FAQ

Will Google’s future algorithmic actions impact entire websites or specific content?

When Google eventually rolls out algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse, these actions will target specific content rather than the entire website.

This means that if certain pages are found to be in violation, only those pages will be affected, allowing other parts of the site to continue ranking normally.

What should publishers and SEOs do in light of Google’s site reputation abuse policy?

Publishers and SEO professionals should audit their sites to identify and remove any content that may violate Google’s site reputation abuse policy.

This includes sponsored posts and partner content that doesn’t align with the site’s primary purpose. Taking these steps can mitigate the risk of manual penalties from Google.

What is the context of the recent traffic drops seen in the SEO community?

Google claims the recent drops for coupon sites aren’t linked to any algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse. Traffic fluctuations can occur for various reasons and aren’t always linked to a specific algorithm update.


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