NEW FREE VIDEO COURSE: Essential Google Business Profile Tasks for Agencies

Get the lowdown on client onboarding, GBP monitoring, products and services, and more!

Is Reddit Taking Over Local SERPs? An Analysis of 800 Search Terms

Is Reddit Taking Over Local SERPs? An Analysis of 800 Search Terms
Key Findings
  • 'Informational' local searches generate Reddit results 81% of the time.
  • Reddit results appear for 16% of 'transactional' local searches.
  • 9% of 'informational' local searches generated more than one Reddit result in SERPs, compared to just 2% of 'transactional' searches.
  • Discussions and Forums results appeared for 25% of the verticals we tested with transactional searches, and for 75% of the verticals with informational local searches.

Before we begin… what is Reddit?

Reddit is a forum social network that was founded in the USA in 2005 and has since grown to encompass over 82m active daily users (as of March 2024).

Users can register and post content, such as text posts, images, videos, and links, that other members can then upvote.

Reddit has thousands of individual communities hosted on the platform dedicated to particular topics, known as subreddits.

Reddit Screenshot Jack Black On The West Pier In Brighton

Near the start of 2024, it was reported that Google and Reddit had formed a partnership that would, in Google’s words, “facilitate more content-forward displays of Reddit information.” In short, Reddit content would appear in more results for Google searches.

Google claims the move came because searchers increasingly use the search engine to find information on Reddit, tying it back to its core principle of surfacing helpful content to users.

This irked SEOs. 

As a global community forum, Reddit pretty much has a thread on everything ever. But, as many within the digital community have pointed out, that doesn’t make the content expert, authoritative, or trustworthy.

Amsive Digital’s Lily Ray highlighted the prominence of Reddit results for Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) search queries—terms related to topics, products, and services that can impact a user’s health, finances, and even safety.

Importantly, these queries should surface quality content in Google results, aligning to E-E-A-T guidelines.

Study Methodology

With the above in mind, we wanted to understand the significance of the Google/Reddit partnership in relation to local search intent.

So, we analyzed 800 local SERPs using one transactional keyword (e.g. coffee shop) and one informational keyword (e.g. best coffee shop) across 20 different verticals, searching from 20 different US cities, to determine:

  • How often Reddit results appear in any form within local search results on ‘page 1’
  • Whether Reddit results appear as organic (blue links) search results or feature in a ‘Discussions and Forums’ section
  • The average ranking positions of Reddit results for vertical-specific search terms (an average taken of searches for 20 US cities)

Example searches used in this study:

“car dealership philadelphia” (transactional)
“best car dealership philadelphia” (informational)

“fast food restaurants chicago” (transactional)
“best fast food restaurants chicago” (informational)

Note: This study was conducted at the beginning of May 2024, so the search results are accurate for this snapshot in time.

‘Page 1’ refers to what was previously the first page of Google results before indefinite scrolling was introduced for many users. Generally, this encompasses the first 10 organic links in Google results and finishes with the ‘People also search for’ section, although this can vary due to different SERP features.

Let’s get to the results.

The infographic below shows the average ranking positions of Reddit results appearing in organic search results for the different verticals we tested, using informational search queries. As we’ll get to shortly, all 20 of the verticals showed organic Reddit results when informational terms were searched.

Final Reddit Avg. Ranking Infographic

Appearance of Reddit Within Local Search Results

Informational Searches (e.g. best coffee shop seattle)

The headline results are that we found Reddit results appearing for 81% of informational search queries (e.g. best coffee shop seattle) and 16% of transactional search queries (e.g. coffee shop seattle).

How Often Do Reddit Results Appear For Local Searches

It makes sense that informational searches would generate results from Reddit; it’s a forum network where people frequently seek opinions to aid their research and consumer decisions.

Essentially, this means Google trusts the content enough to show it for eight out of every ten informational searches. However, when you consider that content on Reddit can be generated by anyone, expert or not, it’s still a pretty significant finding.

Although Reddit results appeared 81% of the time for informational search terms, every vertical we tested generated some Reddit results. The lowest case in this instance was for ‘betting store’, with Reddit appearing for one in every 10 searches.

At the same time, the following verticals saw Reddit results for 100% of informational searches:

  • car dealerships
  • chiropractors
  • day spas
  • fast food restaurants
  • HVAC
  • storage facilities
  • tax advisors
  • vet clinics

You can see a table with all of these results and more in the appendix.

Transactional Searches (e.g. coffee shop seattle)

Our study found that 16% of transactional searches generated Reddit results. With comparatively few Reddit results found, transactional searches won’t be a key focus in this analysis, but it’s still interesting to see which vertical-specific terms generated the results.

Transactional search term% of local SERPs Reddit appears in
fast food restaurants85%
day spa60%
gym45%
travel agency35%
coffee shop30%
hvac contractor20%
storage facility10%
betting store5%
tax advisor5%
toy store5%
vet clinic5%

The verticals with a higher percentage of transactional results generally appear to sit within the hospitality and leisure industries: fast food (85%), day spa (60%), gym (45%), travel agency (35%), and coffee shop (30%).

However, the threads that appear in their search results, whether as organic links or in the discussions feature, correlate more to the intent of an informational search. Have a look at the example below for ‘coffee shop austin.’

Transactional Coffee Shop Result

As we found in the Local Business Discovery and Trust Report, these are often the types of businesses where consumers want to see genuine experiences from other customers, while the ‘risk’ remains low if they do decide to make a transaction. Google may show these Reddit results as supporting information to other sources due to its low risk.

In terms of YMYL queries, the only relevant search term that generated Reddit results was for ‘tax advisor’, with Reddit appearing just 5% of the time. While we don’t know how much Google might have scaled back on these types of results appearing in SERPs since Lily Ray reached out to the company in April 2024, this clearly shows they are still appearing. 

Average Ranking Positions for Vertical-specific Local Searches

Reddit’s prominence in the SERPs is clear, but how are they ranking, and are there any trends across the verticals we used?

Reddit Avg. Ranking Position For Informational Terms

Although the informational query chart does not appear to show any instant patterns, we can see that only three verticals generate Reddit results with an average ranking position of three or higher. These fall into the leisure and hospitality category where, arguably, searchers looking for the ‘best’ might want to be able to compare people’s experiences of things like gym facilities and movie theater amenities.

The example below shows that the Reddit thread goes beyond recommendations and delves into the ‘why’ of something. In this instance, the original poster is asking for more.

Best Movie Theater Portland Screenshot

And perhaps there is something in that. Perhaps Google rates the quality of discussion content as high enough to rank organically because it is exactly that: a discussion. It goes beyond the statement-like nature of reviews, where we don’t have the opportunity to probe into the experience further.

Then again, why does ‘best movie theater’ average a 2.3 ranking across 20 US cities, and ‘best hotel’ only average 6.1? Is it because, in Google’s opinion, there are greater authorities and platforms on the accommodation side of hospitality to discuss what makes something the best?

Reddit Avg. Ranking Position For Transactional Terms Final

For transactional searches, there are fewer results with average ranking positions. In some cases, this is because no Reddit results were generated at all. In others, the results were grouped within the ‘Discussions and Forums’ feature instead of an organic position.

What this chart does show, though, is that the verticals where Reddit results were displayed as organic links are all fairly ‘low risk’, with no YMYL verticals seeing results for our transactional searches.

Also, as we’ll go on to discuss with the fast food restaurant vertical, it could also be that Google is reading mixed intent for these queries. While ‘hvac contractor huntsville’ generates organic results for actual HVAC services in the area, the Reddit result displayed surfaces advice and recommendations.

It could be the case that, as Google pivots towards longer, more conversational search queries (especially as part of AI Overviews), it doesn’t recognize the urgent need for transactions in more generic terms. We’d have to do more testing with various transactional terms to determine this.

Reddit Appearing In a ‘Discussions and Forums’ Feature

Since late 2022, there has been a SERP feature called ‘Discussions and Forums’ where multiple forum results, such as Reddit or Quora, are grouped together in one section. This makes it clear to searchers that any results within this section have been pulled from forum networks.

Discussions And Forums Serp Feature Screenshot

We wanted to know how often they appeared within the ‘Discussions and Forums’ feature. We found that results sometimes only appeared within this SERP feature, sometimes only as organic (blue links) results, and sometimes both.

Reddit Top Level Results Discussions And Forums

Reddit results grouped into the ‘Discussions and Forums’ feature appeared more than a third of the time (35%) for informational search queries. Meanwhile, out of all the informational queries that surfaced any type of Reddit results altogether, the proportion of ‘Discussions and Forums’ results was 43%.

It’s unclear why Google displays some Reddit results as organic links and others within this feature. As mentioned, there are cases where both appear—for different threads and discussions—so does this mean that Google displays the threads it deems more helpful, authoritative, or trustworthy as organic links?

Although many searchers have likely heard of Reddit, there will be plenty that haven’t. The ‘Discussions and Forums’ feature feels like the most transparent way to display thread results, clearly labeling them to users and enabling them to make up their own minds.

Reddit Results Appearing in SERPs More Than Once

Some verticals were likely to generate Reddit results in SERPs more than once, including for transactional search terms. 

Key termInformationalTransactional
fast food restaurants45%20%
hvac contractor20%0%
storage facility20%0%
travel agency10%5%
attorney10%0%
gym10%0%
movie theater10%0%
tax advisor10%0%
toy store10%0%
day spa5%15%
electrician0%5%

Fast food restaurants generated multiple Reddit results for one in every five transactional searches (e.g. fast food restaurants boston) and almost half of the informational searches (e.g. best fast food restaurants boston).

However, looking at several examples of these results, it appears that Google may determine the intent behind our transactional fast food searches as more informational. Although local packs tend to be displayed, showing fast food restaurants nearby, the organic results show a mix of review sites, listicle-style articles, and forum discussions.

Fast Food Restaurants San Diego

What do these results mean for local SEO?

Developments like these can be frustrating for marketers and SEOs. It feels like a neverending chess match between us and Google, particularly when you’re putting in the work to create unique, helpful content and find that (arguably) lower-value content like Reddit forum threads are being rewarded in the SERPs. 

However, we can take away some lessons and considerations from it all. 

Continue Creating Unique Content

As with just about anything in SEO, we don’t know how permanent these developments within the SERPs will be. What we do know, though, is that the principle of E-E-A-T continues to be an important factor in how Google rates the quality of your content.

With this in mind, don’t be scared or disheartened by the findings in this report! Continue creating content that is unique to your brand, as well as relevant and helpful to your audience. This might be location-specific website pages, building out your key services and products, or providing FAQs.

If you are a marketer or specialist within a regulated or YMYL industry, such as healthcare, finance, banking, or gambling, continue demonstrating your expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness, and consider how else you can create unique content.

Keep on Top of Your Brand Mentions

If you haven’t considered Reddit before, you might find it useful for measuring consumer perceptions of your brand. Try conducting a site search for your brand terms on Google (e.g. search ‘site:reddit.com brand name’ in Google) to see where you appear there. Or better yet, set up a Reddit account and have a poke around in there yourself!

In fact, the very day before this research was published, Search Engine Land reported on a new special snippet that appears to be being tested with Reddit results. Top user answers, with upvotes displayed, are being pulled into the results, presumably as a way to ‘enhance’ them. So, you could look at it as another way for Google to get users to click through to Reddit threads, or, on a more positive note, it’s potentially another opportunity for your brand to be visible as a new type of snippet—providing users have a reason to talk about you.

The wider lesson here, however, is considering where else brand mentions can appear. As discussed in the Local Consumer Review Survey 2024, ‘unstructured’ brand reviews can appear in many places, and consumers are increasingly looking to alternative platforms to research your brand, including:

  • Local news: 43%
  • Instagram: 34%
  • YouTube: 32%
  • TikTok: 23%
  • Reddit: 21%

If you can, consider using social listening and brand monitoring tools or setting up free media alerts sent directly to your mailbox. 

Seek Organic Opportunities to Represent Your Brand Within Forums

Do not try and fake your way into Reddit. Users generally don’t mind it when a brand or brand representative can answer questions or provide further information within a thread. However, nothing is more obvious than when brands attempt to snake their way into conversations ‘organically’ to drive prospective customers to them.

It might be tempting to drop some offers into conversations here and there, but we’d recommend keeping interactions as organic and helpful as possible. Reddit has an official advertising platform if you’re looking to go down the route of sponsored content, Reddit Ads.

Here’s what BrightLocal’s Social and Community Manager, Jenny Bernarde, says on the subject:

“Sometimes, Redditors can tell when a brand account is there to do marketing and selling. If they sense marketing, it’s not going to do well. On the other hand, answering questions and getting your brand out there is a good thing—if you can do it authentically and helpfully, and give way to others to speak of their own experiences. 

At the end of the day, it’s useful to use Reddit and reply to things to show that valuable authority and expertise.”

Jenny’s tips:

  • Have a brand account that is the main ‘voice’ for the brand.
  • Create a brand subreddit that provides your community with a space to talk about your brand. This is not your own brand creating content.
  • Have brand representatives register on Reddit to reply to questions, and share suggestions in wider subreddits.

Deliver a Customer Experience Truly Worth Recommending

Ultimately, you can’t give people a reason to talk about your brand if you aren’t focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences. There is only so much local marketing can do for you without it.

The Brand Beacon Report 2024 found that the highest-performing multi-location businesses prioritize customer satisfaction and retention over customer acquisition. These businesses reported marketing performance that exceeded expectations and also had clear local marketing strategies in place.

It’s a no-brainer. Customer satisfaction and experience are key to brand reputation and your bottom line.

Summary and Discussion

It’s clear that Google trusts the content it’s surfacing from Reddit and understands that users want to see this information when researching. While AI Overviews is only just rolling out, seeing how Reddit’s prominence in the SERPs develops from here will be interesting.

What are your thoughts on Google showing Reddit results in the SERPs? Is there a danger in giving some threads a position in organic rankings instead of being grouped with other forum results?

We’d be really interested to hear your take and any recent experiences on these developments. You can tag or mention us over on X, LinkedIn, or join the discussion within our Facebook community group, The Local Pack.

Appendix

Reddit results appearing for all verticals

Search termInformationalTransactional
attorney85%0%
betting store10%5%
car dealership100%0%
chiropractor100%0%
coffee shop90%30%
day spa100%60%
dentist40%0%
electrician35%0%
fast food restaurants100%85%
gym95%45%
hair salon40%0%
hotel95%0%
hvac contractor100%20%
movie theater75%0%
realtor95%0%
storage facility100%10%
tax advisor100%5%
toy store90%5%
travel agency70%35%
vet clinic100%5%

Avg. Reddit ranking positions for all search queries

Search termInformationalTransactional
attorney6.4N/A
betting store8.0N/A
car dealership3.2N/A
chiropractor6.2N/A
coffee shop6.84.4
day spa4.85.3
dentist7.5N/A
electrician5.0N/A
fast food restaurants2.93.3
gym3.0N/A
hair salonN/AN/A
hotelN/AN/A
hvac contractor5.05.0
movie theaterN/AN/A
realtorN/AN/A
storage facility7.57.5
tax advisorN/AN/A
toy store5.05.0
travel agency7.57.5
vet clinicN/AN/A

How often Reddit results appear in SERPs as organic (blue) links

Reddit Top Level Results Organic Results

Discussions and Forums Reddit Result Appearances

Search termInformationalTransactional
attorney60%0%
betting store0%0%
car dealership0%0%
chiropractor70%0%
coffee shop0%0%
day spa10%0%
dentist0%0%
electrician10%0%
fast food restaurants45%60%
gym95%45%
hair salon0%0%
hotel50%0%
hvac contractor60%0%
movie theater15%0%
realtor70%0%
storage facility45%0%
tax advisor100%5%
toy store5%0%
travel agency20%5%
vet clinic40%5%
Sammy Paget
About the author
Sammy is BrightLocal's Content Marketing Manager, focusing on developing marketing-leading insights into what drives visibility, rankings and search success for local businesses.

Related Posts