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The curious case of Reddit's surging traffic

Katie Notopoulos   

The curious case of Reddit's surging traffic
  • Reddit's traffic is up 39% year over year this month, according to Similarweb.
  • That's a huge increase for a platform that's been around for almost 20 years.

Have you seen more Reddit results in your Google searches lately? Or maybe you're one of the savvy people who is adding "reddit" to the end of your searches for things like "best air conditioner reddit" or "disney fastpast worth it reddit."

You're not alone. Way, way, not alone.

Reddit's traffic has surged in the last few months, largely because of its increased prominence in Google search results. In April, Business Insider's Hugh Langley reported how Reddit is "taking over" Google search results, in large part because of a recent decision at Google to prioritize "helpful content," aka forum posts (Quora, the question-and-answer site, also has seen a big bump in traffic).

Google denied at the time that the boost to Reddit had anything to do with its $60 million deal to license Reddit data for use in Google's AI products.

The Wall Street Journal also noted this week that Reddit traffic is way up, boosted in part by people adding "reddit" to their Google search queries.

Similiarweb, a data analytics firm, reports that Reddit's traffic surged 39% in May year-over-year — which is a HUGE increase. Way, way bigger than the other social media companies, which saw moderate increases or even decreases (sorry, Facebook).

According to Similarweb, the big driver of Reddit traffic is indeed organic search, aka Google. had about 834.5 million direct visits in April (this means people typed into their browser), but 1.3 billion visits came from Google search results.

Look at this chart of Reddit's global traffic for the last five years. For a company that has been around for almost 20 years, the sharp increase to the far right is, to use a data science term, banoodles:

There's a few ways to make sense of this. One is that Reddit is a highly useful source of information from real humans, and people love it.

Another explanation is that Google's search results are so borked that people, desperate for a better search experience, are narrowing their queries to Reddit's archives.

A third, less appealing option is that shady people are using Reddit as a dirty SEO trick, spamming smaller subreddits with with SEO-friendly affiliate links — and causing a moderation headache.

It could be a combination of all three! Either way, Reddit is a traffic juggernaut now. Huh!