The reddit Experiment – Early Results

Back again with another experiment.  This time using reddit to drive traffic to a fairly new site that me and a couple of friends started up.  As you know (or will soon find out), without some serious help from external sources, be it popular blogs, mentions or social sites that somehow find you, it can be very difficult to drive any amount of traffic (qualified) to your websites.  With that in mind, one of my partners is a little more into the social media world than I am and he has been opening my eyes to new sources of traffic, including reddit.  Follow the link to read and see some of the awesome results from just a few small posts on reddit.

One of the things about reddit that is extremely nice, especially if you’re trying to grow a site and start getting some quality traffic to it is that reddit is laid out in a manner that makes topics pretty targeted.  What that means is you can actually post topics in an area that make sense, and people who are interested in that content will be the ones looking at your postings.  This is huge as you get a large, targeted audience without having to spend a ton of time cultivating that audience yourself.  But, as is said, with great power comes great responsibility.  If you go posting things shotgun style up on reddit, not only will you tick off the community, but you’ll also diminish the value of your own postings to the point to where people simply won’t visit anything you write or link to.

Now that I’ve gotten some of the pros and cons out of the way, it’s time to share some cool and exciting results from some recent experiments using nothing more than reddit.  I guess some background is necessary.  My friends/partners and I started a blog and a podcast.  The blog itself has never generated a ton of traffic.  Part of this is due to there not being a ton of content and the other part is we haven’t really tried to push it via other channels like forums, link building, etc.  So, while we know we were lacking on that, our primary focus was on creating a podcast, which we’ve done.

So here’s the way it went – we created several episodes out of the gate and they seemed to do pretty well.  We were showing up on iTunes in the New and Noteworthy section and we were actually getting a decent amount of listens (we know this from the statistic provided from Libsyn).  Obviously this was encouraging.  Things were going well – we were expecting maybe 10 downloads a day.  We were floored when we were hitting 30 a day fairly quickly and had to readjust our expectations.  So all is going great, and then the honeymoon period with iTunes was over.  After the golden 8 weeks in the New and Noteworthy, we dropped off the face of the planet.  Unless you’re doing some keyword searching, you’re not likely to find our show in iTunes as we’re buried way down in the Technology -> Software How To section.  Now I don’t want this to sound like we just disappeared and no downloads were coming through, that’s not the case…but, what did happen is during those 8 weeks we were seeing steady growth all the way up to 150 downloads a day.  Then, when the 8 weeks was up, we dropped back down to 20 or so a day.  So we didn’t just disappear, however we took a major hit.  Check out the chart below…

The Rise and Fall of our Daily Downloads

As you can see, things had really started looking up!  The first high point right before the halfway point in the graph was on Jan 25th – this is where we released our 6th podcast episode.   We had started getting some real traction as we were climbing the ranks in the New & Noteworthy.  Then Feb 7th is the day we were no longer listed in the coveted New and Noteworthy list.  Man, that was a rough day…

Fast forward to March 3rd.  There was a long gap between episode 6’s release partly due to the weather here in Georgia – just lookup #snowpocalypse on twitter!  This is when we released our 7th episode.  While I can’t show it in the graph because it’s cumulative on the day, we received about 200 downloads after the initial release – meaning we have somewhere in the ballpark of 200 subscribers.  In steps reddit.  I wanted to experiment with putting a posting up that linked to our article with the podcast listen/download features.  So, I went into reddit into the /programming sub-reddit, and posted a link directly to Episode 7.  I found out a couple of really interesting things.

  1. We got a huge spike in traffic on our site immediately (and throughout the day)
  2. I was receiving quite a few downvotes on reddit for my link

Getting into the Google Analytics side of things, this is pretty awesome.  Again, we were hovering anywhere between 5 – 15 unique visitors a day.  Obviously as we’ve released more content, it’s started showing up in Google’s search results more frequently so we’ve been getting some trickle in, but after my reddit post two days ago and two additional reddit posts from my partners yesterday, our traffic has been outrageous!

You’ll see that in middle of the week, we had 8 visitors to the site.  Yeah…staggering I know!  Now, notice March 3rd, 2014.  This is when I posted the reddit link to our podcast episode.  There were 572 visitors to the site that day!!!  You don’t have to be a math whiz to see the difference in numbers there!  Granted, 572 isn’t a ton of visitors, but for a site that was raking in 8 that same week, that’s pretty incredible.  But, then look at the 2nd day where my partners posted two more links to reddit – they posted links to an actual article this go-around (rather than a link to one of our podcast episode notes pages) and they used the same article for two different sub-reddit sections. Our numbers on March 4th, 2014 jumped to 1,324!!!  That’s absolutely phenomenal!  Have a look…

Google Analytics for the Week

Now, what’s even more interesting is March 5th…on this day, there were no more links posted on reddit – this is all residual traffic from the previous two days!  Obviously we don’t expect this to stay extremely high if we don’t continue to contribute to third party sites like reddit, but that’s pretty impressive.

Reddit Upvotes and Downvotes

#2 is what really got me – WHY?!  Why in the world was I getting downvoted…then I realized.  The page I was linking to was your typical show notes page for a podcast.  It wasn’t a detailed article (like this), nor was it a tutorial.  Rather it mainly consisted of bullet points and links to various sources and sites we referenced during the podcast.  Now with that, the upside is we did get a lot of traffic, but it appeared that many of these people likely came, saw that it was a bullet list and took off rather than hanging around to find out what it was all about.  Again, this is all pure speculation, but I think it’s probably a decent one at this point.

One last graphic for you to see.  This is pretty awesome to look at, at least for us.  See how much traffic actually came our way from reddit for the week shown in the graphs above:

Traffic Sources

So, one last bit of information to leave with you.  Check out the visits below.  It’s pretty obvious that reddit was bringing in MOST of our traffic.  Notice #2 below – direct / none.  My best guess here is that there were a number of people who Google’d us to find out who we were from the reddit postings?  Not 100% sure here.  It’s an unusually high number for us (obviously we came from 8 visits a day!).  So I can only speculate that this indeed came from the reddit posting in one way or another.

Traffic Sources

Wrapping Up

Hopefully you’ve gained some valuable information from this posting.  First, if used properly (and not in a spammy way), reddit can be an invaluable resource for driving traffic to your site and your content.  Before you use it to your advantage make sure you’re set up to measure the results!  If you can measure what’s happening, it definitely makes the whole exercise a bit more exciting and rewarding!

If you found this helpful or useful at all, please do leave a comment or some feedback below.  I’d love to hear from you.

2 Responses to “The reddit Experiment – Early Results”

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  1. Marilyn says:

    Thanks for the info, Ill have to try reddit

  2. Lachlan says:

    Reddit is a tough one, if you give really good content, get a few upvotes early you can set yourself up with some really good traffic. But, they are really good at seeing through marketing, and it is easy to get downvoted quickly.

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