Hey Reddit, That’s Not How SEO Works, That’s Not How Any of This Works

Yesterday Reddit users on the subreddit (what they call a sub-area of the site) “Circlejerk” upvoted a link titled “Upvote this so everyone searching Google Images for “game console” will see this instead”. What they were referring to was a picture of a potato.

that's not how this works meme

Recently Google included Reddit in their “In the News” listings, but it seems some users were under the impression that upvotes on a link listed on the site would increase rankings in Google’s image search, not in the news box in general search. The trick worked though and by midday Saturday the top post on Reddit was a screenshot of the potato and the Reddit post showing up as the top result on Google’s main search for “Game Console”.

reddit google potato prank

The site’s subreddit went wild with users jamming the sub for requests to upvote things like:

  • A picture of a baby for the phrase “Broken Condom”
  • A picture of a game console for the word “Potato”
  • A swastika to represent “Comcast”
  • A picture of Barack Obama for the name “Nelson Mandela”
  • The Comcast logo for the phrase “Nazi Party”
  • A picture of Adolf Hitler for the phrase “Comcast CEO”
  • A picture of a KKK member for the phrase “Justin Bieber”
  • An unflattering picture of Beyonce for the name “Beyonce”
  • A picture of Kim Jung Un for the name “Nancy Grace”
  • A picture of Snoop Dogg for the name “God”
  • A picture of a swastika for the word “tsacmoC” (Comcast spelled backwards)

But even those posts that achieved the same number of upvotes as the original did not penetrate Google’s News Organic rankings. Thousands of redditors, over night, became SEO experimenters in their search for a prank and learned the cold reality of just how difficult SEO can be. What’s interesting about this case is that the /r/circlejerk subreddit is not a default subreddit, a group of sub-areas that logged out users see on the homepage (i.e what Googlebot would see on the home page) which means that Google is, or was, taking the whole site into account for inclusion in their In The News section of search.

There is precedent in history for using Google to make a social statement such as when the LGBT community united to link to a website who’s meta description turned Senator Rick Santorum’s last name into a neologism for a gay sex act.

Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on your point of view), the current social angst – most notably aimed at Comcast but also at celebrities – does not appear to have learned from the Santorum example. The original potato post is no longer ranking within the news insert and so far has never ended up on Google Images for the target query. Now, it’s possible Google could have added a filter over the day that filtered out images posted to imgur.com from their being included in Google News, filtered out this subreddit or all but default subreddits, or Google could have simply allowed the news post to expire like it does others.

So to you, my fellow Redditors, here are the basics on how SEO works so you can better make social statements.

Google ranks websites, images, videos, documents, etc.. based on 2 major factors:

  1. What you say about yourself or your content.
  2. What others say about your or your content.

These factors change depending on the goal of your SEO efforts. I’ve broken down some tips for you Redditors to use to help you rank images in your quest to embarass the cable oligarchy.

Ranking an image in Google Images:

  1. Name the image filename so that it includes the target keyword or phrase. If the phrase includes a space, like the original one “game console”, then use a hyphen where the space is. (i.e. game-console.png)
  2. Add the image to a webpage
  3. Within the HTML code to add the image make sure to include an Alt tag and a Title tag. The alt tag should be the target keyword and the title tag should be a bit longer.
  4. On the page where the image is added have some content that contains the target keyword
  5. In the page’s title tag include the target keyword
  6. In the page’s H1 tag include the target keyword
  7. Add a caption below the image that includes the target keyword
  8. Get other people to link to the page where your image is hosted.

If Redditors want to learn more they can always post in the BigSEO sub-reddit and ask questions, just click the image below.

reddit seo

Joe Youngblood

Joe Youngblood

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Joe Youngblood is a top Dallas SEO, Digital Marketer, and Marketing Theorist. When he's not working with clients or writing about marketing he spends time supporting local non-profits and taking his dogs to various parks.

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