Google’s current algorithm favours large websites like Reddit.com in search results (June 2024)

I asked Google’s Gemini (AI bot) if the statement in the question is accurate. The last search engine algorithm change by Google (about May 2024) which decides where to rank websites in search results has been devastating for millions of websites. Yes, millions of websites. A survey published on the BBC site found that the large sites Reddit.com and Quora.com and other large sites (Instagram) were the winners. Their traffic had doubled in some cases. Smaller sites have seen a decline in traffic by 90% in some cases (e.g. House Fresh.com) . As I said: the effective destruction of some sites and some of them are businesses selling products with employees dependent on their employment.

Google denies that it is the size of the site which makes them attractive to the search engine but the content which is fresh. But the point I make is that these sorts of huge sites are backed by tens of millions of dollars in running costs. The independent website owner can’t match them and therefore indirectly Google favours these super large sites.

Reddit is perfect in the eyes of Google
Reddit is perfect in the eyes of Google. This image is copyright free under an unconditional Creative Commons license.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

My conclusion: Google has now favoured large social media sites with dialogue. Sites that are constantly refreshed by users and commented upon even if the comments are very often valueless. And the uploaded stuff is also often of poor quality and stolen from the internet (‘scraping the internet’, Google calls it).

I think Google is looking for freshness is a stale internet where so much content is repetitive. It has all been said before a million times. Those early days or the days of the early 2000s have well and truly gone; when everything you said was fresh to the internet. Now there are hundreds millions more sites than before all competing for some Google search engine space and not getting it.

Google defends Reddit.com despite my pointed questions below. Google thinks that the sun shines out of Reddit’s arse. πŸ˜ŽπŸ™€πŸ˜’ Am I bitter? Sure as hell, I am bitter!! 😑πŸ₯Ή. The thing is Google is supporting big sites worth billions of dollars and no longer supporting small sites run by sole traders. This is bad for diversity. And unfair. And the big sites don’t need help by search engines while the small sites run by sole traders do need help.

Only websites with lots of money can produce the kind of content that Google likes. That’s one of the issues as I see it.

Here is my conversation with Gemini:

Why does Google’s current algorithm favour large websites like Reddit.com in search results?

There’s a misconception that Google’s search algorithm simply favors large websites. While sites like Reddit.com do tend to rank well, it’s more about the characteristics of these sites that align with Google’s ranking factors than their size. Here’s a breakdown of why some large websites might rank higher:

  • Authority and Trust: Google considers a website’s trustworthiness and authority when ranking. Large websites often have a long history, established brand recognition, and a backlink profile (links from other websites). These factors signal to Google that the site is a reliable source of information.
  • Content Quality and Freshness: Large websites like Reddit often have a constantly updated stream of content from various users. This ensures fresh content, which Google values. Additionally, user-generated content can be diverse and cover a wide range of topics, potentially providing a good match for many search queries.
  • User Engagement: Google considers user interaction metrics like time spent on a page and click-through rates. Large websites with active user bases tend to have better engagement metrics, indicating to Google that users find the content valuable.

It’s important to note that smaller websites can still compete and rank well. Google’s focus is on providing the most relevant and useful results for the searcher’s intent. Here’s what smaller websites can do:

  • High-Quality Content: Focus on creating in-depth, informative content that directly addresses the search query.
  • Technical SEO: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and has a clean structure.
  • Backlinks: Build backlinks from relevant and reputable websites in your niche.

By optimizing these aspects, smaller websites can still achieve good search rankings.

My comment on the above three point: I disagree with Google as their search results are sometimes so distorted in favour of their favourite websites that they do not answer questions but provide answers that are generic.

Have you read the comments on Reddit.com? Ninety per cent of the comments are a waste of time?

You’re right, the value of comments on Reddit.com can vary widely. Here’s why you might perceive a lot of “wasteful” comments:

  • Focus of Subreddits: Reddit consists of many communities (subreddits) with different purposes. Some subreddits focus on serious discussions and news, while others are more lighthearted and meme-oriented. The comment style will differ depending on the subreddit.
  • Upvoting System: The upvote system is designed to promote valuable comments. Ideally, informative and insightful content rises to the top. However, humor, inside jokes, or popular references can sometimes gain traction through upvotes, even if they don’t contribute much to the discussion.
  • Anonymity: Anonymity on the internet can lead to less inhibited or sometimes trolling comments.

Here are some ways to find more valuable comments on Reddit:

  • Subreddit Choice: Choose subreddits dedicated to in-depth discussions and established communities. Look for subreddits with moderators who enforce quality standards.
  • Thread Popularity: Popular threads often attract more insightful comments as more people participate.
  • Comment Sorting: Use the “sort by” feature to prioritize comments by “top” (most upvoted) or “controversial” (to see a wider range of perspectives) to potentially find more valuable discussions.

Ultimately, the value you get from Reddit comments depends on how you approach it. By being selective about where you engage and how you filter comments, you can find valuable discussions and information.

As most of the content on Reddit is comments and as most of the comments are valueless why does Google rank Reddit so high?

You’re right that not all content on Reddit is created equal. Here’s a deeper dive into why Google might rank Reddit so highly despite potentially low-value comments:

Reddit’s Strengths for Google’s Algorithm:

  • Fresh, Diverse Content: Reddit thrives on constant user-generated content, offering a vast amount of information on various topics. This ensures Google’s search results include up-to-date discussions and perspectives.
  • Niche Expertise: Many subreddits act as communities for passionate users with deep knowledge in specific areas. This allows Google to surface content from people who might be experts on a particular topic, even if it’s not from a traditional publisher.
  • User Engagement: Reddit fosters active discussions with upvotes, downvotes, and replies. This user engagement is a signal to Google that people find the content interesting and valuable, even if some comments are not.
  • Focus on Conversation: Unlike static articles, Reddit threads can evolve with new information and perspectives. This ongoing conversation can be valuable for users seeking a broader understanding of a topic.

Google Doesn’t Just Look at Content:

  • Understanding User Intent: Google prioritizes results that best satisfy the user’s search intent. If someone is looking for current opinions on a trending topic, a Reddit thread with user discussions might be more relevant than a formal article. My comment: this statement is misguided. You have to wade through piles of rubbishy comments to find a gem on Reddit if it exists at all while Google ignores some sites that provide clear, cleand and succinct answers to questions.
  • Complementing Traditional Sources: Google aims to provide a well-rounded view. Even if some Reddit comments are low-quality, the overall discussion can offer valuable insights alongside traditional sources like news articles.

It’s Not All About Upvotes:

  • Algorithmic Filtering: Google’s algorithms likely analyze Reddit content beyond just upvote counts. They might consider factors like the credibility of the subreddit, the expertise of commenters, and the overall quality of the discussion.

Remember, you can filter Reddit:

While Google values Reddit for its diverse content, you, as a user, can navigate it for the most valuable information. Utilize features like subreddit selection, comment sorting, and keyword searches to find the insightful discussions on Reddit.

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A lot of stuff uploaded by Reddit users to Reddit is ‘stolen’ from other sites in the internet. How is this beneficial and worthy of a high search engine ranking?

You’re right, content scraping and reposting is an issue on Reddit. Here’s why it might not necessarily hurt Reddit’s ranking, but also why it’s a complex situation:

Why Google Might Not Penalize for Reposted Content:

  • Focus on Originality vs. Aggregation: Google prioritizes original content, but it also acknowledges the value of curation and aggregation. If a Reddit thread compiles information from various sources and sparks a valuable discussion, it might be seen as adding value even if the content itself isn’t original. My comment: It seems that Google is an apologist for Reddit.com’s failings.
  • Determining Originality: It can be challenging for search engines to definitively determine the true origin of content, especially for things like memes, images, or short snippets.
  • Timeliness and User Engagement: Even if the content itself is reposted, Reddit discussions can be timely and offer fresh perspectives through comments and user engagement. This engagement can be a positive ranking factor for Google.

However, There Are Drawbacks:

  • Copyright Issues: Reposting copyrighted content without permission can be illegal. While Google might not directly penalize for this, it can lead to legal troubles for Reddit and the user who posted it.
  • Reduced Credibility: Repetitive content can make Reddit appear less trustworthy as a source.
  • Frustration for Users: Users might get frustrated if they encounter repetitive content and struggle to find the original source.

What’s Being Done?

  • Reddit’s Rules: Reddit has policies against copyright infringement and encourages users to cite sources.
  • User Reporting: Users can report stolen content, which can lead to the removal of the post.
  • Algorithmic Filtering: Google’s algorithms might be getting better at identifying and filtering out low-quality reposted content.

The Ideal Scenario:

In an ideal scenario, Reddit users would properly cite sources and discussions would focus on adding value through analysis, humor, or new perspectives on existing content. This would benefit both users and search engine rankings.

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