1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. SEO

Aifficiency: What’s Really Behind Google’s Deal With Reddit

Learn about Vetted.ai, a powerful AI chatbot that specializes in providing shopping assistance and product comparisons.

Vetted.ai is one of many AI chatbots that are gaining traction in Google search.

It’s not much, maybe 10,000 monthly visits, but Google found the site to be the best result for ~100 keywords.

Trend: growing.

Organic traffic and top 3 keywords for vetted aiOrganic traffic and top 3 keywords for vetted.ai (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

A click on one of Vetted AI’s results opens a blank chatbot page that quickly fills with content about the search query.

Vetted’s AI chatbot Vetted’s AI chatbot (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Vetted AI is a shopping assistant that targets long-tail queries like [zep vs draino], [vornado mvh vs vh200], or [ugg ansley vs dakota].

It programmatically creates content for any product comparison you can think of.

zep vs dranoScreenshot from search for [zep vs drano], Google, March 2024 (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Now contrast that with another site that gained traction in the SERPs over the last months: Reddit (see result No. 3 in the screenshot above).

Reddit is the opposite of AI chatbots: human, experiential, and unoptimized content.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

Sundar Pich-AI

Google’s $60 million deal with Reddit is more than it seems at first.

Google is surfacing more content from forums in the SERPs is to counter-balance AI content.

Verification is the ultimate AI watermarking.

Even though Reddit can’t prevent humans from using AI to create posts or comments, chances are lower because of two things Google search doesn’t have: Moderation and Karma.

Yes, Content Goblins have already taken aim at Reddit, but most of the 73 million daily active users provide useful answers.1

Content moderators punish spam with bans or even kicks.

But the most powerful driver of quality on Reddit is Karma, “a user’s reputation score that reflects their community contributions.”

Through simple up or downvotes, users can gain authority and trustworthiness – two integral ingredients in Google’s quality systems.

The press release claims that the deal enables Google to “facilitate more content-forward displays of Reddit information that will make our products more helpful for our users and make it easier to participate in Reddit communities and conversations.2

That might be true, but the real reason for the Google-Reddit deal is Karma.

Google already has access to Reddit’s content: It crawls reddit.com many times every day and can use that content to train it’s machine learning models. It most likely already has.

Google also already shows Reddit content prominently in search through high organic ranks (Hidden Gem update) and the Discussions & Forums SERP Feature.

Reddit.com has seen the fastest growth in search of any domain and is now one of the web’s largest.

Reddit is at the same traffic level as AmazonReddit is at the same traffic level as Amazon (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

But with access to Reddit’s API, Google can access Karma to train model’s on content humans value, and potentially surface better Reddit answers in search. For example, by filtering out spammy or guideline-violating posts.

The implications go way beyond model training and lead right into the heart of what users want out of search.

Authentic Reviews

Reddit’s Karma is especially valuable when it comes to surfacing authentic experiences in search.

Google still has miles to go when it comes to product reviews.

A recent article from HouseFresh shows how big brands are not testing as thoroughly as they might pretend.3

As a team that has dedicated the last few years to testing and reviewing air purifiers, it’s disheartening to see our independent site be outranked by big-name publications that haven’t even bothered to check if a company is bankrupt before telling millions of readers to buy their products.

You might also recall a research study from Germany that found “having a separate low-quality review section to support a site’s primary content is a successful and lucrative business model.” Publishers make money with reviews, often to survive.

A recent study by Schultheiß et al. investigates the compatibility between SEO and content quality on medical websites with a user study. The study finds an inverse relationship between a page’s optimization level and its perceived expertise, indicating that SEO may hurt at least subjective page quality.

Reddit, on the other hand, is unoptimized and human. You could say it’s in-ai-efficient.

Users go to Reddit, the prime source for in-ai-fficient reviews, when they want opinions from other users instead of optimized reviews from publishers or affiliates. For some products, people want reviews from other people.

There is a speed benefit of using Reddit’s AI, too.

Similar to indexing APIs, Google gets all Reddit content via API instead of having to cough up crawl budget for the massive domain.

Wikipedia holds ~60 million pages.

Reddit had over 300 million posts in 2020 alone. The site is big and getting bigger.

First, we’re pleased to announce a new Cloud partnership that enables Reddit to integrate new AI-powered capabilities using Vertex AI. Reddit intends to use Vertex AI to enhance search and other capabilities on the Reddit platform.

It’s ironic that Reddit uses Google’s Vertex AI (enterprise Gemini models) to improve its search capabilities as part of the deal since it was Reddit’s poor search function that drove so many users to search for Reddit content on Google in the first place.

The Hidden Gems update, Google’s Discussions & Forums SERP Feature, and the eventual Google deal might have never happened without such demand for Reddit results.


Aifficiencies are incremental improvements from AI. Instead of doing new things, the biggest value add from AI so far is doings things faster and better.

I use ChatGPT a lot to come up with better spreadsheet formulas and macros.

I never learned RegEx well, and my JavaScript/Python skills merely prevent me from embarrassing myself in front of developers.

With LLMs, I can solve these problems quickly and independently.

This week, I categorized almost 20,000 keywords into eight core topics for a client and paid less than $20 in one hour. AI is NOS for no-code.

Websites are leveraging Aifficiencies the same way: not new but better.

Reddit uses Vortex AI, but examples like Zillow (I cover more in the second State of AI report) have already pulled the trigger.4

Amazon and eBay lower the barrier to entry by allowing merchants to snap a picture of a product and automagically write title and description, including product features, with AI.5 6

Amazon creates helpful AI review summaries (inspiration for SGE?).

Redfin allows visitors to customize interior design with AI.7

AI makes products better instead of creating new ones.

However, when it comes to product advice and reviews, we want unoptimized, in-ai-fficient information. Just raw, authentic feedback.

We don’t want a biased list of products based on which ones rake in the biggest affiliate cut.

Users have grown up and can tell that most reviews on Google have financial incentives, just like the pitches “I think this resource would be helpful for your audience” and “Let’s connect and find business synergies” are really about backlinks and closed deals.

User Intent: Amateur Experience

One way to make reviews more authentic is to use amateur opinions.

If I were in the reviews business, I’d interview non-professionals and feature their opinions in reviews – but only for products with a lower need for expertise.

Google’s addition of “experience” in the quality rater guidelines is a direct hint that not every query demands expertise from professionals.

Some queries have a demand for low expertise and high experience. Just like we can use SERP Features to infer the user intent(s) for a query, a prominent Reddit result tells us that searchers value opinions and experiences from non-experts.

For example, when searching for the best GPU that fits your computer hardware, you probably want to hear from an expert. When searching for card games for couples, you most likely want to hear from other couples.

Google wants to surface more results that are not optimized for embeddings and backlinks but for human signals like Karma.

Helpful Content Updates are steps toward more authentic content. The Google-Reddit deal is the sequel.

1 https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1713445/000162828024006294/reddits-1q423.htm

2 https://blog.google/inside-google/company-announcements/expanded-reddit-partnership/

3 https://housefresh.com/david-vs-digital-goliaths/#lwptoc1

4 https://investors.zillowgroup.com/investors/news-and-events/news/news-details/2023/Zillows-new-AI-powered-natural-language-search-is-a-first-in-real-estate/default.aspx

5 https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/small-business/amazon-sellers-generative-ai-tool

6 https://innovation.ebayinc.com/tech/features/magical-listing-tool-harnesses-the-power-of-ai-to-make-selling-on-ebay-faster-easier-and-more-accurate/

7 https://www.redfin.com/news/introducing-redfin-redesign-ai-tool/

Featured Image: Lyna ™

Category SEO Generative AI
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Kevin Indig Growth Advisor

Kevin Indig is a Growth advisor who helps the world’s market leaders define and evolve their Organic Growth strategy. Once ...

Aifficiency: What’s Really Behind Google’s Deal With Reddit

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.