Hashtags help people find information on specific topics on Social Media. They are widely used on Twitter, with moderation on Facebook, and on other social media sites. Think about any subject and there is probably a hashtag (or six) for it. There are also some very stupid tags, which should mostly be avoided.
Most people are familiar with those that are important in their life, because they have seen them so many times before.
There are tons of hashtags out there. You, create, or use, them for any topic at any time. But, when using them it is best to use existing, popular tags, the ones people search for every day — even if they are not an exact match. Those popular tags bring visitors to your site.
It is wrong to publish a post talking about the talents of a young college football player and use the tag #superbowl. #Orangebowl is closer, but again questionable. #Sportingtalent or #sportstalent are better. They work best as subject keys and your post must fit the general theme.
Publishing a recipe for Monkfish Ragout in Vermouth you may find several possible tags. These include #fish, and #recipe at a minimum. If your post is for first time buyers then the tag #firsthome may be appropriate. You may also find some combined tags like #firsthomefirstmeal also right in certain circumstances.
The Right Tag?
Picking the right tag is vital. There is a tag #writing, but the more popular tag is the action tag #amwriting. But remember the #amwriting tag really applies to people who are writing about the process, or skill, of writing. If your post is about plumbing, electrical wiring, or another subject then that tag is not applicable.
Your blog post was produced by the act of writing. But, that is not what it is about. You wrote it, but that is not appropriate to the reader nor to the tags you use for publicity. You could tell people “#amwriting my next blog post, will tell you more soon”. This may be of interest to other writers you connect with. They could wish you well.
Recently Google has updated their search engine code to amplify the visibility of hashtags in organic search results. Because of the Google Plus social network they have realised the value and demand for use of the symbol. Search Google using a hashtag and it will often find recent popular posts on social sites as well as related websites.
That said, Google changes every few months how they handle social media posts within search results. The challenge here is shear volume of activity that the search engine must sort through. If you want to search for something published on a social site their own search will probably provide better results. The Twitter and Facebook search engines are very good at identifying topics published on their sites. On Twitter simply click on the tag to find related material. These searches are very effective at finding recent posts related to hashtags. I use these searches frequently when looking for material.
According to Red Crow Marketing “#Hashtags now go beyond being used only for discovering the latest trending topics. They can now add value to your #SEO… and, by using them properly on social media, you can drive long-term, steady referral traffic back to your site.”
When people search for a popular subject they will also see results for the most relevant hashtags alongside other search results. Many people are now starting their searches by entering a hashtag.
The Power of Twitter Search
Did you know the world’s second most popular search engine is Twitter? Of course what you will find on Twitter’s search result are a list of Tweets, those lead to web pages. The majority of the web pages found on Twitter searches are blog pages, so it is a great way to bring prospective readers to your site, provided you are tunes into the right hashtag.
But they are not limited to Twitter. All the primary social sites recognise hashtags in their searches. On social media using hashtags helps increase traffic and subscribers. There can be little doubt about that.
Headlines and Post Titles?
The case for including them seems to be that with the various auto-publicise facilities that exist today. Not simply WordPress, Blogger, or whoever your provider is, but other tools that operate from your RSS feed. IFTTT is one example where the publication of your blog post can generate one or many actions. There are many others.
By putting the hashtag in the title of the blog post, usage will not be forgotten.
“You put appropriate hashtags into your title, hey presto! There they are in the ready generated tweet, so anybody looking at the hashtagged subjects you’ve chosen will see the tweet, and hopefully come to take a look at your blog post.” ~ Deborah Jay on The Write Stuff.
The case for using hashtags in your post title is founded in the potential exposure through social media searches. It is automatically included in the social post. The people seeing the post is not limited to those following you, but includes anyone searching the subject through their social channels. By including the hashtag in your blog posts title shortcuts the process, there is no searching for room to use the tag.
Hashtags in a post title allow users to get a quick overview of what your post is all about. They know what they are looking for. Be specific the ones you use
Using Hashtags indicates that you focus solely on social media as your publicity channel. In theory that is true, but Google is paying attention nowadays.
Hashtags are ugly. They glare at you as if something is wrong. They stand-out shouting their ugliness! Arguably, they STOP the user from reading easily. Especially true when a large number are used in a post or manufactured tags are used.
There is a tendency to over use them. The writer thinks one will not be enough. The rule is “one or two only”. Don’t use hashtags that people will not understand at first glance. just because it is obvious to you doesn’t make it obvious to everyone.
Don’t use Hashtags on everything. Once you get used to using them people look for ways to automate their usage.
The one you use must be relevant, but unbranded, hashtags. Companies have been quick to understand the branding potential that hashtags have. There are so many examples of their use. They use tools today to analyse hashtag trends and understand which one offer them greatest advantage.
For example, #justdoit, is clearly associated with sportswear manufacturer Nike. The sentiment is an amicable one, and may people have been encouraged to get on and do something in their life. However that hashtag is clearly brand related and should be avoided for that reason.
Corporations are always looking at new ways to promote their brands. Bloggers also need to look at new ways to showcase their work. There will be somewhere near 500 million pages of blog content published today, but yours needs to stand out. Bloggers need to understand branding and use of Hashtags can help in doing that.
Only if it Fits…
“Hashtags serve to make your content discoverable to a wide audience. The truth is, not everything you produce is going to fit into that category.” Warns Evan LePage, on the HootSuite Blog. Even if your blog is about fishing that tag is not appropriate for every post you write. If you are talking about fish stocks in a particular river then local hashtags may be more appropriate.
Stop, think. Remember, I just said hashtags are ugly. They can give an impression that you are a techno-freak. The type of person who is driven by gadgets. That may not be the impression you wish to give.
A Fad or Forever?
Does it work or is it just another fad? This is a valid question. We all know that fads tend to fade fast!
It is not possible to say that hashtags are here forever. Forever is a long time. They will however be a part of our life for the discernible future. TV news broadcasts have used them when reporting stories. They are likely to be used until another, better, concept comes along to replace them.
There is no doubt hashtags work. They provide exposure on social media, they also provide exposure on search engines. They are not a fad. But I do caution against overuse.