How to Utilize Hashtags in #SEO Strategy
The hashtag is a simple but powerful discovery tool of the 21st century. First becoming popular on Twitter, the hashtag # allowed users access to very distinct and pointed stream of information on a particular topic. Hashtags can be used to discover trends, particular interests, and developing news stories. They’re also a powerful tool for marketers.
In general, marketers can deploy hashtags in three different ways:
- Campaign or brand hashtags – used to promote an organization or a campaign, such as #SuperBowl or #Slack.
- Trending hashtags, such as #GroundHogDay or #ValentinesDay, allow marketers to latch on to trends and content related to them – a surefire way to improve engagement. Small business owners can take advantage of this momentum by offering a fresh take, a unique piece of info related to their industry, or by simply participating in a trend.
- Using hashtags in content creation, such as in a blog post or when posting to social media, allow marketers to carve out niche communities from which to build followers and become influencers on a given topic. To go even further, specific industry hashtags like #accounting, #humanresources, #contentcreation can be great for B2B objectives. You might not believe it, but #accounting shows 1.4 million posts on Instagram.
Many different social networks now offer the ability to use hashtags as search terms (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), but Google also crawls and indexes hashtags. The thing to know when using hashtags to improve reach on social media is that each network has different rules and best practices to maximize the reach of a post.
Hashtags are an incredibly useful tool for brands and marketers that want to gauge how customers feel about them, or about certain products. By searching for yourself using a hashtag, a company could see what users are saying and how they are using a product or service. By searching for a product with a hashtag, such as #denverfoodies, you would be able to find food or restaurants trending in the Denver area. This type of search can be done across many different platforms.
YouTube recently began allowing users to search for content using hashtags, and searching for a hashtag will now take a user to a dedicated results page. For example, the search term #diy offers results for 695,000 videos across 194,000 channels – a very crowded space of real estate. On the contrary, searching for #coloradohomes results in just 110 videos on 32 channels – a valuable avenue for Colorado Realtors to get noticed. YouTube’s algorithm for hashtags isn’t too refined yet. The search results display the ‘best performing’ videos, so larger and more established brands will dominate the more popular keywords. With YouTube – at least for now – finding a niche is key to getting noticed unless you already have a strong base of followers.
Twitter popularized the use of hashtags and their entire search algorithm is based on them. Adding a relevant hashtag after a tweet can double engagement and increase retweets by 55%. According to a study performed by SearchEngineWatch.com, 1-2 hashtags are ideal for a tweet to perform at its highest. For example, a real estate agent in Denver may want to include the hashtags #Denverhomesforsale and #KellerWilliams to improve engagement and visibility.
Instagram has become another social network that has warmed to hashtags. When searching on Instagram for hashtags, results are divided into “top posts” and “most recent”. With no character limit on the platform, users can add as many hashtags as necessary, although research indicates that using nine hashtags brings the best engagement on average. Instagram offers a lot of creativity when it comes to branding, but competition can be relentless. A quick search for #seo yields 5.4 million posts, but searching for something more specific, such as #backlinks offers 27,000 posts – a bit more manageable for gaining traffic. However, when nine hashtags are used simultaneously, you can reach far and wide. The key is to post consistently, something that not all marketers may be able to do.
Facebook and LinkedIn also recently began allowing users to search for content using hashtags. While not the most popular methods to find content on either platform, it couldn’t hurt to throw in a very targeted hashtag in a post.
How to Use Hashtags in Your Overall SEO Strategy
Google uses social shares as an important factor for search engine rankings. If you create a tweet that links back to a blog post on your website, there’s always a chance it could go viral and users may share your content. This leads to back-linking and higher page traffic, which will improve your page rankings. So, hashtags can certainly amplify your content, but at the end of the day, your content must be well-written and researched.
A good social media strategy, one that emphasizes the proper use of hashtags on each network, will lead to higher visibility. However, you must properly outfit your social profiles with the resources necessary to get customers to your website. For example, a lot of online commerce is conducted via Instagram, so you’d benefit from providing a link to your E-store directly in your profile.
Monitoring current events and finding creative ways to incorporate them into your social media strategy could result in some immediate traction and traffic to your website, but unless your part of a major brand or have a sizeable number of followers, your post will likely disappear within minutes. A better strategy would be to consistently post the same targeted hashtags to build a cache of content that someone could easily find when searching for something.
At the end of the day, using hashtags can boost the organic reach of your posts, allow you to join in on online conversations, engage with trending topics, and build community. Using hashtags consistently across social media and backing them up with solid content for a unique keyword can (over time) bring results.
If you’re struggling to get traffic to your website, schedule a time to analyze your site and digital marketing processes. We provide digital marketing services, as well as Lead Capture tools. We’re always happy to answer questions. Contact us today to grow your traffic, leads, and sales.