They seem to be attached to everything online, especially social media posts. They’ve even become the summary of our face-to-face conversations #itwasagoodday. Why? Let’s explore the basics, what hashtags are, how they are used and more importantly why they have an effect on SEO and why as an online marketer, we pay attention.
In short, hashtags are a discovery tool. They are labels for additional content on whatever subject matter being shared. For marketers, hashtags are a simple, quick way to encourage potential consumers to get more information on a product or service and build brand awareness. They are searchable links blessing your website with referral traffic.
Hashtags gained popularity once first introduced on Twitter back in 2007. Since then, they’ve been used consistently, particularly on social media platforms and translated offline to become an integral part of our pop culture. Mainstream apparel like Nike has used hashtags on clothing (#Nike, #Jordan). Most recently, #burnnike has been used by the opposition to Nike’s use of a controversial spokesperson. A simple decision can affect a companies Brand. It’s one way our society makes connections and attempts to garner support for a movement or gain awareness for a specific cause. Hashtags have become statements that provide a quick reference point for a culture craving instantaneous information.
Now, why do online marketers pay attention to hashtags?
If the goal is to optimize conversations and get more people to pay attention to content on your website or create more buzz on social media, there’s no quicker way to engage people than to use a relevant hashtag. What’s even more exciting is that major search engines index hashtags. So, higher visibility on search engines results in even more connections. Audience members grow and communicate and inspire one another based on the content shared in those hashtags. Hence, SEO goals can be achieved utilizing the hashtag strategy and shouldn’t be discounted.
There are 3 ways for marketers to use hashtags:
- Brand hashtags, a specific brand creates a hashtag #SaraLee
- Trending hashtags, sharing content related to a current trend #MeToo
- Content hashtags, using chosen words in an article.
It can become a habit to use the same hashtags over and over again. However, this can be dangerous as audience members get bored, tired and stop engaging. A “been there, done that” mentality starts to take shape. People get picky about content over time and don’t waste their time on the same old message. Variety is key, but can be a challenge depending on the social media platform you use (a great topic for another article). Add some variation and reach new people.
Another habit to avoid is finding hashtags that get the most posts and assuming that’s the only strategy that will work. It could be beneficial to focus on less utilized hashtags where competition is less fierce. You become more visible to a smaller audience that may have more engagement.
Other factors to consider when creating a hashtag:
- Make sure it’s easy to read.
- Make sure it’s not so long that it disrupts the post itself.
- Make sure it’s relevant to the content and doesn’t veer to far off topic.
The influence of hashtags on SEO can’t be ignored. The popularity on social media alone requires deliberate attention to detail so that it will be indexed properly. The conversation among consumers continues as they engage and take interest in a product/service, which is exactly what you need to gain more interest and more customers!
Calisa Fitzpatrick - Vice President