Last updated on January 7, 2021
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A hashtag is denoted with a pound sign (#) and added to the front of a word, for example, #YouTube. The feature allows a user to search for and click on a hashtag to find relevant videos on YouTube. For creators, hashtags can increase the discoverability and visibility of their videos. Therefore, hashtags are one more search engine optimization (SEO) factor to consider.
How to Use Hashtags
Hashtags can be put in video titles and descriptions, and they’ll be hyperlinked. If there are no hashtags in a title, the first three hashtags in the description will show above the title. Users can click on hashtags that appear in a title, above a title, or in a description.
YouTube has a hashtag policy that aligns with its community rules. Standard violations include hashtags that reference harassment, hate speech, sexual content, and vulgar language. Hashtag-focused guidelines include:
- Over-tagging: Don’t add too many tags to a single video. The more tags you add, the less useful they become for viewers. If a video has more than 15 hashtags, YouTube will ignore all the hashtags for that video.
- No spaces: Hashtags don’t contain any spaces. If you want to have two or more words in a hashtag, you can join them together (#AffiliateMarketing, #passiveincome).
- Misleading content: Don’t add hashtags that aren’t directly related to the video. Misleading or unrelated hashtags may result in the removal of your video.
How to Add Hashtags
Adding a hashtag to a title appears redundant because the first three hashtags in a description will appear above it. Hashtags in titles could also negatively impact SEO. For those reasons, I recommend using hashtags in descriptions only. Secondly, be consistent with how many you add and the format. Although I can include up to 15 hashtags, I use three to five for a less is more approach. Regarding styles, examples include:
- Lowercase: #onlinemarketing (what I use)
- Uppercase: #ONLINEMARKETING
- Title case: #OnlineMarketing
Include practical hashtags that other creators are using so that viewers can flow from their videos to yours. For example, a video on how to make a pizza might include #howtomakeapizza, #pizza, #pizzarecipe, #cookinglessons, #cookinginstructions, and #cookingvideos.
YouTubers run into problems when they use uncommon, unpopular, or precise terms, for instance, #makepizzafordinner, #pizzawithmushrooms, and #fetacheesepizza. A creator would probably get very little traffic with those keywords because they’re too specific.
Hashtags Vs. Tags
Tags are descriptive keywords that help YouTube to understand, rank, and position your videos. They also help people to find your content and broaden your reach. For example, your video could appear in the “Up next” section because of its tag metadata.
YouTube limits tags to roughly 400 to 500 characters including spaces (it’s 500 on Creator Studio Classic). Most creators keep adding terms until they see a notification that reads, “Your tags exceed the allowed character count.” When you exceed the limit, you won’t be able to save your edits until you reduce your character count.
Hashtags are visible and clickable, whereas tags are invisible. However, you can see the tags for a video by right-clicking, selecting view page source, and scrolling to \”keywords\. An easier and quicker way to see a video’s tags is by using YouTube channel management tools, such as TubeBuddy and VidIQ. Those top-rated, YouTube certified apps also offer plenty of useful features to grow your channel, get views, and increase subscribers.
From what I gather, YouTube Analytics doesn’t capture hashtag traffic data. If it does, or will in the future, it would likely appear in the YouTube search traffic source category.
Best YouTube Hashtag Tools
Hashtag research is an SEO activity. Therefore, many YouTube tools and tag generators can help you retrieve words that you can manually convert to hashtags. You can also use keyword/hashtag apps for other social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. In terms of SEO priorities; titles, descriptions, and tags outrank hashtags. For that reason, I don’t recommend paying for hashtag-centric tools, such as Keyhole and Hashtagify.
1. YouTube Autocomplete
What better way to find hashtag ideas than to understand what users are searching for on YouTube? YouTube autocomplete helps users to find videos faster by recommending appropriate keywords as they start typing in their search queries. YouTube autocomplete and query suggestions indicate popularity among those topics.
2. Google Ads Keyword Planner
Keyword Planner (KP) is available through Google Ads, an online advertising service. While it was created to support ad campaign planning and research, many people use it to find keywords for their online marketing activities. KP is free to use, but you need a Google Ads account to access it.
3. Google Trends
Google Trends is a website that analyzes the popularity of top Google search queries across various regions and languages. The website uses graphs to compare the search volume of different queries over time. Google Trends is free to use.
TubeBuddy is a powerful browser extension and mobile app that provides amazing features on top of YouTube’s website. The YouTube Certified app gives creators and YouTubers everything they need to develop and manage their channels. It offers tools for channel optimization, video SEO, keyword research, tag management, analytics, productivity, bulk processing, marketing, and more to achieve success. TubeBuddy is free with plans starting at $9 monthly.
VidIQ offers a suite of tools to help creators and marketers grow their channels and brand awareness. Its browser extension features video scoring, video SEO, keyword research, tag management, analytics, and more. VidIQ is a YouTube Certified app, and it’s free with plans starting at $7.50 monthly.
Rapidtags offers tools to grow your channel. Its tag generator yields high ranking search terms. Its tag analyzer helps with keyword research and monitoring traffic. Rapidtags is free with plans starting at $3.99 monthly.
RiteTag offers hashtag suggestions based on real-time Twitter activity. It has a Chrome extension, mobile apps, and integrates with many top-rated social media and marketing services. RiteTag is free with plans starting at $49 annually.