YouTube SEO is a beast all on its own. Finding the best keyword, optimizing all parts of your video around that keyword, adding end cards, linking to other webpages and videos are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to YouTube content creation.
And now, you also have to think about hashtags. Luckily we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on what YouTube hashtags are, why they’re important and how to properly use them to increase video views.
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What are YouTube hashtags?
Just like with many other platforms, YouTube also incorporates hashtags for category tagging and search purposes. Using hashtags on YouTube can help more people find your videos as well as give you a way to categorize your videos without necessarily adding them into playlists.
We’ll talk more in a bit about the different places you can add hashtags to further differentiate your videos.
Why use YouTube hashtags?
Why do you use hashtags on any platform? To help your content get found, right? It’s really similar on YouTube – with a couple added benefits.
While we mentioned a few ways that hashtags are used on YouTube, let’s dive into the “why” of this strategy even further.
Hashtags help YouTube understand what your video is about
Similar to when you use SEO keyword research into your written content, the same is true for YouTube hashtags. When you use relevant keywords as video hashtags, you’re giving YouTube even more information about your video, which can help you to show up in even more potential search results.
This SEO benefit is important in helping the algorithm push your video to more and more viewers, helping to grow your audience and subscribers.
Hashtags help you to categorize your videos
While many brands may organize their videos into various playlists, hashtags can help categorize your videos in a similar way. Whether you choose to hashtag based on content or video series, using hashtags can help users search specifically for that type of video and have all of them show up at the top of search results.
Hashtags help more users find your content
If you’re adding hashtags based on your video’s topic, there’s a chance that your video could pop up as a related video to other videos using that hashtag. This can also help you increase your video views and grow your audience.
A lot of people also search on YouTube by hashtags, so incorporating this tactic into your YouTube strategy is a great idea to reach those people.
How to add hashtags to YouTube videos
There are two different areas where you can add hashtags and have them improve your video’s potential. The first is directly in your video’s title and the second is at the bottom of your video’s description.
Adding hashtags to your YouTube video title
When you use hashtags in your video’s title, you might be focusing more on the hashtag than on relevant keywords. However, don’t dismiss those keywords too quickly in favor of the hashtag. A relevant title, preferably with keywords, is still needed for a successful search query.
Take a look at this video from Sprout Social’s YouTube channel to get an idea of what this might look like. All videos in the #SproutChat series starts with the same hashtag in the title followed by a short, relevant search phrase or description.
There are several #SproutChat videos on Sprout’s YouTube channel, all of which can be found by doing a search query for this hashtag.
Another popular video series that users can search for via hashtag is #AskGaryVee. He adds that hashtag into his video titles so that all of the relevant videos will show up in search, as you see below.
Both channels have built a series around their branded hashtag so it’s easy to remember
Another thing to note: If you include the hashtag in your title, it will always be clickable from your video page. In search results, if users click on the hashtag, it just takes them to your video and not to that hashtag’s search results.
Adding hashtags to your YouTube video description
The other place you can add YouTube hashtags is at the end of your video description. Once you optimize your video and include your YouTube keywords, video summary, links, sources and more, add a handful of hashtags to the bottom of your video’s description, as you see below.
If you choose to add hashtags to your video descriptions, they are probably based on keywords that might otherwise seem out of place in your video title.
Plus, YouTube helps ensure that your hashtags are always seen above your video titles so that people can click to find other videos that use those hashtags.
Take a look at what a video looks like when you add hashtags to your description – YouTube takes the first three and adds them right above your video title.
Regardless of how you choose to add hashtags, YouTube ensures that those hashtags are found by your viewers and to improve the user experience even further.
YouTube hashtag best practices
So now that you know the technical how-to of adding YouTube hashtags to your videos, it’s time to cover some of the more specifics on how to strategically implement this practice. You don’t want to start stuffing a ton of hashtags into your video descriptions in hopes of ranking at the top of search results.
It’s important to note that while adding hashtags can be a great way to boost SEO, this alone isn’t going to magically grow your YouTube channel.
Instead, follow these best practices to help improve your YouTube marketing with hashtags.
1. Use 3-5 hashtags per video
YouTube allows you to place up to 15 hashtags in your description. Google itself – the owner of YouTube – has stated that if you use more than 15 hashtags on your video, it’ll ignore all hashtags, making the addition absolutely pointless.
You’ll only want to use 1-2 hashtags in your video title, and only the first three hashtags in your description will appear above your video title.
However, just because you can use 15 hashtags doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A happy medium of hashtags is about 3-5 so you include only the most hyper-relevant hashtags that represent your video topic.
2. Create your own branded hashtags
While YouTube does encourage searching through hashtags by placing them in prominent areas on your video, this can also mean that more viewers will click on them and end up being led away from your videos.
This is why it can be a great idea to create your own branding hashtags, like we saw above with #SproutChat and #AskGaryVee. If a user clicks to see more videos, they’ll only be led to your own video content.
3. Search for your hashtags before adding them
Not all hashtags provide quality search results, and you don’t want to use hashtags that lead to spammy or irrelevant videos. Always do a quick search to see what pops up when you’re considering a hashtag choice to ensure that the content that appears relates to your own video.
4. Use YouTube search to find popular hashtags
If you’re not sure how to find the best hashtags for your video, simply turn to YouTube’s search bar. Similarly to doing keyword research, if you start by simply typing in “#”, you’ll get a glimpse into trending topics at the moment.
And while those might not be relevant to your brand or upcoming video, you can start typing your keyword or topic in to see the most popular hashtags to add into your YouTube video’s description.
Start including hashtags in your YouTube strategy
Excited to start including hashtags in your YouTube strategy? Make sure you’re being smart, incorporating relevant hashtags and finding ways to use branded hashtags that lead your audience to more of your content. To ensure your strategy is working, be sure to check out your YouTube stats regularly and keep track of your performance.
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