Are YouTube Hashtags Really Necessary for Views and SEO?

by Matthias Funk | | Category: YouTube Marketing

Hashtags have been used since 2007 but have been becoming more of a way to improve your visibility and SEO in the past few years. Additionally, YouTube has recently added an update to how they display hashtags and this update could help take your videos to a whole new level. That means using YouTube hashtags to increase your viewership is no longer optional if you want your video to be easily searchable and seen.

Are you using YouTube hashtags with your videos? If not, you might be leaving tons of views (and money) on the table.

So let’s put an end to lost views right now by learning everything there is about why and how to use hashtags on YouTube—the right way. And, the YouTube policies you need to be careful with if you want to avoid being penalized, or worse…banned.

Here is everything you need to know about YouTube hashtags broken down into the most commonly asked questions and their answers.

What Are YouTube Hashtags?

Hashtags are a word or phrase that has a hash (#-pound sign) before it. They are used to identify a specific topic. YouTube hashtags are an easy way to find videos for a topic you want to learn more about. Using a hashtag will keep you from having to browse through pages of unrelated videos, or videos that aren’t specific enough to your topic.

Anything that can make your videos easier for your audience to find will benefit your number of views, as well as your YouTube SEO.

Why Should I Use YouTube Hashtags?

You should use hashtags on YouTube because they improve searchability. Optimized hashtags will give you more visibility on social media for all your related video posts. Using a hashtag will group keywords and related topics together, which makes it easier for a viewer to find.

“Add hashtags in key parts of your description to help viewers find your video. […] Hashtags are especially great to use with trending content, such as upcoming events or people in the news.” YouTube Creator Academy

Hashtags give the viewer the best possible videos for their search without them having to look through pages of unrelated topics or videos that are not specific enough to what their original search was for.

youtube search

Additionally, hashtags make it easier for users to track different posts and events that have similar hashtags. It will also help them to see which ones have gone viral. Basically, hashtags are a significant time saver and a huge convenience for the user.

But there are also possible disadvantages involved with adding hashtags.

“When a viewer clicks on a hashtag they are taking off your video. And they are dropped onto a page that probably doesn’t have any other videos listed by your channel.

So right there you just killed your accumulated watch time and you hurt your audience retention.”  Brian G. Johnson

How Should I Use YouTube Hashtags?

Hashtags are already used on almost every major social media platform such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you want to learn how to use hashtags on YouTube, here is a quick summary.

Your YouTube hashtags need to be presented as one word, meaning if your hashtag is several words long, it needs to be spelled together without any spaces in between (example: #VideoMarketing).

hashtags across social media platforms

Don’t use more than two to three tags, if you use too many, they will all most likely be ignored.

And, never use misleading tags with words that don’t relate to your video.

If in doubt, always refer to the Google Guidelines for more information.

Where Are YouTube Hashtags Shown?

YouTube hashtags can be shown in the title, above the title, and in the video’s description. Additionally, YouTube will take the top three hashtags posted in your video’s description and those are what will be displayed above the video’s title. This goes for both mobile and web applications alike.

youtube hashtag types

How Are Hashtags in YouTube Displayed?

Hashtags in YouTube are displayed as blue and clickable similar to links except they don’t have a line underneath them as some links do.

How Are Hashtags in YouTube Displayed

How Do I Add Hashtags to a YouTube Video?

Adding hashtags to your YouTube video couldn’t be easier. You simply add the hashtags to the video’s description and after you have uploaded it, they will be displayed above the video’s title. Hashtags shown in the title and description will be hyperlinked.

youtube hashtag description (1)

When you enter a hashtag in the video title, the hashtags from the description won’t get displayed above the title. The title hashtag overrules them.

youtube hashtag video title

Users can then click on the hashtags that are shown in your video’s title, above your video, or in the description to go to that hashtag’s search page results where they can then watch other related videos.

Location hashtags can only be set when uploading a video via your smartphone.

location hashtag youtube

Location hashtags also overrule the hashtags from the description text.

What Are the Best Hashtags for YouTube?

The best hashtags for YouTube are your company brand, popular topics that relate to your video content, and locations. Locations are entered into the video settings upon upload from mobile. Location hashtags overrule all other hashtags that have been entered in the YouTube description text. They are also shown above the video’s title as well.

One of the best ways to find hashtags is to look at the trending hashtags on YouTube for inspiration. Doing this will help you develop some of your own hashtags similar to what is already working for someone else.  You can also include some specific YouTube hashtags for Instagram also. Just do a quick internet search and you will find the best YouTube hashtags for Instagram.

best hashtags for youtube videos

Sometimes it’s better to let the professionals handle your YouTube traffic generation. Doing so will save you time and money. There are several great tools on the market to help with traffic generation and your YouTube SEO. In fact, some YouTube traffic generation services will analyze your videos,  check your ranking factors, keyword rankings, provide you with a YouTube SEO action plan, a tag generator, professional thumbnails and more. Not to mention helping you find and use the best possible YouTube hashtags as well.

Where Can I Search for the Most Relevant Hashtags?

Using tools to search for the most relevant hashtags is the easiest way to find what you need. Tools such as RiteTag will help you find hashtags for YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and more. This tool gives you a wide variety of hashtag options such as hashtags to get seen now, hashtags to get seen over time, even hashtags that very few people are following.

hashtag search tool

What Are the Recent YouTube Hashtag Changes?

YouTube has recently made some changes to how hashtags are displayed. Hashtags are now being displayed above the titles for videos that have hashtags in their descriptions. We touched on this above; however, if you have been searching the internet, it’s possible you might have stumbled on some old information that doesn’t include this very important change.

Does YouTube Use an Algorithm?

YouTube does use an algorithm; however, the ranking algorithm is different than the algorithm used for displaying the YouTube search results—the ones that don’t have a hashtag. YouTube looks for patterns so you should use some hashtags across all your videos. This will give your videos a higher chance of being suggested right after one of your videos is played.

What YouTube Hashtag Policies Do I Need to Be Careful With?

There are several YouTube hashtag policies you need to be careful with; otherwise, even if you were unaware of that policy, you could end up being penalized or banned.

  • Overtagging. Don’t add more than 15 hashtags in a single video.  If you have too many hashtags in a video, YouTube will ignore all of them.
  • Misleading Content. Never use hashtags that are misleading or not directly related to your video’s content.
  • Harassment. Never use hashtags with the intent of harassing, threatening, humiliating, intimidating, cyberbullying, etc. any group or individual.
  • Hate Speech. Never use hashtags that promote violence or hatred against any group or individual.
  • Sexual Content. Never use sexual or explicit hashtags or those intended to be sexually provocative or your video will be removed.
  • Vulgar Language. Never use profanity or offensive terms in your hashtags; otherwise, it could lead to your video being assigned an age-restriction or being removed altogether.
  • Non-Hashtags. Never use ordinary descriptive tags or repetitive sentences in your video’s description or it could result in a penalty or the removal of your video.

These are just a few of the YouTube hashtag policies you need to be careful with. There are more; therefore, it’s best to review the YouTube Community Guidelines before you begin.

Why Can’t I Find the Hashtag I Just Posted?

After you’ve posted a hashtag, it might not be visible immediately. If this happens, wait about 10-15 minutes, then reload the page and it should appear.

hashtag not displayed youtube

Will the YouTube Hashtags I Use Affect My SEO and YouTube Rankings?

Yes! Using YouTube hashtags will positively affect your SEO and YouTube rankings. Technically, the purpose of adding hashtags is for searchability. However, the easier it is for people to find your video, the more views, likes, comments, subscribers, and shares you will have, which, in turn, will positively affect your SEO and YouTube rankings. YouTube hashtags make it easier for users to access more quality information and authoritative content that best suits their chosen topic, which is the goal of getting more eyes on your videos.

Where Can I Go to See Whether Video Views Originated from Hashtags?

If you want to see where your video views came from, you can go to the YouTube Analytics, then Traffic Sources, then to the YouTube Search and you will see the hashtags listed there.

youtube hashtags in analytics

Summary

Here is a quick summary of everything we’ve learned.

  • Hashtags are used to identify a specific topic.
  • Hashtags help searchability and YouTube SEO. However, keep in mind that people can click on the hashtag and leave your video.
  • Hashtags should be typed together as one word using two to three words only and never use misleading tags.
  • Hashtags are shown in the title, above the title, and in the description.
  • Hashtags in YouTube are displayed as blue and clickable.
  • After adding hashtags in your description (only 2-3 of them) they will then be posted and displayed.
  • The best hashtags for YouTube are your company brand, popular topics that relate to your video content, and locations.
  • The benefit of using tools to search for the most relevant hashtags.
  • Use hashtags across all your videos because the YouTube algorithm looks for patterns.
  • We went over a long list of YouTube hashtag policies you need to be careful with.
  • Wait 10-15 minutes and reload your page if you can’t find your hashtags after you’ve posted them.
  • Using hashtags will have a positive effect on a video’s searchability, YouTube SEO, and rankings.
  • Where to find out if your hashtags generated views. You go to YouTube Analytics, Traffic Sources, then to YouTube Search and you will see the hashtags listed there

Conclusion

Adding hashtags to your YouTube videos is a great way to boost your views, likes, shares, comments, YouTube subscribers, and your SEO. Therefore, if you are not using YouTube hashtags, you are leaving money (and views) on the table.

Why not add hashtags to your YouTube videos today? It’s easy to do, doesn’t take much time, and could bring you a huge return on your investment.

“The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.” Alexandre Graham Bell