hashtagI frequently get questions from people about hashtags. What are they? Why do people use them? Should I be using them? So let’s answer a few of these and talk about how you can use them, and when you should.

What are hashtags?

A hashtag is simply a word or phrase  preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic on social media.

Why do people use hashtags?

A hashtag is used in social media to help people find information, blog posts, tweets, etc. on a specific topic. For example, if everyone is tweeting about an event, there might be an event hashtag that is used, so you can sort and/or search for tweets just about that event. When I go to a WordCamp (WordCamp US is coming up next month!) there is always a hashtag for the event, so when you tweet anything about that event, you can use the hashtag. When I’m at a WordCamp, I always set up a special column in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that pulls all the tweets using that hashtag together, so I can see what other people are saying about the same event.

This is particularly useful if you want to know what other people at the same event are tweeting, because if you aren’t following them, then you wouldn’t see their tweets.

Should I be using hashtags?

Maybe. Are you sharing on social media on topics that are popular or can be categorized or grouped with other tweets? Then definitely. For example, when I share a blogpost about WordPress, I’ll often use the hashtag #wordpress, and anyone who is looking at tweets with that topic can see mine too. Other hashtags I might use are #wptips (if I’m sharing a tip about wordpress), or #plugin if I’m writing about a WordPress plugin, or #webdesign if I’m writing about web design.

People often misuse hashtags.

A lot of people just don’t use hashtags right. They make up their own hashtag out of whatever they are writing about. Maybe they are tweeting about going to the grocery store, and they might hashtag it #imshopping or #buyingmilk or #ihatethestore. And while this may accurately describe what they are doing, if the hashtag isn’t something that someone is looking for, then it’s not going to be useful. If you use a hashtag that nobody is using, then it’s not going to help anyone find your post. What might be better, for the grocery store reference, would be to use a hashtag with the name of the store. More people are likely to be searching or using that hashtag than something like #buyingmilk.

This is of course, unless you are trying to start a new trend or topic, then you would want to choose an original hashtag that can be used for related posts.

How do I know what hashtag to use?

This is the million dollar question. What hashtag should you use to ensure that your post is being found? How do you know what hashtag to use? One website I like is Hashtagify. You can see what’s trending, but you can also search hashtags to see if anyone is using it or if a hashtag is already trending. Making your hashtag relevant to your topic is important.

Another resource is this infographic from Twitter on choosing a hashtag.

I find it really useful when writing blog posts to include hashtags if the topic is relevant to what people might be searching for, so that my post can be grouped with other posts. It increases visibility of my post, increases the likelihood it’ll be see, shared, or favorited.

 

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

13 Comments

  1. Shivangi on May 8, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Hey, Thank you for sharing this valuable information. But I have one more question to ask. Should I use hashtag in wordpress blog also? I got it that hashtag works well on social media like instagram and twitter but do they work on wordpress blog also?

    • Amy Masson on May 10, 2021 at 7:39 pm

      No, hashtags are for social media and not websites.

  2. brandym7 on July 10, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    How does posting hashtags on twitter or facebook bring people to my webpage? I don’t get it. Do not even understand the point of hashtags. I see them on facebook and ignore them. I already know they’re suppose to send people to your website but how?

    • Amy Masson on April 18, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Hashtags just group similar content together. If I’m on Twitter, and I want to see a lot of tweets about a certain topic, like web development, I might look at all tweets for the hashtag #webdev. If you’ve written content using that hashtag, it would show up in that filtered list. It’s kind of like putting a category on your tweet, to help people find it. And it can increase traffic to your website if you have linked to a useful article.

  3. aasiksalesas on December 25, 2019 at 3:34 am

    Thanks admin, can you tell me where should I use the hashtag in my blog, in the post itself or in the search description or in the title. My Blog

    A relative URL: Tent Rental in Abu Dhabi

    • Amy Masson on December 27, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Hashtags are for social media, not for your website. No need to put them in the blog post itself.

  4. Jose on May 6, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Just as a further piggybacked question on Hollie’s question: I am currently only sharing my wordpress blogs to a Twitter account. So the only time I would use hashtags in relation to a particular wordpress post is in the text that constitutes the particular tweet?

    Also: I’ve been adding tons of hashtags to the bottom of my posts. Should I go back and delete them all? Will wordpress penalize me for having those hashtags at the bottom of my posts?

    I have read that having more than 10 TAGS can cause problems so I’m just wondering if there’s a similar hashtag paradigm.

    • Amy Masson on May 7, 2019 at 7:48 am

      Correct, use the hashtags when you share on social media, but not within your post. If it were me, I would go back and remove the hashtags from the posts. Will WordPress penalize you? No. It’s just not a useful thing to have in your post.

      In terms of too many hashtags, it’s definitely overkill and bad practice. It distracts from the message, looks sloppy, and takes up a lot of your character space. Spend some time looking for hashtags that are appropriate and pick the best ones. I’m sure you can do it in ten or less. 🙂

  5. Hollie on April 16, 2019 at 6:30 am

    This may sound a silly question…but if I am posting a blog post to my own website – do I use hashtags here? And if so, at the bottom of the blog for everyone to see or can you put these hidden so the audience can’t see them?

    Thank you!

    • Amy Masson on April 16, 2019 at 7:36 am

      No need to use Hashtags on your website, they are really just for social media. Hashtags help group similar posts together. For example, if there’s a big event and I want to see what other people at the event are posting, if everyone is using the same hashtag, I can easily see all their posts and keep up to date. That’s what trending is. But it won’t work within content on your website.

    • Jose on May 6, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you for asking this “silly” question. I had the same exact question!

  6. Omar Eldamsheety on February 7, 2019 at 1:03 am

    Thank you …. where should I use the hashtag in my blog ? … in the post itself or in the search description or in the title.
    https://omar-the-peripatetic.blogspot.com/

    • Amy Masson on February 8, 2019 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Omar – the hashtags go in social media when you share the post.

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