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Why Marketers Should Be Thinking About YouTube Hashtag Optimization

4 minute read
Pierre DeBois avatar
YouTube's hashtag search improvements arrive as a new feature, in-video shopping, is being rolled out.

You can be forgiven for thinking search optimization improvement efforts are limited to a webpage. But the truth is they occur on any platform that augments an SEO strategy. 

YouTube is one such example. Last month YouTube introduced a simple feature, a hashtag search results page, to improve the relevancy of results for viewers. While it was possible to search via hashtag previously, this update limits results only to items using the hashtag in question, not algorithmically-determined related results as were previously served.

Where YouTube and Google Search Diverge

The search algorithm in YouTube has different inputs than those in the Google search engine.

Search results for the same query differ because YouTube prioritizes viewer comments on videos in the query — the more comments, the more "relevant" the video is likely to be for a query result. This is why so many influencers and users encourage subscriptions and mention comments in their videos. In contrast, Google examines how relevant site elements are to the query terms.

Yet YouTube is a crucial asset in a strong online presence. It has long been considered the second largest search engine behind Google. So marketers planning an optimization strategy on YouTube must modify their keywords and content deployment to take advantage of the different input as well as to bolster a coordinated hashtag strategy.

Related Article: How to Use Instagram Search Optimization: A New Kind of SEO

How Hashtag Search Works in YouTube

To appreciate the value of the hashtags, you have to appreciate how YouTube videos are optimized. YouTube video optimization tactics usually focus on the video title and description. The title, which can go up to 100 characters, should ideally include the relevant keywords. The video description can contain up to three sentences up to 300 characters. The description can also include a link to a website.

youtube corvette hashtag

Hashtags are added in the video description to further highlight content. Hashtags in the title and descriptions become hyperlinked once in place. This means that users can click on the hashtag to create a search page result for the hashtag, connecting a video to an existing event topic or theme. 

Learning Opportunities

Viewers can reach a search results page in two ways: 1. Users can type the hashtag directly in the search text box or 2. they can click on the hyperlinked tag in a video. The URL for the page will be with your search hashtag attached. So for example, the hashtag #daffodils yields a URL 

Related Article: Get Your SEO House in Order for 2021

The Significance of Hashtag Search for Ecommerce

A previous post covered the significance of a social media hashtag strategy. But for YouTube, the new search creates benefits for marketers and consumers.

The hashtag search page arrives as a new feature, in-video shopping, is being rolled out to YouTube users to appeal to an emerging consumer behavior. In-video shopping allows the user to click a link to purchase right after seeing a video. This feature is comparable to shopping within an Instagram post and allows the marketer to plan a strategy for customers to discover and purchase products much more easily.

Because consumers are using more portals than the standard search engine — either as a complement or even in some cases a starting point — marketers must optimize hashtags across platforms. Many hashtags are used in advertising, so customers learned to look for them as a starting point to research products and services. YouTube's search feature builds on that behavior, particular as people continue shop from home due to public restrictions from the pandemic.

Ultimately you should see this as a reason to update older videos. The better you can coordinate hashtag and keyword usage, the more comprehensive customer experience your brand will provide.

About the author

Pierre DeBois

Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a small business digital analytics consultancy. He reviews data from web analytics and social media dashboard solutions, then provides recommendations and web development action that improves marketing strategy and business profitability.