There’s no doubt Twitter has changed the world we live in.
From its launch in July 2006 to its current state 13 years later, the microblogging website has become the ultimate news source, outreach platform, meme supplier, political soapbox, and so, so much more to so many people.
One of the many results of Twitter and its growing popularity was the rise of the hashtag.
Twitter infamously helped create the hashtag in 2007, first used by Chris Messina, which changed not just Twitter, but all of social media – and much of the world around it – in a big way.
What Are Hashtags?
A hashtag is a keyword index tool written with a #, or the pound symbol, at the beginning of a series of space-less keyword sets to refer to a specific topic, idea, or trend.
Hashtags are metadata tags consisting of letters and numbers – excluding spaces and punctuation – that categorize keywords and ideas (typically on social media platforms, like Twitter) by turning them into clickable phrases that are indexed with other, related tweets.
After debuting on Twitter thanks to Messina, hashtags flourished, first on Twitter, then on other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and even business-oriented LinkedIn.
Hashtags have become a staple on most social media platforms and are embedded in the everyday fabric of social media.
And, thankfully, they’ve made categorization in a world of data overload easier than ever before.
How to Use Hashtags
Hashtags help categorize content among a plethora of information, thus making it easier than ever before to find and sort specific bits of information as they are published across Twitter.
It has become a legitimate source for breaking news, official statements, campaign launches, and even jarring photos and videos that have led to arrests and accusations, as well as other unexpected, unprecedented, and unbelievable interactions.
When using hashtags – either ones that are already trending or trying to kickstart a new one for a specific reason, campaign or idea – there are basic guidelines to using the right one, at the right time, with the right content. This will limit the potential for unintentional blowback, and later, damage control.
Creating a new hashtag and hopping on an existing one are drastically different moves and need to be handled as such. But they’re both helpful and are skills all quality social media marketers (and Twitter users) should understand.
Creating a hashtag can be tricky.
Like most “viral” content on the web, some of the strangest ones will find a way to break through the surface and become a multi-day Twitter trend.
Others will fall to the wayside with very little effort.
Even the best hashtags benefit from influencer piggybacking, overall timing, and general luck to becoming a common trend on Twitter.
In addition to those aspects, you should follow a few other rules when creating a new hashtag if you want it catch on and become popular.
The three most important rules for creating hashtags are:
Keep It Simple
Keeping it simple is the most important aspect when it comes to creating a hashtag.
If it’s too complicated or elaborate, it will likely not catch on.
It also can’t be so vague that it’s impossible to separate it from other, unrelated hashtags with similar keywords or ideas.
Keep It Memorable
Clever hashtags tend to get legs easier than ones that are not.
If it’s witty and easy to remember, not only will the hashtag likely catch on and be used, but it will also likely have a longer shelf life than a hashtag that is not that memorable.
Give It the ‘Common Sense Check’
This is just as critical as the first two rules for creating hashtags, if not more.
Does the hashtag you’re trying to create make sense?
Can it be confused with another topic or hashtag that has nothing to do with your goal?
Most of all, does it offend, confuse, or lean toward the idea that this isn’t the best hashtag for your unique messaging?
A simple common sense check should help direct you as to whether your newly developed hashtag is going to be a winner or if it’s danger looming.
Using Existing Hashtags
When using hashtags that are already being used by others on the platform, there are some important rules to consider as well, but they are a bit different than those for creating new hashtags.
The three most important rules for using hashtags:
Research the Hashtag Before Adopting It
It may not mean what you think it means.
Your first step to ensuring it is the hashtag you’re looking for is to research it; look at other tweets using the hashtag and make sure they are in line with your thinking.
Too many times, users miss the mark with this one and adopt a hashtag that really means something completely different than what they intend.
Just ask DiGiorno’s Pizza about #WhyIStayed.
Make Sure It’s Relevant
Once you know what it means, make sure it makes sense to use for your messaging. Miss the mark and suffer the consequences.
Be sure to use your wit and personality and put your brand/personal spin on it.
Remember, the right hashtag has been used hundreds or thousands of times before you. This is the chance for you to stand out in a crowded room. Do it!
The biggest aspect of this to realize and remember is that, if hashtags are used incorrectly, it could come back to hurt the brand.
Being associated with a poor user experience is a quick and easy way to lose followers, fans, and even customers.
Potential Hashtag Nightmares
Just like anything else on the internet, there are people who will try to manipulate the system to gain an edge by doing less than others.
When it comes to hashtags, lazy (and bad) marketers will piggyback on popular and trending hashtags to gain increased visibility, sometimes compromising the integrity of the hashtag if misleading tweets aren’t filtered out.
These piggy-backers are rarely, if ever, rewarded. And brands that try it only suffer the backlash of the public, then the history books (i.e., American Apparel’s Hurricane Sandy Sale and other piggybacking disasters).
Like most things in the digital marketing realm, make sure what you’re doing is ethical and sensible. It’s unlikely you’d be penalized for that.
When to Use Hashtags
Hashtags have a time and place to be used, and it can be in every tweet a brand publishes.
It also doesn’t need to be, either.
Be genuine in your messaging and use hashtags to help categorize information, not to manipulate or deceive. Customers will remember it and they know what they want.
Why Use Hashtags
Simply put, hashtags improve your messages’ general visibility on Twitter (typically).
In addition to the increased organic visibility, hashtag users also tend to see increased engagement on the platform, increased brand awareness, and increased customer feedback, among other things, when effectively (and properly) using hashtags – all of which result in increased visibility.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Continue Reading Below
Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
Continue Reading Below
But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
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