How Hashtag Pages Can Improve YouTube

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Key Takeaways

  • YouTube’s new hashtag feature allows viewers to search for content using exact keywords.
  • The hashtag system still has some room to grow and improve.
  • This new system could help niche channels find a new audience of viewers.
YouTube logo displayed on a TV screen.
Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Hashtags have ruled the world of social media for years now, and YouTube is finally getting in on the action with new landing pages that finally make sense of its tagging system.

YouTube’s decision to change how the website uses its hashtag keywords recently was announced in a community post. Instead of offering recommendations of videos with the searched hashtag alongside other relevant content, hashtag landing pages now only will show the videos making use of that particular tag.

"Under the old system, you simply added keywords, but they were no guarantee your video would be found unless you intentionally misspelled a keyword and had someone search for your topic with the same misspelling," YouTuber John Bennardo, director of The Two Dollar Bill Documentary, told us in an email interview. "The [new] hashtag feature will zero in on the exact category, and give you more of a chance to be seen than anything you could have done with keywords."

Finding Your Audience

According to YouTube, more than 500 hours of content is uploaded every minute. If you’re just one of millions of content creators trying to make your way on the video sharing site, then finding your audience can be tough, especially for channels like Bennardo’s that fall into a much smaller niche.

A screenshot of the YouTube Hashtag page for iPhone12.
The YouTube hashtag page for #iPhone12.

Because of the vast amount of content being uploaded, having a way to single yourself out, or at least increase your chances of being singled out, is extremely important to creators.

While hashtags have been a feature for a while, they never allowed creators a real chance to get themselves out there—something that many hope will change with this most recent update.

"Mine is a niche channel, so anyone searching for videos about $2 bills will probably find them anyway," Bennardo said in our email. "Where I think the hashtags can help me is in some ancillary categories that I can now appear in after a more specific search."

He continued, "I can hashtag words like money, currency, and collectible, just to name a few, and presume that my videos will show up more frequently. That, in turn, could lead to more views and more subscribers."

While some are excited about the changes, the new feature isn’t as simple as tagging your video and forgetting about it. YouTube still has a ranking algorithm in place, which will showcase what it considers the "best" content under that tag first.

"The [new] hashtag feature will zero in on the exact category and give you more of a chance to be seen than anything you could have done with keywords."

The good news is this makes filtering out irrelevant content much easier, since the landing pages will require videos to include the exact tag being searched for.

Unfortunately, it looks like the landing pages have already run into some issues, as they mostly show India-based content when searching. This is most likely some kind of bug that will be sorted in the near future.

Machine Learning

Like much of YouTube’s core experience, the algorithms play an important part in determining who gets to the top of the landing pages, too. That doesn’t mean creators can’t do things to help increase their chances of being seen. In fact, some YouTube creators already have taken to Twitter to share their success in ranking well in the new system. 

"Just checking out how my Hashtags are ranking...and I'm top for #FacebookAdvice on YouTube," @BecsBate, a social media executive, tweeted. She continued, "What Hashtags do you use? Do you understand how they work?"

While YouTube might rely on bots to curate a lot of the content on the site, creators can learn how to use hashtags effectively. For YouTubers like Bennardo, this means finding keywords that wouldn’t have been relevant before and making the most of them. 

"I have done some videos that have stretched into other categories," Bennardo said. "One that comes to mind is a video where I sought out $2 bills on eBay. With the hashtag feature, I can now tag a video like that with #eBay and show up in more searches for what would generally be non-related content."

There are still some kinks in the system, but if they are ironed out, and creators learn how to use it to their benefit, the new hashtag feature on YouTube could help increase exposure and drive up subscriber counts.

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