Are you using Google+ hashtags the right way?

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Would you like to extend your reach on Google+? Maybe you’ve noticed that Google+ supports hashtags, just like Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you’ve even added a few to your Google+ posts. What you may not know is that Google+ hashtags work quite a bit differently than hashtags on other social networks. Let’s take a look at the differences between hashtags on Google+ and those on other social networks and how using Google+ hashtags the right way can significantly increase your exposure on Google+, even to people outside your circles.

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook curate content by filtering posts containing certain hashtags. When users search for a specific hashtag on these social networks, all they see are recent updates that contain only that particular hashtag. Google+ uses hashtags in a very different way. Rather than using hashtags to simply curate information on a topic, Google+ actually explores and extends topics to include other relevant data, all with the use of hashtags. However, it is important to note that hashtag searches on Google+ will not return only recent results containing the specific hashtag you searched for. Instead, Google+ has introduced a new Explore tab, which utilizes a proprietary algorithm to automatically return trending topics and other related hashtags when users search for any hashtag. In fact, when you perform a hashtag search on Google+, the Explore feature will return up to 20 other related hashtags, as well as a variety of user content containing the hashtag you searched.

Not only does Google+ suggest relevant and trending topics based on your hashtag searches, but it also automatically suggests additional related hashtags when you begin to type your own. If you see a hashtag within these suggestions that you would like to use, simply click on it and it will be added to your post. Additionally, if you add only one or two hashtags, or none at all, you have the option to allow Google+ to automatically add relevant hashtags based on the content in your post. Unlike other social networks where you are on your own when trying to come up with hashtags to increase your reach, Google+ can do all the hard work for you. Even if your post consists of only a photograph, Google+ has the ability to analyze the image and add appropriate hashtags for you. If you aren’t so great at choosing suitable hashtags, this feature of Google+ can give you the additional reach that you need automatically, without the headache. On the other hand, if you feel confident in your ability to utilize Google+ hashtags, you can disable the automatic hashtag function quickly and easily from your Google+ settings.

So why does your brand have no hashtags associated with it when you search for it in hashtag form under Explore, even though your posts are there? In order for your hashtag to show up when others search for related tags, your hashtag must first be shared more than one time by someone else, and those shares must occur relatively recently. But, once your hashtag receives those shares, it will begin showing up in both searches for that particular tag as well as in the automatic suggestions generated by Google+ when other users type in related hashtags on their own posts. In this way, people who you have never heard of will be pointed to your brand, extending your reach and expanding your audience. The point to take away here is that the hashtag database on Google+ is almost entirely user created, putting the power of hashtags squarely into your hands. Whether you tag your own posts or allow Google+ to add them for you, Google’s search algorithm allows the system to learn and adapt constantly in order to relate various tags to one another based on how they are combined by users. Yes, you read that right! The Google+ system has been programmed to learn from and adapt to the interests and search patterns of the humans with whom it interacts.

Finally, to research and explore related hashtags, content ideas, and trending topics, you need only turn to the Google+ Explore feature. Similar to a keyword search, entering your desired hashtag into the Explore search will give you a variety of related tags that have already been sorted by relevance, popularity, and timeliness. All you have to do is pick the ones that you think are most likely to extend your reach on Google+. In addition, clicking to explore new hashtags can bring you to new people who share similar interests, thereby simultaneously expanding your Google+ circles. Hashtag search results can also reveal new content ideas based on other users’ tags, some of which you may never have considered otherwise. It is also beneficial to check the importance of topics before you develop your posts. When you search the topic hashtag in Explore and no, or very few, related tags are returned, this may be a red flag that the topic might not have enough interest for it to be worth your time. Also, if hashtags returned by your search are old, it may mean that your topic is outdated, or that the use of that particular hashtag may be fading. Using outdated or seldom utilized hashtags is not likely to result in the increase in reach that using up-to-date or trending tags would.

Let us know how successful these Google+ hashtag tips are for you. Do you have other tips that we missed? We would love to hear them!

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