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social media how to Do you want to reach more people on Google+?

Are you using Google+ hashtags?

Google+ hashtags make it easier for people to discover your content, even if they’re outside your circles. That added visibility gives you greater overall reach.

In this article you’ll discover how to find hashtags to reach the right people on Google+.

use google+ hashtag

Find out how to use hashtags on Google+ to increase exposure for your business.

How Google+ Hashtags Work

When Google+ started supporting hashtags, the news was met with some skepticism. People wondered if Google+ was blindly following Twitter and Facebook–and whether Google+ hashtags would be as useless as Facebook hashtags.

Listen to this article:

The answer turned out to be no on both counts. Google+ hashtags are actually an efficient way to bring more exposure and visibility to your Google+ profile and brand, but they work a bit differently than you’re used to.

Other social networks use hashtags to curate content by filtering updates that include a specific hashtag. If you search for #easyrecipes, your results only show updates that include that hashtag.

Google+ uses hashtags to explore a topic rather than curate it. When you search for a hashtag within Google+, the network auto-selects related hashtags and trending topics and returns those along with the hashtag you typed in.

google+ hashtag search

There’s no way to search only for the hashtag you typed in.

It’s the additional related results that set Google+ hashtags apart. It’s handy to know the topical relevance of several updates, as well as the connections between topics and objects.

The only downside is that you don’t have any control over the relevance of the search results.

#1: Take Advantage of Shared Interests

Google+ uses a complex algorithm to identify which updates make it into your home stream—even if those updates are from people who are not in your circles. This algorithm appears to include hashtag relevance.

I’m seeing much more interaction from people outside of my network when I include a couple of hashtags in my Google+ updates. For example, sometimes my updates show up as “hot” for users known to have related interests.

google+ content with a hashtag

Google+ uses an algorithm to serve content to people based on related interests.

And in the example below, a user is showing up in my stream even though I’m not connected to him. However, we have several things in common—including the hashtags we use or follow—so Google+ served the update to me.

google+ content from unconnected user

We have quite a few things in common, but I have found hashtags to be always in the mix! More on this in my recent Pubcon presentation.

You can take advantage of shared interests by searching for a hashtag and making note of the results. Find out what related topics people are talking about and which related hashtags they’re using, then use both in your future updates. You’ll have a better chance of appealing to a wider audience and you’ll be more likely to show up in their feeds.

#2: Let Google+ Assign Hashtags

While other social media networks rely on users to tag their own updates, Google+ is taking the liberty of doing it for you, which may not be such a bad thing.

google+ post with automatic hashtags

Google+ added two hashtags to mine, but still displays mine on top.

For example, if you used a not-so-popular hashtag or included just one hashtag, Google+ will automatically add more hashtags—and that gives you additional reach.

google+ hashtag settings

You can easily turn off the Google+ auto-tag feature in your settings.

If you’re not crazy about Google+ adding hashtags and would rather use your own, you can do that. Disable Google+’s automatic hashtag feature by going into your settings and unchecking the box.

#3: Find Your Own Hashtags

Now that you’re on your own for hashtags, the question is how to come up with the most relevant ones, right? One option is to use the Explore section and sift though related hashtags—kind of like a mini keyword search.

As I mentioned, when you search for a hashtag on Google+, your results include a separate box with the most popular and recently used hashtags. You can look through those and pick the ones that are most likely to expand your reach.

google+ hashtag search

Make it a habit to search the Explore section to find relevant popular hashtags.

You can also use the Google+ auto-suggest function. Just start typing anything after # and you’ll see some additional suggested hashtags. I am using Cyfe to monitor my most relevant hashtags.

Don’t forget to use #yourbrandname in your Google+ updates. If you have enough users hashtagging your brand name in the relevant context, those updates are very likely to be suggested to additional users as “related” whenever they’re exploring Google+.

In most cases, Google+ shows hashtags in the upper right corner in the same order as they appear in your update, so be sure to use your branded hashtag first! When readers click on it, they’ll see more updates around your brand via the Flip Through box.

branded hashtag on google+

A branded hashtag brings up even more content related to your business.

Quick tip: If you’re hosting a Twitter chat, consider cross-promoting your hashtag on Google+ for more awareness and brand visibility—it works really well. TwChat is a good way to brand a hashtag; there are more tools listed in startup resources.

Finally, make your hashtags useful. On Twitter, people often use hashtags as a fun way to express extra emotion or jokes. That kind of hashtagging doesn’t make much sense when you’re trying to extend reach.

If you want your hashtagged updates to work, make it easy for Google+ to categorize them. Use hashtags that match your content, not your emotions. Hashtags should make perfect sense, add to the topic and even provide context. If you follow those guidelines, your updates are more likely to be seen by a larger audience.

Wrapping Up

Google+ hashtags are an important tactic for reaching a wider audience. Of course, choosing the right hashtag can make or break this social tactic, so take the time to tag your own updates rather than relying on Google+ to do it for you.

Use the Explore section to find the hottest related hashtags and learn more about your niche and how to best target it on Google+. Just don’t get too carried away. Over-tagging is spammy—especially when the hashtag isn’t directly related to your topic.

What do you think? Are you using Google+ hashtags? Have you noticed wider reach or more engagement because of them? Please share your thoughts and tips below!

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  • Ashley Taborsky

    Hey Ann –

    I’ve recently noticed how G+ auto-hashtags posts, but I haven’t entirely understood why. This article sums it up perfectly, with just the right mix of social media jargon & SEO-talk 🙂

    Where it stands now, asking, “Do you want to reach more people on Google Plus?” is similar to asking, “Do you want to learn how to shout louder in an empty room?” but I think most digital marketers are starting to realize that Google isn’t going to abandon its ugly baby, so it’s time we start learning about how to use it.

    There’s been SEO-hype about how promoting content on G+ might not directly bring your page traffic, but that Google search plays favorites with content that it recognizes via G+.

    What do you think – should brands get involved creatively to invest in the potential social aspect, or are they better off keeping it simple, yet targeted, for potential SEO payoff? Is maintaining a company’s Google+ page today more of a creative role or a technical/SEO formality?

  • I like using G+ auto-hashtags. However, I’ve created hashtags for a few clients, which can help with them get found locally.

  • Anna Stevens

    Great article, Ann! I’m from Russia and live in the US… Never thought about people being suggested to me because they are from Russia… Thanks for the insight! So, do your friends call you “Anya” like me? 🙂

  • Thanks Ann, that clears up a few questions I had on how to use Google + hashtags more effectively. Thanks for making it an easy read

  • Exactly! I am Anya 🙂 Good to meet a fellow Russian here!

  • Glad you found it useful!

  • Hashtags work great for better reach!

  • To be honest, I’ve never been on Google Plus for the sake of SEO… I’ve never done anything for SEO… I am actually enjoying Google Plus for its connecting power (Google Hangouts, Google Communities, etc). So that’s what I suggest others do as well!

  • Hey Ann,

    A nice article on Google Plus Hashtag , now i will use Hashtag for Google Plus more effectively. Thanks

    Mike

  • Hi Ann – loved the article a lot; I got interested in Google + when I saw that when it came to SEO Google favoured it’s own baby more than any of the other kids running around the social media playground.

    And Ashley, babies are never really ugly; I remember when my first child was born and I felt like maybe suggesting she needed a few more weeks in the oven but after a while she turned out beautifully – she just hadn’t had enough time to grow up yet

  • Hej Ann, great overview. Specifically the ‘explore’ option is totally underestimated. I might use 1 or 2 of your ideas in my next presentation at dotcomhotel Prague in 2 weeks. Thx, Daniel

  • Anna Stevens

    Likewise, Anyut! And good job on everything 🙂

  • treb072410

    Useful information Ann, thank you for sharing..

  • Wonderful information and very helpful!

  • Thanks for reading it, Danny!

  • Haha! loved the oven joke 🙂 We’ve all been there!

  • Thanks, Dabiel. I am happy you have found it useful!

  • I use hashtags often and if you use your keyword in the hashtag, it can come up on google’s page 1 rankings. it’s not as technical as it sounds, but i have done it.

  • Thanks crew! Hashtags on G+ are hotter than hansel right now

  • I love Google+ hashtag policy. I find it much more effective than Facebook and as you mention there’s much more than simply allowing Google to select the topics for you. Great article.

  • I think focusing too much on SEO could make you lose focus on the main goal of your Social Media activities (I’ve seen this happening too often). In my opinion, SEO is a good add-on that comes with the package if you do things correctly… like the candy of an easter egg.

  • Ashley Taborsky

    Totally agree, Antonio, but if there’s a proven recipe to effectively do both consistently, that sounds like a winning strategy.

    Does that magic recipe exist on Facebook? I’d argue no, it doesn’t. But is it possible to effectively do both on G+? I don’t know & I’d be curious to hear if any company has successfully/unsuccessfully tried (meaning improved their SEO while still building genuine relationships via social).

  • Of course. Facebook hashtags suck… they didn’t have a good set of rules or policies, they are hard to use – especially to find content – and the SRP does not show good results. Google+ is a much better option. Totally agree with you.

  • Ishita Ganguly

    “Take the time to tag your own updates rather than relying on Google+ to do it for you.” Couldn’t agree more Ann. I also choose my Hashtags manually while posting on Google+, though it almost suggests the nearly perfect ones. But since it’s your content, you know it best.

    A good-read indeed. 🙂

  • Social media well become the source of all traffic.

  • Ps Check Out my blog HomeBasedBusinessBrothers.Com

  • Adrian Hill

    What do they do then???? Ann Adrian hill

  • Yes google # tag is good for social media optimization work. It is easy to use hash tag in google+.

  • But do you recommend to post with # or to use it in the G+ page description ?

  • yung

    As a person who uses G+, I never once considered hashtagging. After reading this, I used hashtags and it has opened up an exciting way to interact with a broader audience surrounding one topic. Thanks for this post!

  • I recommend tagging yourself (using #)

  • But where ? In the description or our posts ?

  • Not sure what you mean? There’s only one description field on Google Plus: Where you publish your post… that’s where we can use hashtags… I am sorry if I got your question wrong!

  • Ah ok you mean you recommend us to use # in our own description in Google +, right ?

  • Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa you mean in a post ! Sorry I was bit tired :p

  • Sabrina Kizzie

    Thanks for providing this information! I especially like your quick tip about
    cross promoting a Twitter Chat on Google+ with hashtags. Great article Ann!
    Sabrina Kizzie, Author & Social Media Lecturer
    -Twitter & Instagram: @Sabrinaonmove

  • Karim

    Very good article, I was looking for content about how to effectively use hashtags in G+ and this tutorial has been very helpful

  • Wings Mok

    Thanks Ann for the great insight!

  • Nirav Purohit

    Thanks this is one of useful update about #google hashtags

  • deb

    Great post

  • I agree Antonio. People lose focus when they constantly try to add SEO and hashtags to everything. What I do is create my content with seo and backlinks all into my blog. I use social media to capture the attention and draw them to my blog. I like keeping my social media walls open for fun engaging posts.

    GREAT POST ANN!

  • Great overview & thanks for including the point about using a hash tag for your brand as that was my question.

  • Robert Douglas

    Every where I go I see people telling me that all I have to do is uncheck the auto hashtag option under the hashtag section of setting. easy, right. Except in my settings there is no hostages section and no such option. I keep getting kicked out of communities for auto- hashtagging. WTF???

  • Quick question on the auto-hashtag feature – has Google+ removed that feature? I’ve looked everywhere in Settings but I can’t find it.