Tube Arcanum

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What Are YouTube Tags and Hashtags and Why Use Them?

When uploading your YouTube video, you can add tags and hashtags. But do these really do anything to help promote your video for more people to watch? The consensus among many is divided on the answer, unfortunately.

Some experts seem to think that tags can play a part in impressions on the platform. While others don’t use them for their content.

In reality, it mostly comes down to the audience and where your focus is to engage viewers.

What Are Tags for YouTube?

Tags are a way that you can identify your video using relevant keywords and phrases. The idea is to help the algorithm understand what your video is about and show it to those who are interested in the topic.

Back in the day, YouTube used tags as a way to help categorize videos that were being uploaded. However, even YouTube states that they aren’t as important as they used to be.

Still, YouTube would have to use them for some purpose, right?

Are Tags Important for YouTube Videos?

In a 2019 case study, vidIQ inserted a unique term to see if it would appear in search. And although videos with it in the title and description did, content that only used the tag did not.

While this was only a single-case study, it does show how tags are kind of mysterious on YouTube.

But I agree with Rob Wilson; if YouTube is providing you with a tool, you might as well use it fully. Just like Google, YouTube isn’t going to tell you exactly how its algorithm works. So, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

How to Add Tags to Your Videos

When uploading a new video, you have up to 500 characters. This means you can add as many tags as you can within that constraint.

Using relevant terms to your video, add as many as you can. Even though it might not help in search results, there may still be a purpose. And the more relevant the tags are for your video the better.

If you’d like to see what tags other creators added to their videos, you can use something like the free version of vidIQ or Tube Buddy to show the list.

vidIQ Video Tags

You don’t have to use all 500 characters. Just use the ones that are the most relevant and common on YouTube. Thanks to the autofill function, you can see what others have used when uploading videos.

What Are Hashtags for YouTube?

Hashtags are a bit different than basic video tags. They work much like they do on sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

These hashtags connect certain types and topics of videos together. Then, when someone clicks on the hashtag, they’re presented with a list of all videos on YouTube using it.

YouTube Hashtags

Are Hashtags Important for YouTube Videos?

There is a bit of debate on whether hashtags really do anything for a video’s visibility. Although it will add your video to the list of others using the same hashtag, it doesn’t seem like it’s an overly popular feature on YouTube.

Still, there’s no harm in adding a hashtag on the off-chance that someone will use it for discoverability.

How to Add Hashtags to Your Videos

YouTube allows up to three hashtags that will display on every video. You can add these to any part of the video description and YouTube will automatically move them to the top so everyone can see them above the video’s description.

When creating a hashtag, keep in mind that it cannot have spaces. So, if you wanted to use a hashtag for WordPress Tutorial, it would look like: #WordPressTutorial.

I usually put mine at the end of the description because YouTube is just going to show them at the top anyway.

How Important Are Tags and Hashtags to YouTube?

Without knowing exactly how YouTube uses tags, it’s difficult to say with certainty whether you need them or not. And since YouTube metrics don’t include hashtags as a source, there is very little we can do to track their usage.

Nonetheless, there would have to be an underlying purpose as to why these two functions are available. YouTube and Google have a way of cutting out functions they think no one uses for the sake of keeping things clean.

Does anyone remember Google+ or video responses?

As I said before, though, you might as well use these functions just in case there is an important aspect of the algorithm we’re just not seeing. Besides, it’s not like it adds a lot of time to the upload process.

Who knows? Perhaps you’re generating more views from the hashtag screen than you thought.

Should You Use a Tag Generator for YouTube?

To be honest, I’m not sure I see the value in tag and hashtag generators. It doesn’t matter what these tools deliver considering you should use relevant terms anyway. And since you can see common terms in auto-complete, it takes maybe a minute to fill out the tag field.

This is especially true if the YouTube algorithm does utilize tags as part of the search or organizes similar content for viewers. Using terms that are irrelevant will indirectly hurt your channel’s development because the videos are less likely to be watched.

For example, let’s say you’re uploading a tutorial on how to install the WPForms contact form plugin for WordPress.

Example tags you would use on YouTube include:

  • wpforms
  • wordpress
  • wordpress tutorial
  • wordpress tutorial for beginners
  • contact form
  • wordpress contact form
  • wordpress contact form plugin

And these are just off the top of my head.

Then, to get a bit more exposure, you’d use hashtags such as:

  • #WordPress
  • #WordPressTutorial
  • #ContactForm

Keep in mind, this is different than doing a keyword search on YouTube. Keywords can help you decide what kind of video to make next. Tags are essentially the after-product of what you’ve already recorded.

Just enter a few words as your tag that are central to the video’s topic. And remember, you don’t need to use all 500 characters for the tags.

There’s nothing wrong with using tag generators for YouTube. There is just little evidence that shows whether they are absolutely needed or not. It may just be a waste of your time and energy.

How Often Do You Use YouTube Tags?

I’ll use as many relevant tags as I can when uploading a video. And I’ll add the three hashtags to further promote the content. But overall, I haven’t seen a difference in impressions or views by using them.

Yet, the functions are available for a reason. So, might as well give the video the best chance possible to be seen.

One thing I’d like to point out is how vidIQ will give you an SEO score based on the tags you’re using compared to the video information. It’s kind of a useful tool if you’re trying to do well in YouTube search.

What has been your experience with tags?

Michael Brockbank

Michael Brockbank

Michael has been managing YouTube channels for the better part of a decade. He's continuously working to find the best methods that work for various types of content from gaming to website tutorials.

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