Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Are Hashtags Harming Your Twitter Success?

Over my next few posts, I will be writing about how you can use twitter for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and to drive traffic to your website.

In this post we will look at Hashtags. I will explain what they are and how they can both help and hurt your efforts to get more website traffic.

What are Hashtags?

By placing a the # symbol in front of a word in your tweet, you are telling twitter that it is a keyword. For example;  "Are #Hashtags Harming Your Twitter Success?"

The Hashtaged word then becomes a link in your tweet, and clicking on it will take you to a list of recent tweets with the same Hashtag. This is great if you want to see what people are tweeting about a specific event or breaking news story.

Using Hashtags will help provide exposure to more twitter users. And may help building you following on twitter.

How can Hashtags be harmful?

Unscrupulous twitter users are now tweeting un-related links with trending Hashtags in order to get more exposure.  An infamous instance of this is Kenneth Cole's #Cairo Tweet.

According to Amit Singhal from Google,  while such tags can usefully maximize exposure of a tweet, they can also serve as red flags to lower tweet quality and attract spam-like content. While he wouldn't get into details, he said Google modelled this hashtagging behaviour in ways that tend to reduce the exposure of low-quality tweets. This is Googles obscure way of saying that using Hashtags can harm your SEO efforts.

What Should you do?

The solution is simple, I would recommend that when you are tweeting for SEO, don’t use Hashtags. When you are tweeting to build reputation and get more followers, use Hashtags, but do so sparingly, and ensure they are relevant.

But wait there’s more...
If you enjoyed this post then you will probably enjoy the rest of the Using Twitter for SEO series