How To Use Hashtags On YouTube In 2021. Walkthrough + Recommendations

Earlier in 2021, I released a video called “YouTube Hashtags: How To Choose the Right Hash Tags for your videos“.

The reason I created that video is that the YouTube Creators Channel released a video where they said hashtag landing pages had been “rolled out to 100 percent”.

I thought, “YouTube is going in the direction of making hashtags more important“. So I made a video looking at the landing pages for hashtags and seeing how you could choose the right hash tags for your videos now.

Since then, I’ve done more digging and more research, and I’ve changed my thoughts about how I see hashtags on YouTube for small channels. You can watch the video update, “YouTube Hashtags 2021”, here.

The reason for the change is the priority that’s given to the hashtags on your video’s page.

Clickable Hashtags On YouTube Video Pages

You can see the high profile clickable hashtags get on YouTube video pages, which are effectively your pages.

Youtube hashtags on a 2021 video page, example.

It’s one thing to tag your video and hope to appear on the hashtag landing pages.

It’s another thing to have these clickable hashtags appear right under your video.

When people click on those, they go to pages that aren’t yours and aren’t going to feature your videos. But if you use phrases like this, “#hashtags”, “#youtubehashtags”, “#videohashtags”, those are basically exit links from your videos.

Those hashtags links are basically exit links from your video!

Those people that you’ve worked so hard to get to see your videos and increase your video view count and potentially your subscriber count you’re waving goodbye to if they click those links.

Now, that wouldn’t be so bad if you could get traffic from the hashtag landing pages. But my research has shown that it’s actually very hard to get traffic from the hashtag landing pages as they currently exist.

Let’s look at that and a bit more detail.

Getting Clicks From Hashtag Landing Pages

The first point to make is if you actually search for a hashtag on YouTube, you don’t go direct to what is the hashtag landing page. You come to one of these pages.

A hybrid landing page after a hashtag search.

I’ve typed in “#domainnames” and it says “including results for domain names“, the search as if it wasn’t a hashtag. And this has changed since a week ago. Now they include this hashtag icon, which would take you to the hashtag landing page, the actual hashtag page that they talk about.

So this is kind of a hybrid page in between YouTube search results and the actual hash tag page. And that cuts down traffic basically because people who use YouTube to search for hashtags aren’t immediately landing on the hashtag pages.

Yet the only way to go direct to a hashtag landing page is to click on a hashtag underneath a video.

This is the actual hashtag landing page for “#domainname”.

The actual YouTube hashtag landing page in 2021.

If you want to go to it direct, you go to…

But what’s interesting is how these pages show the content that’s on them. There’s the 617 videos from 445 channels. You would think that wouldn’t be very competitive.

Organizing Results On Hashtag Landing Pages

You would think that, by consensus, a hashtag is something that you want to know the most useful, relevant, up-to-date trending information for. That’s what we’ve been trained to use it for from Twitter. So you say, “oh, this hashtag is trending, that hashtags trending”. And if you search for a hashtag, it’s because you want to know what the most current results, the most trendy information is around that hashtag. You’d at least want videos from 2020, or 2021!

But these pages don’t yet seem to be organized that way.

If you look at this content you’ve got one year ago, one year ago, four years ago, six months ago.

The top results are either two or four years old.

The interesting thing is if you go to each of these pages…

Video 1 was put up in 2019. It’s nearly two years old. The interesting thing is that this is a verified member who has 111,000 subscribers.

Video 2 is from 2019. And again, you have the verified tick because the person has over 104,000 subscribers.

Video 3 is from 2016 and is actually by GoDaddy, again, a verified creator on YouTube. A four year old video and, they have 127,000 subscribers.

So you’ve got the top three are by people that have over 100,000 subscribers, and that’s only for a hashtag which has 445 channels that are produced, 617 videos. You wouldn’t think the competition is that intense, but it actually is.

And then the worst part is you say, “OK, maybe I can’t compete for the #domainname”. Once you go to something that’s less competitive than “domain name” that you think you could rank for, you seem to end up with almost no searches at all.

How Much Traffic From Long-Tail Hashtags?

Here’s an example. “Domain names explained”. Someone’s used it as a hashtag, but that video has nine views when it was put up 10 months ago.

A page with very little search traffic.

So the current structure of YouTube hashtag pages in 2021doesn’t really work for small content creators to get traction and to get views.

First of all, there’s the hybrid page in between if someone searches for a hashtag. Secondly, competitive hashtags seem to have content from multiple years ago created by verified creators, so it’s hard to get traction for those pages. If you go for less competitive pages there seems to be no traffic..

The flow of YouTube traffic for hashtag pages.

So that seems to be what’s going on with the hashtag pages at the moment. Maybe YouTube are going to roll the feature out more fully or they’re going to add to the hashtag pages, or organize them differently. Perhaps more recent content will get more of a boost, something like that.

Conclusions About YouTube’s Hashtags

But at the moment, it’s not quite useful enough to actually have the prominent links underneath the video that take people away from your pages.

And if you’re a popular channel, you really wouldn’t want people leaving by clicking on those links. You’d be better off either not having hashtags or having hashtags that you’ve created yourself to brand yourself on YouTube.

So those are my up-to-date thoughts about using hashtags on YouTube if you’re a small content creator. I don’t currently suggest using hashtags on YouTube in 2021.

Those three clickable links underneath your video will take traffic away that you worked hard to get to your videos, and also the payback I don’t think will be very good.

Obviously, you can test it if you wish, put in some hashtags, see if you get traffic from those hashtags and whether it’s worthwhile or not for you to potentially lose traffic to the links and your videos.

I’ll keep an eye on how hashtags are used at YouTube and if my perspective on hashtag changes, I’ll let you know.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed the video and got something useful out of it.

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I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll talk to you again very soon. Check out more of my YouTube tips videos here.

Thanks for watching.

Neil Shearing