Hashtags on YouTube: Are you making these 3 major YouTube hashtag mistakes? (and what to do instead)

Hashtags on YouTube, if used the WRONG way, can actually send people AWAY from your videos and hurt your YouTube SEO. That’s why, in this video, I’m going to explain exactly how YouTube hashtags work and show you how to avoid the mistakes that can hurt your channel growth… so you can start using hashtags in a way that will grow your channel and boost your SEO.


0:20 What are hashtags and how do they work
1:05 How to add YouTube hashtags to your videos
1:18 YouTube rules and policies about hashtags
1:31 The downside of hashtags (if you use them wrong)
2:16 The answer to those problems
3:04 My ninja hashtag strategy


Get the step-by-step instructions and other freebies from:

YouTube information on hashtag guidelines


Information on misleading metadata


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Hashtags on YouTube – Video Transcript

Hashtags on YouTube, if used the WRONG way, can actually send people AWAY from your videos and hurt your YouTube SEO.

That’s why, in this video, I’m going to explain exactly how YouTube hashtags work and show you how to avoid the mistakes that can hurt your channel growth… so you can start using hashtags in a way that will grow your channel and boost your SEO.

So what are YouTube hashtags and how do they work?

Just like on Instagram, hashtags on YouTube are a way for people to find content and they also help give the YouTube algorithm clues about what the topic of a video is all about. Don’t get them confused with regular YouTube tags – because they work in a totally different way.

Basically, hashtags on YouTube are clickable links, and when someone clicks on a hashtag, they get taken to a page of video search results full of videos that have been tagged with the same hashtag, and if there aren’t many of them – to search results without the hashtag.

You’ll see hashtags in three main places on YouTube – in the video title itself, as blue links above the video title, and in the video description box. Adding them is really simple – to use a hashtag in a video’s title, just type it in as part of your title – and to add hashtags to your video description, just type them in anywhere you want. YouTube automatically grabs the first three hashtags that it finds in your description and displays them above your title.

YouTube has some fairly straight forward rules about using hashtags, that I’ll link below this video, but basically you need to make sure your hashtags don’t have spaces between the words, aren’t abusive and don’t contain inappropriate content or misleading claims.

Sounds pretty easy so far… right?

So what’s the problem?

Well, there are actually 3 problems

First, by displaying hashtags above your title, you’re adding an enticing clickable link that encourages your viewer to click away from your video and watch other content that’s also been tagged with the same hashtag. That’s a potential disaster for your video’s audience retention, especially if you’re a smaller channel in a busy niche.

Second, there’s also the potential that the hashtags you choose could confuse the YouTube algorithm and water down your video SEO efforts if they’re not directly related to the content of your video.

And third, if you use more than 15 hashtags, YouTube will ignore ALL of them.

So what’s the answer? It’s actually quite simple

Make sure your first three hashtags, the ones that will be automatically displayed above your video title, are unique BRANDED hashtags – that way, if someone happens to click one of them, they’ll be taken to a set of search results where your videos dominate and what you lose in one video’s audience retention, you’ll gain in channel watch time.

Don’t use ANY hashtags that aren’t absolutely related to your content, your channel, or your brand.

If you notice that some of the bigger channels are using topic based hashtags on their videos and you want to increase your chances of showing up in the hashtag search results for those hashtags, add those hashtags to your description but make sure it’s AFTER your three branded hashtags. That way they won’t show up as links above your title and encourage people to click away from your content, but they MIGHT just help your video to rank in the hashtag search results. The same thing goes for keyword hashtags. Make sure you add them AFTER your branded hashtags.

So as promised, here’s the ninja hashtag strategy that I’m using on my videos – it has four main parts.

Part number one of my strategy is about linking videos from the same playlist to one another

My first hashtag on each video links that current video with my other videos from the same series. The video you’re watching is part of a series of YouTube ninja tricks – which all have the hashtag youtube ninja tricks

Part number 2 of my strategy is about reinforcing my brand identity

My second hashtag is all about brand identity, so that if people click, they’ll see all my other videos. I, personally choose not to associate my actual name with the ninja tricks brand because this is not my main niche that I make videos for – but if you want people to find your videos by searching your name, this is definitely where you’d add your name as a hashtag.

Part number 3 of my strategy is about identifying with a movement that’s bigger than my channel

My third hashtag is about identifying with a bigger movement – hashtag ninja YouTuber – which is a way for us smaller channels to get connected, work together and help each other grow. If you’re using some of my tips and strategies to grow your channel, feel free to use this hashtag on your videos, and make sure you support the other growing channels who use this hashtag too by watching and interacting with their videos, just like I do.

Part number 4 of my strategy is all about showing up in hashtag search results.

The final way that I use hashtags is to position my videos to show up in hashtag search results for popular hashtags in my niche. This bit is about having your cake and eating it too – because while I don’t want any non-branded hashtags showing up as my top 3 and encouraging people to click away from my videos, I DO want my videos to show up in the hashtag results for popular topics in my video’s niche. If I see a big channel in my niche using hashtags, I take notice. If, when I’m doing my keyword research for a particular topic, I notice that the top videos use a hashtag that’s also relevant to my video, I’ll add that in too. And I’ll also add a hashtag for my exact match video keyword. Make sure you don’t use too many hashtags, 15 is the absolute maximum, but I try to keep them to 8 or less.

Finally don’t be tempted to add a hashtag that’s not actually related to the content of your video, because it’s mot just bad for your SEO, it potentially triggers YouTubes misleading metadata policies. There’s a link to them in the description, just click the show more link below this video.

If you learnt something about YouTube hashtags from this video, make sure you give it a thumbs up – and don’t forget about using the ninja YouTuber hashtag on your videos if you’re a small channel in growth mode. In fact, if that’s you – let me know in the comments what your channel is about and what branded hashtags you’re thinking about using from now on. I read all the comments and it would be great to meet you.

Blue skies!


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