Google+ Hashtags: Initial Observations

One of the more interesting aspects of Google+ redesign in my opinion is the new way of #hashtag handling. This short post goes over a few basic observations I’ve made so far.


What I find interesting is that certain keywords trigger the tag, while others do not. I tested this by creating a single term post which implies the same concept (SEO):


Conflicting, diverse and complex text segments seem to confuse the algorithm and these posts generally do not show the tag. Another observation I made was that the tags are not added after the post edit, but are removed if the post no longer contains the relevant keyword which triggered the tag in the first place.

Term Repetition

Keyword density is apparently a factor, observe the following terms which on their own will not trigger a tag.

Once repeated the tags suddenly appear attached to both test posts:


Colour Coding

Blue Tags

Google+ will in certain instances pick up what they believe is the most relevant tag to describe the topic of a post. Automatically generated context hashtags are visible as (up to three?) shades of blue.

So far I was only able to generate two blue tags:


Grey Tags

 Hashtags explicitly set by the post author are always displayed in up to three shades of grey.


Combined Tags

It is possible to see both blue and grey tags in the same post. Combined manual and automatic hashtags look like this:



Hashtags tend to be scrambled by default, similarly to multiple images in posts, but in some instances it appears as though Google+ understands sequential statements such as: #first, #second, #third.


Interestingly, if you specify the above tags in a non-sequential order it will obey that sequence too. Use words (and even numbers) however, and they will be randomised:



Me Google+, me no smart yet.

I have not seen any sign of intelligence among these semantically connected terms. By writing down “lemon banana pineapple cherry fig grape orange blueberry fruit” you will not get a hashtag #fruit (even if you include the word).


Semantic Relevance

Yes. Positive. Affirmative. 

In fact if you click on a tag you are taken to a semantic slider showing you four related posts:

semantic slider

The fifth screen is the most interesting part which seems to work similarly to Google search related terms, but likely driven by user activities and hashtag choices in addition to classic search signals:


By clicking on any of the suggested tags above users can explore more.

Semantic Data Source

Google’s hashtags are a brand new source of rich semantic data which could potentially be used for market research, search engine optimisation, brainstorming and content testing.

Managing Hashtags

Hashtags can be disabled/enabled from the following page:

hashtag disable

From Google:

Hashtags on Google+

A hashtag is a word or a phrase (without spaces) preceded by the # symbol – for example, #Cooking – that helps people find and join conversations about a particular topic. Clicking on a hashtag will show related content.

Using hashtags in your posts

Use hashtags by typing them somewhere within the text of your post. Here are some examples:

  • “I’ve just learnt these great #VeganCooking tips.”
  • “#Mondays are the worst. #SleepDeprived #SoMuchToDo”

Hashtags you use in your Google+ posts may also appear at the top of your post as related hashtags.

Related hashtags

Hashtags appearing at the top of a post are related to the post’s content. Clicking on a hashtag will let you explore related posts.

Hashtags with grey colouring are those used by the author of the post while hashtags with blue colouring are added by Google based on the content of the post. Related hashtags help posts get discovered and build conversations around the content of that post.

Removing related hashtags from posts

To remove a specific related hashtag at the top of your post:

Move your cursor over the hashtag you want to remove, then click the X that appears. This action is only available on posts that you have written. Hashtags used in the text of your post will not be affected.

To opt out of having related hashtags from Google added to new posts you create:

Go to your Google+ Settings page and look under the section called “Hashtags”. Then, untick the box labelled “Add related hashtags from Google to my newly created posts”.

Note: Hashtags you use in your post will continue to be shown as related hashtags (indicated with grey colouring) at the top of new posts you create. To remove related hashtags from Google on your existing posts, please follow the instructions for removing individual hashtags above.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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