SEO and SMM: Which Hashtags Should You Use?

This post by Kristi Kellogg is an entry to our $4,000 Blogging Contest. Kristi is a content strategist at Bruce Clay, Inc., journalist and social (media) butterfly. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in the book Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals.

A tweet without a hashtag is a wasted opportunity. Hashtags amplify the reach of your tweets and by extension, the content and links you share in those tweets. As a writer and a community manager, I want people to engage with my tweets – that’s why I optimize all my tweets for search (and therefore discovery) by using relevant hashtags. Using relevant hashtags gets your tweets in front of your intended audience, which leads to increased engagement, increased social influence, increased traffic to your site and, ultimately, conversions.

A lot of the articles I write at global Internet marketing firm Bruce Clay, Inc. center on search engine optimization, search engine marketing and social media marketing. While tweeting about these articles throughout 2013, I most often used #SEO and #SMM. For 2014 I wanted to audit those hashtags and make sure #SEO and #SMM were the best hashtags I could be using – for example, how does my default social media hashtag #SMM compare to #socialmedia or #social? Am I using the most popular — and most relevant — hashtag?

I turned to to find out.

Hashtags Related to Search Engine Optimization

When adding hashtags to tweets on search engine optimization, it seemed unlikely to me that people would be using the full 24-character #SearchEngineOptimization when they could use the three-character acronym #SEO. In an effort to determine if that is, in fact, the case, I created an SEO “bundle” with these hashtags:

  • #SEO
  • #Search
  • #SERP (the acronym for the Search Engine Results Page, commonly used among Internet marketers)
  • #SearchEngineOptimization
  • #SearchEngineOptimisation (using the British spelling “Optimisation”)

After creating my SEO bundle, I used to find each hashtag’s popularity score. I used the data to create this chart:


As I suspected, #SEO is the most popular hashtag related to search engine optimization. I was surprised, however, to learn that #SearchEngineOptimization does come into play. Though #Search came in second with a 55.6 popularity score, as #Search is a general term, it could be used in tweets unrelated to search engine optimization.

I used to verify how much this is true:


According to, #Search has an 18.8% correlation to #SEO and a 14.6% correlation to #Google – the rest of the terms each had less than an 8% correlation to #Search. Based on this data, I would feel pretty confident that utilizing #Search will put a tweet in front of my intended audience of Internet marketers.

Hashtags Related to Social Media Marketing

For tweets concerning social media marketing, I usually use #SMM, but I wanted to check if that is the best choice. So I created a social media marketing bundle using the hashtags #SocialMedia, #Social, #SM, #SMM and #SocialMediaMarketing:

My preferred (and very specific) hashtag #SMM falls below #SocialMedia, #Social and #SM, and this caused me to rethink my use of #SMM. I wanted to make sure, however, that #SocialMedia was being used in tweets related to social media marketing. Looking through recent #SocialMedia tweets, I discovered many unrelated tweets, including tweets regarding viral memes, general social media news, social media fails, solicitations for followers and occasional NSFW tweets. But when I used TweetDeck to narrow my search to show only the top tweets related to #SocialMedia, almost all of the tweets were, in fact, related to social media marketing – which confirms that I should use #SocialMedia in my tweets. also identified social media marketer Jeff Bullas as the No. 3 influencer for the term #SocialMedia and the No. 1 influencer for the term #SMM. Looking at his tweets, I discovered that Bullas often uses #SMM and #SocialMedia within the same tweet – therein capturing engagement from the broader yet popular #SocialMedia and the specific yet niche #SMM. Because #SMM is incredibly relevant and a very popular hashtag in its own right, I will continue to use #SMM – but I will also take a cue from and Bullas, and start using #SocialMedia more often in relevant tweets.

Kristi Kellogg is such a fan of hashtags that she dressed up as one on Halloween!

Are You Getting the Most Reach Out of your Hashtags?

Whatever field you’re in, knowing what are the best hashtags to use is a great help in maximizing your social media efforts. With you can discover if the hashtags you are using are, in fact, reaching your intended audience. With the popularity scores and the related hashtags report, you can assess your current social media strategy and identify top performing and relevant hashtags – all to your advantage!

Kristi Kellogg is such a fan of hashtags that she dressed up as one on Halloween!

21 Responses to “SEO and SMM: Which Hashtags Should You Use?”

    • Kristi Kellogg

      No problem Alex, glad it was useful for you! Now that the contest is open, I’d love it if you cast some stars :)

    • Kristi Kellogg

      Thanks Joe!!! Glad you liked it! People are able to vote now — if you’d give it some stars I’d totally appreciate it :)

  1. Great post. Thanks Kristi. I am always curious less about which tags to use than I am about knowing whether anyone is browsing by a tag—at all. (How do we really know anyone cares? I consider myself a power twitter user, yet I only occasionally browse by tag.)

    • Kristi Kellogg

      Hi Shoq! That’s a great question. I definitely search via hashtags — I have my TweetDeck set up with columns sorted by hashtags, including #SocialMedia and #SEO, among other things. Even if someone is not searching via hashtag, people certainly do click on hashtags, which then automatically bring up that hashtag’s feed, which means it’s still in your best interest to use hashtags that are being tweeted about more often — more chance to show in that feed and by search :)

  2. Monica Glielmi

    Thank you Kristi for the excellent article. What’s your take on using too many hashtags? I have had some biz owner’s saying it makes posts too busy to follow? Is there a limit before it harms your message?

    • Kristi Kellogg

      Hi Monica! Thanks for reading :) In general, I try to include three or fewer hashtags, because, yes, absolutely too many hashtags can be overwhelming :) If I want to use more hashtags, however, to gain views from a different niche, I’ll tweet later using those hashtags instead!

  3. Heather Goodwin

    Excellent!! Thanks for sharing your research with us! I will continue to follow you!
    Good luck in the contest!

  4. Stacey Bullington

    Nice article Kristi! I hope you win the contest! Everyone please vote for my coworker!

  5. Brandon Cox

    Kristi is able to communicate business concepts in a way that is warm, fun and easy to understand. She is the best

    • Kristi Kellogg

      Brandon, thank you so much for your kind words :) I really appreciate you saying that!

  6. Thanks for great post!
    Do you want to create and promote website of your company?
    Serfcompany is a Software Development and IT services firm of highly qualified (nearly 52 developers) and experienced professionals who provide quality, cost-effective solutions to client’s information management needs. Our main concept is automation which could help you sell something or promote your company. Our company does not pretend to show our excellence, we simply do our job with the entire dedication and passion. And we are the best in it.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>