What’s the Difference Between Keywords and Hashtags?

What exactly is a keyword?  Whilst we’re at it, what is a hashtag when it’s at home?  Join me today for a deep dive into all things keywords & hashtags!

I will start by defining keywords and hashtags individually.  Then we will look at the differences between keywords and hashtags.  Finally I will cover when to use keywords and when to use hashtags.

But first, let me provide some context.  About a month ago I delivered my first social media workshop to a group of local businesses.  I was lucky enough to be working with business owners that weren’t afraid to ask questions.  This added a good element of interaction to the session!

Part of the workshop included a break down of hashtag best practise for LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

During this particular section, I was asked:

 Is a hashtag similar to a keyword?

This query caught me a bit by surprise and despite having the knowledge, it took me a while to verbalise my answer.

I mean, it kind of is, but it isn’t yer know?

What exactly is a keyword? Whilst we're at it, what is a hashtag when it's at home? #digitalmarketing #marketingtips #biztips #smallbusiness #smallbusinessowner #smallbusinesstips #businesstips #businessmarketing

What is a Keyword?

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel with this one.  Moz has already provided a comprehensive description of what a keyword is.  Wahoo!

Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called “search queries.”

An example of a keyword in action would be a potential customer typing ‘smart casual shoes Bridlington’ into Google. This will bring up a list of the most relevant websites in relation to the query.

If you own a shoe shop in Bridlington and have included this phrase in your website copy, then your website should be in the search results for this query.

To choose appropriate keywords, you should start by putting yourself in the shoes (pun very much intended) of your audience.  You are already familiar with your own niche.  You may know loads of fancy technical terms, but these aren’t necessarily search terms that your audience would use to find you.

If Keywords and Search Engine Optimisation are new phrases to you, then I encourage you to check out my previous deep dive on the subject. 

Just click the image below!

The more I discover about Google’s algorithm, the more I want to cry. Maybe even do a touch of rocking backwards and forwards alone in a dark room? The Google web spiders have become scrupulous when it comes to scouring and evaluating online content. I imagine them as those creepy metal spider things present in the Matrix franchise. Not being one to keep “THE FEAR” to myself, I’m going to share this with you. You’re WELCOME! So, what are we up against? #SEO #Keywords #Algorithms

Are there Different Types of Keywords?

I know what you’re thinking … that shoe example was not a single word, it was a sentence.  Well observed!

There are many types of keyword including:

Single Keywords

The little lonesome keyword!  Chilling by itself.  It’s great to scatter these within a post but don’t rely on them.


These are longer more natural uses of key words that mirror what your audience is most likely to type in to the search engine.


These are quite nondescript mainly used for general browsing.  Although they have a high volume of traffic.  They tend to be for information only.

More Specific

These tend to be used for comparisons between sources / products.  In terms of “sales” this is the best area to focus on.

Extremely Specific

These are used by people who are ready to “buy.”  This could be in relation to a product or buying into an idea.  They are just looking for the correct website.

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag (or #) is a label for content.  It is a tool used on social media sites to connect people to topics of interest and is also a way for users to quickly find content on a specific topic.  When a hashtag is included in a social media post it can be indexed into a category that can be discovered by everyone.

A hashtag looks something like this:  #UKSmallBiz

If you are sharing an update and you want small businesses in the UK to see it,  #UKSmallbiz is an appropriate hashtag to use.

What’s the Difference Between a Keyword and a Hashtag?

The purpose of both hashtags and keywords is to get your content in front of the right audience.

However, it’s how you implement keywords and hashtags that differs.  I think the confusion occurs because keywords AND hashtags can actually be used interchangeably within a single social media post.  Heck, you could even throw a few hashtags into a blog post every now and again if you wish.  Although hashtags don’t cause much of an impact outside of the context of social media.  However, I have been known to use a hashtag within a blog post to add some entertainment every now and again!


Let’s take Twitter as an example 

When you share a Tweet, the whole update can be found by another user by a quick search using relevant keywords.

Like so:


But the same Tweet could also be found by a user searching via the hashtag you have used.  Disclaimer – I had to search by #shopsmall and include a date range filter because the example I used was over a month old.  Doh!

See below:

Keywords and Hashtags a Recap

Let’s do a quick recap of when to use keywords, and when to use hashtags.

Keywords are traditionally used within website content, for example your about page, blog or online shop.  However, they can also be used on social media platforms, as outlined in the example above.  As well as Twitter, you can also use keywords effectively on Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook!  You can use keywords within your own social media updates, or you can use them in the search bar to find what you are looking for.

Hashtags are generally reserved for social media sites.  They don’t make much of a splash outside of social media!  BUT it is thanks to the mighty hashtag that your social media updates aren’t limited to your followers.  ANYONE can find your business social media updates if you use hashtags.  This greatly improves your brand reach. 

Going back to Twitter…

It is worth being mindful of relevant retweet accounts.  The moderators of these accounts will conduct searches using their specific retweet hashtag.  An example of one of these hashtags would be the aforementioned #UKSmallBiz.  The moderators will then retweet your tweet to ALL of their followers.  Whilst it isn’t guaranteed that you will get a retweet, it is great for business when you do!

If you are a business owner with a company blog, it is worth giving my previous post a read as it outlines some great blog retweet accounts!

Click the link below:

7 Awesome Twitter Communities for Bloggers


In the next instalment of ‘what the heck are hashtags and keywords’ we will look at how to research appropriate and relevant hashtags and keywords.

Every business and or brand is different.  You have to do the research if you want to grow your online presence.  It doesn’t matter how many followers you have on social media if NONE of them are interested in your products or services.  It’s just a waste of everyone’s time!

As always I hope this was helpful.  Did you learn anything new?  Or did I miss something?  Let me know in the comments below 🙂

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P.p.s. If you enjoyed this post why not check out my previous post by clicking the image below.

My ultimate goal is to help Businesses to not just survive, but to thrive online. I’d love to work with you so that you can achieve your brand and business goals!


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