Google+ finally bit the bullet and added hashtags in May, joining other major social media networks in utilizing the functionality to let users click on a hashtag to search related posts.

The search giant has now taken its use of hashtags even further, adding the feature to normal Google search results. Now, if you were to search something like #SEO you would see this on your results page:

The right side is a listing of all the posts on Google+ using the hashtag, and under that you have options to search the same hashtag on either Twitter or Facebook. Meanwhile, the normal results page has posts using the hashtag on sites like Tumblr or Pinterest and regular webpages that use the function too.

If you are signed in to Google, the results on the right side will feature posts from people you follow or public posts.

Google engineer Zaheed Sabur explained the new function in a Google+ post:

In May we added related hashtags to the Google+ stream, turning any post into an opportunity to go deeper and explore what’s interesting to you. Today we’re bringing a richer hashtag experience to Google Search. Here’s how it works:

– When you search on Google for a hashtag, say [#AmericasCup] or [#WaterfallWednesday], a set of relevant Google+ posts may appear to the right of regular results.
– You’ll only be able to see posts that have been shared publicly or shared with you.
– If you click on any of these posts you’ll go to Google+, where you’ll see the full set of relevant posts.
– You’ll also see links to search for these hashtags on other social sites.

This means that utilizing hashtags in your social posts (especially Google+) is important- now more than ever. Not only does the function allow your messages to be discovered by more people with relevant interests, but now it gives you free, organic search real estate if leveraged properly.

Joining the conversation around relevant topics to your business gives you the opportunity to gain credibility and visibility. Being able to join that conversation on the first page of Google search results can multiply each of those tenfold.

Not using hashtags now becomes, if nothing else, irresponsible social marketing by a company. Every post doesn’t need one, but your brand needs to be visible in these searches. SEO companies already do so much keyword research as it is; taking another five minutes to see what’s trending on social media only makes sense given its greater significance as we move forward.

Jackson on Google+

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