The Role of the Hashtag in a Forbes Headline Attracting Over 400K Views

Eric Savitz at Forbes oversees the CIO Network, a forum for executives to articulate a point of view.

If you scroll through a few months of these byliners, you’ll see the number of views at 1,000, 2,000 and a select few tipping the 5K mark for bragging rights. As noted in “Social Numbers Don’t Mean Jack,” access to the Forbes halo doesn’t guarantee readers.

But check out this contributed post published in Forbes last year:

business communications, CIO Network, Eric Savitz, Forbes, google, hastags, PR storytelling, storytelling, the hoffman agency, twitter

Talk about an outlier.

Over 400,000 views on the need for financial types to embrace social media. The topic doesn’t exactly scream click bait.

So what explains the staggering number?

The one element that makes this Forbes post different from other executive byliners lies in the headline and the use of the hashtag, “#Accounting: Why Finance Teams Need To Get Social.”

We already know the power of the hashtag in Twitter, but this example suggests the hashtag can impact broad Web searches.

This prompted me to go into the Google Keyword Tool to see the difference between a search on [accounting] versus [#accounting]. As you would expect, “accounting” is a big word with more than 11 million searches in a given month. Unfortunately the keyword tool treats the two terms exactly the same.

This wasn’t the case in using the search engine.

You can see the page 1 listings from a search on [accounting] below.

business communications, CIO Network, Eric Savitz, Forbes, google, hastags, PR storytelling, storytelling, the hoffman agency, twitter

No sign of the Forbes byliner which can’t compete with a crush of schools tuning their SEO for the term.

But a search on [#accounting] delivers a completely different result (even if its sister keyword tool says otherwise).

business communications, CIO Network, Eric Savitz, Forbes, google, hastags, PR storytelling, storytelling, the hoffman agency, twitter

Here we are almost one year after the contributed piece was published, and it’s still showing up on page 1 for the search with a hashtag. Once you clear the accounting firms, it ends up being the sixth on this list.

What we don’t know is how many search on [#accounting].

Without access to Forbes’ analytics, we also don’t know how much organic traffic is coming to this article on a monthly basis.

Still, we can assume the hashtag in the headline and organic search have something to do with the extraordinary number of views of the piece.

If you have additional insights on the hashtag in Web searching, please chime in.

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15 comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Frank Strong February 25th, 2013 12:52 pm

    Interesting, I checked Google Trends too and it says there the search volume isn’t high enough to graph.

    I would think then, this is a perfect example of long tail search geared to a targeted audience.

  2. hoffman February 25th, 2013 1:10 pm

    I agree there’s a long-tail search play here.

    But are you sure that Google Trends treats “accounting” different than “#storytelling?” I ask because the G Keyword tool treats both the same.

  3. Frank Strong February 25th, 2013 5:01 pm

    Ah, you maybe right about Google Trends. It doesn’t seem to register the hashtag mark. Tested in Google Adwords too and it does seem to treat them the same.

    There’s a clear difference though when actually conducting a search.

    As for “storytelling” is highly competitive and that those vying for it span sectors beyond just marketing or PR.

    The hashtag in a headline has obvious implications for Twitter and RTs, but it also extends to all those curation tools like Paper.li and Scoop.it.

    Like you, I’d love to check out the refferals sources for this post in GA!

  4. hoffman February 25th, 2013 5:06 pm

    That’s my point.

    The tools haven’t kept up the realities of search.

    I’m guessing we’ll see this change soon if for no other reason it increases Google’s inventory for Adwords and revenue potential.

  5. [...] shared on social media — how did his customers find it?  They found it with search.  Long tail search terms that targets a specific buyer and puts a blog at the center of a content marketing [...]

  6. Krithika March 1st, 2013 6:34 am

    That is indeed interesting. Wonder if the hashtag in the headline is something brands should begin incorporating on their websites.

  7. hoffman March 1st, 2013 7:16 am

    That’s an interesting thought. It’s probably only a matter of time before we see companies insert the hashtag into their websites.

  8. [...] The Role of the Hashtag in a Forbes Headline Attracting Over 400K Views (ishmaelscorner.com) [...]

  9. Scott March 6th, 2013 6:45 pm

    Very interesting. I’d also wonder if they’re running Twitter ads to this article. The headline is ideal for promoted tweets and the targeting Twitter ads offer. That’s a lot of cost-per-clicks though.

    Perhaps they went with this type of paid promotion to get the ball rolling (more than a Forbes gets going naturally) and then they end up with nearly 10K retreads of the story — search for the article headline in Google.

    Pay for the promotion and I’d bet the organic results will likely follow.

    I’m dying to get into their analytics :)

  10. hoffman March 7th, 2013 10:57 am

    That’s a fresh POV

    Hadn’t considered the possibility of a blending an paid media play into the effort.

    I experimented with a post last month in which I used #storytelling in the headline, in the copy, and as a tag.

    Sure enough, if you search #storytelling this post comes up. But because the keyword analytics can’t distinguish between [storytelling] and [#storytelling] I have no clue if this is bringing incremental traffic to the site.

  11. [...] This anomaly was spotted by Lou Hoffman of the Hoffman Agency, and he highlighted it in a blog post titled, “The Role of the Hashtag in a Forbes Headline Attracting Over 400K Views .” [...]

  12. [...] This anomaly was spotted by Lou Hoffman of the Hoffman Agency, and he highlighted it in a blog post titled, “The Role of the Hashtag in a Forbes Headline Attracting Over 400K Views .” [...]

  13. [...] “O papel da hashtag em um título da Forbes que atraiu mais de 400 mil visitas” – no original The Role of the Hashtag in a Forbes Headline Attracting Over 400K Views, publicado em um blog [...]

  14. Joan Stewart October 17th, 2013 12:17 am

    Lou, assuming the hashtag is responsible for the high number of reads, what’s your advice to bloggers who want to experiment with this at our own blogs?

  15. hoffman October 17th, 2013 10:06 am

    Hi Joan,

    My thinking is similar to what you shared in your post today that looks at hashtags in news releases (at publicityhound.com/blog/use-hashtags-twitter-handles-in-press-release-headlines). Use hashtags in the headline and body of a post. Same goes if you’re feeding posts through your LinkedIn profile or Google + which just put more emphasis on hashtags. Don’t go overboard. One to two or three hashtags won’t jar the reader. The rules are still taking shape when it comes to hashtags so it makes sense for bloggers to experiment. I like to give some posts, not all, hashtags. This way, I can do a form of A-B testing going into my Google Analytics.

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