Official Google Search operators page has entries:

@ Find social tags
Example: @agoogler

# Find popular hashtags for trending topics
Example: #throwbackthursday

What is the difference between social tags and hashtags?

How should I structure page and URL in order to page be recognized having social tag and hashtag?

2 Answers 2


When you use @, you are directing what you are writing to a person or thing.

When you use #, you are directing what you are writing to a topic.

Many people get this wrong, including one specific client of mine who, every year, I have to jump on them for using the @ tag for everything they write.

If you want to speak to everyone that likes butterflies, it's #butterflies, otherwise you are speaking to one thing, likely socially to a person, @butterflies.

  • Thanks for answer! So social/hash tags are just plain prefixed text and do not require special HTML markup? As I start to understand that texts are filled in social media forms and so may not contain HTML, but usually sites wraps tags with link when processing markup.
    – gavenkoa
    Sep 11, 2016 at 5:19
  • Who makes these "rules"? That distinction is so technical that I can't imagine my grandmother learning it. Sep 11, 2016 at 18:59
  • @StephenOstermiller I DO! And if you don't like it .... :) Everything I know about it I learned from Twitter. Whether they are the originator of it, I don't know. btw, notice the @ in this comment.
    – Rob
    Sep 11, 2016 at 19:15
  • I would much rather be able to say "Rob: here is what I think of that" than have to use the @ in front of your name. Actually, either way should probably work. Also bare names without any symbol. Sep 11, 2016 at 19:21
  • @StephenOstermiller Then how do you identify a bare name you are addressing and trying to message? Then every name you use gets a message. And how do you identify what is a name and what isn't?
    – Rob
    Sep 11, 2016 at 19:23

@ refers to users or accounts. Like here on stackexchange @gavenkoa would refer to your account. That helps the machine understand that the specific user has been referred to and can act on it (like send you a notification).

# refers to topics. If I write #gavenkoa, the machine (in this case google or any script that identifies hashtags) would classify the text along with #gavenkoa as a piece of string relating to the topic #gavenkoa. It does not specify that gavenkoa is a username.

So to put it in an example,

@gavenkoa, I hope your answer about #SocialTags and #Hashtags is answered.

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