Caption: A GIF that alternates between a variety of hashtags including #cozy, #trivia, #dogfriendly, #beautifulviews, and more underneath a drawing of a trophy on a green background.
In November, we introduced hashtags on Google Maps. Whether you’ve discovered a #dogfriendly cafe you love or are looking for a park with #beautifulviews, hashtags make it easier to share and discover the details you care about.
Adding hashtags to Maps was no easy task, so we asked Product Manager Catherine Wu and Software Engineer Keerthana Boloormore how they made it happen. Spoiler alert: Local Guides had a hand in inspiring this feature!
What inspired you to add hashtags to Google Maps?
Keerthana: Hashtags are now almost a standard markup for people to express themselves on social media. With hashtags, communities can contribute to the same theme across Google Maps, helping build niche communities and discover long-tailed interest groups.
Cat: We were also inspired by the Local Guides community. Local Guides have been incredible in helping our users find things they care about. With hashtags, we’re really excited to let the Local Guides community have an even bigger positive impact. As our local experts, when Local Guides add hashtags about things they care about, they help those who share their interests find new amazing experiences. We’re so excited to see what you come up with!
What kind of content can people find by tapping on hashtags?
Keerthana: When you tap on a hashtag you’re interested in, you’ll find local places that other users have tagged with the same hashtag in reviews, photos and other user generated contributions. You can also search for your favorite hashtags directly on Google Maps.
Caption: A GIF that shows a four-star review that says, “Delicious restaurant with tons of options for everyone. My favorite place for vegetarian #paella #eatglobal” against a blue background with a drawing of a fork and knife.
How do you hope this new feature will make a positive impact?
Keerthana: We hope this helps users find things they care about, be it a unique hobby or general preference. We know that Google Maps doesn’t serve all our users’ needs today and we hope this empowers users to better help their communities.
Cat: Last year, we also worked with you all to improve accessibility on Google Maps. One piece of feedback we heard was that users wanted to have more control over what accessibility features to share; hashtags let you choose what is important to share and help Google Maps users all over the world.
Can you include emoji in hashtags?
Cat: Yes! We’re especially excited about this because emoji are universally understood, no matter what country you’re from or language you speak. Also, they add fun to reviews. #🍦#🚴
Caption: A GIF that shows a five-star review that says, “Scenic beach with bonfire pits. Come at sunset and roast #smores #fire emoji” against an orange background with a drawing of a sun and marshmallows on sticks.
What were some of the biggest challenges with this project?
Keerthana: From an engineering perspective, identifying scalable solutions to search across different kinds of user generated content with infrastructure built by several teams was a challenge. We worked with teams across the world in California, New York, Bangalore, Zurich, and Japan to build this!
What hashtag tips do you have specifically for Local Guides?
Cat: If you have already written many reviews or uploaded many photos, you can go back and add hashtags to your existing contributions. We are also always looking to feature contributions that mention #letsguide, so we’d recommend adding that to all your favorite places! 😉
What are your favorite hashtags?
Keerthana: For my vegetarian family, #vegetarianfriendly and #vegan have been super helpful. Searching for #vegetarianfriendly helps us confidently check out restaurants of different cuisines. I am so excited to add #playdates, #kidfriendly, #indoorclimbing to places in my neighborhood as I explore them with my daughter and her friends!
Cat: I’m really excited about improving accessibility on Maps so my favorites are #stepfree and #accessibleWC. I also love seasonal traditions so I’m excited to add #iceskating #holidaylights and #fallleaves to my reviews as well.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Cat: We built this feature for you, so if you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it! And of course, hashtag away! #keepcalmandhashtag