TikTok may be known primarily as a social media platform, but as the app continues to grow, it’s starting to become more and more like a search engine. These days, when someone says, “Oh, I learned somewhere…,” or “I just found out about…,” chances are they got the information from a TikTok video.
The truth is, TikTok can be a valuable source of knowledge. For many, especially the younger generations, the short-form video app has become a go-to platform for searching things online. Whether it’s to find the best places to eat in a city, beauty hacks, or house cleaning tips, people are heading to the TikTok search bar to look for answers to their questions.
For creators and businesses alike, it’s worth paying attention to TikTok SEO (search engine optimization) to maximize your reach on the platform. There are several tactics that can help you get your videos placed at the top of TikTok’s search results. Read on for some tips on how to optimize your TikTok content for search.
Want more eyeballs on your TikTok videos? Download our Essential TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet for tried-and-true tips to rank high on TikTok search.
What is TikTok SEO?
Search engine optimization goes way beyond Google. YouTube, Reddit, Quora, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms can also be used as search engines. In particular, TikTok SEO has boomed in popularity over the last year.
The rise of TikTok SEO is largely attributed to the fact that younger internet users are heading to TikTok instead of Google for informational and discovery search queries. While TikTok used to be known mostly for its viral dance challenges and trending sounds, the app has evolved into a search engine for finding everything from outfit ideas and recipes, to job interview tips and even personal finance advice. These are just some examples of search queries on TikTok among many, many others.
By now, you’ll probably have heard that TikTok is Gen Z’s social media platform of choice — even Google knows that. According to Google’s internal research, when looking for a place for lunch, almost 40% of young people in the U.S. (aged 18-24) would go straight to TikTok instead of Google Maps or Search.
At an industry event in July 2022, Google’s senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan shared that younger people tend to be interested in more “visually rich forms” when it comes to search and discovery. Beyond ideas for where to eat, TikTok has become a tool for finding tips, trends, recipes, entertainment, products, and a wide variety of information about almost any topic.
In today’s social media-driven world, it seems like younger consumers are growing impatient with Google and other similar search engines. Short-form video content is in popular demand, as it offers quick answers to users’ queries. Moreover, many Gen Zers trust TikTok reviews and recommendations as they are coming directly from creators themselves. Trust in sources is a key indicator that TikTok is not just surviving, but thriving as a search platform.
Why does TikTok SEO matter?
Today, TikTok is being used more and more as a search engine — especially by Gen Z — and it’s giving Google a run for its money. With that in mind, creators who want to increase their reach on TikTok need to ensure that their content is easily searchable. In other words, it’s important for creators to have a TikTok SEO strategy.
Following SEO best practices can help inform the TikTok algorithm what your content is about, allowing it to match up your TikTok videos with potential viewers.
Sure, it’s possible for your videos to go viral without putting any thought into TikTok SEO, but it’s like riding a unicycle through town instead of a bicycle. To set yourself up for success, the best approach is to keep TikTok search top of mind when you create content.
Ready to boost your TikTok search rankings? Download our free TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet for tips to get more visibility for your content.
How does the TikTok algorithm rank videos?
Like the algorithms of many other platforms, TikTok’s algorithm tries to match up the signals it gets from your content with what it thinks TikTok users want to see. This can influence the reach of your TikTok content in a few ways:
- Whether your TikTok video shows up on someone’s For You page (FYP).
- What kind of searches it shows up in.
- How high up it ranks in both the FYP and TikTok search results.
So, how does the algorithm pick up information of your content? What kind of information does it look at? Let’s break it down.
User activity is really half of the whole TikTok SEO puzzle. TikTok is constantly pulling data about a user’s behavior — including their likes, shares, and comments — to guess what type of content they’ll want to see more of.
That’s because, at the end of the day, the team behind TikTok wants to keep users engaged for as long as possible, so they’ll keep serving users content that does that.
What makes up the other half of the TikTok SEO puzzle, you ask? Naturally, your TikTok videos.
Once it has enough data of a user’s preferences, the TikTok algorithm will try to match them up with the right content. To do this, it pulls data like meta information, hashtags, song titles, on-screen text, and captions featured in videos. If you have keywords included in these places that fit with what a user is looking for, you’re much more likely to see your TikTok content served to them.
That’s why when you’re publishing content on TikTok, you’ll want to give this a bit more attention — more on that in a bit.
Device and account settings
Something else that the TikTok algorithm considers are the preferences that a TikTok user actually sets up on the platform — and other information available from their device. As far as account settings go, TikTok looks at their language preferences, as well as the type of content they said they were interested in when they first signed up.
TikTok also uses location data to help tailor the content a user sees in their feed. For example, if you’re from Baltimore but you’re spending the weekend in New York City, you’ll probably hear a lot more New Yorker accents on your feed for that weekend.
8 TikTok SEO tips for optimizing your videos
TikTok SEO is the idea of optimizing your TikTok videos, so that they rank at the top of the app’s search results. Having a TikTok SEO strategy allows you to connect to more people who want to engage with your content. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Understand your audience’s needs and search intent
To optimize your TikTok content for search, it’s essential to plan and create content with your target audience in mind. Whether you’re a creator who shares career advice, graphic design tips, or workout plans, you need to figure out what kind of information your audience would be searching for. To make content that your audience will find relevant, you’ll want to address their specific needs by providing answers to their questions.
2. Research and use relevant keywords and hashtags in your content
Incorporating keywords and using hashtags in your content is important when it comes to TikTok SEO. On TikTok, users can subscribe to — or “favorite” — different hashtags based on their interests. When you use relevant keywords and hashtags in your videos, it informs the algorithm what your content is about, thereby helping it put your content in front of potentially interested users. This step is essential for optimizing your content for search and increasing your videos’ discoverability on TikTok.
When posting on TikTok, add your search keywords to your captions as well as on-screen text to optimize your content for search. We recommend using 3-6 keyword hashtags for each piece of content, strategically including both high-volume and low-volume keywords. It’s also helpful to use both broad and niche hashtags.
Tip: TikTok offers a free hashtag research tool on its Creative Center, where you can view insights about thousands of hashtags. Use it to find the right mix of hashtags for your content!
3. Stay alert on TikTok trends
TikTok trends seem to be ever-changing. To stay up to date, well, the most important tip is to be active on TikTok.
To discover the most relevant trends for your account, it’s important to start engaging with TikTok yourself. Pay attention to trending sounds and songs. Search for hashtags in your niche, then like or comment on the trending videos you see. The For You page (FYP) will adapt to show you more trending videos from those niches. Remember, TikTok trends move quickly. Act fast and don’t overthink when you have a video idea.
4. Rework old content
While there’s no way to edit a TikTok after it’s been published for over a week, you should still look through your old content and rework it if it hasn’t performed too well. For example, if you find a video that got absolutely no traction but it’s covering a great topic, you might want to try filming a new video to give that topic another chance to bring in views.
You could also do this if you find that a caption isn’t doing a good job of signaling to the algorithm what your video is actually about.
5. Be consistent with your niche
If your content bounces back and forth between multiple niches or topics, the algorithm is going to struggle to place you with the right audience. TikTok users typically know to go for certain creators for certain types of content, so you want to make sure the algorithm knows your niche — that way, you’ll have a better chance of pulling in the right viewers.
6. Collaborate with other creators
Collaborating with other creators is one of the best ways to skyrocket your TikTok account’s engagement. They don’t even have to be in your niche, and could just be a well-loved account or influencer. This method can help increase your videos’ reach and ultimately your views, making your account popular in the TikTok search engine.
7. Review competitor rankings on TikTok
By looking at your competitors, or creators who post similar content as yours, you may find out what’s been performing well for them. Getting inspiration from others is never a bad thing, as long as you aren’t copying them and your ideas remain original. It can allow you to learn about trends or topics that are working well in your niche, or discover TikTok SEO practices that help other creators’ videos rank for search.
8. Engage with other TikTok accounts
Building relationships with other accounts can help improve your TikTok SEO. That’s because the number one rule to getting traction on any social media platform, including TikTok, is engaging with other users’ posts.
Make a list of creators and brands in your niche, and regularly comment on their TikTok videos. On top of that, follow your audience and engage with them in their posts to develop a strong relationship. Liking and commenting on other TikTokers’ posts will make them more likely to do the same for yours, thereby boosting your content’s engagement.
Develop a strong TikTok SEO strategy!
As one of today’s most powerful social media apps, TikTok is transforming not only the way people consume video content, but also how they search for information online. For creators and businesses, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on this shift in search behavior.
With younger consumers favoring visually engaging, authentic, and relatable content, TikTok SEO is bound to become an inescapable topic in the near future. In fact, the hashtag #tiktokseo already has nearly 600 million views on the short-form video app. To stay ahead of the game, start implementing our TikTok SEO tips to increase the visibility of your content.
Want to get more views on TikTok? Grab our free TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet for pro tips from creators.
What does TikTok SEO mean?
SEO, also known as search engine optimization, is the process of organically increasing your website’s visibility on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Essentially, with SEO, you are gaining exposure for your brand by answering people’s questions. This technique helps with the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. It helps rank your website higher in searches, and drives more end-user movement through brand awareness and trust.
Usually, when people are talking about SEO, they’re referring to search engines like Google, but these practices can be adapted for platforms like TikTok as well. So, in short, TikTok SEO refers to techniques that can help your content show up in TikTok users’ feeds and rank high in search results.
Is SEO important on TikTok?
Yes, TikTok SEO is becoming increasingly important. That’s because TikTok is often used today as a search engine — especially by Gen Z. There’s an entire algorithm working behind the scenes to match up TikTok creators’ content with potential viewers, and it needs data to do that job correctly. When you put a bit of work into optimizing your TikTok videos for SEO, you’re telling the algorithm, “Hey, these are the kinds of viewers that I want.”
How can I optimize my TikTok videos for search?
There are a few ways that you can optimize your TikToks for the algorithm. Most of them involve using keywords to signal what your content is about, which allows the algorithm to match it up with potential viewers and relevant search terms. Here are some easy TikTok SEO tips you can follow to maximize your reach:
- Identify your audience’s needs and likely searches.
- Research keywords that your audience might use.
- Keep an eye on TikTok trends.
- Rework old content that isn’t optimized for TikTok SEO.
- Engage with other TikTok accounts.
- Be consistent with your niche.
- Collaborate with other creators.
- Review your competition’s content and rankings on TikTok.