Audience Growth

TikTok SEO: 8 Tips To Get Your TikTok Videos Ranking High in Search

by Nicholas Bouchard · Updated Jul 19, 2024

TikTok may be known primarily as a social media platform, but as the app grows, 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, it’s worth paying attention to TikTok SEO (search engine optimization) to maximize your reach on the platform. Several tactics can help you get your videos placed at the top of TikTok’s search results. Read on for tips on how to optimize your TikTok content for search.

tiktok seo cheat sheet guide

The Essential TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet

Learn how to get to the top of TikTok search results with this pocket guide.

12 TikTok SEO tips for optimizing your videos

TikTok SEO is the idea of optimizing your TikTok content so that it ranks at the top of the app’s search results. Having a TikTok SEO strategy allows you to connect to more users 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
  2. Research and use relevant keywords in your content
  3. Post consistently
  4. Make your content shareable
  5. Stay alert on TikTok trends
  6. Rework old content
  7. Be consistent with your niche
  8. Collaborate with other creators
  9. Review competitor rankings on TikTok
  10. Engage with other TikTok accounts
  11. Engage with your audience
  12. Crosspost your TikToks to another platform

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.

Basically, 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 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 tells 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 three to six 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.

@the.leap

We’ve all been hearing about TikTok SEO. Here’s a little tip to ensure you get alllll of those search results. #SEO #TikTokSEO #TikTokSearch

♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) – CKay

Pro 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. Post consistently

A dead TikTok account isn’t very tempting for TikTok’s search engine. Not only that, but you should treat every TikTok you create as another shot at that SEO gold. Whether you can post every day, every week, or every other week, just make sure you stick to a regular posting schedule.

By creating more often, you’ll also be able to target more keywords over time, seeing which ones are more of a hit with your audience — and potential new followers too.

4. Make your content shareable

You can include all the relevant keywords in your content, but there’s one thing that makes your TikToks really desirable for its search engine: engagement. What that means is you need to create content that people will want to share.

While you could court controversy as a way to get shares, it’s much more rewarding to create something that feels authentic to you. In addition, encourage people to respond, collaborate, or contribute to your content to get them sharing, or provide killer value (e.g. a great tip, a life hack, or an easy-to-digest summary of a complicated subject) viewers can’t help but send on to whoever needs it.

To discover the most relevant trends for your account, it’s important to start engaging with TikTok yourself. For instance, pay attention to trending sounds and songs on the platform, and see how you could incorporate them in your own content.

Pro tip: 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. So, act fast and don’t overthink when you have a video idea!

6. 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.

7. Be consistent with your niche(s)

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 what your niche(s) is by consistently posting content about it. That way, you’ll have a better chance of pulling in the right viewers.

@the.leap

Save this video and use it as a resource to get out of your TikTok flop era #tiktoktips #creatortips #followergrowthtiktok #flopera #greenscreen

♬ original sound – The Leap

8. 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.

9. 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 area, or discover TikTok SEO practices that help other creators’ videos rank for search.

10. 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.

11. Engage with your audience

One of the key drivers of performance for TikTok search is how much engagement your content gets. While you can sit back and hope that people engage with what you post, it’s much more proactive to go out of your way to answer every comment, respond to every stitch, and spotlight content your followers make. Just keep it positive!

12. Crosspost your TikToks to another platform

This one might seem like it’s coming out of left field, but it’s a tactic that responds to a very specific development: Google is now showing TikTok videos in search results. By cross-posting your TikToks to another platform — like a blog — that uses the keywords you’re trying to rank for, they’re more likely to pop up on Google as well as TikTok. That means more views and more followers.

What is TikTok SEO and why does it matter?

Search engine optimization goes way beyond Google. YouTube, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms can also be used as search engines. And in recent years, TikTok SEO has boomed in popularity.

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 only 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 others.

@the.leap

Let’s settle this… do you go to Google or TikTok first? #seo #searchengine

♬ BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé

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 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. 

@the.leap

TikTok SEO is officially a thing and it’s honestly pretty sophisticated 👀 #tiktokseo #tiktoksearch #tiktokreport #socialmedianews #greenscreen

♬ Super Freaky Girl – Nicki Minaj

Why does TikTok SEO matter?

Creators who want to increase their reach on TikTok need to ensure that their content is easily searchable. In other words, creators need 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, your videos can go viral without putting any thought into SEO, but to set yourself up for success, keep TikTok search top of mind when you create content.

Ready to boost your TikTok search rankings? Get our free TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet for creator-approved tips.

tiktok seo cheat sheet guide

The Essential TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet

Learn how to get to the top of TikTok search results with this pocket guide.

TikTok SEO ranking elements

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 about your content? What kind of information does it look at? Let’s break it down:

  1. User activity
  2. Video information
  3. Device and account settings
  4. Value to your audience

User activity

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, TikTok wants to keep users engaged for as long as possible, so it’ll keep serving users content that does that. 

Video information

So, what makes up the other half of the TikTok SEO puzzle? Naturally, your TikTok videos.

Once it has enough data on 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, 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.

Device and account settings

Something else that the TikTok algorithm considers is the preferences that a TikTok user 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.

Value to your audience

One of the biggest factors that determine whether a TikTok ranks high in search or not is how well it’s already performing. That’s because of something called “search intent,” a term that defines what a TikTok user is looking for when they enter a keyword in the search bar. It may seem obvious, but when someone searches for something like “contour tips,” they’re looking for ways to level up their makeup — and specifically contouring — techniques. They don’t want to be shown videos about a completely irrelevant skill.

To make your TikTok videos extra valuable, you want to give your audience exactly what they want — and give them more than anyone else does. So, focus on the best makeup tips and tricks you know. If other creators are putting three tips in their TikToks, you include five. The better your TikToks match what users are looking for, the more likely they are to be recommended in TikTok search — and the more followers you’ll get.

4 Free TikTok SEO tools

The following tools may help you find the right keywords and figure out your overall strategy. The best part? You won’t have to pay a dime.

  1. TikTok search engine
  2. TikTok Creative Center
  3. ChatGPT
  4. Moz Keyword Explorer

TikTok search engine

The easiest way to find the keywords you should use to ensure your content shows up in search? Try putting them in search.

When you enter a keyword in TikTok’s search bar, it’ll automatically complete your query with the most likely words that come next. So for example, when you enter “fitness,” TikTok’s search engine might suggest things like “fitness advice,” “fitness goals,” and “fitness tips for busy people.” This is a great place to start to build up a long list of keywords that’ll keep you busy with content for weeks.

tiktok search bar engine seo keywords

TikTok Creative Center

If you want to go beyond simply researching keywords, your next step should be browsing the TikTok Creative Center. It shows the most popular hashtags on the platform going as far back as six months ago.

By clicking on a hashtag, you’ll be able to see even more data related to it, like how many posts it’s been found in, how many views it’s received, and more. You’ll even be able to watch a selection of videos other creators have made for the hashtag.

ChatGPT

If you have no idea which keywords you should go for, there’s always this tool you can ask: ChatGPT.

Because ChatGPT pulls its data from all over the internet, it can be your go-to SEO expert for TikTok, especially since you can ask it questions conversationally instead of trying to figure out a dedicated SEO tool.

chatgpt keyword research tiktok seo

Moz Keyword Explorer

However, if you wish to use a dedicated SEO tool, Moz is a good one to start with. While it’s more suited to Google SEO than TikTok, it can still help you find popular keywords and understand the relationship between top-level keywords (like “workout”) and secondary keywords (like “home workout”). All you need to do is enter a keyword in the search bar and you’ll get a ton of valuable info on it.

moz keyword explorer

Develop a strong TikTok SEO strategy today

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, 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. To stay ahead of the game, start implementing our TikTok SEO tips above!

Want to get more views on TikTok? Grab our free TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet for pro tips from creators.

tiktok seo cheat sheet guide

The Essential TikTok SEO Cheat Sheet

Learn how to get to the top of TikTok search results with this pocket guide.

TikTok SEO FAQ

What does TikTok SEO mean?

In short, TikTok SEO refers to techniques that can help your content show up in TikTok users’ feeds and rank high in search results.

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.

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 esentially 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

Follow The Leap on TikTokInstagram, and YouTube for more audience growth tips. We also make a newsletter.


Further reading

This article was originally published in December 2022, and updated in July 2024 with additional information.

Nicholas Bouchard
About the author

Nicholas Bouchard

Nick Bouchard is a content writer and marketer with a passion for creation. His hobbies range from writing fiction to wrestling. He can only be photographed in national parks and on mountains, and pictures of him usually come out blurry. Some wonder if he even exists at all.
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