TikTok may be known primarily as a social media platform, but as the app continues to grow, it’s starting to be more and more like a search engine. These days, when someone says, “Oh, I read 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). There are several tactics that can help you get your videos placed at the top of TikTok’s search results. To get started, read on for some tips on how to optimize your TikTok content for search.
But first, what is SEO?
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.
By attracting visitors who are genuinely interested in your content, you will gain more loyal users, thus organically start generating visitors to your page. You can leverage this process by defining how your landing pages are displayed on search engines and shared on social media platforms.
For the longest time, when someone wanted to search for something on the internet, they would think of Google. And typically, Google is the first platform that comes to mind when talking about SEO. However, with the advent of social media, there are many more platforms that people would now go to when they want to find answers online.
We’ve reached a time when social media platforms have become one of the most powerful brand awareness tools out there. Now more than ever, it’s the perfect time to expand your business into the profitable digital marketplace. Specifically, into the TikTok search engine.
What is SEO in the context of TikTok?
Search engine optimization goes way beyond Google. YouTube, Reddit, Quora, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms can also be used as search engines. In particular, SEO for TikTok has boomed in popularity in recent months.
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 become a search engine for finding the best clothing store haul reviews, recipes for the famous “Gigi Hadid vodka pasta,” and where to buy starry-night projectors for your bedroom or even pet hair remover rollers. These are just some examples of search queries on TikTok among many, many other random topics.
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 this July, 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.
How big is TikTok? And why does TikTok SEO matter?
It’s an understatement to say that TikTok is growing at lightning speed. In late 2021, TikTok overtook Google’s place as the world’s most popular domain. And in Q1 2022, TikTok became the most downloaded app worldwide. Not only is TikTok booming in users, it’s also one of the top grossing apps with its rapidly increasing revenue. In 2021, TikTok generated $4.6 billion, a 142% increase year-on-year.
The average time people spend on TikTok is also something you’ll need to wrap your head around. In 2022, users spent more than 1.5 hours on TikTok each day globally. This is more than four times the average duration spent on Snapchat (21 minutes), over three times the time spent on Twitter (29 minutes), and nearly twice as much as Facebook (49 minutes) and Instagram (51 minutes).
TikTok is available in over 150 countries and is expected to reach 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022. If your target audience includes anyone between the ages 13 and 60, you should be on TikTok right now. More importantly, you should be optimizing your video content for TikTok SEO.
TikTok SEO has a huge impact on whether your TikTok content can be seen by the right audiences. Doing it right can also help increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your business’ website. With more and more consumers using TikTok as a search engine, it’s imperative that you meet them there with a TikTok SEO strategy.
9 tips for optimizing your videos for TikTok SEO
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 strategies 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 home improvement ideas, graphic design tips, or travel reviews and guides, 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. Speak like your audience
Creators need to understand the language of most TikTok users. Recent statistics show that 60% of TikTok users are the trendsetting Gen Z population. These younger consumers enjoy browsing content on the app because it feels more authentic, relatable, and easily digestible than on other social media platforms. To become successful with TikTok SEO, take into consideration what consumers would want or expect from your videos. That could mean content that looks less curated, but that’s still packed with information that viewers would find helpful.
3. Use relevant keywords and hashtags in your content
Incorporating keywords and using hashtags in your content is important when it comes to SEO. When you use relevant keywords and hashtags on TikTok, it optimizes your content for search and increases your videos’ discoverability.
Using trigger words in your content may also help improve your TikTok SEO. Trigger words are eye-catching words that make readers consider taking action that they might not have otherwise thought of. You can use them in call-to-actions (CTAs) in your TikTok captions or bio to communicate the benefits of taking that crucial next step. Make sure your trigger words go hand-in-hand with searchable hashtags.
Across TikTok, specific demographics subscribe to certain hashtags based on their intent. Tapping into high volume hashtags on TikTok can be difficult, but you can use smaller volume tags to build your traffic, then work towards larger hashtags eventually.
When posting on TikTok, add your search keywords to your captions, as well as in the text on your videos to optimize them 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. To help with your research, this convenient TikTok hashtag search tool allows you to find out specific questions that your audience is asking.
4. Use cliffhangers
Creating content that leaves people wanting to know more will help boost your TikTok SEO. To keep your audience hooked, you can create a multi-part series and use cliffhangers in each video to build anticipation for your upcoming content. This strategy keeps viewers curious, and will prompt them to head straight towards the search bar or to your profile to find out more.
5. 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. Search for hashtags in your expertise, then like or comment on the trending videos you see. The For You page (FYP) will adapt to show you more trending videos in your engagement-led niches. Remember, TikTok trends move quickly. Act fast and don’t overthink when you have a video idea.
6. Funnel your visitors to multiple platforms
While people are using TikTok as a search engine, it doesn’t mean that all other platforms need to be thrown out of the window. When you’ve built a decent-sized TikTok following, it’d be a waste not to redirect your audience to your website and other social media platforms. Be sure to include these links in your TikTok bio. In addition, direct viewers on where to purchase your products, or where to engage with you off the app in your videos.
7. Collaborate with other creators
Collaborating with other creators is one of the best ways to skyrocket your own 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.
8. 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 TikTok SEO practices that help other creators’ videos rank for search.
9. 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 area, 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.
TikTok SEO is here to stay
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 over 172 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.