TikTok is becoming more than just a social app - it is now edging into Google’s search engine territory.
The app is now the number one place for Gen Z to search, overtaking Google which had previously held tight to the top spot.
40% of Gen Z users prefer to search on TikTok, rather than traditional search engines due to the personalised, authentic and valuable content provided, along with peer reviews and ‘real-time’ results, compared to traditional Google searches that can sometimes feel a bit late to the party.
This shift in consumer habits means that it is no longer enough to just share engaging TikTok content your audience will enjoy - if your brand wants to remain relevant and discoverable, you should also be considering the SEO value of your content.
In this article, we will explore TikTok SEO's significance, its distinctions from traditional SEO, uncover the ranking factors and provide practical tips to optimise your TikTok SEO for better results on the platform.
- What is TikTok SEO?
- How TikTok SEO differs from Traditional SEO?
- TikTok SEO Ranking Factors
- Optimising TikTok SEO
What is TikTok SEO?
TikTok Search Engine Optimisation (TikTok SEO), which is similar to traditional SEO for websites, still involves optimising your content to improve search result visibility by utilising keywords and strategies.
This drives your content to the top results, leading to increased views and engagement.
As it has become an essential aspect of TikTok marketing, creators and brands should seize the opportunity to optimise their past, present and future TikToks, especially in the initial stages where the potential payoff is highest.
There are key differences however between TikTok SEO and traditional SEO.
How does TikTok SEO differ from Traditional?
Let’s break down the differences and similarities between TikTok SEO and traditional SEO and how to utilise both to develop a comprehensive TikTok SEO strategy.
In what ways are TikTok SEO and Traditional SEO similar?
Both TikTok and traditional SEO share a common foundation – keywords.
The relevance of these keywords to user search intent is crucial in determining rankings. Whether you are seeking visibility for your TikTok video or aiming to rank website content on Google, keywords serve as the gateway to visibility.
In what ways are TikTok SEO and Traditional SEO Different?
- Content type
TikTok SEO focuses on improving visual content, like videos and photo carousels, relying on eye-catching visuals and engaging imagery.
In contrast, traditional SEO features primarily in text-based content, such as blog posts, articles, and web pages.
- Success metrics
On TikTok, success is typically measured by user engagement metrics, such as likes, comments, saves, and shares, which have a significant impact on how TikTok's algorithms will distribute your content.
Traditional SEO, on the other hand, aims for high rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
TikTok SEO Ranking factors
TikTok has shared its guidelines for how they recommend videos for users meaning that brands and content creators, can utilise these guidelines to influence TikTok SEO strategies.
- User interactions: TikTok assesses user actions, including likes, comments, follows, shares, saves, video completions, and rewatches. The more positive interactions your video garners, the higher its chances of being recommended to a wider audience.
- Content elements: Every detail within a video counts. This includes captions, hashtags, audio, and the strategic use of keywords in various areas, from on-screen text and closed captions to speech, titles, and descriptions. TikTok actively seeks videos that incorporate relevant keywords and cover trending topics.
- Devices and account settings: TikTok also considers user-specific settings, such as language preferences, country settings, IPs, and selected interest categories. While these settings play a role in TikTok's optimisation, they carry less weight compared to video content and user interactions.
TikTok does not factor follower count into its SEO ranking algorithm. This inclusivity ensures that exceptional content stands a fair chance of featuring on TikTok, regardless of follower numbers.
Top 5 Ways to optimise TikTok SEO
Now you understand the importance of TikTok SEO, let’s talk through our top 5 ways to optimise your TikTok content for search engines, making it more discoverable and engaging.
1. Understand your audience
Before you start incorporating TikTok SEO, you need to understand your audience. Knowing your viewers and their interests will help you create content that resonates with them, and you can find this information by utilising:
- Engagement analysis: Take a deep dive into the videos your audience engages with the most.
- What kinds of content are they liking, sharing, and commenting on?
- What's trending in your niche?
- What gets them excited?
This can provide valuable clues about their interests.
- Hashtag research: Look into the hashtags your audience frequently watches. This can give you insights into the topics they are passionate about and have a genuine interest in.
- Comments: Pay attention to comments on your videos and related videos. Analyse the questions they ask and the feedback they provide.
Once you have a solid grasp of what your audience is looking for on TikTok, you can create content that caters to these searches and answers their questions.
2. Conduct keyword research
Identify the words and phrases your target audience is using when searching for content like yours. You can find keywords using:
- TikTok's search bar: Start by heading to TikTok and entering keywords related to your content. TikTok's search bar will automatically display popular keywords, providing insights into users' search trends.
- Keyword tools: You can also utilise external keyword research tools such as Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, SEMrush, etc. to discover relevant keywords. While these tools are not TikTok-specific, they serve as a valuable starting point. Additionally, TikTok offers its Ads Keyword Insights tool but note that its results are primarily centred around paid ads, potentially missing massive amount of organic content.
When conducting keyword research, aim for keywords that:
- have a high search volume
- are highly relevant to your content
- have low competition
TikTok SEO Example:
Imagine you are a restaurant based in Edinburgh and you want to share a video about your new lunch menu. You might start with the basics- conducting a search for ‘’Lunch in Edinburgh’.
TikTok will then show a list of auto-populated results that other users are looking up.
Each of the results might be turned into a video idea, or many of them can be merged into one video, e.g., lunch in old town, city centre, and family-friendly/ child-friendly restaurant.
Another tip is that when you search the hook of your video, you can see what is suggested via “others searched for".
3. Incorporate keywords strategically
Once you have identified relevant keywords, it’s time to use them in your TikTok content. Here is where you should aim to place keywords:
- Video titles: Craft attention-grabbing video titles that include your target keywords. Make sure they accurately represent your content. You can add the titles in the thumbnail via 'Select cover' while working on the draft video.
- Captions: Write a detailed description in the caption that explains your video and naturally utilises relevant keywords. This helps the algorithm understand your content better.
- On-screen text: If your video includes on-screen text, make sure to include keywords there too. This adds another layer of keyword relevance. Also, make use of automated closed captions where possible. This is also good for making your content accessible.
- Hashtags: Utilise hashtags that include your main keyword and related variations. Do not overdo it; aim for a few relevant, broad, and niche hashtags.
- Verbal keywords: Do not forget to use the keywords when speaking in your video. TikTok's algorithm prioritises videos where keywords are spoken. This can be through narration, talking to camera or text-to-speech. Make sure that the speech feels natural and engaging. Remember to always put the user experience above SEO-optimisation.
- Profile: Add your most relevant target keywords to your TikTok profile bio. This enhances your profile's visibility when people search for these keywords.
Strategic keyword placement increases the likelihood of your content appearing in search results and being found by a larger audience.
4. Be consistent with your niche
Staying consistent within your niche is paramount to your success on TikTok.
Think of it as your key to reaching the coveted ‘For You’ page. When your content jumps between multiple niches or topics, it confuses the algorithm, making it difficult to pinpoint your target audience.
The more the algorithm recognises your niche, the more accurately it can recommend your content to users who are genuinely interested in your products or services.
TikTok users follow accounts for specific content they love.
TikTok SEO Example:
Imagine you are a skincare brand. If you consistently provide tips, routine advice, and product recommendations for skincare enthusiasts, your audience will grow to expect this type of content.
It would be best to continue to create content around this topic, instead of starting to share unrelated content about, say fitness or travel.
This consistency not only keeps your existing followers engaged but also makes it easier for the algorithm to recognise your niche and distribute your content to those users who are most likely to enjoy it.
5. Measure your progress
Every successful TikTok SEO strategy requires continuous monitoring and adjustment. Here's how to measure your progress and refine your approach:
- Analytics: Use TikTok's analytics to track video views, engagement, and follower growth. Pay attention to metrics like average watch time and audience demographics.
- Identify successful content: Identify videos that perform well and replicate their success. Experiment with different approaches and analyse the results.
- Engage and adapt: Engage with your audience by responding to comments and interacting with other TikTok users. Adapt your strategy based on audience feedback.
Check the search bar above your video. It can be a key indicator of how well TikTok has understood the context, content, and keywords of your video.
For instance, if it says "find related content" it may tell that TikTok does not understand the video and keywords very well, but if it has a relevant search term then it has understood and is pushing your video for those search terms.
You can refer to the screenshots below.
By regularly analysing your TikTok analytics and fine-tuning your content, you can stay on top of your niche and continuously develop your SEO strategy.
So, what have we learned?
In conclusion, TikTok SEO presents an incredible opportunity for brands and creators to be more easily discovered on this rapidly growing platform.
Understanding the intricacies of TikTok's algorithms, knowing your audience inside out, and strategically implementing keywords can help your brand flourish on TikTok.
As the TikTok landscape continues to evolve, embracing TikTok SEO is a necessity for brands looking to remain relevant and competitive in the everchanging digital space.
- TikTok is now a primary search platform for Gen Z, surpassing Google in popularity.
- Brands need to focus on TikTok SEO to remain relevant and discoverable.
- TikTok SEO is similar to traditional SEO but differs in content types and success metrics.
- TikTok SEO factors include user interactions, content elements, and account settings.
- Top 5 optimisation steps: understand your audience, conduct keyword research, incorporate keywords strategically, be consistent within your niche, and measure progress using TikTok analytics.
- TikTok SEO is vital for brands to thrive in this evolving digital landscape.
Struggling to gain traction with TikTok?
If your brand is struggling to gain traction with your TikTok account, submit a few details below and we will get to work on your free TikTok audit