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TikTok SEO Best Practice Guide

by Andreas Voniatis Fractional SEO Consultant. Founder.

First launched in China in 2016 as a short video platform for lip-syncing, learning viral dances and animal videos, TikTok has since grown into a fully-fledged video content service for all kinds of brands. The app’s popularity and subsequent success truly snowballed during 2019-2020 when the world was in various states of lockdown. 

In fact, you could say TikTok has disrupted search as we know it. Let’s look at some TikTok stats;

  • TikTok ended Google’s 15-year reign as the world’s most visited web domain in 2021 with Gen Z using TikTok for search more than Google. 
  • The “TikTok SEO” hashtag on TikTok already has over 26 million views
  • Users are on TikTok an average of 100mins per day and open the app around 21 times

It’s now become the fastest-growing news source for adults, despite the most popular age group being 10-19 years old. As TikTok becomes a news source with a search function, users are going to their favourite social app and bypassing other search options online, once again changing the search landscape as we know it today.

So what is TikTok SEO and how can you make sure the content you create and publish gets seen on that all-important For You page?

 

What is TikTok SEO?

With a domain authority score of 94 and over 5.9 million ranking keywords, TikTok is competing with the giants like YouTube and Amazon — and outperforming. Whilst it probably wasn’t created to act as a search engine like Google does, around 40% of people who are active online are now going straight to social media to answer their queries.

People are going straight to social channels to search for daily inspiration, creating a TikTok search engine inside the social platform. Whilst search engine giants Google now display social media posts from sites like Instagram and TikTok in search results, this isn’t the same as SEO within the platform.

Even the TikTok national ad campaign focuses on search, here in the UK. They’re onto the power of their search functionality already.

Whilst there isn’t a keyword-specific control available at this time on the app, the automatic system will look at the app name, custom identity, video content (including text and non-text elements), URL (content from the web landing page), and video title as its main source of learning to understand which keywords are relevant. 

Brands that rely on TikTok as a marketing channel need to start paying attention to optimising the content they publish there– just as you would for search engines. 

As a fairly new concept in itself, how can you start to optimise content on TikTok for TikTok search?

 

Ranking Factors On TikTok

Whether you’re considering investing some marketing budget in TikTok or want to understand more about getting content onto the For You page, there are a few things you’ll need to include when you post.

Like all other social media channels, TikTok works with an algorithm that gathers more information on the type of content you enjoy watching based on what you watch or engage with. The more you search, like and interact with posts that have similar or the same hashtags or content, the more TikTok will serve up similar posts. 

Consumers are on TikTok looking for information that’s visually engaging, socially validated, and authentically trustworthy. Unlike how they’d typically use Google for more information, reviews etc.

TikTok does keep its specific algorithm under wraps so it’s a bit of an educated guess, but we can see the kind of content the For You page shows users and look at some of the key features it shares. 

Some of the other key features in TikTok that suggest the algorithm pays close attention to, using it:

  • Any content you’ve interacted with via comments, likes, shares etc.
  • Accounts you follow (or have unfollowed)
  • Any links or ads you’ve clicked through from posts
  • Keywords within captions and titles
  • Hashtags and the songs users choose to use
  • The number of likes, views and comments your content has
  • Even the kind of device you use and the country your account is set to will have an impact on the content you’re shown on TikTok.
  • The kind of ads you engage with 

 

If you’re using TikTok as a business and have used paid advertising, there’s also a great insights article on their own website about how you can understand search intent and measure data from the ads you have on their platform.

So, how else can a brand start to see some ROI on its content when using TikTok and make sure its content is seen by new audiences both inside the app and in search?

 

Ranking Your TikTok Content In Google Search

As we’ve previously shared, social media content is now displayed in search results on Google meaning there’s an opportunity to optimise anything you create and publish to rank in search results too.

Thankfully, the Google algorithm is a little more transparent in what it looks for when ranking content so if you’re looking to increase your brand awareness from TikTok and want to reach new audiences, making sure your content is fresh and relevant is key. 

Using keywords that people are searching for within the title of the post, the caption and even the alt text will help indicate that the content is most relevant to the search being made.

If you’re going to focus on the SEO elements of TikTok content, you should approach it in the same way as you would SEO on a website which means:

  • Keyword research and competitor analysis. Businesses can incorporate keywords into TikTok videos via in-video text, speech, captions, hashtags and automated closed captions
  • Creating a content strategy using the research. A good hashtag strategy targets both breadth and depth by incorporating a combination of long-tail and high-volume keywords
  • Share your TikTok content on other websites and social channels– combine your SEO marketing strategy with your TikTok strategy and include videos within blogs and articles
  • Make sure your website is in the profile
  • Start measuring traffic!

The TikTok algorithm is working similarly to Google; finding popular content (that has a lot of views, likes and comments etc.) For businesses looking to invest in TikTok as an advertising channel, it’s important to be able to extract search results data for target search terms so they can understand which content is working well and why. Working with Artios means we can empower you with the right tools to access this data and propel your reach on TikTok.

In the future, Search ads plan to introduce increased control over keywords which means we will be able to access keywords searched within TikTok as a platform. Here at Artios, search ads are one of the many ways we’re experimenting to improve the TikTok content experience while creating engaging products for businesses of all sizes. Why not get in touch with us and find out how we could help your business with TikTok SEO.

With such a huge reach globally and active, engaged users relying on TikTok content to shape their daily intrigue, it’s a social channel to invest some time in, even as an experiment!

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