TikTok SEO Simplified: 4 Tips to Optimise Your Videos for Search

Written By Otilia Crizbasan | 20 September, 2023

The clock is tick(tock)ing: what’s your strategy?

Searching online has come a long way. In its early days, it used to be quite simple with old-school search engines like Yahoo. Then Google took over and made it incredibly easy to find anything we wanted. 

Now, social media has jumped in, changing the game even more.

So, when someone says, “Hey, I just learned this cool thing,” or “Guess what I found out about…” you can bet they probably saw it in a TikTok video.

TikTok provides a huge opportunity to boost your brand’s visibility. Want the spotlight on you? Read our article so you can learn what TikTok SEO is, how it works, and five ways you can use it to get more views.

What is TikTok SEO?

TikTok SEO is the practice of optimising your content on TikTok so it’s more likely to be seen by your target audience. The goal is to appear on their For You Page (FYP) and rank higher in TikTok’s search results.

The FYP is the first thing you see on TikTok, and it gives you fresh videos every time you swipe. It’s driven by TikTok’s smart algorithm, which is designed to keep showing you more of what you enjoy.

Example of  For You Page (FYP) on TikTok

TikTok also includes a search feature to find what you’re looking for:

search feature example on TikTok

The FYP and the search results are like the prime real estate of TikTok—these are the spots where people find new, cool stuff to watch. Everyone wants their videos to land there and you probably want that too.

Why does TikTok SEO matter?

So what’s the big deal about TikTok? 

With a robust TikTok SEO strategy, you have the chance to increase your visibility online and boost engagement. It’s the ultimate tactic for reaching interested audiences and giving your content pieces the attention they deserve.

Prabhakar Raghavan, a Google senior vice president, said at a technology conference in July: “In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

We spoke to Jake Crabb, marketing manager at Disrupt, a London-based influencer marketing agency. Their influencer campaigns rely heavily on TikTok with more and more traditional brands looking to expand their on this platform. 

“TikTok has transcended its role as a mere video-sharing social media platform; it has evolved into a full-fledged search engine,” says Crabb. “Creators have discovered that they can enhance their discoverability on TikTok by implementing traditional SEO tactics within their content. This includes strategically placing keywords EVERYWHERE, from video text and closed captions to descriptions, hashtags, and even verbal mentions.”

What are the TikTok ranking factors?

Each search engine uses unique criteria to determine how content ranks. Just like every social media platform has a specific algorithm to present relevant content to individual users. 

According to TikTok: “The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user, and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in.”

So, there are several core ranking factors for the TikTok algorithm. These are:

  1. User interactions

TikTok pays attention to various ways you engage with content, whether it’s giving likes, hiding certain videos, marking them as favourites, or watching them from start to finish. The platform uses these insights to customise the video recommendations you receive.

  1. Video information

The information linked with each video (such as captions, hashtags, sound) influences the algorithm in determining which content to display. This is crucial for optimising your TikTok videos for search, ensuring they appear when someone looks for related keywords or hashtags.

  1. Devices and account settings

Lastly, the device you use, your geographical location, and your language settings also influence what appears on your FYP. What it’s relevant to keep in mind is that while account settings do factor into your TikTok SEO ranking, they receive a lower weight than video info and user interactions.

4 TikTok SEO tips for better reach

  1. Understand your audience

Start with your audience. Understand who they are and what they’re looking for and create content that resonates with them.

If you’re already active on TikTok, you may have a good idea of what your audience likes. If not, consider taking some time to get to know them better. Look at the videos they’re engaging with and the hashtags they’re using. 

  1. Do keyword research

In traditional SEO, keyword research is an essential part. Conduct thorough keyword research for TikTok by leveraging established SEO tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. 

Although there aren’t specific TikTok SEO tools available, you can use TikTok to explore popular keywords. Simply enter relevant terms in the search bar and pay attention to auto-populated suggestions. This approach will provide valuable insights to optimise your TikTok content effectively.

  1. Add keywords to your content

After completing your TikTok keyword research, make sure you optimise TikTok SEO content by incorporating keywords in titles, descriptions, captions, and on-screen text. 

Let’s take ‘tiktok seo hacks’ as an example. Notice below how each user included the keyword which helped rank the video higher:

search results for keyword 'tiktok seo hacks' on TikTok
  1. Don’t forget about Tiktok’s guidelines

Search is only one way that users might encounter your videos. So make sure to:

  • Keep your videos short – and make the first 2-3 seconds count 
  • Use trending sounds – it can improve visibility 
  • Post regularly – several times each week and use analytics to know when

Final thoughts

Search is now everywhere. It has moved beyond traditional search engines and brands need to react and adapt in order to stay relevant.  

“I’m excited to see where this will lead in the future, and how it will affect the realm of digital and beyond,” says Crabb. “As TikTok’s influence as a search engine continues to grow, it promises new opportunities for creators, brands, and users alike. There are without doubt dynamic changes ahead in the digital landscape as TikTok continues to redefine the way we search and engage with content.”

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. Now is the time to embrace these behavioural shifts and technological developments.

Get in touch with our team to discover how we can help you own search.