More people are turning to social media, not least vertical video behemoth TikTok, for search queries far beyond entertainment. Beth Simpson of Connective3 tells us how to reach those searchers.
For years Google has held over 90% of the search engine market share. TikTok, meanwhile, labels itself as an entertainment platform, rather than a search engine. However, the latest research shows a shift in consumer behavior, with 40% of 18-24-year-olds now turning to TikTok rather than Google for searches.
This shift should prompt brands to think about their own SEO strategies on the channel to ensure visibility across all aspects of the app, across all ends of the funnel.
The future of social SEO
In recent months we have seen a shift in consumer behavior, driven by gen Z wanting a more visual representation of what they are searching for. TikTok can fulfil these desires by providing short-form, quick, to-the-point videos as search results.
TikTok also allows people to produce user-generated content providing reviews, tips and advice on products and services. This appears to be the future of social SEO, with 79% of users admitting that UGC impacts their purchase decisions. Users are turning to TikTok for a more authentic experience, sharing content with like-minded individuals. TikTok operates by word of mouth, which we know 92% of consumers trust above other forms of advertising.
Understanding the algorithm
What distinguishes TikTok from other social channels is its algorithm. The algorithm quickly learns what type of content users want to consume, and displays content accordingly. If these preferences change overtime, the algorithm will adapt.
But what factors influence the algorithm? The largest influence is user engagement: accounts you follow, likes, comments, shares and saves. The algorithm also works with keywords in video captions, hashtags and audios to identify what videos are about and assess what content you may be interested in.
Joining the search
TikTok is an enormous contributor of new customers to all sorts of brands. Your marketing strategy on TikTok should be a combination of both paid ads and SEO; this will help you leverage new audiences across the funnel.
With search ads beginning to roll out across the channel, there is yet another opportunity to get in front of your target audience, with a high purchase intent. However, this is based on intent through search queries, rather than user behavior (in comparison to standard social ads).
Effective SEO strategies on TikTok: 4 steps
This is still a very new feature to TikTok, which gives brands the opportunity to test, learn and make mistakes while cost per mille (CPM) is still low. Your first priority is to understand your audience and what they are searching for, understanding their intent.
Second, research and understand the keywords your audience will be searching for and capitalize on this. Consider search volume and relevance.
Third, Incorporate keywords into your video. In September 2022, TikTok increased post descriptions from 300 characters to 2,200, allowing brands to make their videos more discoverable and reach a larger audience. Don’t forget to incorporate hashtags.
Finally, as with all marketing strategies, learn from your mistakes and continue to test. TikTok search tools are constantly evolving, and new features are being implemented. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see what drives results for your brand.
While TikTok remains a relatively new space to test, now is the time for brands to make mistakes and develop a strategy that works while remains low. There is also a huge opportunity for brands to get ahead of competitors who have not yet established a presence on the channel and get in front of a new audience. An SEO strategy should therefore be just as important as a creative strategy when it comes to being successful on TikTok.