Is TikTok set to become the new Google?

September 5, 2023 - 7  min reading time - by Marion Guevel
Home > Technical SEO > Is TikTok set to become the new Google?

Let’s answer that question right away: no! TikTok isn’t here to replace Google, but it has become a more important discovery platform than expected. Did you know that TikTok is used by 40% of people aged 18-24 looking for a place to eat?

Today’s short-form content users aren’t just looking for entertainment. They’re looking for information, reviews, places to discover or even restaurant suggestions.

This represents an incredible opportunity for companies wishing to reach their target audience.

But with no fewer than 270 million videos created by French users alone every year, the chances of your content being drowned out by the masses are significant.

However, there is a solution to ensuring that your content is visible – optimizing your videos for search engines.

In this article, we’ll explain the importance of SEO for your video content, be it on TikTok or other video sharing platforms. And, we’ll address how to optimize your content to FINALLY become visible.

Why should you optimize your TikTok videos?

TikTok wasn’t originally intended to be a search engine. But through sheer force of circumstance and the large number of users worldwide, the Chinese platform has become an ideal place to find information.

In fact, according to Prabhakar Raghavan, Vice President at Google:

“According to our figures, around 40% of young people looking for a place to eat don’t go to Google or Google Maps: they go to TikTok or Instagram”.

The reason is that social network algorithms, and TikTok in particular, are optimized to meet the needs, expectations and desires of a very specific target audience.

These optimizations are based on a combination of factors:

  • The type of content consumed by the viewer;
  • The user’s interactions with previous content;
  • The types of music or audio they enjoy listening to;
  • Whether or not they watch content with subtitles;
  • The hashtags they follow.

Ultimately, all these factors combine to give TikTok users the chance to watch much more than just dance videos

How to optimize your videos for TikTok?

In terms of search engines and SEO, TikTok is essentially regarded as a website, especially considering it’s now indexed by Google. This means that your videos can appear in search results if you follow a few key steps.

Step 1: Define your search intent

Before you start editing your TikTok videos, it’s important to understand what your audience needs and wants in terms of the products and services you offer.

As we explained earlier, Gen Z uses the app to educate themselves. It is therefore essential to understand their search intent and build your content accordingly.

For example, if you’re a company selling hair care products, the intent might be:

  • How to care for your hair in winter?
  • Do I really need to wash my hair once a day?
  • What is the best hair care routine for full, shiny hair?

In practical terms, search intent helps you to assess the specific issues your audience faces on TikTok, and consequently will drive your decision as to what type of content is likely to help or interest them.

Step 2: Select the right keywords for your videos

We can’t overstate the importance of choosing the most appropriate keywords for your business and objectives when it comes to SEO in general, and the same goes for video SEO. You will need to be strategic in your choice for your TikTok account in general as well as your videos. This process is obviously made much easier once you have a better grasp of your target audience’s search intent.

When choosing your keywords, keep in mind three key points:

  1. How often do people search for your term and what is its “search volume”.
  2. How well does your product/service match the search terms?
  3. Is the keyword competitive or does it correspond to a niche query?

There are many tools you can use to help you narrow your keyword selection, such as SEMRush, Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner or even the TikTok suggestion bar.

Step 3: Incorporate your keywords into your video

Incorporating your chosen keywords into your videos may seem like the obvious next step, but what’s not so obvious is that it can be done in a number of different ways. You can optimize your TikTok by:

1. Adding subtitles to your videos

Subtitles are an excellent way of improving your SEO, as they are indexed by search engines.

What’s more, subtitles generally capture the user’s attention far easier, thereby promoting longer viewing times. This in turn has a positive impact on your content’s visibility.

2. Use your keywords as hashtags

Hashtags make your posts easy to find in the TikTok search bar. But be careful not to overload your content with hashtags linked to the main keyword.

In your publications, you can propose variations even if they seem less sought-after by users. You can reach a potentially wider audience and it limits the chances of keyword cannibalization.

3. Saying your keywords in the actual video content

TikTok seems to give priority to videos in which the keywords are actually spoken. So, right from the introduction of your video, try to organically incorporate the term you wish to reference.

Step 4: Use trending TikTok audio tracks

Did you know that 88% of TikTok users say that audio is “essential” to their overall experience on the app? In fact, it’s also essential for SEO. The platform tends to rank content at the top of its algorithm that uses the sort of audio which appeals to its current audience.

Moreover, you can use the TikTok search bar to directly filter trending audio and choose the one that best matches your content.

Step 5: Refine your SEO strategy

The last step is not necessarily specific to SEO.

But it’s important to remember that after implementing all the above steps, it’s important to take time to closely analyze what’s working and what’s not in your strategy. The aim is to refine and improve your game plan for future TikTok videos.

A good approach to adopt would be to look at your subscribers’ opinions or questions in the comments space and adjust accordingly based on what makes the most sense for your brand and your goals. By understanding their needs, you’ll be able to create relevant, optimized content.

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Top 3 tips for gaining visibility on TikTok

Now that we’ve addressed how to optimize your content for search engines, we feel it’s important to look at a couple steps you can take to gain visibility on the platform.

Tip 1: Follow the trends

On TikTok, trends play an essential role in your visibility. By participating in trends, you can create viral content while at the same time allowing users to discover your product or service.

Likewise, trending music and hashtags give you a better chance of appearing in your subscribers’ Explore pages and News Feed.

For example, the Barbie movie soundtrack is a trending sound to use for your TikToks (at the time of writing).

Tip 2: Focus on educational videos

Educational content works really well on TikTok and allows your brand to position itself as an expert on a subject.

Worried you’re not entertaining enough?

By creating educational videos in the form of quizzes, interactive games or educational challenges, you maximize your chances of aligning your brand with the expectations of TikTok users.

For example, the TikToker “Serial thinker” interweaves philosophical education and pop culture, enabling us to get people interested in a subject that’s far from easy to grasp.

Tip 3: Collaborate with influencers or a special guests from your industry

Whether you invite an influencer or an expert from your field to appear in your TikTok videos, collaborating allows you to reach new audiences that might not know your brand yet.

What’s more, a collaboration is great for showcasing your social relevance to potential audiences, while also adding a unique perspective or voice to your content.

For example, you can film TikTok content in the form of an interview, publicize a contest, share anecdotes/stories that have never been revealed, or collaborate with another brand. Who doesn’t remember the memorable encounter between the Scrub Daddy brand of dishwashing sponges and Duolingo? It was the collaboration we never knew we needed. Although the brands appeared to be complete opposites, the strange collaboration garnered quite the buzz.

The end of the line

Now that you know how to optimize your TikTok videos for search engines, all you have to do is identify the content that’s relevant to your target audience.

In all the information provided above, don’t forget one thing: well-referenced content is content that responds to a problem.

All that’s left for you to do is pick up your pencil, recharge your camera battery and publish your content.

Marion Guevel See all their articles
Marion is currently SEO Manager at PlayPlay, the online video creation solution that enables Marketing, Communication and HR teams to transform any message into an engaging video.
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