Let’s start this post with a little vulnerability. We love the idea of TikTok, but our millennial hearts are still new to it. We have high hopes to be better at implementing this consistently into our business, but right now we aren’t quite there. And hey, if this is you too, we see you! It’s not easy to jump on every social train and that is okay. We are humans first, not content creation machines. But hey, we are all about cheering each other along. So give us a follow and say hi— we will be sure to do the same!
Now with that out of the way, we wanted to come here to chat about something we do love which is SEO. If you don’t know what SEO is, start here. What you really need to know is that SEO applies to basically anything that has a search bar. Yep, that means Instagram and even TikTok. So let’s talk about SEO for TikTok— what do you need to know.
First, Should You Start TikTok For Your Business?
Even though we are the first to admit we aren’t fulling on the train— maybe just dragging a bit behind it— we still recommend securing your account. TikTok is growing rapidly and has captured everyone’s attention and engagement in a new way. In fact, TikTok is so popular that it’s used by 1.4 billion users each month! All those eyeballs alone should perk your ears.
TikTok is one of the most used social media platforms today, and that’s no accident. This could be the perfect place to grow your brand and capture your target audience (especially if you skew younger) outside other social media platforms. So at the very least, secure your handle and repurpose your Instagram reels here to get a few extra eyeballs on your content.
And here’s the deal; if you plan to use TikTok, you need to have an effective SEO strategy that gets your content on your audience’s radar.
TikTok SEO is a bit elusive because the app (like many other apps, cough cough, Insta) often experiment with new features and updates. Don’t be intimidated by this, though! You’ve got us on your side to break down the jargon and simplify things so your business can experience the organic growth (aka non-paid growth) you dream of.
The Basic Overview Of How TikTok Works
TikTok’s influence on social media marketing and content virality breaks all the social media precedents most users are used to. If you’re not sure how TikTok works, don’t worry! We’ve got you.
The TikTok algorithm curates a For You Page (FYP) that appeals to your audience’s niche interests. No two users’ FYP will look the same, even if they’re interested in the same topics. This is because TikTok collects information from users’ views, likes, comments, following, and other data to optimize their experience on the app. This data informs the TikTok algorithm about the content you’re likely to engage and interact with to make the most of your time while scrolling.
Your TikTok search history also has an impact on crafting your FYP, too. If you search for specific terms and hashtags and spend time watching videos under these searches, the TikTok algorithm will get smarter. If you’re engaging with these videos (eg., view time, likes, comments, and saves), the TikTok algorithm will reformulate your FYP and start showing you new content related to what you searched. We are getting to that SEO part… are ya ready!?
In summary, the basics of how TikTok works is the algorithm analyzes what content you engage with to get better and better at curating an For You Page full of content you’ll like. Because when they do that you engage on the app longer and that is their whole goal.
How does SEO work on social media platforms?
If you’re new to the world of SEO, you’ve come to the right place. We are always sharing tips on the podcast and blog. So start there! In the simplest of explanations, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing your online content for search engines through things like user experience, keywords and backlinks.
When you think of SEO you likely think of search engines, like Google and Bing. Right? How about Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram? How about TikTok? Believe it or not, but each of these platforms has a search capability. Meaning you can and should optimize for it. In fact, nearly half of Gen Z is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google.
Social media search results work very similarly to search engines like Google. Those results that appear on page one of Google answer the questions the user was searching for, uses those same keywords and gets traffic and engagement. Similarly on social media, those posts that appear first answer the search query by using those keywords in the caption and alt text along with getting overall engagement through likes, shares and views.
The most successful posts on social media have an SEO strategy whether they’ve thought about it or just got lucky. Social media SEO isn’t just about writing killer captions and throwing in a bunch of hashtags. It takes some time to truly understand what types of content your audience is searching for and focusing on creating content that answers those questions.
How TikTok and SEO work together
How the TikTok algorithm and SEO strategies interact is still subject to change as the app updates and optimizes the user experience. Usually, these updates tend to fall in line with SEO principles. For example, TikTok is testing a new feature that highlights keywords in a video’s comments or suggests a keyword search at the bottom of a video. This encourages viewers to learn more about topics or trends and makes searches easier for users— all they have to do is click the highlight!
The search function is one of the most used features on TikTok. The TikTok algorithm will show the most viral videos for users when they search for a keyword or hashtag. As we said, these pieces of content are well-received because they’re highly relevant and popular to the search inquiry. When you think about your TikTok SEO strategy, keep your audience’s search objective in mind. Meaning you really need to know your ideal client avatar. This can help you put those keywords in the right place and increase your content’s visibility to your audience.
Next, ensure you’re using keywords throughout the content, not just in the caption or hashtags. Keywords should be in on-screen text, captions, and your voiceover if you talk in the video. But we will get into all that and more with our tips below!
7 things we recommend for better SEO for TikTok:
1. Do keyword research
Start your content ideation with keyword research. Keep in mind that many of these tools are leveraging search engines like Google to pull their data. But it can still be a good reference since there isn’t a social-specific SEO research tool (yet).
Want a starting point? What are your top performing blog posts? Read through those and pull out some quick video ideas or tips you can share on TikTok by simply talking. Here’s an example.
2. Use the TikTok search bar
The best way to figure out what people are searching for on TikTok is to use TikTik. Seems simple right? Start typing a keyword into the search bar and see what else automatically populates. TikTok will automatically auto-populate the search bar with the most popular keywords related to your keyword. Giving you an ample amount of ideas on things to create. Start to add random letters or words after your chosen keyword to see what longer tail keywords appear.
3. Say those keywords out loud
Now after you know what to create leveraging that keyword research, you need to be putting those keywords somewhere. This way the search part of the algorithm knows that your content can be served. This is where you add those keywords to your caption, hashtags, your voice over if you are talking in your video and on-screen text or captions.
Did you know that the TikTok algorithm prioritized keywords that are actually spoken out loud? Yep! So be sure to say those keywords in your videos.
4. Add keywords to your profile
Having an optimized bio is one of the most important SEO tips for any social media platform, TikTok included. Be sure to use overall industry, service or product keywords in your profile bio descriptions. This will help make sure your profile is visible when someone searches for the thing that you offer.
5. Embed your TikTok videos into your blog posts
Your website is your hub. It should encompass every platform you live on. Your blog posts should be a central hub for all your content. Meaning one podcast could give your audience 5 different ways to consumer that one piece of content. Listen to the podcast, read the blog, watch a quick video on TikTok or Instagram or see an in-depth tutorial on YouTube.
When repurposing content, we love to start with a blog post. Because a single blog can give you dozens of content ideas. But maybe you are the opposite, maybe you have tons of TikTok videos and no blog posts? In this case, start making microblogs for your TikTok videos. Just be sure to make each post a minimum of 300 words. In fact we would recommend between 500-1,000 words if you can.
6. Use trending audio
Trending audio is a great way to help your content get found quickly and ramp up that initial engagement. Not sure which audio is trending? Open that TIkTok search bar and type in “trending sounds”. Then switch to view content from “this week”. All of a sudden you’ve found content from hundreds of creators sharing the top trending sounds with oodles of ideas on how you can use them too.
7. Peek at your analytics
Start by understanding which pieces of content are performing well for you already? What do you think your audience likes about these videos? Is it entertaining? educational? What topics are you sharing? Did you use trending audio clips? Is it a voice over video? What keywords did you use in your caption, on-screen text and voice? By first understanding what’s working amongst your current audience, you can then work to create similar types of content.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with TikTok?
Then pause right here. Stop overthinking and just start creating content. Or better yet, maybe just spend an hour consuming content. This way you can start with tip #7 and see what types of content are actually working first. You can then start taking your TikTok strategy to the next level from there.
Don’t let the TikTok algorithm intimidate you. SEO on any platform is part of a long growth strategy. It will take a while to pay off, but your hard work makes the organic engagement and traffic sooo worth it. So, don’t be discouraged if your posts don’t initially perform well today. Keep being consistent with your approach and strategy. TikTok rewards active users with better visibility on FYPs, heightened rankings on keywords and hashtags, and high audience engagement. After a bit of time, your hard work won’t go unnoticed.
If you’ve made it to the end of this post and realized that SEO research or website optimization is something you need help with, we’re here for you! We love doing keyword research projects that can be used across any search engine from Google, TikTok, podcasting and more.