TikTok for Brands

February 11, 2022

Last update


06 MIN.

How to Leverage TikTok Search to Inform Your Content Strategy

There’s more to TikTok than just the entertainment factor. It’s an incredibly valuable tool people use to discover new ideas and answer their questions.

Amanda Li

Amanda Li

How to Leverage TikTok Search to Inform Your Content Strategy

TikTok has grown to become a social media phenomenon. The video-sharing app has over a billion users, from top brands to young adults. 

With the incredible reach of TikTok, it’s no wonder brands have jumped to use TikTok to bolster their organic content strategy

But there’s more to TikTok than just the entertainment factor. It’s an incredibly valuable tool people use to discover new ideas and answer their questions. As a marketer, you can unlock a whole new level of growth for your brand on TikTok by treating the channel like a search engine.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can use TikTok as a search engine and how you can use SEO strategies to optimize your TikTok content. You’ll leave with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your brand’s TikTok presence.

Why is TikTok being used as a search engine?

Why is TikTok being used as a search engine?

How TikTok Is Rewriting the World 

TikTok was primarily designed for entertainment and to help users connect. But more and more users, particularly Gen Z, are turning to TikTok to gather information. You’ll find travel tips, restaurant recommendations, or even hacks for cleaning your home. Educational content makes up a considerable portion of the content on the platform. 

From inspiration for outfits to ‘how-to’ and educational videos, users can find almost anything they’re looking for on TikTok. So it’s no surprise that many users treat TikTok like an interactive search engine. Instead of reading an article about “how to get a mortgage,” they can watch a 30-second TikTok video.

This is similar to how users started engaging with YouTube when the platform rose in popularity. Youtube is now widely regarded as a search engine, in the same league as Google or Bing. 

However, TikTok has taken engaging video content to the next level. With most videos under 60 seconds, short-form content has made sourcing information more efficient and accessible. 

It also makes re-accessing information easier. When searching on a web browser, users need to bookmark web pages. But TikTok makes it easier to access their discoveries in the future. Users can simply save the videos to their account to re-watch at a later date. 

How does the TikTok search engine work?

One unique feature of TikTok is the For You Page (FYP). Unlike many other social platforms, like Facebook or Instagram, TikTok prioritizes content based on what they think you’ll like. The focus is less on who you follow but on what you’ll find entertaining and enjoyable. Since every individual is unique, every TikTok user will see a tailored set of recommended videos. 

The great thing about this algorithm is that it makes it easier for brands and creators to reach entirely new audiences. This type of visibility has been game-changing for many small brands.

How does the TikTok search engine work?

How TikTok’s algorithm works

Like most social media platforms, TikTok looks at various factors when determining what content to show its users. This includes things like engagement (likes, views, and comments), device settings (language and location), and video information (captions, text, and hashtags.)

So, to improve your rankings, it’s essential to focus on the things necessary to the platform. This includes creating engaging TikTok videos and ensuring you’re incorporating relevant video information. Captions, keywords, and hashtags are how TikTok can help identify what a piece of content is about and who to best show it to.

How to optimize your content for TikTok

Embed: https://www.tiktok.com/@keenyakelly/video/6906153524824968453 

Using TikTok can seem simple enough – edit a video and upload it. But not so fast.

If you want to maximize the potential of every video, it’s crucial to optimize your content for the TikTok algorithm. This is incredibly similar to optimizing on-page content for SEO.

It’s important to encourage TikTok to show your content to more users. Still, optimizing your content so users can find your videos is key, even if the algorithm does not initially recommend it. 

Here are some top tips to optimize your content for TikTok. 

Top 3 SEO considerations for TikTok

Developing a TikTok hashtag strategy

Like most social media platforms, hashtags are fundamental to how TikTok organizes information and videos. Users are used to using hashtags to navigate around social media platforms. As a result, they often use hashtags to search for information.

That’s why creating a hashtag strategy is vital to optimizing your content for TikTok search. Start by researching TikTok creators or brands in similar niches to understand which hashtags are right for you. Then choose a handful of relevant hashtags you and your brand can own. 

You don’t have to use the same hashtags every time – only to use those relevant to your specific piece of content. For example, if you’re using the hashtag #socialmediatips, your content should be related to tips for using social media.

Embed: https://www.tiktok.com/tag/socialmediatips

The algorithm relies on hashtags to ensure that it’s identifying the topic of your content correctly. It helps ensure the right content reaches the right users.

It’s also important to note creators like to use generic hashtags like #FYP or #trending. But these oversaturated hashtags likely won’t help you reach the right audience. While they may have fewer views, smaller, more specific hashtags will likely be more beneficial as part of your strategy.

Jumping on trends

Trends are critical to the TikTok algorithm, ranging from funny lip-sync videos to popular dances. For example, creators have been using this trending sound to highlight something that unexpectedly went viral.

Embed:  https://www.tiktok.com/music/The-People-using-my-sound-have-more-likes-than-me-7109487978782788395?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc

                                                         Image from Unsplash

Jumping on trends

The TikTok algorithm likes to push videos that feature up-and-coming trends. So by participating, it’s more likely that your content will reach new demographics. Trends also tend to see more substantial levels of engagement. The better your engagement rates, the more likely TikTok will feature your content on For You pages in the future.

Increased likes and views can help your content soar to the top of hashtag pages. As a result, you’ll also see better results from your hashtag strategy.

Adding keywords into the text on your video & captions

When optimizing blogs or articles for SEO, it’s essential to use and target the right keywords – and you should be using a similar strategy with TikTok.

You’re likely thinking, “but isn’t TikTok a video platform?” Yes, but there are still many ways to include relevant keywords throughout your content.

The TikTok algorithm does use some level of AI to help determine the topic of your video based on the audio and videos. However, it also relies on keywords to ensure its accuracy.

Similarly to optimizing blogs for on-page SEO, your videos should include relevant keywords. You can do this in a few different ways:

  • Captions – captions are word-for-word transcriptions of your audio. Captions are a great place to include relevant keywords if you’re mentioning them in the video.
  • Video text – when editing your video, it often makes sense to include subtitles or additional content that highlights your keywords.
  • Descriptions – your video description is another place to elaborate on your video content and include your targeted keywords.

It’s still important that you’re prioritizing the user’s experience, so don’t go crazy shoving in keywords unnecessarily. You should only use them where appropriate – users won’t appreciate having to navigate around keyword stuffing.

Identifying TikTok keyword opportunities

Finding the right keyword opportunities is key to TikTok search success. But how do you know which keywords are suitable for your brand?

With other forms of SEO, there is wide a range of tools you can use to obtain keyword volumes. With TikTok, you need to use intuition to assess which keywords might best fit your goals. Here are some ways to identify the right keywords for your brand:

  1. Brainstorm Keywords

First, brainstorm the keywords you want to rank for on TikTok. Consider the main topics that relate to your business, products, and services, as well as the problems your customers need solved. For example, a web design agency may target keywords such as:

  • website design
  • How to design a website
  • Web design tips
  • website is slow loading

  1.  Use TikTok’s Autosuggest Feature

Enter a topic or keyword into TikTok’s seach bar and see what the ‘autosuggest’ recommends. This is a great way to find related search terms and target more specific topics in your niche. 

  1. Use TikTok Discover to Discern Volume

TikTok’s discover page will give you a general idea of how much search volume there is around certain topics or keywords. For example, if a hashtag has 10m views, you could safely assume there is sufficient demand for content on that particular topic.

Here are some other easy ways to identify the right keyword opportunities.

  • Search your brand name or niche in the app – What are other creators posting? Which topics are most popular and see high levels of engagement?
  • Review suggested search results – Type a word relevant to your niche into the TikTok search bar. The suggestions often indicate some of the most popular searches.
  • Use other content platforms – Searches on other platforms like Google, Youtube, and Ask The Public can often be transferable to TikTok. For example: What questions are popping up on Google’s People Always Ask sections? 

Once you’ve created a list of curated keywords, simply create content around those topics and use the relevant hashtags when you post. It’s as simple as that! 

Final thoughts

While TikTok wasn’t intentionally designed as a search engine, its massive content library has made search queries a natural fit. More and more users are searching for answers on the app – creating a massive opportunity for brands to step in and provide the right solutions.

Using some of the optimization strategies above, you’ll be leveling up your TikTok game in no time.

Once you’ve implemented your new TikTok SEO strategies, it’s time to measure your success. Check out the Ultimate Guide To TikTok Analytics or these Key TikTok Metrics for more.

the writer
Amanda Li

Amanda Li

Contributor @Iconosquare

Amanda is a freelance writer with over five years of experience helping high-growth brands scale their organic content strategies. When not writing, you’ll find Amanda scrolling TikTok with an iced coffee, exploring the latest trends in social media.


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