By Nicholas Papagiannis, VP, Search Director

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, TikTok presents a unique opportunity for brands to reach new audiences and achieve unprecedented engagement. The trend of using TikTok’s search function as a primary search engine is growing, especially among Gen Z users.

From seeking product reviews to scouting restaurant recommendations, Gen Z naturally turns to their favorite app for information. This shift highlights the platform’s evolving role as a go-to source for diverse queries among younger demographics.  

Navigating the platform’s search algorithm though can be a daunting task for marketers. Consequentially, it’s important that you consider SEO when it comes to your TikTok presence. 

While not identical to traditional SEO practices, understanding TikTok’s algorithm can unlock incredible growth opportunities. Here are some key areas that brands should focus on for better SEO performance on TikTok. 

Use relevant search keywords in your copy 

Think of keywords in your video description as the key to directing viewers to your content. Having popular search terms as keywords in your video description communicates to the algorithm to rank the video for those search terms.   

Start by understanding what your target audience is trying to search for. Tools (like, appropriately named, Keyword Tool) can offer valuable insights and help you decide what search terms to include in copy. 

Also, don’t force in broad, generic keywords just for popularity. Instead, focus on long-tail keywords, specific phrases with lower search volume but higher conversion rates. 

Always use hashtags 

Hashtags are a popular way to discover videos on TikTok. But marketers should resist the urge to simply throw in every trending hashtag.  

  • Include popular and niche hashtags. Popular ones drive initial views, while niche ones attract your target audience. 
  • Stay relevant; don’t mislead with irrelevant hashtags just for reach. It hurts engagement and damages your credibility. 
  • Utilize tools like a TikTok Hashtag Generator and follow successful creators in your niche to discover relevant and trending hashtags. 

Optimize your profile copy 

Better copy can improve your visibility, so having SEO-friendly profile content can boost performance. 

  • Craft a compelling bio: Introduce yourself, showcase your unique value proposition and include relevant keywords. 
  • Use a high-quality, eye-catching image that reflects your brand or personality. 
  • Add a website link to drive traffic beyond TikTok. 

Create engaging video content 

Remember, even the best SEO won’t save subpar content. Like traditional search engines, TikTok’s algorithm rewards quality content. Focus on creating engaging, high-quality videos that resonate with your audience. 

  • Grab attention quickly by using a strong message within the first 3 seconds via a compelling hook, question or surprising element. 
  • Use impactful storytelling and narratives in your video, even for short-form content. Emotion and connection drive engagement. 
  • Hijack trends: Leverage trending sounds, challenges and formats, but add your unique twist to avoid being generic. 
  • Produce high-quality videos. Invest in good lighting, sound and editing to create polished, professional-looking videos. 

Engage with your audience

Engagement is a primary factor that powers the TikTok algorithm. Actively interact with your audience to build a loyal following and enhance engagement. 

  • Try to respond to comments, answer questions, show appreciation and spark conversations. 
  • Encourage interaction via asking questions in your captions, hosting polls and running challenges to get viewers involved. 
  • Collaborate and partner with influencers or creators in your niche for cross-promotion and wider reach and have them link to your profile or video. 

Reference performance data for future strategies 

Track performance using TikTok’s analytics and third-party tools like CreatorIQ’s Intelligence Cloud. Analyze what’s working and what’s not to refine your strategy. 

  • Identify high-performing content or see what resonates with your audience and replicate the elements in future videos. 
  • Try to understand your audience. Learn their demographics, interests, and engagement patterns to tailor your content accordingly. 
  • Experiment and don’t be afraid to try new things and adjust your approach based on data insights. 

Remember, TikTok SEO is an evolving but extremely popular landscape and it’s critical that brands stay ahead of the curve by following these tips. As time goes on, we expect TikTok to evolve their algorithm and brands that have a strong and active presence will continue to lead.