In recent years, TikTok has rapidly risen to global fame thanks to its short-form video format. As attention spans are decreasing, TikTok offers a way for users to stay connected to their favourite creators without having to sit through myriads of footage.
Along with popularising short-form video, TikTok benefits users in more ways than one. Its endless stream of content makes it a perfect search engine for just about anything. Any queries typed into the search bar can be met with thousands of video responses and tidbits of information.
Gen Z, in particular, have taken to this very well, not only because it saves them more time, but also because the answers are a lot more refined and specific to their query. The younger generations are looking for instant, detailed answers, and that’s where TikTok wins. Thanks to the platform’s short and snappy videos, people find it quicker and easier to consume relevant information and find a solution for their problems.
Let’s take a look at it in action.
Hair growth and general scalp care have become particularly prominent in the beauty industry. Rather than taking to Google and receiving a more generalised answer to their hair care worries, TikTok provides them with specific solutions. With the answers to their questions being provided in the visual medium, users are able to see for themselves that these answers are legitimate and, therefore, are more likely to go out and buy certain products. Reviews that are from real people carry more authenticity for a brand and its products, driving more sales.
For example, Nature Spell’s rosemary oil sales skyrocketed after being reviewed countless times on TikTok, going viral within a matter of weeks.
Google has since commented on the use of the app as a search engine admitting that “TikTok is eating its market share”. With 40% of consumers now taking to TikTok or Instagram to access information, Google’s 20-year-reign as the number one search engine is being challenged.
Despite its top spot being threatened, there is no doubt that Google is still the most innovative search engine to date. This has been proven by the launch of Google Lens being heavily promoted through TikTok ads (ironic, right?). This new, innovative method provides users with a way of naturally exploring information by using their cameras to either visually represent something that they are struggling to describe or show an object they wish to know more about.
Realising Google’s secure lead, TikTok has begun its attempt to steal a slice of the search ads market from the giant. Even just a small slice is bound to make them a hefty fortune.
TikTok rolls out search ads
3 months ago, TikTok released its first video advertisement alluding to these search ads becoming a reality for UK users. The budding search ads will tap into consumer interests and use scenery, images, voice-to-text, captions and keywords to figure out which ads and search terms should be paired with one another. Once a user toggles these search ads ‘ON’ they will appear as thumbnails on the results page, which they can click through to to find out more.
Just as advertisers can bid on keywords to trigger their ads appearing on Google or Microsoft, the same now applies to TikTok. For example, a skincare brand might choose to bid on words such as scrub, revitalise, dewy, or firming, highlighting their ads to any user who specifically searches for that term, on the results page.
This aids brands in hyper-targeting engaged audiences, increasing their chances of driving more conversions in the form of website traffic and sales.
How can brands implement a TikTok SEO strategy?
Recent statistics tell us that 49% of users have used TikTok to help them make a purchase decision. To leverage this, you need to know how to optimise your videos for SEO.
A successful SEO strategy for TikTok should focus on the following:
- Keywording captions and hashtags
- On-screen text
- Automated speech captions
In this case, strength is in numbers. Aiming to incorporate all of these aspects into your TikTok content will increase your chances of appearing in relevant places and in front of targeted audiences.
SEO optimisation isn’t complete without the addition of relevant keywords. Just as every search engine does, TikTok uses keywords to show users useful and relevant information.
Keyword research might be a meticulous task, but the results are so worth it. You’ll want to base your captions—and even hashtags—on the things people are searching for on TikTok. After conducting keyword research with tools such as TikTok Insights and the TikTok Creative Centre, you can pull more keywords related to your query directly from the TikTok search bar.
Simply type one of your keywords into the search bar and the app will auto-generate a list of results containing the most popular keywords related to your query. For example, if you type ‘hair care’ into the search bar, you will be met with ‘hair care routines’, ‘hair care tips’, ‘hair care for damaged hair’ et cetera. You can then turn these keywords into the hashtags in your captions or incorporate them into your titles, descriptions, captions and on-screen text.
Any on-screen text that you include – whether it’s a title or video description – will be picked up by TikTok as a keyword and displayed in relevant search results accordingly. For example, the following TikTok has been titled using relevant keywords and phrasing.
@hollandandbarrett 5 step vegan skincare routine for dry skin 🧖 @mattie – skincare consultant #learnontiktok #skincaretutorial #dryskin #veganbeauty #skincaretips ♬ I BELIEVE IN SUMMER – Ellen Once Again
This TikTok video is about helping people fix their dry skin problems with vegan products. Not only has the creator incorporated the target keyword ‘dry skin’ into the video’s on-screen text, but also included the more specific keyword ‘vegan’ to micro-target the niche audience that Holland & Barrett cater to.
However, on-screen text doesn’t only refer to the words or phrases you manually insert. Automated closed captions are also a form of on-screen text. Where the two differ is in the automation of the closed-captions by TikTok, which generates words based on what is said in the video.
Automated closed captions make content more readily available to a broader audience; particularly hearing-impaired users. Businesses that make an effort to create inclusive content have a higher chance of increasing their visibility and engagement. Users who heavily rely on closed captions to be able to engage with content will share these inclusive efforts with members of their community; making the business a future go-to source for other reliant users. In doing so, the business can now add a whole new demographic to their existing audience.
Speaking to a wider audience forms the basis of what SEO optimisation aims to achieve. Along with automated closed captions aiding this, videos created in entirely different languages is the most underrated way of achieving international recognition. For businesses looking to capture a specific international market, creating videos in the local language is the most sure-fire way to achieve this.
The impact of leveraging an SEO strategy on TikTok
Video engagement is a top ranking factor when it comes to TikTok success, as it shows users that people are engaging with your content and, therefore, they must too.
Sure, optimising your TikTok videos for SEO is a foolproof way of increasing your engagement organically, but more importantly, it ensures that this engagement is coming from more relevant audiences. These audiences are those that will increase your conversions and drive website traffic and sales.
Ensure you are receiving the maximum likes, comments, replays, bookmarks and follows as possible and remember that engagement is based on video level rather than account level. You can have a few thousand followers, but if your engagement is high, you will be rewarded at the same level as someone with hundreds of thousands of followers.
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