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SEO for TikTok: Gen Z Is Turning to Social for Search

by | February 1, 2023

TikTok is an entertainment app, not a search engine. Still, Gen Z uses it to find content. SEO for TikTok can get your brand out there.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Choreographed dancers, lip sync experts, gourmet chefs, and fashion icons: all of them have come together to post on TikTok. Surprisingly, TikTok actually rivals Google as one of the most used internet search tools. You probably know that your content’s search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for Google searches, but how do you do SEO for TikTok?

TikTok has grown to more than 80 million daily users worldwide, with a total of 800 million active accounts. TikTok’s main audience is Generation Z, which comprises more than 60% of TikTok’s user base. If you’ve ever wondered who exactly qualifies as a Gen Z-er, it’s anyone born on or after 1997. Millennials, on the other hand, were born between 1981-1996. 

TikTok is a great way to increase your brand visibility on one of the most popular social media sites. This means using SEO tactics to make yourself more visible when users search the app. 

SEO for TikTok: Video Versus Text

Traditional SEO is typically focused on text. As a visual platform, SEO for TikTok is focused on video content. Hashtags, engagement, and optimized video are the most important SEO tools on TikTok. 

If you’re used to optimizing SEO for blogs or editorial, this means you’ll have to shift your thinking a bit. The good news is TikTok lends itself really well to experiential marketing techniques. In-person events, campus brand ambassador programs, and social media are sort of built into the TikTok ethos. 

The Type of Content Found on TikTok

If you’re one of the 80 million folks who spend more than an hour a day on TikTok (no shame here, that’s average user data) you can skip to the next section. If you’re not familiar, you’re probably not alone. Appearing in 2016, TikTok is one of the newest social media platforms. So what is TikTok exactly?

TikTok content creators make short form videos and post them to their accounts. Users can engage with videos by watching, liking, commenting, and sharing. Videos have captions, yet most users also put any text they want viewers to see directly in the video. To optimize your content for searchability, users rely on hashtags and high levels of engagement. 

As far as what to post on TikTok, the sky’s really the limit. Users appreciate the platform’s ability to best showcase skill sets and personality. In other words, feel free to dance the meringue while cooking a lasagna, especially if it fits your brand’s personality. To keep the lasagna content from being overlooked, you’ll want to get the SEO right.

Get the Ranking Right


Search engine optimization is traditionally revealed in rankings. Since TikTok is a video platform, rankings are a bit different. On TikTok, engagement and rankings are intertwined. Yet ranking still matters because it’s how the TikTok algorithm recommends your content to other users. 

Ranking factors are determined through:

  • High engagement as measured by likes, comments, and shares
  • Captions, sounds, and hashtags directly related to the video subject matter
  • Device and account settings that match your target audience

For example, videos on Scottish terriers rank higher when they use Scottish background music and hashtags like #scottydogs versus generic music and hashtags like #dogs or #pets.

Devices and account settings are also critical to ranking. This includes the type of device you’re using to post, your account’s language and country setting. When users search TikTok, they’re more likely to see content that aligns with their settings. 

Something that doesn’t impact rankings? Your total number of followers. More followers generally means more engagement. Yet a lower follower count won’t hurt your visibility as you scale your SEO. 

The Benefits of SEO for TikTok

You want to draw on the power of Gen Z consumers turning to TikTok to search. Higher engagement on TikTok can boost your search visibility on Google. This is because Google now includes video content in its search results. To increase the platform’s competition with Google, TikTok now includes suggested keywords in the search bar and comment section. In fact, video content is 54 times more likely to populate a search result than a traditional website. 

Get Your Video Content Found and Seen

By maximizing your TikTok SEO strategy, Gen Z consumers can search the app or Google and find your content. Video content is the leading form of social media content these days. Video content has greater longevity and better targets a Gen Z audience, who expect video engagement across platforms. Video is also a great way to showcase your goodwill marketing initiatives.

Since TikTok video content can be shared on multiple sites, it increases your overall marketing strategy. 93% of marketing experts say they gained a new customer through video engagement. 

Ready to apply these benefits to your own brand? Here’s tips on how to master SEO for TikTok.

TikTok SEO, #ScottyDogs, and #Lasagna

Using our earlier examples, let’s imagine we have a TikTok account that’s all about Scottish terriers and lasagna. Here are some tips for boosting our TikTok SEO with this account in mind:

  1. Find your target audience. All effective marketing strategies demand you know who your target audience is. Once you have that pinpointed, search TikTok to find other videos on the topic. Find a specific angle you feel excited about and able to showcase on your account. To better target Italian food experts, videos about teaching Scottish terriers new tricks while eating a spinach lasagna will yield more engagement than generic pasta content.
  2. Hashtags are the new keywords. Hashtags are critical in TikTok SEO. Remember, niche hashtags are more effective than broad hashtags. Include niche hashtags in the caption, speak them, and use them in any words shared in the video. Use #scottieseatlasagna in your caption, say it out loud during the video and include the text “Scotties eat lasagna while learning to roll over” in the video.
  3. Bask in the trending audio. Use trending audio to increase searchability. Type “trending audio” into the search bar. Filter the results of your search query to “this week” and choose the top rated tune for your video. Imagine a highly rated bagpipe solo playing while you introduce your new lasagna pan…
  4. Keep it consistent. Coming up with an SEO strategy is vital to visibility. The important way to drive it home is consistency. Regular postings that match your brand personality and SEO strategy draw in more TikTok users. To populate search results, your content needs to receive regular engagement. Not sure you can keep all the Scotty fans sated yourself? Loop in a tech savvy employee or campus brand ambassador to take the reins. 

We Speak TikTok

Still trying to get your head around TikTok? College Marketing Group (CMG) helps brands design an SEO strategy to increase brand recognition — and we’re your go-to team when it comes to TikTok. Our content is never boring and always loud and proud. Let’s create something together.

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