How to Do SEO on TikTok: Innovating for New Platforms

TikTok, a video-sharing platform that allows users to create and share short-form videos, has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years. TikTok has quickly become one of the most influential social media platforms globally. It is known for its engaging, bite-sized content and algorithm that delivers highly personalised feeds.

TikTok's user base is diverse and active, with many of its users falling within the coveted Gen Z demographic. This audience is known for its substantial purchasing power and unique consumer behaviour, making TikTok an essential channel for brands looking to reach this target market.

For digital marketers, TikTok offers a unique opportunity to engage with audiences creatively and authentically. The platform's emphasis on user-generated content, trends, challenges, and music has made it a hub for viral marketing campaigns. Brands can leverage TikTok to increase brand awareness, drive engagement, and boost sales.

As TikTok continues to grow, it becomes increasingly essential for brands to optimise their presence on the platform to maximise their reach and impact. While traditional search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies focus on improving visibility on search engines like Google, TikTok's unique algorithm and search functionality require a different approach.

Tailoring SEO strategies to TikTok involves understanding how the platform's algorithm works and what type of content performs well. Factors such as video quality, user engagement, relevance, and trends significantly determine a video's visibility on the platform.

To succeed on TikTok, brands need to optimise their content for discoverability by using relevant hashtags, keywords, and trends that align with their target audience's interests. Additionally, understanding the nuances of TikTok's search features, such as the "For You Page" (FYP), can help brands create content that resonates with users and gets recommended to a broader audience.

How does TikTok's algorithm differ from other social media platforms?

TikTok's algorithm is known for its ability to deliver highly personalised content to users, making it one of the most engaging and addictive social media platforms. The algorithm differs from other social media platforms in several key ways:

  • For You Page (FYP): TikTok's main feed is known as the "For You Page," or FYP. This personalised feed curates content based on the user's preferences, interactions, and behaviour. Unlike other platforms that prioritise posts from friends and accounts the user follows, TikTok focuses on presenting content from a wide range of creators.
  • Engagement Signals: TikTok's algorithm emphasises user engagement when determining which content to show on the FYP. Key signals include likes, comments, shares, replays, and the time users watch a video. Videos that generate strong engagement early on will likely be pushed to a broader audience.
  • Content Discovery: TikTok's algorithm prioritises content discovery over connections. While following accounts can help shape a user's experience, the platform focuses on introducing new and trending content from creators the user may not know.
  • Diverse and Dynamic Recommendations: TikTok's algorithm is designed to refresh and adjust its recommendations constantly based on user interactions. This ensures that users are always presented with new and diverse content.
  • Use of Hashtags and Keywords: TikTok relies on hashtags, keywords, and sound clips to categorise and recommend content. Creators who effectively use trending and relevant hashtags are more likely to have their videos discovered.
  • Content Variety: Unlike other platforms that prioritise content from friends and family, TikTok encourages various content types, including music, dance, challenges, and tutorials. This variety keeps the user engaged and introduces them to a broad spectrum of content.
  • Video Duration: TikTok videos are short, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. This brevity engages users and allows for rapid content consumption, contributing to the platform's addictive nature.

Key factors that influence TikTok's search and discovery features

TikTok's search and discovery features are designed to connect users with content most relevant to their interests and preferences. Several key factors influence how TikTok's search and discovery features work:

  • User Engagement: TikTok prioritises content based on user engagement signals, such as likes, comments, shares, and views. Videos that generate strong engagement early on will likely be recommended to other users.
  • Watch Time: The time users spend watching a video is critical to determining its popularity. Videos that keep users watching until the end or are rewatched multiple times are more likely to be promoted.
  • Hashtags and Keywords: TikTok categorises and organises content using hashtags and keywords. Creators who use relevant and trending hashtags can increase their chances of being discovered by users searching for or interested in those topics.
  • Trends and Challenges: Participating in trends and challenges can boost a video's discoverability. TikTok's algorithm favours content that aligns with current trends, making it more likely to be recommended to other users.
  • User Behavior and Preferences: TikTok's algorithm considers users' behaviour and preferences, such as the videos they watch, engage with, and share. This helps tailor the content on the user's "For You Page" (FYP).
  • Sound and Music: TikTok's search and discovery features are influenced by popular sounds and music. Videos that use trending or popular sounds are more likely to be discovered by users.
  • Diverse Content Variety: TikTok encourages various content types, including music, dance, tutorials, and comedy. The platform's algorithm promotes diverse content to keep the feed fresh and engaging.
  • Creator's Profile and Consistency: Consistent posting and maintaining a niche or theme in a creator's content can improve discoverability. Profiles with a clear focus or style can build a dedicated audience over time.

Content Quality and Creativity: High-quality, creative content is more likely to capture users' attention and be promoted by the algorithm. Original and innovative videos stand out and attract more engagement.

By considering these factors, TikTok's search and discovery features aim to provide users with an engaging and personalised experience while helping creators reach a wider audience. For brands and creators looking to succeed on TikTok, understanding and optimising for these factors can significantly enhance their visibility and get on the platform.

Identifying relevant keywords and phrases for your niche

Identifying relevant keywords and phrases for your niche on TikTok is crucial for optimising your content and increasing discoverability. Here are some steps to help you identify the most relevant keywords and phrases for your niche:

  • Understand Your Niche: Start by clearly understanding your niche and the type of content you want to create. Consider the interests, preferences, and language of your target audience.
  • Research Competitors and Influencers: Analyze content from competitors and influencers in your niche. Observe the keywords, phrases, and hashtags they use in their videos. Note which terms generate the most engagement.
  • Explore Trending Hashtags: Check TikTok's "Discover" tab or search for hashtags related to your niche. Pay attention to trending hashtags and challenges, as these can help your content gain more visibility.
  • Leverage TikTok's Search Functionality: Use TikTok's search bar to explore terms related to your niche. Look for common phrases and keywords that appear frequently in search results. This can give you insights into what users are searching for.
  • Monitor Audience Feedback: Pay attention to the comments, likes, and shares on your videos. Audience feedback can provide valuable insights into the keywords and phrases that resonate most with your viewers.
  • Combine Broad and Specific Keywords: Use broad and specific keywords in your content. Broad keywords help you reach a wider audience, while specific keywords target a more niche market.
  • Track Performance Metrics: Monitor your content's performance, such as views, likes, and shares. This data can help you identify which keywords and phrases most effectively reach your audience.
  • Experiment with Different Terms: Test different keywords and phrases in your content to see which ones perform best. Pay attention to the engagement levels and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Use Descriptive Language: Be specific and descriptive in your keywords and phrases. This can help improve your video's visibility in search results and make it easier for users to find your content.
  • Stay Up-to-Date with Trends: TikTok is a platform that thrives on trends and evolving interests. Follow the latest trends and adjust your keywords and phrases to stay relevant.

By following these steps, you can effectively identify and incorporate relevant keywords and phrases into your TikTok content, helping you reach and engage with your target audience more effectively.

Tools for TikTok keyword research

There are several tools and strategies you can use to conduct TikTok keyword research and identify the most relevant keywords and phrases for your content:

  • TikTok's Discover Page: Explore the "Discover" tab on TikTok to find trending hashtags, challenges, and popular topics. This can give you insights into what users are interested in and what keywords to use in your content.
  • Hashtag Tracking Tools: Hashtagify and RiteTag allow you to search for and track popular hashtags across social media platforms, including TikTok. You can use these tools to find trending and relevant hashtags in your niche.
  • TikTok Search Bar: Use TikTok's search bar for keywords related to your niche. Take note of the search suggestions that appear as you type, as these can indicate popular search terms.
  • Competitor and Influencer Analysis: Observe the keywords and hashtags competitors and influencers use in your niche. Analyse which terms generate the most engagement and incorporate similar terms into your content.
  • Content Analysis Tools: Tools like Social Blade provide analytics and insights into TikTok accounts, allowing you to analyse popular content and identify the keywords and hashtags used in successful videos.
  • Keyword Research Tools: Although many keyword research tools are designed for search engines like Google, some tools, such as Ubersuggest and Keywords Everywhere, can also be used for TikTok keyword research. Look for keywords and phrases related to your niche and adapt them for TikTok.
  • Audience Feedback: Monitor comments, likes, and shares on your videos and other content in your niche. Audience feedback can provide valuable insights into the language and terms that resonate with your viewers.
  • Trend Analysis Tools: Tools like Trendpop offer insights into TikTok trends, popular hashtags, and emerging topics. You can optimize your content with relevant keywords and phrases by understanding current trends.

Using these tools and strategies, you can conduct effective TikTok keyword research and optimize your content to increase visibility and engagement on the platform.

Optimizing Your TikTok Profile for SEO

Optimizing your TikTok profile for SEO can help you increase your visibility and attract more followers. Focusing on specific elements of your profile can improve your discoverability and ensure your content reaches a broader audience. Here are some tips for optimising your TikTok profile for SEO:

  • Choose a Relevant Username: Select a username that aligns with your niche or brand. A clear and concise username helps users understand what your account is about and can improve your profile's visibility in search results.
  • Craft an Engaging Bio: Your bio is an opportunity to introduce yourself or your brand. Include keywords related to your niche and a brief description of what you offer. This helps users understand your content and can improve your profile's searchability.
  • Add Keywords to Your Bio: Incorporate relevant keywords and hashtags to improve your profile's discoverability. Focus on terms that relate to your content and target audience.
  • Use a Clear Profile Picture: Choose a profile picture representing your brand or niche. A recognisable image can help users identify and remember your account.
  • Link to Other Platforms: Add links to your social media profiles or websites. This can help drive traffic to your other online presences and improve your overall visibility.
  • Post High-Quality Content Consistently: Regularly posting engaging content is essential for retaining and attracting followers. Consistency helps your profile gain traction with TikTok's algorithm.
  • Use Relevant Hashtags: Incorporate trending and niche-specific hashtags in your video captions to increase your content's discoverability. Research hashtags that are currently popular in your niche and use them strategically.
  • Engage with Your Audience: Respond to comments and interact with your followers. Engagement helps build a community around your content and can improve your visibility on TikTok.
  • Participate in Trends and Challenges: Joining trends and challenges can help your content gain more visibility and reach a broader audience. It also shows you are active and up-to-date with TikTok's current landscape.
  • Keep Your Profile Public: Ensure your profile is set to public so that anyone can discover and view your content. A public profile maximises your chances of appearing on the "For You Page" (FYP) and being discovered by new users.

Implementing these strategies can help you optimise your TikTok profile for SEO, improve your discoverability, and grow your audience on the platform.

Creating SEO-Friendly TikTok Content

Creating SEO-friendly content on TikTok can help you improve the visibility of your videos and increase engagement with your target audience. Here are some tips for creating SEO-friendly TikTok content:

  • Incorporate Relevant Keywords and Hashtags: Use relevant keywords and hashtags to your content and niche. Research trending and niche-specific hashtags to increase your video's discoverability in search results.
  • Engage with Current Trends: Stay up-to-date with TikTok trends and challenges. Participating in popular trends can increase your content's visibility and help you reach a broader audience.
  • Optimise Video Captions: Write clear and concise captions for your videos. Include relevant keywords and phrases that describe your content, but keep it natural and engaging to avoid sounding overly promotional.
  • Utilise Sounds and Music Wisely: Sounds and music play a significant role in TikTok's algorithm. Choose popular sounds and music that complement your content and align with current trends.
  • Create High-Quality, Engaging Videos: Focus on producing high-quality content that is visually appealing and engaging. Videos that hold the viewer's attention are more likely to be recommended by TikTok's algorithm.
  • Add Closed Captions or Text Overlays: Including closed captions or text overlays in your videos can improve accessibility and make your content more engaging. It can also help boost searchability by adding text to your videos.
  • Encourage Interaction and Engagement: Ask questions, encourage comments, and prompt users to engage with your content. Higher engagement levels can improve your video's visibility on TikTok.
  • Maintain Consistency: Post content consistently to keep your audience engaged and active. Consistency can help you build a loyal following and improve your TikTok profile ranking.
  • Create Shareable and Unique Content: Focus on creating shareable and unique content for your niche. Original and innovative videos are more likely to be shared and recommended by TikTok's algorithm.
  • Use Clear, Compelling Thumbnails: While TikTok videos auto-play in the feed, creating an engaging thumbnail can still help capture users' attention when they explore your profile.
  • Analyse Performance Metrics: Track your video performance, including views, likes, comments, and shares. Use this data to identify patterns and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

Following these tips, you can create SEO-friendly TikTok content that improves your discoverability and engagement on the platform. This can help you reach a wider audience and achieve your marketing goals on TikTok.

blog author kyle roof

Co-Founder & Lead SEO at POP

Kyle Roof is an SEO expert, speaker and trainer. Kyle currently resides in Chiang Mai, Thailand with his family.

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