What's up fellow kids?
For better or for worse, it is the job of an SEO to keep up with the ever-changing culture. We track user behaviors and adjust our marketing strategies accordingly.
It is literally our job to be the Steve Buscumi meme.
In short, why I'm excited about devoting resources to TikTok SEO for 2024 is the platform has:
From there, I will dive into what to do to optimize your TikTok SEO including:
In my attempt to see what’s hip with the kids these days, I found TikTok.
It’s not exactly a secret. TikTok is one of the fast growing social media platforms. With over 1 billion active users worldwide, TikTok provides ample opportunity to boost your brand's visibility.
And over 100 million users are in the US alone…me being one of the most recent additions to that big total.
Anecdotally, I have been shocked how much I've been using TikTok lately to find content. I am not alone. Gen Z in particular loves TikTok and they're using it to find short content.
I took a page out of their playbook. I was sitting with my wife wondering one of life's many mysteries: why are we supposed to use olive oil as opposed to alternatives like vegetable oil? Why was there a war on seed oils?
Normally, this would have been something for a Google search. But again, maybe Gen Z was onto something here. I decided to search ‘why are seed oils bad’ on TikTok instead of Google.
What I found was a quick and concise 2-min video. It gave me the answer I was looking for quicker than YouTube (which promotes long-form content) and faster than if I were to scan through the top search results on Google…all of which seem to have been generated with AI.
We ALL want answers quick these days (that is not exclusive to Gen Z) and TikTok has an entire platform built around the “quick-bites” concept (I would say most everything I see in my TikTok feed is in that 30-second to 3-minute range).
Now whether that’s good or bad for society is up for debate (I'll talk more about that in a bit), but you cannot deny the passion of the TikTok content creators.
They aren't trying to deluge you with too much information. They aren’t making money from ads (yet)…so they are trying to amass views and likes. This means making digestible and catchy content. It's why they are taking so much search away from Google. It's accessible.
The biggest factor to becoming a legitimate threat to Google is user trust. Because it's the industry standard to "google that", internet users do as such. When they have a question online, Google is the authority they trust to find them an answer.
In that regard, Google will always have a stranglehold on search. Let's call it what it is...a monopoly.
Do people trust TikTok nearly as much as they do Google? Hell no.
In fact, this report from SEOClarity shows that it's the opposite. People greatly mistrust TikTok...almost as much as a social network that influenced an entire US election. Yikes.
That is not promising. However, if I were to guess as more flock to the platform, the authorities will at least appear more trustworthy. We are all skeptical of new technologies initially.
TikTok makes it easier for the “content creators” too…because they don’t have to spend days editing a 12-minute long video.
Instead, TikTok and their app CapCut make editing user-friendly. Within the TikTok app, you can create your video, add captions, and music all in a matter of minutes…all without the help from a professional.
This ease of use gives TikTok a very interesting userbase…it’s full of (seemingly) real people providing (seemingly) authentic content.
It brings me back to the days of niche blogging.
People are super passionate about creating content around one hyper specific subject.
That's a good thing for the long term sustainability of TikTok. And the longer that TikTok is around, the larger your TikTok SEO efforts will become. You can turn a few minutes of work into a pipeline that lasts you YEARS.
I follow people who live full time in RVs and also follow runners who give me tips on the best stretches and exercises to improve my 10K time.
It’s dare I say it…addicting.
All the good content makes for an enjoyable place to waste time. Instead of doom scrolling, I’m learning things on TikTok. I’m even getting inspiration from TikTok (that DIY coffee bar will be built any day now).
But it’s that one simple idea (and its surprising effectiveness) for why I'm bullish on TikTok search in 2024.
Let's be clear, TikTok is not a search engine (yet). It's a social media platform that just happens to do search really well.
But that’s exactly it…it does search really well. The more people use TikTok, the more people will start trying to find videos on there. They won't just be taking in what the algorithm gives them. No, they will be active participants. They'll be engaging with everything on TikTok and taking initiative by trying to find good videos on their own.
When compared with Instagram Reels, on TikTok I'm more often able to find the exact video I was looking for. Naturally, with confidence in their search bar, I then started to broaden my search queries.
Instead of looking for exact videos, I started researching entire subjects. This will happen to millions of others too. So what's your niche? How are people going to find you?
The search is already getting more sophisticated on TikTok. They're adding search analytics to the creator dashboard that helps get more insights for them. I have no doubt that TikTok SEO will be a burgeoning industry in 2024.
And as more youths flock to TikTok, I’d imagine only more quality content gets added to their platform. From there, it’s just a matter if TikTok’s search algorithm gets more trust and traction over time.
That makes me excited. It means that developing a good content strategy for TikTok right now has the potential to pay off BIG time down the road.
Remember hashtags? It used to be a way that social media organized content. Hashtag spamming was all the rage as people tried to get as many eyeballs on their tweets as possible.
Well, I regret to inform you that hashtags are back.
I recommend using three to six keyword hashtags for each piece of content, strategically including high- and low-volume keywords.
Of course, I'd imagine that it's rather short-lived. I wouldn't invest too much of your time researching popular hashtags. But it might be time to dust off some of those old hashtags from the early Instagram days and recycle them for your niche on TikTok.
The simplest SEO strategy has always come down to one simple question: how can my blog help people?
You should be asking the same thing with your TikTok content. While funny content is sure to give you engagement and boost your TikTok visibility in the short term, answering questions and helping searchers is what will ultimately help you in the long-term.
TikTok SEO is simple. Just help people by answering questions they have about a particular subject. Lead the video with the question you're answering and give your expert opinion on it.
Keyword stuffing was an SEO strategy where you'd pepper the keyword you were trying to rank for throughout your blog post. You'd to do a nauseating level. Instead of using objects like 'it', you'd replace it with the keyword instead...hoping to get a post.
TikTok is using your video's captions to find the subject matter you're talking about. I'm not suggesting you go and say your target keyword 100 times in your video. Instead, I'm merely saying...make sure that you actually talk about the subject you want to rank. It's not enough to just have it in the caption and in the hashtag.
You need to make sure your video has context. Auto-generating the captions and playing the video back to yourself will help you better identify what the video might rank for.
Also something to consider is that not all your users may be watching with sound on. If you want them to engage with your video they might need captions to even understand what it's about!
You have only a few seconds (at best) to capture a user's attention on TikTok. If you get some hooks in, it is more likely that users will watch the majority of your video.
There is an important user metric in the SEO world called 'bounce rate'. Bounce rate measures how often your users leave your website after 30 seconds. This metric provides a good indicator to Google on how relevant your website is to the search. If they "bounce" back to the search result, they clearly didn't find exactly what they were looking for.
TikTok has a similar feature. But instead of a bounce, TikTok SEO has the "swipe". Yes, if a searcher is looking through TikTok and yours gets swiped immediately, then it obviously didn't fit the criteria of what they were looking for.
So out with it.
Get to the point, but also have a catchy starter to get users interested in you and your video immediately. Then, provide them the content they're looking for.
You'll fly up the TikTok rankings if you can ideally do those two things.
How will you stand out when competing against thousands of other videos on the same keyword?
The key? Be unique (I know it's rich coming from a guy writing about TikTok SEO).
Don't be someone that you're not, but using editing tactics and close-ups to make sure that TikTok users don't swipe away. You'll want to keep them engaged.
It's easier said than done, of course. Studies suggest that attention spans are down to around 8 seconds. That means you that much time and probably even less to get and keep your user's attention. Wild.
What's up fellow kids?
It's me...a zoomer who thinks that they are hip and keeping up with the latest trends and culture.
For better or for worse, it is the job of an SEO to keep up with the everchanging culture. We have to see track user behaviors and adjust our strategies accordingly.
Anecdotally, I have been shocked how much I've been using TikTok lately to find content.
A couple of days ago, I was wondering why we're supposed to use olive oil as opposed to things like vegetable oil. Why was there a war on seed oils?
Normally, this would have been something for a Google search. But again, I've been using TikTok a lot lately. I decided to search it there instead of Google. What I found was a 2-min video. It gave me the answer I was looking for quicker than YouTube (which promotes long-form content) and faster than if I were to read the top search results on Google.
We want answers quick these days and TikTok has an entire platform built around the quick-bites concept. While they are pushing for their 10 minute videos right now, I would say most everything I see in my feed is in that 1-3 minute range. Their creators aren't trying to deluge you with too much information. They want you to get in and get out.
This simple search is why I'm bullish on TikTok search in 2024.
Let's be clear, TikTok is not a search engine (yet). It's a social media platform that just happens to do search really well. It's only going to get more sophisticated with time. That makes me excited. It means that developing a good content strategy for TikTok now has the potential to pay off BIG time.
I'm going to start doing TikTok keyword research for my clients and start posting short videos for them on there. I think it has the opportunity to be a big revenue generator for their business in the coming year and beyond.
They are pushing TikTok Shopping a lot more recently. That is concerning because it shifts the intent of users on the platform. If they keep on this road, they are positioning TikTok to be an Amazon competitor and not a Google one.
I think this is a mistake. Google has been taking some L's lately and people are looking for alternatives in the age of AI. TikTok offers an alternative where authenticity and real people dominate the algorithm. And that is a good thing.
Amazon on the other hand is an dominant as ever. TikTok might be able to steal a little bit of marketshare, but ultimately they will never dethrone Amazon as currently constituted. But I feel TikTok could unseat Google search, in particular YouTube, if they stay on their current path.
Instagram Reels doesn't care about search. YouTube Shorts do, but haven't received nearly the traction you'd expect from a company that cares about its video content.
TikTok is well-positioned as the premier short form video content platform. However, their search differentiates them from the competition...not their shop. They should continue to focus on having people bring good content to the platform, not people shilling the latest fashion item or trendy toy.
2024 will be big for TikTok and I will be monitoring them closely. Right now though, I'm bullish. What do you think about TikTok?
(Leave the privacy and political concerns out of it though please).