tiktok's next step for online dominance
how social SEO is rising and how you can leverage it for your brand
for more than a decade, when companies talked about search engine optimization (SEO), they were mainly talking about google.
close to half of all internet traffic starts with a google search and that dominance on search made it become the world’s largest and most profitable ad platform for brands. because if someone is actively searching for your niche, they’re more likely to convert than someone randomly coming across your ad on social.
this year, that has been changing. according to a report by cloudflare, tikok.com overtook google as the most visited domain in 2021. tiktok has already proven to be a serious threat to youtube , passing google's video-sharing platform in terms of average viewership last year.
younger people use tech to find information differently
tiktok's rise to the top clearly says something about how technology is changing, but more importantly, it says something about the change in how millennials and zoomers search for and consume information about the world around us.
and tiktok isn't just videos of memes or teenagers dancing anymore, as some of the more popular content showing up on the for you page are life-hacks, how-to videos, and contrarian views to traditional methods.
“in our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to google maps or search… they go to tiktok or instagram.”
“we keep learning, over and over again, that new internet users don’t have the expectations and the mindset that we have become accustomed to… the queries they ask are completely different.”
- Prabhakar Raghavan, the senior vice president who runs google’s knowledge and information division
younger generations are looking for “visually rich formats” when they’re looking for answers. he pointed out that the young people coming online today had never seen a paper map , but maps products have been designed to look like a paper map that’s been “stuck on the phone.”
tiktok isn’t just a social network
Khartoon Weiss, head of agency and accounts at tiktok, spoke at an event and said something that surprised a lot of people in the room.
tiktok is an entertainment platform, not a social media platform. people say they check facebook, instagram, and twitter but they don’t check tiktok. they tell us they watch tiktok
pay attention to how people view content on tiktok. they’re sucked into it, scrolling constantly to find something to catch their attention. the old rule of “make sure to grab your audience’s attention in 3 seconds” doesn’t apply anymore. you NEED to grab it in the first second for them to watch the rest of the video.
then there’s the “second screen” question. facebook, twitter, and instagram can be scrolled through while having tv or podcasts play in the background, but tiktok demands your full attention. and with the average person watching tiktok around 52 minutes per day, it’s starting to compete with streaming services as well.
netflix even mentioned their competition isn’t just other streaming services, but pretty much anything that takes place on screens. “we compete with (and lose to) fortnite more than HBO,” the company said in 2018.
tiktok isn’t just for entertainment anymore
a massive shift that has every other platform worried about tiktok eating even more of their market share is seeing people use the platform for educational purposes.
tiktok is running ads to promote search on the platform with #tiktoktaughtme. unlike trending sounds and dance videos that are the hype for a moment, search-optimized content gains traction over time as people intentionally seek out information and posts rack up clicks.
this means educational videos will work well and creators can have passive media income where you can get paid from making a video years down the line. people used to go to blogs and youtube to learn and then would be hit with some filler instead of going directly into what they came for.
ever go to a recipe blog page and they end up talking about their family history until you scroll all the way down to finally find the actual ingredients and methods? tiktok’s shorter form and constant dopamine inducing style videos can help get rid of that.
how brands can leverage tiktok SEO
for content creators and brand marketers, this means that, right now, in addition to relying on always-changing algorithms, learning social SEO for tiktok is important to show your most helpful content to new audiences. best practices vary by platform, but implementing a strategy around keywords and hashtags will go a long way toward boosting discovery.
similar to google, start with the auto-suggest feature within tiktok search to get content ideas. start with typing in your niche, then go down the alphabet to find the most popular search topics.
for example, I started my search with the word “brand” and went down the alphabet, and the most interesting topics that I could create content about were:
brand guidelines, brand growth, brand growth strategy
brand identity, brand ideas, brand influencers
brand marketing, brand mistakes, brand manager
brand owner, brand outreach template
brand review, brand risk, brand redesign
brand strategy, brand strategist, brand supplier, brand storytelling
I could then leverage these results to create content like “why brand building is important for early-stage startups” or “how a strong brand identity can help you stand out from your competitors.”
another tool you can use is answer the public, a keyword tool that visualizes search questions and suggested autocomplete searches in an image called a search cloud. just type in your niche or root keyword, then it generates the most popular queries for “what, where, when, why, how, and which” search results.
make sure to include that search phrase in the on-screen text, caption, auto-captions, hashtags, and even say it in your videos. according to @elsasocialfinance, tiktok SEO is a better strategy for reaching your audience than just using hashtags.
it’s important to understand people’s intent behind the search so you can align your content with their intent and have a consistent message across search, video, and landing page.
there are 4 types of intent:
informational - to gain information
navigational - navigate to a page
investigation - search or compare something
transactional - buy an asset
for example, if, search = "how to download tiktok" then the intent is informational (they are looking for a guide). if search = "tiktok" then the intent is navigational (looking for tiktok website).
here’s an in-depth breakdown from @mike.rama, the person I learned about tiktok SEO from.
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