TikTok SEO – what is it and how can marketers use it?

TikTok's increasing amount of search functionalities now make it a search engine, here's what it could mean for you
Woman on balcony in green dress

Table of Contents

Platforms like TikTok have evolved beyond mere entertainment hubs, transforming into essential tools for creators and marketers alike.

Leveraging its dynamic mix of short-form videos, engaged communities, and the TikTok algorithm‘s content curation capabilities, TikTok has solidified its position as a dominant force in digital content creation. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of TikTok SEO (Search Engine Optimization), its pivotal role, and its potential to revolutionise TikTok strategies for creators and marketers striving to achieve virality on the platform.

What is TikTok Search?

TikTok SEO involves optimising your video content to rank higher in search results, both within the TikTok platform and in broader search engines like Google. While TikTok may not be a conventional search engine, its search bar serves as a gateway to a treasure trove of user-generated content. This makes SEO strategies crucial for enhancing visibility and engagement on the platform.

What is TikTok SEO?

Similar to traditional SEO, TikTok SEO revolves around utilising keywords, understanding user interactions, and leveraging trending topics to improve discoverability. By incorporating relevant keywords into video titles, descriptions, and captions, creators can increase the likelihood of their content appearing in search results and reaching a wider audience.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the foundation of any SEO strategy, including TikTok SEO. They are the terms and phrases that users commonly search for, and incorporating them strategically into your content can boost its visibility. Conducting thorough keyword research and staying updated on trending topics are essential for staying ahead in the competitive landscape of TikTok.

woman sitting on a white chair on a roof terrace nikitabathia flight centre

Benefits of doing TikTok SEO successfully

Successful TikTok SEO can yield a plethora of benefits for creators and marketers alike. From increased visibility and engagement to the potential for content virality, mastering TikTok SEO can open doors to new opportunities and audiences. Let’s delve into the benefits a little deeper. 

Longevity and evergreen content

One of the standout advantages of TikTok SEO is its ability to provide content with a long shelf life. Unlike trending content, which often experiences a rapid surge in visibility followed by a swift decline, SEO-optimised content has the potential to remain discoverable and relevant over an extended period.

Sustainable visibility

By strategically incorporating relevant keywords and optimising their content for search, creators can ensure that their videos continue to surface in search results long after their initial upload. This sustainable visibility not only increases the likelihood of ongoing engagement but also enables creators to build a lasting presence and reputation within their niche.

Consistent traffic and engagement

For marketers, the longevity aspect of TikTok SEO translates into consistent traffic and engagement over time. Instead of relying solely on fleeting trends and viral moments, marketers can invest in content that maintains its relevance and appeal to audiences searching for specific topics or interests.

Enhanced ROI

The long-term visibility provided by TikTok SEO contributes to a more sustainable return on investment (ROI) for marketers. By creating evergreen content that continues to attract views, engagement, and potential conversions, marketers can maximise the value of their campaigns and achieve sustained business growth.

Building brand authority

Furthermore, the longevity of SEO-optimised content enables marketers to establish and reinforce their brand authority within their respective industries. By consistently producing valuable, informative, and discoverable content, brands can position themselves as trusted sources of information and expertise, fostering loyalty and credibility among their target audience.

Leveraging historical data

Another benefit of TikTok SEO is the opportunity to leverage historical data and insights to refine future content strategies. By analysing search trends, keyword performance, and audience behaviour over time, marketers and creators can gain valuable insights into evolving preferences and interests, enabling them to adapt their content accordingly and stay ahead of the curve.

woman sitting on garden couch in sunshine

The TikTok features that show it’s a search engine

  • TikTok search bar and auto suggest: Introduction of search bar and auto-suggest functionality streamlines user navigation and content discovery
  • TikTok in Google Search results: TikTok videos now appearing in Google search results, indicating increased visibility and cross-platform integration
  • Character limit extension: Post descriptions expanded from 300 to 2,200 characters, enabling enhanced keyword utilisation for TikTok SEO
  • TikTok-Google partnership exploration: Potential partnership between TikTok and Google to integrate search prompts and results, fostering deeper platform integration
  • Ads in SERPs: Rollout of ads within TikTok’s search engine results pages enhances brand visibility and user experience
  • Featured snippets launch: Introduction of featured snippets for select search queries provides comprehensive, actionable information to users
  • Search traffic reporting: TikTok now reports on search traffic sources and video performance metrics, empowering brands with actionable insights
  • Character limit increase for captions: Expansion of caption character limit from 100 to 500 characters facilitates more detailed content optimization

TikTok ranking factors

Understanding TikTok’s algorithm and its ranking factors is crucial for optimising content effectively. Let’s delve deeper into each of the key factors and explore how they influence a video’s visibility and performance on the platform:

User interactions

User interactions are a fundamental aspect of TikTok’s algorithm. These interactions encompass a wide range of activities, including likes, shares, comments, and saves. Additionally, TikTok takes into account more nuanced user behaviours such as videos watched in their entirety, videos hidden, and videos added to favourites. By analysing these interactions, TikTok determines the relevance and quality of a video, subsequently influencing its visibility in users’ feeds and search results.

Video information

The information embedded within a video plays a significant role in its ranking on TikTok. This includes various elements such as captions, hashtags, sound effects, and music. TikTok’s algorithm evaluates the presence of relevant keywords in video titles and descriptions, as well as the alignment of the content with trending topics and themes. By optimising these components, creators can enhance their video’s discoverability and appeal to their target audience.

Devices and account settings

TikTok also considers users’ device settings and account preferences when delivering content. Factors such as language preference, country setting, and mobile device type can influence the type of content users are shown. Additionally, TikTok takes into account the categories of interest selected by users during the onboarding process. While these settings contribute to the overall user experience, they receive a lower weight in TikTok’s algorithm compared to user interactions and video information.

Optimising for maximum reach

To optimise content for maximum reach and impact on TikTok, creators and marketers must strategically leverage these ranking factors:

  • Create engaging content: Produce high-quality videos that captivate viewers and encourage meaningful interactions such as likes, comments, and shares.
  • Use relevant keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords and hashtags into video titles, descriptions, and captions to improve discoverability and relevance.
  • Stay trend-relevant: Keep abreast of trending topics, challenges, and themes within the TikTok community, and align content accordingly to increase visibility.
  • Understand audience preferences: Gain insights into your target audience’s preferences, behaviours, and interests to tailor content effectively and enhance engagement.
  • Optimise settings and preferences: While account settings and device preferences play a lesser role, ensure they are optimised to align with your target audience’s demographics and interests.

woman holding blue string bag up to face

Google SEO ranking factors

Understanding Google’s ranking factors is paramount for any digital strategy aiming to maximise online presence and visibility. While TikTok SEO may share similarities with traditional SEO, it’s crucial to acknowledge the distinct elements that shape rankings on each platform. Let’s explore the key Google SEO ranking factors and their significance:


Keywords form the foundation of Google’s search algorithm. By analysing the words and phrases users enter into search queries, Google determines the relevance and authority of web pages. Effective keyword research and optimization enable content creators and marketers to align their content with user intent, increasing the likelihood of appearing in relevant search results.


Google prioritises content authored by experts or authoritative sources within their respective fields. Establishing expertise involves demonstrating subject matter knowledge, credibility, and trustworthiness through high-quality, informative content. By positioning themselves as authorities within their niche, creators and marketers can enhance their visibility and credibility in Google’s search results.


Relevance refers to the alignment between a user’s search query and the content displayed in search results. Google aims to deliver the most relevant and valuable content to users, considering factors such as keyword usage, content quality, and user engagement metrics. By creating content that directly addresses user queries and interests, creators and marketers can improve their chances of ranking higher in Google’s search results.


Google places a premium on fresh, up-to-date content, particularly for topics that evolve rapidly or have time-sensitive relevance. Freshness signals include the publication date of content, frequency of updates, and topical relevance. By regularly updating and refreshing their content, creators and marketers can signal to Google that their content remains current and valuable to users, thereby improving their search visibility.

User experience

Google prioritises web pages that offer a seamless and positive user experience. Factors such as page loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and intuitive navigation contribute to a website’s user experience and, subsequently, its search rankings. By optimising their websites for usability and accessibility, creators and marketers can enhance user satisfaction and improve their search visibility on Google.


Backlinks, or incoming links from other websites, serve as a crucial indicator of a web page’s authority and relevance. Google considers the quantity, quality, and relevance of backlinks when determining a page’s ranking in search results. By earning high-quality backlinks from reputable websites, creators and marketers can bolster their website’s authority and improve its visibility in Google’s search results.

woman in beige coat and beige hat

How to do TikTok SEO

Implementing effective TikTok SEO strategies requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses audience research, keyword optimization, and performance tracking. By following best practices and staying adaptable to algorithm changes, creators and marketers can maximise their impact on TikTok.

1. Start with your audience

Understanding your audience is paramount for effective TikTok SEO. By analysing the videos they engage with, the hashtags they use, and the messages they send, creators can gain valuable insights into their interests and preferences. This understanding allows for the creation of tailored content that resonates with the audience, increasing the likelihood of being discovered and shared. Crafting titles and descriptions that align with audience expectations enhances visibility in TikTok searches, ultimately driving engagement and follower growth.

2. Do keyword research

Keyword research forms the foundation of TikTok SEO. By identifying relevant keywords and phrases used by the target audience, creators can optimise their content for maximum discoverability. While traditional SEO tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner and SEMrush can provide valuable insights, leveraging TikTok’s search bar directly offers real-time data on popular keywords and trending topics. By incorporating these keywords into video titles, descriptions, captions, and hashtags, creators can improve their content’s relevance and visibility in TikTok searches.

3. Add keywords to your content

Once keywords are identified, it’s crucial to strategically integrate them into the content. Adding keywords to titles, descriptions, captions, and on-screen text signals TikTok’s algorithm about the content’s relevance to user queries. Additionally, verbally mentioning keywords in the video further reinforces its association with relevant search terms. Utilising hashtags that include both broad and niche keywords enhances the content’s discoverability and increases the likelihood of appearing in search results. Updating the TikTok profile with relevant keywords further boosts visibility and establishes credibility within the platform’s ecosystem.

4. Add your TikTok to a microblog

Leveraging blogging techniques complements TikTok SEO efforts by creating supplementary content that reinforces keyword relevance. Microblog posts centred around specific topics related to TikTok videos provide additional context and depth, catering to users seeking in-depth information. Embedding TikTok videos within microblog posts enhances cross-platform visibility and encourages engagement across different channels. This integrated approach strengthens the content’s search presence and extends its lifespan beyond TikTok’s platform, driving sustained traffic and engagement over time.

5. Track your progress

Continuous monitoring and optimization are essential components of a successful TikTok SEO strategy. Analysing TikTok analytics provides valuable insights into content performance, audience engagement, and keyword effectiveness. Tracking metrics such as views from search, engagement rates, and audience demographics enables creators to refine their approach and identify areas for improvement. Benchmarking against competitors’ performance offers additional context and insights for optimization. By iteratively refining their strategy based on data-driven insights, creators can enhance their content’s visibility and maximise its impact on TikTok.

Incorporating these best practices into TikTok SEO strategies empowers creators and marketers to optimise their content for maximum reach and impact, driving engagement, follower growth, and brand awareness on the platform.

man in orange lycra riding a bike

How to Incorporate TikTok SEO into Your Influencer Marketing

Incorporating everything we’ve run through into your own creator collaborations is simple. First off, you can use the search tools such as SEMRush, ahrefs, or any of the other alternatives to guide your ideation and to fuel your overall content calendar. 

Secondly, you can search those terms to see what content is already doing well around the keywords. This will allow you to create content that will resonate to a greater level and feel in keeping with the current conversations being had.  

Once you’ve done this research, you can then use it to inform and guide the brief you create for the creators you work with. 

What are TikTok Search Ads?

TikTok Search Ads offer businesses a strategic avenue to extend their advertising reach within the platform’s search results. By toggling the Search Ads option, advertisers can seamlessly integrate their in-feed video ad content into relevant search queries, ensuring prominent visibility for users actively seeking related products or services. These ads, labelled as “Sponsored” content, appear alongside organic search results, streamlining the user discovery journey and facilitating direct connections between businesses and their target audience.

With TikTok Search Ads, advertisers benefit from enhanced visibility, streamlined user experience, and targeted reach. These ads are automatically created using existing in-feed video ad content and targeting parameters, simplifying the ad creation process and ensuring alignment with campaign objectives. Users access TikTok Search through various entry points like the “For You” tab and the “Friends” tab, providing a convenient and intuitive way to discover relevant content tailored to their interests. 

In essence, TikTok Search Ads empower businesses to maximise advertising impact by reaching users at the moment of intent and driving engagement and conversions effectively on the platform.

TikTok SEO represents a paradigm shift in the way creators and marketers approach content optimization and audience engagement. By embracing TikTok’s unique features, understanding its algorithmic nuances, and staying attuned to evolving trends, creators and marketers can unlock new levels of success in the dynamic world of social media.

As official partners of TikTok and other leading platforms, Vamp empowers brands to harness the power of influencer marketing effectively. With our comprehensive platform and expertise, marketers can streamline their campaigns, optimise their content, and achieve tangible results in the competitive landscape of TikTok and beyond.

Download our latest strategy guide

Cover of From the source What consumers want from influencer marketing

Download the free Vamp guide and learn how your brand can succeed on the original influencer marketing platform, Instagram.

Download this free Vamp guide and learn how to succeed on the world’s most viral platform.