Initially launched as a video-sharing platform for dancing and lipsyncing enthusiasts, TikTok has become one of digital marketers and content creators’ most popular and valuable tools.
Influencer Marketing Hub says it’s now the most used social media application, with an average spent time of 56 minutes and a whopping 1.6 billion users worldwide.
Learning and leveraging TikTok SEO is paramount if you want to boost your visibility on this site, build a large following, and reach a wider audience. This article shows you how to do that and potentially land on the For You page (FYP) on the short-form video platform.
We’ll also dive into how TikTok works, the main aspects impacting your rankings, and actionable tips for developing an SEO strategy to improve your brand visibility.
Understanding TikTok’s Algorithm
The TikTok algorithm is how the platform reads your mind.
As a highly efficient recommendation system designed to meet each user’s diverse and unique needs, it determines the videos that appear on their For You page.
But what exactly is the For You feed? This is usually the first page TikTok users land on whenever they open or sign in to their accounts. It displays a collection of videos the TikTok algorithm presumes they might like, even if created by creators they don’t follow.
According to TikTok, every user’s For You page is unique and depends on the interests they convey when using the app.
“ …the For You feed reflects preferences unique to each user. The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors – starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too – to form your personalized For You feed.”
So, the TikTok algorithm doesn’t just recommend any videos on the platform; it strategically picks them based on these three main factors:
- Your user interactions
- Your device and account settings
- Video information
The first thing the TikTok algorithm factors in to decide what to show on members’ For You pages is their user interactions, whether negative or positive. This refers to many things, such as the accounts they follow, the type of content they create or share, the videos they like and comment on, and the clips they watch to the end.
For instance, if you watch an entire video on TikTok, the algorithm takes it as a sign that you like its content. Therefore, it’s likely to recommend similar videos. Again, following an account or commenting on a particular video shows you could welcome more clips from the creator, meaning they can appear on your For You feed.
Examples of negative user interactions on TikTok include flagging videos as “not interested” or inappropriate. The platform also allows you to report content you deem offensive or against its guidelines. It could be related to bullying, hate speech, impersonation, and illegal activities like child pornography, sex trafficking, and animal cruelty.
The TikTok algorithm uses video captions, sounds, hashtags, text overlays, and trending topics to curate users’ For You pages. These elements hint at the subject matter, encouraging the system to suggest more content with related or similar themes.
Despite your video information, the TikTok algorithm refrains from proposing duplicate content to deliver a positive user experience. At the same time, this system doesn’t recommend videos covering potentially triggering topics, such as graphic medical procedures.
Device and Account Information
The TikTok algorithm considers a user’s device and account settings to tailor their For You pages to their needs. However, they don’t carry as much weight as user interactions and video information.
One of the most essential elements in this category is their language preferences. Most users prefer video content in their language as they can grasp it better. That prompts the TikTok algorithm to recommend it.
Additionally, your device type comes into play when determining the videos on your For You page. The TikTok algorithm wants users to enjoy the smoothest experiences. As such, it will suggest videos it presumes your mobile phone, tablet, or computer can play seamlessly based on their operating system or screen size.
Key Aspects of TikTok SEO
Grasping how the TikTok algorithm works is just one essential thing to increase website visibility. How can you use this system to your advantage? Well, master the most critical elements of TikTok SEO, which include the following:
Becoming a successful digital marketer, brand influencer, or content creator on TikTok requires optimizing your profile. Start by choosing an eye-catching username that reflects your brand identity or the type of content you create.
For example, famous American barista Nick Cho uses the alias “Your Korean Dad” and has grown into a symbol of paternal love. His content revolves around being a supportive and easy-going online father figure, making his viewers feel safe while enlightening them about various topics, including tech, travel, and dining.
A clear, high-quality profile picture is also handy for Tiktok profile optimization. Ideally, it should be recognizable so your target audience can easily spot your account.
Another step to optimize your TikTok profile is crafting an engaging bio. As of this writing, the maximum character limit for TikTok bios is 80. Therefore, make the text simple and concise, incorporating the relevant keywords based on your content. If you’re using the channel to market your offerings, it will let your potential clients know more about them.
Here’s an example of a great optimized TikTok bio:
Including a call-to-action (CTA) in your TikTok bio is advisable as it encourages users to take action. For instance, YouTuber Bo Brown prompts viewers to “Shop my outfits” and provides a link to where they can find them. Other popular CTAs on the video-sharing platform include:
- “Sign up”
- “Follow me on Instagram.”
- “Check out”
- “Click here for more information.”
- “Get my free PDF/course here.”
- “Book me for…”
If you’re leveraging TikTok to grow your business, CTAs can boost your sales or increase your viewership on other platforms like YouTube. Without them, viewers might not know the next step after watching your videos, even with high-quality content.
Video Content Optimization
Producing video content that the algorithm loves is essential to the success of your TikTok SEO strategy and will likely earn you more views.
Your TikTok videos can be 10 minutes long. But most viewers have short attention spans, and you’ll lose them if you don’t arouse their curiosity within the first 2-3 seconds.
An effective way to capture your viewer’s attention is by including a title in your video. That will give them a hint of the content they’re about to consume for the next 3 seconds to 10 minutes. They’ll likely watch it to the end, like, comment on it, or even share if they’re interested.
Once you have your viewer’s attention, don’t disappoint them. Use these three strategies to deliver top-notch optimized video content that may see them add you to their list of TikTok favorites.
- Create Original Content
Authenticity is the key to creating quality content on TikTok and all other social media platforms. Therefore, your videos must be relatable and genuine, reflecting your brand’s values and identity. For instance, as a brand influencer, speak like someone who has used the specific product you’re promoting. Otherwise, you might seem insincere to your viewers.
You can also showcase brand originality by sharing personal stories about your content. Storytelling is among the quickest and most effective strategies to boost engagement on TikTok. According to Search Engine Watch, the art can increase conversion rates by an impressive 30%, making it the perfect weapon for marketers and brands hoping to bump up sales or drive more traffic.
- Incorporate Popular/Relevant Sounds
Taking advantage of TikTok sounds is another trick to optimize your videos. In 2020, TikTok partnered with Kantar to investigate the platform’s power in digital marketing. The company discovered that music is one of the main aspects that impact user engagement and evoke emotions in viewers.
There’s nothing wrong with uploading a TikTok video without any sound. However, it might be less effective because users are less likely to engage with the content.
But how can you find the right sound for your TikTok video content? It’s super easy. The platform has a massive sound library for creators. Depending on your niche or preferences, you can browse it to find music that compliments your content. If, for instance, you want the most recent sounds, tap the “New Releases” icon to view the available options.
To add a sound on TikTok, you should:
- Tap the “+” icon at the bottom of your home screen
- Click on the “Sounds” icon at the top of the screen
- Use the search bar to find the song you want
- Click on “Play” to review it
- Add the sound to your video
Alternatively, you can find the best TikTok sound by saving one used by another creator. The platform also enables you to create your own music, a mash-up of songs, or a voice-over.
- Make It Interesting
Like Pinterest and Snapchat, TikTok is a fun site. Make your content captivating by being humorous—everyone likes a good laugh.
In addition, some users consider short videos more appealing than longer ones. Remember, most of them spend about an hour on TikTok daily and need more patience and time to watch the latter or digest lengthy information.
However, there are no hard and fast rules regarding the length of your TikTok videos. If your niche or brand requires you to create long recordings to convey the intended message, go for it. They can deliver better quality, which most viewers crave.
TikTok Hashtag Strategy
Adding trending, niche-specific hashtags to your videos can tremendously improve TikTok SEO. Apart from increasing visibility, they can also:
- Boost your brand exposure
- Attract more followers
- Increase user engagement
- Help your videos reach more users and potentially go viral
Consider using similar hashtags in your videos because users will associate the words with you whenever they see them.
Find trending hashtags on TikTok by signing in to your account and going to the Discover tab. The options available here will be based on your activity. Then, you can click on the videos with that particular hashtag and explore them.
Again, TikTok’s search bar can be handy in discovering trending hashtags on the platform. All you have to do is type in a keyword to see them and their accumulated views.
TikTok Hashtag Challenges
As you harness the power of TikTok hashtags, remember to engage in or start hashtag challenges, which boost awareness and engagement for successful marketing campaigns. You can do this by asking other creators or users to do something and tag their videos or images with a specific hashtag.
While popular TikTok creators create hashtag challenges, brands are usually behind Branded Hashtag Challenges (BHCs). These are some of TikTok’s most effective ad options to help companies run successful campaigns.
Typically, brands develop their own Branded Hashtag Challenges and collaborate with other creators to inspire people to participate.
Among the most popular Branded Hashtag Challenges is 2021’s #DisneyPlusVoices by Disney +, launched to celebrate Disney Plus Day. The annual virtual event promotes the Walt Disney Company’s streaming services, i.e., Hulu, Star+, and Disney+.
As of this writing, #DisneyPlusVoices has amassed an incredible 20.4 billion views on TikTok, enabling countless creators to unlock their favorite Disney characters’ voices.
When creating hashtag challenges or BHCs, simplicity is everything. Alessandro Bogliari, the co-founder and CEO of The Influencer Marketing Factory, told Kantar that these ads shouldn’t be sales. That is more likely to repulse users.
“[They should be] relatable and easy to jump on… making it too “commercial” or “pushy” could have the opposite outcome. It’s always better to softly include the product/service to promote in a challenge….in this way users will more likely share it and participate.”
Nevertheless, remember that hashtag challenges don’t assure you that your video content will go viral, though they significantly increase your chances. Also, don’t overuse or include irrelevant hashtags in your videos, as it can hurt your TikTok SEO.
Engagement and Consistency
Creating premium video content is not enough to guarantee SEO success for TikTok creators. You must be consistent, especially if you endeavor to win more followers and grow your brand. As a beginner, posting once daily during your target audience’s peak times is acceptable. But feel free to change your frequency to 3 or more times daily to garner more views and reach more users.
At the same time, engage with other users by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts. If your followers comment on your videos, reply and tap the like button. That will help to:
- Boost your engagement rates
- Create a personal connection with other creators and your followers
- Build meaningful relationships and inspire loyalty
Incorporating Keywords and Captions
Keywords are a vital component of TikTok SEO. Including them in your video descriptions could enable your target market to find your videos since they’ll likely type them in the platform’s search bar.
Before you choose your keywords for TikTok video content, understand your target users and their search intent. Ask yourself:
- How many users are searching the keyword?
- Is the keyword relevant, and does it match the search query?
- What’s the keyword ranking difficulty? (A high one means ranking for the keyword is more challenging.)
You can add your keyword into your text on the video so it’s the first thing users view. Including it in your caption is also an excellent idea. TikTok now has a 2200-character limit for captions; take advantage of it.
Here are some tips to create attention-grabbing captions on TikTok:
- Write short captions
- Keep them simple and easy to read
- Include relevant hashtags and mentions
- Ensure they complement the video’s content for context
- Be humorous
- Include CTAs
- Add relevant emojis
- Ask your users questions for engagement
Collaborations and Cross-Promotion
TikTok cross-promotion is becoming incredibly popular. According to AdShark Marketing, this strategy could result in a follower retention of roughly 90% on various social media platforms, explaining why brands are so taken with it.
On TikTok, a cross-promotion strategy might benefit both parties by increasing brand awareness, boosting viewership, generating more leads, and maximizing sales. But to enjoy these awesome perks, you must collaborate with creators whose target audience, beliefs, and brand values match yours.
Again, choose practical video formats like hashtag challenges and duets to make your content more exciting and outstanding.
Another trick to make the most of a cross-promotion campaign is sharing your TikTok videos on other platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube. That broadens your reach and brings more traffic, which is handy for business growth.
Monitoring and Adjusting TikTok SEO Strategy
How will you know your TikTok SEO efforts are fruitful? Regularly track your analytics to understand your video content’s performance. Assuming you have a business account, here’s how you can do that:
- Visit your profile page
- Click on the Settings and Privacy icons
- Hit the “Creator Tools” button
- Select “Analytics”
TikTok analytics provide insight into user behavior, content, and account growth. This lets you know if your TikTok SEO strategy is working or if you need to tweak it to achieve the best results and increase discoverability.
TikTok SEO to Maximize Visibility
You cannot afford to overlook the importance of TikTok SEO, whether you’re a brand influencer, digital marketer, or creator. This strategy makes your video content searchable, helping you widen your reach, boost traffic, and increase leads.
We hope our comprehensive guide gives you a starting point as you strive to use SEO to thrive on TikTok.
Is your TikTok SEO strategy bringing in the desired outcome? Let us know in the comment section below, and don’t forget to share our piece with your online pals!