TikTok SEO: Your Ultimate Guide for 2023

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how to do TikTok seo, TikTok search engine, TikTok search feature, TikTok keyword research, Webhive Digital on TikTok

Have you heard of TikTok SEO? If you’re currently using TikTok to promote your personal or professional brand, chances are you may have come across some TikTok experts talking about it by now!

As an SEO specialist, this not only fascinates me but truly excites me. And you’ll be pleased to hear that TikTok SEO is about a million times more simple than website SEO, so it’s a great place to dip your toes in if you want to use SEO to promote your business.

Before we dive into everything you need to know about TikTok SEO, here are some basics you need to understand about the platform and how it’s search engine works.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video-based social media platform that, in recent months, has more and more users treating it like a search engine.

At its core, TikTok is a platform to share video-based content for educational, entertainment or promotional purposes. Many online businesses have found success with TikTok, largely due to how easy it is to get in front of new audiences on the platform.

This success is often down the the “For You Feed” which is curated to include content that the TikTok algorithm thinks you will enjoy, based on your previous content consumption.

Whereas on Instagram, we’re looking to consume content from people we already follow, on TikTok we will happily scroll the “For You Feed” because, as users, we’ve come to trust the process and have often found great content this way.

Which we all know has led to virality many times over for personal and professional brands on the platform.

And because we trust the TikTok algorithm to show us content we want to see, it’s only natural we’ve now come to trust their search feature to deliver the content we are looking for.

How is TikTok a search engine?

TikTok is not a search engine in the same way that Google is. Largely because it doesn’t have the insane amount of data and content behind it as Google does, but also because it’s still a social media platform and a lot of its features are based around social rather than search.

However, in the same way that you may search for something on YouTube and call that a search engine, yes, TikTok is a search engine.

It hasn’t always been this way.

But over the last year, TikTok seem to have invested heavily in their search functionality in a bid to match YouTube in terms of how people are using the platform.

Here’s an example of how you can currently search for things you are interested in on TikTok:

how to do TikTok seo, TikTok search engine, TikTok search feature, TikTok keyword research

TikTok has recognised that people are trying to use their platform to search for their interests and as a result, they have advanced the search options on the app. As you can see in the screenshot above, they now make search suggestions based on your initial input, much like Google’s autosuggest feature.

This works great for users because you can niche down your search to ensure you find the content you are looking for.

And for content creators, well, this is keyword research. But more on that later in this post!

How do keywords work on TikTok?

In the below screenshot, all of these videos either include #etsyseo or mention Etsy SEO in their written description, as well as in the text on the video itself.

how to do TikTok seo, TikTok search engine, TikTok search feature, TikTok keyword research

This tells us that TikTok’s search function relies on written text to filter content in their search results aka KEYWORDS.

Your spoken word isn’t enough on its own and you’ll need to utilise descriptions, captions and text on the screen to leverage TikTok SEO for your videos.

It also appears that to show up higher in TikTok’s search results, your video views and likes will play an important role.

The good news here is that even if you don’t have a lot of followers on TikTok, it’s entirely possible to go viral and get the views and likes you need to show up in TikTok’s search results, so as long as you are posting you stand a fair chance of ranking!

How To Do TikTok SEO

As I said, TikTok SEO is a lot easier than normal SEO, so you can breeze easily through these steps! We’ll start with the most important one first.

Start with Keyword Research

This is the most important step for any type of SEO. If you don’t know what your target audience are searching for then you’re going to have a hard time showing up on TikTok’s search engine results. So to do effective keyword research for TikTok SEO, you’ll need to spend the most amount of time on this step.

Start out by using TikTok’s search feature to search for a broad keyword related to your industry. For example, if you sell dog food then you might search for “dog treats”.

how to do TikTok seo, TikTok search engine, TikTok search feature, TikTok keyword research

As soon as you type this in, you’ll see suggested searches below. These searches, like Google’s autocomplete, are based on other searches made on TikTok. This tells you that people on TikTok are using the search feature to look for these terms.

Keep in mind that not every term you find here will be relevant to your business and you want to make sure you’re only targeting relevant searches. So cherry pick those out of the search results you get.

From this, you’ve got a keywords list that looks like this:

  • dog treats
  • dog treats recipes
  • dog treats tiktok shop
  • dog treats to avoid
  • dog treats homemade recipe
  • dog treats small business
  • dog treats best behaviour

From here, you can then take one of these keywords and type that into TikTok search to see what comes up.

how to do TikTok seo, TikTok search engine, TikTok search feature, TikTok keyword research
If we follow the same method we just did, our list should now look like this:
  • dog treats
  • dog treats recipes
  • dog treats tiktok shop
  • dog treats to avoid
  • dog treats homemade recipe
  • dog treats small business
  • dog treats best behaviour
  • peanut butter dog treats recipe
  • dog treats recipe no bake
  • recipe for Christmas dog treats
  • dog treats recommended
  • homemade dog treat recipe
  • dog Christmas treat recipe

So now we’ve got 13 keywords from less than 2 minutes worth of keyword research.

If you apply this to your entire business, services and products, I’d expect you to have a lot of keywords saved very quickly!

Say your keywords in your video

When you are filming your TikTok video, make sure to (naturally) say any relevant keywords. For example, your TikTok hook may include “This is the best homemade dog treat recipe”. Or you may say “Follow me for more dog treat recipes” at the end of your video.

The most important thing here is that the keywords fit naturally. If they don’t, skip this step.

Include keywords on your text on screen

Once you’ve filmed your video, you’ll be able to add text to your video and here you should definitely include your keywords. Keep in mind that you only really need one keyword per video (you can use more if you want to), so the rest of your text on screen should be relevant content you’d normally add.

Add auto captions to your video

You should be doing this anyway because it’s better for accessibility but especially so if you’ve said your keywords in your video. This way TikTok has more chance to pick up the spoken keywords via your auto captions and place your video in their search results.

Include keywords in your post description

Post descriptions on TikTok can now be over 2000 words long so there’s no reason not to include your keywords here! I like to include two or three different keywords in my post descriptions to cover off any keywords that are relevant but I couldn’t fit elsewhere. But also make sure you leave space to…

Use keywords for your hashtags

I recommend using a maximum of 5 hashtags in your TikTok post descriptions. It’s always worked well for me. Going back to the dog treats example, good hashtags for this industry (based on the keyword research we just did) would be #dogtreats #dogtreatssmallbusiness #dogtreatsrecipes #homemadedogtreats #christmasdogtreats.

With hashtags you should also check the number of posts under each one to make sure it’s actually being used, so you may have to deviate from your keywords slightly here.

Post your video

That’s it! There’s nothing else for this step except to hit publish.

Is TikTok good for SEO?

With every Google algorithm update, the SEO community is seeing more evidence that Google favours online brands. One of the best ways to increase brand awareness is by posting regularly on social media.

That means having accounts, and regularly posting on, all the popular social media platforms will boost your online presence and in turn, boost your SEO.

As you link to your website via all of your social media channels, it makes sense that this helps Google create the association between your website and your brand’s social media.

This post is specifically written to teach you how to do SEO on TikTok, rather than general SEO best practices.

As you can see, TikTok SEO is no way near as complicated as website SEO and I, for one, am relieved about that. It means I can share this information with you in one ultimate guide to TikTok SEO blog post and you can be on your merry way!

If you’re looking for some more examples of how to use TikTok SEO for your business, check out my TikTok profile to see it in action!

Written by Kate Smoothy
Kate Smoothy is an SEO specialist and web designer based in Essex, England. As well as being the director of Webhive Digital, Kate shares SEO tips and guides on TikTok, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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