TikTok SEO: How to Grow Your Brand in 2024

TikTok SEO is the phrase on every digital marketer’s lips, and for good reason. At Embryo, we recognise that nobody is an expert yet in this emerging marketing platform, but we’re eager to become one. Our Paid Social team continues to dedicate countless hours to learning and navigating the app, so they can develop exciting strategies for our clients.

The evolution of the TikTok app has mirrored that of traditional search engines, with its convenient search bar, advanced algorithm, hashtags (keywords), top videos, and snippet-style results. With 50% of Gen Z now using TikTok for searches instead of Google, it’s evident that TikTok is fast becoming another go-to search engine in its own right.

Coupled with the personalised feed, there’s ample opportunity for optimising content and enhancing visibility on TikTok – a practice we know as search engine optimisation (SEO).

The rise of TikTok SEO: The modern search engine?

Is TikTok a search engine? It’s the questions digital marketers and online brands are asking themselves. Back in the day, Google stole the share of search. Now, Gen Z and millennials are changing how we search for information.

According to research carried out in 2023, around 31% of consumers turn to social media for answers to their questions. In the UK alone, the number of TikTok users is expected to grow by 1 million users by the end of 2024. With this staggering TikTok statistic in mind, is now the time to capture new audiences?

Whilst traditional search engines remain the top dog, the evolution of consumer behaviour and technology should be key to how and where you promote your business.

There’s no doubt that the younger generations will continue to explore social media for fast, visual and engaging content. TikTok offers experience-led answers to questions. Content creators put a face to the information that Google currently lacks. It’s personable, interactive and trustworthy. This ‘human factor’ makes TikTok a brilliant place to research and gather inspiration.

In the words of our very wise Head of Paid Social, Harriet Tuite:

TikTok feels more like a word of mouth recommendation, rather than a brand selling, so it almost seems more trustworthy’

Nevertheless, SEO agencies need not panic. Traditional search engines evolve with the times too, making the search experience modern and user-friendly.

Interestingly, search engines like Google used to steer clear of showing posts from social platforms. But today, SERPs actively index social media posts and relevant TikTok videos, reflecting a shift in how online content is discovered and consumed.

Why do people use TikTok?

Studies suggest that TikTok is the most popular with 18-24-year-olds, but other age groups use the app for various reasons. Why are they using it? What do they get from it that they can’t get from Google?

TikTok’s algorithm is tailored to the user’s search activity and their preferences – you’ll find out more about this process further down. It learns what you enjoy and determines your areas of interest, then presents similar content as you scroll the ‘For You Page’ (FYP).

One of TikTok’s biggest perks is its ability to retain and engage users organically. It’s a borderline (dare we say) addictive platform, where users spend a lot of their time. The statistics back up this claim, too – UK users spend roughly 27.3 hours a month scrolling TikTok. That’s a lot of time and opportunity to put content in front of faces! Brands and influencers use this to their advantage, captivating audiences and driving engagement.

Discovery and research

Besides its obvious entertainment and commercial purposes, its user-friendly interface, varied content and personalised algorithm make it ideal for informational browsing.

In 2024, TikTok will be a dominant platform for informational and discovery queries. People trust people and their real-life experiences. They enjoy TikTok for its personable and authentic content. On top of that, the average attention span has decreased significantly in the past decade, pushing TikTok’s short video concept to the forefront.

TikTok is known for its content variety. Whether someone prefers to brighten their day up with comedic videos or seeks valuable insights from mortgage advisors or product reviews, there’s a limitless spectrum of information available.

  • Step-by-step recipes and food spot recommendations
  • Makeup tutorials and recommendations
  • Authentic reviews and experiences
  • Holiday recommendations
  • eCommerce searches

As you’ll see from my discovery page and search history, TikTok is my go-to for all types of research:

tiktok search

The TikTok shop

The shopping experience was introduced in 2022, changing the game for eCommerce and offering consumers a new way of shopping. Through shoppable ads, influencer marketing and the integrated shopping function, users gain access to an interactive and personalised purchasing process.

‘TikTok’s shopping features keep users hooked, ensuring they can make purchase decisions without ever leaving the app. This ingenious tactic gives consumers in the ‘messy middle’ of their purchasing journey the tools to easily explore, compare, and buy products right within the TikTok app, reinventing how e-commerce and social media collide.’ – Kasey Healy, Paid Social Manager

On the business front, this platform has enhanced the ways brands can connect with their audience. TikTok opens businesses to over a billion active users (and counting), presenting huge opportunities for brands to reach new customers and improve their conversion rates.

Looking for some inspiration for your business? Take a look at the TikTok brands we’re loving right now!

What is TikTok SEO?

TikTok SEO is the current buzzword of digital marketing. Many argue against the concept, whilst others notice similar strategies across both search engines and social media optimisation.

TikTok SEO entails tweaking, tailoring and implementing various best practices to give their content the best chance of showing up for any given search term. Just like traditional SEO, it’s about understanding how algorithms work and boosting visibility. Therefore, a TikTok SEO strategy would include trend and keyword research, identifying opportunities to maximise reach, and turning views into customers or followers.

TikTok ranking factors and the algorithm explained

If we’re going to think of TikTok as a search engine, we need to understand how it presents content to people. Just like Google keeps its ranking secrets close, TikTok does too. But from what algorithm guidance TikTok tells us and what we’ve looked into ourselves, we’re beginning to understand how to ‘rank’ and reach the right audiences on the app.

The most crucial takeaway from our TikTok SEO learnings is that anyone can go viral. You are just as likely to see a video from a brand-new, unknown user in your discovery page as you are to see a creator with thousands of followers.

User interactions

Likes, comments, and shares – these interactions play a big role in how TikTok depicts the quality and relevancy of a video. Everything you do in the app feeds the algorithm more information about who you are and what you’re into. From your interactions with the platform, it can then begin to serve up similar content to what you’ve seen previously.

For example, I spend a lot of time browsing TikTok for travel recommendations. Whilst I’m researching, I’ll ‘like’ and ‘save’ that content for future reference. It’s because of these interactions that TikTok now shows me useful travel-related content from other users.

tiktok seo user interaction

Scrolling activity

As a TikTok user myself, I’m all too familiar with this clever hack that TikTok uses to understand my interests. As you scroll through the discovery page, you’ll naturally swipe past content that doesn’t resonate with you. On the other hand, you stop and watch the videos that grab your attention.

TikTok’s algorithm considers how quickly users swipe past a video without interacting, which is a key part of its user behaviour analysis. This tracking of user interactions enables TikTok to tailor content recommendations more effectively and keeps them engaged on the platform.

Video details make

As a content creator, how you label and post your videos is key to how well they perform.

TikTok sorts and recommends videos based on their captions, the hashtags included, and the audio clips. Put it this way: to get more views and engagement, you must accurately describe the content and strategically place hashtags for TikTok to understand what your content is about.

Much like meta descriptions you see in search engines, TikTok captions should summarise the content and be optimised with keywords in mind.

Account settings

When you set up an account on TikTok, you’ll be asked to input information about your location and language preferences. Once you’ve provided this information, the platform can tailor your discovery page to suggest language-specific content.

How to create a strategy for TikTok success (top tips and tricks)

Align your SEO strategy with TikTok

As user behaviour evolves, search engines do, too. There’s a huge connection between TikTok and Google, whereby some keywords are prevalent on both platforms. We recommend sharing keyword research between your social media and SEO team to get the best out of your digital marketing strategy.

Repurposing content between different platforms can be a highly effective and efficient way to boost performance. If you’re creating interesting content for your website, repurpose this for TikTok viewers and watch your traffic soar.

Top tip: Use tools like Ahrefs to conduct keyword research and see which results are bringing up TikTok profiles. This will inform you of the search intent and the types of content people want to see.

Competitor analysis

What are your competitors doing? What’s working and what isn’t? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself before you plan any content. Doing some research into the types of videos that perform well in your sector/area of specialisation will help inform your approach. It’s in this analysis that you’ll start to understand what helpful content your target audience is after.

Top tip: Keep a close eye on emerging trends to create content before your competitors do. Always stay one step ahead to lead the way!

Creative Centre

TikTok’s Creative Centre gives us a sneak peek into what people search for and which hashtags are trending. For reference, hashtags are basically like keywords.

From the most-searched-for hashtags over the last 30 days (January-February 2024), we can see that most users are looking for the following types of content:

creative centre tiktok

Source: TikTok Creative Centre

By using this tool, you can identify where there are opportunities for content that people want to see and are actively looking for. If you’re serious about using TikTok as a marketing platform, you must use data, metrics and keyword research to inform your strategy.

Top tip: Don’t assume that the top-ranking trend is the best thing to do. Go for medium to low search volume words with less competition, this will boost your visibility.

Take part in trends

If you were anything like me, the 2020 lockdown was all about diving into TikTok trends and silly dances. This platform thrives on trends, encouraging users across the globe to jump on the back of trends and create their own videos.

Many of the most successful creators either set their own trends or put their own spin on existing trends. However, trends change very quickly. That’s why it’s super important to act fast and proactively create trend-driven content before it dies down.

Search for trending hashtags, dance routines or video types. Some of the most common we’ve come across include:

  • #adayinthelife
  • #outfitoftheday
  • #worklife
  • #viralleggings

At Embryo, we have our own TikTok account, and taking part in trends is something we love to do. However, we always make sure it fits our brand, adding our own spin to make sure we’re not simply copying everyone else.

See here, we got involved in a viral challenge, which resulted in thousands of views. People love watching other people take part in challenges, especially if they go wrong or are particularly funny!

@embryodigital @Cadbury USA Twirl challenge, who flakes under the pressure 👀 #fyp #flakechallenge #twirlchallenge #lunchtimefun #officelife #agencytiktok #foryoupage #foodtok #cadburys #chocolate ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey


Create paid ads

TikTok advertisements work similarly to Facebook paid ads, they increase traffic and conversions by targeting specific audiences. The great thing about advertising on TikTok is that it is a relatively easy and cost-effective thing to do.

TikTok shared that its users are 1.5 times more likely to purchase something if they’ve already seen it appear as a paid ad.

  • Your paid ads can help build up engagement on your organic posts
  • TikTok ad manager has flexible cost options
  • eCommerce brands perform exceptionally well using engaging paid ads
  • Businesses can retarget and sell to existing customers

For more tips and information on how paid advertising works, we’re here to chat – it’s our speciality!

Capture attention within the first 3 seconds

As it stands, TikTok allows users to create up to 3 minutes of footage. However, it’s the most concise videos that get the most engagement (thanks to the short attention span of users!). We recommend optimising the first 3 seconds of the content to maximise your chances of stopping people in their tracks.

Peak curiosity as soon as you can to retain those views and reduce the amount of scrolls.People often stop and watch content that promises to deliver information fast, such as round-up posts or list post. Take this #booktok video as an example:

@htpbooks Add these romance reads to your 2024 TBR so that we can obsess over them together 😭❤️ #BookTok #BookRecommendations #romancebooktok #tbr #books2024 ♬ som original – Vênus

This is a really effective technique used by HTP books. 

It’s simplistic yet persuasive, summarising each book in bullet points is easy for users to absorb. The result? The ‘booktok girlies’ engage with the post, following the creator for more quick-fire book recommendations. See how easy marketing can be? Know your audience, offer fast information, and watch the views and followers fly in. 

Ready to adopt TikTok as a new marketing strategy?

At Embryo, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to help our clients interact with their target audience. We’ve identified TikTok as an incredibly successful platform to launch paid ads and create unique and useful content.

Feeling intrigued? Want to put your brand in front of millions of TikTok users? Let us consult with you to find the best approach.

Call us today on 0161 327 2635.


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