Social Chameleon

TikTok Search: Everything You Need to Know

With more than 1 billion active monthly users, TikTok is the fourth most popular social media platform, behind Instagram with 2 billion users, YouTube with 2.5 billion users, and Facebook with a staggering 3 billion users. Despite landing in fourth place, TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform and is even set to pass Facebook usage in 2025.

So, what’s all the fuss? Featuring super snappy short-form videos, TikTok allows users to absorb entertaining content at a rapid rate. As soon as you open the app, you’re instantly met with auto-playing videos, highlighting the platform’s addictive, scrollable nature. From viral trends and challenges to how-to’s and travel tips, TikTok features an array of entertaining and addictive content that users adore. 

Is TikTok a Search Engine?

A user about to open TikTok to an search query

With 40% of consumers using TikTok to search for things they need or are interested in learning about, the video-first platform is being increasingly used and recognised as a search engine. 

Younger generations are much more likely to use TikTok as a search tool, with 64% of Gen Z and 49% of millennials doing so. Interestingly, almost 10% of Gen Z users even prefer using TikTok over traditional search engines like Google when looking for information. 

TikTok is no longer solely used for skits, funny videos, dancing challenges, and trends. Instead, the platform has evolved into a place where people can find the information they need fast – from authentic reviews and DIY tutorials to recipes and travel tips. 

In a nutshell, TikTok isn’t just for entertainment. The shift to bite-sized tailored content that provides users with the information they need is why TikTok is increasingly being used as a search engine. 

A recent report by Adobe highlights this when asking why consumers use TikTok instead of traditional search engines: 44% say that short-form video is more informative and digestible, 34% enjoy the storytelling aspect of TikTok while 31% say the content is more personalised. 

The report also reveals what users are searching for the most, with the most popular topic being new recipes, followed by new music, DIY tips, fashion advice, workout routines, beauty advice, and product recommendations. 

How TikTok’s Search Algorithm Works

TikTok’s algorithm considers a combination of factors to determine what kind of content a user wants to see and what will appear on their For You Page (FYP). For context, the FYP is the first page that appears when you open the app. It is packed with videos from content creators you follow and recommended content that becomes more tailored to you the more you interact with the app. 

Unlike Instagram, TikTok offers a blend of new content from undiscovered accounts and familiar content from accounts you already follow. This blend of different content keeps the app fresh, exciting, and addictive.

To make these recommendations, the TikTok algorithm analyses the following things: 

  • User interactions: Essentially, how you interact with the app. This includes which videos you like, favourite, comment on and share, as well as which accounts you follow and content you create.
  • Video information: This includes specific details like captions, sounds, and hashtags.
  • Device and account settings: This includes language preference, country setting, device type and category selection. TikTok notes that “these factors are included to make sure the system is optimized for performance, but they receive lower weight in the recommendation system” because user preferences and activity are more important.

Tips for Efficiently Finding Content on TikTok

This might sound a little obvious, but the best place to start is with the search bar. Using specific keywords and terms in your search will generate more targeted content, so make sure you keep this in mind when searching for something in particular. 

When searching for something, the most relevant results will appear along with suggested searches (similar to Google’s ‘People also ask’ section). As well as looking for content on specific subjects, you can also search for particular creators and users by simply scrolling across to the ‘users’ section. You can also discover ‘sounds’ that are related to that search as well as any related hashtags or live content. 

Strategies for Optimising Your Content for TikTok Search 

Optimising Your Content for TikTok Search

From independent startups to large corporations, an array of brands are utilising TikTok as part of their overarching social media strategies

A great example of this is Gymshark, a British fitness and sportswear retailer, that creates engaging and entertaining TikTok content. And it works! With 5.4 million followers, Gymshark’s success on TikTok is due to the company’s innovative strategy. Instead of creating content that focuses on promoting products, they prioritise entertainment alone by creating relatable content, funny fitness memes, workouts that go awry, and much more. 

Here are some of the best ways to enhance your TikTok strategy and optimise your content for TikTok Search: 

Creating entertaining and informative content

Create content that stands out from the crowd. Look at what your competitors are doing and take a different approach by offering unique content or simply take inspiration from their content and do it better!  

Jumping on relevant trends, songs, or hashtags

There is an effective way to capitalise on already-popular content and increase social reach. Just make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest trends so you don’t miss the boat!


Collaborating with influencers

Reach wider audiences by collaborating with influencers and content creators to create valuable authentic content that resonates. 


Utilising hashtags and incorporating keywords in captions

These help you to stand a better chance of appearing in relevant search results.


Leveraging the new Creator Search Insights tool

The Insights tool allows users to track trending search terms on the platform. To access this tool, simply search for “Creator Search Insights” in the search bar. According to TikTok, content creators will soon be able to access it directly from ‘Creator Tools’ in Settings (correct at the time of writing). This tool will unveil trending topics and valuable insights to help creators and businesses alike enhance their content creation process.

The Future of Search Features on TikTok

With TikTok recently providing detailed insights and search analytics, the move to enhanced search features is inevitable. We’ve already seen TikTok testing different SERP formats by prioritising its search engine and e-commerce functionality. We predict that TikTok will continue to test different SERP features, not unlike that of Google, to gauge how users interact and respond to it.

Opportunities for brands 

There are plenty of opportunities to enhance the performance of your TikTok content by employing social media optimisation (SMO) strategies. And that’s where we step in. As our trademarked term ‘search-first social media®’ might suggest, Social Chameleon lives and breathes SMO. We’re here to help you enhance your brand’s social media strategies and in turn, help you increase brand awareness, boost your engagement rates, improve your reach, and much more.

Want to find out more about how search-first social media® can help your brand? Get in touch!

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