TikTok SEO: Your 2024 guide

TikTok SEO is a big deal in 2024. Learn why you should use it, which keywords to choose, which tools are best for the job, and more.

Using TikTok SEO

If you want to show up in people’s TikTok feeds, let us ‌introduce you to our friend: SEO. Today, we’ll learn all about TikTok SEO, which tools are most effective, how to skew keywords to your advantage, and more. 

We’ll cover:

What is TikTok SEO?

TikTok SEO, or search engine optimization, is a technique used to enhance your content and profile’s performance. It feeds into search results and the TikTok algorithm, using criteria like keywords to target users who might be interested in your content. 

USing TikTok SEO

If you successfully leverage TikTok SEO, your content will appear higher, and more often, in users’ For You feeds; your profile and content will more likely appear when users search TikTok for specific keywords, too. Profiles with tip-top TikTok SEO will also rank higher in external search engines like Google. 

The stronger your TikTok SEO, the more likely the algorithm is to match users’ queries with your content, boosting the chances of discovery. Variables like user interactions, video information, and device and account settings are all fair game for optimization, which we’ll cover in a minute. For more general SEO tips, head here. 

Why is SEO important for TikTok?

TikTok SEO is more important in 2024 than ever. The buzzy social media platform has become one of the most profitable for creators, with 30% citing it as their main income stream. 

Even if monetizing TikTok isn’t your main objective, the platform has become something of a search engine itself – two in five Americans use it as a search engine, while 40% of young people will use it before trying Google. So, is TikTok a search engine? It's hard to argue otherwise.

And sure, TikTok trends often hinge on certain profiles or videos being given an organic push. But for every viral video of a guy skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac, there’s a carefully curated video that’s snagged views with the aid of SEO.

Looking at TikTok SEO

Every time someone types a keyword into TikTok’s search bar, there’s an opportunity for your content to pop up. That’s why TikTok SEO strategy and keywords are so essential.

Do hashtags help TikTok SEO?

Yep, hashtags are an element of TikTok SEO. They’re not the sole focus, but if they tie into your keywords and the general thrust of your content, they can help the algorithm contextualize, rank, and place your content. 

What counts as SEO on TikTok?

At face value, TikTok SEO is about finding suitable keywords and matching them to your content. From there, your content and keywords will be assessed by the algorithm and served to users accordingly. That’s part of it, but there’s so much more going on under the surface. 

Using TikTok SEO

Let’s take a look at the different ranking factors to consider for TikTok SEO:

  • Keywords: Keywords are the biggest and most obvious element of TikTok SEO. We’ll talk about how to find keywords in a second, but their usage is essential – someone making videos about dogs will experience healthier TikTok SEO if they mention the word ‘dogs’ in their titles and captions. 
  • User habits and interactions: No matter what you do, it’s your potential audience’s actions that help determine where your content is placed. Videos a user has liked, hidden, commented on, shared, and watched to the end all count toward TikTok SEO. The algorithm weighs up how a user acts online against what your video can provide them. This means that two viewers might want the same thing, but their habits and prior actions could give them different videos in the results. 
  • Metadata and additional media: All the bells, whistles, and extras on top of your raw video will play into TikTok SEO. This could include titles, captions, hashtags, sound effects, music, and even trending effects like CapCut filters.
  • Expertise: To rank on search engines like Google, you’ll have to prove that you’re an expert in your given topic. Unfortunately, you can’t get your former employer to write a (very convincing) letter to Google; you need to prove that other well-known and reputable sources are willing to link to you. Thankfully, other social media platforms count toward this tally – get sharing!
  • Relevance: More often than not, clickbait doesn’t rank. If your metadata and keywords match the content and search intent, your TikTok SEO should reap juicier rewards. 
  • Recency: Search engines like Google often give more space to newer, fresher pieces of content. It’s not always the case, but when it comes to trending topics, newer or updated chunks of content tend to excel.  
  • User account and device settings: Variables like a user’s device, location, and categories of interest can sway TikTok SEO. These are worth bearing in mind, but they don’t hold as much weight as the other factors we’ve covered. 

With these points in mind, it’s also worth noting that TikTok SEO doesn’t consider an account’s popularity and follower count when ranking content. That means if your content is relevant, SEO-optimized, and entertaining, it has a chance to pop off on the platform – that’s why you’ll see more overnight successes on TikTok nowadays than Instagram or YouTube.

Using TikTok SEO

How do you find keywords for TikTok?

You can gauge which keywords are buzzing by researching a topic on TikTok. If you search for a specific keyword, you’ll see the most popular and best-suited results at the top. This will give you a general idea of what kind of content works for the keyword you’re using. 

This technique is just the start, though. To get the newest, most effective keywords, you’re best using a dedicated tool for TikTok keyword research. Some of these are paid-for and others are free, but they’ll all give you an extra level of insight that you can’t get from TikTok alone. 

What are the best TikTok SEO tools?

If you want to level up your TikTok SEO, it’s time to get acquainted with these specialized keyword tools. Check out our suggestions below:

  • Keyword Tool: This is a tool used by pros worldwide, giving you keywords, related searches, and more, covering everything from Google to Pinterest. And yep, it does include a dedicated TikTok SEO tool, providing all the trend-based information you’ll need. Plans are priced between $69 and $159 per month, depending on the size of your team and which features you’d like to access; it’s a little pricey, but ideal for larger teams using more than one platform. 
  • TikTok Keyword Insights: This free keyword tool is mainly used for TikTok advertising, given it only scans the text within TikTok ads. So, while it might not be super useful for organic content, it’s worth checking out for any paid campaigns you’re planning to run.  
  • Google Analytics: The big G. The old reliable. Google’s packing a free SEO tool, nestled quietly in Google Marketing Platform. You can use Google Analytics to see which keywords are driving traffic to your website, then apply that knowledge to your TikTok SEO efforts.

Before you take on the algorithm and start ranking like an absolute boss, pump the brakes for a moment. Does your content look as good as it can? And equally, does it sound as good as it can? Don’t settle for second-best – unlock your soundtrack’s potential with Epidemic Sound.

TikTok SEO tips for 2024

Now that you know what TikTok SEO is, how it works, and how you can find keywords, let’s wrap up with a list of TikTok SEO tips for 2024. 

1. Gain topical authority 

Popular brands and influencers are usually known for a ‘thing’ – it’s their specialist subject. With TikTok SEO, you can use keywords to gain topical authority. 

Topical authority is an SEO concept where the goal is to become an expert on a chosen subject. It works on search engines and it works for TikTok. If you constantly post about a topic, become a master, and receive engagement for said posts, TikTok will consider you an expert on those keywords. You’ll gain topical authority and climb up the rankings as a result.

Using TikTok SEO

2. Build a consistent keyword presence

As we’ve discussed, TikTok SEO is about more than just knowing which topics your audience is interested in; you need to know exactly which keywords they’re looking for. Using one of the TikTok keyword tools we mentioned earlier will help you build a consistent, unified keyword presence across your profile and videos. You could even include the same keyword in your username, nickname, and bio, creating more of a united front. 

3. Add keywords to your profile

On that note, including core keywords in your profile details guides people toward your content in a sensible, logical way. Just think of it like this: if your info’s a mess of random numbers and letters, it’ll be hard to figure out what your content’s about at a glance. Keywords at profile-level guide users into your world, while giving the TikTok algorithm even more detail with which to categorize and rank your content. 

4. Keep the keywords reigned in and relevant

TikTok allows a whopping 2,200 characters per video description. It’s tempting to go wild, but try and keep those TikTok keywords focused – if you can, aim for between three and five per video, ideally as hashtags. If you blast your video description with 30 keywords, it makes the algorithm’s job tougher. 

Trying out TikTok SEO

If you want to get extra granular, try using long-tail TikTok keywords. These are phrases and questions, rather than singular keywords – they’ll usually have a lower search volume, but will be pin-pointedly precise.

For example, if you’re creating content for makeup tutorials, you’re probably best including the brand, product, and any other selling points – is it a five-minute glow-up? These detailed, well-planned keywords will help serve your content to people who’re looking to do something with a product or service, rather than just searching generally.

5. Use TikTok’s search function for inspiration

Don’t stop at TikTok keyword tools – use TikTok’s search function to look for things you’d not have considered otherwise. There’s a sort of cheat code here: first, type in your short-tail keyword, like ‘makeup tutorial.’ Next, type the letter ‘a.’ The TikTok search function will throw out a bunch of autofill suggestions based on letters beginning with ‘a.’ Rinse and repeat with ‘b,’ ‘c,’ and so on. 

Trying new TikTok keywords

6. Use TikTok analytics 

TikTok analytics is a tool that helps you track, understand, and improve your metrics on the platform. It breaks information down into digestible charts, empowering you with the numbers you need to make data-driven choices about SEO. As long as you have a TikTok Business account, you can sign up and get started in no time.  

Trending hashtags, challenges, and keywords go viral for a reason: they interest people. Keep an eye on what’s happening, because it could feed into your TikTok SEO strategy.

If something’s trending, step back and take an objective look. Could you, hand-on-heart, jump on this trend and make it relevant to your content? If the answer is yes, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t seize the opportunity – if you manage to drum up some views based on a ridiculous new dance trend, you’ll have leveraged a hot hashtag to your advantage. In turn, these hashtags will sprout up across search results, and you’ll hopefully receive a share of that search.

Thinking of TikTok keywords

8. Keep your videos short and sweet

TikTok recommends keeping your videos between 21 and 34 seconds long. There'll naturally be exceptions, but if you’re pumping out several videos per day – or even just one per day – it’s worth keeping this advice in mind. 

Sticking to a shorter run-time means viewers can reel through your content quicker, and it also helps – you guessed it – the TikTok algorithm understand more about you. If people are finishing and replaying every video you put out, the platform will acknowledge this repeat behavior and look more kindly upon your output. 

9. Get to know your audience

This might sound obvious, but get to know your audience – on both a personal and number-crunching level. 

For the former, get involved in your community with features like TikTok LIVE. Encourage involvement, hold FAQ sessions, and make people feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. Foster a warm environment where commenting, liking, and sharing is the soup of the day – these engagement-boosters will benefit your TikTok SEO. 

Using TikTok SEO

From a purely business viewpoint, getting to know your audience shapes when you release content and how. Using TikTok analytics can glean nuggets of information you might not have had access to otherwise – you can track which times, territories, and devices are most in-tune with your content. With that knowledge in your pocket, you can tweak how and when you distribute your content, making sure that you boost engagement as much as possible. 

Now that you’ve learned the basics of TikTok SEO in 2024, it’s time to start your journey. Figure out which keyword tools are right for you, how different accounts in your category, approach SEO, and build yourself an online presence that rivals the best of them. 

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