How SEO can help you do well on TikTok

26 May 2023

The fact that short-form video is becoming social media’s most important format, is nothing new. TikTok has become a fierce competitor for popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and is now even becoming a threat to Google. You see, Gen Z not only uses TikTok as a social media platform but also as a search engine. About time we all started working on an SEO strategy for TikTok, then, don’t you think?

Person cooking in kitchen

Hack the For You Page

With TikTok SEO, you can optimise your TikTok content to help you rank higher in the search results or the For You Page (FYP). The FYP is the first feed you see when you open the app. This feed is curated specially for you based on the videos you think are interesting and interact with.

The same principles that apply to Google, apply to TikTok SEO. Just like Google, TikTok judges your content based on a number of ranking factors (like interactions, keywords and relevance). Are you considering those? Then your content is more likely to rank higher and go viral.

TikTok: the new Google?

TikTok is more than a social media app. It’s a platform where you can discover new information, learn, and be entertained. Think of tutorials, comedy and product reviews.

According to Google, no less than 40% of people between 18 and 24 years old use TikTok and Instagram reels to do research. Jetting off to Amsterdam? TikTok is your new tour guide! The platform will instantly show you a bunch of videos on the best hotspots, restaurants and activities. 

Gen Z doesn’t visit sites like tripadvisor anymore – they just turn to TikTok. But why is this generation looking for tips and information on social media? The answer is simple: a TikTok video is short, snappy, and fun to watch. So, they’d rather watch a quick, catchy video than read a long text.

How the TikTok algorithm works

The TikTok algorithm determines where your content will rank on the For You Page based on several ranking factors. If you want to do well on TikTok, you need to take the three most important ranking factors into account when you create content:

1. User interaction/engagement

Just like on other social platforms, engagement will influence your post’s reach on TikTok. As interaction rises, from likes and comments to video completions and rewatches, your video will have a higher chance of landing on the FYP.

2. Video information
  • Caption keywords: use relevant keywords in your video’s caption. Make sure your SEO keywords and your text accurately describe the content of your video.

  • Sounds: sound = key. If you want to ride the trend wave, you need to use the corresponding sounds. TikTok also analyses when you discuss a certain topic. Saying keywords out loud in your video can therefore also help.

  • Hashtags: Besides keywords, TikTok users look for specific hashtags. That means that hashtags are an essential part of your videos.

  • Content: the TikTok algorithm tries to recognise and categorise your content, as well. Pick a category (like fashion content) and post often to increase your chances of popping up for relevant search queries.

  • Keywords on screen: don’t forget to incorporate keywords in the copy on screen. But make sure to edit your TikTok videos in the TikTok app. Those videos are judged more favourably by the algorithm.

3. Device settings

TikTok also checks your device settings to show you the right content in the right language. The platform takes the language and location settings into account to provide you with content.

Let’s get started!

1. Get to know your target audience and community

Ready to start using TikTok? Don’t forget your strategy. TikTok needs to be a part of a bigger content strategy. And, you need to consider the target audience you’re creating content for. How do they use TikTok?

2. Keyword research

TikTok is a new platform in our country, so we don’t have any external tools to conduct keyword research with yet. But you can use the app. Type a word into the search bar and select the hashtags tab to get an overview of the relevant hashtag keywords.

Use a mixture of trending and niche keywords, but be consistent. Try to think about niche hashtags that match your video’s content, but also think of some recurring trending hashtags. This way, the algorithm can categorise your content more quickly. And keep your hashtags relevant to your target audience. For instance, take a closer look at the content in the search results. Maybe that could give you some ideas.

3. Use these keywords in your caption, video and hashtags

In the example below, you can see all the search results for the query “mascara long lashes”. The results that rank at the top, use those keywords.


TikTok is not very popular among businesses yet. And the companies that are focusing on TikTok SEO are few and far between. But the platform can facilitate the connection between your company and a completely new generation, especially when you optimise your content. So, what are you waiting for?

Could you do with some help to set up your TikTok strategy?

We’d be happy to help!

Joyce Vandijck
About the author
Joyce Vandijck
Social media & influencer marketeer - iO

Everything happening in (new) social media - and how to use the right influencers for your brand and your marketing - Joyce can tell you like no other. The right knowledge, fresh insights, relevant experience, and infectious enthusiasm you get for free - just like this story.

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