5 minute read

TikTok SEO: Is TikTok the New Google?

TikTok SEO: Is TikTok the New Google?
Written by
Aaron Marco Arias
Published on
June 13, 2023
  • 40% of GenZ users consider TikTok their search engine of choice for genuine content, including real product reviews.
  • TikTok SEO refers to the intentional effort to optimize content to reach a larger in-platform audience and can also increase visibility on Google and other search engines.
  • TikTok discoverability relies on keywords, hashtags, and sounds.
  • Keywords should be included in video descriptions and scripts to help users find your content.
  • Relevant hashtags can help you reach specific communities within the TikTok space.
  • Trending sounds can boost discoverability and should be adapted to your niche.
  • TikTok is different from Google as it only covers its own content and doesn't index third-party content.
  • Posting on TikTok means you don't fully own your content or platform, and if you're kicked out, you lose your platform.
  • TikTok's algorithm delivers hyper-personalized content, and TikTok content has a longer shelf-life than material on other platforms.
  • Some TikTok searches are conducted on Google, and TikTok videos can appear in Google search results.
  • TikTok offers several SEO tools, including search auto-suggest, keyword insights, hashtag explorer, music explorer, and independent tools like TokBoard.

According to Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan, 40% of GenZ users consider TikTok their search engine of choice. 

Most users report that they choose the video platform as a Google alternative because it’s guaranteed to provide them with genuine content. This is especially true when looking for real product reviews.

Users can be certain that someone recording a short video from their bedroom is giving them their real opinion on a product that they’ve bought and isn’t affiliated with the brand. And, with 95% of customers relying on product reviews to guide their purchase decisions, that sense of transparency and trust is extremely important.

In GenZ users’ eyes, TikTok is the place where they go to find real people’s honest opinions and experiences. Google isn’t. 

But, as a brand: Is TikTok SEO worth investing in?

In this post, we’ll explore:

  • What is TikTok SEO
  • TikTok SEO basics
  • TikTok SEO vs. Google SEO
  • Some TikTok SEO tools worth checking out

Ready? Let’s dive in. 

What Is TikTok SEO?

TikTok SEO can be defined as the intentional, ongoing effort to create and optimize your TikTok content so it reaches a larger in-platform audience.

But creating quality content on TikTok can also increase your visibility on Google and other search engines. We’ll take a closer look later in this article.

TikTok SEO Basics

TikTok discoverability works on three levels. You can get discovered through:

  • Keywords
  • Hashtags
  • Sounds


Most TikTok users browse the platform on “discovery mode”. The TikTok “for you” page is an algorithmically curated, seemingly endless feed of short-form content. And most users browse through it, only leaving it to explore specific user profiles or sounds. 

But it’s not uncommon for people to also search on TikTok. So including keywords in your posts can help you get found by the right people. But - where should you include these keywords? Easy, in your post’s description and in your video’s script.

Mention your target keyword in your video, and make sure to add a text overlay. 


Aside from keywords, you can include a moderate number of relevant hashtags on your posts. That way, you can reach specific communities within the TikTok space. 


Using trending sounds is another way to boost your discoverability. On TikTok, sounds are most commonly, fragments of songs or scenes from popular media. And they’re not used on their own, they indicate a format. In some cases, it’s a dance paired with certain editing choices. 

And in other cases, the original scene determines the structure or tone of a conversation that the creator can “overwrite” so it represents a situation that they audience can relate to.

Hop on these trends and adapt them to your niche.

TikTok SEO vs. Google SEO

With so much talk about TikTok SEO, you may be wondering how it compares to Google SEO - beyond the obvious, of course.


TikTok is very different from Google in one key sense: Google is a search engine that crawls the internet and indexes content from third-party websites. TikTok also has a search functionality, but it only covers its own content. 

You can’t get third-party content indexed on TikTok. So, in a sense, the idea that TikTok is a search engine is flat out wrong. It’s just a short video platform with quality content and a well-designed search functionality. That’s it. Want your content to get discovered on Instagram or Twitter? Post there! Want your content to get discovered on TikTok? Make it your short video platform of choice. 

Censorship & content ownership

Considering that, to get ranked on TikTok, you’ll need to post on TikTok, you don’t really own your content or platform. Even if Google decides to blacklist your website, you still have a website, and your content can still be discoverable through other means, such as social media. 

But, if you only produce material for TikTok and TikTok decides to kick you out, you’ll lose your platform. 

Algorithms & content curation

It’s well-known that the way that TikTok delivers content to its users is very different from other social media platforms. TikTok finetunes its algorithm to deliver a hyper-personalized content selection to every user. As a consequence, TikTok content has a longer shelf-life than material on other platforms. 

That’s why it occupies such as peculiar place in our content distribution framework:

A grapgh showing Cost and Lifespan repurposing framework.

The Google SERPs aren’t customized for every user. Location is pretty much the only factor that causes two users to see different results when looking for the same query. If it ranks for you, it ranks for everyone (in your area).

Can you use TikTok to rank on Google?

It’s not uncommon for people to use Google to search on TikTok. For instance, over 14k people look for TikTok salad recipes every month on Google. 

Screenshot of Keywords and their MSV.

And in some cases, even if you don’t append “TikTok” to your query, your SERPs will be topped by a selection of TikTok videos. 

5 TikTok SEO Tools You Should Check Out

The TikTok SEO space is just starting out. And most note-worthy tools come from the company itself. 

In this section, we’ll take a quick look at 5 of them:

  • TikTok’s search auto-suggest
  • TikTok’s keyword insights
  • TikTok’s hashtag explorer
  • TikTok’s music explorer
  • TokBoard (independent)

TikTok’s Search Auto-Suggest

You can use TikTok’s search suggestions to get a sense of which keywords you should target. This may seem like a very basic and unreliable way to get a sense of users’ search behavior. But, until there are better tools available, I wouldn’t discard this.

TikTok’s Keyword Insights

TikTok’s Keyword Insights platform may be great for advertisers. But even if you’re not paying for TikTok ads, these insights can be extremely useful for making sense of user behavior trends. 

TikTok’s Hashtag Explorer

TikTok's hashtag explorer is a great tool for tracking top hashtags at a national and international scale. As with the rest of the TikTok-powered tools I included in this list, it’s worth mentioning that TikTok may be filtering the data or struggling to make sense of the many meanings that a single hashtag may have across the globe. 

For instance, if we look for “SEO”, we’ll find that the hashtag is labeled as “Apparel & Accessories”. 

A Screenshot from TikTok search tools.

So, I’d recommend combining this information with exhaustive, niche-specific social listening.

TikTok’s Music Explorer

TikTok also offers a peek into its own music ranking. This can be very useful for tracking popular songs. It’s worth mentioning that this platform doesn’t cover original sounds, but songs. And it also tags those tracks that are approved for business use.


TokBoard ranks TikTok’s most popular sounds. This is an interesting resource if you’re looking to boost your exposure by using trendy original sounds, instead of limiting yourself to songs. 

Content Strategy, Beyond TikTok

In this post, we briefly explored TikTok’s SEO potential and how to optimize your content for better discoverability. 

Are you looking for a content marketing company that can help you structure an omni-channel, conversion-oriented strategy? You’re in the right place. Some of the most promising startups choose us as their strategic partner. 

Discover why, book a free consulting call.

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