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by Lauren Cooper

December 18th, 2023

Is TikTok becoming the most popular search engine?

TikTok is renowned for its viral dances and ever-changing trends and now, a go-to search engine. For the younger generations, we see it in our everyday lives, whether you’re looking for a restaurant recommendation, gift guide or travel tips, TikTok is becoming the first place to search.

In fact, research released from Google itself showed that nearly 40% of 18 - 24-year-olds prefer to make web searches via Instagram or TikTok instead of Google. So, why is it becoming such a popular choice?

The Power of User-Generated Content (UGC)
Arguably TikTok’s greatest strength as a search engine lies on the platform’s reliance on user-generated content. Thanks to the diverse nature of creators which span all demographics from age to location and interests, there is a creator for everyone to relate to and put their trust into.

With content being created by people who look and act just like them, viewers have greater trust in the advice and recommendations of creators.

For suggestions such as travel and restaurants, viewers are able to see a first-hand account of the creator’s experience rather than a colder written review or Instagram pictures, they can watch a step-by-step account.

TikTok's algorithm is at the heart of its success as a search engine alternative. Unlike traditional search engines that rely on keywords and algorithms to generate results, TikTok's algorithm is built on machine learning and artificial intelligence. It analyses user behaviour, preferences, and engagement patterns to deliver personalized content.

When users scroll through their "For You" page, they are presented with a curated feed of videos based on their interests and interactions, which means that users are more likely to trust the results that TikTok’s search engine brings up.

Search functionality
TikTok's search functionality has expanded beyond hashtags and usernames. Users can now search for a wide range of topics, from educational content to DIY tutorials, using keywords. The platform's algorithm then surfaces relevant videos based on the search query, allowing users to discover content that aligns with their interests.

It’s search function is also much more interactive than Google with users being able to snippets of the video before clicking through, rather than the sentences of text you often see in Google. Google itself has even started to incorporate TikTok searches into its search results.

Top tip for businesses: TikTok’s creative centre is the perfect tool to analyse what keywords you should be using in order to be among the top search results.

The shift to educational content
TikTok's emergence as a search engine is particularly evident from its transition to pure entertainment to educational and how-to content.

Users are increasingly turning to TikTok to learn new skills, get quick tutorials, and find answers to their questions. From cooking recipes to life hacks, TikTok's short-form videos provide concise and engaging information that caters to users' desire for quick, visually appealing answers.

TikTok has also become a hub for real-time trends and news, further solidifying its role as a search engine alternative. Users can quickly search for the latest updates on current events, pop culture, and trending topics. This real-time aspect makes TikTok a dynamic source of information, as content creators often respond rapidly to emerging trends, creating a constantly evolving pool of user-generated knowledge.

In conclusion, while traditional search engines remain integral to brand awareness, TikTok's rise as a search engine alternative showcases the power of user generated and short-form content in shaping how we search, learn, and stay informed.

So, should TikTok be part of your SEO strategy?

In our previous blog, we explored how to know if TikTok is right for your business, where we discussed the importance of defining your audience, goals and key messages - these are exactly the same questions you need to be asking when adding TikTok into your SEO mix.

However, with Google recognising the effect of TikTok on it's own search results and suggestions that they are soon to be integrated further, it's important that you're thinking of adding TikTok into your SEO strategy.

If you’re interested in learning more about creating a joined-up marketing strategy with social media and SEO at it’s centre, please get in touch by emailing info@intandemcommunications.co.uk or book a call with our senior team here.

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