TikTok – The Biggest New Search Engine on the Block


Beyond just being a place for short videos and trendy dances, TikTok is silently turning into a powerful search engine. It's changing how people find and enjoy content on the internet. We'll explore why it captures people's interest, how TikTok SEO functions, its impact on purchasing decisions, its smart algorithm, its key role in future marketing, and how it works together with traditional search engines like Google.

Key takeaways

  • Over two out of every five people in America search for things on TikTok.
  • Almost one out of every ten young people (born between the late 1990s and early 2010s) use TikTok for searching more than they use Google.
  • Over half of the people who own businesses use TikTok to show off their businesses, and they post about nine times every month.
  • One out of every four people who own a small business works with popular TikTok users to help sell their products or advertise.

Everything at TikTok happens fast: the most popular videos are usually around 30 seconds long. Also the trends on the platform change very rapidly.

TikTok grew faster than big sites like Facebook and YouTube, hitting a billion users quickly. It even became more visited than Google, breaking Google's 15-year record.

While Google still handles many searches, TikTok has become incredibly popular. This guide will explore TikTok's growth as a new search engine.

The Rise of TikTok as a Search Engine

More and more, people are turning to TikTok when they want to find information or discover things to do. It's not just about content discovery; it's also a key resource for shopping, finding product reviews, and learning new skills.

This is especially true for younger people, with 64% of Gen Z (born after 1996) and 49% of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) using TikTok to look things up. 

People use the app to search for all sorts of things. For example, Gen Z looks up cooking tips 29% more than millennials. They also search for music, craft ideas, fashion, and more. Nearly 1 in 10 young users now choose TikTok over big search engines like Google for finding information.

Why TikTok Captures User Interest?

TikTok grabs people's attention by sharing information in a unique way—through short, story-like videos. This visual format is significantly more engaging than text, making it a powerful tool in capturing attention. 

TikTok's ability to share content effectively has made it a strong competitor in the search engine world. Even giving a challenge to big players like Google.

TikTok excels in personalization, with 40% of Gen Z users appreciating its tailored video suggestions. Additionally, 26% of baby boomers enjoy the platform's story-driven content, indicating its broad appeal across different age groups.

Most people on TikTok prefer learning through video guides – 62% say these are their favorite. They also like reviews and personal stories, with 39% and 38% of users enjoying these videos.

People love TikTok because regular individuals share their own experiences and knowledge, making it a trusted place to find helpful information.

What is TikTok SEO?

TikTok SEO simplifies the process of making your videos more discoverable. Just like optimizing a website with certain keywords and employing other tactics, TikTok SEO means using specific strategies to improve the visibility of your videos on the platform.

This helps your videos appear more often when people search, not just on TikTok but on Google, too.

Even though TikTok isn't exactly a search engine, it has a search bar. That's why using SEO on TikTok is important. Google found that 40% of young people mostly use TikTok and Instagram to search for things.

Before, social media posts from TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook didn't show up in Google's search results. But now, they do. So, it's useful to make your TikTok posts easy to find.

Keyword Trends and Examples in TikTok Searches

On TikTok, selecting the right words is a tailored process. It goes beyond selecting search terms. It's about incorporating hashtags, music, and current trends to expand the reach of your content. 

For example, using a hashtag like #DIYHomeDecor not only connects viewers to a variety of DIY videos but also significantly boosts the visibility of these videos within TikTok's system, benefiting both creators and viewers.

Trending Keywords on TikTok:

  • Educational Content. Words like "quick math tricks" or "history facts" are getting popular, showing that more people are using TikTok to learn new things.
  • Lifestyle and Fitness. Hashtags like #HomeWorkout and #HealthyEating are rising, meaning people are keen on fitness and eating well.
  • Entertainment and Hobbies. Keywords about "movie reviews" or "gardening tips" are in, proving TikTok's got a mix of stuff people like.

For businesses and people making videos, it's essential to understand and use these changing keyword trends. This means finding the right words and fitting them into fun and quick videos, just as TikTok users like.

TikTok's Influence on Consumer Behavior

TikTok has revolutionized shopping and learning by merging entertainment with consumerism and education. Its personalized feeds encourage viral product discoveries, as seen in trends like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. Campaigns like these are promoting spontaneous and trend-driven shopping.

For learning, TikTok offers micro-learning through concise, engaging videos on a wide range of topics, catering to the modern preference for quick, visual content. This signifies a shift in consumption patterns and learning behaviors, blending enjoyment with information and commerce.

Visual Content and Instant Gratification

TikTok's brief and captivating videos align with the modern preference for quick and straightforward information. This trend highlights a broader shift towards visually appealing content over extensive text. 

It underscores the short attention span of users, who now favor platforms offering information in an entertaining, concise, and accessible format.

Authenticity and Personalized Experience

One big reason why TikTok is a hit for searching is that the videos seem real. Unlike traditional search engine results, which can take you to very polished or business-like content, TikTok mostly shows videos made by regular people, making it feel more honest and easy to connect with.

With how well TikTok algorithm knows what each person likes, TikTok offers a personal search experience. This makes it more attractive to people looking for recommendations and tips they can trust.

TikTok's Algorithm

The customized "For You Page" (FYP) is a key feature that attracts users to TikTok. This section offers a unique set of videos tailored specifically to each user's preferences and activities on the app, ensuring a personalized viewing experience.

TikTok decides what to show on your FYP by looking at things like:

  • What videos do you watch and like, who do you follow, and what videos do you make?
  • Details about the videos (like what's written in captions, the music, and hashtags).
  • Your phone or device settings, like your language, where you're from, and your device.

The platform lets you explore a wider range of information related to your interests, all in one app. It smoothly combines specific content with broader insights for a seamless experience.

Google also tries to show you search results based on where you are and what you've searched before. But Google's search mainly depends on SEO (making content that search engines prefer), which doesn't provide as personalized experience as TikTok's approach.

TikTok doesn't use SEO like Google, but it uses hashtags. Hashtags help creators make their videos easy to find and help people find videos about things they're interested in more easily.

Why is TikTok Fundamental to the Future of Marketing?

TikTok can be a game-changer for businesses. Ads on social media are a smart way to get your product seen by many people. It's great for making more sales, getting your brand known, and getting people involved.

One out of every four business owners collaborate with TikTok influencers to boost their product sales and promotions.

TikTok is getting more and more popular. In 2021, the app had 655.9 million users. By the end of 2023, that number jumped to over 1.5 billion.

One example is HiSmile, which makes teeth-whitening products you can use at home. Their HiSmile hashtag got over 229.4 million views. They did this by working with creators to spread the word, and fans started interacting. 

This quick spread helps people know the brand super fast, making users feel closer to the brand.

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