TikTok SEO Guide for Brands & Creators – May 2023 – 

We’re about to break down the ins and outs of TikTok SEO: what we know so far, what’s still being tested, unofficial function rollouts, algorithm changes, and more.

Congrats – if you found this page, that means you’re staying on top of TikTok marketing best practices in 2023. This is Greenpepper’s TikTok SEO Guide for Brands & Creators.

We’re about to break down the ins and outs of TikTok SEO: what we know so far, what’s still being tested, unofficial function rollouts, algorithm changes, and more. Strap in, and take notes.

Who does TikTok SEO apply to / Who should care?

    • Marketers (I spy a competitor 👋)
    • Brands
        • Yes, no matter if you’re a national brand, a local brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, or something else
        • This includes branded search terms (keywords that include your brand name) and local search terms (keywords that include your area)
    • Creators
        • Including but not limited to UGC creators, social media marketing managers, TikTok managers, and influencers

Timeline of TikTok SEO Rollout


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TikTok started unofficially testing SEO and keyword-related functions back in 2022. We wrote all about this back then, but here’s the recap:

      • In 2021, TikTok was the first entity in 15 years to beat Google as the most-used site on the internet.
      • TikTok started to test all kinds of keyword-related functionalities, all without announcing or officially introducing any tools for brands/creators, such as:
            • hyperlinking keywords in comment sections (directing to an SERP for that term)
            • showing related search terms not just when typing in the Search bar, but overlaid on played videos
            • extending caption limits from 300 to 2200 characters (the same as Instagram)
      • For marketers watching closely, we predicted this meant TikTok was about to start prioritizing search terms and competing with Google SERPs. We knew this would be a huge opportunity for brands to get in front of TikTok’s (way more highly engaged compared to other platforms) audience.

In March 2023, TikTok released a keyword backend for advertisers. And in late April 2023, TikTok started testing featured text snippets.

      • Catch a video breakdown and details on both of those here.
      • What does TikTok SEO, TikTok featured text snippets, or TikTok keyword backend tool mean for brands and creators?
            • It means that each and every organic video is now being analyzed for keywords. If your video is optimized for a specific search term, you’re more likely to show up not just on TikTok’s SERP for that keyword, but on FYPs for people that showed interest in that topic, AND on some Google SERPs showing TikTok results.

So how do you optimize a TikTok video for SEO / a specific keyword?

    • Use the keyword(s) in:
        • Your video caption
            • Which, remember, can now be 2200 characters long and used as featured text snippets on TikTok SERPs when relevant.
        • Verbally in the first 5 seconds of the video
        • Your video subtitles/ closed-captioning (ideally in the first 5 seconds as well)
        • Your video on-screen text (added text separate from closed captions)
        • Your comment section/ pinned comment

How do you know what keywords to optimize for on TikTok?

TikTokSEO 2023 app serp
    • Well, welcome to the hard part. Even though TikTok released a keyword insights backend, it’s not exactly a top-tier SEO tool for brands and creators (yet). Keyword results are limited, and the functionality isn’t great for exploring related keywords or tracking and comparing historically.
    • However – the good news is, you can still apply some of the research methods you know from traditional SEOptimization on Google (read: you can still apply the same traditional research methods, not the same optimization/implementation tactics).
        • We recommend you scrape keyword insights across the internet using trusty tools like Moz, Ubersuggest, Semrush, and Google Suite and compare with the insights you manage to pull from TikTok.
        • Secondly, don’t be afraid to get right into TikTok and take in knowledge as a user – contextualize yourself with the ecosystem you’re trying to break into!
    • Partner with a team that has already put together and started testing their own proprietary TikTok SEO keyword scraping/insights methodology using various tools (hi).

For TikTok SEO, how often should you post on TikTok? Plus, what about Organic vs TikTok Ads?

    • The short answer: It depends on your goals!
    • The long answer:
        • Channels trying to organically grow on TikTok should post authentic creative content consistently (around 20 videos a month)
        • Channels trying to have a decent organic presence on TikTok while being optimized for local or branded searches should first post ~5 highly keyword-optimized videos, and then organically as much as possible, and consider getting consistent TikTok Ads (or TikTok style ad creative) from a dedicated and vetted creator (pull from our network of pre-vetted and trained TikTok creators here… Notice how nothing so far says anything about TikTok UGC or TikTok influencer campaigns?)
        • Channels only interested in TikTok ads (and not organic) should get ~20 TikTok Ad creatives per month, regularly updating the ad set with new material weekly, A/B testing along the way (scroll down for the full TikTok Ads 101 Guide).
            • Pro Tip: If you optimize the TikTok ads for SEO as well, get double the bang for your buck when you post the ads organically later – on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.

TikTok SEO Strategy Wrap Up: Get help from TikTok marketing niche nerds

It’s a lot to keep up with – that’s why we’re set up to do it for you. If you want a pre-trained team of vetted creators to handle your TikTok Ads, or a small seasoned team of TikTok nerds to handle your TikTok SEO efforts, let us know.

We’ll talk custom packages to help you reach your goals in less time, with less effort on your part, and no blindly feeding marketing budget into TikTok Ads Manager. You got this!

>> I want Greenpepper Studios to do it for me. <<

Download our Free TikTok Ads 101 Guide