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TikTok SEO strategy & how does the search algorithm work?

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With availability in over 140 countries and over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok has become a vital part of the social media landscape. Today, we want to focus on this social media platform and see how TikTok SEO algorithms work. With this knowledge, you will surely find it easier to create attractive TikTok content and rank high in TikTok search results.

Just like it happens on Google search, social media platforms have their own algorithms that are used to select and rank content that a specific user sees. On TikTok, the most important part is the For You page, which is the equivalent of the Facebook feed. Of course, TikTok is mostly about video content, so that’s what users see on their For You pages. Obviously, every influencer and creator that uses TikTok in their content strategy wants to appear on as many For You pages as possible. In order to achieve that goal, you have to understand how TikTok SEO works. In other words – how TikTok videos are ranked.


How does the TikTok SEO algorithm work?

Obviously, you won’t get thorough information on what factors TikTok uses to rank video content, but there are some crucial elements that are publicly known. Three of them, to be exact. Here they are:

FACTOR 1: User interactions

TikTok, just like any other social media platform, won’t show you content that you’re not interested in. Your activity on this platform is continually measured and analyzed. TikTok algorithms check:

  • What accounts you follow
  • What have you hidden
  • What videos you like (e.g., by commenting on them or adding to your favorites)
  • What videos you don’t like (e.g., by marking them “not interested”)

With this input, the platform can quite accurately assess what kind of content is right for you.

FACTOR 2: Video information

The second ranking factor refers directly to a specific video. What is it about? What hashtags does it use (we’ll discuss that further in a bit)? Is this a trending topic? Depending on answers to these questions, the TikTok algorithm decides on what to show to who.

FACTOR 3: User settings

It is unlikely for a user from the UK who selected English as their language to see many videos from China. Also, remember that all new TikTok users are asked to set their categories of interest in account settings. This way, the TikTok algorithm works well even with new users.

Things that don’t matter

Especially new users tend to think that only large accounts with previous high-performing videos can get good visibility on this platform. That’s not necessarily true. You see, TikTok wants to provide its users with engaging content from many TikTok creators, not just the most popular ones. So no, previous videos on your account don’t play a significant role. It’s the same story with follower count. Surely, if you have tens of thousands of followers, you will get to other users more easily because your videos will quickly get some interactions and engagement. But it doesn’t mean that trending videos are just for the most popular creators.

We understand, though, that reaching the right users is not always easy, especially when you’ve just started. That’s why we want to show you how to craft an effective TikTok strategy that will help you reach more users and enjoy more engagement.

Factors that influence the TikTok algorithm

TikTok Algorithm

TikTok SEO strategies – how to become popular

You have to understand that TikTok works similarly to a search engine. And search engines want to give users exactly what they are looking for using search queries. With that in mind, let’s have a look at the essential TikTok SEO elements.

Start a pro account

The pro account itself won’t get you more followers, but it will give access to something equally valuable – TikTok analytics. With this feature, you can understand your viewers better. As a result, you can create the right TikTok video content that can become a traffic driver.

There are two types of pro accounts – Creator and Business. Pick the one that describes you better.

Forget about long introductions

TikTok is all about entertainment. They even call themselves an entertainment app‘ instead of a social network. The fact is TikTok users are spending over 10x as many hours consuming content in that app as Instagram users currently spend viewing Reels. For you, it means that you have to get to the point quickly. It’s not like YouTube, where you can introduce yourself, ask viewers to subscribe to your channel, and then you can get to the point. You have to do it quickly so that you can catch your viewers’ attention.

Engaging video descriptions and videos

Every video comes with a description. Use this space wisely, and think of something creative – encourage people to view your video. Interestingly, in September 2022, TikTok increased the number of available characters – you now have 2,200 of them to describe your videos. And don’t forget that the videos that you publish also have to be of high quality and engaging. Always remember the core purpose of TikTok – entertainment.

Also, remember that on TikTok, you need vertical videos (they are the best-performing ones). Plus, you should create content that is longer than 5 seconds. Additional creative effects are also helpful in getting your audience’s attention.

Also, keep in mind that on TikTok, you need vertical videos (they are the best performing ones). Plus, you should create content that longer than 5 seconds. Additional creative effects are also helpful to get your audience’s attention.

Publish when your audience is on

That’s why you need the pro account – to see when your audience interacts with videos. The quicker you get them to view your content, the better.

Communicate with other sites

Don’t be a lonely island on the TikTok sea. Try to engage and communicate with other brands and users on this platform. That’s especially important for gen Z users who are eager to communicate with brands and profiles.

Lastly, there’s one more element that should be an essential part of your TikTok strategy. Yes, you’re right – let’s talk more about the hashtag strategy.

The TikTok hashtag strategy

Hashtags are commonly used in the social media world, and their main role is to categorize the content. With hashtags, TikTok users can easily find what they are looking for at the moment. That’s especially important because adding hashtags to your TikTok video captions will boost your visibility among users who aren’t already following your profile or brand. Put shortly, hashtags are all about finding the right keywords to reach a specific target audience.

The first idea for you is to create videos that work with the hashtags that are already popular. Of course, you can try and start a new trend on TikTok, but that requires a lot of work, patience, and money. It’s far easier to start by piggybacking what’s already popular.

How to research TikTok hashtags

How can you check popular hashtags? Go to the “discover” tab and then go to the “trends” section. Here, you’ll find trending songs and, of course, trending hashtags. Many users type these hashtags in the search bar, and that’s how they find videos that interest them at any given moment.

Additionally, you can find some websites that gather and publish trending videos and hashtags. You can analyze them and adjust your strategy accordingly. And, of course, you have the aforementioned “Discover” tab, where you can find hashtags that are currently popular.

Although TikTok has recently hidden this section, it’s still available on the main website in the desktop version. You can also find it using a direct URL address.

Additionally, you should also use TikTok Creative Center to discover local trends – this will also help you in creating future videos. For example, take a look at this list of the most popular hashtags in Poland in the last 30 days. With a pro account, you will get access to more detailed information.

Top Hashtags

Using trending hashtags will surely help you get more audience for your videos, of course, given that you pay attention to other suggestions in this post.

If you run a business and want to promote your brand, encourage your followers to create and use brand-specific hashtags. This way, you will be able to slowly build a community around your brand and profile. It’s the same story with industry-specific hashtags. Of course, for such an endeavor to succeed, you need to have an attractive vision and idea for your brand and profile so that people can interact with your content willingly and engage in communication with you.

Other ways to find important hashtags

Here, you have two options. First off, you can analyze the profiles of your competition and see what kind of hashtags they are using. Secondly, you can look for influencers and creators working in the same or similar niche and see their hashtags. Both sources can be very useful, especially if you’ve just started.

How to create hashtags

Suppose you want to create your own hashtag. What should you keep in mind when doing so?

  • Keep your hashtags easy to say and memorize
  • Make sure they are aligned with your SEO and marketing strategy
  • You can use long-tail keywords but not at the price of losing clarity
  • See if something similar already exists on TikTok or other social media platforms. See how they perform.

If you’ve come up with a new hashtag idea and you’ve checked its potential, just add it to your video’s description and use it when talking to other users or commenting on other videos. Don’t go overboard, though. Too many and too complicated hashtags won’t do any good.

TikTok banned hashtags

You already know how to find and use hashtags. You have to be aware, though, that some of them are banned from TikTok. In February 2022, there was an update in the TikTok policy regarding what can and cannot be shown on this platform. Some of the banned topics and behaviors include:

  • Violent extremism
  • Copyright and trademark infringement
  • Content that depicts implied nudity or sexualizes body parts

You can find out more about the latest TikTok recommendations on the Newsweek website.


Now you know everything you need to start being active on TikTok. Use our suggestions to improve your profile and master the hashtag strategy. And above all, concentrate on creating fun and entertaining content because that’s what this platform is mostly about.

Wojciech Zakrzewski SEO Specialist


Wojciech Zakrzewski has worked on dozens of different SEO projects at Rank Higher since 2019.Responsible for organic growth strategy, SEO auditing, webpage optimization, linkbuilding, technical customer support and expert training. Specializes in UX, app store optimization (ASO) and local SEO.

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