TikTok SEO, Instagram SEO … How Your Brand Can Take Advantage of These Trending Search Engines

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Instagram, Snapchat, Meta, TikTok, Bereal … Revealing new trends, objects of denunciation, sources of information, sharing, media justice, and so much more, today social networks occupy an omnipresent place in our daily lives, governing our society.

Google has dominated consumer search activity for nearly two decades, even becoming a verb. In 2021, the company had a 92.47 percent global market share in online searches. However, Google’s senior vice president, Prabhakar Raghavan, announced in July 2022 that approximately 40% of Generation Z prefers to explore TikTok and Instagram over Google Search and Maps.

Nowadays, users are increasingly turning to TikTok for information. Consumers are increasingly impatient and want quick results for their requests. According to an Ofcom survey, the social media platform is the fastest growing source of information among 16-24-year-olds in the United Kingdom. Generation Z values authentic content and visual representation over reading.

But what does this mean for brands? And how can they adjust their behavior to take advantage of the opportunities?

Where are Instagram & TikTok search engines?

The visibility and traffic that companies are looking for are mainly related to their website. It is clear that actions taken on the Internet, through social media, are trying to direct visitors to their website.

At the same time, search engine optimization work is typically the most significant aspect of a company’s online presence. When seeking visibility, it is consequently critical to understand how search engines and social networks operate.

Instagram’s Search feature is intended to help you discover accounts and interests. It differs from the Feeds, Stories, Reels, and Explore features as your input influences what will be displayed.

Showing up in Instagram’s search results or in Instagram’s “Explore” section could help you get engagement. It helps you gain new users who are interested in what you’re offering but might not have seen it otherwise.

TikTok’s in-app search tab allows you to search and discover the TikTok community’s broad material, such as certain words and phrases, profiles, hashtags, and so on. TikTok’s search menu furthermore includes a QR code scanner for finding other users’ accounts. A list of suggested hashtags and subjects is provided before searching on TikTok.

The most notable distinction between TikTok and other social media platforms is that TikTok favors entertainment above follower number. Marketing experts may develop discoverable videos to reach new audiences and generate significant engagement.

How does their search engine work?

To navigate the profusion of content accessible, and browsed by over a million users, you must evaluate the many aspects of a platform and comprehend the algorithms. There is more opportunity than ever to exploit search activity and create purchases on platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

To identify the results, Instagram employs signals that match the information of the accounts, hashtags, and places, in addition to the text supplied in the search field. The following are the primary signals:

  • The search text

The search tool’s most important “signals” are first the user-entered text. Indeed, the most essential is what you type into the search box. Instagram searches for pertinent usernames, hashtags, biographies, captions, and places based on search terms.

—> What this implies for brands: You must identify what search words consumers are using to find content similar to yours. Social monitoring tools (Google Analytics, Insights, etc.) may assist you in targeting the terms consumers use to seek your brand

  • User Activity

This part covers hashtags and profiles that the user has followed and interacted with as well as previous posts. There are rated higher than those with which they do not interact.

—> What this implies for brands: recognize and react with the hashtags that your target audience is expected to use and facilitate interaction with your postings. A user searching seems to be more likely to encounter content from a brand with which they have previously engaged, even if they do not now follow that brand.

  • Signals of Popularity

Popular content is more likely to appear in search results.

Instagram uses signals such as the number of likes, shares, and followers to assess an account’s popularity, hashtag, or location.

—> What this implies for brands: publish at the right time to quickly increase engagement. This engagement indicates the popularity and provides a search boost to your content when it is still pertinent and new.

As for TikTok, the value of its algorithm becomes clear when you realize that 90% of video views originate from the For You page.

The TikTok algorithm is a suggestion system that selects which videos display on your For You page.

Every action done on TikTok is used to customize its content. Users do machine learning with each scroll or interaction, assisting the algorithm in becoming “smarter” and better understanding them. Their purpose is to recommend material based on TikTokers’ interests.

TikTok published some facts concerning the functionality of its algorithm in 2020. The social network specifically stated that interactions (comments, likes, subscriptions, and shares) and watching time (completion rates) were the two major characteristics that allowed the system to recognize its members. It also stated that additional factors were considered, such as the captions of the posts, the music, the hashtags, the language, the user’s location, and the type of device.

Consider the following scenario: a user is sensitive to culinary content. When the system finds this, it displays the bulk of food-related videos. Then it recognizes that the videos providing recipes are particularly appealing to the viewer, and will recommend them to him. Eventually, the algorithm will recognize that the user like a specific sort of cuisine, Italian cuisine. Afterward, most of the videos that will be suggested to him will be close to the theme of Italian recipes.

Starting with general material, this is how the user ends up finding specific topics inside his For You feed. It is crucial to remember, that the TikTok algorithm does not make suggestions based on the number of followers. Similarly, it ignores the popularity of a previously published video. This offers all persons who arrive on the platform a chance.

Furthermore, duplicated information or videos that the user has already watched would be ignored by the app. Some videos can also be classified as spam or offensive by the system.

Social networks are becoming Google's direct competitors

Search engines

TikTok vs. Google vs. Instagram

Google is already competing with social media, since its YouTube platform offers features akin to TikTok, Instagram, and others. These social media platforms, however, are gradually competing with the company’s main products, such as Google Search and Google Maps.

Prabhakar Raghavan recently mentioned this at a conference. He explained that instead of using Google Search or Google Maps, young consumers are increasingly turning to social networks like TikTok or Instagram to discover stuff.

The way young people search would also be different since they no longer employ keywords and want to find material through more immersive forms.

There are various motives for this behavioral shift: If you search for a product or service on Google, you will find different types of search results as firms that can afford to pay Google to appear first, companies that master SEO and respect the rules of the Google algorithm, etc. These approaches do not provide quality assurance and are not optimal for end users. TikTok’s search algorithm, like Google’s, influences the material you view. However, the platform’s experience is aesthetically appealing and socially validated (by the number of likes, views, and so on), which Google search struggles to compete.

Consider the keyword “healthy recipes.” TikTok’s search results for “healthy recipes” differ significantly from Google’s. Indeed, TikTok searches provide faster, more visual, and more stimulating content. On the other hand, Google provides links to dozens of recipes, with the user probably having to scroll for a long time before finding what they are searching for.

Nonetheless, many remain skeptical of TikTok, as seen by an Ofcom investigation, which found that three out of ten TikTokers who use the platform as a source of information consider it credible.

Instagram, like TikTok, offers Reels,  but on the contrary does not display the number of views, the title of the video, or the account that posted it on its search page. This makes the relevance of the search result questionable and more challenging to analyze. Moreover, the absence of filters makes it almost impossible to search for a particular video.

Instagram now provides an interactive map including local bars, restaurants, and hotels. In practice, the new Instagram Maps experience is comparable to discovering Google company profiles on Google Maps. In some ways, the Instagram experience is more engaging since you can view all types of visual stuff posted by the company and directly interact with it. You may even see content posted by other users, as long as they include the relevant geographic tag. The only thing lacking from the service is user reviews. Making Instagram maps searchable is a significant step forward for businesses because it appears as younger online users increasingly turn to google substitutes for their search queries.

How do brands make money from Instagram & TikTok search engines?

Brands have a real opportunity to use social networks by making use of the platforms’ high engagement, for example, by creating a channel for the brand, ads, and partnerships with influencers. Many topics are covered, including food, beauty, and sports, as well as niche topics for enthusiasts: fashion, photography, finance, and so on. Every brand can find its target audience!

Levi’s, for example, has teamed with TikTok to provide a “Buy Now” button that allows users to make purchases through TikTok links. Also, thanks to relevant content (video game characters, original music, trending dance combos), Fortnight’s followers reached 6.4 million.

Daniel Wellington is another example on Instagram. It is the most cited brand by all influencers in 2021, thanks to an influencer marketing campaign. This enabled them to increase company revenue from $15,000 to $220 Million in four years.

According to Insider Intelligence, previously eMarketer, TikTok’s advertisers would have spent $774.8 million on influencer marketing in the United States this year. This is three times less than Instagram’s $2.23 billion. While Instagram is outperforming TikTok in this category, the latter has eclipsed Facebook and its $739 million. Furthermore, Insider Intelligence predicts that TikTok will eventually beat Google on this axis. This transition is predicted to occur in 2024, according to the analysis. Analysts anticipate that spending by “micro” influencers (those with 1,000 to 4,999 followers) will rise by 220.5 percent this year, while spending by “mega” influencers (those with more than 1 million followers) would grow by 8%Marketing spending on partnerships with smaller influencers will thus need to be significantly increased. 

Because the majority of TikTok content is amateur films, creating viral material is relatively straightforward. As a result, a brand must maintain its spontaneous and authentic essenceInstagram, on the other hand, has more aesthetic and worked content, even if the platform is evolving in the direction of TikTok.

How can your brand do SEO on Instagram & TikTok?

The challenge now is to attract these social network members and give them opportunities to engage with your company using SEO!

However, should you use the same SEO strategies for Instagram and TikTok as you would do for Google?

Instagram SEO is the process of optimizing your Instagram content so that it may be found in search results. You want your profile or post to appear at the top of the list once someone looks for a relevant term or hashtag in the Instagram search engine.

Best practices to be referenced on Instagram

  • Make your Instagram profile searchable

Obviously, making your account public comes first and foremost.

Your Instagram bio is the finest place for including pertinent keywords and search terms.

This begins with a reference to the Instagram name. Select an appropriate username and profile name for your account. If your brand name is already famous, it’s a good starting point. Include a keyword in your username or profile name if there is space for one.

Here, all of the accounts that appeared in our top vintage search results include the term “vintage” in their username, profile name, or both.

Finally, if it is relevant to your brand, mention a place in your profile. Only Business and Creator accounts can add a location thus if you haven’t yet done so, this is an added incentive to upgrade to a Business account.

  • Use the right hashtags

To influence search results, Instagram has revealed that keywords and hashtags should appear immediately in the caption (not in the comments).

They also communicated distinct hashtag recommendations to appear in search results, like utilizing relevant (not too generic) hashtags, having a famous, niche, typical combination, and limiting to 3-5 per post.

You can use Instagram Insights to discover hashtags that have already delivered attention to your posts. The statistics will show you how many impressions your posts received through hashtags.

Also, you can utilize the Instagram search box to learn about famous terms and hashtags used among your followers. These are also probably to be well received by your target audience.

  • Use the appropriate keywords

Previously, an Instagram search did not take into account keywords in captions. However, now Instagram changed this rule and expressly suggests using relevant keywords in post captions. It is beneficial for lesser-known companies since it boosts the chances of users seeing your content without having to search for your exact username.

The analysis you conducted to select your top hashtags will provide some early hints to finding your target keywords. Also, analytics tools can provide you with further information. Trajaan, for example, may help you figure out which keywords are generating traffic to your brand.

  • Include alternate text to images

Little known to the general public, the basis of alternative text on Instagram is similar to that on the web. It refers to a written description of an image or video that allows visually impaired persons to access the information. It also helps when the post does not load.

Instagram alt text helps Instagram better comprehend the substance of your post and, as a result, if it is pertinent to a particular search. For people who use a screen reader, Instagram employs object recognition technology. This information also informs the Instagram algorithm and search results regarding the content of your post. Naturally, giving personalized alt text will be more beneficial to your SEO strategy.

  • Keeping a high-quality account

The Instagram recommendation guidelines and community guidelines are also used to determine Instagram search results. If you violate the first condition, your post will remain on the site but will be more difficult to locate, and if you violate the second, your content will be deleted. It is, for example, prohibited to purchase likes, replicate content from another source, and so on.

The goal of TikTok SEO is to optimize the content you publish to TikTok so that it appears when users search for content on the platform.

Best practices to be referenced on TikTok

  • Acquire a TikTok Pro account.

TikTok provides two sorts of pro accounts based on whether you are a creator or a company. Owning a pro account will not support you getting your videos on the ForYou section, but it is a vital element to master the TikTok algorithm.

A Creator or Business account does, in fact, provide accessibility to stats and information that may assist steer your TikTok approach.

Understanding your audience, when they are present on the app, and what sort of material they enjoy is critical if you want to develop enjoyable content for them.

  • Use TikTok Ads

TikTok ads are one of the most effective online marketing tools. They’re particularly effective because they allow brands to engage with customers personally, and unlike most social media, there’s no limit to the number of times a company may place an ad. You can start an ad campaign for free and pay $0.01 per impression once it hits 10 views per day. You can boost your budget by purchasing impressions for $0.05 apiece.

  • Discover your subculture

TikTok communities and subcultures are extremely successful ways for brands to contact their target audience. It is critical to identify established communities to connect with across all social networks. However, because of the structure of the TikTok algorithm, this is an even more critical stage for the app.

That’s because, unlike other social networks, TikTokers spend the majority of their time on the For You tab, rather than connecting with accounts they already follow. You are more apt to be suggested to the proper audience if you can connect to an existing community or subculture.

TikTok subcultures congregate around hashtags, making it simple to connect. Entering a subculture may help you develop stuff that is congruent with your community, giving you more credibility, brand loyalty, and visibility. TikTok has recognized subcultures such as #FitTok (fitness challenges, instructions, and motivation).

  • Prioritize the first seconds

TikTok operates in such a way that the first seconds of the video are essential. It’s all about convincing rapidly users to stop scrolling.

This statistic is from TikTok ads, but it may be worth examining for your organic content as well: When compared to content that began with a neutral expression, commencing a TikTok video with a dramatic emotion such as surprise resulted in a 1.7x boost.

  • Create a captivating caption

TikTok captions are limited to 150 characters (including hashtags), but overlooking this opportunity would be a mistake. A strong caption can influence users to watch your video without skipping it, which boosts the algorithm’s engagement and completion rating signals.

  • Create high-quality videos

Your phone is sufficient to make high-quality content (optimal lighting, powerful microphone, moving content). TikTok videos may range anywhere from 5 seconds to 3 minutes but shoot for 12-15 seconds to retain your audience’s interest.

Record in a vertical format of 9:16 is recommended. Indeed, TikTok discovered that films recorded vertically had a six-second view rate which is 25% higher on average because it takes up significantly more screen area.

88 percent of TikTokers estimate that sound is “essential” on the app, according to statistics from the social network. It is therefore highly recommended to create videos to be played with sound. The greatest view rate is for fast-paced tunes that play at 120 beats per minute or more.

Finally, TikTok has a lot of features such as effects. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of them to maximize the impact of the TikTok algorithm. Indeed, TikTok says: “These native features help keep your content feeling native to the platform which can also help get it on more For You pages!”

  • Post at the opportune time for your target audience

It is confirmed for many social media apps and particularly for TikTok. The algorithm considers active involvement with your content to be a significant signal.

You can check the metrics in your Business or Creator account to see when your audience is most engaged on the app.

  • Interact with other TikTok users

Twenty-one percent of TikTokers stated they are more connected to brands that react to other people’s postings. Keeping up with comments on your videos is also important for producing engagement signals for the algorithm.

TikTok provides innovative opportunities for TikTok creators to engage with one another, such as Duets (to record a “duet” with another user), and Stitch (to cut and paste parts from other TikTokers’ videos into your own), and video reactions to comments.

  • Make use of the appropriate hashtags.

You don’t want to focus on hashtags with millions of results. Instead, consider targeting hashtags with 10,000 to 100,000 results at first, since you’ll have less competition but still a sizable enough audience to begin building momentum. But you can use trending hashtag challenges to generate fresh content ideas while also sending positive trending vibes to the algorithm.

Furthermore, 61 percent of TikTokers stated they prefer brands that generate or participate in TikTok trends.

TikTok’s top small business hashtags might help you reach into the group of people eager to support independent contractors:

  • Use trending sounds and music

Two-thirds of TikTokers (67%) prefer branded videos with trendy music. Indeed, following any form of trend is a solid bet if you want to land on the For You page. To find trending music and sounds for your target audience you can, among others, use TikTok Analytics.

As can be seen, how consumers search for content is evolving. TikTok’s attraction is an unorganized environment where users are surprised, and where relevance, rather than reach, reigns supreme. TikTok and Instagram, according to Generation Z, give discovery, while Google provides validation. Your duty as a brand is to be flexible in your thinking and behave as a customer with the sole objective of reaching them. Don’t be afraid to adapt traditional material into short, trendy videos, making it discoverable on social networks.

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