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Why TikTok SEO is More Than Just Viral Videos: Insights from #BrightonSEO

Tiktok Seo From Brightonseo

Brief Overview of BrightonSEO

Before we delve into the fascinating world of TikTok SEO, let’s take a step back and appreciate the context in which these insights were gained: BrightonSEO, the world’s largest search marketing conference. From deep dives into the influence of AI on memes to scaling unique content with open-source tools, this conference was an expansive playground for SEO professionals. I was fortunate enough to attend an array of compelling sessions that have reinvigorated my approach to SEO, one of which was an eye-opening talk on TikTok SEO.

@jonnyross99 Interested in TikTok SEO? I’m at #BrightonSEO ♬ original sound – Jonny Ross

Why TikTok SEO Matters

As search marketers, we’re accustomed to considering Google as the go-to platform for SEO. But, with over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok has emerged as an SEO landscape we can’t afford to ignore. TikTok’s unique combination of community engagement, short-form video content, and in-app SEO functionalities is shaping a new frontier for search marketing. In the words of Dr. Jamie Cohen, it’s bringing about the “TikTokification” of our daily lives.

Aim of the Blog

In this blog, I’ll be sharing invaluable insights from BrightonSEO’s session on TikTok SEO, shedding light on why TikTok is far more than just a platform for viral videos. We’ll explore the intricate dynamics of TikTok’s unique SEO environment, how you can align it with your current SEO strategy, and why its micro-niches might just be the future of community engagement in search marketing.

So, if you’re intrigued by the endless possibilities of TikTok SEO and are keen to dig deeper, read on.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive breakdown of why and how TikTok is revolutionising the concept of SEO as we know it.

What is TikTok SEO?
Understanding TikTok’s Algorithm

At the heart of any successful SEO strategy is a deep understanding of the algorithm that powers it. TikTok is no different in this respect, although it has its unique nuances. Unlike traditional search algorithms that heavily rely on keywords and backlinks, TikTok’s algorithm is a fascinating blend of behavioural analytics and user engagement metrics.

The algorithm assesses content primarily based on user interactions. This includes the basics like likes, comments, and shares, but goes beyond to consider video completion rate, profile clicks, and even the speed at which a user scrolls past your video. The more engaged the audience, the more likely your content will appear in others’ “For You” feeds, TikTok’s equivalent to Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

How SEO fits into the TikTok Ecosystem

Traditional SEO professionals might initially find the TikTok environment disorienting, largely because it’s not a text-based platform. Here, short-form videos reign supreme. However, elements of SEO still permeate this dynamic ecosystem. Hashtags, captions, and even your profile metadata play a role in how your content is discovered and interacted with on TikTok.

While Google SEO often focuses on long-form content, TikTok SEO is all about optimising for micro-moments. Each video serves as a “page” that can be optimised for search within the app. Using relevant hashtags, crafting engaging captions, and utilising TikTok’s in-built SEO features like keyword tagging, can help your content gain the visibility it deserves.

What sets TikTok SEO apart from more traditional forms is its focus on community building and engagement. Micro-niches and highly specific content themes are not just welcome; they are the norm. As we’ve seen, TikTok creators have high ‘bullshit detectors.’ Authenticity isn’t optional; it’s required. If you understand this, you can create a successful SEO strategy within TikTok that not only drives views but fosters community, dialogue, and brand affinity.

In summary, TikTok SEO isn’t just a subplot in the broader narrative of digital marketing; it’s a chapter of its own. Understanding this platform’s unique algorithm and the role of SEO within its ecosystem will provide you with new avenues for outreach and engagement. One thing is clear: if TikTok isn’t part of your SEO strategy yet, it’s high time it was.


The “Content of Nothingness” Theory

What is “Content of Nothingness”?

When Dr. Jamie Cohen spoke about the “content of nothingness” at BrightonSEO, many ears perked up. This notion is particularly intriguing within the TikTok sphere, where micro-narratives and slice-of-life videos can garner millions of views. So, what exactly is “content of nothingness”?

At its core, “content of nothingness” refers to seemingly mundane or ‘everyday’ content that, on the surface, appears to offer little value. Think of a video showing the daily routine of a student, or a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your morning coffee preparation. It may not be loaded with hard-hitting information or ‘life hacks,’ but it possesses an intrinsic value that is often underestimated.

Why It Matters for SEO

The “content of nothingness” theory is crucial for SEO for several reasons:

Authentic Engagement: This form of content encourages organic, authentic interactions. As Dr. Cohen pointed out, TikTokers have high “bullshit detectors.” They can sense when something is inorganic or inauthentic. Content of nothingness resonates because it is relatable and genuine, which leads to higher engagement rates, a key factor in TikTok’s algorithm.

  • Community Building: Content that may seem ‘insignificant’ is often the cornerstone of micro-niches. By tapping into these smaller communities, you can build a dedicated and engaged following, which in turn improves your standing in the algorithm.
  • Long-Term Value: Surprisingly, the “content of nothingness” often has long shelf lives. Because it’s not tied to trends or fleeting moments, it continues to attract views and interactions over a longer period, helping to maintain your content’s visibility on the platform.
  • Semantic Context: TikTok uses AI to understand the context in which hashtags and captions are used. By regularly posting relatable and authentic content, the algorithm learns to associate your account with specific themes or niches, further refining your discoverability.
  • SEO Synergy: Integrating keywords and hashtags in the captions and comments section in an authentic manner will make your content more discoverable without compromising the ‘realness’ that your audience values.

In summary, dismissing the “content of nothingness” as trivial is a mistake. It has a significant role to play in TikTok SEO, contributing to a more robust, engaged, and authentic brand presence on the platform. Understanding this will not only help you navigate TikTok’s unique SEO landscape but will also give you the tools to connect more profoundly with your audience.

The Importance of Community and Conversation

How TikTok is More Than Just a Video Platform

Many mistake TikTok for merely being a video-sharing app, but it’s much more multifaceted than that. The platform fosters robust communities, encourages multi-modal interactions, and offers a canvas for different types of storytelling. It’s not just about the videos; it’s also about the captions, the comments, and the conversations that follow. These elements combined create a powerful environment where community thrives.

The Value of Micro-Niches

During BrightonSEO, we learned that TikTok excels at creating ‘micro-niches.’ These are small, highly focused communities centered around specific topics, from sustainable living to fan theories about popular shows. Here’s why they’re valuable:

  • Increased Engagement: Micro-niches attract dedicated audiences who are more likely to engage with content they find personally relevant. High engagement rates lead to better algorithmic visibility.
  • Long-term Relationship Building: People are more likely to stick around and continue interacting within a micro-niche that caters to their specific interests. This fosters long-term relationships and ongoing engagement with your content.
  • Authentic Conversations: Niche communities tend to be highly knowledgeable about their area of interest, contributing to richer and more authentic conversations.

How Community Interaction Affects SEO

In TikTok, community interaction can have a profound effect on your SEO efforts for several reasons:

  • User-Generated Content (UGC): Engaging with your community often leads to UGC, which can boost your content’s visibility. The TikTok algorithm considers this a form of engagement, increasing the likelihood of your content being featured in more users’ ‘For You’ feeds.
  • Algorithmic Benefits: Comments, likes, and shares are all markers of engagement that the TikTok algorithm looks for when determining how widely to disseminate your content. The more interaction your posts get, the more they’ll be pushed by the algorithm, making your SEO efforts more effective.
  • Keyword Integration: Conversations happening in the comments section are also considered by TikTok’s AI for semantic context. This offers a natural place to include relevant keywords, further optimising your content for discoverability.
  • Feedback Loop: Community interactions can provide insights into what your audience values, enabling you to create content that’s more likely to rank well and resonate with your followers.

To sum it up, TikTok is not just a ‘video platform.’ It’s a complex ecosystem where community interaction has a direct impact on visibility and discoverability. The platform rewards not just catchy videos, but genuine engagement and community building, which should be integral parts of your TikTok SEO strategy.

The Multi-Modal Nature of TikTok

Using Captions, Hashtags, and Other Features Effectively

TikTok offers a variety of ways to maximise your content’s reach and engagement, beyond just the video itself. Features like captions, hashtags, and even the music you choose play a significant role in how your content performs.


  • Captions: Your captions should be concise yet engaging, offering either additional context or a call to action. A well-crafted caption can improve user engagement and extend the time spent on your content, both of which are metrics that TikTok’s algorithm considers.
  • Hashtags: These aren’t just for show; they’re functional tools for categorisation. Using trending hashtags can place your content within larger conversations, but don’t overlook the power of niche hashtags relevant to your specific community. These can help you tap into micro-niches and improve your content’s discoverability.
  • Music and Sound: Your choice in background music or sound can affect how your content is categorised. Trending sounds can elevate your content’s visibility, while unique or original sounds can make your content stand out.


How These Contribute to SEO

These multi-modal features contribute to your TikTok SEO in a number of ways:


  • Algorithmic Favour: Utilising all features effectively increases the likelihood of the algorithm picking up your content. A well-rounded post with engaging video, relevant captions, and targeted hashtags is more likely to be favoured.
  • User Engagement: Multi-modal features help sustain user engagement, offering multiple touchpoints for interaction. Higher engagement often leads to better SEO outcomes as the algorithm takes these metrics into consideration for ranking your content.
  • Contextual Cues: These features help TikTok’s algorithm understand the context of your content. The more accurately your content is categorised, the more likely it is to appear to a relevant audience, thereby increasing its SEO value.
  • Search Queries: Particularly with hashtags and captions, you have the opportunity to include keywords that potential viewers might be using in their searches, making your content easier to discover.


In essence, understanding and utilising TikTok’s multi-modal features is not just an ‘extra’—it’s a necessity. These elements serve as valuable tools in your TikTok SEO toolkit, helping you reach and engage your target audience more effectively.

Gen Z and The Changing Landscape of SEO

Why Gen Z is a Crucial Demographic

Gen Z, the digital natives born between 1997 and 2012, are not just another audience segment; they’re set to become the largest consumer demographic in the next few years. Raised in a hyper-connected world, they have unique expectations, behaviours, and demands that significantly influence market trends.

For businesses and marketers, understanding this demographic is not just beneficial—it’s essential. Gen Zers are the early adopters of new technologies and platforms, like TikTok, setting the pace and tone for older generations to follow. Their purchasing power is on the rise, and they are highly influential, often dictating household purchasing decisions and shaping broader consumer trends.

How They Are Changing the Rules of SEO


  • Authenticity is King: Gen Z values authenticity and transparency over perfectly curated content. They have a keen eye for spotting inauthentic messaging and will quickly disengage if something feels contrived. This emphasis on authenticity is shifting the SEO focus from purely technical optimisation to creating genuine, value-driven content.
  • Micro-Niches and Hyper-Personalisation: Gen Z has a strong preference for hyper-personalised experiences, leading to the rise of micro-niches. Brands now need to understand these nuanced audience segments to create highly targeted SEO strategies.
  • User Experience (UX) Matters: This generation has zero tolerance for poor website design or slow loading times. A streamlined and intuitive user experience is now a critical factor in SEO ranking.
  • Social Search: With the prominence of social media in their lives, Gen Z often uses social platforms as search engines. The integration of SEO strategy across social media platforms, especially TikTok, is becoming more critical.
  • Value-Driven Engagement: Unlike older generations, Gen Z is not solely motivated by commercial incentives. They engage with brands that stand for a cause and add value to their lives, which needs to be considered in your content and SEO strategy.


In summary, Gen Z is not just another target audience; they are a transformative force shaping the future of SEO. Understanding their behavioural traits and preferences will help you craft more effective, future-proof SEO strategies, especially on emerging platforms like TikTok.

Practical Tips for Implementing TikTok SEO

Navigating the evolving landscape of TikTok SEO may seem like a daunting task, especially with Gen Z setting a new bar for what online authenticity and engagement should look like. However, the good news is that many of the principles of good SEO practice carry over into this new frontier. Here are some actionable steps to guide your TikTok SEO strategy.

Understanding the Platform


  • Study the Algorithm: TikTok uses a complex algorithm that takes into account user interaction, video information, and device/account information. Learning how this algorithm works can help you understand how to optimise your content.
  • Competitive Analysis: Keep tabs on what similar brands or profiles are doing. Understanding your “SEO competitors” on TikTok can offer insights into what kind of content is resonating with the audience you’re targeting.
  • Stay Updated: TikTok, like other social media platforms, frequently updates its features and algorithm. Staying updated on these changes will help you adapt your strategy accordingly.


Developing Authentic Content


  • Be Genuine: Authenticity is the currency of TikTok. Gen Z can sniff out inauthenticity a mile away, so focus on creating content that is true to your brand’s voice and values.
  • Quality Over Quantity: While TikTok encourages frequent posting, quality should never be sacrificed for quantity. Invest the time to create well-thought-out videos that provide value to your audience.
  • Use ‘Content of Nothingness’ Wisely: As Dr. Jamie Cohen pointed out, sometimes the content that seems trivial can have the most significant impact. Don’t underestimate the power of “content of nothingness”; use it to connect with your audience on a personal level.


Engaging with the Community


  • Interact with Comments: Engagement is a two-way street. Don’t just post content; make sure you are also interacting with your audience through comments and even duets if applicable.
  • Understand Micro-Niches: Recognising and tapping into micro-niches within TikTok can offer a more focused and effective SEO strategy.
  • Collaborate: TikTok is a community-driven platform. Collaboration with other creators, especially those who align with your brand’s values, can help you reach a wider yet still relevant audience.


In essence, the key to mastering TikTok SEO lies in understanding the unique ecosystem of the platform, developing authentic and meaningful content, and fostering a community that aligns with your brand. Implement these practical tips, and you’ll be well on your way to effectively leveraging TikTok for your SEO needs.

Conclusion: The Future of SEO is TikTok

TikTok is far more than a platform for viral dance moves and lip-syncing; it represents an evolving digital ecosystem that brands cannot afford to ignore. In this blog post, we’ve touched on understanding TikTok’s algorithm, the power of ‘content of nothingness,’ the significance of community engagement, the multi-modal aspects of TikTok, and why Gen Z is the target audience you didn’t know you needed.

Why TikTok SEO Should Be on Everyone’s Radar


  • Algorithm Mastery: Understanding TikTok’s algorithm can give you a competitive edge in this saturated market.
  • Content Relevance: The concept of ‘content of nothingness’ helps brands connect at a deeper, more emotional level with audiences.
  • Community Matters: Authenticity and community are at the heart of TikTok, redefining how we should approach SEO.
  • Multi-Modal Engagement: The platform’s features, such as captions and hashtags, offer additional SEO benefits.


Gen Z is the Future: With Gen Z leading the charge in shaping the digital future, adapting your SEO strategy for TikTok becomes not just a good-to-have, but a must-have.

Before I sign off, I’d love to share a quick personal anecdote that really sums up why TikTok SEO has been such a revelation for me. During the #BrightonSEO conference, I had a chance to speak with a young entrepreneur who skyrocketed their brand solely through TikTok. They didn’t have a significant marketing budget or a team of SEO experts. All they had was an authentic voice and a knack for understanding the TikTok community. This made me realise: we are in the middle of a paradigm shift in digital marketing, one that is more inclusive, vibrant, and organic.


  • Share Your Experiences: I’m keen to hear how you’ve approached TikTok SEO. What worked? What didn’t? Feel free to share your own stories and insights.
  • For a Bite-Sized Version: If you’re looking for a condensed roundup of these insights, head over to my LinkedIn posts, where I share the top takeaways from the #BrightonSEO conference.
  • Stay Updated: The world of SEO is ever-evolving, and I’m committed to keeping you ahead of the curve. Subscribe to my blog for the latest insights, tips, and strategies in the world of digital marketing and SEO.


The era of TikTok SEO is here, and it’s time to adapt or be left behind. Make sure you’re staying ahead of the curve by integrating these actionable insights into your marketing strategy today.

Thank you for reading, and as always, I’m here to help you navigate the ever-changing world of SEO.


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