A Guide To Everything You Need To Know About The TikTok Algorithm

A Guide To Everything You Need To Know About The TikTok Algorithm

TikTok, since its launch in 2016, has rapidly become one of the most famous and rapidly growing social media platforms. We have thoroughly reviewed TikTok's creator guidelines and newsroom documentation to provide a comprehensive platform overview. If you're seeking a deeper understanding of the short-form video app and its potential benefits for your brand, this article is the right resource for you.

We have researched and analyzed TikTok’s creator guidelines and newsroom documentation to provide you with a thorough understanding of the platform and how brands can effectively utilize it.

TikTok, since its launch in 2016, has rapidly become one of the most famous and rapidly growing social media platforms. We have thoroughly reviewed TikTok’s creator guidelines and newsroom documentation to provide a comprehensive platform overview. If you’re seeking a deeper understanding of the short-form video app and its potential benefits for your brand, this article is the right resource for you.

Additionally, we have included valuable insights from experienced TikTokers on increasing views, engaging with users, and growing a following. By reading this article, you will learn everything you ought to know about the TikTok Algorithm, what it takes to create a successful video, and determine if TikTok can be an effective tool for your brand.

What is the TikTok Algorithm?

The TikTok algorithm is a sophisticated recommendation system that determines the content displayed on the app. It presents users with videos that align with their interests and preferences. This concept of recommendation systems is not novel and is utilized by various platforms, such as Netflix, to deliver personalized content.

The objective of a recommendation system is to curate content that resonates with users based on their preferences and those of individuals with similar demographics.

In the case of TikTok, the recommendation system and algorithm are focused on the “For You” page, which serves as the primary platform for displaying suggested content.

For You Feed: Explained

The term For You Feed, also referred to as the For You page (FYP), is a personalized stream of videos tailored to the user’s interests. Each user’s FYP is unique and distinct, providing a personalized experience.

Upon opening the app, users are presented with the FYP as their initial landing page. The good news is that users can curate their FYP by engaging with the app through various interactions.

When first joining TikTok, the FYP is initially curated based on the user’s demographic information, such as age, gender, and interests. However, as users continue interacting with the app, the FYP becomes more personalized and fine-tuned to their specific preferences.

It’s important to note that various actions within the app influence the FYP algorithm. Let’s explore what actions are taken into consideration.

How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?

According to TikTok’s official documentation, the algorithm that determines the visibility and reaches of a video on the platform is influenced by three primary factors:

  • User Engagement
  • Video Details
  • Device and Account settings

1. User Engagement 

According to TikTok’s official documentation, user interactions play a crucial role in defining the visibility and reach of a video on the platform. These interactions can be either positive or negative, including commenting, following an account, liking a video, and watching the video. Positive interactions will lead to the app showing more content similar to that video, while negative interactions will result in the opposite outcome.

Additional information regarding the impact of negative interactions can be found in the “What the algorithm won’t show.”

As a content creator, understanding the functioning of the TikTok algorithm allows you to effectively elicit the type of engagement that will increase the visibility and reach of your videos.

User Engagement In Practice

User engagement is a significant factor in the TikTok algorithm, and users of the platform widely acknowledge it. This is demonstrated by how a particular viral video surfaced on my “For You” page a few weeks ago. Despite not frequently engaging with TikTok videos, I liked the video and left a comment praising its wholesome content. While I did not choose to follow the creator, my brief interaction with the video contributed to its success, as it garnered 785,200 likes, 9060 comments, 76,900 saves, and 5,579 shares, ultimately accumulating 6,000,000 views.

Furthermore, thanks to my engagement with the first video, the creator’s second video surfaced on my “For You” page, even though it did not achieve the same level of virality as the first one. This illustrates how previous user interactions can influence the algorithm’s ability to place videos in the right places.

TikTok users have faith in the system’s automated recommendations. For example, when viewers watch a popular video or a part of an ongoing series, they could leave comments such as “Trusting the algorithm to bring me back.” This occurs when they desire to show interest in the content but want to avoid following the creator.

A content maker reminds viewers that they can click the follow button to see more of the creator’s content rather than trust the algorithm. Having followers benefits the creators by guaranteeing the user will see their content

Ways to Motivate User Engagement

As a content creator, you want to provoke reactions from your viewers. Creating good content is one way to do this, but if you want to stimulate positive responses from people who are just observing, you must include a call to action. Tyla Brimblecombe, from Style Socials, talks about the significance of calls to action in her TikTok videos.

She expressed that the most vital measure on TikTok is watch time. A person who scrolls through the For You feed and likes a video may be enticed to watch it until the end. If they observe a call to action such as “take a look at my other videos,” they will click on the profile and view the other videos. Doing this will inform TikTok that the content is worth watching and will widen its reach to an even bigger crowd.

2. Video Details

As per the details provided by TikTok, the video content involves the following:

  • Captions
  • Hashtags
  • Sounds
  • Text overlays
  • Video descriptions

Video Details in Practice

TikTok is renowned for its connection with music which is currently in vogue. The TikTok algorithm can determine a group of users likely to engage with the video based on their history of interactions. If viewers watch the video to the end every time a specific sound is used, they will likely enjoy the material and wish to watch more of it. It’s essential to note that trending sounds are not limited to popular dances. Companies can utilize sounds to reach a wider audience quickly. Kristyn Higginson, the TikTok creator of Skinician, pointed out:

“Generating content with the potential to go viral was troublesome in the beginning due to the inability of business accounts to access the most popular songs. We found a workaround by selecting popular sounds for our posts and ensuring our content was related to current trends without infringing copyright laws. This could be a beneficial strategy for other small organizations just beginning to create content for the platform.”

Skincian experienced huge success with one of their videos posted to TikTok, which had a modern sound. Fifty thousand nine hundred people saw this video. It had 2,142 likes and 40 comments, which enabled the brand to reach its target audience.

Skincian experienced an impressive response to their most popular video; the clip was viewed 50,900 times, garnered 2,142 likes, and received 40 comments from the public. This helped to introduce the brand to the TikTok community.

“It is extremely important to include captions in your videos as this will help ensure people with hearing impairments can still access the content. Moreover, people may watch your video without the sound on. If you don’t include captions, you’ll reduce the size of your audience and reach. Currently, it’s a great opportunity to include relevant keywords in your TikTok videos since videos optimized for their search feature appear to have greater success.”

Smoothy attributes the accomplishment of her “super low effort marketing hack video” to the incorporation of video content strategies.

The video has gained a great following, with 92,400 views, 5,913 likes, 91 comments, and 740 shares. The words used in the video, its description, and the text overlay all contained relevant keywords, allowing it to appear in the search results when looking for ‘marketing hack’ and ‘marketing tips’ on TikTok.

How to Use Video Details

TikTok professionals suggest that the first step to success is to utilize the app to search for keywords and then include those words in the video, description, and hashtags.

You might also like: You Can Now Make Corrections To Published YouTube Videos.

3. Device and Account Settings

TikTok prioritizes device and account settings less in its algorithm. Factors such as language preference and country setting are given more importance, as it is logical for users to want to view videos in their preferred language.

Additionally, TikTok takes into account the type of device being used. This is to ensure a smooth viewing experience for users with older devices or smaller screens by showing videos that are compatible with their devices.

Keywords and the TikTok Algorithm

In the last few months, there have been countless conversations on TikTok about a variation in its algorithm and the greater stress it places on search engine optimization (SEO). If you look up “TikTok Algorithm Change,” you will see that many people say the same thing – SEO on TikTok is becoming more important. It is interesting that nowhere in the documentation of TikTok is any reference to “keywords” associated with their algorithm.

Nevertheless, Keywords Are Still Significant

TikTok’s decision to expand the maximum character limit in video descriptions to 2,200 was no accident. In their official statement on the app, they declared:

“The extended character limit grants content creators a possibility to draw in viewers while making their posts more visible in search results.”

TikTok hints that captions and hashtags can affect the For You Page (FYP). Both terms refer to words that help the viewer understand the video better. Words are a significant part of the TikTok algorithm. Moreover, TikTok users can limit the content they see based on certain keywords.

TikTok SEO and Google

We conducted some experiments to understand better how TikTok SEO relates to Google, the world’s most popular search engine. We wanted to see if Google was indexing TikTok videos when people were searching for “TikTok recipes.” To our shock, Google was not prioritizing them, but instead, websites that shared TikTok’s popular recipes. TikTok’s page was in eighth place, which was far from a great ranking considering the relevance of the query.

On the Video results, TikTok was positioned in sixth place behind the five YouTube videos. Understandably, Google would give more preference to its platform, YouTube, than to TikTok. Notably, all the videos in the TikTok recipes category included the hashtag #recipes in their description. Captions are used by the TikTok algorithm to classify videos according to their subject matter and could even raise visibility when searched via Google.

Your video should have a hashtag #recipes, implying that keywords are essential for TikTok’s algorithm.

In light of this information, creators must utilize relevant keywords in their captions and hashtags. As stated in TikTok’s documentation, these elements play a role in the platform’s algorithm. To enhance visibility and reach on Google, creators can also consider sharing their videos on other platforms, such as YouTube Shorts.

Myths Surrounding the TikTok Algorithm Have Been Dispelled

Let’s clarify some widely-held misunderstandings about TikTok.

Myth #1: You need to post daily – The suggestion to post one to three TikTok videos daily is often given to new users of the platform. However, it is necessary to note that this is not a requirement for growth, as stated in TikTok’s guidelines. Instead, it may be beneficial to experiment with different types of videos and post high-quality content to keep the audience engaged, as advised by TikTok’s documentation.

Myth #2: TikTok is exclusively for short-form videos – While TikTok began as an app for seven-second videos, the maximum video length has been expanded over time. Users can now create videos that are 15 seconds, 60 seconds, or three-minute-long videos within the app. Additionally, extended videos can be uploaded to the app as well. TikTok does not indicate that longer videos are given preference in its algorithm, but it does provide insights into why they can be engaging for creators.

Myth #3: Being a part of the TikTok Creator Fund guarantees increased discoverability for creators – it is worth noting that being a part of the TikTok Creator Fund is not a prerequisite for increasing discoverability on the platform. While those in the fund may have a higher likelihood of earning increased engagement due to their ability to produce high-quality content that resonates with the community.

What Does The Algorithm Not Include?

It is important to acknowledge that TikTok is taking steps to ensure the safety and diversity of recommendations on the “For You” page. Without proper measures, a recommendation system can lead to repetitive content and the display of unwanted material. To make the platform more inclusive for all users, TikTok is implementing practices to prevent certain content from appearing on the “For You” page.

Duplicate Content

TikTok acknowledges that excessive repetition of content can become tedious for users. As a result, the platform has implemented measures to prevent the display of duplicate content on the “For You” page. Additionally, users are exposed to various ideas and perspectives by diversifying the content on the “For You” page.

Groups That May Pose Issues

The TikTok algorithm is designed to fulfill the platform’s goal of promoting creativity and providing enjoyment. To this end, the platform avoids recommending content related to potentially sensitive subjects such as extreme dieting or fitness, sadness, or breakups. This protects users from viewing content that may be distressing when viewed together but may be acceptable as a standalone video. The “not interested” and “keyword filtering” feature further reinforce these restrictions.

Content Flagged As "Not Interested."

TikTok allows users to customize their experience on the platform by giving them control over the content they view. Viewers can press and hold on any video and select from the following options:

  • “Save video” serves as a positive engagement indicator for the algorithm.
  • “Clear mode” to view videos without captions and usernames.
  • “Report” to indicate that a video violates TikTok’s Community Guidelines.
  • “Not Interested” informs the algorithm that the viewer does not prefer that specific content and will see less of it in the future.

When a viewer selects “Not Interested,” it sends a signal to the algorithm, which will influence the content that appears on their “For You” page.

Content Containing Filtered Keywords

Users can customize their viewing experience on TikTok by heading to the settings and selecting “Content preferences” and then “Filter video keywords.” Here, they can add keywords and filter videos from users they are following or from the “For You” page.

Content Made By Those Under 18

As part of its dedication to maintaining a safe environment for all users, TikTok has implemented measures to protect its younger users. Users under the age of 18 are unable to have their content featured on the Explore feed, making it less likely for other users to discover their content and profiles.

7 Tips For Using the TikTok Algorithm to Increase Your Reach and Popularity

Some of the most successful creators on TikTok offer recommendations on creating content that the algorithm may favor.

Tip 1: Upgrade To A TikTok Pro Account

TikTok Pro Accounts offer creators more detailed analytics. By creating one, you will be able to see insights on:

  • Weekly and monthly views.
  • Follower growth.
  • Trending videos.

If you are interested in in-depth analytics, this could be a good option. It is important to note that TikTok advises against creating content solely based on analytics. Instead, creators should focus on creating content that aligns with their creative vision.

Tip 2: Identify Your Niche

Identifying your niche on TikTok can provide a deeper understanding of the landscape. Once you know your niche, you can use the search bar to explore related topics and observe which videos perform well. This can serve as inspiration for creating similar content.

Tip 3: Utilize Appropriate Hashtags, Add Captions, and Write Video Descriptions

Including keywords in your content is beneficial, as mentioned previously. When choosing hashtags, ensure they are highly relevant to your video or niche for an opportunity to appear in the top lists for those keywords.

Tip 4: Incorporate Popular Audio and Tunes

No matter what shifts the algorithm undergoes, music and buzzworthy sounds are likely to have a place on TikTok still. Remember, these elements don’t always have to be about audio clips and famous dance steps. You can utilize them to introduce your brand, make them relevant to your field, and make you stand out.

Tip 5: Generate Videos of Superior Quality

TikTok offers its users a variety of editing tools to help them craft eye-catching, highly-polished videos. TikTok creators suggest that drawing people in right away is essential, so it is advisable to edit the videos in a way that captures viewers’ attention within the initial three seconds.

Tip 6: Connect With Other TikTok Users

Your comment section is a wealth of possible video ideas! Additionally, you can respond to comments with a video. This function puts your response into the comment section in video form. You can be sure that other people who commented have the same queries, so they will probably take a look and join you in your next video.

Tip 7: Create a Series of Videos

Henry Purchase from A Couple Things To Do has gained 193,000 followers on TikTok. He shares ideas for destinations and activities for couples. He says, “We publish multiple videos of the same activity, uncovering more detail each time – this keeps people returning for more. This is the opposite of the long-form video format, yet briefer recordings in a series can still be effective. For instance, initially, we didn’t post the site of our most famous video. After it grew in popularity, we used the feedback we got to generate more material. Thus, reusing content and interacting with our viewers.”

Why Is It Important for Brands To Care About TikTok?

Regardless of opinions, TikTok has proven it’s staying power due to its practical algorithm that facilitates rapid growth. With some dedication, companies can gain instant exposure to thousands of viewers.

Although better-quality recordings are preferred, short videos shot directly at the camera can be just as successful in gaining attention.

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