What is Tiktok SEO

How to approach Tiktok SEO with Abbie Smyth

We had the pleasure of talking all things social media and Tiktok SEO with the incredible Abbie Smyth from Rise at Seven – a search-first creative agency. Abbie specialises in working with consumer brands such as Dermalogica and Mark Hill Hair and is moving more towards using TikTok as her primary platform.

Abbie joined us for our monthly Sister Sessions and with a record turn out, she shared with us her insight into working with big brands on their social strategies. 

Abbie explained to the WIA community that social media SEO in its simplest term is ‘seeing social media platforms as search engines’. In recent years, TikTok has really taken on “trying to tackle Google as the biggest search engine”. Abbie explained that the first place she would go to search for restaurants to find nail/fashion inspiration would be TikTok and that research shows that more and more young people are doing the same. 

What Is Tiktok SEO In 3 Easy Steps 

  1. When we talk about Tiktok SEO we are thinking about Tiktok as a search platform and considering what we can do to improve our visability through optimisation.
  2. If you know anything about SEO you will know there are loads of different optimisation factors that platforms will consider. Most of the time when we disucss SEO we are talking about Google, so keywords, website performance and content is key.
  3. Tiktok SEO is all about the elements we can effect to make our content more searchable, and thinking more strategicically about what we post and how to reach a wider audience. We know the more views and the longer viewing time, the higher the reach thanks to the Tiktok algorithm that will look to push the content out wider based on these results.
  4. …So in summary – the more we can put our content in front of the right audience thanks to our optimisation, the better it will perform!

Back to the interview…

With the rise in social as a search engine we discussed the challenge for brands to keep their pages authentic while being a virtual shop window.

This begs the question: should we be looking at our social pages as an introduction to our brand along side our websites? Abbie explained that often platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest are like your “shop window” and often “your first point of contact” with a potential client so this is why profile optimisation is a must, especially when marketing towards a younger audience.

Tiktok SEO interview

When asked what a searchable profile looks like within a search-first agency, Abbie explained they use visibility metrics to determine success. “If you are coming up in searches for the keywords that you are wanting to rank for, and then in turn if your content is being seen and engaged with from your target audience then you are optimised and on track for success.”

We went on to chat about TikTok SEO. Abbie explained that “TikTok is pulling data from three key sources: text within the video, captions and hashtags and sound and captions. Here’s how to use them:

Text within the video: Always use some text at the top of your video to explain exactly what the video is and use any opportunities to get text on screen with buzzwords (this needs to be done on TikTok and not in the pre-editing before using the TikTok app).

Captions and hashtags: Although captions are not famous for being long on TikTok, you can use the new 2200 character limit to add in some great keywords and hashtags that will help your video gain traction. Always use keywords and hashtags that relate to your video and your service.

Sound and captions: The sound you use needs to be relevant to your video and if you are using a song or sound with no talking from you then your keywords need to be within the text and caption on your video. If you are doing a talking video, switch on auto-generated captions because TikTok uses AI to pick up captions from you and if you can get some buzz words into what you are saying this is going to help your SEO too!

Another hot take Abbie shared with us was around how Tiktok views the length of videos, Abbie told us that “what we’ve found is that watch time is actually more impactful than following the varying trends. TikTok measures how much of your video is being watched and how much is being repeated. We tend to look at the analytics of what’s performed well and look at our insights and then go from there to make sure that we’re getting the most watch time on the content rather than following a kind of specific formula for exactly how long the video should be”.

We loved chatting to Abbie and I think all WIA members will agree with me when I say we all learned a lot. Thanks Abbie!

To listen to the full interview click here: 



All of Abbie’s links are below:






Beth Hellowell
Founder of Women in Agencies and co-founder of Signify Digital. Mother, social media scroller and frequent pasta eater.