<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=4275794&amp;fmt=gif">
Skip to content

TikTok Vs Google: A New Contender in the Search Engine Space

Over recent years, TikTok has been making waves as a social media platform, attracting a wide range of users to create video content. As the app has evolved and videos continue to go viral, TikTok has continued to introduce features to keep users engaged and continue to spend more time scrolling. With the growth of the app, research shows that nearly 1 in 10 Gen Zers are more likely to rely on TikTok than Google as a search engine. So what does this mean for search giant Google?

We delved deeper into the world of search and explored how marketing strategies going forward may need to adapt to changing behaviours.

The birth of TikTok

TikTok seemed to come out of nowhere, bursting onto the social scene, beginning as a short-form video platform. But before the app as we know it came to be, it was known as Musical.ly which was mainly focused on lip-syncing videos, but slowly started to gain popularity. In 2018, the name was changed to TikTok. By August of 2023, it had reportedly been downloaded over 3.5 billion times worldwide

One of the key factors leading to TikTok’s growth has been its universal appeal. The platform's algorithm ensures that content is personalised for each user, making the experience highly engaging. Additionally, the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has become a phenomenon, as research found nearly 3 out of 4 Gen Zers bought something after seeing it on TikTok. This trend highlights the platform's significant influence on consumer behaviour and its potential as a powerful marketing tool.

TikTok vs Google: what's the difference?

As TikTok becomes a popular search tool, it poses a new kind of competition for traditional search engines like Google.

​​TikTok draws users in because it features short and informative videos, a distinct storytelling format, and personalised content tailored to the viewer based on their interaction history. This level of personalisation results in more relevant and satisfying search outcomes compared to Google’s general, text-based search results. According to Digital Marketing Institute, video-based search results tend to enjoy a clickthrough rate that’s 41% higher than their text-based counterparts.

When users search on TikTok, they get user-generated content and reviews from a wide range of people. Depending on the subject, this community-driven content can provide more authentic and trustworthy information than traditional search engine results. 

TikTok is also great at highlighting trending topics and viral content, making it easier for users to discover new information. In contrast, trending topics on Google may be buried under SEO-optimised content that might not be as current or popular.

Challenges TikTok face

One of the main challenges TikTok faces, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, is the issues surrounding security and privacy concerns, with a potential ban of the app in the US and other countries. There have been questions about the data TikTok collects, and officials, politicians and security staff in many Western countries have been banned from installing it on work phones

Another concern regarding using TikTok as a search engine is the reliability of the information found on the app. As anyone can post on TikTok, there’s a potential of information posted being incorrect or false, which could be worrying, as about a third of US adults under 30 now regularly get news on TikTok.

Impact on digital marketing

TikTok offers a new opportunity for marketers to reach more users around the world. The platform is a level playing field for reaching users, based on its algorithm.

Although TikTok may not require huge budgets for video creation, marketers need to create engaging and optimised videos for TikTok’s format. This involves getting to grips with the latest trends and user behaviour to create relevant and appealing content. 

Marketers should also tap into influencer marketing on TikTok as it can be incredibly effective. Brands are collaborating more and more with popular TikTok creators to reach their intended audience and build a community around their brand.

It’s important to mention that it’s not just the video itself that is going to grow your engagement. Just as SEO is crucial for Google rankings, understanding how to optimise videos for TikTok is essential to reaching a wider audience. This includes relevant hashtags, engaging thumbnails, and compelling video descriptions. 

The future of TikTok

Since its launch, TikTok has truly taken the world by storm and it looks to continue on to this path in the future with innovation at its core. TikTok’s ability to adapt and evolve to overcome challenges could really cement its place as a search engine to rival Google. 

We will see brands and marketers leverage TikTok for its unique features to reach audiences in new and creative ways by offering a combination of visual engagement, personalised results, community feedback and trend discovery. All of which is based on the platform's unique algorithm to appease target audience interests. 

As TikTok becomes a go-to source for information, it’s evident that the platform extends beyond entertainment, serving as a resource for discovering and sharing knowledge. From quick how-tos and honest reviews to the latest trends, TikTok offers a vibrant approach to seeking information.

Key takeaways

Over recent years, TikTok has emerged to become a prominent social media platform, attracting a wealth of users to create and share content. Its growth has led TikTok to become a platform which is very much used as a search engine, as it is for entertaining and engaging users. This in turn has challenged the traditional search engines like Google, providing a new way to digest searchable information for years to come. 

Are you looking to grow your audience on TikTok? Contact our digital marketing experts to learn more.