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The Latest Hospital Digital Marketing Articles

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Has Google Met Its Match in…TikTok?

Dec 15, 2023

When you search for information online, do you say, “I’m going to search for that” or “I’m going to Google that”? Google search has become so ubiquitous for online search, it has long been the common verb substitute for “online search.” Like Kleenex for tissues, or Xerox for photocopy. image of tiktok logo

Google is starting to get some competition, however. And one of those competitors is TikTok. Wait – TikTok? One study found that half (51%) of Gen Z females prefer to use TikTok for search rather than Google.

Google noted a year ago that social platforms are starting to make inroads into Google’s search share, particularly TikTok and Instagram. This is especially prevalent with younger groups. TikTok has added features that make it more competitive for search, such as identifying keywords in comments and linking the search results for those keywords. In addition, TikTok has enabled advertisers to use search ads to have their existing in-feed creative served in search results, along with organic results.

Some of the primary reasons for young people preferring TikTok search are:

  • The user experience is more human-centric. TikTok’s search results are more consumer-focused than brand-focused. Search results are generated by user-generated content, as opposed to Google’s search algorithm. By offering results based on actual people sharing real experiences, a more warm and friendly connection with users can be created.
  • Better visual appeal with a user-friendly interface. TikTok’s content is mostly short-form video, making its search results more accessible and easily consumable. With two-thirds of consumers reporting that this format is the most engaging, it’s easy to understand why this format for search results can be preferred.
  • Information sources include influencers. Influencers have a huge impact on trends, spread of information and purchasing decisions across all social media platforms, not just TikTok. Younger users want information from their favorite creators on TikTok rather than traditional search sources. One survey found that 82% of its respondents were more likely to purchase a product promoted by one of their preferred influencers.
  • The TikTok algorithm. TikTok users have a personalized For You Page (FYP). This is a stream of videos curated to the specific interests of each user. The more a user engages on TikTok, the better the FYP stream becomes at providing content that most closely meets the preferences of that user. TikTok’s search algorithm does not use SEO like Google, but it does use hashtags, which help to make a creator’s content more discoverable and searchable. Factors used to push preferred content are:
    • User interactions – specific videos the user watches and engages with, the accounts the user follows and the videos the user creates.
    • Video information such as captions, hashtags and audio
    • Device and account settings, such as language, country settings and type of device.

A major disadvantage to Tiktok search is the large amount of disinformation found on the platform. One study from 2022 found that 20% of the videos in the category of prominent news topics contained false or misleading information and claims. Because TikTok’s content is largely video content, it is more difficult for the platform to analyze both the audio and visual content for accuracy. Thus, the platform is highly dependent on community reporting and moderation for content management. While Google has its own issues with false and misleading content, it does have a better process in place to manage it.

While Google is the go-to for online search, it is wise to be aware of other search options gaining traction. 
  • TikTok
  • google
  • search engines