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Could TikTok Be A Search Engine? For Many Users, It Already Is

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Could TikTok Be A Search Engine? For Many Users, It Already Is

TikTok was spotted testing a new search feature, raising questions about its viability as a search engine.

Interestingly, many people already use it as one.

According to a screenshot shared on Twitter, TikTok is starting to show suggested search terms when viewing a video’s comment section.

To learn more about this feature, I explored Twitter to see if anyone else was talking about it.

Ultimately, I wanted to answer the question: ‘What if people started using TikTok as a search engine?

Instead, I discovered a whole segment of people treating TikTok as a search provider, with some even preferring it over Google.

The question quickly turned from ‘what if” to ‘what now?

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We’re past the point of questioning whether TikTok has potential as a search platform. The users decide, and increasingly turn to TikTok for their information needs.

But what are the implications for digital marketers?

‘TikTok Is Proving To Be A Better Search Engine Than Google’

The above heading is a quote from a viral tweet from last month.

It’s unclear whether the tweet received over 110K likes and 14K retweets due to the audacious comparison between TikTok and Google, or because people agree with the statement.

The replies and quote tweets suggest it’s a combination of both. Here’s a look at what people are saying.

Why Are People Using TikTok As A Search Engine?

The growing use of TikTok as a search engine stems from several factors:

  • Short attention spans
  • Unsatisfactory Google results
  • Visual learning styles

We have become lazy. We want visuals,‘ reads one of the top replies — demonstrating how short attention spans contribute to the popularity of TikTok search.

Another reason why people look up information in non-traditional search engines like TikTok is that they’re not satisfied with Google’s results.

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A top reply to the viral tweet suggests the quality of Google results isn’t what it used to be:

“Omg Google used to be so powerful but is so pointless now. Useful results are buried pages deep. 95% of the answers they put in the drop down menus at the top of search results are flat out just wrong, often not even related to the question being asked.”

It also comes down to learning styles, as some individuals retain information better when presented in a visual format.

And while users can get visual and textual information on Google, as one Twitter user points out, it requires looking at several pieces of content to get what you need.

“They give a video explanation and proof all in one, it explains and breaks it down. Google be wanting me to click too many links.”

As I went down the rabbit hole of tweet replies, I uncovered another piece of evidence that search preferences are shifting.

Paul Allen, CEO of Soar.com and founder of Ancestry.com, ran a poll on LinkedIn a few months ago asking his network if they “know any young people who use TikTok or Instagram Reels as their primary search engine.”

A quarter of respondents said yes.

Arguments Against TikTok As A Search Engine

You’ll get a different perspective if you check the quote tweets for the viral tweet that started this whole discussion, where it appears the people against the idea of TikTok as a search engine outnumber those who support it.

Due to the colorful language used, I can’t share many negative opinions here. Still, it’s safe to speculate that naysayers are passionate in their beliefs that TikTok search isn’t suitable for keeping up with current news and events.

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That’s because they don’t trust TikTok as a source, alleging that the app spreads misinformation. That happens to be a sentiment shared by a majority of United States users.

Studies show Americans trust Google significantly more than TikTok, which was found to be the most distrusted tech giant.

The consensus seems to be that TikTok search is more suitable for finding tips, trends, recipes, hobbies, and information about less serious topics.

What Does TikTok As A Search Engine Mean For Digital Marketers?

A shift toward TikTok as a search engine is worth paying attention to if you work with social media.

TikTok is rapidly becoming a threat to other social media sites, and even to Google.

In late 2021, TikTok topped Google as the most popular domain. In Q1 2022, TikTok was the most downloaded app worldwide across all categories.

Tech giants are aware of the threat TikTok poses and are responding by doubling down on short-form video.

Google has been pushing Web Stories and YouTube Shorts, while Meta is making Reels an integral component of Facebook and Instagram.

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Short-form video is enjoying a renaissance across the web, and it’s not just TikTok where people go to search for it. On YouTube, which is also often used as a search engine, short videos are now generating 30 billion views per day.

For marketers, it’s time to consider responding to the demand for short-form video by adding it to your content strategy.

The demand for TikTok-like content isn’t about to slow down any time soon, and support for the format from Google and other tech giants is at an all-time high.

Now is an opportune time to branch out and get in front of new customers by diversifying your content output.

Insights From SEJ Experts

I reached out to industry veterans on the Search Engine Journal team for their insight into TikTok as a search engine, as it’s not the first time this has happened to a social media site.

I asked Brent Csutoras, a Managing Partner: What should be done in response to this paradigm shift, if anything?

“As a marketer, part of your job is to find where people tell stories that influence your target audience,” he explained. “Learn how effective storytelling is happening on that platform, and then participate with your own stories in a way that your new audience will respect and ultimately accept and engage with.”

Csutoras continued, “We have seen social aggregate sites become search engines throughout the years, from the days of Delicious, throughout the years with Reddit and YouTube, and now with TikTok. Any place where users begin searching for content through search on a regular basis is a place where marketers should be paying attention to and participating within, so long as they have a meaningful story to tell that audience.”

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In Summary

Regardless of how you feel about people searching on TikTok, they’re doing it, and some are even using it instead of Google.

So if that’s where your audience is going, that’s where you need to be.

That doesn’t mean you need to abandon the content you’re currently making. Instead, think about how you can make that content discoverable on TikTok.

One route many publishers are going is repurposing traditional content; for example, adapting web articles for short-form videos.

People searching for that topic on TikTok will find the video, and if they want to learn more than what can be communicated in a short clip, they’ll visit the publisher’s website.

As Csutoras said: It’s not unlike the evolution of social networks in the past. It’s just a different medium.


Featured Image: Diego Thomazini/Shutterstock

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See also  44% of TikTok’s all-time downloads were in 2019, but app hasn’t figured out monetization

SEO

SEO Tips For Expanding Into German-Speaking Markets

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SEO Tips For Expanding Into German-Speaking Markets

So, you’re ready to expand into the land of wheat beer, sausage, and potatoes?

I’ve got good news for you!

With a large and affluent consumer base, Germany is an attractive market for many businesses.

But there’s one little catch: you need localization.

What’s localization, you ask?

Well, it has a lot to do with adapting your messaging to meet local cultural standards.

And while that first and foremost includes the language, it also covers traditions, humor, market expectations, and more.

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Regardless of whether you’re looking to expand into Germany or another country, you must understand your audience’s unique needs and how to reach them before you can successfully market your business to them.

So, before you go and start directly translating your English content strategy into German, you should know that adapting to German SEO is far more than just a translation job.

German consumers have different search habits, preferences, and intent than English speakers.

Simply translating your existing content strategy is only about 10% of a true German market expansion.

To succeed in German-speaking markets with SEO, you must create a German SEO strategy from scratch.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Why A German Market Expansion Is Worthwhile

Even though localization requires additional effort, Germany is one primary market that’s absolutely worth it to invest in. Here’s why:

  • The German-speaking DACH region (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) is a thriving consumer market. Thanks to each country’s large GDP per capita, they enjoy a high standard of living – which means consumers have more money to spend on new products.
  • The DACH region has a 93% average internet penetration, which means there are 94 million internet users in the market. In a nutshell: comprehensive internet access + high standard of living = more money for your brand.
  • In Germany, 91% of internet users rely on Google for their search needs. This makes SEO in particular a powerful tool for reaching German consumers.

Important note: When expanding your business into the German market, it is essential to work with native speakers to build your SEO strategy, because that’s your direct line for understanding local messaging requirements.

Developing your SEO strategy based on your target market’s needs helps you create quality content that resonates with your audience.

It may even give you a first-mover advantage, especially if your business is in a new and niche industry.

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How To Craft A Winning German SEO Strategy In 6 Steps

Learning how to hang with the Germans at Oktoberfest may seem intimidating and challenging at first.

But with a few key steps, you can create a German SEO strategy that can immensely impact pipeline growth in this burgeoning market.

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The 6 Steps For Building A Winning SEO Strategy In The German Market

Localize your business strategy Prep your site structure Find your German competitors
Do German keyword research Localize your keyword map Localize your content

1. Localize Your Business Strategy

Let me give you a concrete example of a real business that was recently looking for help expanding in the DACH region.

Due to the U.S. and U.K. being their primary markets, international markets come second place in terms of investment but are still required to bring in high levels of new business.

After looking through their website for about 30 seconds, I noticed a major problem:

Although their website is translated to German (emphasis on the translated, not localized), their chatbot was only offered in English.

I tried typing in German in the chatbot. No reply.

It kept trying to force me to book a call with a person in the U.S.

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I then wrote, “Does this person speak German?” in the German language, but again no reply.

Now imagine this scenario for the potential German customers of this business.

They’ve come to the website from Germany, read through the website in German, and now, do you think they feel comfortable booking a call with an English-speaking salesperson in the US?

I can most wholeheartedly tell you it’s a big “no.”

That’s why it’s not enough to just translate your existing content into German.

You also need German-speaking salespeople and customer service representatives who can interact with buyers in their language.

It’s crucial to localize your entire business strategy, otherwise, your target audience will continue choosing your competitors who do offer the buying experience they expect.

2. Prep Your Site Structure

Now that we’ve gotten the business stuff out of the way, let’s move on to SEO.

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Before creating any content, you first need to check that your website is set up for multiple languages, which is most often done with the URL structure.

There are two options for this:

  • Option 1: example.com/de (the subfolder approach).
  • Option 2: de.example.com (the subdomain approach).

Whenever you have the option within your CMS (content management system) and technical infrastructure, always opt for the subfolder approach.

This helps transfer DA (domain authority) from your main .com domain to your German website, which means you’ll be able to rank for German keywords faster.

Once your site structure is set up, it’s also crucial to use href lang tags on your pages.

This way, you can assign a page to each market. By doing this, you’re more likely to appear in search results for German users looking for content in their language.

3. Find Your German Competitors

When it comes to competitors, localization is a major factor yet again.

While you may already know which websites you’re competing with in your native market, it’s important to understand that they will likely not be your organic search traffic competitors when you enter the German market.

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Let’s say you’re a marketing automation software company that wants to expand into Germany.

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SEOquake is a helpful plugin for comparing SERPs (search engine results page) in different languages and countries.

The main keyword you’d want to rank for in English markets might be “marketing automation tool.”

Here’s what SEOquake shows me as the English SERPs for the U.S.:

Screenshot from search for [marketing automation tool], Google, June 2022

Now take a look at what I get when I search for [marketing automatisierung tool], the German equivalent for that English term, in Germany:

German SERPs for “marketing automatisierung tool” using SEOquakeScreenshot from search for [marketing automatisierung tool], Google, June 2022

This difference is precisely where your opportunity for German market expansion lies.

When you localize keywords and your content to compete against local SERPs, you position your SEO strategy to generate leads and sales with localized high purchase intent keywords.

Just rinse and repeat this strategy for your main keywords and you’ll start to see trends about who your top German search competitors are.

But make sure that you follow up with these readers by offering them a buying experience that’s entirely in German.

4. Do German Keyword Research

Once you have a list of your German competitors, it’s time to do keyword research.

Keywords are the heart of your expansion strategy because that’s where you connect content to the high purchase intent keywords I mentioned above.

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To help you do your keyword research, try the following steps:

Step 1: Set your keyword research tool (here shown with Semrush) to the German market.

Example of Semrush’s keyword overview tool for German keyword researchScreenshot from Semrush, June 2022

Step 2: Using Semrush’s keyword magic tool, type in a German keyword.

I always recommend starting with a vague head keyword, because then you can view the whole related keyword cluster in a list.

Example of Semrush’s keyword magic tool for German keyword researchScreenshot from Semrush, June 2022

Step 3: Then select longtail, search intent match keywords here that have search volume and could potentially fit into your strategy based on the content you’d like to create.

Step 4: The best way to determine where and how certain keywords fit into your content is to check their SERPs by using SEOquake as I showed in the previous section.

One caveat: Semrush can be a bit limited for German SERPs data, so if you’re planning to heavily expand into Germany using SEO, it might be worthwhile to purchase an SEO tool with a more robust German database, such as Sistrix.

The key thing to remember during the keyword localization process is that you shouldn’t just translate keywords from your brand’s first language to German.

While just translating content easily leads to content that’s never even read, the process I described ensures that your content production resources focus on localized keywords that have the opportunity to rank and impact your leads and sales in Germany.

See also  Google Says Hreflang Attributes Should Not Be Used in Anchor Tags

5. Localize Your Keyword Map

After the initial keyword research is done, it’s time to build your keyword map.

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This means crafting German keyword clusters by search intent and ensuring that your German keyword map reflects your target audience’s needs across the sales funnel.

Here’s an example of how my team and I typically lay this out in Google Sheets:

keyword map using google sheetsScreenshot from author, June 2022

 

Doing this also allows you to determine which content from the original English-language website can be transcreated (translated and localized with specific keywords), and which new pages should be created in German.

Some pages in English won’t even need to be transcreated to German if your keyword research shows it’s not relevant to the German market – which is a primary reason why localization is much more laser-focused than pure translation.

6. Localize Your Content

The final step to developing your German SEO strategy is to localize your content.

For each content piece you plan to develop for your German audience, do the following:

Do your research.

Understand what Germans are searching for online, what kinds of content they engage with, and the messaging style they’re used to. One quick example is that German is often much more formal than U.S. and U.K. English.

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Repurpose your top-performing existing content.

If you have existing English content that’s doing well, consider transcreating it into German if the topic is also relevant to the German market.

Make sure to optimize it for local German keywords that have search volume and match search intent to give it the best possible chance of generating leads and sales.

Write new German-specific content.

Creating new and original content is especially important if you’re targeting Germany as a foreign market because there will be elements in Germany that don’t exist in the U.S. and U.K. markets.

When you show the German audience that you understand them by investing in content that’s specifically relevant to them, that’s a significant trust builder that brings them much closer to purchase.

Track your progress.

Track your SEO strategy’s performance in the German-speaking markets using a tool like Semrush (shown in the image below).

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Use the data to find your top content opportunities in this market and continuously update and improve your content plan.

Example of Semrush’s keyword position tracking tool for German keywordsScreenshot from Semrush, June 2022

Efficiently Expand Into The German Market With SEO Using A Proven Process

Expanding your business into new markets can be a daunting task, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding one.

When you break through to new frontiers, you open up a world of opportunities for your business.

So, don’t be afraid to venture into German-speaking markets – with the right SEO strategy in place, you can see amazing success.

More resources:


Featured Image: Stanislaw Mikulski/Shutterstock

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