TikTok Rolling Out Featured Snippets as Search Battle Intensifies

Tik Tok logo

In yet another indication TikTok intends on taking search seriously, the social powerhouse has started rolling out featured snippets on its platform.

Last year, the short-form video network started testing search ads with a view to competing in the PPC space in the coming months. Now, it appears TikTok is looking to further encroach on Google and Microsoft’s territory when it comes to organic search, too.

What are TikTok’s featured snippets?

Similarly to Google’s featured snippets approach, TikTok has now started surfacing enhanced results in response to particular search queries. 

This initial roll-out seems limited to displaying instructional videos from WikiHow, the global crowdsourced how-to site. The narrow scope of content served to users as a snippet suggests TikTok is very much in the testing phase of this feature.

TikTok featured snippet screenshot

On our first hand-on impressions, it appears that featured snippets will work very similar to Google’s How-to schema

That is, TikTok’s search algorithm will determine that the user is looking for an answer to a very specific question, and serve them enhanced results which directly address that problem. In SEO terms, we’d refer to these types of queries as containing longtail, informational keywords. 

Over time, we’d expect to see TikTok continue to augment its search experience for users, as it looks to both steal traffic from the likes of Google but also respond to the threat of AI-powered search.

Why is TikTok so invested in search?

Although owner ByteDance posted record profits for 2022, TikTok has continued to be a loss-making subsidiary - such meteoric growth has clearly come at a substantial cost. 

With that in mind, the platform has been determined to unlock additional revenue streams - and it’s no surprise that search plays a major role in these plans.

Not only has TikTok surpassed Google as the number one most-visited site in the world, but it’s also posing an existential threat to the search giant’s core product. 

According to a Google-led study last year, almost 40% of Gen Z users preferred the likes of TikTok and Instagram over Google Maps or Search for information-led searches. At the time of writing, that number is doubtless even higher.

Just 12 months ago, the terms TikTok SEO and TikTok PPC were practically unheard of. Now, they may become just as important to a marketer’s toolkit as a Google-first approach.

How has Google responded to the threat of TikTok search?

For its part, not only has Google accelerated plans to compete in AI-powered search, it’s also responding to an increased user appetite for video content through the use of its own featured snippets.

While it may previously have been accused of heavily pushing its own YouTube product at the expense of other video platforms, we’re seeing an increasing number of video carousel snippets surfacing in Google search, which often include TikTok content:

Google TikTok carousel screenshot

What does this mean for the future of SEO?

It’s clear that Google faces stiff competition in a way not seen or heard of in many years. Not just from ‘linear’ search counterparts such as Microsoft’s Bing, but social platforms such as TikTok, too.

Competition is often the catalyst for innovation, so as an SEO agency, we at ICS-digital are excited rather than concerned by recent developments. It’s possibly too soon to say whether the landscape of search will be turned on its head in 2023. But a long-term sea change certainly feels like it’s already in progress.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your SEO activities in a holistic and future-proof your marketing activities for 2023 and beyond.