Is TikTok Becoming the Newest Search Engine?

“I don’t know. Google it,” a phrase most people have heard or said at least once. While there are other search engines out there, none compare to the hold that Google has on us – that is, for now, at least.

Gen-Z Might Prefer TikTok as a Search Engine

It looks like Google might be getting pushed to the side as many young users are starting to go to TikTok as their first resource for discovery purposes. A recent study by Google showed that almost 40% of Gen Z was going to TikTok or Instagram when looking for a place to get lunch.

TikTok Provides Gen-Z with More “Authentic” Results

This younger generation is tired of scrolling through content curated to specific SEO rules. And as a video-sharing platform, TikTok is incredibly appealing to this visually driven generation. So, for example, when looking for a recipe, Gen Z might go to TikTok first to find a quick video explanation instead of searching Google for written instructions. Since this group of young users also prioritizes information being short and to the point, TikTok is again top of mind with an average video length of 15 seconds.

TikTok is Expanding Their Search Capabilities

Recently, TikTok released a new feature that highlights and links keywords in video comments to search results on the platform. So, now if you have a question about a video, there’s a better chance of you finding the answers on the platform, giving users one less reason to leave the site for a Google search.

TikTok Still Isn’t Google, Though

However, while TikTok might take precedence for some users regarding online discoveries, they’re still no Google. If TikTok wanted to replace the search engine giant, significant changes would need to be made to its platform.

Right Now, Results Aren’t as Trustworthy

Recent studies showed that roughly 1 in 5 TikTok videos contains misleading information. Plus, the top search results on the platform are always the most popular videos, which can spread a lot of inaccurate information. Balancing content popularity with accuracy has yet to be a priority for any social platform, including TikTok. While Google isn’t an absolute source of truth, it does work to fight misinformation by awarding top search results to trusted sources and has rightfully gained a reputation for being reliable.

Specialty VS. Ubiquitous Search Engines

As a specialty search engine, TikTok’s search results are strictly on their own platform with little to no crossover to third-party sites. Their goal is to grow user participation within their platform, not send them elsewhere.

Contrary to this, Google is a ubiquitous search engine. The results they share stretch across multiple platforms. When completing a search on their engine, not only will your results uncover relevant websites but also prominent TikTok and Youtube videos, Reddit posts, Pinterest boards, Facebook pages, etc.

While TikTok becoming a ubiquitous search engine and completely replacing Google is highly unlikely, that doesn’t mean TikTok won’t continue to take user priority away from Google for specific discovery purposes. Especially if TikTok continues to optimize its users’ search experiences through new features and fighting misinformation.