TikTok creators have more ways to optimize their content for user searches, thanks to a significant increase in the length of video descriptions.
According to a notification sent to users, TikTok is extending the length of descriptions from 300 characters to 2,200 characters.
In addition to making content more searchable, TikTok says it uses text in the description to decide which videos to recommend to users.
Social media analyst Matt Navarra shares a screenshot of the message he received regarding the change:
Wow…! TikTok has increased the video description character limit to 2,200 characters!
It’s huge for creators and huge in terms of TikTok’s plans to become a search engine pic.twitter.com/kGhnL97uUM
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) September 23, 2022
The message reads as follows:
“You can now enter up to 2200 characters in the descriptions of your publications: this allows you to express more details about your creations, describing what your videos show, giving you the opportunity to connect with your audience, generating more engagement while becoming more searchable and better recommended by TikTok to viewers.
Younger generations are increasingly using TikTok as a search engine, and TikTok is leaning more into this by allowing users to make their videos more search-friendly.
I first wrote about this change in search behavior in June, when TikTok started adding links to search results in video descriptions.
See: Could TikTok be a search engine? For many users, this is already the case
In July, Google publicly acknowledged that TikTok and Instagram are the search engines of choice for a significant number of young people.
Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president of Google declared:
“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place to have lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search, they go to TikTok or Instagram.”
Increasing the length of video descriptions from 300 to 2,200 characters allows users to optimize videos for more search terms.
For example, local businesses that market on TikTok can include more keywords related to their city and state.
This could increase their chances of being found for a query like “independent businesses in downtown Toronto”. And they will have ample space to add descriptive text on the video.
Increasing the number of characters also allows creators to add more context to what people see in a video.
Creators often provide additional details via subtitles in the video, but this text is not helpful to search engines.
Let’s not forget that Google indexes TikTok videos. Writing detailed descriptions can make videos more visible in traditional search engines and TikTok.
It will be interesting to see what the creators choose to do with thousands of additional characters in a video description.
Will creators fill the description box with keywords, like in the early days of SEO?
Will they spam the description area with hashtags, like people did on Instagram?
Some experimentation will be required to find out what works for TikTok search, so we can see all of the above.
TikTok SEO is an area I will be keeping an eye on as the extended character length rolls out to more people.
Featured image: Daniel Constante/Shutterstock