TikTok creators have more ways to optimize their content for users’ searches, thanks to a significant increase in the length of video descriptions.
According to a notification sent to users, TikTok is expanding 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:
Woah…! TikTok has increased video description character limit to 2,200 characters!
This is huge for creators and massive in terms of TikTok’s plans for becoming a search engine pic.twitter.com/kGhnL97uUM
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) September 23, 2022
The message reads:
“You can now type up to 2200 characters in your posts’ descriptions: This allows you to express more details about your creations, describing what your videos show, giving you the opportunity to get closer to 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 further into it by letting users make their videos more search friendly.
I first wrote about this shift in search behavior in June, when TikTok started adding links to search results in video descriptions.
In July, Google publicly acknowledged that TikTok and Instagram are the preferred search engines for a sizeable amount of young people.
Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan stated:
“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for 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 marketing themselves on TikTok can include more keywords related to their city and state.
That could increase their chances of getting found for a query like “independent businesses in downtown Toronto.” And they’ll have plenty of room to add descriptive text about the video.
The character increase also allows creators to add more context to what people see in a video.
Creators often provide extra details through in-video captions, but that text isn’t helpful to search engines.
Let’s not forget that Google indexes TikTok videos. Writing detailed descriptions can make videos more discoverable in traditional search engines and TikTok.
It will be interesting to see what creators choose to do with thousands more characters in a video description.
Will creators stuff the description area with keywords, like in the early days of SEO?
Will they spam the description area with hashtags, like people used to do on Instagram?
Some experimentation will be necessary to learn what works for TikTok search, so we may see all of the above.
TikTok SEO is an area I’ll keep my eye on as the expanded character length rolls out to more people.
Featured Image: Daniel Constante/Shutterstock