TikTok’s latest testing feature aims to improve the app’s search capabilities – TechCrunch
TikTok is testing a new feature that improves the popular short-form video app’s search functions. The new feature highlights keywords in comments and links to search results for the term. TikTok’s search feature already lets users discover content and trends, but the new feature would push the app’s search capabilities even further. The test feature also shows that TikTok is interested in competing more than its rivals on social media, as it is now looking to cut Google’s commodities as well.
It looks like the feature is currently available to a small group of users who are part of a limited test. When we asked for comment on the test, a TikTok spokesperson said the company had nothing to share at this time.
There’s already talk of TikTok acting as a search engine for Gen Z, and the new feature would position the app as an even bigger threat to Google.
The test comes as Google itself has acknowledged that TikTok is cutting into its search product. Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan, who heads Google’s Knowledge & Information organization, recently noted that younger users often turn to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search or Maps for discovery. He pointed out that young users are looking to experience content in new and immersive ways.
For example, Raghavan said nearly 40% of young people go to TikTok or Instagram when looking for a place to eat, as opposed to Google Maps or Search. He had noted that Google planned to improve Google Search to meet younger users’ demand for visual content, indicating that the threat it faces from TikTok is forcing it to rethink its strategy.
TikTok has been able to function successfully as a search engine thanks to its ability to quickly display relevant and short videos based on what you are looking for at the time. For example, if you’re looking for a banana bread recipe, you might be able to find a better one on TikTok, as opposed to Google search. When you google the recipe, you’ll likely get search results that prioritize long blog posts where you have to scroll down a bit before you get to the recipe. On the other hand, TikTok will present you quick, precise and short recipe videos.
All of this shows that TikTok is already successfully eating Google’s staples and that it plans to improve in this area.
However, if TikTok is looking to position itself as a search engine, it will need to ensure that the results it shows are high quality and actually good, not just popular. For example, just because a recipe has gone viral doesn’t mean it’s the best. People have found ways to optimize their pages on Google using SEO for maximum exposure, leading to poor results in some cases, suggesting creators could end up doing the same thing on TikTok with crafted videos to go viral. The new Keyword Testing feature could change how TikTok works in some ways, as creators can start including popular keywords in their posts to improve their content’s rankings and reach more viewers. All of this begs the question of whether visual search with algorithmic ranking on TikTok will actually yield better results than Google.
There is also the issue of trust and accuracy, as some younger users may use TikTok to search for medical information. Young users may be eager to trust medical information on TikTok simply because it’s relevant to them and has a lot of views, much like how some people may trust optimized search results to show up. on the first page of Google search, which raises questions. around trust.
It should also be noted that TikTok’s take on a search engine would be different from Google’s search model. For example, Google indexes the web and sends users to other websites, while TikTok tries an internal search model that keeps users on its app while meeting their search needs.
TikTok has already proven to be a dominant threat in the social media industry and seems to be preparing to take on the next Google search by improving its search functions even further.