TikTok Algorithm Explained: How Does it Work + 12 Strategies

May 03, 2024
TikTok Algorithm

TikTok is undoubtedly one of the most popular social media platforms available. With over one billion active monthly users, it’s a great platform for promoting your brand. But if you’re not a celebrity or an influencer with a large following, it can be difficult to ensure your content’s visibility without a thorough understanding of the TikTok algorithm.

In today’s article, we’ll explain how the TikTok algorithm works and how you can use it to your advantage. We’ll also offer expert strategies to help increase your reach and engagement. 

Let’s start!

What is the TikTok Algorithm?

What is the TikTok Algorithm?

The TikTok algorithm is an automatic system designed by IT engineers that determines what content appears on a user’s For You page. This system is based on different factors, such as the user’s viewing habits and choices, tailoring the For You page to provide a unique experience for each user. 

The platform defines the For You page as:

“A stream of videos curated to your interests, making it easy to find content and creators you love … powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that’s likely to be of interest to that particular user.”

The recommendation system will adapt to your preferences to provide you with the optimal  experience. So what you see today on your For You page will likely be quite different from what you see tomorrow.

How TikTok Algorithm Works in 2024: 4 Key Ranking Factors

How exactly the TikTok algorithm works in 2024 is still somewhat of a mystery, as the company that owns TikTok is quite secretive about its revolutionary system. But it’s safe to assume that what we know about the algorithm from the past is still largely in place (unless you’re in the EU).

In 2020, TikTok shed some light on the key factors and ranking signals that its algorithm uses to recommend videos on the platform. Since then, the closest we have gotten to exposing the TikTok algorithm in recent years was when TikTok CEO Shou Chew discussed it in his 2023 TED interview

During the session, he clarified how their algorithm determines what content to show to users: pattern recognition. In the example he provided, he explained that when three people like the exact same video at the same time, they are grouped together. 

Then, the algorithm looks at other content that each user enjoys and recommends this to the other two to see if they’d be interested as well. This is unlike the Facebook algorithm, which only focuses on the individual user’s behavior.

Based on their announcement, the main ranking signals that the TikTok algorithm will use in 2024 are:

#1. Engagement

The TikTok algorithm prioritizes engagement in its content ranking. This means that it will rank these videos much higher on the For You page:

  • Liked, shared, or favorited videos
  • Videos where the user commented
  • Completed videos

In addition to being posted at peak times, the TikTok algorithm considers videos with longer watch times and higher engagement rates valuable and relevant, so it will continue to recommend them to other users.

#2. User Interactions

Aside from engagement metrics, user interaction is also important for the TikTok algorithm, meaning they examine what content the user regularly watches and what accounts they follow and interact with to understand their preferences.

Suppose you watch a lot of DIY clips, and your follow list consists mostly of DIY pages; the algorithm will continue to supply you with more videos in that category. As the user’s viewing habits change over time, the algorithm will use this metric to continuously adjust to their interests.

Keeping up with what’s trending on the platform is an easy way to maintain relevance and ensure that your content stays visible.

#3. Video Information

The next factor that the TikTok algorithm considers is your video’s information, such as:

  • Video length
  • Captions
  • Sound used
  • Effect used 
  • Hashtags and keywords
  • Content topic

To help the algorithm rank your video better, include as much relevant information as possible in its caption, hashtags, and content. Doing so will help you reach your target audience and boost your video’s discoverability.

#4. Device & Account Settings

Account indicators are the least impactful signal for content optimization on TikTok because people don’t manually set these parameters as part of their preference, and they are essentially passive. 

The algorithm considers factors such as language preferences, device type, country settings, and category selection when making recommendations.

What Factors Are Not Included in the TikTok Algorithm?

The TikTok algorithm doesn’t factor in follower count or views on previous videos in its ranking. So, if you’re a creator trying to increase your views, you may think that the TikTok algorithm is broken if your view count doesn’t reflect the same number as your followers.

One way to ensure that you maintain a high view count is by consistently posting engaging and interesting content. It’s important to avoid focusing on virality alone and instead create content that resonates with your audience.

What the TikTok Algorithm Excludes from Recommendations

While the TikTok algorithm uses several factors to recommend content, not all videos on the platform qualify to even be considered

Some content types that TikTok won’t recommend include:

  • Duplicate content
  • Content you’ve already seen
  • Potentially offensive content
  • Videos under review

This is because the app’s goal is to get users to stay on the platform for as long as possible. If they keep seeing the same content or something potentially offensive, they will likely exit the app right away.

11+ Expert Tips & Strategies for Working With the TikTok Algorithm in 2024

TikTok Algorithm

Figuring out the social media algorithm can be tricky, especially with one as fickle as TikTok’s. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to improve your content’s visibility and reach on the platform. 

Let’s go over our expert tips for working with the TikTok algorithm in 2024.

#1. Optimize Your Hashtags

Using the right hashtags can boost your content’s visibility on the platform. The TikTok algorithm relies on hashtags to categorize your post and connect it with users who are interested in that topic. So, while you can use trending hashtags in your videos to improve discoverability, make sure to have ones that are relevant to your brand and content.

Publer has a built-in hashtag generator that analyzes different hashtags, so you can easily find and use the perfect ones for your TikTok content. You can also check the trending hashtags on TikTok by searching for a keyword and going to the Hashtags tab.

#2. Create High-Quality Videos

While not every video needs to be strategically planned and thoroughly edited, high-quality content will garner more traction on the For You page, period

The key is knowing what your target audience wants to see. If your main audience is mainly home improvement enthusiasts and interior designers, create content that can inspire them and appeal to their interests, such as color harmony or trendy interior design styles.

In this context, high quality can also mean being properly optimized. Each social media platform has different rules and specifications regarding content, such as the aspect ratio and video length. Following these requirements will ensure that your videos offer the optimal viewing experience on the app.

You can also use TikTok’s unique platform features, like editing tools and audio selection, to improve the quality of your video and make it more engaging.

#3. Post at The Right Time

As with any social media platform, it’s important to know when to post for the TikTok algorithm. Recency and relevance are two key factors that the algorithm considers when ranking content, so posting when your audience is most active will help you succeed on the For You page.

There are several ways to determine when to post; the first is by following guides on the best time to post on TikTok, and the second is by analyzing your content’s performance on the platform. 

When you use Publer scheduling for your TikTok posts, we do the heavy lifting for you and automatically evaluate your post metrics to find your peak hours. Then, we present this information on the Best Times to Post graph to streamline your social media posting schedule.

#4. Jump on TikTok Trends

Following trends is one of the best and simplest ways to encourage the TikTok algorithm to push your content on the For You page. From viral audio to filters, challenges, and topics, there’s no shortage of trends on the platform. To give your content the best chances of virality, check out the trends for 2024 and think of ways to incorporate them into your brand.

By maintaining your brand’s voice or aesthetic in your content, you’ll be able to connect with users who are genuinely interested in it. You might even get views and engagement from users outside your main demographic, which will further improve your video’s visibility.

#5. Make The First Few Seconds Impactful

The longer a user watches your video, the better its ranking will be on the For You page. The TikTok algorithm prioritizes user watch time, so it’s important to reel your viewers in right at the start, or they might scroll away.

One way to do this is by opening your video with a hook and then proceeding with the rest of your content. If you’re just starting out, it’s better to avoid filler introductions that won’t contribute to the video, as viewers can lose interest quickly.

In addition to the actual content, you can also use great visuals to engage your audience. Add some text overlays, funny voiceovers, and sound effects to make the viewer stay and finish your video.

#6. Use Relevant Keywords

Like hashtags, the right keywords are also important for the TikTok algorithm. Captions don’t just provide context for users but also help the algorithm understand what your video is about.

TikTok captions can have up to 2,200 characters, and you can make proper use of this feature by crafting an engaging caption with relevant and trending keywords. If you’re unsure of what to write, Publer has a fantastic AI tool to help you create unique captions in seconds. 

Remember that most users will only see the first sentence, as they would have to tap on it to view the full caption, so make sure all crucial information is in the very beginning. You can also include keywords in your voiceovers or on-screen text, as the algorithm considers these elements as well.

#7. Utilize TikTok Analytics

Consistently monitoring your performance on the platform is crucial for your success. Using TikTok analytics is a great way to gain valuable insights into your audience’s behavior and preferences on the app so you can adjust your social media strategy as necessary.

Some factors you can look for include:

  • Watch time and views
  • Profile visits and follows
  • Video downloads
  • Interactions (likes, comments, and shares)
  • Trending videos
  • Audience demographic

By analyzing this information, you’ll be able to determine what elements and factors can help your videos perform better and rank higher on TikTok.

#8. Experiment with Video Length

With TikTok known as a short-form video platform, you may be surprised to know that videos can be up to 10 minutes long. However, this doesn’t mean you should start treating it like YouTube and publishing long-form videos. 

The completion rate is still important for the TikTok algorithm, and if you can’t sustain the viewer’s interest for that long, it’s better to go with a shorter video.

Your optimal TikTok video length can vary depending on your topic or niche, and one way to determine this is by experimenting. Try creating shorter videos that are packed with information and delivered in the quick storytelling manner that’s popular on the platform to see how well it performs against a longer video that discusses the topic at length.

#9. Find Your Niche

While you don’t necessarily need a niche on TikTok, as the platform offers creative freedom to its users, having one will help you gain more followers and build brand awareness. Find your niche early on and focus on creating content relevant to this category to build a dedicated following.

Aside from new followers, creators with a clearly defined identity on TikTok can have opportunities for collaborations with established brands, which can be great for monetizing content and further increasing visibility on the platform.

#10. Create a Series

We don’t mean the premium TikTok feature, Series, but an actual series. Posting consistently is important on any platform, especially on TikTok. However, this can be difficult to do indefinitely, as topics and inspiration can sometimes be hard to come by.

With a video series, you’ll have an easier time figuring out what your next video will be, as you have a formula to follow for your content. Series also make you more predictable, meaning users will know what to expect from your videos, which can encourage them to visit your profile more often to see if you’ve posted a sequel.

You can use Publer’s automatic scheduling feature to publish your posts weekly at the same time. By letting your followers know when a new part will be up, you can ensure that your video gets considerable views and engagement.

#11. Improve Your Content’s Accessibility

TikTok has built-in features, like text-to-speech captions, to improve the accessibility of your videos. But you can also add these captions yourself to ensure that they accurately reflect what you’re saying in the video.

Making your content more accessible will help it appeal to viewers who are hard of hearing or who prefer to scroll on the app without any sound.

#12. Interact With Other TikTok Users

Interacting with other users, whether through official collaborations or simply reacting to or responding to their videos, is a surefire way to get views and engagement, which is great for the TikTok algorithm. 

You can duet, stitch, or create video replies to other users’ videos. Just make sure that when you do, you add value to the original content while still staying true to your brand. 

Publish quality content consistently when you use Publer to schedule your TikTok posts!

Key Takeaways

  • The TikTok algorithm is the system that recommends the videos you see on the For You page.
  • The 2024 TikTok algorithm considers engagement and video information to determine how interesting it will be to a user. On the user side, the algorithm considers previous interactions and device and account settings to deliver the most relevant content.
  • When ranking content, the TikTok algorithm does not consider duplicate videos or those that the user has already seen, videos that are under review, or videos that contain potentially offensive topics.
  • There are several ways to work with the TikTok algorithm in 2024, such as by optimizing your video descriptions with relevant keywords and hashtags, creating high-quality and relevant videos, and utilizing TikTok trends and content formats on the platform.

TikTok Algorithm FAQ

How does TikTok choose a video for you?

TikTok chooses videos to show on your For You page by analyzing different factors, such as your interactions, likes, and comments on the platform.

How do I reset the TikTok algorithm?

Users can reset the TikTok algorithm by utilizing the platform’s “Refresh your For You feed” feature. Simply open the app and go to Settings and Privacy, then scroll down to Content Preferences until you see this option.

How do I increase my TikTok views?

There are several ways to increase your TikTok views, such as using trending sounds, jumping on trends, and consistently posting quality and engaging content. Focusing on user satisfaction when creating your videos will naturally attract viewers.

Is the TikTok algorithm random?

No, the TikTok algorithm is not random. While the TikTok algorithm can sometimes seem random, as it can recommend content you haven’t interacted with or liked in the past, this is simply part of how it works. The algorithm shows users content that it thinks they might like to learn their preferences and tailor its future content recommendations.

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