For Gen Z, TikTok is their new favorite search engine, but why is that ? TikTok aims to cater to users’ desires with short digestible videos making it a highly engaging experience. The Gen Z community is dissatisfied with the quality of Google results due to the excessive advertisements that appear as top results and do not always provide the information they require, whereas TikTok produces instant results when searching for a video or it appears in your “For You” page.
TikTok’s “For You” page consists of content that will likely fit your interests. When you first download the app, TikTok will invite new users to select categories of interest, such as food or travel, which will help tailor recommendations to their preferences. This allows new users to interact with the initial feed of videos then as time goes on, depending on your interactions, the app will learn more about your content taste. The chances of looking for relevant results are exorbitant because as an active user of TikTok, it knows information about you and what you are typically looking for.
Gen Z tends to search for lighter topics such as recipes, fashion tips, and restaurants. According to Google’s study, almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they tend to lean towards TikTok or Instagram instead of Google Maps or Search. This trend of turning to a video platform to find a restaurant might harm Google’s core business of search and discovery over time. Google explained how younger people are interested in “visually rich forms” of search and discovery. Younger people’s demand for visual content will change Google Search. In the future, Google is looking toward combining images and text as it imagines where users could hold up their phones to start a search based on what they see in person. When searching for a topic on Google, you get precise results in articles or reports but occasionally, your question is not answered. When you search on TikTok, you are listening to real people and can pick and choose what you want to hear which can lead to a dangerous rabbit hole.
A downfall with TikTok is the spread of misinformation. When a user searches for information on news stories, ranging from health issues to war crimes, nearly 20% of the videos presented as search results contain misinformation, according to a research report by NewsGuard. While analyzing 540 TikTok results on news topics, NewsGuard found that 105 videos contained false or misleading claims. The search terms included neutral phrases. TikTok would suggest more opinionated videos that contained zero research done by professionals. In contrast, when NewsGuard searched neutral phrases on Google, it prompted more straightforward results and reliable information on .edu or .gov sites.
Gen Z hasn’t abandoned Google, but TikTok’s algorithm is more tuned into its users, which is why it is easier to find what you are looking for. Google and other search engines usually require more work to find relevant answers. You may not think of TikTok as a search engine but it is becoming an alternative for younger crowds.