Google Search vs. TikTok – Can We Compare The Two?

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It’s Friday night! You and your friends want to go somewhere to hang out. But where to? There are hundreds and hundreds of choices. So, you all take out your phones and search for a place. The search engine of choice? Tiktok. This very behavior is why people think that TikTok is coming for Google’s crown as the number one search engine. But does it really stand a chance against the dominant search engine for the past 20+ years?

Lower attention spans, ease of access, and fewer advertisements are just some of the reasons why people choose Tiktok over Google when searching for anything online. The younger generation, specifically Gen Z, is leading the charge when it comes to Tiktok usage. 

As it turns out, 40% of them prefer Tiktok search engines over Google or Youtube. 40% is a huge number, and it’s continuously increasing. In the third quarter of 2021, Tiktok had reached a billion users and is expected to almost double that to 1.8 billion by the end of this year. Tiktok had previously joined the pool and almost immediately became a huge competitor for Google’s own video-sharing platform, Youtube. The shorter (way shorter) videos on Tiktok are more attractive than the longer videos on Youtube. Adding to that is Tiktok’s very powerful algorithm known as the FYP. 

Remember that whole debacle when the US almost banned Tiktok? Yeah, no. Millions of Gen Zs would probably rally and protest somewhere if that did happen. Tiktok does get so much of our information. However, isn’t that what Facebook and Google are doing? Tiktok, after all that, is here to stay. The information they have on us is what makes your “For You” page so curated and personalized. Personalization and catering to our likes positioned TikTok to increase its popularity among its users and helped it become the social media platform giant it is now. 

So, for the million-dollar question: will Tiktok dethrone Google?

Strikepoint Media’s short answer is no. But, when is it ever that simple? 

Before we discuss why Google still reigns supreme, at least currently, we’ll discuss just what makes Tiktok so attractive to its users. 

More immersive experiences

Since the content in the platform is in video format, the users are given a much more immersive and visually rich experience. Videos that are shown to you based on likes or previous activity on the app also guarantee that you like what you’re seeing. Once in a while, they’ll sprinkle in other types of content and see how you interact with them. As mentioned earlier, the personalization of the For You page is amazing. The algorithm of Tiktok is very powerful and, as such, can hook you in. You just can’t stop scrolling!

Shorter videos (averaging 21-34 seconds)

As for this feature, it has been noted that Gen Z has a very short attention span, averaging about 8 seconds. 8 seconds! Since most Gen Zs were born and brought up in a very stimulating environment, they tend to get bored of things quickly. If you just want to pass the time, TikTok is a good choice. You can find very entertaining, even informative, videos less than 30 seconds long or shorter. 

Fewer ads on search results

In terms of search results, Google also has quite a few ads on top of the results page. These advertisements make it hard to sift through to get the needed information. TikTok’s ads, on the other hand, blend almost seamlessly with regular content. Otherwise, brands advertise through user-generated content.

While Tiktok does deserve the recognition it’s gotten so far, Google is still king. Google has the lion’s market share with a stunning 91.42% share. While 40% of US Gen Zs prefer TikTok search engines, the rest of the world has yet to switch over. People from other countries use TikTok, but mostly for entertainment, which still leaves Google with so much of the market share with regard to searching for information. 

The user search journey may look different, e.g., searching on TikTok first, but many still prefer verifying the information they’ve learned on Tiktok by searching on Google. TikTok searches are also mainly used for “light” information such as restaurants to go to, travel experiences, products they want to try, etc. The information searched on TikTok can also look very different from what you’d prefer to search on Google. For more serious or weighty information, there’s still an apparent preference for Google. 

There’s also the issue of rampant misinformation on TikTok. Did you know that as of this year, 1 out of 5 videos automatically recommended by the platform contains some form of misinformation? Google is by far better at equipping users to access more accurate information simply by having a ton of results, each of which can be verified by checking the publisher, the author, etc.

With the growing preference for visually rich experiences and native ads, Google has also implemented several changes to its search engines and other services to keep up with the evolving preferences of its users. For example, using other formats besides keywords in searching was implemented earlier this year. Called Multisearch, this feature allows users to use a combination of text and photos when searching for information. Google Maps also has a new feature that allows users to position themselves in their environment using augmented reality. 

At this point, it would be best for us to reiterate that, no, we don’t think Tiktok has succeeded in dethroning Google just yet. With an emphasis on YET. Google is in for a challenge, sure, but they continue to be the biggest search engine in the world, and they’re pushing out updates to help keep its users. But TikTok and other platforms are also not just lying around. These tech giants will be fighting a long and hard battle over the throne, hopefully not Game of Thrones style. We’ll sure keep an eye out for their next moves and let you know.

What do you think? Do you think TikTok can dethrone Google?

For more articles in the world digital marketing, visit the Stikepoint Media Blog


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