Gen Z uses TikTok as a search engine. Is this the end of Google?

Since they’re old enough to be ashamed of their elders, Generation Z have reclaimed many of the things we once loved.

Take the side haircut, crying smiling emoji and skinny jeans; just a few of the many remnants of the recent past that zoomers have decided – often rightly so – that we should leave them behind.

But is now the time for Google, the number one search engine, to suffer the same fate and fade into obscurity?

For Gen Z, TikTok is the place to go if you’re looking for answers. Where can you find nice cafes in the city? What is the best Italian restaurant in London? What exhibitions are there in Paris? How do you write a cover letter? How do you make a clean break-up?

While these might be questions that boomers and millennials would Google and find on WikiHow or Tripadvisor, it turns out that Gen Z seeks advice from the same app bursting with dance trends and pop music.

As early as 2021, web security and performance company Cloudflare reported that its video app had overtaken Google in the number of searches on its platform.

With over three million downloads worldwide and a growing audience, TikTok’s use as a search engine has risen rapidly, to the point that many are wondering if it will eventually dethrone Google and end its decades-long supremacy.

At the Brainstorm Tech conference in the summer of last year, Google senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan said that the company’s studies have shown that “about 40 percent of young people, when looking for a place to eat lunch, don’t turn to Google Maps” or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram”.

In this case, Raghavan didn’t seem necessarily concerned about what Generation Z’s habits mean for Google’s future, but acknowledged that the journey into online information gathering began “in different forms than before, visually rich forms”.

As new users reach an age where they start looking for things online on TikTok and Instagram, Google will have to “raise whole new expectations” by using a “totally new technology” as Raghavan said to beat the competition from the two social media platforms. apps.

Using TikTok as a search engine has many advantages: up-to-date and quickly delivered information (usually contained in videos of less than a minute); an ever-evolving algorithm that you know well; and generally engaging content.

According to various media interviews with users, Generation Z finds information on TikTok more personal – and therefore ‘real’ and more valuable – than a search result on Google.

“The platform’s algorithm is designed to provide users with content they are likely to be interested in, based on their previous interactions,” Abdul Rahim, an IT professional and the founder and CEO of Software Test Tips, told Euronews Next.

“This personalization has resulted in a highly engaging and entertaining user experience that keeps users coming back for more. In addition, TikTok has become a hub for DIY tutorials, fashion and beauty tips, and more, making it an excellent resource for users to discover new products, ideas, and trends.

But the exact same benefits can also be viewed less positively. TikTok’s algorithm, by keeping users on the platform for as long as possible, makes it harder to leave the app to fact-check information.

The platform, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, does not – for now – penalize misinformation on its platform, instead prioritizing user engagement and popularity.

Personalized search results can make our echo chambers even tighter and more stifling.

But as TikTok’s popularity grows and the app dwindles Google’s popularity, it seems unlikely that it will completely replace the number one search engine in the world.

“While Gen Z technology users can rely on TikTok for all kinds of searches, it is a step too far to suggest that TikTok will surpass Google as the number one search engine in the world, let alone make Google obsolete,” said Nick Swan. technical expert and founder of, a tool that helps customers get more search traffic from Google.

“It is true that younger people prefer video-based social media platforms and as a result smart social media posters can position themselves as ‘micro-influencers’ on platforms like TikTok. How? Offering simple but practical online advice – similar to searching for a topic on Google,” added Swan.

“Once seen as a platform to share videos of popular dances, you can now find videos that simplify a random housing act that you had never heard of before TikTok”.

But Google still has a lot to offer, says Hannah Campbell, co-founder and general manager of digital marketing firm One Twelve Agency.

“I don’t think it’s possible for Google to be completely replaced by TikTok,” she said.

TikTok is just not great for researching hard information or recommendations specific to a particular topic or region.

“Although TikTok search usage for Gen Z is a powerfully changing tide, there are still several generations older than Gen Z who will never follow this trend.

“We should also remember that Gen Z also uses Google; TikTok is just not great for researching hard information or recommendations specific to a particular topic or region.”

Google has also built its reputation over two decades and is generally considered more reliable than information found on TikTok. The search engine is also faster at collecting information while TikTok lags behind.

In addition, Google is constantly trying to improve and keep up with the competition.

“It is wise not to think of Google as a constant. While the interface has barely changed since its 1998 beta release, the technology and algorithms behind the interface are constantly being modified and updated to meet the needs of users and advertisers,” said Campbell.

“For example, if TikTok starts to overtake search because users are bored by too many promoted posts on Google, it is likely that Google will adjust their algorithm to fix this problem,” he added.

If Google can ensure that its users are always satisfied that they have learned enough about a topic to help achieve a specific goal after reading a website’s content, especially without having to go back to other information if possible then Google will easily remain as the number one search engine in the world,” Swan said.

Google could try to catch up with TikTok by being a little more like the video app. Last September, Google announced new features that make searching faster and more visual for users.

The search result we’re used to — 1 out of 1,384 pages of text and black-on-white links — may soon be a thing of the past — like taking selfies from above and identifying which Hogwarts houses we belong to.

Google will continue to have the most information about how people search, understand how they process information and human behavior, and with their updates to create more dynamic results, they will continue to be the single source for bringing together information from multiple touchpoints. Marina Glavan, Senior Strategist at marketing agency AMV BBDO.

“Until TikTok can act as a one-stop shop for all information and creators can understand user questions as well as Google, the platform will struggle to fully catch up with Google.”

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