• Recent data shows that some Gen Zers are now using TikTok more than Google as a search engine.
  • TikToker Nadja Marrero uses three SEO strategies to make sure her videos show up in search results.
  • They’ve helped more brands find her account and reach out to partner, which has boosted her income.

When Nadja Marrero first started scrolling through TikTok in 2020, she was frustrated with the skincare content she saw. She said that most of the creators almost always had healthy-looking skin, or noticeably used a lot of makeup in their videos.

She started posting in August 2021 on the social-media platform to create more inclusive content, since her acne and hyperpigmentation were pretty visible.

Now, Marrero has 32,700 followers on TikTok, where she posts videos such as reviews of popular skincare brands like Rare Beauty, products she buys from companies like Target, and the jobs she’s held in the beauty industry.

She told Insider that search-engine optimization, also known as SEO, has helped boost her content more than any other approach she’s taken.

In September, the 19-year-old saw other TikTokers sharing the news that Gen Zers now use the social media platform more than Google to search. The data found that more young people are using the short-video app as a search engine than Google, since TikTok personalizes a user’s videos according to their interests.

After diving into the research, Marrero decided to implement specific techniques to strengthen the SEO of her videos.

The strategies she used to plan and post her videos didn’t just boost her engagement rates and increase the number of followers — it’s helped more brands find her through TikTok’s discover page and reach out to collaborate on skincare and beauty-related content.

In the past four months of optimizing SEO, Marrero has made $7,350 through seven brand deals, according to documentation verified by Insider.

That’s half of the $14,000 she earned in her first year after becoming a content creator, a sum she thinks she’s on track to double in the next year. Before September, when she started prioritizing SEO, she said brands would reach out to her every two months or so.

“I used to have such imposter syndrome because I didn’t think I could contribute anything new to the space,” the Florida-based creator said. “But making the money I am now is validating because it means that brands recognize my influence and that followers trust my recs.”

Auto captions, changing the handle, and specific hashtags for the win

One of the first steps Marrero took to make her content more SEO-friendly was to change her social-media handle to include what her content is about. Before, her TikTok handle was her first name, but she updated it in September to @h8myfacelovemyskin. She also added to her bio the keywords: “skincare, makeup, hair, and beauty.”

“Brands used to tell me they just randomly found my page, but that’s not the case anymore,” she said. “One of them said they’re always typing in the name of the industry when scouting influencers, so this could really help people get spotted.” 

Marrero also turned auto-captions on for her TikToks, which she said helps people scrolling through the discover page immediately identify what a video is about.

And she moved away from using general hashtags such as “skincare” or “beauty,” toward more specific hashtags. If she’s reviewing products for a company like Sephora, for example, she includes the brand’s name in the hashtag and also names specific treatment types or products like tretinoin and azelaic acid.

“I’ve had a huge boost in engagement in the past two months, and some of my older videos have gone super viral,” she said.

Peace Out Skincare was one of the first brands to reach out to Marrero after she started making more SEO-friendly content, and the company paid her $500 for two separate posts. Companies including Neutrogena and Elf Cosmetics also found Marrero through TikTok and reached out to collaborate in recent months.

Marrero now charges $1,500 for each sponsored TikTok but says that the rate depends on the brand, if she’s worked with it before, and specific elements in the contract. She has given lower rates to some brands that she admired before she got into content creation because she genuinely loves their products.

“There’s so much uncertainty when it comes to the rates because every creator is different,” she said. “I got great advice from other TikTokers about what they charge, so now I’m working to be a resource for people just starting out.” 

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