Since they’ve been old enough to be embarrassed by their elders, Gen Zers have made many of the things we used to love obsolete.
Take the side haircut, the crying and laughing emoji, and the skinny jeans; just a few of the many relics of the recent past that zoomers have decided, often rightly, that we should leave behind.
But is now the time for Google, the number one search engine, to suffer a similar fate and fade into oblivion?
For Gen Z, TikTok is the place to go when looking for answers. Where to find cute cafes in the city? What is the best Italian restaurant in London? What exhibitions are there in Paris? How to write a cover letter? How to have a clean break?
While these may be questions that boomers and millennials would ask Google and find on WikiHow or Tripadvisor, Gen Z was found to be seeking advice from the very app that explodes with dance and pop music trends.
Back in 2021, web security and performance company Cloudflare reported that the video app had surpassed Google for the number of searches on its platform.
With more than three million downloads worldwide and a growing audience, TikTok’s use as a search engine has risen rapidly, to the point that many wonder if it could eventually unseat Google and end its decades-long supremacy.
At the Brainstorm technology conference In the summer of last year, Google’s senior vice president, Prabhakar Raghavan, said the company’s studies have found that “something like almost 40 percent of young people, when looking for a place to have lunch, don’t go to Google.” Maps”. or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
In this case, Raghavan didn’t seem necessarily concerned about what Gen Z habits mean for Google’s future, instead acknowledging that the journey to gathering information online began “in different ways than before, visually rich ways.” “.
As new users reach an age where they start looking for things online on TikTok and Instagram, Google will have to “evoke completely new expectations” using “brand new technology”, as Raghavan put it, to keep up with the competition of the two social networking applications.
There are many advantages to using TikTok as a search engine: up-to-date information delivered quickly (usually contained in videos under a minute); a constantly evolving algorithm that knows you well; and generally engaging content.
According to various media interviews conducted with users, Gen Z finds the information on TikTok to be more personalized and therefore more “real” and valuable than a Google search result.
“The platform’s algorithm is designed to provide users with content that they are likely to be interested in, based on their previous interactions,” Abdul Rahim, an IT professional and founder and CEO of Software Test Tips, told Euronews Next.
“This customization has resulted in a very engaging and entertaining user experience that keeps users coming back for more. Additionally, TikTok has become a hub for DIY tutorials, fashion and beauty tips, and more, making it a great source for users to discover new products, ideas, and trends.”
But these same benefits could also be viewed in a less positive light. TikTok’s algorithm, by keeping users on the platform as long as possible, makes it more difficult to leave the app to verify information.
The platform, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, still does not penalize misinformation on its platform, but rather prioritizes user participation and popularity.
Personalized search results could make our echo chambers even more cramped and stifling.
But while TikTok’s popularity is growing and the app is driving Google’s popularity down, it seems unlikely that it will completely replace the world’s number one search engine.
“While Gen Z tech users can rely on TikTok for all sorts of searches, to suggest that TikTok will overtake Google as the number one search engine in the world, let alone make Google obsolete, is going too far.” Nick Swan said. Technology expert and founder of www.SEOTesting.com, a tool that helps clients increase Google search traffic.
“It is true that younger people are favoring video-based social media platforms, and as a result, savvy social media posters can position themselves as ‘micro-influencers’ on platforms like TikTok. As? Offering simple but practical online advice, terribly similar to Googling a topic,” Swan added.
“Once seen as a trendy dance video sharing platform, you can now find videos that simplify an act of arbitrary housing that you hadn’t heard of before on TikTok.”
But Google still has a lot to offer, said Hannah Campbell, co-founder and CEO of digital marketing firm One Twelve Agency.
“‘I don’t think it’s possible for Google to be completely replaced by TikTok,” he said.
“As much as TikTok search usage for Gen Z is a powerful changing tide, there are still several generations older than Gen Z who will never follow this trend.
“We must also not forget that Generation Z is also using Google; TikTok is just not that good for finding solid information or specific recommendations for a particular topic or geography.”
Google has also built its reputation over two decades and is generally considered more trustworthy than the information found on TikTok. The search engine is also faster at gathering information as it happens, while TikTok lags behind.
Furthermore, Google is also constantly trying to improve itself and keep up with the competition.
“It is prudent to avoid thinking of Google as a constant. While the interface has barely changed since its Beta version in 1998, the technology and algorithms behind the interface are constantly being adjusted and updated based on the needs of users and advertisers,” Campbell said.
“If, for example, TikTok started to get ahead in search because users got bored with too many promoted posts on Google, then Google is likely to tweak its algorithm to alleviate this problem,” he added.
“If Google can ensure that its users always feel satisfied that they have learned enough about a topic to help them achieve a specific goal after reading the content of a website, especially without needing to search for other information if possible, then Google comfortably remains the number one search engine in the world,” Swan said.
Google could try to catch up with TikTok by becoming a bit more like the video app. In September of last year, Google announced new features that will make searching a faster and more visual experience for users.
The search result we’re used to (1 of 1,384 pages of black and white text and links) could soon become a thing of the past, like taking selfies from above and declaring 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 its updates to create more dynamic results, it will continue to be the single source for gathering information from multiple touch points.” Marina said. Glavan, a senior strategist at marketing agency AMV BBDO.
“Until TikTok can act as a one-stop-shop for all information, and creators can understand user queries as well as Google, the platform will have a hard time overtaking Google entirely.”