The Secret Behind TikTok’s ‘For You Page’ Algorithm

by | Mar 4, 2022 | Digital marketing, Music Tech

When you open your TikTok app, you will see a page of videos that TikTok labels “For You.” This is a customized collection of videos that TikTok has curated that it believes will meet your taste and interest you. The vast bulk of these videos will likely be from people you don’t know, and if you like the videos, you may end up following their accounts. TikTok’s “For You” page is filled with videos, collated by TikTok’s algorithm, designed to present you with a collection of videos you should enjoy, based on your past behavior on the app.

To many people, having your content appear on people’s “For You” page is the holy grail of TikTok success. It means that TikTok recognizes the quality of your content, over all the other videos that people upload each day. It provides an excellent way for you to gain recognition and have your videos viewed by a wider audience. It also helps move you further along the path of becoming a TikTok influencer.

Let’s go! #foryoupage #Aburi #Accra #KeenyIce #Jonilar #BorderVibesEp

♬ Grind – Keeny Ice

But how do you manage to have TikTok select your videos to go in people’s “For You” pages? Surely, you can’t just make videos and hope for success. There are many videos on YouTube and articles on the net suggesting tricks and dodges you can try to boost your chances. But, the key to TikTok success is no different from any other social platform. The better quality you make your content, and the more you engage, the higher the likelihood that TikTok will consider your videos worthy of adding to people’s “For You” pages.


How to Feature on TikTok’s “For You” Page

TikTok keeps the details of its algorithm secret. All they will acknowledge is that it is based on what you like and whom you follow. It recognizes your tastes and preferences and adjusts the videos it recommends accordingly.

Instagram users will recognize that TikTok’s “For You” landing page is very similar to Instagram’s “Explore” page. Both pages serve the same purpose – to suggest new content to users based on the types of items they have viewed and liked in the past.

The two social apps do have one significant difference in how they use these recommendation pages. When you open Instagram, your initial landing page is a feed of posts made by the people you follow, i.e., the emphasis is on finding the content of your friends and the people you follow have shared. You only go to the Explore page if you feel like widening the content you see. With TikTok, however, your landing page is the “For You” page, encouraging you to try out content from strangers before you look at the videos your friends may have uploaded since you last opened the app.

This is one of the reasons why those looking to increase their TikTok following need to focus on having their videos included in people’s “For You” pages. Everybody starts their app by looking at these pages, making it the perfect way for people to first encounter your videos, and if they like them, follow your account.


TikTok’s algorithm is one of the greatest causes of the app’s success. One of the reasons for this is that it continually searches for new songs to share with its viewers, rather than continuously recycling the songs of existing celebrities and influencers. This makes it much easier for people to build an audience and gain fame, although it does mean that they must continually work on keeping their videos visible to new people. As TikTok influencer, KevboyPerry told Rolling Stone,  “Keeping your audience focused on your video instead of swiping away — the longer they watch, the better it does. TikTok’s rewarding you for keeping the audience on the app.”

Whenever somebody creates and uploads a video, TikTok pushes it to a batch of viewers. A portion of these people will view the video, and the TikTok algorithm evaluates its “Performance Ranking.” The “Performance Ranking” is based on the video’s Completion Ratio (i.e., the percentage of the video the initial viewers watch), shares, comments, and likes. If the resulting “Performance Ratio” is high enough, TikTok will continue to push the video to another group of viewers.

The Completion Ratio is the most critical part of the equation. Therefore, you need to ensure that your video is of enough quality that people watch it until the end – these are only short videos, remember.


What Should You Do to Get on TikTok’s “For You” Page?


1. Create High-Quality Content

Probably the most important requirement for your content to appear on TikTok users’ “For You” pages is that you make high-quality content. TikTok isn’t going to make low definition, poorly shot, blurry, or grainy footage with nothing to interest the viewer available for others to see and share.

Even cheap phones can produce high-quality HD video now, and most countries offer you enough bandwidth to upload high-resolution videos, particularly as TikTok videos are short.  You want your videos to be aesthetically pleasing to potential viewers so that they will watch every second of your video.


2. Make Shorter Videos

With completion rate being such a significant factor in the TikTok algorithm, it makes sense that you produce videos that people will happily watch to the end, rather than skipping through. The shorter your video, the easier it is to achieve this feat. Of course, this doesn’t override the need for high-quality content – your video still needs to be long enough to tell your intended message.


3. Add Music to Your Videos

TikTok (and its predecessor started life as music-synching platforms. Music is still significant to the typical TikTok user.

TikTok is arguably better suited to music backgrounds than any social network or video-sharing platform. They have contracted with most of the major music studios to permit short music excerpts on the platform (remembering that no videos are longer than a minute).

This gives you access to a massive library of music tracks from within TikTok, which you can easily add as a backing track to your videos. If you can’t find one within TikTok, you can still edit music, even original compositions, onto your videos.

As with challenges and preferred content types, you will find that favored music genres change regularly on TikTok. Including trending music on your videos should enhance your chances of TikTok’s algorithm, including your videos on people’s “For You” pages.


4. Don’t Forget to Add Popular Hashtags

Hashtags are vital on TikTok. While you aren’t searching by hashtag when you open your “For You” page, it is still essential that you include popular hashtags that relate to the content of your video.

Some people claim that a few targeted tags, like #foryou or #foryoupage, help improve your chances with TikTok’s algorithm, but others disagree.


5. Make Engaging Content

No matter how good the physical quality of your videos, they need to be about content that will interest people. Remember that TikTok customizes each person’s “For You” page to be relevant to their tastes and interests.

You have two ways of looking at this. You can either make and share general interest videos that will interest a broad audience, or focus on niche videos that interest a smaller group of passionate enthusiasts.

If you opt to go with general interest videos, you will find it harder to break into people’s “For You” pages, because you will have much more competition. However, if you make excellent videos, you have the chance to reach a vast audience.

On the other hand, your niche videos will only appear in the feeds of a small number of people, but they are far more likely to take an interest in your videos and want to follow you to see your future productions.

Remember, the happier you can make a potential audience, the more likely they are to engage, and that will improve your rankings and chances with success with future videos.


6. Keep Up with the Trends

TikTok appears to favor videos that fit in with the prevailing trends and challenges. You are likely to boost your chances of ranking on the “For You” page if you keep up to date with the favored types of videos and enter any suitable hashtag or other challenges. Trending hashtag challenges can be perfect for encouraging viewers to keep watching until the end of the video, particularly if you structure them in such a way that the person only achieves the challenge in the last seconds of the video. The original challenge video can sometimes receive excellent viewing as people rewatch the video to show them what they must do to meet the challenge.


Not All Theories Work in Practice

With TikTok being so reticent about sharing details of their algorithm, people can only make “best guesses” about what is likely to improve the chances of your videos appearing on the “For You” landing page. This has led to many theories and only limited evidence of what works and what doesn’t. Much of what we have talked about here makes logical sense but lacks empirical evidence.

You will encounter many theories and ideas across the net. Some seem logical, others are more questionable, particularly those that suggest you game the system. Remember that TikTok has only acknowledged two factors that affect the likelihood of your video appearing on the “For You” page: it is based on what you like and whom you follow. So, it makes sense that you create videos that large audiences (in your preferred niche at least) like and that you make them attractive to the types of people you want following you.

The previously mentioned use of hashtags like #foryou, #foryoupage, or #fyp is an example of people following myths because it seems like a good idea. All you’re doing by using these tags is leaving less opportunity to use useful hashtags that relate to the subject of your videos.

One suggestion we have seen is to create endless loop videos. The theory is these trick you into watching them more than once, thus giving a Completion Rate of over 100%. While the theory sounds plausible, you could only do this a few times before people realized what you were doing and took less interest in your videos.