TF-IDF is a big deal in SEO circles, with some calling it the most underappreciated SEO tactic of 2020.
However, you may be wondering – how does TF-IDF actually fit in with SEO? And how will it help your website rank higher on SERPs (search engine results pages)?
Like all SEO techniques, TF-IDF has good sides and bad sides. It’s not a substitute for a good SEO strategy, but it can definitely be used to increase your ranking and get certain pages of your website seen. It will also give you richer, more valuable content! It’s a win-win, really.
This post will explore how TF-IDF works with SEO and what its benefits are.
A Definition of TF-IDF
Google is becoming smarter and smarter – from song lyrics you can type in and get the song name back, to products you’ve been meaning to buy, it seems like Google is really inside your head sometimes.
TF-IDF is a bit like that – it’s Google becoming smarter and more ‘human’ in its algorithms.
TF-IDF works by calculating how many times a word appears in an article on the web and works out what the article is about via this. Google does this by looking at the term frequency (TF) of words in an article and multiplying this by the inverse document frequency (IDF), which is the number of times terms appear on the web as a whole. If your document has a lot of words to do with fishing, for example, ‘trout’, ‘salmon’, ‘pegs’ and ‘lakes’, it’s safe for Google to say that’s what your article is about.
The clever part is that the equation allows the algorithm to leave out commonly occurring words, like ‘to be’ or ‘and’ and ‘the’, as they appear almost everywhere in English articles. This way, by looking at only the unique words, the machine algorithm can work out what the page is about!
How TF-IDF Works with SEO
You may now be wondering how all of this fits in with SEO.
Well, Google is now looking for the semantic relevance of keywords. When it comes for looking for meaning in content, TF-IDF is a fantastic algorithm in revealing what kind of content Google will value the most!
A standard keyword search will, for example, show you what people are looking at on search engines. They won’t reveal what keywords other top-ranking websites are using – but TF-IDF will. This means that even if your content is great, it might not be using the keywords your competitors are and may fall down in the rankings of SERPs.
It’s a simple tweak you can make that could make you hundreds more dollars in revenue!
Content creators are now using TF-IDF to identify gaps in their content by comparing their content with the top 10 search results. This analysis can then be used when developing new content, so that is can rank higher and higher in SERPs.
So, to use TF-IDF with SEO, you need to follow a few simple steps.
- Write your content, whatever it may be. Remember that unnatural writing simply won’t convert, even if your page ranks high and brings in a lot of traffic – you have to write naturally and as normal, and then use TF-IDF to make it better.
- Use a TF-IDF tool. They usually work similarly – you enter a URL and the keywords you want to optimize them for. The tool will then check pages that rank on Google for that keyword, calculates the TF-IDF of all the terms it finds, and compares your content stats with those of other top-ranking webpages (With some TF-IDF tools, you’ll get a single keyword list, whilst with others you will have a list of keyword phrases).
- optimize your content to contain some of these keywords and keyword phrases – hopefully, you’ll have some of them already! Where appropriate, add new topics to make your content more relevant and closer to the top-ranking webpages. It can be a really good way to cover topics in more detail, revealing things that you hadn’t thought of when writing a post.
When you have done that, you’re good to go! Your content will be more similar to the top-ranking websites on SERPs, and your content will be of higher quality. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and useless content – it’s a brave new world! It is time to understand what TF-IDF means and how you can use it to your ranking benefit.