A Starter Guide to TF-IDF
You probably haven’t heard of TF-IDF unless you are a bit of an SEO guru. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. On the face of it, it looks like a confusing term. It becomes even more so when you learn that it is a form of statistical math.
But you shouldn’t feel confused or intimidated. We’re going to teach you exactly what it means, how it works and how to calculate it.
What is TF-IDF?
TF-IDF stands for Term Frequency – Inverse Document Frequency. This numerical statistic is used by Google to workout what relevance a page has for a particular search term.
It works because TF-IDF is a statistical calculation of the frequency a term within a document compared to its frequency in all content across the internet. We can take an article on SEO as an example of this. If Google wants to calculate how relevant an article might be for the term SEO, it can look at its TF-IDF. If the TF-IDF is high, i.e SEO is mentioned more times in that article than the average across all articles, it suggests that it is relevant.
You might now be thinking that TF-IDF is similar to keyword density. But it isn’t at all.
TD-IDF vs Keyword Density
Keyword density is a measure of the frequency of a term compared to all of the words in that article. If a term is mentioned 5 times in 100 words, it has a keyword density of five percent.
TF-IDF is similar to this, but instead of measuring the frequency of a term compared to all the words in a document, it compares it to the frequency of that term across all the words online.
As TF-IDF is more complex, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that Google has started to use TF-IDF more than it uses keyword density.
How you can Calculate TF-IDF
We’ll now look at how to easily calculate TD-IDF without doing complicated math. The first thing to do is to sign up for Ryte. You can pay for the tool but there is a freemium version, too.
- Step 1. Log in to your free Ryte account and click on ‘Content Success’. You should find it on the left side of your screen.
- Step 2. Under Content Success, click ‘Go to Analyze’ and input your keyword, the country, and the language you are targeting.
- Step 3. Click on ‘Start Content Analysis’ and wait for a few seconds until the page displays keyword recommendations and competition.
- Step 4. Next, click on the ‘Competition’ tab. You should see a list of your keyword recommendations alongside competition.
- Step 5. To view the TD-IDF, refer to the circles under each competition. Their size and color indicate thea following:
- Small-sized, pale blue – Low TF-IDF (Low Relevance)
- Medium-sized, aqua blue – Medium TF-IDF (Medium Relevance)
- Large-sized, dark blue – High TF-IDF (High Relevance)
The higher the relevance, the tougher it is to beat your competition.
When you hover over the circles, you’ll see the relevancy score of a keyword (that is, its TD-IDF) and number of times it is mentioned in a page.
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