What is TF-IDF and do you really need it?

Put simply, TF-IDF is a basic natural language processing metric used to determine the relevance and importance of a given keyword within a piece of content. There are plenty of tools you can use to help you on your journey to normality… but why would you want that?

When used properly, these tools can provide some new insight to the keyword frequency of the ‘big guys’ and point you in a similar direction.

Let’s get straight into it, TF-IDF isn’t exactly a secret weapon, but understanding TF-IDF should be a must on any digital marketers list. When utilised properly, TF-IDF can provide a real world understanding of what it takes to compete for a popular topic.

TF-IDF isn’t your entry-level form of SEO and shouldn’t be the first thing you look at when you try to rank your content, it’s just another helpful tool in the box.

Does TF-IDF effect your rankings?

The simple answer here is a BIG yes, TF-IDF and LSI (Latent semantic indexing) are quite literally the building blocks of how Google and other search engines associate your pages with keywords and score you accordingly.

An easy way to think about this is that Google has billions of potential pages to best match a users search query to, so understandably Google will use it’s best instincts to provide a page with the highest possible relevancy.

How can you use TF-IDF to improve your SEO?

1 – Understanding your audience’s search intent.

Remember, SEO isn’t just about getting on your knees to please Google, understanding a users search intent is a big part of optimising your page for relevant traffic. What’s the point of getting traffic if they are looking for something completely irrelevant, right?

This is where TF-IDF tools come into play, one of my favourite being Website Auditor by link assistant. Website Auditor (along with many other tools) will provide you a complete breakdown of the frequency of multi and single-word keywords for a given page and instantly weigh you up against your competitors. Presented on a plate, you will then be able to determine which terms on your page may or may not be relevant to your intended user and make an educated decisions to decrease or increase the frequency of said keyword.

2 – Research keywords to enrich your page.

As much as we hate to admit it, there are thousands of Search Engine Optimisers out there thinking outside the box and coming up with new ways to rank their content above yours. We can read their content all day long, but without utilising TF-IDF related tools you are just getting a tip-of-the-iceberg view of what’s really going on.

When used properly these tools will give you an in-depth view of the keywords you should be taking advantage of based on data from those competing for that particular search query. More often than not you will come out with a list of new terms to add to and improve your content.


All in all this is just another tool for content optimisation, but the truth is that it really works. There are millions of tools out there you can use to help you on your endless journey to SEO immortality, just make sure TF-IDF makes it to your list of few.

Remember, using a marketing agency (like R6 Digital!) could save you some time and heartache – We have full marketing team dedicated to providing the highest quality SEO services around.