The internet is a treasure trove of information, but as content strategists, we all know: it’s a jungle out there. There are so many schools of thought as to what the best way to rank higher is, what you absolutely must do to bring in more traffic, and reach a higher volume of your target audience. You’ve read it all, but have you heard about TF-IDF yet?
Who has time for it? You’re busy enough, and you just need to know what you need to know to make the magic happen – to bring searchers to your pages, turn clicks into conversions, and readers into subscribers. Let’s get right into it.
Spammy SEO – When Google Knows You’re Up to No Good
Over the years, Google has gotten smarter and smarter, and the crawlers are now more aware than ever of the techniques sites are using to bring traffic to their pages. This savviness has resulted in Google penalizing sites doing cheap, spammy things to bring in more traffic.
The problem is, at a certain point in the content marketing craze, it became more about rankings and numbers than it did about just having naturally engaging, unique content. The keyword density craze took hold, and copywriters took to keyword stuffing to the tune of 3-5% per document, putting off readers with robotic and obviously engineered text.
Bounce rates went up, Google took note of the tactics that content creators were using, and new algorithms were created to ensure that sites had to actually provide content of value to readers if they were to land in the top SERPs.
The result now is a better user experience, but a tougher than ever challenge for content marketers. The competition for traffic is fierce, so how do we reach people and employ advanced SEO tactics that Google isn’t going to penalize us for?
What is TF-IDF?
TF-IDF is an algorithm that goes beyond the keyword stuffing techniques of yesteryear, and instead focuses on delivering relevant content to your audience, and helps you reach more of them.
TF-IDF stands for Term Frequency – Inverse Document Frequency. Sure, makes a lot of sense, right? TF-IDF might sound at first like keyword density, but it’s a much more reasonable approach to the dated practice of stuffing content full of your target keyword.
TF-IDF works in two steps. First, it identifies the frequency of important terms in a given text – like, say, a blog post – and then compares that information to the uniqueness of the term to provide a value to every relevant keyword in your document.
So what does this mean for you? You get a list of semantically related key terms that you can use to optimize your content, and add a few keywords to your focus. The results is an information-rich text that will pop up on more SERPs, and be visible to more readers.
Why TF-IDF Kicks the Pants Off Keyword Density Techniques
Initially, this might sound like a really fancy and technical way of keyword-stuffing (which is never cool), but let’s be clear here – TF-IDF is what you make of it. It’s just information, and if you use it to create some 6% keyword dense abomination, that’s on you.
What really makes TF-DF for SEO amazing is that it gives you a unique insight into creating organically engaging content that will rank all on its own, by giving you a list of semantically related keywords to tie into your piece.
Let’s look at an example to paint a picture of what a bit of text might look like before and after a TF-IDF analysis:
Carrots are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, but much of the nutrient absorption is determined by how you prepare them. For the best results, always eat carrots raw. If you must roast them, then make sure you use a cooking oil with a high smoke point. Baste them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook uncovered at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, and enjoy.
Turns out, after a TF-IDF analysis, we can see that lots of sites mentioning carrots also mention food, so we work that one in. Now we apply this new information to further optimize our text:
Carrots are a vitamin and mineral-rich food, but much of the nutrient absorption is determined by how you prepare these foods. For the best results, always eat carrots raw. If you must roast them, then make sure you use a cooking oil with a high smoke point. Baste them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook uncovered at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, and enjoy.
TF-IDF – SEO for People
You don’t stuff ‘em, you don’t overwhelm your reader with obvious keyword choices – you just work natural, semantically related keywords into your text to reach more people, and ultimately, rank higher. TF-IDF gives you the information and tools you need to make your content richer and more applicable to a wide range of searches, without using dated methods like keyword density.
If this is the first you’re hearing of this simple SEO tool, I highly suggest you take a look at Text Tools. It’s a very simple platform to use, and provides you with the information you need to optimize new or existing content to organically rank, and blow your competitors out of the water.
Start optimizing your content the right way now – get TF-IDF with Text Tools.