A Business Owner’s Guide to TF-IDF

Unless you are an SEO expert, you probably haven’t heard of TF-IDF. You probably wouldn’t be reading this if that wasn’t the case. It can look like an intimidating term, and it becomes even more intimidating when you learn that it has to do with statistical math.

But there’s no need to feel intimidated when you learn about the term, what it means and how it works. That’s why we’re here to help.

Today, we’ll teach you:

  • What TF-IDF is
  • The difference between TF-IDF and keyword density
  • How to calculate TF-IDF using a free tool


What is TF-IDF?

TF-IDF is an acronym for Term Frequency – Inverse Document Frequency. It is a numerical statistic and one way that Google works out what relevance a page has to a particular search term.

That’s because TF-IDF is a numerical statistic that calculates the frequency of a term in a document compared to its frequency in millions of other documents. Let’s take an article on SEO, for example. If SEO is mentioned several times in the article it will probably have a high TF-IDF for SEO. That’s because the frequency of the term “SEO” will be very high in that article compared to the entire internet.

At this point you may be wondering if TF-IDF is the same as keyword density. But it isn’t.


TD-IDF vs Keyword Density

Keyword density is a measure of how frequently a particular term is used in an article. It is measured as a percentage: the higher the percentage, the more that term is used in the document.

TF-IDF is similar but it goes even futher. Rather than measuring the frequency of a term compared to all the words in an article, TF-IDF measures the frequency against all (or some) of the content on the internet.

As Google has become more advanced, it 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.