What is keyword cannibalization? Learn about how it occurs and what it means for your website SEO performances. This article will talk about its causes and provide strategies to identify and resolve the issue effectively.
Keyword cannibalization refers to a situation where multiple pages within a website target and compete for the same keyword. This can create confusion for search engines and hinder the website’s overall performance.
The competition for high rankings is fierce, and it is not ideal to have your own pages competing against each other. As a result, the website’s organic traffic can suffer, and it may struggle to rank well in search engine results.
Keyword cannibalization can occur due to several factors and instances within a website. Here are a few common scenarios that can contribute to this problem:
By identifying what is keyword cannibalization causes, website owners can mitigate keyword cannibalization and improve their site’s overall SEO performance.
However, not every case where many pages from the same site competing on the same SERP is bad.
You are free to target the same keyword with multiple pages if the search intent is different. For example, you can target the keyword “European tours” with two pages. One of them can be an informative article about tour examples, and the other can be a listing for booking.
The second instance is branded keywords. It is actually very common to see multiple high ranking pages from the same business for the branded keyword. Same with the first instance, you will not have keyword cannibalization problems if the search intent is different. The homepage, customer service page, and contact page can all rank without any problems.
Keyword cannibalization has negative implications for a website’s SEO and overall performance. Here is why keyword cannibalization is considered detrimental:
To see the issue, you need to understand what is keyword cannibalization referring to. For example, you have two pages ranking for the same keyword. However, the one ranking higher is not the one you want. You may think that this is the issue, since one page is cannibalizing traffic from the other.
However, the word cannibalization refers to the overall traffic of the whole site. A page can rank for multiple keywords, so the instance above may not affect the site in general at all.
You can use tools to check if your overall site traffic increases when combining the two pages into one. If it does, then you have a cannibalization issue. If it does not, however, you do not need to worry.
Finding keyword cannibalization issues should be easy and there are quite a few ways you can go about it.
If your site is not enormous, you can do a content audit to find duplicate content or similar issues.
First, to see if there is any issue, you can run the site: search. Enter site:(your website) “keyword” into Google search bar to find all pages of your site related to the keyword.
Do not worry if you find more than one result, as you also need to consider the search intent of each page. Even if the search intent is similar, you still need to see if those pages affect the overall website traffic. This is where you should enlist the help of tools.
With the help of these tools, you can check the traffic of these sites and see its significance to the website. Furthermore, they can also audit your site or point out cannibalization problems directly.
There are many solutions to fix keyword cannibalization issues, each suitable for different situations.
This is the best solution for a common scenario, two similar pages ranking for the same keyword.
If both pages address different aspects of a topic, you should write a new post combining their content. Afterward, choose the page with better rankings, backlinks, and other ranking factors to post the new content. Lastly, redirect the other page to the new one.
This strategy is highly effective because they preserve the ranking signals of both pages alongside the content. If properly executed, you can expect way more traffic to the new page than before.
If you have two duplicate content, you can skip the rewriting part and move on to implementing 301 redirects. Make sure to update any internal links and your sitemap after redirecting.
Using canonical tags is a great alternative for the duplicating content scenario if you want to keep the cannibalizing pages.
You will need to add the following tag to the cannibalizing pages’ HTTP header:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.website.com/preferred-page/” />
Doing so will tell Google your preferred page and you want it to appear in search results. This method can also combine the ranking signals of the pages instead of diluting them.
These two should be the absolute last resort for keyword cannibalization. Deleting or implementing no index tags will remove the page from search results altogether.
While this will resolve the issue, it is not ideal for two reasons. One, you will forgo all ranking factors of that page. And secondly, you will pass on the amount of traffic that page gets from other keywords.
Overall, you need to assess the situation to choose suitable methods and only rectify the problems when they affect your site.
The methods presented in this section can also fix keyword cannibalization, but they work better as prevention.
Understanding what is keyword cannibalization and its impact on a website’s SEO is crucial for improving organic traffic and rankings. Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages within a site compete for the same keywords, leading to diluted page authority.
With effective strategies, you can effectively identify and resolve keyword cannibalization issues to enhance keyword targeting, improve user experience, and achieve better visibility in search engine results.
Interested in learning more about what is keyword cannibalization and other SEO insights? Keep your eyes peeled for more guides on our website. If you are starting an SEO campaign, SEO services from On Digitals can help your website achieve higher rankings and get more traffic. Contact On Digitals to learn more about our services and how we can help your business and brand grow digitally.