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What is Keyword Cannibalization?

by | 15 Jun, 2022

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Keyword cannibalization is when two or more pages on your website are competing for the same keyword. When this happens, Google will treat all of those pages as if they were (partial) duplicates of each other.

This can be a problem because it:

  • confuses search engines about which page to rank
  • splits the search engine ranking power between the pages
  • reduces your organic traffic and conversions

Keyword cannibalization can be resolved by using different keywords on each page, using different variations on keywords throughout the content, or by combining related topics together into one page.

How Does Keyword Cannibalization Affect SEO?

Keyword Cannibalization is harmful to your SEO because it confuses Google and other search engines as to which page they should rank for that keyword, making it difficult to determine which page is most relevant for a given search query.

As a result, your pages may end up fighting for position, and neither will rank.

Other negative effects of Keyword Cannibalization are:

  • It’s A Sign of Poor Page Quality
  • It Diminishes the Authority Of Your Page
  • Google May Devalue The More Relevant Page

Tips to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

There are a few ways to avoid keyword cannibalization, such as:

  • Doing thorough keyword research to find unique keywords to target
  • Using substantially different keyword variations for each piece of content
  • Not including the same subsections in multiple articles
  • Using canonical tags

The most effective way is to carefully plan your website’s structure and content before you start writing. That way, you can make sure each page is targeting a different keyword.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

If you are targeting two similar keywords with two or more articles (like when you’re creating a content hub), you are at risk of keyword cannibalization and it is likely that your site will rank lower for both of the topics.

You can use Google Search Console (free) or Ahrefs (paid) to check which pages of yours are ranking for a keyword. If you see two or more pages ranking for the same keyword (like in the picture below), then these two articles are cannibalizing each other.

Going through all your keywords one by one can be tiresome, if not impossible.

Instead, create a list of all pages you think are very closely related, by looking for articles with:

  • Similar Content
  • Similar URL structure
  • Similar Internal link anchor texts

Now it’s time to fix those pages!

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

If you noticed that some of your pages are competing for the same keywords, the most common way of fixing the problem is by choosing one page to be the primary page for that keyword and redirecting other pages to that page.

This will consolidate the ranking power of all articles and give you a better chance to rank for your target keyword.

Another way to fix keyword cannibalization is by deoptimizing pages that are cannibalizing your main page. This can be done by doing keyword research and finding different long tail keywords and optimizing your article for those.

Mihael D. Cacic
“Digital Marketing Mad Scientist”

Physicist turned SEO Content Marketer. For the past few years, Mihael worked with many big SaaS and service businesses helping them rank higher and get more customers. Now here to share his secrets on how to make hyper-profitable blogs in hyper-efficient ways.

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