Optimising Your SEO: Keyword Cannibalization and How to Avoid It

by | Jun 1, 2023 | SEO

Picture this: You’ve spent countless hours creating high-quality content for your website, ensuring it’s optimised for your target keywords. But instead of seeing your pages rise to the top of search engine results, they’re competing against each other, leaving you with lower rankings and reduced traffic.

This frustrating scenario is known as keyword cannibalization, a common yet often overlooked issue in the world of SEO. So, how can you identify, prevent, and fix keyword cannibalization to ensure your website ranks higher and attracts more visitors?

This blog post will guide you through the process, providing you with actionable insights and strategies to turn the tide in your favor.

 

Short Summary

  • Keyword cannibalization is an SEO issue caused by inadequate keyword research and lack of a comprehensive strategy.
  • It can lead to decreased website traffic, conversion rates, and search engine rankings. But it can be detected & addressed through keyword mapping tools & content audits.
  • Solutions include consolidating/restructuring content, implementing redirects/canonical tags, optimising internal linking/anchor text & monitoring keywords for optimisation.

 

Understanding Keyword Cannibalization

An image of fix keyword cannibalization for SEO.

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on your website target the same keyword, leading to competition between them for search engine rankings.

In essence, your pages are cannibalizing each other’s chances of ranking higher, leaving you with reduced visibility and traffic.

Causes of keyword cannibalization range from poor keyword research to targeting the same keyword with different search intents. As a result, search engines struggle to determine which page should rank for the target keyword, further damaging your website’s performance.

To tackle this issue, it’s crucial to understand the concept of keyword cannibalization, its causes, and its consequences.

 

The Concept of Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization is an SEO issue that arises when two or more pages on your website compete for the same keyword. This competition leads to a decrease in the ranking of all affected pages, as they’re effectively working against each other for the same search query.

In the digital marketing world, it’s widely acknowledged that the best way to avoid keyword cannibalization is to develop a solid keyword strategy that focuses on targeting long-tail keywords and understanding the most relevant keywords for your content.

The consequences of keyword cannibalization can be severe. When multiple pages target the same keywords, search engines like Google struggle to determine which page is the most relevant for a given query. The consequence of not optimising your pages for search engines can be damaging.

Rankings can fluctuate, site traffic can reduce, queries may lead visitors to the wrong page and ultimately result in lost sales. Therefore, it’s vital to identify and address any instances of keyword cannibalization to ensure your website performs optimally and ranks higher in search engine results.

 

Causes of Keyword Cannibalization

One of the primary causes of keyword cannibalization is inadequate keyword research. When content creators are not aware of the keywords already targeted by existing content, they may inadvertently create new pages targeting the same keywords, leading to cannibalization.

Another common cause is the absence of a comprehensive keyword strategy, which involves researching and targeting unique keywords for each page and avoiding conflicts with other pages on your website.

Targeting the same keyword with different search intents can also result in keyword cannibalization. When multiple pages target the same keyword but serve different user intents, they can compete against each other in search engine rankings, reducing the overall visibility and efficiency of your website.

To prevent keyword cannibalization, it’s crucial to understand the root causes and develop a strategy that ensures each page targets a unique set of keywords and serves a distinct search intent.

 

Consequences of Keyword Cannibalization

As mentioned earlier, keyword cannibalization can lead to a myriad of negative consequences for your website’s performance.

Lost site traffic is one such consequence, as search engines struggle to determine which of your multiple pages targeting the same keyword is the most relevant for a given query. This can result in users landing on less relevant pages, thereby reducing the chances of converting those visitors into leads or customers.

Detecting the consequences of keyword cannibalization can be challenging, as they often manifest as fluctuating search engine rankings, queries leading to the wrong page, and lost sales.

To identify and address these issues, it’s essential to employ various detection methods and strategies, such as using keyword mapping tools, analysing search console data, and conducting regular content audits.

By doing so, you’ll be able to pinpoint and resolve any instances of keyword cannibalization, ensuring your website performs optimally and ranks higher in search engine results.

 

Detecting Keyword Cannibalization on Your Website

An image of SEO keyword cannibalization.

Detecting keyword cannibalization on your website is a crucial step towards addressing this SEO issue.

Fortunately, there are several methods and tools available to help you identify instances of cannibalization, such as keyword mapping tools, search console data, and SEO auditing tools.

By utilising these resources, you can effectively spot keyword cannibalization, enabling you to optimise your website and prevent further issues from arising.

 

Using Keyword Mapping Tools

Keyword mapping tools, such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, or SEO PowerSuite, can be invaluable in detecting keyword cannibalization issues on your website.

These tools provide a comprehensive list of all relevant URLs on your site and their associated keywords, allowing you to quickly identify pages that target the same keywords and serve the same or similar intent.

By leveraging keyword mapping tools, you can gain a clear understanding of your website’s current keyword landscape and identify any instances of cannibalization. This enables you to address these issues by either merging similar pages, updating content and keywords, or implementing other strategies discussed later in this post.

In turn, you’ll be able to optimise your website, ensuring it ranks higher in search engine results and attracts more relevant traffic.

 

Analysing Search Console Data

Another method for detecting keyword cannibalization on your website is by analysing data from Google Search Console.

This powerful tool provides insights into which pages are ranking for the same keyword, indicating potential cannibalization issues. By examining the data, you can determine which pages are competing for the same target keyword and take appropriate action to address the issue.

To use Search Console data to detect keyword cannibalization, click on a specific search term, and then click on ‘Pages.” If more than one URL is present per term, it may indicate keyword cannibalization.

Once you’ve identified potential cannibalization issues, you can use the data to decide which pages should be merged or restructured and which pages should be redirected or given canonical tags, as discussed later in this post.

 

Employing SEO Auditing Tools

Employing SEO auditing tools, such as Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, and Sitebulb, can also help you detect keyword cannibalization issues on your website. These tools work by crawling your website and identifying duplicate content, which can be a strong indicator of cannibalization.

By using SEO auditing tools, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your website’s content landscape and pinpoint any instances of duplicate content that may be causing keyword cannibalization.

With this information at hand, you can take the necessary steps to address the issue, such as consolidating and restructuring content or implementing redirects and canonical tags, as discussed later in this post.

 

Strategies to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization

An image of same keyword for keyword cannibalization.

Now that you’re familiar with the concept of keyword cannibalization and its detection methods, it’s time to discuss strategies that can help prevent this issue from occurring in the first place.

By developing a comprehensive keyword strategy, focusing on user intent, and conducting regular content audits, you can effectively avoid keyword cannibalization and ensure your website ranks higher in search engine results.

 

Developing a Comprehensive Keyword Strategy

A comprehensive keyword strategy is essential for preventing keyword cannibalization on your website. This involves researching relevant keywords, understanding user intent, and distributing them across your pages wisely.

By targeting unique keywords for each page, you can ensure that your website’s content is tailored to the specific needs of your target audience and avoid the pitfalls of cannibalization.

Keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs, can be invaluable in identifying relevant keywords with high performance and low competition for your business.

By utilising these tools, you can gain insights into which keywords are most pertinent to your content and craft a solid keyword strategy that minimizes the risk of cannibalization while maximising your website’s potential for ranking success.

 

Focusing on User Intent

Focusing on user intent is another crucial strategy for preventing keyword cannibalization. By understanding the purpose and objective of a user’s search query, you can optimise your pages with the appropriate keywords and deliver content that is relevant to their needs.

This ensures that each page on your website targets a unique set of keywords and serves a distinct search intent, reducing the likelihood of cannibalization.

To gain insights into user intent, you can analyse search queries that drive traffic to your website and examine the associated keywords. Tools such as Google Search Console can help you identify these keywords and analyse the user intent behind them.

With this information, you can optimise your pages accordingly, ensuring that your content is aligned with the needs of your target audience and minimizing the risk of keyword cannibalization.

 

Conducting Regular Content Audits

Conducting regular content audits is another essential strategy for preventing keyword cannibalization. A content audit involves reviewing and analysing all content on your website to evaluate its quality, relevance, and effectiveness.

By conducting regular content audits, you can identify any potential keyword cannibalization issues and optimise your website accordingly.

The process of conducting a content audit involves identifying the content to be audited, analysing the content, evaluating its effectiveness, and making recommendations for improvement.

By assessing your content’s performance, you can detect any instances of cannibalization and take appropriate action to address them. This may involve updating content and keywords, consolidating similar pages, or implementing other strategies discussed in this post.

Regular content audits are an invaluable tool for maintaining optimal website performance and preventing keyword cannibalization.

 

Solutions for Fixing Keyword Cannibalization Issues

An image of search engines for keyword cannibalization.

If you’ve identified keyword cannibalization issues on your website, don’t worry – there are several solutions available to help you address them. These include consolidating and restructuring content, implementing redirects and canonical tags, and optimising internal linking and anchor text.

By employing these solutions, you can effectively address keyword cannibalization and improve your website’s overall performance and search engine rankings.

 

Consolidating and Restructuring Content

One effective solution for fixing keyword cannibalization issues is consolidating and restructuring your content. This involves merging similar pages into one authoritative page and redirecting outdated pages to the updated, consolidated content.

By combining similar pages, you create a single, more powerful source of information on a given topic, reducing competition between your pages and improving your website’s overall ranking potential.

To consolidate and restructure your content, review your website for pages that target the same or similar keywords and serve the same search intent. Then merge the content from these pages into a single, comprehensive piece that addresses the user’s needs more effectively.

Finally, implement redirects from the outdated pages to the new, consolidated content to ensure that users and search engines can find the most relevant information on your website.

 

Implementing Redirects and Canonical Tags

An image of identifying keyword cannibalization.

Another solution for fixing keyword cannibalization issues is implementing redirects and canonical tags. Redirects, such as 301 redirects, guide users and search engines from one URL to another, ensuring that the most up-to-date and relevant content is displayed.

Canonical tags, on the other hand, inform search engine bots which page is the primary version and which pages are duplicates, thereby helping to resolve cannibalization issues.

To implement redirects and canonical tags, first identify the duplicate or similar pages on your website that target the same keywords. Then, decide which page should be the primary version and add canonical tags to that page, indicating to search engines that this is the preferred version.

For any remaining duplicate pages, implement 301 redirects to guide users and search engines to the primary page, ensuring that the most relevant content is displayed.

 

Optimising Internal Linking and Anchor Text

Optimising internal linking and anchor text is another effective solution for addressing keyword cannibalization issues. By directing users and search engines to the preferred page through smart internal linking, you can ensure that your pages don’t compete against each other for the same keywords.

Furthermore, using descriptive anchor text can make it easier for search engines to understand the content of the linked page, improving your website’s SEO performance.

To optimise internal linking and anchor text, review your website’s existing links and ensure they point to the most relevant and up-to-date content, rather than leading users to cannibalized pages.

Additionally, use descriptive anchor text that accurately reflects the content of the linked page, making it easier for search engines to index and rank your content. By optimising your internal linking and anchor text, you can effectively address keyword cannibalization issues and improve your website’s overall search engine performance.

 

Monitoring and Maintaining Keyword Optimisation

An image of a meeting for fixing keyword cannibalization.

Addressing keyword cannibalization is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and maintenance to ensure your website continues to perform at its best.

By tracking keyword performance, updating content and keywords, and leveraging long-tail keywords, you can maintain optimal keyword optimisation and prevent future keyword cannibalization issues from arising.

 

Tracking Keyword Performance

Tracking keyword performance is a crucial aspect of monitoring and maintaining keyword optimisation. By monitoring metrics such as search volume, click-through rate, and conversion rate in search engine results pages, you can identify any changes in rankings and optimise your website accordingly.

Various tools are available to help you monitor keyword performance, including Ahrefs, SEMRush, Accuranker, and Google Search Console.

By leveraging these tools, you can track the performance of your target keywords, allowing you to make informed decisions about optimising your content and addressing any potential cannibalization issues.

 

Updating Content and Keywords

Regularly updating your content and keywords is essential for maintaining keyword optimisation and preventing keyword cannibalization.

By ensuring that your pages are optimised for the most relevant keywords, you can improve your website’s SEO performance and drive more traffic to your site.

To update your content and keywords, consider the user intent behind each keyword and make necessary adjustments to your content based on this information.

Additionally, conduct regular content audits to identify any potential keyword cannibalization issues and optimise your website accordingly. By keeping your content and keywords up-to-date, you can maintain optimal keyword optimisation and prevent future cannibalization issues.

 

Leveraging Long-Tail Keywords

Leveraging long-tail keywords is another effective strategy for maintaining keyword optimisation and preventing keyword cannibalization.

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific keyword phrases that users are likely to use when they have a clear intent in mind and are closer to making a purchase decision. These keywords may have a lower search volume than short-tail keywords, but they can be more effective in driving relevant traffic to your website.

To leverage long-tail keywords, focus on targeting more specific phrases and optimising your content accordingly. You can also use keyword mapping tools to identify relevant long-tail keywords related to your main keywords. By incorporating long-tail keywords into your content strategy, you can avoid keyword cannibalization and ensure your website ranks higher in search engine results.

 

Summary

In conclusion, keyword cannibalization is a common yet often overlooked issue that can significantly impact your website’s SEO performance and search engine rankings.

By understanding the concept of keyword cannibalization, its causes, and its consequences, you can take proactive steps to prevent and address this issue.

Implementing strategies such as developing a comprehensive keyword strategy, focusing on user intent, and conducting regular content audits can help prevent keyword cannibalization and ensure your website ranks higher in search engine results.

Moreover, by leveraging solutions like consolidating and restructuring content, implementing redirects and canonical tags, and optimising internal linking and anchor text, you can effectively address any existing keyword cannibalization issues and improve your website’s overall performance.

Remember, maintaining keyword optimisation is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and maintenance. By staying vigilant and adapting your strategies as needed, you can ensure your website continues to thrive in the ever-evolving world of SEO.

If you’re looking to improve your website’s SEO, consider working with a reputable digital marketing agency like eWebsites

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I fix keyword cannibalization?
To fix keyword cannibalization, restructure your website, create new landing pages, consolidate content, find new keywords, and utilise 301 redirects.

This will ensure your website is properly optimised and achieving its maximum potential.

Is keyword cannibalization good or bad?
Keyword cannibalization can be detrimental to your SEO success, as it can cause ranking confusion for search engines and reduce the chances that your target audience finds your most relevant content. Generally speaking, avoiding keyword cannibalization is recommended in order to maximize organic performance and marketing ROI.

In short, keyword cannibalization is generally viewed as bad as it can lead to Google ranking confusion and reduce organic visibility. Avoiding this practice is generally recommended in order to optimise SEO success and maximize marketing ROI.

What is keyword cannibalization what it is and how to avoid it?
Keyword cannibalization is the problem of two or more pages within a website targeting the same keyword phrase, which can lead to rankings being split between multiple pages.

To avoid keyword cannibalization, you should analyse your content and delete duplicates, target different but relevant keywords, optimise page titles and descriptions, and create better internal linking structures. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your website is optimised for the best possible search engine rankings. This will help you get more organic traffic and increase your visibility online.

When multiple pages compete for the same keyword?
In the case of keyword cannibalization, multiple pages on a website compete for the same keyword and this can cause confusion for search engines. To avoid this issue, it is recommended that websites only have one page focused on a specific keyword to ensure each page ranks correctly.

This will improve search visibility and promote a good user experience.

About the Author

Tomás Affranchino Vivanco

Tomás is an SEO professional with over 10 years of experience. He's the founder of eWebsites, a leading SEO agency in Melbourne. Tomás has led several successful SEO campaigns in the most competitive niches in Australia, like health, real estate and law.

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