This article provides an overview of keyword cannibalization in SEO and outlines how to address it
A guide to keyword cannibalization in SEO and how to fix it
Introduction to Keyword Cannibalization in SEO
Keyword cannibalization is a problem that often crops up with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s where multiple pages from the same website compete against each other in search engine rankings due to targeting the same or similar keywords. This can confuse algorithms like Google’s and lessen your chances of achieving high ranks despite having quality content.
Why does this happen? Because instead of consolidating your authority into one strong page, you’re diluting it over multiple ones. But fear not, because this guide will help you understand keyword cannibalization, why it’s problematic, and how to fix it.
Ironically, keyword cannibalization can occur due to a site owner’s best intentions — creating a lot of contents on particular topics they consider they’re experts in. But, more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to SEO. Let’s look closer at why having multiple pages targeting the same keyword could hurt you more than benefit you.
A website offering travel tips has numerous articles all targeting the key phrase “best travel destinations”. Instead of the traffic funneling to one definitive guide, it spreads thin among 10 competing pieces, resulting in none ranking high.
Mixed signals sent to search engines about which page should rank for the targeted keyword
Diluted backlink strength, as these are distributed among different URLs instead of one
Increased crawl budget consumption because of numerous similar pages
The possibility of the less relevant page showing up in search results
Lower click-through rates due to multiple entries from the same domain
User confusion which might increase bounce rates
Assessing Keyword Cannibalization: Identification process
The first step towards solving keyword cannibalization is identifying if it’s really an issue for your website. Sometimes, webmasters assume their site might be a victim of cannibalization without confirming. Using SEO tools and customizable reports, the identification process isn’t typically difficult or time-consuming.
Here’s how to start. Run an analysis on every keyword your site ranks for and analyze each URL that comes up for those keywords. If more than one URL from your domain shows up in search engine results pages (SERPs) under the same keyword, you’re dealing with keyword cannibalization.
Also, investigate the purpose behind different pieces of content. Are they there to serve the same intent or different ones? Misinterpretation about user and content intent is a common reason behind unintentional keyword cannibalization.
A gardening blog conducts a site audit and discovers they have 5 articles showing up on SERPs when the keyword “rose pruning tips” is searched. After reviewing the content of each article, they realize all 5 are aiming to give similar advice to gardeners.
Determine all the keywords your site currently ranks for
Inspect every URL associated with these keywords
Find if multiple URLs appear for the same keyword in SERPs
Analyze the purpose behind each piece of content
Compose a detailed report about possible cannibalized content
Corroborate the existence of keyword cannibalization before proceeding towards resolution
Deciphering the Impact: The consequences of cannibalization
Understanding why keyword cannibalization is problematic helps us understand its impact better. For reasons that seem counterintuitive at the outset, having too many choices can actually be detrimental — both for you and your audience.
Muddled ranking signals to search engines could result in less-than-ideal content being highlighted on SERPs, which in turn leads to lower quality user interactions. This can increase bounce rates and decrease conversions and time spent on your site.
Furthermore, it’s a lost opportunity for website growth because the authority and link equity that could be directed to one page is split among several pages instead. This broad dispersion of relevance can cause none of your pages to rank as high as they could potentially perform.
An e-commerce site with multiple product pages for “organic dog food” notices lower conversion rates and higher bounce rates. They realize customers are not being directed to their most comprehensive and best-selling product page because of the presence of other similar pages.
Confused signals leading to sub-optimal content ranking
Increased bounce rates due to user confusion or dissatisfaction
Lowered conversions and average session duration
A missed opportunity for consolidating site authority
Dilution of link equity across multiple pages
None of the competing pages reaching their full ranking potential
Developing a Resolution Strategy: Fixing keyword cannibalization
Once you’ve identified and understood the impact of keyword cannibalization, it’s necessary to implement measures to mitigate and reverse the issues caused. How you approach this depends greatly on factors such as your site’s content organization, your SEO goals, and the severity of the cannibalization problem.
Some of the most common remedies involve restructuring your website and using canonical tags, 301 redirects or noindex tags wisely. You may also need to consider merging or deleting some of the offending pages if they’re outdated or of little value.
An online learning platform combines several similar blogs about “french language basics” into a single definitive guide. They use a 301 redirect to take users from the old pages to the new consolidated article, removing the potential for cannibalization.
Consolidate similar content into one definitive guide
Utilize 301 redirects to drive traffic to the desired page
Employ canonical tags appropriately to indicate preferred content to search engines
Edit your internal linking structure to avoid boosting cannibalizing pages unintentionally
Remove or noindex low value or outdated pages that are contributing to cannibalization issues
Perform regular SEO audits to prevent future keyword cannibalization
Reappraisal: Checking results and revising strategies
After you’ve employed the strategies listed above, it’s necessary to validate if they’re effective. Allow adequate time for the changes to take effect before conducting an evaluation. SEO adjustments don’t always yield immediate results — patience is crucial.
Regularly monitor your site’s performance in terms of keyword ranking, traffic, user engagement, bounce rates and conversions to see if there’s progress. If not, reassess your strategy and consider seeking expert SEO help. Remember, the journey towards a cannibal-free website might be long but ultimately rewarding.
A health and wellness blog optimizes its content to fix keyword cannibalization around “yoga for beginners”. After three months, they observe significant improvement in search engine rankings and user interactions for this key phrase.
Allow sufficient time for implemented changes to influence SERP rankings
Track performance metrics diligently
Identify any signs of improvement or persisting issues
Adjust strategy as needed and not shy away from seeking help when required
Remain patient and persistent throughout the process
Bask in the rewards of a well-optimized, cannibal-free website!
Identify keyword cannibalization
Awareness of SEO health and problematic content
Analyze the impact
Understanding of negative SEO and user experience effects
Implement resolution strategies
Keyword optimization, reduced cannibalization, improved site structure
Check results and revise strategies
Holistic view of strategy success, scope for further improvement
In closing, keyword cannibalization is a common issue that can be combated with awareness, strategic planning, meticulous execution, and persistent monitoring. Always remember: in the SEO world, quality trumps quantity. Emphasize on creating standout pieces of content rather than several similar ones to secure high rankings and better user interaction. Happy optimizing!