Keywords are the most essential ingredient in SEO marketing that helps optimize your content and engage your audience. Precisely, it’s how your content can climb the search engine and your pages rank higher. When looking to improve your SEO, revamping your keyword strategy positively impacts your search engine results page rankings.

However, the problem occurs when your content needs to rank despite targeting the right keywords. In most cases, you are hurting your chances to rank better by having multiple pages dedicated to one keyword, a.k.a. keyword cannibalization. This thing plays havoc with your impressions by making you compete with yourself.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the spaces in understanding keyword cannibalization and how to do away with it for good.

Read on!

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is a common SEO mistake that can negatively impact your entire SEO strategy. Simply put, if you produce multiple content pages to target the same keywords, you’re essentially “cannibalizing” your efforts. In other words, you are not only making your content pages compete for the same keyword but also confusing your audience.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t have similar keywords sprinkled across different website pages. What matters here is the “user intent,” which shouldn’t be the same keywords across multiple pages. The main goal of optimizing your content is to allow search engines to crawl better for target keywords on preferred pages and rank it higher across SERPS. However, there’s a caveat. Your content must answer to the user intent because Google values information-based content above everything else. This can’t happen if Google is busy trying to decide which of your pages should rank higher. In the majority of cases, keyword cannibalization happens with blog posts or articles clashing with each other to rank for the same query on any search engine.

It also signals Google that you are watering down the value your site provides by having multiple pages with the same keyword and same search intent. Plus, it can bring down the overall ranking of your website in search results. To maintain your Click-Through Rates (CTR), authority, and conversion rates, it’s crucial to address the issue of keyword cannibalization. By resolving this problem, you ensure that your website remains effective and competitive in the online landscape.

Let us understand how to spot when keyword cannibalization occurs across your content with an example. Imagine your website produces content for home decor. Chances are you will have multiple pages, all targeting the same keyword: “home decor.” Also, it’s entirely possible that your content overlaps each other, resulting in duplication- a classic SEO misstep.

So, how do you fix this? By creating meaningful content across product pages that offers direct answers to user search queries. For instance, you can have pages that target the same keywords like “Christmas home decor” and “minimalist home decor.” By tweaking content that helps your customers streamline their various search queries, you’ll not only rank better in search engines but also improve your conversion rates.

For a website that has organic traffic and is newly established, keyword cannibalization might be a minor concern. However, identifying keyword cannibalization is imperative for websites with more traffic and multiple pages.

5 Negative Effects Keyword Cannibalization Can Have On Your SEO

Before you learn how to fix or prevent keyword cannibalization, understanding how it impacts your SEO is important. Besides making your website rank low in the search engines’ results, keyword cannibalization can hurt your sales figures in the long run.

Let’s understand the five negative consequences of SEO keyword cannibalization in depth:

1. It decreases your authority

The authority of a website is one of the chief reasons why Google might rank it higher in search results. When more than one page of your website competes against each other for the same target keyword, it negatively impacts your authority. Thus, it’s important to understand that Google exists to provide users with reliable information, and the best way to go about it is by directing them to a website with a higher authority. So, to boost your authority in search engines, you will need to look closely at fixing keyword cannibalization. This can only be done by identifying similar pages targeting the same keyword early.

2. It hurts your backlinks

Backlinks drive potential leads to your website’s primary pages, like the category page, if you are a product-driven brand. So, when you have two pages targeting the same keyword, know for sure that one of them is a “wrong page,” as it talks about the same query. Such content hurts the rate of conversions and makes your backlinks redundant.

3. Google May Devalue The More Relevant Page

Google might rank the higher converting page lower, negatively impacting your chances of increasing organic traffic and converting more prospects. Like users, a search engine will remain confused when two or more pages target the same keyword. As a result, a Google search engine results page might also show the category pages and top two pages in an order that hurts your business instead of boosting it.

4. You’re Squandering Crawl Budget

By having more than one content page for similar search queries, you are leaving room for multiple URLs that are duplicates. That means you are hurting your crawl budget, wasting a perfect chance to rank other similar pages for a different long tail keyword.

5. It’s A Sign of Poor Page Quality

Your user intent takes a hit when you signal Google that more than one internal link on the category page of your website caters to the same query. This gives the impression that your page’s content isn’t reliable enough to rank higher in a Google search. Besides, You lose out when you have pages that offer incomplete information, which leads to your conversion rate declining.

How To Identify Keyword Cannibalization

Are you racking your brain and wondering whether your content suffers from SEO keyword cannibalization? Identifying keyword cannibalization is a relatively easy task. However, most of the time, SEO managers overlook and make a blunder by not being able to identify the correct underlying issue.

Once you know that keyword cannibalization is the reason for low-ranking pages, it’s easy to detect which pages are suffering from this issue.

Here are some ways you can easily identify and avoid keyword cannibalization.

Do a content audit

Before you fix the keyword stuffing and cannibalization issue, get all your content details on one spreadsheet to track which pages are targeting which keyword. Looking at the assembled data, you can easily spot duplicate pages that might have used keyword stuffing.

Look at historic rankings

Multiple SEO tools available in the market will give you a rundown of the keyword history and ranking information about relevant keywords in your pages. Analyzing historical rankings gives valuable context about your website’s performance over time. This historical data allows you to identify trends, assess the effectiveness of your optimization efforts, and make informed decisions to enhance your online visibility.

Run a site: search

You can Google your website and a particular keyword to look at what pages Google is ranking. By analyzing a particular keyword for search engine rankings, you will know whether the relevant pages have similar search intent. This will help you identify any keyword cannibalization and tweak your content to boost keyword rankings. To speed up the process, use the Google search console to give you an overview of site performance and list issues that require immediate attention.

Check for multiple-ranking URLs

Take a good look at your URLs for the existing pages ranking in Google. This will help you to see keyword clusters and figure out whether any two pages are competing with each other. If there’s a clash in keyword rankings, start afresh with keyword research and resolve keyword cannibalization issues as soon as possible.

How To Fix Keyword Cannibalization

Much like how a fever indicates underlying health issues, keyword cannibalization signals complications within your site’s structure and content. Understanding the underlying cause will help to fix the issue more comprehensively.

Below are some tried-and-tested ways that will help you spot keyword cannibalization issues early and fix things for good.

1. Restructure Your Website

After you’ve conducted an extensive audit of similar pages on your website, you’ll know the target keywords that more than one page in your website might be targeting. To fix cannibalization issues, target long-tail keywords in your company blog post.

2. Create New Landing Pages

You’ll often realize that all your pages competing for the same keyword lack a landing page to provide users with relevant information. Or maybe you’ll find a way to club different long-tail keywords under one umbrella. That way, you can increase your conversions by directing them to a single landing page, which could effectively fix keyword cannibalization. In either case, creating new landing pages might just be your medicine of choice to impact search results. A “no index” tag is also an excellent way to prevent including a particular page in search results.

3. Consolidate Your Content

Consolidating your content might just be a good idea to find cannibalizing keywords. This is more applicable when more than one content piece has different information. By combining the content, you can do away with conflicting pages and increase your website target chance of ranking higher.

4. Find New Keywords

You can diversify your content strategy by targeting related keyword suggestions. This will ensure that your pages aren’t competing with each other anymore. In other ways, it is a surefire way to do away with cannibalized keywords.

5. Use 301 Redirects

If your content ranks for more than one page, 301 redirects will help direct the user to their preferred page or a higher authority landing page. But advise caution when using this tip, as more than 301 redirects are needed for your SEO health.

Preventing Keyword Cannibalization in the Future

Prevention is better than cure is the oldest proverb in the world. It’s always better to prepare for things rather than look for a fix later on. Keeping track of the content you publish is an excellent way to prevent keyword cannibalization from happening in the first place and to boost your overall SEO strategy.

Here are a list of other such practices that would benefit you in the long run:

Keyword Mapping

Keep track of what piece of content is targeting which keyword. By creating a spreadsheet, you can ensure that no overlap is happening. This way, each website page builds you as a higher authority, and your content will automatically rank better.

Content Planning and Organization

When you sit to plan your content strategy, ensure that there is a logical flow to it. Focus on finding different keywords related to your niche that help answer a search query. Publishing high-quality content is equally important, and so is organizing the content flow of the same website in a way that helps serve users and their needs. While at it, also keep an eye out to find cannibalized keywords.

Avoid Over-Optimization

Revising your digital marketing strategy should keep your potential customers in mind. While working with the most relevant keywords and optimizing your content to boost page ranking, don’t just publish them for a search engine. Remember, the content you create should serve your users, and this is what will keep them coming back for more.

Regular Content Audits

Be on the lookout for any potential keyword cannibalization issues that might arise. Keep reminders in place that help you keep on top of your website. There are multiple tools and ways to notify you of any possible issues that might arise. However, if you are working on several pages to fulfill queries for the same topic, check to see if any fix keyword cannibalization issues could be an issue.

Consolidate or Repurpose Content

As you optimize your website, consolidate and repurpose all pieces of content that target a similar keyword. You could create new landing pages or tweak the content to serve a different search query. You can effectively do this focus keyword by targeting more long-tail keywords with varied user search intent.

Monitor Internal Linking

Internal linking is another SEO strategy that should be practiced with caution. Excessive internal linking might dilute your authority or even make the users confused if they don’t follow internal links in a logical pattern. Keep an eye on how the internal linking system works and regularly adjust it according to your needs.

Monitor Performance

Google Analytics, Ahrefs, Semrush, etc, are some of the top SEO tools that will help you keep track of your SEO performance. You should regularly monitor key metrics like keyword ranking, user engagement, and site metrics. This will give you a better idea about what is working and what isn’t. It’ll also help you identify areas that could use a slight improvement.
SEO practices and Google search algorithms are ever-evolving. You constantly brush up on your skills by keeping up to date about the happenings in the SEO world. It’ll also be an excellent source to determine new practices you could apply that’ll boost your business’s digital footprint.

Many resources and blogs keep you updated about all the best SEO practices. A good SEO manager knows a victor never stops learning.

Final Thoughts

It can be quite frustrating when you think you’re doing everything right, from targeting the right keywords to having a good network of backlinks, and yet your SEO strategy is falling flat.

Identifying and fixing keyword stuffing and cannibalization will help put things on track with your brand website. Remember to invest in the right tools and follow time-tested ways to mitigate keyword cannibalization and boost SEO.