It is the assumption that if you have multiple pages, chances are that they will confuse the search engines and end up ranking low.
As per the words of Patrick Stox, this notion is ridiculous. The fact that multiple pages with the same information can lead to unwanted rankings may not always be wrong. The ranking can also lead to the website owner making a decision about consolidating content with an aim to improve rankings or the organic performance of the website.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword Cannibalization refers to a subject matter born when multiple pages in a website target a similar keyword. In case this issue takes place, then the pages end up competing against each other in search engine rankings. This may lead to decreased overall organic search performance and might end up confusing search engines on which page to rank for a defined keyword.
At the end of it, the multiple pages may end up being hurt in terms of the rankings.
Here’s an example of Keyword Cannibalization-
Let’s take an example where you run two blogs about dresses for women that have target keywords, for instance, best dresses for women or best fashion dresses for women.
The target keyword here is “dresses for women”, which both of the blog posts are targeting.
To avoid keyword cannibalization in this instance, you can either consolidate the content into one comprehensive post or focus each of the blog posts with a more specific keyword.
How Does Keyword Cannibalization Affect My SEO Strategy?
There are several ways by which keyword cannibalization can affect your SEO strategy, most of which are negative effects. For one, it lowers your authority and the relevance for your targeted keywords because of sending mixed signals, and rather than ranking your pages higher, they end up being ranked low.
Let us go through some of the ways in which Keyword cannibalization can affect one’s SEO strategy;
- Competition with Yourself – When we talk about competing with yourself, we are taking into context how SEO causes multiple pages on your website to compete for the exact keywords. This is an internal competition between your pages that will have various effects. Some of these are;
- Search Engines Confusion – The aim of crawling and indexing your site by the search engines is to help understand the relevance of each page. When there is keyword cannibalization, the search engines get confused and end up ranking your pages low.
- Reduced Organic Confusion – The fact that your pages are contesting against each other ends up splitting the potential organic traffic that every keyword could bring. Now, the keyword will not be strong enough to have a high ranking, and you will end up having multiple lower-ranked pages, which ends up with a reduced click-through rate as well as reduced organic traffic.
- Waste of Crawl Budget – Crawl budget is defined as the number of pages a search engine, like Google, will crawl and index on your website within a certain timeframe. Anytime there is keyword cannibalization, it can lead to the wastage of the crawl budget in a number of ways, such as;
- Crawling Duplicate Content – When bots crawl duplicate content, it ends up consuming a higher budget for no good reason.
- Reduced Crawling of essential pages – Search engine bots may spend more time crawling duplicate content, which consumes more than what was budgeted under normal conditions.
- Poor User Experience – When there is keyword cannibalization, it ends up confusing the website visitors. In the event that they come across multiple pages that are aiming at the same keywords, they become upset and will not be sure of the page to click on. This will not only lead to bounced rates but also poor user experience.
- Reduced Conversion Rate – The conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase, signing a contact form, or even signing a newsletter. In as much as keyword cannibalization may not affect the conversion rate directly, this is how it ends up with a low conversion rate;
- Confusing User Experience – This is when visitors encounter different pages in the search results, get frustrated, and sign out from checking more information on your website.
- Diluted Content – In the event that you have multiple pages that target similar keywords, it may not be possible to get comprehensive information that could be necessary to aid in decision making.
Identifying Keyword Cannibalization
Identifying Keyword Cannibalization comprises analyzing the website content as you seek to find where multiple pages are competing with similar keywords.
There are various ways in which one can identify keyword cannibalization, such as:
Create a list of all your URLs – Creating a list of URLs can help to identify keyword cannibalization because it allows one to compare the keywords targeted by different pages. Create a spreadsheet of your essential site URLs and their corresponding keywords. You can do this by using tools like crawling software and sitemaps.
Identify Your Keywords – If you want to succeed in this, you need to analyze the specific keywords in your web pages and make a list of the primary keywords that you wish to rank. Identify if there is any similar content that could lead to overlapping the content and if any, take action.
This could be consolidating the content into a single page and optimizing each page as you seek to redirect one of the pages to the other.
Map Your Keywords to Respective URLs – Once you compile the list of keywords that each URL is targeting, proceed to map them in the respective URLs. This can be done by reviewing the content and meta tags for each page.
Look for Overlaps – Do a quick online search to your most relevant keywords. In case you find multiple pages from your site listed in a close range in SERPs for the same keyword. Then, understand that there is an overlap. You can use checker tools to streamline the process.
Check your Rankings on Google Search Console – You can see all pages on Google whose keywords bring multiple pages to your website. Do this by clicking on a specific search term and then clicking on pages. If the results display more than one URL, then there may be keyword cannibalization.
By adequately identifying cannibalization in your web pages, you will be able to mitigate issues and improve your website’s overall SEO performance.
Best 4 Ways to Fix The Keyword Cannibalization
The essence of fixing Keyword Cannibalization is to ensure that your web pages are optimized to target unique keywords and give a better user experience. However, this will depend on the root cause of the problem. Here are 4 ways to fix Keyword Cannibalization;
1. Merge or combine articles
In case you have multiple pages that target similar keywords, it’s worth considering merging the articles into a single but comprehensive page. The pages could be underperforming, and therefore, combining the articles may provide more authoritative content, which will rank your pages highly.
Analyze your website and check which one performs best, how it drives the traffic, page conversions, and the level at which it converts users, and try to merge each one of them depending on their strength.
The strength that comes with this way of fixing your keyword cannibalization is that you will not be penalized for content that Google may deem thin.
2. Improve internal linking
By using internal linking strategically, you will guide users and search engines to the most appropriate pages. The anchor texts should be highlighted in such a way that they reflect the intended keyword focus.
3. Remove or replace with new keywords
In the event that your websites have highly rich content, it may be possible that you have a wrongly organized keyword strategy. To fix, this, it is advisable that you remove and replace new keywords.
Ensure that the keywords describe your page’s content appropriately, such that any website visitor will be satisfied with the results.
4. Use 301 redirects
Should you decide to merge your articles or remove duplicate content, implementing 301 redirects to direct users to search engines could be a solution. However, it is important to note that this could also lead to mistakes. Still, if optimized properly, then you can be able to consolidate your cannibalized content by linking less but relevant web pages. Doing this passes link equity and ensures a smooth conversion.
Tips to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization
If you want to prevent keyword cannibalization from occurring, you need to be proactive to ensure that it does not happen in the first place. Preventing the issue is better than fixing it, which will help save time and money.
Here are some recommendations that one can implore to prevent the same;
1. Perform a website audit
By conducting regulated website audits, you will be able to identify any emerging keyword cannibalization issues and address them in time. You will also be able to know if your audience is interested in the topics to keep ranking high. Some of the audit questions you need to evaluate your website with include;
- How correct are the statistics?
- Is there any outdated posting that needs to be eliminated?
- Are the topics relevant?
- Are you giving priority to the right keywords
2. Create a targeted keyword strategy
A targeted keyword strategy is paramount since it will help identify the most important and relevant keywords for your website. By doing this, you will avoid competition and overlap of the content.
This basically means taking authority on different pages to target different keywords in the search queries.
For instance, rather than having multiple pages competing for the search query on SEO tips, optimize each page separately, even if the SEO query is similar.
3. Track keyword rankings and performance
It is important to keep monitoring your website’s performance for search engine rankings. By tracking keyword analytics, you will be able to know which keywords are ranking and identify the keywords that have high competition that could lead to cannibalization. Others could also need a boost.
To track the keyword rankings, performance, or other analytics, you can use tools such as Arefs, SEO Monitor, Google Analytics, and many others.
4. Unique content for every page
The thought of having unique content on your website serves a distinct purpose and targets specific keywords, thereby reducing the chances of keyword cannibalization. In order to make this a success. It is critical to ensure that keyword research is thorough when creating a website page so as to identify the relevant ones and eliminate any that may lead to keyword cannibalization.
Instead of spending a lot of time laying emphasis on keywords and building your pages, it is important to look at the subject topics and ensure that the content you are working on does not have keywords that have already been ranked in the older pages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is Keyword Cannibalism bad?
When it comes to SEO strategy, keyword cannibalism is bad. This is because it forces your multiple pages to compete with each other, and in the process of looking forward to getting a higher rank, you end up getting ranked low. This ends up frustrating your efforts and finances.
Q. Can I target longtail keywords without cannibalizing words?
Yes, you can target longtail keywords without cannibalizing keywords. This is done by using different longtail keywords to optimize every post, contrary to creating multiple articles to use for ranking using the same search query.
Q.How often should I audit my website for keyword cannibalization?
A good practice on audit dictates that you have regular SEO audits. Though the frequency may vary, this can be done at least twice a year. But when you add any new content, then the practice should be more often.
Keyword cannibalization can be a problem in SEO since it dilutes the authority and relevance of individual websites. Taking this into consideration, it is imperative to mitigate keyword cannibalization by having a clear strategy, optimizing your content, and regular auditing. This will help to prevent and resolve any keyword cannibalization challenges for your website.