What is keyword cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization occurs when the same website mistakenly targets the exact keywords on several of its pages. This situation confuses the search engine, making it difficult to know which page should rank for a particular term. As a result, sometimes none of the pages succeed.
Why is it bad for SEO?
Keyword cannibalization is bad for SEO because it divides links, CTR, content, and conversions between different pages that ideally should go to one. In other words, you are competing with yourself to rank in the search engines.
If you have two or more articles on the same topic, the chances are that they will all rank worse than a single page would have. It is even possible that none of them will rank at all.
How to detect keyword cannibalization?
To check if there is keyword cannibalization on a website, perform a search for your site for any specific term that you think may lead to several results. Go to Google, type in your site’s name, and the keyword you think there could be cannibalization on. Look at the search engine results. If the first and second places correspond to your site, there is cannibalization, but there is no problem with it.
However, if your pages appear, for example, in positions 10 and 11, then things change. You have to find a solution because if there was only one page targeting that keyword on your site, it is very probable that it would be in a higher position than those two.
How to solve keyword cannibalization?
There are different ways to solve a keyword cannibalization problem, and which one is the best depends on why it has occurred.
Let’s take a look at some of the main options for solving keyword cannibalization:
1. Give the site a new structure
The easiest thing to do is to turn the most authoritative page on the site into a landing page that links to all the unique variations that fall under the umbrella of the keywords you are targeting.
2. Combine the content of your pages into one
In case there is no reason why you should have several pages targeting the same terms, it is best to combine their respective content. In this way, two pages with poor performance can become one with greater authority. And at the same time, you will give more strength to weak content.
3. Put all your product pages in one place
To consolidate all your product pages in one place, you can create a new single landing page that functions as an authoritative source and links to all its variations from there.
4. Search for new keywords
If you already have some variety and content-rich pages, but your keyword strategy fails, perhaps the best thing to do is target new terms. Focus on keywords that can accurately describe the information you offer. Remember, with the rise of voice search and natural language queries, it’s essential to optimize for topics rather than just specific keywords.
5. Introduce 301 redirects
It is not advisable to have 301 redirects on your site, but if there are already different pages on the same site ranking for the exact keywords, they may be necessary.
This technique will allow you to join the cannibalized content, linking the less important pages to a single page with a higher authority. However, keep in mind that this solution is only appropriate if the pages have similar SEO content and match specific search queries.
6. Implement a solid internal linking strategy
By linking relevant pages within your site, you can signal to Google which pages are the most important and which ones should be ranked higher for specific queries. This can help reduce keyword cannibalization and boost your overall SEO efforts.
Initially, these practices should solve most keyword cannibalization issues. Still, in e-commerce, you have to be careful how the CMS distributes the products with different colors and sizes. Some systems make an individual page for each variation of the item. So, if your CMS works that way, you need to limit the indexing of duplicate pages through robots.txt or tags. You can also use a canonical URL to avoid duplicate content issues.
Additionally, regularly monitoring your website for duplicate content and addressing it promptly can improve user experience, boost search engine rankings, and ultimately drive more traffic and conversions to your site.