How to Find & Fix Keyword Cannibalization

keyword cannibalization

Trying to rank for the same term on multiple pages can do more harm than good. On the contrary, using the same term on multiple pages can be counterproductive. 

Your search engine optimization (SEO) may suffer from your actions.

If your ranking for the same keyword, you’re making each page compete with each other. This results in lower CTRs, decreased authority, and reduced conversion rates for each page. 

The term for this is keyword cannibalization. This article will help you solve issues with keyword cannibalization.

What is keyword cannibalization?

The term “keyword cannibalization” refers to the act of “cannibalizing” one’s results by dividing CTR, links, content, and (often) conversions between two or more pages that should be one.

By doing so, you are not demonstrating the breadth or depth of your knowledge to Google. You are also not increasing your site’s authority for that query. You’re simply asking Google to compare your pages and determine which ones best match the matching keywords.

For instance, suppose your website sells shoes, and you only target the keyword [shoes]. By doing so, you’re telling Google that every page is about shoes, whether they’re hiking shoes, tennis shoes, or sneakers.

Rather than competing for many valuable long-tail keywords such as women’s shoes, running shoes, and so on, you’re competing against yourself for a single keyword that may lack commercial intent.

Different types of cannibalization

  1. Internal keyword cannibalization (see discussion below)
  2. Subdomain conflict (including international conflict)
  3. The semantic flux between family sites

Drawbacks of keyword cannibalization on your SEO

Using too many of the same keywords in your content might hurt your SEO. Many people who are affected by keyword cannibalization are unaware of the problem.

They may even be pleased when one of their pages ranks fifth and sixth for their intended keyword, not realizing that one authoritative website would probably rank higher and convert better.

This has real-world ramifications. In the long run, shifting SERP results, decreased site traffic, and even missed revenues are all possible consequences that are more difficult to detect and discover.

Let’s dissect a few disadvantages of not fixing your keyword cannibalization.

It lowers your page authority.

Rather than having a single highly authoritative page, you’re spreading your CTR over numerous sites of middling relevance. In essence, you’ve transformed your sites into rivals and are now vying for page views and SERP ranks.

You might have written an ultimate guide to choosing the best tennis shoes for women and another article about the 5 best tennis shoes for women. Both of these articles have their benefits. But if you might come across keyword cannibalization regards to “best tennis shoes for women,”. You will need to think about combining these two articles together, or focus on one so that one of them will rank.

Another example will be if you have a feature page and a blog page. Your feature page highlights key features of your product, say, “internal linking,” and a blog you wrote, “what is internal linking,” is ranking for the same keywords.

Search engines are constantly trying to rank each content for each keyword. Relying on search engines to identify which article has the best user intent is not something you should do.

Whether you have perfected your keyword research process or not, sometimes search engines might prioritize one page over another. You might lose more money in an affiliate commission if your 5 best tennis shoes for women aren’t ranking, when your ultimate guide is ranking well.

In some cases, you might be struggling for both of these pages because search engines are trying to figure out which one to rank you!

Your links and anchor text are being diluted.

Backlinks that might have been directed to a single unified source of information are now spread among two (or more) pages on your site. The outreach efforts to get ten links for one page and fifteen links for another may have been used to gain 25 links for a single higher-performing page.

Additionally, a detailed, in-depth page is more likely to get linked to than a shorter, more concise article. 

Likewise, your anchor text and internal links direct readers to various diverse pages rather than a single authoritative website on the issue.

Search engines regard anchor text as a source of information about what your content is about. So if you use “best tennis shoes for women” on two different pages, it dilutes the relevancy.

Google could depreciate the more relevant page.

Keywords are one of the primary methods by which we assist Google in determining the subject matter of our sites. If all your keywords are the same, Google will attempt to determine which page is the most relevant – and if your content is too similar, it may get it wrong.

For instance, suppose you have two sites that rank for the same keyword. If the page with the better conversion rate ranks lower, you risk losing out on high-value, converting visitors.

It’s wasting your crawl budget.

Your crawl budget indicates how often a search engine crawler will crawl your website over a certain period. Many pages are dedicated to the same keyword, which leads to unnecessary crawling and indexing. 

While small sites are unlikely to notice a change or have to worry about crawl budgets, major e-commerce sites or suppliers with a huge number of items may.

It’s indicative of low page quality.

Multiple pages dedicated to the same keyword signal to users that your content may be overwhelmed. Additionally, this signals to Google that the content on each page may not correspond to your keywords.

It decreases your conversion rate.

Eventually, one of your pages will outperform the others in terms of the conversion rate. Instead of guiding new visitors to that page and making it the most authoritative page possible, you’re wasting prospective leads by driving them to less relevant pages.

How to identify keyword cannibalization issues

The approach to identifying legitimate cannibalization is looking for pages that target the same keywords and provide the same or similar purpose. This is because, if the goal is consistent, each page is unlikely to rank for a large number of different long-tail keyword variants. Thus, unifying the pages frequently results in a greater gain than a loss.

There are different ways to identify these kinds of pages. Here are some of these: 

Conduct a content audit using Google Sheets for free

Unless your site is huge, concerns with cannibalization should be quite straightforward to identify during a content audit.

You’ll need to install “Search Analytics for Sheets” in the Google Sheet Addons directory:

Go to Extensions, and select your site. Pick a date range, group by page and query, and start extracting your Google Search Console:

 You’ll need to use conditional formatting and use a custom formula to identify any duplicate queries.

Add this to the custom formula section:

=countif($A$2:$A$15,A2)>1

And add a color of your choice so you can easily identify cannibalization: 

You can check out my keyword cannibalization tutorial here:

Perform a site: search

Navigate to Google and type site:yourwebsite.com “subject” into the search box. You’ll get a list of all the pages on your site that are relevant to that subject.

When we perform this for the site:https://linkilo.co/ “linkilo,” we observe that the first three results are ranking for the word “linkilo”

Caution is advised while using this approach, as Google will return any vaguely similar result. For example, you can see above that our search yielded 661 results. While it may have a cannibalization issue here, not all these pages are harmful. The majority are focusing on entirely other terms.

Use Linkilo for WordPress

It’s really easy to identify if you are cannibalizing your keywords or not with Linkilo. 

Under the “keyword cannibalization report,” we extract all of your Google Search Console queries and gather all of the pages with the queries that are being cannibalized:

Methods to avoid keyword cannibalization

Consolidate content

If you have two pages that perform identical functions, such as “best tennis shoe for women and another listing worst tennis shoes for women, you might want to consolidate the material on one page. While this technique is not always appropriate, integrating material frequently simplifies and improves your website’s search engine optimization.

Erase problematic content

Although this is extreme, you may wish to consider eliminating inappropriate online content–particularly if it is no longer relevant to your website. Remove the article if your business has expanded and an older, less professional, personal blog post, including particular keywords, continues to rank higher than your planned site content. If the content is no longer available, the issue is also gone.

Eliminate keywords

If you need to keep any specific text for other reasons and the existence of a term is not crucial, you may easily remove it. While this is a longer, more precise method of doing tasks—as manual solutions typically are—it has the advantage of being quite simple to execute.

Change your internal linking structure.

The links themselves may be aspects that you may improve. 

Internal links establish value for search engines like Google; therefore, if you add a link to another piece of information or web page, the connected material may be ranked higher.

Consider increasing or altering your website’s internal linking structure so that less important material points to the content you want to emphasize and prioritize. 

This indicates to the search engine results page (SERP) that the linked material should be prioritized. Performing well on SERPs is still critical.

Using our WordPress plugin, you can go to “Link Cannibalization Report” and identify if you used the same anchor text on multiple pages. 

The difference between the keyword cannibalization report and link cannibalization report is that the link section provides what anchor text you used on your website, and the keyword report shows you exactly what you rank for with Google.

It’s a powerful tool to be able to identify if you’ve made a mistake using the same keyword on multiple pages or if you wrote an article several years ago and wrote a brand new one that’s similar to you and forgot that you used the anchor text previously we can help identify these situations.

Modify inbound links requests

This is one of the more difficult kinds of cannibalization to treat, but it is critical. Another aspect that SEO takes into account when ranking search results is the number of backlinks to your content. After conducting a search on your website, you may discover that your older, less significant material continues to rank better than your more recent, more relevant content because other websites are building those links.

If you have the resources and time, particularly if the connections are to very prominent websites, you may use software to track backlinks and then contact web admins to request that the links be changed or deleted. In an ideal circumstance, they will exchange the old links you no longer desire for the new ones you want to highlight, strengthening your SEO ranking.

5 solutions to resolve keyword cannibalization

How you resolve the nature of the issue determines keyword cannibalization. Frequently, the issue is one of organization. However, very obstinate circumstances may need the use of 301 redirects or new landing sites. Here are five solutions for you to try to fix underlying issues on your website.

Reorganize your website

The easiest answer is to frequently convert your most authoritative website into a landing page that connects to other unique versions of your chosen keywords.

Returning to our shoe-product example, it may make sense to designate “shoes” as the canonical source page and to link to it from all more particular versions.

Develop additional landing pages

Alternatively, you may be missing a landing page that centralizes all of your product pages.

In this scenario, you’d benefit from having a unique landing page to act as your authoritative source page, which you may link to all your variations.

For instance, we may develop a page titled “women’s tennis shoes” and another titled “women’s sneakers.”

These should enable you to target broad and long-tail keyword phrases on your consolidated pages and variants.

Simplify your content

If your pages are not sufficiently distinctive to sustain numerous pages dedicated to the same keyword, try consolidating them into a single page.

This is an opportunity to transform two underperforming pages into a more authoritative source. 

Additionally, it may resolve difficulties with thin content. Begin by analyzing your data to ascertain which page performs the best in traffic, bounce rate, time on page, and conversions. You may discover that one page obtains the majority of visitors, but the other contains better conversion-optimized content.

In this scenario, the objective may be to consolidate the most effective copy material on the most visited page. Ideally, you’d be able to keep your current rating while increasing conversions.

Additionally, this strategy eliminates the risk of your website being punished for material that Google deems shallow or cookie-cutter-like.

Form new keywords

Finally, if your website currently has an abundance of diversified, content-rich pages and the only issue is a poorly designed keyword approach, perhaps all you need to do is identify new keywords.

Ensure that your keywords adequately represent the content of your website. Will the content on each page that ranks for the desired keyword satisfy a website visitor who searched for it?

If the answer is no, it may be time to conduct keyword research.

By analyzing your pages in a spreadsheet using the following information, you may identify more keyword opportunities for related pages:

  • Keyword and rank.
  • URL of the page.
  • SEO title and meta description.
  • Word count.
  • Natural traffic.
  • Rate of re-entry.
  • Conversions.

This should assist you in identifying pages that target the same keywords.

From there, you can assess which pages are the most useful, which can be combined, and which pages require new keywords.

Generally, you may use your keyword research tool to determine the most relevant terms for each page you wish to retain. If you have two sites that rank highly for a long-tail keyword, consider concentrating on a related broad term for one of them to increase traffic.

Once you’ve identified the term, reoptimize it and update the information in your spreadsheet for future reference and performance tracking.

Make use of 301 redirects.

By utilizing 301 redirects, you may condense your cannibalized information by pointing to a single, more authoritative version.

Remember that this strategy only applies to pages with similar content and those matching specified keyword queries.

Last resort solutions to resolve keyword cannibalization

People frequently attempt to resolve phrase cannibalization with seemingly analytical techniques that are ultimately wrong in practice. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these to ensure you understand what not to do.

Eliminate the page

This is rarely a viable option unless the page has little relevance to your business (as previously explained) or ranks for simply the “cannibalizing” keyword. Given the improbability of both of these possibilities, this is an uncommon course of action in the face of cannibalization.

Noindex the page

No indexing prevents search engines from indexing the page, which means it will not rank for anything. This is a terrible method of resolving cannibalization and demonstrates why addressing cannibalization at the keyword level is nearly always a bad idea.

Make the page you want to rank canonical.

This is a suitable technique only when dealing with several pages that are close or identical duplicates, colloquially referred to as duplicate content. Canonicalization is not a technique for resolving the cannibalization of keywords.

Reduce the optimization of a page

This one makes sense but is fundamentally wrong since a page cannot be de-optimized for a single term. That is not how things operate. 

For instance, eliminating internal links that include the cannibalizing term as an anchor text will likely hurt the page’s results for other keywords. 

Similarly, eliminating all instances of the cannibalizing term from the page is permissible.

Steps to improve your SEO using more relevant keywords

As stated at the outset of this essay, SEO has grown significantly in recent years. Google is constantly developing new algorithms to determine how pages should rank online. While much has changed, keywords have always been an integral part of the topic of search engine optimization.

Whatever you perform online, you’ll constantly have to consider how you’re utilizing keywords and phrases to raise and enhance your organization. We’ve compiled a few short ideas for increased optimization without keyword cannibalization to ensure that you’re optimizing your SEO properly.

Understand the Basics of Technical SEO

SEO entails a plethora of distinct components. Even if you have the finest keyword optimization in the world, if your site is not properly indexed, you won’t achieve anything. Technical SEO guarantees that your website is properly set up and ready to get a high ranking. 

Several organizations can assist you with the technical aspects of your SEO. While your digital firm is developing your technical plan, they may be able to inspect your site for indicators of keyword cannibalization.

Concentrate on long-tail keyword phrases

Another effective strategy for increasing SEO and avoiding term cannibalization is to target ‘long tail’ keywords. While long-tail keywords may not produce as much traffic as “head” or short-tail keywords, they are significantly more targeted. 

This results in a more tailored selection of visitors and reduces the likelihood of repeating the same term on your website. Selecting long-tail keywords for your website is simpler than you would believe. All you need to do is ensure that your material is precise. For instance, rather than creating a post on ‘branding,’ consider topics such as ‘branding advice for charities’ or ‘branding a new business.’

Utilize synonyms for critical terms

Depending on the sector in which your organization operates, certain themes in your repertoire may require extensive coverage. Instead of writing a 20,000-word blog, writing a series of related pieces makes more sense. In this case, one strategy for avoiding term cannibalization is to utilize links to redirect Google and your visitors to a core ‘knowledge base’ or piece of cornerstone content.

Alternatively, you might experiment with variants of the same keyword to broaden the reach of your content. Rather than producing many articles on ‘women’s shoes,’ for instance, try searching for terms such as ‘women’s hiking shoes,’ ‘cycling shoes for women,’ or ‘hot yoga shoes for women.’

Take caution with your keyword usage.

Finally, ensure that you have a content strategy in place that will assist you in determining which keywords to prioritize for each new page. The more time you spend tracking and evaluating your term usage, the more easily you can avoid keyword cannibalization.

Additionally, having a plan in place that enables you to monitor your material can aid you in the long run in developing a more effective website. Regardless of the type of marketing you use for your business, you should always analyze your success using tools such as Google Analytics. 

As you gather data on the performance of each page on your site, you’ll be able to make informed judgments regarding the next phase of your content strategy. For instance, if you know that consumers prefer reading your guides to seeing your infographics, you may shift your focus in the future to more written material.

Conclusion

Not long ago, keyword stuffing and repeated use of the same phrase across numerous sites would help their content rank higher. This, however, is no longer true. Now that you may rank numerous sites for the same keywords and search queries, you are forced to compete against yourself, reducing your success.

Long-form content is also a thing of the past. If you truly want to rank for keywords, stick with content that matches user intent. Long-form articles might have worked in the past, but that is stuffing keywords in a long article so you can try to rank.

You can write 300 articles and answer people’s questions or 3,000 words… If they are searching for it. As you continue to write more articles for your website, you want to reexamine how each page is ranked so that search engines can focus on helping you rank better for each page rather than fight with yourself!

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