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What is Keyword Cannibalization and How to Fix It

Updated: Jan 3

Do you have more than one page on your website ranking for the same keyword?

While this sounds like good news, it's not. When there are dual or more pages in the SERP with the same keyword, it can negatively affect your website rankings. This is bad for your SEO.

When multiple pages attempt to rank for the same keyword, they end up competing against one another. As a result, the conversion rate is split, and your website authority is lost. This is commonly called Keyword Cannibalization.

Let's dive a little deeper into the Keyword Cannibalization phrase and how it affects SEO.

This article takes you through everything you need to know about keyword cannibalization and its impact.

What is Keyword Cannibalization in SEO?

When your site has multiple pages targeting the same phrase and intent, this is known as keyword cannibalization. Because one of the two pages impacts the other's ranking, neither page will function as it should.

Say you want to be found when people search for "steakhouse in Madison." As a result, you write a blog entry titled "5 Star Steakhouses in Madison, WI."

You discover a couple other five-star steakhouses have been constructed since your previous visit a few years later. So you write a fresh post targeting the same keyword and adding exceptional premium steakhouses.

Cannibalization of keywords is demonstrated here. Despite appearing on the same website, the two posts share the same keyword and topic.

On your website, optimizing two or more pages for the same keyword does not guarantee that they will rank. If two pages have different search intentions, they can coexist peacefully on the same website even when they have similar terms.

How Bad is Keyword Cannibalization?

There’s no doubt that keyword cannibalization is terrible, but how bad is it?

Here are a few negative consequences of keyword cannibalization:

Reduced Authority: When there are too many pages on the same topic, the authority diminishes, and Google (and users) lose trust in its expertise.

Search Engine Confusion: By dividing the authority, different pages struggle to rank for the same keyword resulting in the wrong ranking.

Reduced CTR and Conversions: As two pages compete for the same keyword, they inadvertently result in less traffic and, consequently, fewer conversions.

Examples of Common Keyword Cannibalization

Cannibalizing keywords can have many negative effects on your website's performance in search engine results.

The following are some of the most frequent cannibalization problems that can occur:

  • Unpredictable Ranking URLs

  • Ranking Position Changes

  • Ranking Words Struggle to Improve Positions

  • The Ranks of the Wrong URL

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization on a Website?

You may not realize what you need to look for on your website to fix the issues that are causing your website problems on SERPs.

Here are some ways by which you can identify keyword cannibalization:

Run a site: search: First, run a google search with the following command. “site:” Google shows a results page with all the indexed pages. You can make a note of all the pages with similar titles. A more specific command, “site: + keyword,” gives you the pages that compete for the same keyword.

Check If You Have Multiple Pages Ranking for the Same Keyword: You’ll need a Rank Tracker tool (Ahrefs or SEMrush) to check if multiple pages rank for the same keyword.

Find the Pages that Swap Positions Often: Most importantly, these pages will swap positions frequently. So your Rank Tracker tool can map keywords to different landing pages. And you’ll be notified of any changes.

Use Google Search Console: If you are registered on Google Search Console, your “Search Analytics” should be able to pinpoint any instance of cannibalization.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization?

There are several methods by which you can fix keyword cannibalization. Depending on your website's size and the content's volume, you can use any one of the below methods.

Consolidate Pages: Do you have multiple pages on the same topic? Choose interesting content from all the pages, and rewrite with the most helpful content creating an in-depth piece. Finally, delete the unneeded pages. However, if you have better chances of ranking, it’ll do good to set redirects to the new landing page.

Internal Linking: Create internal linking from a less relevant page to the other by adding a “Dofollow” link. This doesn't solve keyword cannibalization per se but tells Google which is the most pertinent of the two.

Canonical URL: Canonicalization is not a way to fix keyword cannibalization but a solution when multiple contents are near similar pages. Here we use a canonical URL, which suggests to Google that one page among the others is the most relevant. However, since this is a suggestion, Google can always ignore it.

Remove Keywords: If you want to retain some content for one reason or another, removing the keywords is always an option. However, depending on the size of your website, it may or may not be a viable option.

Be sure to check out our Website Audit, because you get a comprehensive report on how your keywords are functioning.

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