Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is & How to Fix It

When it comes to the SEO world, you probably heard the term keyword a billion times. The reason for that is it is the best way to increase organic traffic and optimize your website effectively. The number one strategy of search engine optimization is to conduct an analysis to find your keywords in your market and reach your target audience.  

However, not everything related to keywords is beneficial for your rankings. Have you ever heard about keyword cannibalization? It might sound terrifying – even though it won’t result in the downgrade of your website. Nonetheless, keyword cannibalization can be the reason for your pages’ low rankings. Thus, it can negatively affect your website’s reputation.   

In order not to suffer from keyword cannibalism, today, we prepared an article about the keyword cannibalization meaning, its reasons, and how to fix it effectively for your website. Without further ado, let’s start!   

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword Cannibalization happens when you add the same keywords for different pages, hence affecting each page’s ranking qualities. In other words, when SEO specialists optimize a certain page, they make use of the most suitable keywords for each page. When doing that, if you add the same keywords to different pages, you end up with keyword cannibalization.

Let’s say you have a website telling hair dyes for different hair colors. For example, you sell brunette, yellow, ginger, orange, red, brown, grey, white, and so on. This is your product page. Your keywords probably would be brunette hair, blonde hair, ginger hair, and so on. Now, let’s think you also have a blog site or give an advertisement in a blog article. The article talks about natural hair colors and recommends your product. This article’s keywords would probably also be ginger hair, blonde hair, brown hair, or blonde hair. This situation is what we named keywords cannibalization.

If the blog page’s website is optimized well enough, one can rank higher in the same market while your products could not even see your customers. Thus, you can actually sabotage yourself while trying to rank higher with advertisements or sharing different materials.

To avoid keyword cannibalism in SEO, let’s continue our article to learn more about the ways to fix it and why it is detrimental to your SEO efforts.

Why Is Keyword Cannibalism Bad for SEO?

Keyword cannibalization can have serious consequences when it comes to your SEO efforts. Many people are not aware of the fact that they are suffering from keyword cannibalism. Instead, they think their pages are doing great in 5th or 6th grade in their niche. What they don’t know is that their page can actually rank higher if they are not affected by keyword cannibalization. Here are some reasons explaining why keyword cannibalism is bad for SEO efforts:

  • Losing Authority
  • Weakening Off-page Optimization
  • Confusing Search Engines
  • User Experience Getting Worse and Worse
why is keyword cannibalism bad for seo

Losing Authority

Instead of being the sole authority in the keyword, adding them on other pages increases the rivalry. That means you turn your pages into your competitors. As a result, you fight for SERP rankings against your own pages.

Weakening Off-page Optimization

Backlinks are crucial for increasing your website’s credibility and validity. However, being bound to keyword cannibalization can decrease the quality of your backlinks. Imagine you have two pages with the same keywords. And let’s say each page has three qualified backlinks. However, think about your competitors. Search engines may prefer one page with five qualified backlinks to two pages with two to three backlinks in the same keyword. Hence, you would become the second, third, fourth, or even fifth alternative for the one-qualified page.

Confusing Search Engines

Keywords are one of the crucial elements for search engines to read the pages on the SERPs. If all your keywords are the same, search engines may get confused about which one is most relevant to the keyword. And if it gets the wrong page as relevant, you might actually lose your high-trafficking page ranking as well.

User Experience Getting Worse and Worse

Imagine you are searching for a ‘stainless cooking pan’ as a customer. When looking for something to buy, you click on a link and see a blog post about ’10 recipes you can make easily with stainless cooking pans!’ As a customer, you can get frustrated, angry, and disappointed. Thus, you can lose the trust and credibility of the brand itself.

This situation happens when you put the same keywords on two pages simultaneously. When your websites suffer from keyword cannibalization like that, you not only lose trafficking but also start to lose your customers as well.

How to Find Keyword Cannibalization Issues

After reading about the detrimental effects of SEO keyword cannibalization, you might be wondering how I am going to understand whether my website has that or not. If you are on the same page with us, you are on the correct article.

Finding and identifying keyword cannibalization is as crucial as fixing them. How can someone fix the problem if they do not know what the problem itself is? For that reason, you have two options to understand if you have keyword cannibalism on your website or not.

  • Creating a Spreadsheet: You can create a spreadsheet in which you list the URLs of your webpage and the keywords associated with those pages.
  • Using a Keyword Mapping Tool: With the help of tools, instead of creating a sheet manually, you can produce your own keyword map to see where you use the keywords.
  • You can also use Google Search Console to see your keyword report. Using the performance report section in the tool, you can see the clicks and impressions your website gains over Google. Under the “pages” tab, there you can see the URLs listed for the keywords on your website. If a keyword has more than one URL, you can consider that word for keyword cannibalization.

After listing those keywords with URLs one way or another, you can analyze which keywords you use with which pages. If you find the same keywords on different pages, then you might consider fixing keyword cannibalization on your website.

However, it is also important to note that meta information in your title tags can also cause keywords cannibalization. Hence, if you are listing your keywords, do not forget to take a look at those tags as well.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues

Once you are confident enough to claim that you have keyword cannibalization on your website, you should immediately start on how to fix cannibalization issues on your website one by one. In most cases, the problems are caused by the organization, but some cases might also be more serious. From easiest to most difficult, we collected a list of techniques you can use to fix keyword cannibalization in SEO.   

Change the Structure of the Website  

The easiest way to solve keyword cannibalization problems is to change the structure of your website. That means you can take your most authoritative page, which gets the most traffic with the best SEO efforts, and turn it into a landing page. In this way, you can actually collect other related keywords under an umbrella page.   

Create New Landing Pages  

Instead of making the most authoritative one as the landing page, sometimes you need to create a new one when your website lacks a qualified one. That can collect all your products under one page and bring them together.   

In this way, you can make use of having a unique landing page in which you can direct all of your variations from there. Thanks to that, you can also have your landing page as your authoritative page as well.   

Combine Your Contents into One  

As we said earlier, it is always better to have one qualified page rather than having two or three pages using the same keywords. If your pages are not so unique and interesting enough to keep them separate, you should try combining them and turning them into one common page. This is a great chance to save two underperforming pages due to keyword cannibalization and create a more resourceful one. Hence, you can attract more organic traffic and decrease the competition you created for yourself.  

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To decide which one to combine, you should analyze your statistics and understand which one attracts more traffic and which one does not. You can keep the statistically high one and bring the other one’s content onto this page easily.   

Find New Keywords Suiting Your Niche  

If you have lots of different topics, contents, and products that share little similarities among them, you can try to find new keywords to avoid keyword cannibalism on your website. The most important thing to implement here is accuracy.   

Think from your customer’s perspective. As a customer, would that page satisfy you with the results when you searched that specific keyword on a search engine? If your answer is yes, you should definitely add that keyword. If your answer is no, then that keyword is not suitable for your page. In order not to affect your user behavior negatively, avoid using keywords that are not accurate for your page.   

If you are having difficulties with your keywords, by creating a spreadsheet with the elements listed below, you can find new keyword opportunities:   

  • Keyword and its ranking  
  • The page URL  
  • SEO title and meta description & tags  
  • Word count  
  • Organic traffic rate  
  • Bounce rate  
  • Conversions  

301 Redirects  

Even though some people consider it as a last resort, 31 redirects can be the solution you need when you suffer from keyword cannibalization.   

A 301 redirect simply means changing one URL and directing the old one to the new one immediately. For example, let’s say you have a new URL about (…)/wordpress-seo-plugins, and you changed it into (…)/wordpress-seo. When people click on the old URL, they will directly open the new URL even though it is not written in the new form.   

301 redirections

That can help you maintain your rankings on SERPs when you change your keywords on a website. Sometimes, you might encounter keyword cannibalization on the page where you get the most traffic. As a result, you would not want to lose that page. In a situation like this, you may stick with 31 Redirects. It will automatically signal search engines you changed the URL with a new one, hence reading the new page for rankings as well.   

Conclusion

In the immersive world of SEO, understanding and addressing keyword cannibalization is crucial for protecting your credibility and validity. From defining the concept to unraveling its impact, we’ve explored why it’s detrimental to SEO. Keyword cannibalism can result in losing the authority you have, decreasing the traffic to your website, and confusing the search engines about whether your website is relevant to the keyword or not.   

Identifying and solving keyword cannibalization issues is an obligatory but effective step toward optimizing your content strategy. By creating spreadsheets of your website, you can have a clear list of which links might be causing keyword cannibalism.   

Frequently Asked Questions About

It decreases the page authority and confuses search engines, leading to lower rankings, reduced traffic, and a poor user experience.

You can use keyword mapping to assign unique keywords to each page, consolidate or de-optimize similar content, implement 301 redirects for consolidation, ensure content differentiation, and optimize internal linking for clarity.

Ignoring keyword cannibalization can lead to lower search engine rankings, reduced organic traffic, and a confusing user experience. It may also impact the effectiveness of your overall SEO strategy.

Gizem Akmanlı

Posts: 194

Jr. SEO Content Editor at Dopinger, Gizem Akmanlı graduated from Literature department. With her interest in content production and editing, she managed a blog for 5 years, then turned to digital marketing and started to develop herself in the field of SEO. She is a supporter of sustainable living... Read More

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