Search engine optimization helps businesses market their services to the right people at the right time. Although SEO rules are dynamic, the importance of keywords remains unchanged. These terms in your blogs, campaigns, and website pages govern the kind of audience you’ll engage with and attract to your website. 

But as the online world turns intensely competitive, most believe that the ideal way to get ahead is to build several pages targeting a single keyword. It may seem logical to think so. But that’s far from the truth.

Keyword cannibalization, as it’s called, hurts your capacity to get ranked for relevant terms. It confuses Google and minimizes your website authority. Unfortunately, many businesses fall victim to this problem time and again.

What Keyword does Cannibalization mean?

SEO keyword cannibalization occurs when numerous pages on a website target similar keywords and contest against one another. It adversely impacts the organic performance of the site.

For example, suppose your website has two pages about on-page SEO, and you want to enhance your organic traffic by combining these two pages into a single one. In that case, it will be called a cannibalization issue. The primary problem with it is that it makes both the search engine and your site visitors confused.

keyword cannibalization

You may be surprised to know that many people whose websites have a cannibalization problem aren’t even aware of it. On the contrary, if you direct all your ranking efforts exclusively on one page, it elevates your rank on the top position in the search engine. When two or more web pages rank for a single term, your website’s authority gets split in half.

How Keyword Cannibalization Harms Your Website Ranking?

Cannibalization of keywords is not suitable for your website’s SEO strategy. Over time, it can result in reduced traffic and fluctuating search engine rankings. Some ways by which it diminishes your SEO efforts are as follows.

  • Minimizes your page authority – When you are cannibalizing a keyword, you are essentially slashing your click-through rate across numerous locations. The competition between the two URLs of your web pages divides their strength. It negatively impacts your organic search visibility. So, instead of having a well-positioned page that provides value to the visitor, your website has numerous URLs with almost no relevance and incomplete information. 
  • Reduces the importance of relevant site pages – Keywords are crucial to help the search engine comprehend your website. If every one of your keyword is the same, the search engine will not know the page it should show to your target users when they place the relevant keyword. 
  • Confuses users – If search engines like Google show more than a single web page of yours in the results, they may not show the information that the user was searching for. It will produce a rebound that’ll harm your SEO. It, in turn, will signal to the search engine that your content isn’t relevant for a specific query. The user also perceives the quality of your page as unfavorable because the page may not display relevant content.
  • Weaken your link building – It’s possible that you could be cannibalizing various themes. So the incoming links will not extend to various website pages. If you have more than two pages talking about a single topic, it will become quite difficult for people to know which URL should be linked. They’ll not know which URL among the two is the main page having the most relevant data. Accordingly, users will randomly decide, and the links directing to your website will be spilled into multiple pages.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

Now that you know how this issue hurts your website and credibility, you can take steps to find if you are dealing with it or not. To fix keyword cannibalization, you should first know how to identify it.

Perform a content audit

Cannibalization issues are easy to spot through a content audit. It means analyzing the content performance on your website and finding whether it should be updated, removed, or redirected. It results in a healthier site.

Search for your site

Head over to Google and search your website for any particular keyword you think might give you multiple results. On Google search, enter site:yourwebsite.com “topic.” If you find multiple results, your site is suffering from this issue.

Use online tools

You can use versatile SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush to find and fix keyword cannibalization. On using the ‘organic keywords‘ functionality with Ahrefs, you can find all the historical keywords you’ve used on your site. Thus you can pinpoint any occurrence of cannibalization.

SEMRush’s landing pages report displays the keywords you are tracking and how many keywords are ranking for every page. Using the advanced options in it, you can polish your results to mitigate the presence of a particular keyword.

Ways to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

Determining how to avoid keyword cannibalization is the ideal way to boost your SEO efforts. Fortunately, resolving cannibalization issues in a keyword is easy. Given below are some ways you can implement.

Fix Keyword cannibalization

Set up an internal linking strategy

With a good internal linking strategy, you can indicate to Google which of your web pages are more important. Link from less relevant posts to those that you want to rank for. Besides internal linking, another way to avoid this issue is to simply eliminate pages in your website that are not providing any value to your visitors.

Combine or merge articles

If there are two articles geared towards the same audience and don’t have much difference in their content, you can combine them. You can create a comprehensive piece by combining the content of the two posts into one. After you create one, delete one of them and adapt the other one. This process will help you revive your existing content and impart more value to your visitors.

Reoptimize your content

In certain instances, just merging the content of two articles won’t work. In this case, the experts of professional SEO services recommend optimizing the content. Keep one of the pieces focus on the keyword you are revising and adjust the other one for a different keyword. 

For example, if you have two pages ranking for the term ‘SEO strategies,’ do not meddle with one of them and modify the other page to cover ‘best SEO trends.’

Make use of 301 redirects

Use this option to fix SEO keyword cannibalization only when none of the methods above resolve the problem. You should either delete the cannibalized page or inform Google to ignore that page. You do this by using a 301 redirect. It enables you to integrate some content on your site by sending Google immediately for a page that’s more relevant for which you want to rank higher.

Final Words

The likelihood of suffering from keyword cannibalization increases as the website grows. Its because there are only limited topics relevant to a specific domain. Use the tips outlined in this article to identify and eliminate this problem. Alternatively, it’s also a good idea to get help from expert SEO services.

The professionals will conduct a thorough site audit and ideate content that will always provide something unique and valuable to your target audience.