KEYWORD CANNIBALIZATION

What it is and how to manage it

Have you ever heard of keyword cannibalization? Understanding this subject is crucial for SEO, as it has the potential to adversely affect your website’s content, consequently impacting your strategy by diminishing website traffic, conversions, and more.

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What is Keyword Cannibalization?

The phenomenon of Cannibalization occurs when two pages cannibalize each other, meaning that in the eyes of search engines, you are offering two distinct pieces of content that address the same topic. It is a problematic factor for SEO when two pages compete for positioning in SERPs for the same keyword, as both lose quality scores from search engines and visibility.

Negative effects of Keyword Cannibalization

The spider may have trouble understanding which content to consider and show in its index when a user performs a search related to the topic covered in both contents. The problem is that Google alternates between the two pages in its ranking, or it places the “wrong” and less efficient one, leading to an overall loss of site positioning. The risks and negative effects can include loss of traffic, incorrect page positioning in SERPs, lower authority, decreased sales, and fluctuating rankings.

Impact of Keyword Cannibalism on User Experience

Keyword Cannibalism has repercussions beyond just SEO performance; it adversely influences user experience as well. When various pages on your site vie for the same keyword, it introduces confusion to search engines, leading to inconsistent search results and an overall subpar user experience.

cannibalization issues

Issues with User Experience

  • confusing search results: keyword cannibalization may result in perplexing search outcomes, presenting users with numerous pages addressing the same subject. This complexity can impede users’ ability to locate the desired information, potentially causing frustration and prompting them to abandon their search.

  • duplicate content: keyword cannibalization frequently leads to the existence of duplicate content, with multiple pages featuring similar or identical information. This scenario can contribute to a suboptimal user experience, as users might perceive a sense of redundancy, encountering the same content repeatedly.

  • reduced relevance: when pages vie for the same keyword, their relevance to specific user queries may decrease. Consequently, users might end up on pages that inadequately address their search intent, thereby diminishing their overall experience.

Improving User Experience

  • content consolidation: merge or amalgamate similar content into a unified, comprehensive page to provide users with a more focused and informative experience.

  • clear page titles and descriptions: ensure each page possesses clear, concise titles, and descriptions that precisely depict the content. This transparency aids users in comprehending the material on each page, empowering them to make informed decisions on whether to proceed with a click.

  • internal linking structure: create a well-structured internal linking system that interconnects related pages. This streamlines user navigation between relevant content, minimizing the chance of encountering duplicate information.

  • user testing: execute user testing to identify areas of confusion or dissatisfaction with your website’s navigation and content structure. Leverage this feedback to implement targeted enhancements, ultimately elevating the overall user experience.

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How to identify Keyword Cannibalization

Identifying keyword cannibalization can help us in terms of both SERP positioning and ranking. Addressing a keyword cannibalization problem may involve using free SEO tools or paid SEO programs.

  • free tools like serpchecker can be used for position tracking, helping us understand where the page defined by our SEO strategy is positioned.
  • alternatively, using Google Search Console, with the help of the Performance report, by clicking on one of the queries from the “Pages” tab, we can see the list of URLs ranked for that query with their statistics. When more than one URL is noticed, it indicates keyword cannibalization.
  • we can also use Google logical operators: the logical operator site:yoursite.com + “keyword” helps us understand which pages of our site are positioned for a keyword.
  • additionally, SEOZoom (a paid SEO tool) has a dedicated section for identifying cannibalization (Content/Cannibalization). Here, we’ll find a list of URLs, and upon selection, we can view the keywords they are positioned for and whether there are other URLs competing for that same keyword.

Methods to prevent and resolve Keyword Cannibalization in content

After verifying that our site is a victim of keyword cannibalization, we can use various methods to bypass cannibalization and solve the problem. Below are the most effective methods, analyzed point by point.

Define an editorial plan

Nipping the keyword cannibalization problem in the bud is possible by developing a valid editorial plan, ensuring a high ranking.

Careful planning of our content and its SEO efficiency is necessary to minimize damage and errors. It is also important to update and improve our plan over time to avoid content duplication that could jeopardize the success of our strategy.

keyword ranking

Analyze search intent

Before defining the editorial plan, it’s important to conduct a thorough analysis of search intent. Analyzing search intent helps us create content that meets user needs. An initial analysis involves using different search engine queries to study SERP results. This allows us to check if 2 or more different queries offer the same results.

Rel Canonical

With Rel Canonical, we won’t eliminate the content of other pages, but we’ll prioritize what we consider more important for our strategy in any case. This is very useful for e-commerce, where the URL of a product page often changes based on the arrival path (banner, search, etc.). Setting a unique canonical will direct Google bots exclusively to the relevant page.

301 Redirect

We can also set up a 301 redirect from competing pages to the one we consider more important for our strategy. By doing this, we make it the landing point from the SERP, suggesting to the search engine which content to consider.

Noindex

If we want to keep both pages because we find them useful for visitors but don’t want them to rank and cannibalize others, noindexing is an excellent solution. With noindex, we tell search engines that we don’t want these pages to appear in the SERP. Visitors can access them, but not from search results, preventing the pages from stealing our traffic. Implementing noindexing can be done by adding a tag <meta> or with an HTTP header.

Internal link strengthening

We can set up an internal linking structure, connecting less important content to more important ones for us, so that the search engine understands which content is primary. Note: always ensure that the content you want to rank higher has more inbound links and fewer outbound links. To identify the internal linking structure, it’s advisable to use Google Search Console.

 

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Other useful tips to avoid SEO cannibalization

Deleting content can be a solution to avoid keyword cannibalization, thus choosing the content we intend to rank. Merging multiple contents: if we have multiple pieces of content.

When dealing with a situation where there are multiple contents that we consider important but are cannibalizing each other, the best solution is to merge them into a single piece of content.

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Final Considerations on Keyword Cannibalization

Therefore, we understand that these activities are crucial because if neglected, we could be penalized by search engines. In general, sites that have accumulated a significant number of content over time are generally more prone to facing cannibalization issues, although no site is entirely out of danger. By following this guide and embracing established best practices, we can efficiently supervise all aspects and preemptively tackle potential complications.

 

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