Minimizing Keyword Cannibalization
Among a large number of pages on your website, there might be a possibility of having many pages ranking for the same keyword. This may appear to be beneficial for your website. You might think that the more pages you have in the search results, the more search users will see them, right? However, this is not always true and things might go wrong.
If you use many pages to target a single term, it can have the opposite effect. You can end up compromising your SEO for that keyword more than helping it. In simple words, when numerous pages rank for the same term, they are forced to compete with one another.
This results in lower CTR, authority, and conversion rate than a single unified page would. This SEO error is known as keyword cannibalization.
What Is Keyword Cannibalization?
The term “keyword cannibalization” comes from the fact that you’re “cannibalising” your results by dividing CTR, links, content, and (often) conversions across two sites that should be one. You aren’t displaying Google the range or depth of your content when you do this. You’re also not increasing your site’s authority for that search. In this case, Google compares your pages to one another and picks the one that best matches the relevant keywords.
Negative Effects of Keyword Cannibalization on SEO
Cannibalism of keywords can have severe SEO effects. Many websites and companies are affected by keyword cannibalization and don’t even know it exists. They may be content with one page being in the fifth and sixth positions for their goal term, even though one authoritative website would likely rank higher and convert better.
The practical implications are obvious. However, lost site traffic, inquiries that lead to the incorrect page, shifting SERP ranks, and eventually missed revenues are more difficult to identify. Here are the reasons why:
Authority Of Your Page gets lower
CTR of your website is being distributed across numerous marginally relevant pages, rather than having one highly authoritative page. You’ve effectively made your pages into competitors, and you’re now competing for page views and SERP positions.
Consider it from the perspective of a reader searching Amazon for a new book. Would you want to have a single, comprehensive book on a subject that proved your expertise? Or would you rather have two or more entire books on a subject, each of which leaves you wanting more information?
Your Links & Anchor Text are reducing
Backlinks that could have gone to a single centralised source of information are now spread among two (or more) pages. The time and effort you spent obtaining 5 links for one page and 10 links for another could have been better spent acquiring 15 links for a single page that performed better.
A substantial, in-depth page is also more likely to get linked to than a lighter, less comprehensive post. Similarly, instead of pointing readers to a single authoritative page on the subject, your anchor text and internal links direct them to several pages.
Your more important page might get fewer results
One of the most important ways we help Google understand what our pages are about is by using keywords. If all of your keywords are the same, Google will try to figure out which page is the greatest match, but if your content is too similar, it may make a mistake.
If you compare two pages that are ranking for the same keyword, you may be missing out on high-value, converting traffic if the higher converting page ranks lower.
Your crawl budget is being misused.
The crawl budget is the number of times or how frequently the search engine crawls your website in a given time. When you have many pages containing the same keywords, crawling and indexing of unnecessary pages occurs.
Note that small sites are unlikely to notice a difference or have to worry about crawl budgets, however large eCommerce sites or suppliers with various products might.
It’s an Indicator of Low Page Quality
Your users will notice that you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword. This indicates that your content is probably stretched thin. Google might interpret that your content on each page could not match your keywords.
Your conversion rate may drop
One of your pages having the same keywords will convert better than the others. You’re losing potential leads instead of guiding new visitors to that page and making it the most authoritative page possible.
How Keyword Cannibalization can be fixed
The solution to keyword cannibalization can only be determined if the problem can be identified. Once you identify the problem, five ways you can fix them are:
1. Reorganize your website.
Taking your most authoritative website and turning it into a landing page that links to additional unique variants that fit within the scope of your targeted keywords is frequently the simplest approach.
Returning to our book example, it might make sense to make “book” the canonical source page and link to it from all other variations.
2. Make New Landing Pages
Another major problem might be the lack of a landing page that brings all of your product pages together in one location. Make a core and significant landing page to serve as your authoritative source page in this situation, and link to all of your variations from there.
Taking the book example again, we can make a page for “novels” and another for “fiction books.” These should allow you to target both broad keyword terms and long-tail keywords on your consolidated pages and variations.
3. Combine Your Content
Consider combining your pages into one if they aren’t unique enough to merit having many pages targeting the same keyword. This helps you to transform two underperforming pages into a more authoritative site. This can help you reduce thin content. You can start by using analytics to see which page has the best traffic, bounce rate, time on page, conversions, and so on. You’ll get to know that one page receives the majority of traffic, yet the information on the other converts more users.
In this situation, the goal could be to combine the converting copy content on the most visited page. This will help you to keep your ranking and convert more of the traffic. You won’t have to worry about your website being demoted for material that Google finds shallow or cookie-cutter-like if you take this method.
4. Look for New Keywords
Finally, if your website currently has a wide variety of content-rich pages and the only problem is a poorly planned keyword strategy, perhaps all you need to do is research new keywords.
First, make sure that your keywords adequately represent the content of your page. Then ask yourself if the content on each page that ranks for the desired keyword satisfy a website visitor who searched for it? If you think that the answer is no, keyword research may be mandatory for you.
In this way, you can find out which pages are the most important, which may be combined, and which require fresh keywords. In most circumstances, you can locate the most relevant terms for all of the pages you want to preserve using your keyword research tool.
If you have two pages that rank well for a long-tail keyword, investigate if you can focus on a related broad term for one of them to get more traffic. Reoptimize for that keyword and edit the details in your spreadsheet for future reference and performance tracking once you’ve found it.
5. Use 301 Redirects
While it is generally suggested not to use too many 301 redirects, you may need them if you already have many sites ranking for the same terms.
By linking the less relevant sites to a single, more authoritative version, you may condense your cannibalised content.
However, keep in mind that this strategy is only appropriate for pages with comparable content and those that match specified keyword queries.
Most cases of keyword cannibalization can be resolved with these five solutions. Still, if you run an eCommerce site, you should pay special attention to how your CMS handles products of different sizes and colours.
Some content management systems (CMS) establish different pages for each product variation.
If your CMS is used to organise products like this, you should either use robots.txt or meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> tags to prevent duplicate pages from being indexed, or you should utilise canonical URLs to aggregate link signals for the duplicate content.