Keyword Cannibalization: Definition, How to Fix, and Avoid

Tati Khumairoh

Tati Khumairoh

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illustration of cannibalization on a website

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    In SEO, where every click matters and every keyword holds the potential to elevate your website to new heights, the phenomenon of Keyword Cannibalization appears often unnoticed but impacts your SEO strategy profoundly.

    When your website unintentionally competes with itself for the attention of search engines, that's cannibalization. It leads to confusion in search engine algorithms and, ultimately, a diluted online presence.

    In this article, you will learn more about keyword cannibalization in SEO starting from its real definition, how to avoid it, and how to fix it. So, if you are looking for a comprehensive source, here it is.

    What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

    Keyword Cannibalization is a phenomenon where multiple pages on your website compete for the same keyword or set of keywords. This unintentional internal competition creates confusion for search engines, making it challenging for them to discern which page should rank highest for a particular query.

    Let's paint a clearer picture. Consider a clothing e-commerce site with two pages one dedicated to "summer dresses" and another to "floral dresses." If both pages are optimized for the keyword "summer dresses," search engines might struggle to decide which page to showcase, leading to a diluted impact on rankings and visibility.

    This real-world scenario showcases how keyword cannibalization can pit your own content against each other, hindering your website's ability to shine in the competitive world of search.

    How Keyword Cannibalization Impacts SEO and Website Performance?

    When many pages want to be the first rank for the same keyword, it's like having too many chefs in the kitchen. Each page loses a bit of its power, and none of them stand out. Then, search engines like Google get a bit puzzled. 

    They're not sure which page is the best fit for a certain keyword. So, all the pages end up getting lower ranks.

    People searching online might not click on your pages as much. When the info they want is spread out on different pages, they might not find what they're looking for, and that's not good for your website.

    How to Find Keyword Cannibalization Issue?

    Now, let's equip ourselves with the detective skills needed to spot Keyword Cannibalization before it takes a toll on your SEO efforts. Here is how you can find the issue.

    1. Know The Common Signs of Keyword Cannibalization

    Usually, keyword cannibalization occurs on a large-scale website with a lot of content. You can investigate if there is a sign of it, as follows:

    • Ranking drop: If you notice a sudden drop in rankings for a specific keyword, it could be a sign of internal competition. Keep an eye on those rankings. Even if that's not always a keyword cannibalization issue, you should notice that.

    • Fluctuating Traffic: Are your traffic numbers doing a little dance? If you see fluctuations in traffic for a particular keyword, it's worth investigating. Keyword Cannibalization might be playing a part.

    • Similar Content Across Pages: Check your pages. If you notice several pages with very similar content targeting the same keyword, there's potential for keyword cannibalization.

    2. Do Keyword and Site Audit

    Conduct a thorough audit of your keywords and overall site. Look for patterns of keyword overlap and assess how well your site is structured. It's like a health check-up for your website, ensuring optimal performance and detecting any hidden cannibalization issues.

    You can use Sequence Stats Site Audit to see whether there is a cannibalized page or not. You can access this through the Site Audit Result and see if there is a cannibalization warning.

    Picture 1 - Site Audit in Sequence Stats.

    Picture 1 - Site Audit in Sequence Stats.

    Or, you can just see the cannibalization issue through your tracked keyword in Sequence Stats. There is a feature called SEO Concern, where users can spot various SEO issues including keyword cannibalization. 

    This way, you can spot and fix it immediately before it impacts the whole site. 

    Picture 2 - SEO Concern of keyword tracked using Sequence Stats

    Picture 2 - SEO Concern of keyword tracked using Sequence Stats

    How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization in SEO?

    Now that we've identified the issue, we should fix it. Below is a step-by-step guide to fix the cannibalization on your website.

    1. Identify the Primary Page

    Determine which page should be the star player for a specific keyword. This is your primary page, the one you want search engines to prioritize.

    2. Update On-Page Content

    Tailor the content on your primary page to be comprehensive and authoritative. Ensure it covers all aspects related to the targeted keyword, providing users with a one-stop solution.

    3. Redirect or Consolidate

    For secondary pages that were competing, consider implementing 301 redirects to channel traffic to the primary page. Alternatively, if the content is unique and valuable, consolidate it into the primary page.

    4. Update Internal Links

    Adjust internal links across your site to point to the newly designated primary page. This helps search engines understand the hierarchy of your content and strengthens the chosen page's authority.

    Strategies to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization Issue

    This issue is quite avoidable, thus rather than waiting for this issue to come up, you can prevent it from the beginning. Below are some strategies you can use to avoid keyword cannibalization.

    • Keyword Mapping from the Start: When developing content, create a clear map of keywords and assign them to specific pages. This preemptive strategy ensures each page has a unique purpose, minimizing the risk of cannibalization from the get-go.

    • Canonical Tags Usage: Implement canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of a page to search engines.

    • Strategic Internal Linking: Link related content strategically, directing users and search engines to the most relevant pages. Avoid excessive linking between pages that target the same keywords.

    Conclusion

    So, that is all. We have discussed the keyword cannibalization from the meaning to the strategy to avoid it. So, guard your keywords, structure your content wisely, and conduct regular audits to spot the issues.

    To assist you through the process, make sure that you have a Sequence Stats account and automate the audit processes. You can have a free trial for a year by registering now! Please have a trial!