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What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Pouring your heart and soul into curating content, meticulously optimizing for the perfect keywords, and building a network of strong backlinks. Wooah, you've done everything by the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) playbook to win over the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

But what if, unknowingly, your greatest competition came from within your website?

This is the sneaky threat of keyword cannibalisation. Did you know that 30% of websites suffer from keyword cannibalisation without even realizing it? Keyword cannibalization is rather a situation where multiple pages on your site compete for the same keywords, inadvertently sabotaging each other's ranking potential. 

Let’s take a look at this SEO pitfall and explore how to avoid it.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

You have two blog posts on your website, and both are in the top ranking for the term "Google Office in India." Each post is packed with valuable information and optimized with the keyword in mind. But here's the catch – the content is too similar. Search engines, particularly Google, try to decide which page is the most relevant result for "Google Offices in India." This competition between your pages for the same keywords is what we call keyword cannibalization.

Why is Keyword Cannibalization a Nightmare for SEO?

You're essentially splitting your SEO efforts in half. Here's how keyword cannibalization can cripple your website's ranking potential:

  1. Diluted Ranking Power
    By having multiple pages competing for the same keywords, you're dividing your website's authority and backlinks across those pages. This weakens the overall ranking power of each page for the target keyword.
  2. Content Cannibalization
    When multiple pages cover similar ground, it creates a confusing user experience. Search engines might choose to show neither page due to the lack of clear differentiation.
  3. Missed Opportunities
    If you have several pages competing for the same keyword, you're missing out on the chance to target a wider range of relevant keywords and attract more organic traffic.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization?

The good news is that keyword cannibalization is a fixable problem. The first step is to identify it. Here are some ways to sniff it out:

  1. Keyword Research Tools
    Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz can help you identify pages on your website that target the same or similar keywords.
  2. Search Console
    Google Search Console can reveal which keywords your website ranks for and which pages rank for those keywords. Look for instances where multiple pages appear for the same keyword.
  3. Manual-Based Analysis
    Review your website content and see if you have multiple pages that cover very similar topics or target identical keywords.

Top 4 Ways to Combating the Cannibalistic ‘Curse’

Aka, the solutions for keyword harmony. Once you've identified and pointed out keyword cannibalization issues, it's time to take action. Here are some top strategies as follows:

  1. Content Consolidation
    If you have multiple pages with very similar content, consider merging them into a single, more comprehensive and informative piece. This strengthens the overall value of the content and avoids confusing search engines.
  2. Content Differentiation
    For pages that cover related but distinct topics, refine the content to differentiate them. This could involve focusing on specific product features, targeting different buyer personas, or addressing a broader versus a narrower aspect of the topic.
  3. Internal Linking
    Make use of strategic internal linking to guide users and search engines to the most relevant page for a particular keyword. Link from the less relevant page to the stronger, more comprehensive one.
  4. Keyword Mapping
    Start a clear keyword map that assigns specific keywords to individual pages on your website. This ensures each page has a unique focus and avoids competition with other pages.

Some More Tips for Keyword Cannibalization

For websites with a complex architecture or those dealing with a significant amount of content, here are some advanced techniques to address keyword cannibalization:

  • Canonicalization: If you have very similar pages with slightly different URLs (e.g., /products/ and /products.html), use canonical tags to tell search engines which page is the preferred version.

  • Meta Description Optimization: While meta descriptions don't directly affect rankings, they can influence click-through rates (CTR). Craft unique and compelling meta descriptions for each page to help search engines and users differentiate between similar pages.

When it Comes to SEO, a Well-Defined Strategy is Key

Take action today. Use a free keyword research tool like Semrush to identify potential conflicts on your website. 

Here’s a small tip for you. Thoroughly and regularly review your website's content and keyword strategy. As your website grows and evolves, so too should your SEO strategy. Stay vigilant and proactive to prevent keyword cannibalization from derailing your SEO efforts.

Feeling overwhelmed? Brown Men Marketing as the top SEO company offer consultations to help you diagnose and fix keyword cannibalization issues – contact us today!

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