Keyword Cannibalisation in SEO: What It Is, How to Fix It, and Why You Should Avoid It

In the constantly evolving world of search engine optimisation (SEO), a crucial aspect often overlooked is keyword cannibalisation. This phenomenon occurs when multiple pages on your website compete for the same keywords, causing confusion for search engines and ultimately harming your website’s ranking.

Understanding keyword cannibalisation and taking steps to prevent it is essential for maintaining your website’s SEO health. By conducting regular audits, consolidating content, targeting long-tail keywords, implementing proper internal linking, and continuously monitoring your site’s performance, you can mitigate the effects of keyword cannibalisation and improve your site’s search engine rankings.

In this comprehensive blog, we’ll discuss what keyword cannibalisation is, why it’s important to avoid it, and how you can detect and fix it.

What is Keyword Cannibalisation?

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when two or more pages on your website target the same keyword(s) or similar phrases. This can confuse search engines as they try to determine the most relevant page to display in search results. The end result is often a dilution of the overall SEO value, leading to lower rankings for all the competing pages.

Five Reasons Why it is Important to Avoid Keyword Cannibalisation

  1. Lower search rankings: When multiple pages compete for the same keyword, search engines may struggle to identify the most relevant content. This can lead to a decrease in rankings for all the pages involved, reducing your website’s overall visibility and organic traffic.
  2. Reduced click-through rates (CTR): Keyword cannibalisation can lead to a lower CTR, as searchers might not find the exact information they’re looking for on the page they land on. This can negatively impact user experience and increase bounce rates, which in turn can harm your website’s reputation and its ability to rank well in search engine results.
  3. Diluted link equity: When multiple pages target the same keyword, the inbound links to those pages may be spread thin, reducing the overall link equity for your website. This can make it difficult for your website to outrank competitors who have a stronger backlink profile.
  4. Wasted crawl budget: Search engines have a limited crawl budget for each site. Keyword cannibalisation can cause search engine bots to spend more time crawling and indexing multiple pages with similar content, which can hinder the indexing of other important pages on your site.
  5. Undermined authority: Having multiple pages that target the same keyword can also undermine your website’s authority on a particular topic. Search engines may view your site as lacking focus or expertise, which can negatively affect your rankings and overall online presence.

How to Detect Keyword Cannibalisation

Conduct a keyword audit: Perform an audit of your website using SEO tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to identify pages targeting the same or similar keywords. This will provide you with a clear picture of any instances of keyword cannibalisation on your site and help you prioritise which pages to address first.

Review SERPs manually: Manually search for your target keywords in search engines to see if multiple pages from your website appear in the search results. This can help you identify which pages are competing against each other and give you a better understanding of the scope of the issue.

Check internal site search: Review the search queries entered by users on your site to identify any instances of keyword cannibalisation. This can help you uncover pages that might be unintentionally targeting the same keywords and provide insights into potential areas for improvement.

Analyse Google Search Console: Use Google Search Console to review the performance of your target keywords. Look for any instances where multiple pages rank for the same keyword and investigate the reasons behind this issue.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalisation in Seven Steps

Step 1: Consolidate content

If you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, consider merging them into a single, comprehensive piece of content. This will help search engines understand the relevance of the page and improve its ranking potential. Additionally, it will create a better user experience by offering a one-stop resource for the topic in question.

Step 2: Use Canonical Tags

If you have similar content on different pages, use a canonical tag to indicate the preferred version for search engines to index. This helps prevent duplicate content issues and ensures the most relevant page ranks for the target keyword. Canonical tags signal to search engines which version of the content they should consider as the primary source, allowing you to maintain multiple pages without risking keyword cannibalisation.

Step 3: Opt for Long-tail Keywords

To avoid keyword cannibalisation, target long-tail keywords that are more specific and have less competition. This will enable you to create content that addresses unique topics, reducing the likelihood of overlapping keywords. Long-tail keywords also tend to have higher conversion rates, as users searching for them are often further along in the buying process.

Step 4: Implement internal linking

Proper internal linking can help search engines understand the relationship between pages on your site. Link to related content using descriptive anchor text that accurately represents the linked page’s content. This will not only improve the user experience but also help search engines crawl and index your site more effectively.

Step 5: Monitor and adjust

Regularly review your website’s performance and make necessary adjustments to your keyword strategy. Keep an eye on search engine rankings, organic traffic, and user engagement to ensure your efforts are paying off. Stay informed about changes in search engine algorithms and best practices, and adapt your strategies accordingly.

Step 6: Revise content strategy 

Analyse your content strategy to identify any gaps or overlaps in your keyword targeting. By having a well-planned content strategy, you can ensure that your website covers a wide range of topics and keywords without cannibalising your own rankings.

Step 7: Set clear keyword focus

Assign a primary keyword focus for each page on your website. This will help you create content that is centred around a specific keyword or topic, making it easier for search engines to understand the purpose of the page and reducing the chances of keyword cannibalisation.

Don’t Make Your SEO Life Harder, Avoid Keyword Cannibalisation

As the world of SEO continues to evolve, staying informed about potential issues like keyword cannibalisation is crucial to maintaining a successful online presence. By addressing this issue head-on, you can ensure that your website remains competitive in search engine results and delivers a positive user experience.

With our SEO and Content Marketing services here at Embryo, we ensure that each piece of content created has a specific keyword set and purpose, and we include cannibalisation fixes in our SEO strategies. Interested in learning more about what we have to offer? Why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you.


Latest News & Blogs