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Keyword Cannibalization in SEO: What is It & How to Avoid?

The correlation between brands and customers using the internet never gets extinct. Since customers want to find something, whether it’s a product or service, the first thing they have on their minds is searching for their mobile or laptops to conduct a search.
Gone are the days when people rolled their phone books, printed catalogues of products or consulted the Yellow Pages to find the businesses or services they were interested in. However, now the reality is quite surprising. (Not for the generation who made their birth by mobile phones) Hilarious, right?! But the interesting fact is 70% of people today don’t even open their phone books when they receive new ones.
Now, from the perspective of the businesses. The points mentioned above would clearly explain the essential factor of being online. But the question is whether you’re identified among the ocean of information. You can easily put the information about the business, obviously with keywords.
Here is where the new hazard begins. If you use the same keywords for multiple pages, that may sound like a good thing. But technically, it isn’t always the case. Businesses try to make more pages on the website to rank on the search results to get more impressions from the users. Unfortunately, targeting a specific keyword across multiple pages can have the opposite effect.
Technically, we call it as keyword Cannibalization.

Keywords 101

Keywords 101
Let’s start from the basics to get a clear picture of Keyword Cannibalization in SEO and strengthen your technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy.
The keywords are the most important element in technical SEO as well as any digital marketing strategy. When people refer to a search engine to find something on their mind, the first thing they do is either type a series of words relevant to their wish or, with virtual agents, ask a question (Bonus Tip: if you don’t optimize your search results for speech recognition or virtual assistants, just do it right away!) The search engine uses those words to scan the entire internet.
When it discovers content that matches the keyword criteria, it will present the search results (Ads or Sponsored results are a whole different game). Based on the keyword criteria, it ranks them according to a different basis, such as usefulness and popularity.
However, keywords are where it all begins. For instance, if you sell dog food and care items, your website should include keywords like “dog,” “dog food,” “dog care,” or “pet care.” A search engine would not recognize your website as being about dogs or dog care items if it made no mention of dogs. Without a doubt, you would miss your intended audience.
Obviously, this is where keyword cannibalization comes in.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword Cannibalizations
To put it simply, if you optimized multiple pages of your website for the same search query, essentially, you’re competing with yourself, which can possibly result in all page’s results being poor. As a result, when you do this, you are not increasing your website’s authority for the query and are not demonstrating the breadth of your knowledge to Google.
Instead, you’re asking Google to weigh your pages one another and put them under to choose which one it thinks suits the matching keyword exactly.
Does it seem confused or never heard before? Here’s an example below.
Consider this, I’m new to digital marketing and want to know about keyword Research for my Technical SEO on Google. Here the results.
The two results from the same source almost demonstrate the same thing that ranks for the keyword “Keyword Research.” I came across these two websites. It would literally confuse me about which one I should click.
The thing is, not everyone is perfect. Check out our blog posts. We may use the same search query on the two blog posts that can impact the readers. This confesses that readers or search engines are confused, making it difficult to get rank and acquire the audience’s attention.

How to Find the keyword Cannibalization?

Yes, I can hear you! You need to check whether your website affected by the keyword Cannibalization, right? Let’s find the steps to sort out.

Search Through Your Website

One straightforward way to search for keyword cannibalization is to look up search queries relevant to your industry/niche.
For instance, we’re a Digital Marketing Agency offering digital marketing strategy, frequently uploading content on Search Engine Optimization Strategy; we do a Google search with some of the keywords we often use.

This could seem like an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or Digital Marketing Strategy for beginners. Such a search pulls up all web pages ranked for your query. Check whether two or more of your posts or content are competing for a spot.

Google Specific Site Search

Type your site’s name before the search term to help find keyword cannibalization easier.

Negative Effects of keyword Cannibalization You can Have on Your Technical SEO

Negative Effects of keyword Cannibalization
As mentioned above, keyword cannibalization has the negative effects on your website. The practical consequences are clear. It is more difficult to discover lost site visitors, queries that lead to the incorrect page, shifting SERP results, and eventually lost sales.

You’re Literally Destroying the Authority of Your Page

Because, instead of having one Authoritative page, you’re splitting your CTR among multiple relevant pages.
You know how it looks? You’ve turned your own pages into competitors and now you’re fighting for search engine rankings.
Consider from the point of view of a book reader looking for a new book on the website.
Would you rather write one comprehensive book that showcased your knowledge on a certain subject?
Or would you rather read two or more books on the same subject that are just partially full and leave you wanting more information?

You’re Diluting Your Backlinks & Anchor Text

Instead of linking to a single, consolidated source of information, backlinks are now distributed throughout two (or more) pages. The outreach efforts used to secure 10 links for one page and 15 links for another may have been used to secure 25 links for one page that performed better.
A substantial page is also more likely to get linked to than a lighter, less thorough item. Similarly, instead of directing readers to a single authoritative page on the subject, your internal links and anchor text are sent to several distinct pages.

Google May Devalue the More Relevant Page

Keywords are one of the main things to let Google understand what your pages are about. If you’re using same keyword for all pages, Google tries to understand which page is the best fit. Moreover, if your content is similar too, it might get wrong.
For instance, let’s say you have two pages. Page A and Page B use the same keywords. However, you want Page A to want to rank high on Search Engine Result Page, but your Page B gets ranked for that keyword. In this case, your higher converting page ranks lower; possibly, you could be missing out on high-value converting traffic.
If two of your Pages (Page A and Page B) get ranks for the keywords on Different Position on the result page, it’s a great job. If the case is explained above, it should care for.

You’re Squandering Crawl Budget

The number of times a search engine spider visits your website within a predetermined time frame is known as your crawl budget.
Multiple pages devoted to the same keyword cause unnecessary pages to be crawled and indexed.
Note: Small websites are unlikely to experience any changes or even have to worry about their crawl budget, but major e-commerce websites or vendors with a wide range of products might.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

How to solve fix or solve keyword cannibalization is depends on the root cause of the problem. Let’s go through the five possible steps that can fix this issue.
1. Restructure Your Website
The most straightforward approach is often to convert your most authoritative website into a landing page that links to other distinctive versions that fit under the umbrella of your chosen keywords.
If we go back to the example of the shoe product, it might make sense to make “shoes” the canonical source page and link to it from all other, more specific variations.
2. Consolidate Your Content
Consider consolidating your pages into one if they aren’t distinctive enough to merit having several pages targeting the same keyword. This is an opportunity to combine two underperforming pages into one reliable resource. It might also address the issue of thin content.
To find the page that performs the best in terms of traffic, bounce rate, time on page, conversions, etc., start by looking at your metrics. You might discover that while one page gets the most visitors, the other provides content that draws in more users.
Consolidating the copied material that converts on the page with the most traffic in this situation might be the aim. The ideal situation would be to keep your ranking and increase traffic conversion.
3. Find New Keywords
Finally, if your website is already blessed with a wealth of pages with a wide variety of material and the only problem is a poorly thought-out keyword approach, perhaps all you need to do is identify some new keywords.
Just make sure your keywords adequately describe the content of your page. Will the content on each page that ranks for the target keyword satisfy a website visitor who used it in their search?
You might want to look into keyword trends if the response is negative.
You can find better keyword prospects for related pages by looking at your pages in a spreadsheet with the following information:
  • Keyword & Rank
  • The Page URL
  • SEO Title & Meta Description
  • Word Count
  • Organic Traffic
  • Bounce Rate
  • Conversions
From there, you may identify the most valuable pages, those that can be combined, and those that require new keywords.
4. Create New Landing Page
Another possibility is that you don’t have a landing page that collects all your product pages in one location. In this situation, it would be advantageous to develop a special landing page that acts as your authoritative source page and connects to all your variations.
For example, we could make a page for “hiking shoes” and another for “men’s sneakers.”
5. Use 301 Redirects
Well, generally we don’t recommend this step personally. By referring the less important pages to a single, more reliable version, 301s enable you to combine your cannibalized content. But remember that this strategy only works for pages with comparable content and those matching certain keyword queries.
Bottom Line
I hope the whole article will clearly explain keyword cannibalization and the steps to overcome in your technical SEO journey. The five steps will fix your problem in most cases. If you’re managing eCommerce Website, you should be more careful about how your CMS separates your products with variable sizes and colors.

If you still feel it hectic to manage keywords cannibalization, we have another option for you to solve. Outsourcing your SEO needs with digital marketing professionals at our Digital Marketing Agency can help you perfectly manage your website’s technical SEO needs. Consider reaching out InfinityHub to reserve your slot on Google Search Results! Contact us.

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