Keyword Cannibalization And Why You Should Avoid It

January 24, 2022
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Keyword Cannibalization And Why You Should Avoid It

Let’s face it, there's really no context where “cannibalization” is a positive word. Keyword cannibalization is no different. When it happens, you compete against yourself in order to rank. This in turn causes you to drop in the ranks of search engines like Google, Bing, and others. We’re going to go over how keyword cannibalization hurts your website, how to recognize it, and how to fix it.

Content is important for rising up the ranks of search engines through SEO. Writing quality, relevant content utilizing keyword phrases helps Google know that you can knowledgeably answer questions that people are asking. So the better you cover topics, using keywords that fit, the more you could potentially rise up those rankings.

Keyword cannibalization holds you back from showing Google that you can answer your customer’s questions. Instead, it leads search engines to compete your pages against one another to discover which one better suits the keyword used.

What Is Keyword Cannibalization And How Does It Work?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple blogs, articles, or phrases that are ranking for the same keyword. While that might sound like you’ll just appear more often in search results and therefore increase your traffic, it actually tends to have the opposite effect on your SEO.

Why does this happen? By having multiple articles that could more easily, and more effectively, be one definitive blog, and optimizing them to rank the same specific keyword, your pages are essentially being made to compete against one another. In turn, Google, unsure which one should rank higher, will simply let both drift downward.

This causes a series of problems to arise:

  • Both pages end up dropping in rank, which means your website's chances lower of being people’s first go-to
  • The click-through rate (CTR) for both pages decreases (remember, the first three search results receive the majority of clicks). This means less traffic going to your website and therefore much more difficulty being seen
  • Diminished conversion, meaning lower chances for sales, which in turn causes less income for your business

True to its name, your pages end up cannibalizing one another’s results. Rather than being a single one-stop shop for the information your customers are looking for, you would be left with two or more moderately good articles that are constantly competing against each other.

An Example Of Keyword Cannibalization

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you’re a business that specializes in selling bobbleheads. You offer a wide variety: Baseball players, comic book heroes, sci-fi aliens. But the problem is that on your website, all across your blogs, you’ve only been targeting the keyword “bobblehead.”

So now, in spite of the large array of different bobbleheads you offer, Google is now having your blogs compete against each other. This means your business might not show up high on the list of search results when a potential customer is looking for a bobblehead of their favorite sci-fi character.

Instead, by using a wider variety of long-tail keywords (more specific keyword phrases used by customers who know what they’re looking for) your articles could be ranking individually for “sports bobbleheads,” “superhero bobbleheads,” “sci-fi alien bobbleheads,” placing you closer to ready-to-buy customers.

Finding Keyword Cannibalization

Thankfully, this SEO speed bump is not difficult to identify, though fixing it can certainly be time consuming.

There are different methods you can use to find if you have a cannibalization issue:

Keywords And Intent

Arefs, a popular site for tracking SEO, states that you can find cannibalization issues by discovering your pages that target the same keywords while also having the same (or at least very similar) intent.

(“Intent” is the reason why a person made a particular search. Was it for information? Shopping? A search for a specific website? Google works to provide the most relevant information to best respond to the intent of a search. Which is why their mission statement is "to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”)

In other words, if you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword and are basically answering the same question but in different words, then odds are you have a cannibalization issue on your hands.

Site Search

Often, finding keyword cannibalization is as simple as making a Google search of your website. If you suspect that your website might be competing with itself for a certain keyword, here’s how to find out:

  • Google “site:(your website).com” followed by the keyword you think might be cannibalizing
  • Look at your pages and see what position they’re ranking. Which pages are showing up? If two of your pages are in the top two positions, then you’re doing all right! However, if you’re low on page one, even as far as position 6, 7, or 8 especially, then you’re most likely experiencing keyword cannibalization

Fixing The Issue

The upside is that while keyword cannibalization can be a blow to your SEO, it is one that you can certainly bounce back from. The following solutions could do more than just clear up the effects of cannibalization, they could possibly improve your website’s overall ranking as well.

Combining Articles

Often, the key to resolving keyword cannibalization is not in deleting one of your blogs, but actually in combining them. Adding together two moderately successful articles increases your chances of having a single high-ranking “Complete Guide.”

Find Long-Tailed Keywords

When it comes to keyword cannibalization, generality is not your friend. Niching down the topics of your articles to be more specific, and using keywords that do the same, is good insurance against having your own pages compete against each other.

When a key-word is “long-tailed,” it is generally longer (between 3-5 words), which forces greater specifics. This in turn helps your blog posts to reach a targeted demographic, because you’d be using the phrases that more ready-to-buy shoppers are searching for.

Optimize Your Website With XYZ

Today is the day to start trying to rank higher on search engines. If you’re ready to end problems like keyword cannibalization and others that are holding your website back, then come visit XYZ today.

Our SEO experts know what to look for in order to spot keyword cannibalization and, more importantly, we have the time and knowledge to make the necessary changes. That takes the work off of our plate so that you can work on your business.

Get started now. Contact us today and we can get started creating a strategy designed to find your audience and reach out to them.

Say goodbye to keyword cannibalization with XYZ.


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