If you have several pages ranking for the same keyword, you might consider this a good thing. After all, the more the pages rank on the SERPs, the more impressions and clicks you will get. But this is not the case, and you may do more harm than good to your site. This is because when different pages target the exact keywords, they compete against one another.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization happens when multiple pages compete for the exact keywords. Since they target the same audience, they compete on the SERPs, affecting each other’s ranking.
It becomes challenging for search engines to determine which page to rank ahead of the other. Just like the name suggests, you will be cannibalizing your results. All the CTRs, conversions, clicks, and links will be split between the different pages.
Causes of Keyword Cannibalization
There are several causes of keyword cannibalization. These include:
- Targeting the exact keywords in different articles
- Publishing the same type of content
- Not directing an old page to a new one created
- Subcategories pages not being optimized
How Keyword Cannibalization Affects Your Site Negatively
Some of the ways in which keyword cannibalization can affect your site negatively are:
Reduced Page Authority
When you have the exact keywords on different pages, you will split the CTR among several highly relevant pages. The pages will compete for views and SERP rankings. So, in the real sense, this will reduce the page authority of both pages.
Split Your Links
If other sites find content on a particular keyword worthy of sharing, they can link to your site. But now that you have two pages targeting the same keyword, different sites will refer backlinks to the two pages. At the end of the day, you will split the backlinks among different pages.
Reduced Page Relevance
Google uses pages, among other factors, to understand your page. When you have pages with the exact keywords that look the same, Google will struggle to understand what the page is about.
Misuse of Crawl Budget
The crawl budget is a measure of the number of times that search engine spiders crawl your site. You will misuse your budget if they have to crawl multiple pages with similar content. This is particularly a concern for large sites with hundreds of pages.
Low Conversion Rate
Even when you have two similar pages, one will convert better than the other. In the right scenario, you should optimize that page and send visitors to it, making it more relevant. But when you have two similar pages, some visitors will go to the wrong sites, leading to a lower conversion.
How to Find Cannibalized Keywords
The first step towards correcting this SEO problem is to identify these keywords. Here are tips to help you do that.
Check Google Search Console(GSC)
GSC is a free tool that can help you detect cannibalized keywords. After signing in, go to the Search Result under the Performance menu. Choose a keyword that you would like to check. This will bring a Query filter.
You can use a custom query filter to check multiple related keywords. All you need to do is to click New>Query. Check Pages to see the URL that ranks for the query. If more than one URL gets clicks and impressions from the query, this could show keyword cannibalization. To get the most out of this, ensure you also understand the basics of Google Search Console.
Another method you can use to identify keyword cannibalization is mapping. In this method, you simply put all your urls in an Excel sheet while including the keywords associated with the URL. After this, you can see if there are duplicate entries on your site.
Also, check the pages manually to see any signs of overlapping search intent. If there is any overlap, particularly from the main pages, this could be a sign of keyword cannibalization.
Use Keyword Research Tools
There are many top keyword research tools you can use to check keyword cannibalization. One of these is the Semrush Position Tracking. The tool has a Cannibalization Report feature that will show if keyword cannibalisation exists. To get started, enter your domain and click on Set Up Tracking.
How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization
Now that you have found the cannibalizing terms, it’s time to fix them. When fixing the problem, you will realize it’s more of an organizational problem. For the best results, ensure that you also remove duplicate title tags. Here are tips to fix the problem:
Have a Landing Page
If you have an authoritative page, you can make it your landing page, linking to other variations of the keywords. If you don’t have a landing page where all your products are consolidated, you can create one. When making it a landing page, ensure it allows you to target broad keywords.
Consolidate Your Content
It’s possible that the pages aren’t unique in a way that will enable you to have different pages targeting the same keyword. Check the pages to determine which has more conversions, CTR, traffic, and Time On Page. The idea is to merge the pages that are doing the same thing.
If you think a page has an interesting perspective, you can change the keywords in that article. However, you will need to be sure that the presence of the keyword isn’t critical and that the new keyword will work for the article.
This will be on the extreme. But if you feel that all your other efforts aren’t bearing fruit, it may be time to delete duplicate pages. Once the page will stop existing, the problem will also end.
The search algorithm is more complicated nowadays and can easily discern the right content to rank. Good content is always the most important factor to help you rank better. When you avoid keyword cannibalization, you can overcome some SEO challenges preventing you from ranking higher on the SERPs. Use this guide to identify your cannibalized keywords and fix the problem.