Meet us at the IRX & eDX Expo: Learn more here

Keyword Cannibalisation: How to Identify and Fix It

a magnifying glass hovering over keyword with yellow background

As a website owner or digital marketer, you’ve likely invested significant time and effort into your SEO strategy. However, sometimes your own pages can become your worst enemy, competing against each other for search rankings; this phenomenon is known as keyword cannibalisation, and it can have a detrimental impact on your website’s performance. In this post, we’ll explore what keyword cannibalisation is, how to identify it, and most importantly, how to fix it to ensure your website reaches its full potential in the search results. Let’s dive in.

Understanding Keyword Cannibalization In SEO

Definition and Causes

Keyword cannibalisation in SEO occurs when multiple pages on a website target the same or similar keywords, leading to internal competition. This can happen for various reasons, such as overlapping content, poorly structured website architecture, or simply a lack of strategic keyword planning. When search engines encounter multiple pages from the same domain that seem to be targeting the same keywords, they may struggle to determine which page is most relevant to rank for those queries.

Impact on SEO

The consequences of keyword cannibalisation can be significant: instead of consolidating your website’s authority and relevance for a specific keyword, you end up diluting it across multiple pages. This can lead to lower rankings for all the competing pages, as search engines may not perceive any single page as the definitive answer to a user’s query. Additionally, keyword cannibalisation can lead to fluctuating rankings, decreased click-through rates, and ultimately, lost organic traffic and potential conversions.

How To Identify Keyword Cannibalization?

Conducting Keyword Research

The first step in identifying keyword cannibalisation is thorough keyword research. Analyse the keywords you’re targeting across your website and look for instances where multiple pages are optimised for the same or similar phrases. Pay close attention to long-tail variations and semantically related keywords, as these can also contribute to cannibalization if not properly mapped out.

Analysing SERP Performance

You should also take a closer look at your website’s performance in the search engine results pages (SERPs). If you notice that multiple pages from your site are ranking for the same keyword, but none of them are achieving top positions, it could be a sign of keyword cannibalisation. Keep an eye out for pages that seem to be constantly swapping positions or have fluctuating rankings, as this may indicate internal competition.

Utilising SEO Tools

Various SEO tools can also help you identify keyword cannibalisation more efficiently. Conduct site audits using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz, which can highlight pages with duplicate or similar content and keyword targeting – these tools often provide helpful visualisations and reports that make it easier to spot potential cannibalisation problems.

How To Resolve Keyword Cannibalisation

Content Consolidation

puzzle pieces being put together

One effective way to resolve keyword cannibalization is through content consolidation; if you have multiple pages targeting the same keywords with similar content, consider combining them into a single, comprehensive page. This allows you to focus your SEO efforts on one authoritative piece of content, rather than spreading it thin across several weaker pages. Remember to redirect the old URLs to the new consolidated page to maintain any existing link equity.

URL Optimisation

You’ll also want to ensure that your page URLs are properly optimised and descriptive of the content they contain. Clear, keyword-rich URLs not only help search engines understand the context of your pages but also make it easier for you to identify and avoid keyword cannibalisation. If you have pages with similar URLs targeting the same keywords, consider revising them to be more distinct and reflective of the unique value each page offers.

Internal Linking

Strategic internal linking can also help mitigate the impact of keyword cannibalization; by linking from the less important pages to the most authoritative and relevant page for a specific keyword, you signal to search engines which page should be prioritised. This helps consolidate the link equity and authority around your chosen page, improving its chances of ranking higher. 

When implementing internal links, be sure to use descriptive anchor text that reflects the target page’s content – you’ll likely already know the importance of keywords in SEO, so it’s important to get this part right.

Redirect Management

In some cases, the best solution for keyword cannibalisation may be to remove the competing pages altogether. If you have pages that are no longer necessary or relevant, consider implementing 301 redirects to the most appropriate remaining page; this not only helps consolidate the authority and relevance for your target keywords but also provides a better user experience by directing visitors to the most up-to-date and valuable content.

How To Prevent Keyword Cannibalization

Content Planning and Organisation

Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding keyword cannibalization; develop a clear content strategy that outlines the primary keywords and topics for each page on your website, and create a content calendar that helps you plan and organise your content creation efforts, ensuring that each new piece of content targets a distinct set of keywords and provides unique value to your audience.

Regular SEO Audits

Conduct regular SEO audits to keep keyword cannibalisation in check; these audits should include an analysis of your keyword targeting, content duplication, and internal linking structure. By proactively monitoring your website’s SEO health, you can identify and address potential cannibalization issues before they have a significant impact on your search rankings.

Keyword Mapping

Implementing a keyword mapping process can also ensure that each page on your website targets a unique set of keywords. Create a spreadsheet or use a keyword mapping tool to assign specific keywords to each page, taking into account the page’s content, intent, and target audience – this helps maintain a clear and organised structure for your website’s content and keyword targeting.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, keyword cannibalisation can be a silent but very real threat to your website’s SEO success. However, through understanding what it is, how to identify it, and how to resolve it, you can ensure that your pages work together harmoniously to achieve top rankings and drive valuable organic traffic. Remember, the key to avoiding cannibalisation is first and foremost a well-planned, organised, and regularly audited content and keyword strategy.

If you find yourself struggling with keyword cannibalisation or any other SEO challenges, consider partnering with a top SEO and PPC agency like us at Clickslice. Our fab SEO team can help you identify and resolve keyword cannibalisation problems, optimise your content, and implement effective strategies to improve your website’s search rankings and overall performance.

Article by:

Joshua George is the founder of ClickSlice, an SEO Agency based in London, UK.

He has eight years of experience as an SEO Consultant and was recently hired by the UK government for SEO training. Joshua also owns the best-selling SEO course on Udemy, and has taught SEO to over 100,000 students.

His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, AgencyAnalytics, Wix and lots more other reputable publications.