Keyword cannibalization is the act of using more than one keyword or phrase per page to target different searchers. When done intentionally, this can be an effective way to increase traffic from search engines. However, when done unintentionally, it can lower your site’s ranking and visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Let’s discuss keyword cannibalization, how to identify it on your site, and how to eliminate it for better SEO.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
When more than one page on an online website competes for the same keyword or phrase, it results in keyword cannibalization. This often happens when a site has numerous pages that target similar keywords or when a single page targets too many. In either case, Google (and other search engines) may have difficulty determining which page is most relevant for a given search query, and as a result, all of the pages may end up ranking lower than they would if there was only one page targeting each keyword.
How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization on Your Site
There are several ways to identify keyword cannibalization on your site. The first is to do a site search for your target keyword simply. You likely have keyword cannibalization if you see more than one page from your site ranking in the results.
You can also use different tools to search for situations where one keyword is targeted by more than one page. A standard tool for this is Screaming Frog. Enter your domain into the tool and set it to “crawl all subdomains.” Once the crawl is complete, go to the “Response Codes” tab and filter for “Duplicate Content (4XX).” This will show any pages on your site that return a 4XX error code, which indicates duplicate content.
Finally, you can use Google Search Console. Simply go to Search Console and select the “Search Traffic” tab. Then click on “Search Analytics.” You can filter the results by country, device, search type, etc. Once you’ve found a keyword that has multiple pages ranking, click on it to see which pages are being shown in the SERPs.
How to Eliminate Keyword Cannibalization
There are a few different ways to eliminate keyword cannibalization. The first is to choose one page on your site to target each keyword or phrase and then redirect all other pages to that page. For example, if you have two pages targeting the keyword “blue widgets,” you would want to redirect one of those pages to the other so that only one page competes for that keyword.
Another way to eliminate keyword cannibalization is to “no-index” all but one of the pages competing for the same keyword. This tells Google not to index those pages, which essentially takes them out of the running for that keyword. To do this, you would add a “no-index” tag to the header of all but one of the pages in question.
Finally, you can use canonical tags to tell Google which page on your site is the preferred version for a given keyword. Canonical tags tell Google, “this is the page I want you to rank for this keyword.” To do this, you would add a canonical tag pointing to the preferred page on each of the other pages competing for the same keyword.
Keyword cannibalization can be a tricky problem to solve, but it’s essential if you want your site to rank well on search engine results pages. By taking the time to identify and eliminate keyword cannibalization on your site, you can help improve your SEO and ensure that your pages are ranking as high as possible.
Keyword cannibalization can be a severe problem for your website if you have multiple pages competing for the same keywords. Not only can it hurt your SEO, but it can also confuse Google and other search engines, leading to lower rankings for all of your pages.
Fortunately, there are a few different ways to solve the problem of keyword cannibalization. You can choose one page to target each keyword, redirect other pages to that page, no-index-all but one of the pages competing for a keyword, or use canonical tags to tell Google which page is the preferred version. By taking the time to identify and eliminate keyword cannibalization on your site, you can help improve your SEO and ensure that your pages are ranking as high as possible.