Catch Keyword Cannibalization Before It Wrecks Your Google Ranking

Follow this guide to help you catch and kill pages that eat each other alive

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Last updated on October 19, 2023

If you are targeting a specific keyword across multiple pages on your site – you are a keyword cannibal.

Learn why this is tanking your search engine ranking and damaging your overall SEO practices.

Then, make the changes outlined in this piece to get your website back on track.
Catch Keyword Cannibalization Before It Wrecks Your Google Ranking (1)-min

Multiple Pages With The Same Keyword Is Killing Your Ranking

It may seem like a great idea. You have a keyword that you know will draw in visitors, so you create multiple pages using this targeted keyword.

You believe this will increase the number of people who find your site by offering multiple viewpoints.

In the real world, that makes a lot of sense. Reach as many people as possible using different messages for the same idea, product, or service.

But this is the Internet, and the search engines do not see things the same way.

In fact, this practice can diminish your rankings and cause you to lose potential visitors to your site.

Why?

Because you are putting your content up against your other content, you’re forcing Google to choose which is best.

You are competing with yourself by trying to outrank other content you published.

Google finds this annoying.

Your click-thru rate and page authority suffer.

This is a common mistake among marketers known as keyword cannibalization.

Learn more about our on-page SEO service.

Six Main Reasons Why Keyword Cannibalization Is Disastrous

Keyword cannibalization is a funny thing. Most people haven’t even heard the term keyword cannibalization.

It’s strange to imagine that their marketing methods are like their website eating itself.

I think some marketers get too focused on promoting their content that they don’t see what’s happening to their rankings.

In many cases, their efforts, if focused on publishing pages with the same keywords, harm their ranking more than help.

Be smart. Don’t be a cannibal. Instead of publishing 2-3 pages with the same keyword, publish only one massive high-quality piece of content and invest in some link-building.

A higher ranking means more visits. And more visits means more conversions.

There are six very good reasons that you should review your content to see if you are cannibalizing a keyword.

1. Multiple Pages Optimized For The Exact Phrase Is A Waste Of Energy

The time and money it takes to write, publish, and link to 3 or 4 pages with the same keywords is a huge waste of your valuable resources.

If you condense these articles into one high-quality piece, you will have a heavy-weight article that will get much better results in search.

2. You’re Not Using The Full Power Of  Your Backlinks

If you have two pages with ten backlinks to them, that is great. However, you are spreading out your backlinks too thin when you have multiple pages of content on the same targeted keyword.

You’ll rank much higher and get a better CTR when you have one high-quality page with 20 backlinks.

Additionally, you will be able to generate even more backlinks to your content when you have created a single, comprehensive piece instead of hoping for backlinks to several pages of moderate information.

3. Content Quality Is Diminished

When you have several pages addressing the same subject, your viewers and the search engines will view your content as “thin.”

Make your content hold its weight by condensing it into a very well-written piece.

4. You’re Blowing Your Crawl Budget

Every website is limited to the amount of “crawls” or visits used by search engines to evaluate content.

If you have too many pages, your best content may not be viewed or ranked by the search engine.

By having only one dedicated page of content for that targeted keyword, you avoid the risk of not having your best content found by the crawlers.

5. Google Picks Which Page Is The Most Relevant

You will have a favorite page when you have several pages dedicated to one keyword. This is the page that you hope everyone will see first.

Sadly, it may not work out that way.

When Google sees several pages of content focused on one keyword, it decides which page holds the most weight, and it may not be your favorite.

6. You May Be Losing Conversions And Sales

If you have a few performing pages or one that is converting to sales but not as high as you wish, it may be because your content is spread too thin.

If you have one exceptional content page focused on that keyword, you will convert more visitors into customers.

Fixing The Problem Begins With Finding The Cannibalized Keywords

It is fairly simple to figure out if you have a problem with keyword cannibalization. All it takes is a little bit of research and graph-making for your site.

Start with your most essential URLs and write them down in one column of your graph. In the second column, write down the main keywords associated with that page.

Now review the graph. Do you have crossover keywords on several pages?

Then you probably are a keyword cannibal.

You can also use a keyword mapping tool to complete this task if you have a large site with many URLs to review.

These tools can quickly pull this information from the site and give you a comprehensive list of what keywords are on your site.

Try the SEMRush Keyword Cannibalization report.

Now that you have the information and can see where any problems may be, it is time to start fixing the problem.

Quick Note – While You Are Checking For Cannibalized Keywords…

When gathering this data, it is also a great idea to look at the meta descriptions of your pages. Cannibalization can happen in this area as well.

Meta tags that use the same keywords can confuse search bots.

And while you are reviewing things…

Look at your page ranking tools and see if there are any issues with the wrong keywords being applied to your pages.

You could have keyword cannibalization taking place here from a simple mistake.

Spot and Fix Keyword Cannibalization

How you fix your keyword cannibalization problem will depend on the cause of the problem.

1. Change High Authority Pages Into Landing Pages

If you have one page performing well and can easily be seen as a landing page, make it one. You can make this your main focus for the content and then have any other content with similar keywords pointing back to this page.

This is one of the easiest ways to eliminate cannibalization and force the crawlers to recognize the right page as the authority page. It will also significantly improve the design of your site.

2. Create New Parent Pages

If you have several service pages without an authority landing page, now is the time to create one.

For example, if you have pages for “car accident attorney,” “truck accident attorney,” and “medical malpractice attorney” on your site, you will benefit from creating a parent page called “Personal Injury Attorney.”

The Personal Injury Attorney page can provide comprehensive information about your services and link to these smaller pages as additional information.

This can greatly improve the weight of your content and ranking.

3. Downsize and Condense Your Content

If you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword and are all performing poorly, it may be time to condense this information into a single piece of content.

You will boost your authority by providing detailed information on one page instead of spreading bits of information across several pages.

Test each page in the group to see which one performs the best, and pick that URL to focus on.

4. Redirect The Weaker Pieces To The Best One

You can use a 301 redirect code to send the Google bots, some page authority, and your visitors from your lesser pages to your best pages. I recommend doing this when the pages have the same keywords.

You can do this easily with the SEO plugin Yoast.

To Summarize Keyword Cannibalization

These four tasks can usually eliminate all keyword cannibalization.

In the end, cannibalization has become more prevalent now because Internet marketers know how important it is to have keyword-rich content.

Step back and look at your site. You can improve ranking by condensing content and focusing on creating a single rich content piece instead of multiple pages.

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