One of the major goals of SEO is to rank high on search engine results pages. In order to appear at the top of the results, you need to be ranked for different keywords.
However, in the process of creating content, a business might have multiple pieces of content that address similar topics or industry niches.
While this is great for creating specializations and improving your brand’s reputation, it can lead to a problem known as keyword cannibalization.
Knowing how to avoid it is an important part of your SEO strategy.
But what exactly does keyword cannibalization mean? In this article, we’ll discuss how you can steer clear of it in your future planning and how you can fix the keyword cannibalization you might have in your current content.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
When you create a piece of content, there are different keywords that you use to try and rank high on the search engine results pages.
As you continue to create new content, you will likely discuss similar topics or even use the same keywords for different pages.
Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple pages that are competing against each other for the same keyword.
It is a common SEO mistake that is made as businesses and brands continue to grow and create more content.
While it’s important that you cover many different topics and have plenty of information available for your audiences, it’s possible to go too far.
When your pages are competing against each other, it can hurt your authority and damage your reputation with Google and other search engines.
Knowing how to avoid keyword cannibalization is important while building out your SEO strategies.
When you can avoid competing against yourself, you can focus on ranking high against your competitors instead of fighting your own pages.
Why is Keyword Cannibalization an Issue?
Keyword cannibalization confuses both your readers and search engines.
This can seriously impede your chances of ranking high on search engine results pages and increase your visibility and authority on Google.
There are some other factors of keyword cannibalization that are an issue, so let’s talk about some of those now.
Diminishing Authority on Your Pages
The authority of your pages is the reputation they have with search engines. When you have keywords split among pages, you reduce the level of authority that each page has and fight against yourself for the top spot. That means that your pages could end up losing their authority.
Hurting Your Conversion Rates
Conversion rates are highly dependent on the pages that your new traffic lands on. If you have traffic going to different pages and are directing new visitors to less authoritative pages, you can risk losing the conversions you are looking for from your most relevant page.
Devaluing Relevant Pages
While search engine algorithms are very advanced, they still aren’t all-knowing or all-powerful. That means that they don’t know the difference in the relevance of your pages. If Google thinks that your main product landing page and a one-off blog are the same, you can lose authority and relevance on your most important pages.
Wasting Your Crawl Budget
Search engine spiders will crawl your website a certain number of times in any given time period, which is referred to as your crawl budget. If you have many different pages that use the same keyword, the amount of crawl budget you have is spent on pages that don’t need to be indexed.
Confusing the User Experience
Users want to have an easy time navigating your website and pages. When they search for different terms, they expect to get to a certain type of page or result. If your website is displaying different pages for the same term, they aren’t sure of what they will receive and become confused, which creates a poor user experience.
How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization needs to be avoided in order to improve your rankings and appear higher in search engines.
Let’s look at a few of these key ways you can learn how to avoid keyword cannibalization and create an SEO strategy that works now and in the future.
When you know how to avoid keyword cannibalization, you can create a more effective strategy for the future.
1. Identify Keyword Cannibalization
The first step to avoiding keyword cannibalization is to identify when it is occurring.
Different online and SEO tools can help you learn when you have different pages ranking for the same keywords and phrases.
You can also use Google searches to help you determine which of your pages are ranking for what.
2. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO technique that involves shoving a keyword onto a page as many times as possible to trick search engines into thinking that the page is more relevant.
While this is a bad practice all around, it can also lead to keyword cannibalization if you stuff multiple keywords on different pages.
3. Determine What Pages Matter Most
If you have multiple pages that are ranked for the same keyword, you’ll need to take a look at them and see which page matters the most for your needs.
Sometimes it is easy to tell which page is more relevant, but other times you’ll want to think about the goal of each page more carefully.
4. Created a Keyword Strategy
One of the best ways to avoid keyword cannibalization is to create a targeted and detailed keyword strategy for all of your content.
When you have a clear delineation of your keywords and can understand exactly which keywords go to which pages, you can avoid using the same keyword multiple times and competing with other pages.
5. Track Your Keyword Performance
Another way to monitor your keywords and keyword rankings is to keep track of your keyword performance.
Having regular reporting on your keyword rankings and keeping tabs on when pages move up or down in their performance can help you understand exactly when issues arise and when they start to affect your online performance.
6. Focus on Topics, Not Keywords
Rather than spending all of your time focusing on each individual keyword and building your pages around those specific phrases, you can take a step back and instead take a look at the topics you are addressing rather than the words.
That can help you make sure that your new pages and content pieces aren’t using keywords that are ranking on older pages.
How Do You Fix Keyword Cannibalization in Your Content?
If the concept of keyword cannibalization is new to you, then you’ve likely got some level of it in your existing content.
While it’s important to know how to avoid keyword cannibalization in the future content you create, you’ll also want to fix the mistakes in the past content you have published as well.
Here are a few ways in which you can address existing keyword cannibalization and fix it so you don’t have anything holding you down as you grow your SEO.
Some of the best ideas include:
Taking two or more pages and turning them into a single page rather than competing pages.
Change inbound links
Change the type of words that are linked to avoid mistakes where the search engines think different linked pages have the same keyword.
Remove content and delete pages that aren’t relevant but are pulling attention away from more important pages.
Update internal linking structures
Review the structure of your internal linking to make sure your navigation is up to speed and isn’t competing against each other.
Go through older content and remove the keywords that are causing issues in the less relevant pages.
When you can follow these steps and fix the older content you have on your site, you don’t need to worry about Google giving you penalties or hurting your rankings for content that you haven’t touched in a while.
There are many different aspects of SEO that a business needs to consider in order to get the best results and appear high on the search engine results page.
Keyword cannibalization is one example of a common mistake that is made in SEO. Knowing how to avoid it can help businesses improve their rankings and stay on top of trends.
To learn more about what’s happening in SEO, check out our blog on SEO trends for this year!
There you’ll learn about the importance of staying on top of new updates and industry news, along with some of the top strategies that are trending this year.