Keyword cannibalization happens to be one of the most misunderstood concepts of SEO. There are several myths and confusions about this, and some say that it does not even exist!
However, this is not the case at all. Keyword cannibalization is responsible for suppressing the SEO rankings of many websites.
It does exist, but it may not be what you think it is. To clarify your doubts about this and find out if it has been affecting your site, let us discuss it in detail below.
What Is Keyword Cannibalization?
Most of the time, it is explained as something that occurs when you have more than one page targeting the same keyword on your website and that it suppresses the ability of either page to rank or perform the way they should.
But this is not true!
If two or more pages are optimized to rank for the same keyword, that does not mean they would not rank automatically.
Keyword Cannibalization is actually all about intent.
This will be understood better with the help of an example.
Let’s assume that two pages of website xyz.com are about the same product, namely ABC – one has the product description while the other is the “Buy” page. But they are ranking for the same keyword i.e., ABC.
This is because the intent of both pages is different. Even though both have been optimized for the same keyword, they will rank. Because these two pages are not causing any confusion to users or the search engine as their intents are different. However, when two pages have the same intent, you will have the cannibalization issue. Because when this happens, you are basically competing against yourself. The search engine will get confused about which page to rank because both are serving the same purpose. Understand it as if you cannot decide which page to rank for one intent, how can the search engine do so?
How Keyword Cannibalization Hinders Your Website’s Performance?
There are a lot of ways in which keyword cannibalization can impact your website’s performance negatively. Some of the most common issues are:
- Ranked URLs often change in the SERPs
One of the most common signs of keyword cannibalization is that the ranked URLs keep on changing in the search engine result pages. This is an indication that the search engine is having difficulty in figuring out which page it should rank.
This fluctuating position is not only distracting for your regular audience but also harms your SEO rankings.
- Your ranking position fluctuates often.
This occurs alongside the changing URLs. You would have noticed that your ranking position keeps on fluctuating all the time. This is a result of keyword cannibalization.
- The wrong URL is ranking.
At times, you may find out that the wrong URL is ranking for a record. Even if your content is excellent, there is a confusion of intent, which is why the wrong URL ranks on the search engines.
How to Check If Your Site Has Keyword Cannibalization Issues?
There are several ways in which you can check if your website has keyword cannibalization issues. There are several free as well as paid tools available online to assist you in this. Besides, there is another trick to help you find it.
Site: Search Operator – Input “Site:[your domain]keyword” in Google search box to identify the list of pages that are considered relevant and optimized for the same keywords.
If you have found out that your site is suffering from keyword cannibalization issues too, then you can continue reading below to find fixes for your problem.
How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issue On Your Website?
As soon as you have identified the keyword cannibalization issue on your website, its time to solve it. However, you must remember that not every issue is the same; therefore, not every issue can be resolved by the same method. Your solutions depend on your individual problems.
Below we have listed some very common keyword cannibalization fixes.
- Removing and redirecting the cannibalized pages
If you find that your website features more than one page that has the same intent, it would be best if you remove one of them. If you only need to keep one of them online on your website, you can simply remove them, and 301 redirect its URL to the remaining page.
This is the simplest method to fix the cannibalization issue.
Sometimes, you don’t really have the option to delete a page. This may be due to several reasons like it has great content from an audience perspective, or it might be an ideal PPC landing page.
With Canonicalization, you can select a primary page and, therefore, indicate that this is the page that should rank on the SERPs. In this way, none of the pages will be removed, and your audience will be able to access both the pages.
Typically cannibalization is caused at the metadata level because the owner didn’t optimize the pages for keyword variations.
Let’s assume that you have an e-commerce website, and you are selling a product that comes in three colors. Now due to the same title tag and heading tag, there will be cannibalization because there are no clear differences except the images.
You can resolve this issue by reoptimizing the pages and targeting variations clearly.
- Merging and Unifying the pages
Another great trick is to merge the pages. When you find that two or more pages are cannibalizing, you can combine them to solve this issue. Plus, it makes complete sense as you will be creating a stronger page by merging the weaker ones.
However, merging them might mean that you need to add some new content also to finalize the page. Make sure to add 301 redirects to any pages that you are going to delete or URLs that you will be changing so that the ranking signals can be passed over.
- Developing new intent-focused content
One of the most common cannibalization issues with e-commerce websites is that their one product page ranks for several search terms linked to their products.
This happens because there is no range subcategory. However, fixing this problem will take as much effort as developing new intent-focused content.
When there are no pages with the same intent, you will be rewarded with better ranking.
Well, no doubt that fixing the keyword cannibalization issues is not only time-taking but is also exhausting. But it is always better to prevent something than to fix it. Therefore, for all the future content, make sure you take proper measures to avoid this issue. Perform intent analysis to make sure none is repeated. This was all about the keyword cannibalization, how it impacts your site’s performance and SEO rankings, how to find it, and ways to fix it. Do yourself a favor and conduct a quick test to make your website cannibalization free! Let us know your thoughts and experience on this in the comments below.