What Is Keyword Cannibalisation?

Keyword Cannibalisation

Websites revolve around keywords. They are how we determine a user’s search query and what to base our pages around. It would therefore make sense to have numerous pages based around a single strong keyword right? Wrong! When a site has more than one page focused on exactly the same keyword we refer to this as keyword cannibalisation.

This is where it causes problems. Google struggles to determine which page is the most relevant for the search query. When it is left to choose it does not always make the correct decision. There is a variety of reasons why keyword cannibalisation is far from an ideal situation. But fear not, there are also numerous ways to address this issue! But to start, what are keywords?

What Are Keywords?

A keyword put simply is the topic that your content is about. A large part of SEO involves trying to predict what people are searching for, the keyword terms, and then providing this content to them in high quality, informative formats such as pages, posts, images and videos. Naturally, it is not an easy task trying to predict what people search for and the search volume we can expect from this. Luckily for us there are plenty of keyword research tools on the market to help with this.


Issues With Keyword Cannibalisation

Keyword cannibalisation has the potential to cause major problems for your site. Best practice suggests a well rounded strategy that incorporates many aspects of digital marketing that includes on-page, off-page and technical aspects. Cannibalisation can play a major role in this, throwing up multiple issues:

Content quality – if you are focusing on different pages with the same keyword then surely the content is on the same subject. You run the risk of poor quality content, content duplication and risk harming the chances of referrals and links.

External links – if you have various pages on the same topic each receiving links surely it would be better to consolidate these links into one page. This would boost the link equity of that one page and potentially boost rankings.

Internal linking – when you have only one page focused on a topic the value of concentrating anchor texts purely to this page is far greater. When the internal links are spread out over a variety of pages the value is diluted.

Conversion rate – focus your time and effort on making one well converting page. When you split your time across various pages trying to rank for the same keyword it is a waste of time.


Solving Keyword Cannibalisation

Luckily there are a number of ways to solve cannibalisation issues:

Restructure pages – if one page has more authority why not turn this page into an authoritative landing page. You can then link to variations of the keyword from that page.

Create new pages – if you do not currently have a suitable landing page for the desired keyword why not create one. Again, link to variations of the keyword from there.

Consolidate content – if the pages are not unique enough why not consolidate this content into one authoritative page. This can be useful in solving thin content issues.

New keyword – your keyword research and strategy may not be sufficient. It might be worth aiming for long tail keywords and diversifying your site content.

301 redirects – sites with too many redirects can be harmful from a technical SEO point of view. However, when used sparingly and in the correct context they can be extremely useful in preventing the issues of duplicate content.


Keywords and Rankings

Keyword cannibalisation can be extremely harmful to a sites rankings and conversion rates. When Google is left to its own devices it is not uncommon for it to make the wrong decision. Fortunately, this issue can be solved relatively easily. All it requires is a keen eye and dedication! However, here at USDigital we understand the importance of time. If you are looking for a digital marketing strategy for your site but do not know where to start why not try our free SEO audit.

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