Keyword Cannibalism
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SEO is an important part of any website’s success, and it is key to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, with Google’s ever-evolving ranking algorithms, there is always the possibility of getting caught up in keyword cannibalism.

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In this article, we will discuss what keyword cannibalism is, why it is harmful, how to determine if your website has been affected by it, and several strategies you can employ to avoid it.

What Is Keyword Cannibalism?

Keyword Cannibalism

Keyword cannibalism is a situation in which a website competes with itself for the same keywords in search engine results pages (SERPs). It occurs when multiple web pages on the same website are targeting the same keyword and competing for visibility.

Essentially, it’s when you have multiple pages trying to rank for a single term or phrase that could be better served by having one page dedicated to it instead. The result is that your website has divided authority on the keyword and no single page can rise above the rest in SERPs. This can significantly hurt your website’s visibility and rankings in search engine results, leading to decreased traffic from organic search.

As an example for keyword cannibalization, let’s say you have a website about cars and you create two web pages that both target the keyword “best luxury cars”. Both of these pages will compete against each other in SERPs, meaning neither has the chance to rank as highly as possible since they’re competing for the same position.

Why is Keyword cannibalization bad for rankings?

Search engines like Google reward websites that provide quality content about a specific keyword. When two or more pages on your website target the same keyword, it can send confusing signals to search engine crawlers. This makes it difficult for them to determine which page is most relevant for the keyword and should rank higher in SERPs.

Some of the ill effects of keyword cannibalization include:

  • Reduced visibility in SERPs.
  • Difficult for search engine crawlers to determine which page should rank higher.
  • Decreased chances of earning relevant and quality backlinks.
  • Split authority among multiple pages and dilute the overall ranking potential of your website.
  • Increased competition with your own content instead of competing with external websites.
  • Wasted time, money and resources spent on content creation when the same topic is already covered by another web page.

Identifying keyword cannibalization

Finding out if you have keyword cannibalization on your website requires a thorough analysis of the content. Fortunately, there are several tools to help you with that, including Google Search Console.

Comparing keyword rankings:

A way to identify keyword cannibalization is by looking closely at the keywords you are targeting and comparing their respective search engine rankings. If two pages on your website target the same keyword, but one ranks higher than the other, it could be a sign of keyword cannibalization.

If two or more pages on your website contain the same keyword, then it is important to check the internal link structure of your website. If there are too many internal links from different pages pointing to one page, then that page might be receiving too much link juice and could have a negative effect on other pages targeting similar keywords.

Analyzing On-Page Content Quality:

Another way to identify and fix keyword cannibalization is by analyzing the content quality of each page. If two pages are targeting the same keyword, but one has better on-page optimization than the other, it could be a sign of keyword cannibalization. The best practice is to ensure that all pages target unique keywords and have optimized content that is relevant to the keyword.

Comparing metrics

Analyzing analytics can also be a great way to identify keyword cannibalization. If two pages are targeting the same keyword, compare metrics such as page views, bounce rates and conversion rates to see which one is performing better. This will give you insight into which page should be ranking for the target keyword and help you make decisions about how to optimize the content on each page.

Another way to identify keyword cannibalization is to look at the backlinks pointing to each page. If you see that one of the pages has far more backlinks than the other, it’s likely that it will rank higher in the SERPs. You can use tools such as Ahrefs or SEMrush to easily compare the number of backlinks pointing to each page.

By analyzing the quantity, quality, and diversity of backlinks, you can get an understanding of which page has more authority in the eyes of search engines and should be ranking for the keyword. If one page has higher-quality links than another, this could signal that it is a better candidate for the keyword.

How to avoid keyword cannibalization?

Once you’ve identified that two pages are competing for the same keyword, it is best to take steps to prevent any further cannibalization.

The first step is to decide which page should have priority and focus on optimizing it. This could include working on improving the content, making sure it has enough high-quality backlinks and optimizing the page titles and meta descriptions.

Another option might be to rewrite one of the pages so that it targets a different keyword altogether, or you could use a redirect to send visitors from one page to another. It’s important to remember that 301 redirects may take time for search engines to process and will not pass as much link juice as a link directly from the page.

Finally, you could consider indexing any pages that do not need to be indexed by search engines. This will prevent them from appearing in search engine results and avoid further cannibalization of your rankings. You should also check if there are any broken links pointing to different versions of the same page or other pages that no longer exist. These should be fixed or removed as soon as possible to avoid any potential issues with search engine crawlers.

Conclusion

Keyword cannibalization can be an issue that affects your SEO efforts and can lead to confusion among search engine crawlers. By following the steps mentioned in this article, you should be able to identify and resolve any keyword cannibalization issues on your website.

If you need further help, an SEO company in Kolkata can help you identify and correct keyword cannibalization issues on your website. They can also provide other services such as link building, content optimization, and technical SEO audit to improve your website’s search engine rankings.


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