Many marketers believe that building multiple web pages with content on the same topic confuses the search engines and leads them to rank the wrong page on your website. According to Patrick Stox, the idea of doing this is “preposterous”.
He’s actually right! Creating too many pages about the same thing can lead to undesirable and unexpected rankings. But that does not mean something is definitely wrong or that something really needs to be fixed. Occasionally, it can show you an opportunity to consolidate your content to improve your search rankings and organic website performance.
In this article, you are going to learn about keyword cannibalization. First, we will guide you on how to identify keyword cannibalization and show several ways to avoid keyword cannibalization. So if you have keyword cannibalization issues, you have come to the right place.
This post will show you how to find keyword cannibalization on your website. Read until the end to know and adopt strategies that will help avoid keyword cannibalization in the future.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization is the situation that occurs when multiple pages of a website are targeting the same or similar keywords. The end result is that all such web pages start competing against each other in search rankings. This ultimately hurts the website’s organic performance instead of helping it.
For example, let’s say you build a two-page website about SEO. If you could attract more organic traffic to this website by combining these two pages into one, it means your website currently has keyword cannibalization issues. The two pages are eating away your site’s organic performance.
Hence, keyword cannibalization is bad for search engine optimization. But it is essential to understand that your website only has keyword cannibalization issues if two or more of its web pages are targeting the same keyword, and that’s becoming the main cause of your site’s poor performance. Typically, different website pages tend to rank for many different keywords. That’s why we cannot say that all websites with multiple pages have keyword cannibalization issues.
How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization?
The trick to find keyword cannibalization is to look for web pages optimized for the same keywords, fulfilling a very similar intent. If the intent of two or more pages is the same, they will likely be targeting lots of different long-tail keywords. Thus there is generally more to gain than lose by combining these pages.
Let’s look at a few strategies to spot such web pages.
1. Conduct a Content Audit
For most websites, keyword cannibalization can be easily identified through a content audit.
2. Observe the Historic Rankings
This works best if your objective is to identify keyword cannibalization issues for one specific keyword. This can be done in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
For example, if you check Moz’s historical search rankings for ‘keyword cannibalization’, you’ll find rankings of three pages over the past six months, but none of them ranked higher than the eighth position.
The second page is outdated (as it mentions 2019 in its URL).
So this is like an almost sure-shot keyword cannibalization issue.
3. Run a Site Search
Running a site search is easy and is another way of identifying keyword cannibalization issues. Simple go to Google and type in the following.
It will show you all the pages on your website related to the topic you key in. For example, if you do this for the topic ‘keyword cannibalization’ on the website ‘moz.com’, you will see that the first three search results are that we discovered in the Ahrefs’ Site Explorer in the previous point.
4. Run a Google Search
When you run a site search to find keyword cannibalization, your results will lack a sense of place, making it difficult to figure out how to solve the problem. In our previous example, you’d say that it does make sense for Moz to consolidate the three pages. But the method does not tell the best way to merge the pages. Which pages should Moz redirect? Which URLs should they keep? What are the chances that combining the three pages will improve the website’s performance?
Answers to these questions can often be found by running a Google search. This is just a regular search that you would do for anything on Google. Simply go to ‘google.com’ and type your topic in the search bar. You will notice that Google automatically excludes similar pages from the same domain or host from its search results.
For example, if you type in ‘keyword cannibalization’ in the Google search bar, you will only see a single result from Moz among the top 20 results. This tells us that Moz is likely to rank higher than the sixth position if it merges and redirects some of its web pages. The Google search results will also show which URL to maintain and which ones to redirect. The one that shows up in the Google search results should be maintained, and the rest should be merged into it.
5. Look For Multiple Ranking URLs
Google ranking more than one URL for the same keyword is a keyword cannibalization issue. You can find these in Site Explorer by taking the following steps.
Enter your website domain.
Open the ‘Organic keywords’ report.
Toggle ‘Multiple URLs only’.
If you do this for Moz, you’ll notice that you’ll get the same issue for ‘keyword cannibalization’ as we discovered in method #2 discussed above.
How to Eliminate Keyword Cannibalization Issues?
Once you are sure that your website has keyword cannibalization issues, you can enhance its performance by simply consolidating some of its pages targeting the same or similar keywords. This could include redirecting some old or outdated pages and combining all such URLs into the one performing the best in terms of Google search rankings.
Both these strategies will positively impact your site’s overall performance. All your known backlinks and internal links will be consolidated into each other instead of being diluted across different pages.
But is the solution really that simple? In simple terms, yes. However, the SEO and digital marketing experts will tell you otherwise. They say that this stuff depends on your overall SEO efforts. Many times things are a lot more nuanced, which is why focusing on a single issue, such as keyword cannibalization, and solving it might not help in improving your site’s search rankings.
Hence, the best solution is to build a website on a platform that offers the maximum tools and features, making it easy for you to work on your site’s SEO. Remember that a significant portion of SEO strategies are focused on the on-page setup you need to do. If you use a website builder that provides you with website templates that are both user-friendly and responsive, you can pretty much consider half of your on-site or on-page SEO done. Then you only need to focus on your off-site SEO in the long term to make sure that your website is indexed and ranked well by Google.
Image taken from Strikingly
If you use Strikingly to create your website, we provide plenty of tools that allow you to eliminate keyword cannibalization by enhancing your on-site SEO with minimum effort on your part. Strikingly is a growing website-building platform with lots of ready-to-use website templates and users from all over the world. Our templates are easy to navigate and highly responsive for being browsed from any kind of device.
On top of that, we make it easy for you to carry out the following functions for maximizing your on-site SEO and marketing efforts.
Build a single-page website to avoid keyword cannibalization.
Our features are updated regularly to further ease the website building process for you. The best part is that most of the features required to build a basic website are included in our free plan. As you create a website on Strikingly absolutely for free, you can familiarize yourself with our tools without having to pay a single penny. Once your website is up and running successfully for a couple of months, you might choose to upgrade to one of our paid plans to use a custom domain or to utilize some of our more advanced features.