Optimizing a website by using SEO techniques is not an easy job. Since there is no recipe for the strategy that will work 100%, wrong keyword usage happens quite often. Keyword cannibalization is one of the most common SEO problems, but there are ways to identify and fix it. All you have to do is to audit your website content, create a new strategy and learn which keywords will work the best for your SEO. Let’s find out why this problem happens, how to identify it, and find a solution.
Keyword cannibalization – how does it happen?
As one of the most common SEO problems, keyword cannibalization basically complicates the way search engines “see” your website pages. When trying to rank a few pages with the same keyword, SERPs will see it as a paradox. On one hand, this can be a good thing, but on the other, most websites lose their rankings because search engines will not understand which page to prioritize for the same keyword.
For example, you can create two different pages on your online clothing store. Let’s say that one is for selling women’s boots and the other – for sneakers. If you try to rank both of these pages for the keyword “shoes”, search engines will not understand which page you want to rank, and you will basically become your own competition. As a result, both pages will get fewer clicks and lose credibility on SERPs. This is the reason why keyword cannibalization is one of the most common problems in SEO strategizing. So, the best way to avoid this issue from happening is to by using different keywords for every page. It could be a difficult thing to plan, but that’s what SEO experts are there for.
Why is keyword cannibalization bad for your SEO?
The entire point of SEO strategy is to optimize website content and achieve better rankings on search engines. Since keyword cannibalization does the opposite thing, it can cause the entire SEO strategy to fail. The worst part about this mistake happening is that you might not notice it from the start. Tracking your website’s ranking could be a long-term process, which is why you should avoid unnatural keyword usage altogether.
When keyword cannibalization occurs, you will most likely diminish the credibility of your website, but also affect the worth of your content. It might split your links between two or more pages, making them (more or less) a pointless part of SEO strategy. You might lose your conversion rates and get fewer page visitors. Search engines will not recognize your pages as relevant, and as a result, your website will rank lower than you expected.
Identify this problem in a few simple steps
In case you are not aware that keyword cannibalization is happening with your website, there are a few simple ways to identify this issue. First, you can use search engines to help you find the source of the problem. All you have to do is type in „cannibalizingkeyword site:youwebsitersite.com“ and you will see the results. However, if you don’t know which keyword to look for, this method might not help.
Another good option you have is to use search engines to filter keywords through pages. This way you can see which keywords are used for every page and notice if some of them are “working against each other”. Overall, you have to understand how SEO techniques work keyword ranking works, so you can identify keyword cannibalization. Luckily, there are plenty of different filters you can use in order to identify and fix this concern. In case you are already dealing with it, let’s see some of the best ways to resolve this issue.
Fixing the problem – start with auditing your content
Since keyword cannibalization directly interferes with other aspects of SEO, auditing your content will be a big part of the solution. The first thing you should do is think of different keywords you could use for your web pages. No matter how simple or complicated your content is, you should revise it and decide on the keywords for every one of them. For example, your homepage should focus on your brand name and your company’s goals. If you are providing different services, you can rank each page for related keyword phrases and their variations. Don’t forget to audit your meta tags, headings, alt tags, and internal links. Overall, optimizing your website content the right way is the best way to avoid keyword cannibalization in the first place.
Restructure your website pages
In some cases, it’s not possible to choose different keywords for every page on one’s website. However, restructuring the website can help you avoid certain problems with keyword usage. For example, if you create too many pages that rank for the same keyword, you might want to reorganize your entire website infrastructure. What you need to do is to decide which pages will be the most authoritative, and which ones you want to push for the highest rankings. A unique landing page will rank better for one keyword than if a few pages are competing against each other.
301 redirect could help
When indexing your pages, you can use one more trick to avoid keyword cannibalization. By setting a 301 redirect to your page, you can make one of your pages “less visible” for search engines. This means that 301 redirects will make them not accessible to more traffic and direct viewers to the page you want. In case both pages are ranking for the same keyword, this process will help you avoid keyword cannibalization. This is not the best solution for the problem, but it’s one of the quickest, for sure.
Avoid keyword cannibalization from the start
Since this SEO issue is not always easy to identify, the best option is to avoid keyword cannibalization altogether. One of the ways you can achieve this is to choose your keywords and related phrases wisely. A good SEO strategy takes time to plan, and choosing the best keywords is a big part of it. As your website grows, you might need to expand the list of the keywords you use, which can only be harder with time. This is why a solid content strategy is the number one thing you should focus on when trying to get high rankings on SERPs. Create solid content, choose your keywords wisely, and create a functional infrastructure for your website pages.
Christopher is a digital marketing specialist at Find Digital Agency and a freelance blogger.
He is focused on new web tech trends and digital voice distribution across different channels.
In his free time, Christopher plays drums and Magic: the Gathering.