This article will explain what keyword cannibalization is, why it is not good for your website, and how to prevent it across your pages and rankings. Use these keyword cannibalization prevention tips to maintain high rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).
What Is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization issues begin when a website targets the same keyword across multiple pages or posts. One page or post cannibalizes the other’s ability to rank in search engines if the intent of the pages is the same. What this means is that your website will basically be competing itself, which is detrimental to your on-site SEO.
Look at it this way:
If you have two or more posts on your website with more or less the same intent and target the same keywords, which one is the most important? Which one should rank on search engines? You’re probably thinking, “All of them are useful to the users, and that’s why I created them in the first place”.
Do not jeopardize the chances of any one of your pages ranking on search engines. As you publish new pages, consider what already exists on your website.
Sometimes pages with different intent end up ranking for the same keywords. This means you need to dig into the optimization of your site and change some things around so that they rank highly for different keywords.
You want to avoid this because click-through rates and user engagement are ranking factors in the Google algorithm. If searchers are splitting up their clicks between two of your pages, you are putting them at a disadvantage.
Having trouble researching keywords? Check out this article on how to properly research keywords for your website and avoid keyword cannibalization across your site.
How to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization Issues
1. Target Different Keywords for Your Pages
This is the most obvious cannibalization prevention technique. You do not want to have multiple pages ranking for a bunch of similar keywords. Keep your posts unique and diverse.
When you have one page receiving lots of organic traffic because of certain targeted keywords, do not be tempted to create another post with the same keywords for it to receive similar traffic. This new post will compete with your existing post.
Before adding new pages or posts, look at your existing pages and identify the keywords that were referenced. Have a look at the internal links with keyword-rich anchors. If for some reason you have to target the keywords present in these links, consider changing the anchor text to something else.
Research and identify other keywords for your new page for which it will receive organic search traffic without interfering with the ranking of your existing content.
2. Merge Pages
Consider combining the pages that are cannibalizing one another. Go for this option if both pages contain very important information, all of which you would like to keep.
This creates one big page that appears as one on SERPs. Since you will have a new URL, do not forget to redirect the other deleted page to the new URL. This will make sure that anyone that goes to the old page’s URL will be taken to the new live web page.
If you would like to keep both pages or posts because they are useful to visitors without having to change certain keywords, noindexing will work for you.
Noindexing instructs Google not to show the subject page on search results. Do this to blog pages that add little value to your website visitors. Visitors can still access such pages, only that this time they will not be doing so from SERPs. This page won’t compete with other posts.
There are two ways to do it. You can either include a noindex meta tag in that page’s HTML code or return a HTTP Response Header. These methods are well explained in Google Search Console.
If you want to keep both pages that are under different URLs, you can use canonical tags to dictate which one of them should be ranked above the other. This comes in handy when you can’t remove the cannibalized pages and keep just one, or if changing the keywords will completely distort your content.
Canonicalization allows you to select one page as the main one. This is the page that will rank on the SERP. You will retain both pages, and all visitors on your website will have access to both pages. Be sure to attribute ranking signals to the canonical page.
5. Look Over Your Internal Linking Structure
Sometimes, cannibalization issues can be solved by restructuring your internal linking structure, and in particular, the links with target keywords as their anchor texts. Keyword-rich anchor texts are notorious for contributing to cannibalization.
Rework your internal links to make sure they point to the right page without cannibalization.
6. Content Strategy
This is not the last time you are producing content for your website, is it? Preventing keyword cannibalization is not a point of destination. Rather, it is a journey. You cannot prevent cannibalization once and for all without having to deal with it in the future.
You will need to create a long-term content strategy to prevent issues from arising in the future. You can do this by creating a system to monitor your content and links. Monitor this system and update it as necessary. You can create a spreadsheet, for instance, to track your content.
Having a content strategy works perfectly if you are working alongside a team. With access to the tracking system, they can create engaging content without keyword cannibalization.
Having a content strategy will save you time because you will not have to carry out as many cannibalization cleanup tasks. This cannibalization drama can be prevented before it occurs. You can create impressive content without having to worry about it clashing with another page on your website.
Keyword cannibalization is a problem faced by many websites. It can be the reason why your content is not getting the proper traffic metrics you were expecting because it’s clashing with another page on your website. Your pages are probably competing with one another like siblings fighting for a piece of bread.
It is possible to avoid the hassle of keyword cannibalization by targeting different keywords across your website, restructuring your internal links, developing a content strategy, and canonicalization. Other possible solutions include the merging of pages and noindexing.
Using the tips presented above, your website will enjoy optimal organic search traffic.