Emir is an invaluable member of our team, serving as one of our esteemed Account Managers. With a profound passion for on-page SEO, he possesses an exceptional talent for discovering innovative ways to optimise websites and enhance their rankings. Joining our organisation, Loop, in 2022, Emir brought with him a wealth of expertise gained from his Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management and Advertising. Currently, he is eagerly pursuing his Master’s degree in International Marketing Strategy, further enhancing his comprehensive understanding of the global marketing landscape. Emir thrives on challenges and continuously seeks fresh opportunities to elevate our clients’ businesses to new heights. Aside from his professional endeavours, Emir has an unwavering passion for culinary arts and loves to cook up a storm. This ardour for cooking exemplifies his drive, creativity, and meticulous attention to detail, qualities that seamlessly translate into his work as a Digital Marketing Executive. His commitment to delivering exceptional results and his genuine enthusiasm for each project make him a trusted and highly sought-after professional. Emir’s profound expertise in on-page SEO, combined with his ambitious pursuit of knowledge and dedication to his clients, make him an invaluable asset to our team. His passion, both in and out of the office, reflects his commitment to excellence, leaving an indelible mark on our clients’ businesses.
Posted on 10/02/2023 by Emir Haskic
How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization & Fix It
The world of SEO is scarcely straightforward. Rarely is there such a thing as a quick fix and problems can demand complex, sophisticated solutions – and nowhere is this more accurate than with keyword cannibalization.
This common SEO problem is frustrating and has the potential to greatly reduce the overall performance of your website. This leads to your content going head to head with each other, makes for confused users and impacts your conversions and sales.
We’re here to fully explain why ranking for the same keyword on more than one page of your site is something best avoided, and then tell you what you can do to make keyword cannibalisation a thing of the past.
What Is Keyword Cannibalization?
In short, keyword cannibalisation is when multiple pages on your website rank for the same keyword or keywords. This stunts the performance of your site as your pages are then effectively competing with each other for rankings.
A good example of keyword cannibalization would be if we had two pages on our website both focusing on the keyword ‘SEO solutions’. Our traffic might be taking a hit as it’s split over multiple pages and it could be a better idea to combine the two pieces of content to attempt to boost the overall performance. It’s important to note that sometimes it’s not possible to combine pages – maybe one of the ranking pages is a blog post and the other is a service page.
How Keyword Cannibalization Can Impact SEO
All top SEOs will tell you that keyword cannibalization is not something you want for your website. It has the potential to negatively impact your overall traffic, lead users to the wrong pages and ultimately cost you conversions and sales.
The most obvious impact it will have on your SEO is that it means your pages are competing against each other. Your SEO is being split and you’re missing out on the benefits of having one high-performing webpage. You are lessening your page authority as well as splitting your backlinks over two pages – twenty links to one comprehensive page is always better than twenty split between two.
From a user’s point of view, they are more likely to enjoy visiting one page to get all the information they need on a subject rather than having to read two. This will impact your conversion rate as users might be landing on a page that is less relevant to their search intent.
Having more than one page rank for a keyword is also a good indicator that your web pages are of poor quality. Your content will most likely be thin and stretched between multiple pages instead of just one. It also shows that you are not properly optimising for the right keyword if one of the pages was initially focused on another keyword entirely.
How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization is luckily something that can be kept on top of through regular website monitoring and some best practices. Firstly, always carry out in-depth research about the intent behind each piece of content. Avoid writing content that is overly similar to what’s already on your site, and try to always think of new angles, subject matters or audiences to focus on.
New content isn’t always needed – you might already have something that serves the same intent, so think about updating and expanding that instead. Use Google to search pages on your site by typing in “site:domain (keyword). Simply look through the results and if there’s nothing that satisfies the intent of your planned piece of content, go ahead and write it.
You should also ensure that your internal links are pointing to the right pages. Sometimes it’s inevitable that we’ll have similar content on our website so you need to be sure which one is the most important to you. Any internal links in the future should point to here to avoid cannibalization issues.
How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization Issues?
One of the most frustrating things about keyword cannibalization is that lot’s of people don’t even realise it’s occurring. It might be on your website harming your SEO as we speak, so it’s important we learn how to identify the problem. Here are a couple of tools you can use:
Use a Simple Spreadsheet
Sometimes the old-fashioned ways are the best. Begin by creating a spreadsheet that features all the important URL’s from your website alongside the main associated keyword. If any of these words crop up more than once there’s a strong possibility that keyword cannibalisation is taking place.
Google Search Console
Use Google Search Console to quickly and easily spot keyword cannibalization issues on your website. Begin by heading into the performance report. Immediately you’ll see a list of keywords that users have used to find your website. Click on one of these keywords and go to the ‘pages tab’ to see a list of all your URLs that rank for this particular query.
Semrush is another powerful way of finding keyword cannibalisation issues on your site as it has its own specific tool for the job. Locate the Position Tracking tool and click on the tab named ‘cannibalization’ at the top of the page. This tool gives you the option of looking at your cannibalization issues on a keyword or page basis.
Similarly to Google Search Console, searching by keyword allows you to see the URL’s on your website that rank for the same query. This is probably going to be your main tool as it’s generally more helpful to look at cannibalization issues in this way. Get a full breakdown of each keyword – including traffic, rank and search volume – so you can quickly see where to focus your efforts.
How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues?
Re-optimizing your content is often the best way to deal with the issue of keyword cannibalization. If you have a lot of content on your site and it’s all of value to you, we’d recommend looking at the keywords you’re using on each page. It might be time to do some keyword research to develop a proper keyword plan for each webpage – just make sure the new keywords you use are still relevant.
Alternatively look at making each page as unique as possible, even down to the meta-description level. This is difficult for big websites with lots of similar pages – such as eCommerce sites – but it’s really important to do. Some products will feature individual models that are visible as their own URLs. The difference between these models might be minimal, such as a bigger size, different capacity or varying colours, but you should try to make the on-page content as unique as possible.
Think About Site Structure
It could be a good idea to make one of the ranking pages a landing page that is more general. This page should focus on a general topic using the relevant keywords, then the other ranking page can be changed into a specific area within this topic. The second page should then be linked to the landing page and the relevant canonical tags added.
Look at Your Internal Links
Internal links give Google a road map around your website. Cannibalization issues can occur when internal links within your site point to the two separate ranking pages, especially when the anchor text is the same. Ensure your internal links point to only one of the pages you want to rank for, not the cannibalised version.
Adding a canonical tag to a webpage tells Google that this is the piece of content you want to rank for. They are useful for webmasters who have duplicate pieces of content on their sites for different purposes. Sometimes you can’t just delete a whole page as it serves a purpose – perhaps it is a PPC landing page that shares similar keywords for example. In this instance, using a canonical tag is a great option.
Use Redirects to Your Advantage
Use 301 redirects to point search engines and traffic to the page you want to rank for, instead of the cannibalised one. Determine which page is more useful to you by looking at useful data such as visibility and traffic numbers. This is usually the quickest, easiest fix for sorting out your keyword cannibalization issues.
How NOT to Fix Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization is a frustrating and potentially harmful issue for your website – but you should always approach the issue with maximum consideration. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do:
Noindex The Page
Whilst this may seem like a good idea, it rarely is (if ever). By noindexing a page you are telling a search engine not to rank it at all on SERPs. In most cases, you don’t want to do this as you’re then preventing any traffic from reaching it at all from organic search (the page will still be visible on the website).
Delete or Unpublish The Page
Simply put, you should only delete a page from your site if it provides absolutely no value whatsoever. This is unlikely as the vast majority of pages on your site will be bringing you some kind of benefit.
De-optimise The Page
The likelihood is that your page ranks for a number of different keywords and phrases. This means de-optimising your page entirely will affect the overall rankings for other queries as you cannot de-optimise for a single phrase. All you are doing is impacting the performance of your page which is never a good idea.
Solve Your Keyword Cannibalisation Issues with Loop Digital
Here at Loop Digital, we have a wide range of SEO services to help your business reach its full potential. We will make a fully bespoke package for your business’s individual requirements and have helped many companies across the UK find solutions to SEO problems, including keyword cannibalization.
Our team of professionals are always aware of developments in the ever-changing landscape of SEO, meaning our knowledge and skill set is always up-to-date, relevant and comprehensive.
Contact us today to find out what we can do for your business. Alternatively, further your own knowledge and develop your skills by reading our essential guide to SEO.
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