What Is Keyword Cannibalization and How to Deal with It

Keyword Cannibalization

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While enthusiasm and hard work are important for SEO, there are times when unexpected problems creep up. That’s why companies offering organic search engine optimization in Long Island perform SEO audits for their clients. Keyword cannibalization is one of those unintended factors that can hamper your SERP performance.

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization refers to the situation where there are different articles or blog posts on your site ranking for the exact same Google search query. This happens when you cover similar topics for the different articles and pages. So, these articles and pages start competing against each other. Google also shows only 1 to 3 results at the most from a particular domain for a specific query. The 3rd result only comes for a domain with high authority. So, in effect, you are losing rankings and traffic for your pages since they take rankings from each other.

Detecting Keyword Cannibalization

You can detect if keyword cannibalization is plaguing your site. All you need to do is see how your site comes up for a suspected cannibalized keyword. You need to search in the following format:

site:domain.com “keyword”

You can see an example in the screenshot below:

(Image source: https://yoast.com/keyword-cannibalization/)

To validate your findings, type the same keyword in Google. In the example mentioned above, we see 3 pages of the same site ranked 1, 2 and 3. However, the adverse situation is when two pages of your site are ranked adjacently but further down the line as in positions 9 and 10 or 8 and 9. Had these pages been optimized for different keywords, each of them would have ranked higher for those respective keywords.

The other danger of keyword cannibalization is that a less relevant or older page of your site could rank higher than a more relevant or recent page. As a result, visitors could be drawn to that older page and be less than impressed with what’s offered. The example below shows that:

keyword cannibalization
Image source: https://ahrefs.com/blog/keyword-cannibalization/

As you can see, the page in position 6 is much older than the page in position 7.

Countering Keyword Cannibalization

How can you deal with keyword cannibalization? There are many ways to do it.

Combining Articles on Similar Topics

One way is to combine articles that deal with a similar topic. You can make them one big article or blog post. Lengthy content is something Google loves, and it will definitely boost your rankings. You should also redirect the article you have deleted to the combined one. Plugins such as Yoast Duplicate Post can help you in cloning one of the similar articles.

Improving Internal Linking

It is also important to improve your internal linking structure. This can enable Google to understand the article that is more important. You can link from less important articles to the ones most important. Google will then know which pages must be propped up in the topmost position in the search results.


Another solution is to employ canonicalization. When there are various pages with content that’s similar, Google can take this to be duplicate pages. It then selects one URL to be the canonical version that will be crawled, and considers the other URLs as duplicate URLs that can be crawled less frequently. So, if you consider one of these URLs to be more important or relevant, you need to tell Google clearly that it is canonical. Otherwise, Google will choose a URL which may not be what you prefer with regard to its position in the search rankings, resulting in unusual behavior from users.

Restructuring Your Website

You can also get your website restructured. Ensure that your landing page is the most authoritative page in your website. The page should link to the unique variations under your targeted keywords.

301 Redirects

Using 301 redirects in a regulated manner helps. You should obviously not use too many of these. When you have multiple pages that rank for the same keywords, though, 301s can be helpful. 301 redirects enable you to link all the pages that are less relevant to an authoritative page. Use 301 redirects only for such situations where pages have similar content and match specific search queries.

Identifying instances of keyword cannibalization as early as possible is important to improve your website performance, traffic and rankings. That’s where SEO marketing services in Long Island can be of assistance.