Featured Image Caption: Keyword Cannibalization
As strange as this term may appear and sound, keyword cannibalization is when a website’s different pages target the same keyword, thus creating problems in Google ranking results.
Around 63% of businesses depend on SEO for their website ranking. Website owners have this misconception that if more pages target a specific keyword, their overall ranking for that keyword would be comparatively high. In order to make pages rank for a particular keyword, they use keyword stuffing on multiple pages of their webpage – as a result – they end up becoming their own competitor.
This in turn adversely affects performance on Google search results; resulting in lower leads, less traffic, low profit, and even lesser conversion rates.
Earlier Google search engines were simple and uncomplicated. Based on the search query, they assigned rankings on much simpler terms and conditions. With the keyword stuffing technique, the world of SEO has drastically changed. For Google, a page that used a keyword several times thus increased its overall relevancy. To fulfill this criterion many content creators would unthinkably adjust that specific keyword hundreds and thousands of times in their articles in order to increase search engine rankings.
Though in today’s times, unnecessary use of keywords (keyword stuffing) negatively affects your rankings – keyword cannibalization, an after-effect – and even lowers down the rankings instead of boosting them.
Identifying Keyword Cannibalization
As an SEO Analyst, it is your topmost priority to make your page rank on the 1st page on Google, instead of having them fighting for their position on the 2nd page.
Here we have listed a few tools that will help you identify keyword cannibalization:
1. Agency Analytics
Agency Analytics is essentially a keyword tracking tool that is used to trace keywords for the main website page. This software equips in determining the quality of a website based on its keyword rankings.
This tool can be used to track pages that are competing for similar keywords thus confusing Google as to which page to prioritize and rank higher.
Here in this picture, you can see the Google position and average ranking fluctuations for a particular website over some time. This tool can also be utilized to find out rankings for a given keyword over time and not just a bunch of keywords.
Unlike Agency Analytics which tracks keyword rankings one after another, SEMRush lets you export a large number of keywords that you are ranking for thus checking for keyword cannibalization on an extensive scale.
Put all the data that you have into a spreadsheet, preferably in alphabetical order. And use this formula,
This would automatically check for any keyword cannibalization without any hassle and trouble – and check if any keyword appears more than once. If any keyword appears more than once, it will be labeled as ‘cannibalized’.
Checking thousands of words in a few minutes is truly a win-win situation.
Ahrefs is the best and most handy SEO tool available. It also provides an option to check and compare your keywords with that of your competitors.
Through the organic keyword option in Ahrefs, you can visually see what keyword cannibalization issues your website has and how does it impact your rankings on Google.
The above image here shows the ranking for the keyword ‘best stability running shoes’. Two different colored lines show that two different WebPages struggling to compete for a single keyword thus diminishing the rankings of each.
4. Google Search Console (GSC)
All the tools mentioned above focus on the first 100 positions and trace and report keyword cannibalization in the same. However, Google Search Console does not restrict only to the first 10 pages, but, to the whole of its index.
GSC helps to find out any copying and duplication throughout its index (of your website).
Here in this picture, we search for the keyword ‘electric drum kit’, and according to the results, there are a total of 15 pages that have this term. This issue can be resolved by de-optimizing the content on this page.
Why is Keyword Cannibalization bad for SEO?
If different pages are competing to rank for the same page, it will confuse Google as to which page to rank first; leading to rank the less important page first.
Google works on algorithms, when you type a search query in the search engine it crawls through countless pages to locate the most relevant page for that keyword.
However, if you thought having different pages with the same keyword will rank your website on the 1st page thus becoming SEO, you were wrong!
Ultimately your rankings will drop leading to these unfavorable consequences:
1. Diminishing Authority of Pages
By using the same keywords for multiple pages, you are splitting your click-through-rate (CTR) between them.
Ultimately making you struggle against your pages for views and high rankings.
2. Backlinks and Anchor Text are Diluted
Instead of linking pages to one source, the power of backlinks is being diminished by dividing between various pages.
In the same manner, the anchor text and internal links are directing to multiple other pages, instead of one sole source of information.
3. Devaluation of the Relevant Page by Google
If the keywords on your pages are somewhat very similar, Google might have trouble understanding which one is more relevant and best suited.
Google might prioritize the wrong page and devalue the relevant one.
4. Wasting your Crawl Budget
Crawl budget is the number of times a search engine spider crawls a website in a given time frame. If different pages are targeted for the same keywords then it will lead to crawling and indexing of pages that are not required.
5. Conversion Rate Suffers
Since the traffic is being split across different pages, it will greatly affect the conversion rate. You have to design and plan it in a way that the new leads are directed to your desired, relevant pages.
Three Ways to Fix Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword Cannibalization can stop you from ranking on the first page of Google results. Therefore, if you have used the above tools to find that your pages have keyword cannibalization, you can use these methods to get rid of it.
However, it is equally important to understand that not all keyword cannibalization is harmful. If more than one page is competing for the same keywords within the top 10 results on Google, then it might increase your website’s chances of getting organic traffic.
1. De-Optimize Your Page
It is a wise decision to remove a page if it is already ranking for other keywords and driving traffic to your website. De-optimizing that page for the specific keyword which causes cannibalization will ensure that you do not miss out on the CTR that other keywords are already bringing in.
2. 301 Redirect
After you have de-optimized your page, you might want to remove other pages that have the same content. Removing pages that have content regarding the same topic is Page Removal or 301 Redirect. Anyone who tries to access these eliminated pages will ultimately receive a 404 error.
This way all your internal links flow easily – thus your audience and Google will reach the most relevant page for their search. This is how Ace Assignment catered their buy coursework keyword.
It is more preferable to use variations of your desired keywords instead of repeating it for multiple pages of your website. Hence canonical element is an HTML tag that helps Google in determining which page with keywords is more relevant to the search query thus minimizing any ambiguity.
Page 1: https://example.com/best-sportshoes
Number of Organic Visits per Month: 2300
Page 2: https://example.com/best-comfortable-sportshoes
Number of Organic Visits per Month: 975
This is how a canonical tag on page 2(that directs to page 1) will look like:
Using this tag, we inform Google that the two pages are somewhat similar, but page 1 is more relevant and important
This way, page 1 becomes the authoritative version of page 2.
Keyword cannibalization is quite common in today’s digital marketing world.SEO Analysts and Developers often confuse the optimization of their websites with keyword cannibalization – which is the opposite of how it should be! In order to get a high ranking, good content is the top-most priority. Without keyword cannibalization, and top-notch content you can achieve your SEO targets without a struggle.
Through this article, we covered topics such as what is keyword cannibalization, what tools can be used to identify it, and most importantly, how to fix it. The best strategy is to identify the root problem – the keyword that causes the trouble and plans an action to get it removed. By utilizing this information you can improve your rankings, page authority, and conversion rate.
By Gloria Kopp
who is currently working as a Search Engine Optimizer at EssaysnAssignment, a place students buy assignment UK. She devises strategies and helps businesses in implementing them by helping them with SEO content to get them high rankings on the search result page. She has graduated from the University of Wyoming and has reading and gardening as her hobbies.