Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization, or topic duplication, refers to the phenomenon of having multiple pages targeting the same keyword. This can occur by accident, or can be a deliberate tactic.
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Keyword Cannibalization

Why Is Keyword Cannibalization Damaging?

For those new to the world of SEO, attempting to get multiple pages to rank for the same keyword may seem like a great idea, but in fact you’d be wrong.

You essentially become your own competition by dividing your click-through-rate between numerous pages and weakening page authority.

Not only this, keyword cannibalization can confuse Google crawlers. They may end up prioritising the wrong web page, or worse, indexing the wrong one.
It can also provide poor UX (User Experience), because multiple pages with the same content are more likely to be thin and low-quality.

How Can You Discover Keyword Cannibalization?

There is a method that you can you use to discover whether or not your website has committed a form a keyword cannibalisation:

screenshot ahrefs organic keyword report - keyword cannibalization
  1. Search for your website in Site Explorer 
  2. Review the organic keywords report
  3. Transfer your keywords into an excel spreadsheet
  4. Categorise them from A-Z
  5. Identify any duplicate keywords
screenshot excel spreadsheet - keyword cannibalization

How Can You Solve Keyword Cannibalization?

Considering the negative impact that keyword cannibalization can have on a website’s performance, its best to ensure you avoid it at all costs.

Below are some ways that you can solve keyword cannibalization.

1. Combine Content

If you have two or more articles that cover the same area and rank for the same word, you should merge them in order to prevent keyword cannibalization. 

Once you have created a single article, 301 redirect the old URLs to the new one.

2. Delete Content

If you have a page that is a low-quality version of another page, contributing little to UX with no inbound links, then it’s probably best to just delete it.

When you do this, be sure that you have implemented a 301 redirect to another page on your website, to prevent confusion.

3. Attach a Noindex Tag

You may think a page will be useful and relevant to visitors, but don’t want to see it ranked in SERPs causing cannibalization. Avoid this by placing a noindex tag on the page to prevent it from being indexed.

4. Attach a Canonical Tag

Use a canonical tag if you have multiple pages with similar content that you want to keep visible for visitors, but only want one of them to rank in SERPs.

What Are Some Keyword Best Practices?

When it comes to keywords, its best to stick to the current SEO best practices. 

  • Conduct thorough and high-quality keyword research 
  • Identify keyword popularity, keyword difficulty, and any essential long-tail keywords
  • Have a unique keyword for each web page
  • Only have one keyword per page
  • Embed keywords throughout your page’s content, including meta tags, alt text and URLs

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