What is Keyword Cannibalisation? – A Definitive Guide

What is Keyword Cannibalisation - A Definitive Guide

Most digital marketing teams use keyword optimisation to raise the visibility of their material in search results. More keywords, in theory, equate to greater optimisation. In order to improve your chances of ranking, it can be tempting to use exact keywords on numerous pages. However, if your articles compete with each other for the same keyword as keyword cannibalisation, this tactic might backfire. This blog will give you a detailed explanation of keyword cannibalisation and how to avoid them.

What is Keyword Cannibalisation?

What is Keyword Cannibalisation

When a website has two or more pages that vie for rankings on the search engine results page by targeting the same keyword(s) and search intent, this practice is known as keyword cannibalisation (SERP). When this occurs, Google chooses which content to prioritise, which may result in a website you don’t want to be given top priority receiving a higher ranking. Cannibalising keywords can negatively affect your website and reduce organic traffic in general.

Because two or more sites’ search intents are similar, keyword cannibalisation happens. Ultimately, you need to think about your site’s purpose to determine if you have a cannibalisation problem. When the purpose of those pages is entirely different, it can occasionally make sense to have separate pages with similar keywords.

Why is keyword cannibalism harmful to SEO?

Cannibalising your own keywords puts you in a Google search engine ranking conflict with yourself. For example, let’s assume you wrote two articles on the same subject. In that situation, Google cannot determine which article should appear first for a particular query. In addition, crucial elements like backlinks and CTR are spread out across multiple articles rather than just one. They will most likely both rank lower as a consequence.

If you optimise posts for target keywords that are close but not identical, keyword cannibalism may also happen. For instance, I discussed the topic of readability as a ranking criterion in two posts. While the article ‘White Hat SEO is good or bad’ was optimised for the focus keyword, the post ‘Does White hat SEO wrong?’ was not. The posts were very identical, despite having a slightly different angle. It is challenging for Google to determine which of the two articles is more important.

How to identify problems with keyword cannibalisation?

Looking for sites that target the exact keywords and serve up a similar term or identical content is the key to spotting real cannibalisation problems.

This is because each page is unlikely to rank for many long-tail keyword variations if the purpose is the same. Consolidating the pages typically results in greater gains than losses.

Let’s examine a few methods for locating these problems.

Content Audit

content audit

Cannibalisation problems should be fairly simple to identify during a content assessment unless your site is extremely large.

Conduct site: Search

You can use the standard “site:search” search to find these sites.

Go to Search Engine and type Site:yourwebsite.com “topic”

All of your website’s relevant material will appear in a results list returned by Google.

Look over the list and decide what is at the top. You want to check in particular to see if some of your older content is ranking higher than your more recent blog posts, articles, or pertinent pages. If so, it indicates that keyword cannibalisation may be taking place and tells you what to examine next.

Solving keyword cannibalisation

The cannibalisation of SEO content can be resolved in a number of ways. You might need to combine various techniques or use any of those that apply to your situation. Such ways are,

Consolidate Pages

When you have multiple sections on the same subject, this approach works. First, examine their material to find the most intriguing information for each page. Then, rewrite the landing page after combining the best parts of these sites into a more comprehensive article.

The unnecessary sites can be deleted. It’s preferable to set up appropriate redirects to the new home page if they do, however, have some ranking power.

Use Redirects


If you discover multiple pages on a similar topic appear in search results for the same terms, you may want to use 301 redirects occasionally.

These redirects may route visitors from those related sites to the most reliable and effective content. Update any content containing links to the sites currently being redirected as well.

Make Subdomain

Moving one of the sites to a sub-domain or another domain might be advantageous if the content is completely different. This has the advantage of allowing two sites to rank for the same keyword, but it still has some of the same drawbacks as keyword cannibalisation, such as the requirement to pay attention to multiple pages.

Change Targeting Keyword

Changing the keyword that the page targets might be advantageous if the content is adequately unique. Keyword cannibalisation can be avoided by focusing on a different keyword that is sufficiently distinct from the original but still pertinent to the page.

Tips to prevent Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalisation can hurt your website’s SEO by confusing search engine crawlers and reducing the relevance of your pages. Here are some tips to prevent keyword cannibalisation,

Conduct keyword research:

Conduct keyword research

Before creating any new content, do keyword research to identify your target keywords. This can help you avoid inadvertently targeting the same keyword on multiple pages.

Plan your content:

Create a content plan that includes the keywords you want to target for each page. This will help you avoid targeting the same keyword on multiple pages.

Use different variations of keywords:

Instead of targeting the same keyword on multiple pages, use different variations. For example, if you’re targeting “best running shoes,” one page could target “top-rated running shoes,” while another could target “best trail running shoes.”

Optimise your content:

Make sure your content is optimised for the keywords you’re targeting. This includes using the keyword in the title, meta description, URL, and throughout the content.

Use internal linking:

Use internal linking to direct users and search engines to the most relevant page on your website. This can help avoid confusion and ensure the right page ranks for the targeted keyword.

Monitor your website:

Regularly monitor your website to identify any instances of keyword cannibalisation. If you find any, take action to resolve the issue by either consolidating the pages or making them more distinct from each other.

Final Thoughts

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when multiple pages on a website target the same keyword, leading to competition among them for search engine rankings. This can harm the overall Search Engine Optimisation of a website, as search engines may have difficulty determining which page is the most relevant and authoritative for the targeted keyword.

Overall, preventing keyword cannibalisation can help improve the SEO of a website, leading to better visibility and traffic from search engines.