Denver SEO Expert Consultant John Vargo July 1, 2023

Keyword Cannibalization: Causes, Effects, and How to Fix It

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Keyword cannibalization is a common problem that website owners and marketers face when optimizing their content for search engines. In simple terms, it refers to the situation where multiple pages on a website are competing for the same target keyword, resulting in a dilution of the website’s search engine rankings. In this article, we will explore the causes and effects of keyword cannibalization and provide actionable steps that readers can take to prevent or fix it.

Causes of Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization can occur due to several reasons, including:

  1. Poor Site Architecture: A website with poor site architecture can lead to multiple pages targeting the same keyword. This can happen when the site has duplicate content, multiple pages with similar content, or a lack of clear hierarchy.
  2. Lack of Content Organization: When a website has a large amount of content that is not organized properly, it can result in multiple pages targeting the same keyword. This can happen when there are too many categories or tags on a blog, or when there is no clear structure for organizing content.
  3. Over-Optimization: Over-optimization occurs when a website owner tries to rank for a specific keyword by creating multiple pages with the same or similar content. This can result in keyword cannibalization and can hurt the website’s search engine rankings.

Effects of Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization can have several negative effects on a website’s search engine rankings, user experience, and overall site performance. Some of the effects include:

  1. Diluted Rankings: When multiple pages on a website target the same keyword, the search engine may have difficulty determining which page is the most relevant. This can result in a dilution of the website’s search engine rankings.
  2. Confused Users: When a website has multiple pages targeting the same keyword, it can confuse users and make it difficult for them to find the information they are looking for. This can result in a poor user experience and can lead to a high bounce rate.
  3. Wasted Resources: When a website owner creates multiple pages targeting the same keyword, it can result in wasted resources, including time and money spent on creating and maintaining those pages.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

To identify instances of keyword cannibalization on their own sites, readers can use several tips and tools, including:

  1. Conduct a Site Audit: Conducting a site audit can help identify instances of keyword cannibalization by identifying duplicate content, similar pages, and poor site architecture.
  2. Use Google Search Console: Google Search Console can help identify instances of keyword cannibalization by showing which pages are ranking for a specific keyword.
  3. Use a Keyword Research Tool: A keyword research tool can help identify instances of keyword cannibalization by showing which pages are targeting the same keyword.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

To fix instances of keyword cannibalization, readers can take several actionable steps, including:

  1. Consolidate Content: Consolidating content can help eliminate instances of keyword cannibalization by combining multiple pages targeting the same keyword into a single, comprehensive page.
  2. Redirect Pages: Redirecting pages can help eliminate instances of keyword cannibalization by redirecting duplicate or similar pages to a single, comprehensive page.
  3. Optimize for User Intent: Optimizing for user intent can help eliminate instances of keyword cannibalization by ensuring that each page on the website targets a unique keyword that aligns with the user’s search intent.

Summary

In summary, keyword cannibalization is a common problem that can hurt a website’s search engine rankings, user experience, and overall site performance. By identifying the causes and effects of keyword cannibalization and taking actionable steps to prevent or fix it, website owners and marketers can improve their website’s search engine rankings and provide a better user experience for their visitors.

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