Identifying and Eliminating Keyword Cannibalisation
A great SEO keyword strategy includes targeting different SEO keywords across multiple pages. However, some SEOs think targeting the same term with numerous pages will do wonders for their SEO; this big mistake is usually referred to as keyword cannibalisation.
When several pages are ranking for the same keyword, they have to compete against each other. As a result, each page has a lower click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate, as well as less authority than one consolidated page.
Keyword cannibalisation was coined as such because it is basically “cannibalising” the results by splitting links, CTR, conversions, and content between two web pages.
By cannibalising web pages, one won’t be able to show Google their depth of knowledge or improve their site authority for a certain search query. Instead, they ask Google to compare their pages against one another and choose which one suits the matching keywords best.
Suppose a website sells shoes, and the only keyword they are focusing on is “shoes”. In this case, they are essentially telling Google that every page on their website is about shoes, whether it’s tennis shoes, hiking shoes, boots, sneakers, or anything else. It also means that the website is competing against itself for a broad keyword without commercial intent.
How Keyword Cannibalisation Harms SEO
Keyword cannibalisation brings significant disadvantages for SEO. Unfortunately, many people who cannibalise keywords do so without knowing it. They may be pleased that one page is ranking in the fifth and sixth places for their target term without knowing that having only one authoritative site would most likely rank higher and convert better. Below are the disadvantages of using this method:
1. It devalues the page’s authority
Instead of concentrating CTR on a single, highly authoritative page, the site owner distributes it across several moderately relevant sites. As a result, they have turned their pages into rivals that are now vying for page views and SERP rankings.
2. It weakens the links and anchor texts
Backlinks should be directed to one consolidated source of information. However, keyword cannibalisation results in these links being split among multiple web pages. For instance, there might be 15 links for one page and 10 links for another, but it should be 25 backlinks for one better-performing page.
Furthermore, publishers will be enticed to link to a full, in-depth page than a light, less-detailed article. In addition, having multiple pages ranking for one keyword will direct visitors to several pages instead of a single authoritative page on the subject.
3. Google might diminish the value of the more relevant page
One of the primary methods that help Google comprehend what a site is about is keyword usage. If all keywords are identical, Google will attempt to determine which page is most suitable for the search query. And if the content is too similar, the search engine’s system might get it wrong.
For instance, let’s say that a a website ranks for the same term on two pages. If the better-performing page ranks lower, the site may miss out on high-value, converting traffic.
4. It wastes crawl budget
Crawl budget refers to the number of times a search engine spider can crawl a website in a specific timeframe. Having many pages targeting the same term may cause less relevant pages to be crawled and indexed over more important ones. Smaller websites might not notice any difference, but it is a serious problem for larger e-commerce sites or online shops.
Identifying Keyword Cannibalisation
A site owner must determine if their web pages are ranking for the same terms. Once they have identified the problem, fixing it would be easy.
To identify keyword cannibalisation, one should make a spreadsheet and list all of their website’s significant URLs and associated keywords. They may also use a keyword mapping tool to get the job done easier and faster.
Then, they can go through the list and look for any duplicate entries. If there are any duplicates, one can confirm that their website suffers from keyword cannibalisation.
Fixing Keyword Cannibalisation
Solving keyword cannibalisation depends on the main cause of the issue. Most of the time, the problem is due to the disorder. However, there are stubborn cases where site owners need to use new landing pages or 301 redirects. Below are some of the top tips for fixing keyword cannibalisation.
1. Restructure the website
The easiest course of action is to transform the page with the highest authority into a landing page, which links to different unique variations of the targeted SEO keywords. For instance, if the main keyword is “shoes”, the “shoes” page should be the canonical source page and link all the specific variations back to it.
2. Make new landing pages
A website might not have a single landing page that collects all product pages in one location. In this situation, one can create a specific landing page to be their authoritative source page and link to all of the variations.
Using the “shoe” example, one can create a page called “men sneakers” and another about “hiking shoes”. These pages would allow the site owner to target long-tail keywords on their variations and broad keywords with the consolidated pages.
3. Combine content into one page
One should consider combining pages that aren’t distinctive enough to warrant targeting the same term. This is an opportunity to combine two underperforming sites and make them more authoritative. It may also help with thin content problems.
It would be best to start with analytics and figure out which page ranks best in terms of traffic, time on page, conversions, bounce rate, and so on. One could discover that a single page gets most visitors, but the other has more converting content. In this case, the goal is to combine the converting content and the page with the most traffic. In doing so, the website should be able to maintain its rankings and convert more visitors.
4. Discover new keywords
Lastly, if a website is already jam-packed with high-quality, diverse content pages but lacks a good keyword strategy, one should find new keywords. However, one should ensure that their keywords are relevant to their existing content. For instance, if a user types in a query on Google search, the existing content should satisfy the user intent.
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