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How to Identify & Eliminate Keyword Cannibalization to Boost Your SEO

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 6 min read
How to Identify & Eliminate Keyword Cannibalization to Boost Your SEO


Have you ever clicked on an article and felt like you were reading the same words over and over again? You may have stumbled across a phenomenon called keyword stuffing. In the early days of the modern search engines, Google used to favor texts which included dozens of keywords. However, this opened the way for a wide range of malpractice, such as creating dull and repetitive headlines or hidden pages full of popular phrases.

Today, Google search engine algorithms are much more complex. Trending keywords and phrases are still among the essential SEO elements, but when creating your content, you need to make sure you are not going overboard. Otherwise, your website may fall victim to keyword cannibalization – your latest and most relevant content will be buried under the wrongly optimized pages.

To prevent this, you need to know how to find varied keywords and how often you should use them. Apart from that, you should be aware of other criteria used to rank your pages, as stuffing your website with keywords alone may not do the trick, no matter whether you are running a small online store or a Branding agency. If you want to learn more about identifying and eliminating keyword cannibalization to boost your SEO, read the article below!

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

To put it simply, keyword cannibalization is the result of using the same or similar keywords on more than one page of your website. It usually happens when you are targeting the same keyword with different pages or posts without realizing that the keywords used may not be entirely relevant to the content. This creates imbalance and confusion for the search engine algorithms, which cannot decide which page is more relevant – the one that focuses on the issue or the one that has the most keywords used.

In the end, both pages are likely to rank lower than they would if there was no keyword cannibalization. The same thing happens when you have more than one page targeting the same long-tail keywords – although these phrases may be different, they still share some of the words used, which can result in a similar outcome. For example, if you are comparing FXS vs FXO gateways, you may want to vary the keywords you use, including "telecom equipment", "voice gateway", or even "gateway analog vs digital."

Identifying Keyword Cannibalization

In most cases, it is not that difficult to spot keyword cannibalization. If you are writing for the same audience and target similar topics on more than one page of your website, then the chances are high that there may be some overlap between the keywords. If you want to be certain, though, these are the methods that may help:

Check Your Rankings For Each Page And Keyword

With Google Search Console, you can check your website's performance in search results and also get a lot of valuable information about which keywords have been used to find your website. Although this is not a foolproof method, it may help you identify keyword cannibalization if one of the pages does significantly worse than others when compared to similar keywords.

Search Your Keywords On Google

You may also simply check your website ranking on Google, targeting both specific and more general terms. This can tell you whether a particular page is appearing in the search results above another, therefore giving some insight into Google's understanding of what your pages are discussing. Of course, without a tool such as Google Search Console at hand, it can be incredibly time-consuming processing all the data, especially if you are managing a larger website or online store.

Find Duplicate Content Issues

If your website has a lot of duplicate content, Google may have already noticed this and marked the pages stuffed with keywords as low quality. To check whether there is any problem with duplicates on your site, try running your website's URL through a duplicate content finder in your SEO toolset. This may help you locate the pages which need to be rewritten or deleted to reduce keyword cannibalization.

Before you start changing and deleting everything, though, make sure you have a clear understanding of why the pages are similar and exactly what changes need to be made. When in doubt, ask for an opinion from a marketer who ought to be familiar with the topic. Otherwise, your website may suffer more than it already is.

Use a Keyword Mapping Tool

Use a Keyword Mapping Tool (Image Source: raventools.com)

If you are unsure whether some pages are cannibalized by others, using a keyword mappingtool may help. With tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Moz's Keyword Explorer, you can quickly check the primary keywords used and compare them to determine whether there is any overlap between the pages published on your website over time. You can either generate a list of all your website's pages or simply scan a specific URL to see its SEO Metrics, including popular phrases since you last crawled the data.

Track your hashtag

This involves monitoring the performance of hashtags on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. By tracking hashtag usage, you can see how often your brand is being mentioned, as well as which hashtags are most popular. This information can help you can also use this method to see if people are talking about your competitor in relation to the same keyword. If they are, then you know you need to work on your SEO for that keyword. Hashtag tracking is an important tool for identifying keyword cannibalization. By monitoring hashtag usage, you can see which keywords are being used most frequently and which ones are being underutilized. This information can help you adjust your content strategy to ensure that all your keywords are being used effectively.

Preventing and Fixing Keyword Cannibalization

If you have already identified some issues with keyword cannibalization, it is time to fix them. The first step would be to revise your SEO strategy so that you can focus on different keywords or realign the keywords to improve the ranking of your pages. Once you have made these adjustments, the next thing to do is update your existing pages. You may want to restructure the website's hierarchy so that the most authoritative and popular pages have the most internal links.

You can also look for new keywords – the world of SEO is constantly changing, and you should be able to use the new data on trending keywords to your advantage. Plus, it is a good idea to look for new long-tail keywords that are not being used on your website yet. This will help you increase the variety of keywords you are using, which will make it easier for search engines to rank your pages.

Creating new landing pages, 301 redirects, and canonical tags are also some of the options you have to fix keyword cannibalization. Each website is different, so there's no silver bullet to fix the issue for everyone. As such, you need to find the methods that work best for your website and start testing them to get a better understanding of how search engine algorithms are likely to respond.

Ways Keyword Cannibalization Hurts Your SEO

As mentioned above, keyword cannibalization is likely to result in lower search engine rankings for your website. This phenomenon can have several other adverse effects, ultimately leading to a decline in the number of visitors you get on your website. One of the main points in Google's Quality Raters' Guidelines is the EAT concept, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

These are the three main criteria that Google uses to determine whether a website is relevant enough to be ranked high on search results. Expertise stands for the knowledge and experience of the website, that is, whether the content is relevant to the topic covered. Authoritativeness is about who has written the content – a website focused on pet care may not be the best place to talk about tax regulations, for example.

Those two criteria are related to the content, and with that, poorly optimized content is likely to hurt your website more than once. If you are using the same keyword on multiple pages, this may result in duplicate content issues as well as decreased relevance of each page for specific search queries. In both cases, it will be difficult for Google algorithms to decide whether or not these articles deserve a high ranking in search results.

However, keyword cannibalization can also impact your trustworthiness indirectly. The lowered ranking of your website may harm your domain authority, discouraging othet websites and bloggers from linking to you. Additionally, if users stumble across multiple “low-quality” articles on your site, they will be less likely to visit your website frequently or even share the new updates with their friends and followers.

Plus, if you often talk about the same topics on your web page, even its design may become repetitive and boring. All this adds up to a negative visual of your website among potential customers – ultimately one of the most damaging consequences of keyword cannibalization.

Final Thoughts

Keyword cannibalization is a term describing the process of using similar keywords on multiple pages. Although it can be used as an SEO technique, most often, it is likely to result in lower rankings for your website. To prevent this, you need to make sure that the keywords on your website are varied enough. This can be done by analyzing trends in Google's search results and looking for new long-tail keywords that may not have been used before.

It is important to remember that keyword cannibalization is not the only thing that can hurt your website's ranking. Google algorithms are much more complex today, and they take into account a lot of different factors to determine how high in search results it ranks each page. But preventing one such issue is an excellent start to improving your website's ranking.

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