For a long time, we have been misguided that if several pages use similar keywords, the rankings will shoot up to the top of the search engine result page. However, this is not the case. Google’s interpretation of this will be that one piece of content has been copied and pasted on different pages. As a result, your click-through rates will take a hit. Therefore keyword cannibalization means competing against yourself by splitting the CTR and conversion rates between different pages that should be one instead.
Some of the damages caused by cannibalization include; diminished page authority, loss of income, and low conversion rates than what one solid page would have. In light of this, we will review the drawbacks of cannibalization, how to spot and fix them.
Disadvantages of Keyword Cannibalization
Using target keywords for different sites means that you require Google to choose between two of your pages. Some of the consequences of this are;
Lack of authority and poor quality
Relevance and authority are some of the things that make up a solid website. However, cannibalization hinders this by creating a division of click-through rates. Consequently, traffic on your site will stall or drop, and thus, Google will not find the need to recommend it to its users.
Also, since you share keywords, one page will have better conversion rates, yet its content quality and relevance may be lower than what you have on your page. Additionally, you risk having duplicate and poor-quality content, which will also affect your referrals.
Google may put Less Value on the page with more solid content.
Search engines use keywords to evaluate which page has more relevant content. Therefore if you have similar keywords, Google may choose one with value for the query and leave out yours even though you have better and informative content since they are all similar.
You Might Miss out on On-site Anchor Text.
As you concentrate on aligning your keyword and content with other pages, you may miss out on coming up with a quality anchor text which plays a key role in search engine optimization.
How to Pick out Keyword Cannibalization?
Fortunately, once you pick out cannibalization, fixing it can be pretty easy. Picking out cannibalization is as easy as creating a keyword matrix. First, develop a spreadsheet with a list of all the vital URLs on your site and their associated keywords. For example, if you deal with pet accessories, you can list your website’s URLs and the major keywords.
You can also opt for the keyword mapping tool to help with this identification. After coming with the URL and keyword list, run them and look out for any duplicated keywords. If you spot any, especially across major pages, then you are experiencing keyword cannibalization.
After identification, it’s time to do some fixing. It is also an opportunity to cross-check the wrongly applied keywords and thin content on the site, especially if you use the tracking tool. You can also use the Google search console.
Open the performance report, where you will see your site’s impressions from the users’ queries. Then, tap one of the queries through the tab labeled pages; there, you will find the associated statistic and the number of URLs that have been ranked for it. If more than URL rank for it, then that is a sign of cannibalization.
Simple Steps on how to Fix Keyword Cannibalization
The damage caused by cannibalization is not permanent, and thus, you need solid solutions to mitigate the situation to avoid recurrence. Here are some solutions to your keyword cannibalization problem;
Switch Up the Website
The simplest solution is to take the most relevant page and switch it to a landing page that links to the other pages which fall under your targeted keyword. The page chosen will be the canonical page with all the other sites linked back to it. If you cannot find a page that can be converted, there is an option of coming up with brand new landing pages. The new page will consolidate the other pages and serve as the authoritative site.
Combine the Content
Your pages may lack uniqueness and relevance that can enable them to stay as multiple pages. Therefore, such pages have to be consolidated. Combining them is also an opportunity to make the underperforming pages more authoritative. Additionally, it will also solve the poor quality issue.
Look for other Different Keywords.
If you already have a page with solid content, but keywords are similar to other pages with average content, you need to revise them. There is also access to various tools online to help you develop quality keywords that will improve your rankings. The keywords chosen have to bring out the content of the page in a nutshell. For example, the keyword “men’s shoes” already tells us that the site deals with men’s shoes.
Make use of the 301 Redirects.
You may have reservations on this since redirects are known for slowing down the speed of a page. But in this case, they are necessary to save your page from the harm cannibalization may cause. In addition, the 301 HTTPS lets the user know that the website they are looking for has been moved to the URL indicated. Therefore the redirect allows you to combine the various pages and link them to a more relevant site where the user will be directed. Noteworthy, using redirect is only necessary for pages that have related content and keywords.
Currently, keyword cannibalization is frequently experienced by most web owners. The irony is those who fall into this trap are the webmasters who know the significance of search engine optimization. They always intend to optimize their site, but while at it, they overlook the Google language. As a result, keyword cannibalization remains prevalent. But the good news is that they are several ways you can use to solve it, and the damage is reversible.