If you optimize multiple pages on your website for similar terms, your search rankings with Google and Bing might suffer from what the experts call keyword cannibalization. When you cannibalize keywords on your site you end up with similar content competing with itself, which hurts your overall search engine optimization.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have two more pages, posts, or articles on your website that rank high for the same keyword or keyword phrase. This typically happens when you optimize multiple pages for the same or similar keyword or if the content of the pages is too much alike.
Is Keyword Cannibalization Bad?
Is keyword cannibalization bad for your website? In a word, yes.
What happens is that someone searching for a specific keyword may see two or more results from your website. Because the results are essentially split between multiple pages, no individual page gets the opportunity to rank highly. This typically results in lower rankings for the competing pages and some of the pages may drop off Google's search results completely. (Google only displays one or two results from the same domain in the results for a given query.) Instead of competing with other sites you're essentially competing with yourself, which weakens your overall results.
Think of keyword cannibalization as a shotgun approach, trying to reach users with content scattered across too many pages. What you want, instead, is a rifle shot approach where you target users with one shot of your best content. As John Mueller, Google's Webmaster Trends Analyst, advises, the better approach is to have fewer, stronger pages instead of many weaker ones.
How to Find Keyword Cannibalization on Your Site
If you have a lot of similar content on your website, it's unfortunately quite easy to get into a situation where you experience keyword cannibalization. Fortunately, it's easy to identify keyword cannibalization so you can then fix it.
To check if you have keyword cannibalization on your site, use the following Google search site:yoursite.com keyword. Replace yoursite.com with your website and replace keyword with the keyword you think might be cannibalized. If there are multiple results from your website for the search result you may be experiencing keyword cannibalization.
This may not be a big problem if those pages rank highly in the search results, so do another search just for the keyword in question, not including your site domain. If all the content from your site appears on the first page of Google results, then the cannibalization is not significantly affecting your results. If, on the other hand, all your content ranks much lower in the search results, then you have a problem to fix.
How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization
The key thing to keep in mind if your site suffers from keyword cannibalization is that you should change some of your content. You need each page or post to be unique and not simply repeat the same information.
Now that you know what to look for, here are four ways you can fix keyword cannibalization on your site.
1. Merge Duplicate Content
If you have two or more web pages that address the same topic/keyword and are very similar, combine the content into a single page. This merged page should rank higher in the search results than the two separate pages.
2. Delete Unnecessary Content
If one page is cannibalizing traffic from another, consider deleting one of the two pages. This is especially important if you have older content on your site that may be out of date. Delete the older, less relevant pages to focus traffic on the newer, more relevant page.
3. Remove Keywords
If it's a simple matter of a keyword on one page cannibalizing traffic from another, try removing or reducing the frequency that the keyword is used from the less relevant page. This can be time-consuming but ultimately worth the effort.
4. Change the Link Structure
Sometimes linking from one page to less important page on your website can cause Google to rank the linked page higher than the original. Consider reworking the internal linking of your site so that the less important pages always link to more important ones.
Let Kinetiks Consulting Help You Reduce Keyword Cannibalization and Improve Your SEO
When you want to better optimize all the pages on your website, turn to Kinetiks Consulting. We're your one-stop-shop for everything related to search engine optimization and can help you reduce keyword cannibalization. Our years of hands-on experience with SEO and other aspects of digital marketing can help you better market your business and capture more customers.
Contact Kinetiks Consulting today to learn how we can help you enhance your site's SEO.