Most digital marketing teams rely on keyword optimization to elevate their content in search results. The theory implies that more optimization results from using more keywords. As a result, it can be tempting to utilize the exact keywords repeatedly on different pages to improve your ranking.
The question is, is this always true?
One crucial aspect of SEO and digital marketing that many overlooks are keyword cannibalization. The opposite consequence may occur when numerous pages are used to target a single phrase. You can do more damage than good to your keyword’s SEO. This can be easily explained by pointing out that when many pages rank for the same term, they are compelled to compete with one another. As a result, compared to a single cohesive page, each page has a lower click-to-rate (CTR), weaker authority, and an incredibly low conversion rate.
In this guide, we’ll learn why it is a problem for your site and how to fix it if you’re currently experiencing the effects.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
By spreading click-to-rate (CTR), links, content, and ultimately conversions between two sites that should be one, you are “cannibalizing” your results. When this happens, you suggest that Google compare your pages to one another and pick the one that most closely matches the relevant keywords.
Keyword cannibalization is the bane of every SEO’s existence. It can cause your website’s rankings to bounce around like a ping pong ball in a hurricane, and you have no idea why this is happening. What’s worse is that it isn’t something that you can always see with your own eyes: it happens behind the scenes as Google decides what topics are “relevant” to your site based on its algorithms, and it can lead to poor user experience, a drop in rankings, and even low conversion rates.
Let’s examine an example to comprehend how this happens:
Let’s say we have two websites with different domain names that target the same keyword, “how to fix broken glass windows.” Both sites will compete for search engine visibility under this particular search query. For one website or the other to rank higher than its competitor on Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages), it must ensure that its content is more relevant or valuable than those from other websites that are also targeting this term. The problem here lies in how keywords work within SEO campaigns; when two or more pages compete for the exact key phrase or search term, it becomes challenging (if not impossible) for both pages not only to gain rankings. The result? Your website will start earning less traffic from search engines as they determine your page is sending them conflicting information about what exactly you offer.
Is Keyword Cannibalization Killing Your SEO?
You may be wondering how on earth you can compete with yourself. It’s a legitimate question, but it has an answer: keyword cannibalization is a common issue affecting websites of all shapes and sizes. Upwards of 50% of websites are affected by this problem at some point.
Here are questions you can ask yourself to assess if your websites are victims of this underlying problem.
- Are You Targeting the Same Keywords Too Often?
The biggest problem with keyword cannibalization is that it leads to duplicate content on your site, which is bad for both users and Google search results. Duplicate content can be challenging to spot, but if you’re only looking at your site and not the wider web, it could be right in front of your eyes. If a user lands on one web page of a piece of content and then clicks through to another page that’s just like it (or even worse, almost exactly like it), they’re going to be confused about why they don’t stay where they are. And since Google wants its users happy (as well as its advertisers), this could hurt your SEO ranking.
- Is Your Content Focused on the Same Topics?
The first step to ensure your content isn’t cannibalizing is to identify what topics you’re covering. If you have a blog, have a look at the most popular posts and see if they’re all about one topic or if they cover different things. This might be an issue if you’re doing SEO for a client whose site has multiple pages with very similar titles and meta descriptions.
You can also use Google’s Search Console to get more information on what people are searching for when they come to your site (also known as “search queries”). The data will show how often people are searching for specific terms and which ones they prefer over others. Are there any search queries that get very few visits? If so, those could be opportunities for new or different content!
- Do You Have Multiple Pages Covering Similar Topics or Issues?
If you are trying to rank for a keyword, and another page on your site shares the same topic or title, it can be fatal. If two carriers have identical keywords in their titles or content, Google will assume that those are the most important terms for both pages – if only one of those keywords appears on each page. This means that neither site will receive any credit from Google at all!
The solution? Make sure that every page is unique. Simply don’t change some words here and there – create different titles and descriptions. Check they aren’t the same, so they can all rank independently without cannibalizing each other’s rankings (or worse yet, losing their rankings altogether).
Remedy for Keyword Cannibalization
Let’s dive into some recommended practices to help you avoid keyword cannibalization and achieve the highest potential ranking.
- Restructure your web pages.
To increase traffic and rank, combine pages that share the exact keywords and intent. Make a landing page out of your most authoritative page and link it to another unique version that relates to the range of your targeted keywords.
- Edit your content.
Take into consideration removing some of the overlapping content. Instead of reducing the content, you merge the postings if two pieces produce a good amount of organic traffic and business leads. You can also update information and add an engaging call to action or FAQs.
- Redirect your pages.
Don’t simply scrap the sites you’re not prioritizing after merging them to concentrate your SEO efforts on a single location. Instead, redirect them toward the ongoing post.
You can try making a brand new landing page that acts as your authoritative source page and link from there to all of your versions.
- Improve your keyword strategy.
Constantly compare the keywords you are trying to rank on your pages. This eliminates competition and overlapping of pages within your website. Once you’ve identified the keywords you intend to use, you must monitor their performance over time.
- Conduct a content audit.
As part of your website maintenance, it is advisable to frequently perform a content audit to diagnose your website’s SEO opportunities and know issues that may affect your ranking.
Follow the procedures monthly or every three months to see whether any of your pages are in direct competition. If some of your pages experience a noticeable reduction in ranks and you’ve been producing constant (yet similar) content, you may be self-cannibalizing.
Be careful about repeating your keywords, so your content doesn’t cannibalize itself.
If you’ve ever manage a search on Google, you know how important it is to include many keywords. The more words in your search query, the more relevant and accurate your results will be. There’s no question about it—keyword repetition is essential for SEO success.
Keyword cannibalization is a severe problem for many businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to avoid this is carefully planning and monitor your content. Ensure that you don’t duplicate keywords too often in any one piece of content or across multiple pages on your site. By conducting a content audit regularly, you should also check that each page has enough unique keywords for the search engines to consider it relevant for those queries.
At Clear Choice Marketing Group (CCMG), we believe in a holistic approach to search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing, which means we consider all aspects of your business and how they impact the search results. We don’t just focus on keywords; instead, we look at everything from the quality of your website’s content and landing pages to your social media presence.
If you’re interested in learning more about our services and how we can help you achieve better search results, contact us today for a FREE consultation!