Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is and Best Practices

keyword cannibalization

When you do keyword research and create content around your top keywords, you may run into issues related to keyword cannibalization. If you have multiple articles or pages targeting the same SEO keyword, it may actually decrease your chances of ranking.

In this article and video tutorial, you will learn how to deal with these problems properly.

Important Keyword Cannibalization Note:

Your main focus should be on creating pages of content that target short-tail, high search volume keywords.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword Cannibalization is when you have multiple pages on your website optimized for the same short-tail keyword. Search engines want to return the best page on your website for a given search query, which is why you shouldn’t have multiple pages optimized for the same exact keyword.

For the most part, search engines like Google put results from unique websites on the first page. Therefore, creating one page for one major keyword and keeping it updated is a best practice.

Example of Keyword Cannibalization

For example, if I write 3 separate articles related to SEO Trends over the course of several years, it can actually hurt my rankings for the keyword SEO Trends. While you may believe that multiple articles will improve your chances of ranking for a keyword, you will have a better chance of ranking high by combining the 3 articles into 1 article.

keyword cannibalization example


Keyword Cannibalization Video Tutorial

 


Keyword Cannibalization Best Practices

There are some best practices listed below when you are creating content and targeting SEO keywords. Ultimately, you want to rank as high as possible with one page of your website for your keyword list.

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1. Create Long-Term Pages for Content

Continuing with the example of SEO Trends, what I would recommend doing is continuing to update the same page with SEO trends each and every year. So, you would create a URL like ‘SurfsidePPC.com/SEO-Trends/’ and keep your list of trends as relevant as possible.

long-term urls for content
 

Google gives credit to older pages that stay relevant over time, and you can keep increasing your backlinks to your website content.

2. Use 301 Redirects

If you have multiple pages targeting the same keywords, one simple solution is to merge them and set-up 301 redirects to the new URL. 301 redirects are useful for telling search engines that you have moved content from an old page to a new page.

I use a plugin called ‘Simple 301 Redirects‘ on my WordPress websites.

301 redirects to avoid seo keyword cannibalization


3. Use Canonical URLs

Canonical URLs use the rel=”canonical” tag to tell search engines the pages that you prefer them to rank in search engines. If you have multiple pages about the same topic, you can choose 1 page as the Canonical URL. The Canonical URL will rank higher than the other page and it helps search engines avoid confusion.

In the image below, I show how to set Canonical URLs using the Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress under the ‘Advanced’ section.

set canonical urls yoast seo


4. Understand User Intent for Keywords

Search engines want to return the best results for each search query. Someone who searches ‘Google Search Console’ is likely looking for the actual tool. On the other hand, someone who searches ‘How To Use The Google Search Console’ is looking for a tutorial.

In order to avoid keyword cannibalization, you want to create a resource to solve the specific problem that someone is searching for.

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Avoiding Keyword Cannibalization

Use the best practices above and the three tips below to avoid optimizing multiple pages for the same keyword.

how to avoid keyword cannibalization


How to Find Keyword Cannibalization

There are four different methods I use to find keyword issues on my website. I will show each of these in more detail below.

Method 1 is a content metadata audit where you review your content, your metadata, and your URLs. Method 2 is a keyword content map, where you map keywords to pages on your website. Number 3 is by using Google Search Console and reviewing pages for search queries. Number 4 is by doing a site search with the keyword you are reviewing.

how to find keyword cannibalization


1. Content Metadata Audit

You do not need to do a full content audit to find keyword cannibalization problems. With a content metadata audit, you want to export your pages and blog posts to review title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs.

With WordPress, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO, set your targeted keywords for each page, and ensure that all of your pages are optimized for unique SEO keywords.

2. Keyword Content Map

A keyword content map is used to link keywords to specific pages on your website. For the example above, my content about SEO Trends would be mapped to the keyword SEO Trends.

You can easily find problems because you will learn if you have two or more pages focused on the same short-tail keyword.

You can watch the video below to learn how to create a keyword content map and why keyword mapping is a great SEO strategy.
 

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3. Google Search Console

With the Google Search Console, you are able to view search queries for individual pages. You can also search exact search queries to see the different pages that are getting clicks and impressions in the search results.

You can enter an exact URL to see what search terms are driving traffic to that page.

google search console keyword cannibalization


4. Google Site Search

If you go to Google, you can do a search like the one below:

site:yourwebsite.com keyword research

You will see all the results from your website that match that specific search for keyword research. If you find multiple articles targeting that keyword, you know that you will have to merge the two articles together for better results.

I did this to find similar pages and articles on my website Beachfront Decor, shown in the image below.

google site search keyword cannibalization


In Summary

Keyword cannibalization in SEO can hurt your rankings. The solution is quite simple: Ensure you have 1 page of content for each of the most popular keywords you want to rank for. You can use 301 redirects or canonical URLs if it is a problem you are currently experiencing. Otherwise, create 1 page for each topic and keep it updated and relevant.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below.



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