Keyword cannibalization is a phenomenon that prevents a website from ranking high on Google. Therefore, it is not well visible to users and does not generate the expected organic traffic. Is it possible to avoid such problems? If yes, how to do it? In the following post, you will learn all about it.

Keyword cannibalization – what is it?

The problem of cannibalization occurs when more than one subpage within a domain has been optimized for the same keyword phrase (and they do not differ significantly in content). This causes Google bots to not recognize which subpage is correct and should be displayed to users in search results. What happens then? Similar subpages are, in a way, exchanged within the search engine. For the same query, on one day one result is shown, on the next day another, and the following days yet others with the same keywords.

The aim of Google is to show users the best answer to the question they have asked (e.g. marketing agency online). Typically, it is the case that one result corresponds to one domain. However, with keyword cannibalization, search engine robots are unable to determine one specific answer within a website.

Where does keyword cannibalization come from?

There are several causes of this phenomenon. They include:

  1. Lack of organization or improper organization of blog posts – when planning successive blog articles, ensure that they do not cover the same topic. You also need to be careful not to use the same key phrases everywhere.
  2. Errors in internal and external linking – cannibalization occurs when identical anchors, i.e. clickable text parts of the link, are used to create links.
  3. Lack of unique content on several subpages – When creating a website, ensure that there is original content in every part of it. There should be no duplicates within it. In case of problems with the preparation of texts on your own, it is worthwhile to approach a professional copywriting agency.
  4. Mistakes when designing information architecture – the structure of the site must be well-thought-out. Avoid creating very similar subpages with identical meta tags.

Effects of cannibalization

Phenomena such as keyword cannibalization have a negative impact on the visibility of websites. Using the same phrases in several subpages results in position jumps, even every few days. In addition, a decrease in the ranking of the site for specific keywords occurs. There is also the difficulty of utilizing the full potential of the website and the work involved in optimizing it. This is due to the fact that it is competing not only with other websites concerning the same subject, but also with its own subsites.

How to improve the positioning of a website?

First, it is worth checking if there is indeed a cannibalization problem within the site. One of the easiest methods is to analyze the positioning of the website for specific queries. If there are sudden and frequent changes in position, it is a significant signal that should not be ignored. When checking the situation of the site, special tools will prove useful. Many of them can be found in a free version, as well as some with a trial license. The most popular include:

  • Senuto,
  • Google Search Console,
  • Ahrefs,
  • Screaming Frog.

After keyword cannibalization is detected, it is worth implementing proper measures as soon as possible. The strategy largely depends on the cause of the phenomenon. In case the issue concerns errors in the structure of the site, one should look at it carefully and attempt to organize it. It will probably turn out then that not all subpages are relevant and they can be successfully combined with each other (remembering about 301 redirects, for example).

Removing cannibalization is also helped by:

  • the improvement of internal and external linking,
  • thorough planning of future blog posts,
  • refining subpages in terms of meta tags, headlines, etc.,
  • application of canonical links.

Keyword cannibalization can actually occur within almost any website. Although it is associated with a very complicated problem, eliminating it often turns out not to be a time-consuming task. It is worthwhile to continuously monitor the situation of the website and its position in search results. The sooner the cause of keyword cannibalization is eliminated, the less likely it is to lead to severe negative consequences.

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