Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is, How To Spot, Fix & Avoid It

Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is, How To Spot & Fix It

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is the act of using the same or similar keywords on multiple pages of your website. This can happen intentionally if you’re trying to target the same keyword with multiple pages, or unintentionally if you have similar content on multiple pages without realizing it. Either way, keyword cannibalization can be harmful to your SEO efforts.

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Why Does It Matter?

Here are some potential problems that can arise from keyword cannibalization:

1) It can split your link equity between multiple pages, diluting the power of each individual page. Since link juice is divided among all the pages that are using the same keyword. This means that each page will have less authority and be less likely to rank high in search results.

2) It can confuse search engines as to which page is most relevant for a given keyword, and which page to index and rank for the keyword. Thus hurting your search visibility.

3) It can create duplicate content issues, which can lead to lower search rankings or even getting penalized by Google.

4) It can waste your time and effort since you’re effectively competing with yourself for the same keyword.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization Issues?

There are a few different ways to identify if you’re guilty of keyword cannibalization on your site. The first is to do a site search for the keyword in question (ie. your target keyword). If you see multiple pages from your site popping up in the results, that’s a good sign you have a problem.

Another way to identify potential issues is to check your Google Search Console account. Go to the Search Traffic > Search Analytics section and look at the Queries report. If you see multiple pages from your site ranking for the same keywords, that’s another strong indicator of keyword cannibalization.

Use the “site:[domain] keyword” search operator straight on Google.com to find out what pages are ranking for your target keyword. This will give you an idea of the competition you’re up against and if any of those results are from your own domain.

Another way to check is to use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs, which will show you all the pages on your site that are ranking for a particular keyword. If you see multiple pages from your site ranking, then you know you have keyword cannibalization.

If you’re still not sure whether or not you have keyword cannibalization, you can always ask an SEO consultant to take a look at your website and give you their opinion.

Once you’ve identified that you have keyword cannibalization, the next step is to fix the problem.

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How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues?

There are a few different ways you can fix keyword cannibalization issues on your site.

Rewrite & Re-optimize Cannibalized Pages

If you have multiple pages that are similar but not exactly the same, you can try rewriting them to be more distinct. This is a good option if the pages are otherwise high-quality and you don’t want to lose any of the content. To avoid cannibalization, rewrite each variation’s page to re-optimize each page with new keywords to resolve the problem.

Combine Cannibalized Pages

Another option is to combine multiple cannibalized pages into one mega page. If your pages aren’t unique enough to warrant having multiple pages targeting the same keyword, consider consolidating content by combining them into one page. Determine which page has the better traffic, inbound links, bounce rate, time on page, conversions, and so on.

Then consolidate the converting copy material onto the “better” page. You can use 301 redirects to point users from the old pages to the new, consolidated page. This will help to consolidate your link equity and avoid confusing search engines. This is a good option if the pages are mostly similar but there are some key differences between them.

Noindex Cannibalized Pages

If you can’t or don’t want to make any changes to your cannibalized pages, you can add a noindex tag to them. This will tell search engines not to index the page, which effectively hides it from search results. Noindex is useful when you have thin content with no backlinks and no organic traffic that has been cannibalized.

Remove and 301 Redirect

If you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, the most obvious solution is to simply delete all but one of the pages and redirect the others to the remaining page. You can use 301 redirects to direct traffic from one page to another. This is often used when two pages are very similar and you want to consolidate the link equity into one page.

Using 301s allows you to consolidate your cannibalized content by linking the less relevant pages to a single, more authoritative one. Consider inbound links pointing to the pages, organic visibility across other keywords, and historic traffic as signals while deciding which is the “strong” page to keep. Remove the other pages and 301 redirect their URLs to the “strongest” page once you’ve determined which is the “more authoritative” one to keep. 301 redirect is a good option if the cannibalized pages are low-quality or near-exact duplicates.

However, this isn’t always possible or practical. For example, if you have a product page and a blog post that are both ranking for the same keyword, you can’t just delete one of them. In cases like this, you’ll need to use canonicalization.


You can also use a rel=”canonical” tag to tell search engines which page is the version that you want to be indexed. This is useful if you have multiple pages with near or exact similar content but don’t want to delete or noindex any of them.

If you have near exact duplicate content on multiple pages, you’ll need to decide which page is most relevant and canonicalize the other pages. You can do this by adding a rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the main page.

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization in the Future

Once you’ve fixed the problem of keyword cannibalization, you need to make sure that you don’t do it again in the future. There are a few things you can do to avoid keyword cannibalization in the future.

Use Different Keywords for Each Page

Be intentional about the keywords you’re targeting with each page. When creating new pages, make sure each page has a unique focus and is targeted at a different keyword (or set of keywords).

Use a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner to find long-tail keywords that are more specific. This will help you target different keywords on different pages, and ensure that your pages are more distinct and less likely to be seen as duplicates by search engines. Make sure each page has unique and relevant content, and that you’re only targeting one or two keywords per page.

Monitor Your Site for New Pages

Keep an eye on your site for new pages that may have been created by accident or without your knowledge. This is especially important if you have a large site with multiple contributors. If you see any new pages that are similar to existing ones, take a look at the content and keywords to see if they’re causing cannibalization. If so make sure to canonicalize the pages so search engines know which one is most relevant.

Regularly Check Your Site’s Rankings

Keep an eye on your site’s search rankings in Google and look for any sudden drops. This could be a sign that you have keyword cannibalization. to make sure you’re not being penalized for keyword cannibalization. If you see a sudden drop in rankings, this could be a sign that you have keyword cannibalization or duplicate content issues.

Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that can help you monitor your website for duplicate content issues. Simply add your website to Search Console and then go to the “Coverage” section. Here, you’ll be able to see any pages with duplicate content issues. If you see any, take a look at the pages and make sure they’re not causing keyword cannibalization.

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Final thoughts

Keyword cannibalization can be a big problem for your SEO efforts if you’re not careful. Make sure to use different keywords for each page, canonicalize pages with similar content, and keep an eye on your site for any new pages that could be causing issues. By following these steps mentioned above, you can avoid keyword cannibalization and keep your site’s SEO on track.

If you want to learn more about keyword cannibalization or get help in spotting keyword cannibalization on your site , click here to contact us or leave us a message below for a callback.

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