Keyword Cannibalization: Everything You Need to Know

7 min read

Creating a website and crafting a comprehensive SEO strategy is a substantial investment of time, money, and effort. Suppose you’ve diligently developed a collection of high-ranking keywords. In that case, the last thing you’d want to do is jeopardize your site’s domain authority by inadvertently having your keywords compete against each other.
Keyword cannibalization can be a perplexing concept for many individuals. Interestingly, numerous websites that inadvertently engage in this practice initially had well-structured SEO plans that gradually veered off course. That’s where our expertise comes in! Continue reading to understand keyword cannibalization, recognize signs that your site might be vulnerable, and discover corrective measures to realign your SEO strategy.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when more pages on your website vie for the exact keywords. Several factors can lead to this issue, such as the absence of a comprehensive SEO plan, failure to account for similar pages, or an emphasis on promoting less relevant blogs through social media channels.

While many instances of SEO cannibalization may appear innocuous to human observers, Google’s web crawlers perceive them differently. These crawlers may not always possess the discernment required to distinguish between various pages, which can lead them to believe that you are attempting to optimize multiple pages using the exact keywords or structure.

For instance, let’s consider an online gift store with the following pages:

  1. Anniversary Gifts
  2. Birthday Gifts
  3. Christmas Gifts
  4. Retirement Gifts
  5. Wedding Gifts

In this scenario, if these pages inadvertently target the exact keywords or lack a clear SEO strategy to differentiate their content, it can lead to keyword cannibalization and potentially hinder your website’s performance in search engine rankings.


To you, these are all different keywords that you’re targeting. But to Google, you’ve got four pages optimized around “gifts.” In order to avoid keyword cannibalization, and help Google’s algorithm, you need to show that these pages are related. One way to do this would be to build a “gifts” landing page, that all these other pages are nested under.  Why is Keyword Cannibalism Bad for SEO?

Regrettably, when these bots convey their findings, highlighting the presence of multiple pages focusing on gift options, you risk incurring penalties from Google’s algorithm. From the search engine’s perspective, this situation may appear as keyword stuffing or indicate a need for a firm grasp on effectively presenting information to your customer base. In either case, these penalties can substantially impact your search engine rankings.
While it may not seem like a significant drop when your pages slip from the second position to the fifth position in search results, the reality is that such a shift translates to a loss of approximately 11.5% in the organic traffic share you would have otherwise secured.


Oh dear! Securing a spot in the top ten search results is already a challenging feat, and the last thing you want is to lose ground. Your competitors are poised on the sidelines, ready to seize the opportunity presented by any weaknesses in your strategy. To prevent that from happening, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the adverse consequences of keyword cannibalization.


This authority is a vital factor contributing to your overall rankings and significantly elevates your industry visibility. A website with a high domain authority (DA) becomes a magnet for guest posts and individuals seeking to reference your content. As you accumulate new pieces of content and incoming links, your authority continues to grow, thereby amplifying the rankings of all the pages on your site, particularly those that receive specific references.


Keyword cannibalization disrupts that momentum and brings your progress to a screeching halt. Suddenly, your website appears to be engaged in keyword stuffing rather than genuinely investing effort into delivering valuable content. Your online presence can suffer a substantial setback if you fail to identify this issue early on.
Moreover, keyword cannibalization has a notable impact on your link building strategy. When the authority of your page is undermined, it dilutes the effectiveness of your internal linking efforts. Essentially, the pages you aim to direct your visitors to no longer offer the same level of value they once did.



You might be diligently building up the number of internal links, a crucial component for achieving higher rankings. However, the actual difference lies in whether these links hold value in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. Similarly, the backlinks originating from other websites may lose credibility.
Rather than possessing a single exceptional link that garners widespread references, you might end up with two or more links, forcing people to choose between them. Unfortunately, the link they opt for may not align with the one you intend for them to promote.
Furthermore, another adverse consequence is devaluing your more pertinent pages, sometimes overshadowing them with less significant counterparts. To illustrate, let’s revisit our online gift store example. Imagine you’ve crafted an article titled “Wedding Gifts in the Winter Season.”


This scenario involves a long-tail keyword that is generally easier to rank for. Suppose you execute a stellar SEO strategy, propelling this page to the top of Google’s search results. However, when Google conducts its subsequent crawl, it may encounter confusion due to five other pages optimized around the same topic, all performing well. Consequently, instead of maintaining its top-ranking status, your new page (as well as the other pages) experiences a decline in its ranking value.
Nevertheless, your excellent job with the article “Wedding Gifts in the Winter Season” outperforms “Wedding Gifts.” This discrepancy can potentially result in substantial losses in terms of organic traffic, highlighting the detrimental impact of keyword cannibalization on your search engine rankings.


Wasting Your Crawl Budget: Smaller websites might not feel the impact, but for more significant sites and e-commerce stores, a wasted crawl budget is a painful setback. Instead of efficiently navigating through your pages and promptly rewarding you for effective optimization strategies, web crawlers spend their time on pages of negligible significance.
Diminished Page Quality: When Google needs help to discern the most suitable page to fulfill a customer’s search intent, there’s a heightened likelihood that visitors will be directed to pages with relatively lower quality. Consequently, these visitors may need to find the content compelling enough to stay engaged.
Decline in Conversion Rates: This issue is intrinsically tied to the preceding problem. If you cannot guide visitors to your most valuable pages, convincing them to take action or convert becomes a formidable challenge. The result is a decline in your conversion rates, highlighting the adverse consequences of keyword cannibalization on your website’s performance.


How to Find Keyword Cannibalization Issues Now that you know the negative effects of keyword cannibalization, it’s time to focus on how to find your problem pages. There are many ways to get started, but we recommend the following.  Do a Content Audit Pull a list of all your keywords and URL  slugs.


Then, proceed to review each entry and compare them with one another. Look for any duplicates or similar phrases that appear across different pages.
Next, delve into the historical rankings of your pages. Are there groups of pages that consistently rank well for the same keyword? Analyze whether these pages have maintained their rankings over time or if there have been significant fluctuations.
You can also search on Google by typing your site’s name and the target keyword. Observe if a cluster of pages appears in the search results for the same keyword and assess their relevance. Additionally, note whether more pertinent pages are absent from the search results.
In some cases, Google may filter out similar results to enhance user experience. To access a broader range of results that rank for the same keyword, append “&filter=0” to the end of your search URL.
Consider employing an SEO service to check all your domains comprehensively. This service should offer the capability to target multiple ranking URLs within the organic keywords report, providing valuable insights into keyword cannibalization issues across your website.

Now that we’ve identified these issues let’s explore how to rectify keyword cannibalization on your website. There are several approaches to consider, but we recommend the following strategies:

  1. Restructure Your Website: Enhance the organization of your website to aid Google’s crawlers in distinguishing between similar terms. Expanding the structural hierarchy in your site’s index can provide better clarity regarding the distinct purposes of various pages. For instance, you can opt to deindex pages that lack relevance but cannot be entirely deleted.
  2. Create New Landing Pages: Introducing new landing pages improves the overall “readability” of your site. Returning to our example, if you establish a dedicated landing page titled “Gifts,” it assists Google in recognizing that the nested pages correspond to separate keywords, reducing the chances of keyword cannibalization.


Boost Content Quality: Consider enhancing the quality of your content. Content that provides in-depth coverage of a topic tends to outshine content that merely offers a basic overview. Ensure that your content is robust enough to compete effectively.

Explore New Relevant Keywords: Another practical approach is to discover new keywords within your niche to target. By re-optimizing your content to incorporate these additional keywords, you can enhance your rankings and improve your overall standing in search results.


Implement 301 Redirects: In cases where you have a page competing with more pertinent information that cannot be removed, consider implementing a 301 redirect. By specifying the destination you want visitors to be directed to, you enable Google to discern which page should take precedence in rankings.

In Conclusion: Developing an SEO strategy and addressing challenges like keyword cannibalization can be complex, but you don’t have to tackle it in isolation. Reach out to us today to discover additional insights on enhancing your SEO ranking positions!

Sarkar SEO
[email protected]

Mohit Parnami aka Sarkar is an entrepreneur, marketer and Co-Founder of SarkarSEO. He is passionate about SEO and lifelong learner to learn new things. He has been in the internet marketing industry for 10+ years.