What Is Keyword Cannibalization and How Do You Fix It?

5 min read

As of 2023, Google employs a comprehensive set of over 200 criteria to determine the ranking of websites on its first search engine results page. While attempting to address each of these factors individually may be arduous, it remains crucial to discern the elements that exert the most significant influence on your search engine standings.
This underscores the significance of being well-versed in keyword cannibalization if you actively engage in an SEO strategy. Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages within your website target the exact keywords, potentially causing detrimental effects on your rankings.
Within this concise guide, we will elucidate the concept of keyword cannibalization and offer practical solutions to rectify it. Stay tuned for additional insights and recommendations on enhancing your website’s search engine optimization!


What Is Keyword Cannibalization?


Keyword cannibalization transpires when a singular keyword or phrase is employed across multiple pages within your website. Vigilance is warranted to avoid this practice, as it can precipitate significant challenges in your SEO rankings.
Why is this problematic? The difficulty arises when numerous pages vie for supremacy in a shared keyword. This leaves search engines grappling to ascertain the page most pertinent to display in search results. Consequently, your organic rankings may deteriorate, leading to missed opportunities for traffic and potential leads.




What’s more, cannibalization can also make it difficult for people to navigate your website. If they land on a page that doesn’t have the information they’re looking for, they may get frustrated and leave.


The Importance of User Intent


In keyword cannibalization, the pivotal factor is the user’s search intent, which signifies the underlying purpose behind a particular search query.
To illustrate, one individual might conduct a search for “red sneakers” with the intent to make a purchase. In contrast, another individual might explore the same query to delve into the history of red sneakers. This is precisely where the issue of keyword cannibalization comes into play.
If you have multiple pages on your website all vying for the same keyword, but each page caters to distinct user intent, it can confound search engines when determining which page to display in response to that query.
Therefore, to circumvent keyword cannibalization, it is imperative to factor in user intent meticulously. Each page should be meticulously tailored to align with a specific user intent corresponding to the keyword. Neglecting this crucial consideration may inadvertently set the stage for internal competition and, ultimately, harm your search engine rankings.

Signs of Keyword Cannibalization


Several unmistakable indicators can point to keyword cannibalization and its adverse impact on your search rankings, with the primary sign being lackluster rankings for your targeted keywords.
When you are actively pursuing multiple closely related keywords, yet only a limited few among them are demonstrating robust rankings, the remaining keywords are likely falling prey to cannibalization.
Another conspicuous signal emerges in the form of erratic fluctuations in search traffic concerning specific keywords. Abrupt declines or unpredictable surges in search traffic for a particular keyword may serve as an alarm bell, suggesting that Google could penalize your website due to keyword cannibalization.
Last, a noticeable decline in the click-through rate for a particular keyword warrants attention. Such a dip in click-through rate implies that searchers are finding your website, but regrettably, their expectations are not being met. The emergence of any of these warning signs underscores the importance of taking proactive measures to rectify the issue.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization





Do you suspect that you might be guilty of keyword cannibalization according to the signs above? There are a few steps you can take to fix the problem.


Remove or Redirect Cannibalized Pages


To resolve keyword cannibalization, you have two practical options for handling cannibalized pages:

  1. Deletion: You can eliminate cannibalized pages by removing them from your website entirely.
  2. 301 Redirect: If you prefer not to delete these pages, consider implementing a 301 redirect to guide users to another page on your website. This redirection strategy not only helps retain existing link equity and traffic but also effectively addresses the issue of keyword cannibalization.


No-Index Cannibalized Pages


An alternative approach is to employ a “no-index” directive for the underperforming pages. This instructs search engines to exclude these pages from their crawling and indexing process.

You can implement the “no-index” directive through two methods:

  1. By incorporating the robots meta tag on the specific pages.
  2. By making adjustments to your website’s robots.txt file.

Subsequently, concentrate on enhancing and optimizing the retained pages to bolster their rankings and proactively prevent any potential future instances of keyword cannibalization.


Create Canonical Links


By precisely designating the appropriate URL for a piece of content, you facilitate search engines in determining the primary and most significant version of that content.
This becomes especially crucial when your website contains duplicate content or offers multiple pathways to access the same information, such as through distinct URL parameters.
By establishing canonical links, you develop a mechanism to guarantee that search engines correctly index the preferred rendition of your content. This not only aids in maintaining the integrity of your content but also ensures that your users consistently land on the specific page you intend for them to access.


Rewrite Website Content for Better Optimization


Once you’ve implemented one of the strategies above, engaging in content revision is advisable, with a particular focus on keyword optimization.
This step is pivotal in guaranteeing that your content aligns with the appropriate keywords that match the intended search intent. Furthermore, it’s prudent to refresh your website content for various reasons regularly.
You can ascertain that each page concentrates on a keyword or phrase through content rewriting. This deliberate approach contributes significantly to improving your search engine rankings.
Furthermore, content revision enhances the user-friendliness and relevance of your web pages, thereby better catering to your target audience’s needs.

Create Intent-Focused Content


While revising your existing content or crafting new material, it’s imperative to prioritize creating intent-driven content.
Regrettably, many businesses produce content solely to accommodate specific keywords, often paying attention to the genuine needs of the user. Consequently, this approach can lead to the proliferation of duplicate or overly similar content that fails to address the user’s queries effectively.
A more effective strategy involves developing content purposefully tailored to fulfill the user’s intent, irrespective of keyword considerations. This entails dedicating time and effort to comprehend your target audience’s precise demands and inquiries, subsequently crafting content that offers substantial value and assistance.
Leveraging Google Search Console can be immensely beneficial in this endeavor. It provides insights into common search queries, enabling you to discern how individuals search for your business and the terms you currently rank for. With this knowledge, you can fine-tune your content strategy to better align with user expectations and preferences.

Get Help With Your SEO Strategy


At SarkarSEO, we recognize the paramount importance of a thriving SEO strategy for businesses striving to maintain their competitiveness in the online landscape. We are acutely aware that the challenge of keyword cannibalization can impede SEO success.
Hence, we present budget-friendly, personalized SEO packages meticulously crafted to address your unique requirements. If you’re prepared to propel your business to new heights, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Let us demonstrate the results we can deliver for you.

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.