Keyword Cannibalization and How to find and fix it to boost traffic

What is Keyword Cannibalization? How to Find and Fix it to Boost Ranking and Traffic?

When your content starts competing with itself, then the issue of keyword cannibalization exists on your website. 

You must be wondering how my content can compete with itself? What is this term- keyword cannibalization? 


Let’s understand from the very basics!

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

When you create multiple pages on your website targeting the same keyword, then keyword cannibalization exists. Your pages start competing with each other, and it ends up with a drastic fall in ranking, traffic, click-through rate, conversion rate. Not only this, your website starts losing the authority from the search engine like Google. 

How is Keyword Cannibalization a Disaster for Your Website and SEO?

Google will devalue your pages: 

Content cannibalized content will fight each other for ranking and page views. As a result, Content cannibalization sends a signal to Google that your content is thin and may be spammy or non-relevant to the target keyword. Since Google always prefer one high-quality content over 100 narrow content. Therefore, Google starts devaluing all your web pages’ rankings that are suffering from content cannibalization issues.  

Massive loss in your site’s ranking and traffic: 

If you have the two content on the same keyword, then search engine bots can not identify which web page should rank higher with astounding relevance. Content cannibalization often confuses the search engines’ crawlers like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Moreover, optimizing the content around the same keywords can also cause the issue of keyword cannibalization. 

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Suppose I have created content on “Keyword Research” and “Keyword Research Guide.” Though both the keywords are slightly different, I optimized their content for the same keywords. In this case, Google finds it very difficult which blog post is more relevant to the focus keyword. In this case, too, content cannibalization issues can exist, and you may lose your ranking for both the pages.  

Suppose you have two web pages on the same keyword, and both of them are ranking on the #8 and #9 positions. 

But, none of them are ranking in the #1 position. 


There may be several reasons. But the dilution of the inbound links on the content is one of the main reasons for it. Because the quality of backlinks pointing to the page effectivity split between these two content. 

Low Click Through Rate (CTR) and Bad Conversion Rate: 

It isn’t very worthy to say that having two pages on the same keywords can boost your CTR and conversion rate. 

The keyword cannibalization issue adversely affects your CRT and conversions as users land on multiple pages. Despite having more than one content page, you can create only one powerful page by targeting unique keywords. It will bring more clicks, quality leads, hook your page ranking, improve CTR, and finally, sales. 

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How to Find and Fix Keyword Cannibalization? (if this issue has already existed on your website)

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization?

1. Semrush:

Semrush is the best tool to perform all your SEO and marketing tasks effectively and efficiently. 

Semrush has a dedicated tool to tackle keyword cannibalization issues. So, if you are using Semrush Guru or Business plan, you need to go to Semrush’s “Position Tracking Tool.” 

Here, you will find a ‘cannibalization’ tab within the Position Tracking Tool. 

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It gives you two options. You can identify the issues by ‘keyword’ or ‘pages.’ If you want to prioritize keyword cannibalization over content cannibalization, then starts looking at the “Keyword View” section. 

You can identify cannibalization on a keyword-by-keyword basis and see where multiple URLs rank on the same keyword.

One of the best parts of the “Position Tracking Tool” is prioritizing keywords on their search volume, traffic, and current ranking position. With this tool, you can also analyze URL fluctuations that could point to a cannibalization issue. 

If you are using the SEO tool Ahrefs, you can copy your website’s URL and paste it into Ahrefs Site Explorer.

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Then go to the Organic Keywords section and export all the keywords to CSV in one simple click. 

Open in Google Sheets and sect the filters A‑Z to sort the keywords.

Now, you can manually scrawl and identify the duplicate keywords. 

2. Identify Keyword Cannibalization by using Free Tools Like Google Search Console: 

If your approach is data-driven, then Google Search Console is a fantastic tool to accomplish many SEO tasks such as keyword research, content analysis, traffic analysis, or even finding cannibalization issues.

You just need to head to the performance report, where by default, you will see a list of queries that your website has earned impressions and clicks from. 

Click into one of these queries via the ‘pages’ tab, and you will see a list of the URLs that rank for it and the associated stats.

Side Note: GSC aggregates data and shows an average; you should pay attention to the location/device filters and use them to get more accurate results.

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If there is more than one URL showing, this could be a result of keyword cannibalization.

How to fix the cannibalized content issues for SEO?

1. Fixing On-Site SEO Issues: 

Keyword or content cannibalization is a part of on-page SEO. You can fix it with the best on-page SEO tools like Semrush. (Get Exclusive 14 Day Free Access to Semrush Pro)

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You should start with your title, meta description, slug, or removal search intent because these are the primary areas from which content cannibalization issues occur on your website. 

You can find the new keywords for the same content to make one content page dedicated to one specific keyword. 

The quality of internal links can help Google and other search engines about your site’s most relevant content. 

If you link two different pages with the same anchor text, then a cannibalization issue may exist. You can check all the internal links of 2 cannibalized pages and fix the internal anchor texts.

3. Deletion of Similar Content: 

One of the quick and effective ways to resolve content/keyword cannibalization is deleting them. 

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You can start the deletion of all low quality cannibalized pages to get better results. 

You can do it in 2 significant ways;

Before deleting any zombie pages from your website, set 404 or 410 error codes for the deletion page and permanently remove that URL from the web index. Within 48 hours, the URL will be removed from the Google web index permanently. 

The second way to deal with the content deletion is by doing 301 redirects. If any page has earned strong backlinks and has a good authority page, you can redirect this page to another similar page. 

4. Merge or Combine two or more content into one

Google always prefers one high-quality content over 100 thin content. In this situation, when you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, you can start consolidating all these pages into one strong page. 

It will solve the content cannibalization and keyword cannibalization issue and tell Google about the higher relevance of the web page. 

5. Canonicalize:

A canonical tag (rel=“canonical”) is a snippet of HTML code. It defines the main version for duplicate content or similar pages. 

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If you have similar content available under different URLs, you can use canonical tags to tell search engines about your content’s real version. 

If you are in a content producing, media, or research company, sometimes the information on both the same or similar pages becomes essential for your users. Hence, canonicalizing content can help search engines to rank one of these pages over the other.

6. Look for Lucrative and New Keywords:

If you have produced great content with diversified search and your web pages are rich, you are a victim of keyword cannibalization due to a lousy keyword planning strategy. 

To make the best use of this situation, you need not delete or combine your web pages. You can look for new lucrative keywords for those pages. 

By diversifying your keyword and picking them rightly to describe your page content, you can solve the keyword cannibalization problem, improve the site’s ranking, boost traffic, and generate high-quality leads. All these efforts can improve the click-through rate and conversions on your website. 

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7. Have a Great Website Structure and Enough Landing Pages: 

The issue of keyword cannibalization frequently occurs in e-commerce websites selling e-commerce products, shoes, laptops, electronic gadgets, and more. Since they have a vast product line 

You can restructure your website by converting a high authority web page onto a landing page. Once you are done with this, you can consolidate all the similar or same products in one place. 

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How Can You Avoid Keyword Cannibalization?

There is a famous saying, “prevention is always better than cure.” And it fits with keyword cannibalization.  

If you have an unlimited or large number of posts on your website, then resolving keyword cannibalization can give you a lot of pain. Because content deletion, merger, 301 redirects, or any other fixing cannibalization issues can take time, effort, and resources. 

That is why you should avoid it in the very beginning. 

Now the question is- How?

You need to do the following simple steps to avoid keyword cannibalization;

I) Thumb rule to avoid keyword cannibalization= Only one unique keyword for one content post.

II) Make a useful editorial calendar with a well-structured topic and keyword selection. 

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III) Keyword mapping, landing pages, and pillar pages with keyword clustering are the best weapons to tackle keyword cannibalization and content cannibalization issues. 

IV) Content audit regularly will help you to identify the low-quality or zombie pages that are driving less traffic or even zero traffic.


Closing Keynote on Keyword Cannibalization/Content Cannibalization 

So, what have you learned from this blog post?

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If there is a fall;

i) Website Ranking

ii) Traffic

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iii) Organic Ranking

iv) Decrease in click-through rate and conversion rate

Then you might be the victim of keyword cannibalization of content cannibalization. When you confuse Google with bad keyword planning or optimizing the multiple contents around the same keywords.

One thing you must have understood from the above-detailed research and explanation is that the keyword cannibalization issue is neither permanent nor challenging to resolve. 

You can resolve the issue from its root using any better SEO tools like Semrush with the simple steps suggested above. 

You can also follow the mentioned methods and tips to avoid keyword cannibalization in the future. 

1 thought on “Keyword Cannibalization: How to Find and Fix it”

  1. Hi Sugandha,

    It was a very informational read! This is one of the best resources I have read about SEO. I learned a lot of important things from this article which help me understand what we should not do. I think this resource will help a lot of marketers and SEO experts. I will definitely share it within my network to help others. Thanks for highlighting accurate information in your article, it was a very helpful resource, and I will refer to it many times in the future.

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