What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Ask yourself these four questions for me:
Q1. Is your website losing traffic continuously?
Q2. Is the organic traffic of your website going down?
Q3. Are you constantly losing out on the ranking of your keyword?
Q4. Are you not able to become the #1 page even if you are putting in a lot of efforts?
If you have answered Yes, to any of the above questions, you might be a victim of Keyword Cannibalization.
Keyword Cannibalization means that there are more than one blogs or articles on your website which can be ranked by Google for the same search query and the reason behind this can be the similarity of the topics that these blogs cover or they are optimized for the same keyword. If the articles written by you are optimized for similar search queries or keyphrases, these articles are just competing within themselves for a rank on Google and are also eating each other’s chances to rank high on Google search results. Usually, Google only displays a couple of websites from the same domain for similar keywords or keyphrases. However, there might be three articles displayed on the search page if you have a domain of higher authority and recognition.
Keyword Cannibalization confuses the search engine and then the search engine tries to understand which articles and pages should be ranked on the first page periodically. However, if the search engine is unable to decide this, it just lowers down the ranking of all the pages from the same domain for the same keyword and none of the page gets a higher rank and in some cases no rank at all. A webmaster creating multiple pages which target the same topic is also a common cause for keyword Cannibalization. These variety of web pages might work initially but in the end these different web pages end up on the same searcher internet as the search evolves.
A majority of times Keyword Cannibalization happens unintentionally, however the impact of Keyword Cannibalization on traffic directed to your website and ranking can be severe at times. Many times a cluster of webpages in the same category can lose their rankings because of Keyword Cannibalization. However, once the keyword cannibalization was fixed, the entire cluster of webpages saw an improvement in their rankings.
This theory of Keyword Cannibalization has been tested on a few websites by identifying the similar and competing webpages in the same topic and required actions were taken. It then resulted in improved ranking of the keywords as well as led to increased traffic visiting the website.
Why is Keyword Cannibalization harmful for SEO or Search Engine Optimization?
You will be competing with yourself if you have your keywords cannibalized for ranking on the Google search page. Consider the following scenario:
You have two different blogs or posts on the same topic or keyword. In such a case, it will be impossible for Google to decide which article should be ranked highest when a certain query is searched for. Additionally, factors like backlinks and CTRs also get diluted which are of very importance and can get diluted over several posts instead of being used only for one. As a result of this dilution, all these webpages will then be ranked lower than they otherwise might be ranked if there were just one webpage for each topic.
But Keyword Cannibalism does not occur only when there are multiple webpages for the same keyword, it can also occur for similar or inter-related keywords. For example:
Consider some posts which deal with the topic of “Whether Readability is a factor to be considered for ranking?”. One of the post was “Does readability rank?”(https://yoast.com/does-readability-rank/ ) and the other was “Readability ranks”(https://yoast.com/readability-ranks/ ). The former was optimized for does readability rank while the later was optimized for Readability ranking factor. These two posts are slightly different from each other, but search engines like Google face difficulties in deciding which one out of these two articles are more important than the other one.
What causes Keyword Cannibalization?
- Creating multiple pages containing and targeting the same keyword
Creating multiple web pages which contain and target the same keyword is one of the primary causes of Keyword Cannibalization because many content writers and bloggers often end up developing a lot of web pages which target the same keyword and hope that one of these webpages would get a good rank on various search engines like Google. This is a very old practice of bloggers and it should be avoided if you want to improve the ranking of your webpages. A solution to this is creating long articles which can target a bunch of different keywords.
- Improper or No Internal Linkings:
It is also one of the major causes of Keyword Cannibalization because many times, bloggers use the same keywords on different articles and blogs as a link to different web pages. This is a sure shot way to mess up with the algorithms and bots used in Search engines and it will definitely affect your rankings. This is most probably caused because of several backlinks with wrong anchored texts.
- Changing Search Intent:
The algorithms used in search engines are constantly involved every day to suit the needs of the world better. Changing the intent of the search is another key aspect when it comes to Keyword Cannibalization.
It is recommended that one should always be ready to modify and optimize the contents of their blog and keep an eye on your blog’s keyword search intents.
How to recognize Keyword Cannibalization in your articles?
Checking if your website suffers from Keyword Cannibalization or not is not a very complex job. The first thing which you need to check is that is your website or blog affected by Cannibalization of the Keywords? You can simply search for your website or for a specific keyword which you think might have certain results.
There are several methods to do so, and the internet also has plenty of tolls which will help you in this process. Let us have a look at some of these tools and techniques:
- Sanitycheck: Using Google’s Search Console
SanityCheck is not one of the most popular tools available on the internet which is used by content developers but it is one of the most helpful tools ever because it is one of those SEO(Search Engine Optimization) tools which makes sense out of the Console data of Google. SanityCheck has a module feature called “Cannibalization” which will help you in verifying and checking all those pages which are cannibalized.
How to use SanityCheck?
Using SanityCheck is very simple and these following steps will see you through with this tool:
- First of all create an account on SanityCheck.
- Add your website to this tool.
- Connect it with the search console of Google.
- Click on the Reports tab.
- Click on Cannibalization report.
- Click on request report.
Once the Cannibalization report is ready, you will get an email for the same on the email id with which you registered and the report will look something like this:
If you want to see the list of websites which are competing with your webpage for search query, you can click on the Query tab .
There is a free 14- days trial which you will get on your first sign-up with the tool and it is one of the best tools for small and medium websites to find cannibalized content. However, it might not be very effective for large scale websites. This feature is expected to improve in the future, but this will have an effect on the pricing of the services offered by SanityCheck.
Jetoctopus is a web crawler tool which is based on the cloud services platform and it is one of the best tools when it comes to getting a “Cannibalization report” for your webpages. The tool is super easy to use and if you still are having difficulties in operating this tool, we will be providing you the steps which you can follow for the operation of this tool:
- Create a free account of Jetoctopus.
- Add it to your website.
- Connect your web page and Jetoctopus with the Google Search Console.
- Click on the GSC Keywords tab.
- Select the Cannibalization option for Cannibalization report.
Ahres is one of the most popular SEO optimization tools used by bloggers and content writers so check if more than one page or websites are fighting for the same rank for the same keyword. Ahrefs also provides a Google sheet which contains all the required details and reports of the web pages which are impacted by the Keyword Cannibalization.
The above picture is a sample sheet which you expect for a Cannibalization report you will be receiving from Ahrefs. Ahrefs is one of the best tools for various SEOs and Webmasters who want to know if their webpages are being pushed down because of Cannibalization.
You can try the Trial version of ahrefs for just 7$ and we will recommend you to try this tool at least once in your life.
- Google’s Search Console
There is a very famous saying “Save the best for the last” and this is what we are doing with these tools. Google is always known to provide the best services which are related to the internet like Search Engines, Cloud Services, Online payment gateways etc and Cannibalization report is no different. You can use the Google Search Console to diagnose any cannibalization issue you are facing regarding your web pages or blogs and these are the steps one needs to follow to use this console:
- Sign up for Google services and login to Google Search COnsole using the same credentials.
- Select your preferred Domain and then click on the Performance tab. Select Search Results.
- Select the keywords which you doubt are suffering from Cannibalism.
4. Click on the Pages and then just wait. In just a few seconds, you will be seeing the list of all those websites which are competing with your webpage to rank for the common keywords used.
How to fix the issues related to Keyword Cannibalism?
If you have the required details of the web pages which are competing with yours for the same keyword, you have completed the first stage to optimize your blog. Congratulations.
But the real work of Optimizing your content starts from here. Following are two tips which you should abide by whole heartedly before you start optimizing your content.
- For immediate effects related to the traffic which is redirected to your website and the overall ranking on search engines, start with fixing and optimizing the content which is most obviously Cannibalized.
- Over the course of the next few days, prepare yourself for the heavy traffic which will be directed to your blog because you have fixed the issues on your blog. If you play your cards right, you will witness great results constantly for the next few days.
Following are some ways in which you can fix the issues related to keyword Cannibalism on your blog or webpage:
- Fix on page SEO
Keyword Cannibalism can often be removed if you fix the stuff on page SEO like:
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Removing of keywords
- Changing the intent of the search
These changes will help you in giving clear messages to various search engines about your target keywords. Internal links will play a crucial role in this and it will be discussed in the sections ahead.
This time will be best suited for you to start using different on-page SEO tools like SEMrush Writing Assistant (https://www.shoutmeloud.com/content-writing-seo-suggestions-wordpress-plugin.html), Phrase(https://www.shoutmeloud.com/go/frase/) or some other similar tool which will help you in optimizing the content based on the data of real world SEO.
- Update Internal Links
The poor structure of Internal Linking is one of the major causes of Keyword Cannibalism, and it is one of the most common Cannibalism errors on websites and webpages. One of the most common ways of Keyword Cannibalization on older websites is when a webmaster or blogger has used the same anchor text to link two or more different web pages. One of the easiest ways to cure this problem is to visit the websites which are linked to each other and fix the anchor texts which are linking the web pages.
One of the best plug-in tools which you can use to find anchor texts to any other pages on the website is WP Link Status(https://www.shoutmeloud.com/recommended/WP-Link-Status/ )
This tool will also help you to update the anchor links or manipulate the links. Thus this plug-in tool will be really helpful in finding and fixing the issues related to anchor texts.
- Delete Content
Deleting content from your webpage or deleting the web page itself is one of the easiest ways to fix problems related to Keyword Cannibalism. If you have already found the web pages which are competing with each other for a higher rank on Google using the tools mentioned in this article earlier, you can delete one of the web pages which are not serving the right purpose.
- Merge the content
As time evolves so does the search and it makes more sense if two different articles are merged into one and Google search results will prove the same. You can follow these tips if you ever face the situation of merging the contents:
- First of all, check the SEO score or Page authority of both websites or web pages.
- Check the organic traffic which is directed to both these pages and compare them. You can use a tool named Monster Insights for the same purpose. (https://www.shoutmeloud.com/recommended/Monsterinsights/ )
- Select the webpage you want to keep as the original one and then copy the content of another web page in this one. It might even require a bit of overwriting.
- Delete the other page and then redirect it to the web page you want to keep and it would be a better option if you use the junk link technique to redirect the webpage and it will also improve your chances to improve the ranking of the new page on search engines.
- Fix all the internal links in the webpage and then sit back and monitor the results.
- Canonical Redirection
It is one of the more smart ways to fix the issues related to keyword cannibalism and it is useful when two or more web pages are cannibalized and you don’t want to or cannot delete or merge these pages. In such a case, you can choose one webpage which you want to be ranked by Google and then you can canonically tag the other webpages to the main target page. The feature of Canonical redirection is offered by nearly every major WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO.
Conclusion and Tips to prevent Keyword Cannibalism in future
Fixing the issues related to Keyword Cannibalism is just one part and you also need to keep in mind some points to prevent Keyword Cannibalism in the future.
- Make sure that your content is well structured and keywords are selected properly.
- Mapping and clustering of the keywords are one of the most powerful weapons you can use to prevent duplicate content and cannibalising of your content.
- You should Audit your content on a regular basis to ensure that your webpage has high quality of content and the content is slate.
Keyword Cannibalism is one of the most common problems which nearly every website and webpage suffers from and if your website is suffering from Keyword Cannibalism, your website will never witness higher flow of traffic no matter how well you have composed the content or how informative your blog is. So follow the steps mentioned in the article and hope it helps you.
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