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Keyword annibalization: What it is and how you can avoid it

Inexperienced SEO professionals believe that optimizing multiple pages for one keyword can improve a site’s position in the SERPs. It’s actually the reverse. We know why it happens and how we can avoid it.

What is keyword cannibalization, you ask?

This happens when different pages on a website target the same keyword. This means that clicks, links, and content are spread between multiple pages. This negatively impacts SEO. Google is also baffled by this.

Let’s say you have a website that sells guitars. Google will need to evaluate the pages and determine which one is more relevant for the visitor if “guitars” is the keyword that is being targeted on each page. The pages will compete against each other.

What are the implications of this?

A common misconception among beginners in SEO is that you can target the same keyword on multiple pages to improve rankings and increase the chances of your site being in the top positions in the Google SERPs.

According To Smart Insights the average CTR for first place in Google Search is greater than 35% and less than 5% for sites below the top five.

Keywords can be used to reduce website traffic and increase conversion rates. These are just a few of the negative effects of this phenomenon.

Users end up on the wrong pages

Let’s return to the guitar example. Most users who are planning to buy this tool have an idea of what they want. There are many options, from electric or heavy metal guitars to acoustic guitars.

The search engine may not be able to find a page that is more relevant if the site only targets the keyword “guitars”.

Visitors who are looking for heavy metal instruments will leave a page that contains jazz guitars.

Spending too much

A website has a budget, just like a business. It can be crawled as many times as Google wants in a certain time period. It will all depend on the site’s size and resources.

This applies to large e-commerce websites that offer a wide range of products. Multiple pages that are targeted at a single keyword will be crawled, indexed and indexed in an unneeded manner. It is a wasteful use of crawling budget.

Poor content quality

Multiple pages with the same keyword will result in equally distributed content.

The user would like to find all relevant information about the topic at one place. These pages will be treated by Google as less informative content and will impact the SERPs ranking.

How do I detect keyword cannibalization?

It is easy to detect this phenomenon. Make a spreadsheet listing all keywords and URLs. You can visualise which pages are using the same keyword by creating a spreadsheet.

Don’t forget the title tags! They can target one keyword, even if you are not aware.

How can we stop this?

It’s usually as easy as organizing a website. It’s a bit like cleaning: you have to empty out all boxes and get rid everything that isn’t necessary. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to put more effort. These are five possible solutions.

Organise your website

To stop keyword cannibalization, the easiest thing to do is to find the authoritative page that contains the keyword and make it a landing page.

Referring to the example above, it makes sense that the keyword “guitars” is the main page. Other variants such as “acoustic” or “electric” can be referred to it.

Make a new landing page

Make a master page and link to it from other sections. A page for a Fender guitar might have links to the “Fender Telecasters”, and “Fender Stratocasters”.

Merge pages

As we have already mentioned, a site with little or no information will not rank well in the search results.

This will prevent you from getting in trouble.

Search for new keywords

Sometimes, you don’t need to use different keywords.

People often use abstract words and common phrases, but it can be difficult to receive a high rating. Try to make the term “guitars” more specific. You could use the example of “guitars for heavy Metal”.

You can also provide more relevant content to users and increase conversion rates.

Use 301 redirects

This feature allows you link disparate content to a higher authority page. It is important to ensure that you are combining sections with similar content which matches specific keywords.

This feature should not be misused as it can slow down your site and make it less mobile-friendly.

Add the “noindex” tag

Sometimes, the CMS creates separate pages for each product variant. This is often where keyword cannibalization occurs.

You can fix this by adding a “noindex” tag. You can stop duplicate pages being indexed by adding a “noindex” tag.

It is a common misconception that sites can increase their relevancy by targeting multiple keywords. This only harms the site’s SERP ranking. Keyword cannibalization can be easily detected and corrected.

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