Keyword cannibalization is when you have too many identical or similar keywords on different pages of your site [source]. When cannibalization occurs, Google has difficulty determining which page to rank because the content is too similar.
According to SEMRush, keyword cannibalization can happen based on the following scenarios:
- Publish similar pieces of content over time
- Publish a new version of a page without redirecting the old one
- Create different paths to the same product category
- Optimize similar pages for the same keyword
I will help you detect cannibalization on your site and improve the content via content enhancements or redirects, improving your keyword rankings.
Why Keyword Cannibalization is Problematic
- If you have similar pieces of content on your site, Google gets confused as to which page to show in the search results.
- Google ends up bundling similar content together
- This dilutes your keyword rankings.
Example of Keyword Cannibalization and Dilution in Google Search
- Maxpert Medical has two results populating on the first page of Google for the query “Pill Crusher.”
- One of the pages is for the pill crushers category page, while the other is for a product page
- Maxpert is ranking #7 and #8 for the query “Pill Crusher”
Resolving the Issue:
This is an example of cannibalization. There are two pages with similar content. In this instance, we recommend taking the following action:
- Redirecting the less powerful page to the more powerful page
- Creating a new page and redirecting both URLs to the new powerhouse page
Detecting Keyword Cannabolization
One of the best ways to find keyword cannibalization is by conducting a Google search for a product or service on your site and adding your brand name at the end of the query.
In the example below, I searched for “Weekly Electric Generators.” This client wants to improve their rank for residential and commercial generators. Their site has four pages about generators (residential, commercial, maintenance, and installation).
Since Google is nestling all these pages together, it’s evident there is cannibalization happening.
Resolving the Issue
- There is overoptimization on the homepage for generators. We will need to remove a good deal of generator content so it serves as more of a gateway page to the generator powerhouse page.
- We will combine the residential and commercial generator pages into a powerhouse page.
How to Find Instances of Keyword Cannibalizatio within SEMRush
In SEMRush, you can view the cannibalization report within position tracking. You can analyze the pages and keywords being impacted by cannibalization.
I love a good old-fashioned Google search, but there’s no way to detect all pages competing with one another without software. This is where SEMRush comes into play.
1. You go into your position tracking and click on “Cannibalization,” which I highlighted in yellow below. This will show you the golden nuggets needed to make informed decisions to improve the cannibalization on your site.
3. You will want to expand the affected keyword in question so you can learn what two pages on your site are trying to rank for this keyword.
In this example, the keyword “Email Marketing Company Columbus” is ranking in the #11 and #12 positions on Google. Google is unsure whether to rank the homepage or the email marketing specific page for this keyword.
How to fix keyword cannibalization
- If you have two pages competing for the same keyword, you can keep the more relevant page and redirect the less relevant page into the more relevant one via a permanent 301 redirect. If there is quality content on the page you’ll be redirecting, I recommend adding this onto the page that you’ll be keeping.
Create a Powerhouse Page & Conduct Multiple Redirects
- If you will be making a lot of adjustments to a page, it makes sense to create a new page and redirect the computing pages. For Weekley Electric, by combining residential with commercial, the page is going to have to be redesigned. In this instance, we’ll conduct multiple redirects to the new URL.
- If a page is not relevant and doesn’t provide value, this page should be deleted. Not all pages need to be redirected. Deleting irrelevant content can improve SEO and stop keyword cannabolization.
Note: It’s important to consult an SEO expert to make sure you’re making the right decision as each business scenario is different.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of the scenarios when cannibalization pops up, how to detect keyword cannibalization and how to address it to improve your SEO keyword rankings.
When people feel obligated to create so much fresh content, they overlook the fact that this can cause cannibalization and negatively impact SEO.
If you have numerous pages on your site competing for the same keyword, it could be holding back your true ranking potential. When you detect and fix cannibalization issues, not only can it help improve your SEO rankings, it often results in a better user experience.