Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

If you have been attempting to optimize your website by including more SEO techniques, you might have run into trouble with keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when you have pieces of content on your website like blog posts or articles that rank for the same key terms in search engines like Google. In other words, you are eating away at your chances of being ranked high in search results. This article will help you understand exactly what keyword cannibalization is, how to recognize it on your site, and practical ways to both avoid and solve the problem.


What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization happens when too many of your posts or articles rank for the same search query. This may be because your topics are too similar. It also happens because your articles are optimized for the same keyphrase. The reason this becomes a problem is that your posts end up competing for the spot on search results. Google usually only places one or two results from the same website in the search results for a specific topic. So, if you have too many posts with the same keyphrase, you could be hurting the chances of your articles popping up on search results.

Why Is It a Problem?

Why is keyword cannibalization such a big issue? Well, consider this. Let’s say you have two posts that are made on the exact same topic. When Google sees this, it will not be able to identify which article should be placed on the results. As a result, both of the articles will end up ranking lower. To avoid this issue, certain website plug-ins will let you know if your content is being optimized for a keyword that you have used before. However, the problem can persist if keywords are similar instead of exactly the same. Google still has trouble processing which of the article is of higher quality and ends up dropping both of them.

How to Identify It

You’re probably wondering how to identify if keyword cannibalization is happening to your site. Here’s an easy way to check. First, search your site along with the keyword that might have multiple results on Google. Start your search with “site:” then after the semicolon, type the domain name of your site along with the keyword in question. It should look something like this: site:domain.com “keyword” Once you do that, it should be very clear if your site has keyword cannibalization issues. Ask yourself what pages you see in the search results and in what position they rank. If two of your site’s pages are ranking first and second in the search results, you’re okay. If you see two articles competing for any spot lower, such as third and fourth, you may have an issue.

search engine optimization

How Do I Solve the Problem?

If you find out that your site has keyword cannibalization issues, do not fret. You can easily solve the issue in just four steps. Unfortunately, you may have to delete and or merge content together. However, the end result will end up benefiting your website.

1. Audit Your Content

The first step in solving the issues of keyword cannibalization is to find all the content that contains the keyword you are hoping to resolve. Let’s say that your keyword is “target market.” To do this, simply search for the tag of your keyword on your site. In this case, we would search for the phrase “target market.” Your search results will most likely include various articles on the topics. As a result, it’ll be a lot easier to see which articles are ranking for the keyword and which articles are having more trouble getting a spot in the search engine results. In the next step, we’ll discuss how to fully analyze your findings.

2. Analyze the Content Performance

The next step is to complete a thorough analysis of the content. You will need to go into Google Search Console. Then, click the filter bar. Next, click the query and type in the keyword you are searching for. If your keyword is “target market,” then type that in. This allows Google Search Console to match all the queries that contain your keyword. It will also give you two very important pieces of data. One is a list of keywords that your site has been shown in the click-through rate or CTR of those words. The second is that it will give you a list of pages that are receiving the most traffic and how much traffic is being generated specifically. It is also beneficial to look at the Page filter as well. The Page filter allows you to filter by a group of URLs or a specific URL. Look through the data for each individual page if you really want to get to the root of the problem.

3. To Delete or Not to Delete

Now you must decide whether or not you should delete certain pieces of content. Obviously, this can be a very discouraging and weighty decision since hours of work might be going down the drain. However, you must remember that you are better off doing so than leaving up the content. If you decide to delete the content, you can redirect it to another piece of content that ranks better. In other words, you could merge the content together so as not to lose it. Redirecting the basic post is usually the better option. Look through each article and identify if any of them have sections or specific paragraphs that could work well in the other articles. This may take a bit of time, but it is definitely worth it.

4. Improve Internal Linking

If you are finding that the merge and delete process is taking a bit of time, another solution is to improve your internal linking. If you are unfamiliar with internal linking, it is a great search engine optimization technique to include in your site. The reason why it is ideal is that Google can better locate your web pages when they are linked in multiple places.

Internal links are links that you place in your articles that connect to other articles on your site. You should be linking to posts that provide your readers with more information on a specific topic that you mentioned but may not have completely elaborated on in your article. In addition, linking pages helps spread out the value. So, if one of your posts does really well and you have an internal link embedded into it, the value will spread to that link and so on. This creates a positive feedback loop.

Internal links can improve the problem of keyword cannibalization by providing value to the articles that are struggling. It is recommended that you link to posts that are less important on your website to pages that are more important.

keyword research

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalism

As your website grows and you create more and more content, the chances of your content suffering keyword cannibalization can increase. You may end up writing on subjects you have already covered without even realizing that you’re doing it. If you’ve had your website for years, you become even more vulnerable. Here are a few ways to avoid the issue before having to deal with the aftermath

1. Look Over Your Content Regularly

To avoid this problem altogether, a great way is to constantly look over your content calendar and be sure you are not planning for content that you’ve already created. If you can spot that you have content planned that is in fact the same or similar to something you’ve created already, brainstorm ways to change the topic slightly. You can also look over the content you’ve already posted and think of subtopics that the article brings up that may not have been answered or fully fleshed out. Make an article on that topic instead. If you find that it is difficult to build up a similar topic that doesn’t bring up keyword issues, it’s better to avoid creating that piece of content altogether and take a different route.

2. Conduct a Keyword Search Regularly

Make sure that you keep up with what keywords that you’re using. Use website plug-ins to help you keep track of what keywords are associated with your articles. In addition, you can simply search for the keywords in your website’s search tool. It is vital that only one or two articles have the same keyword. If you find you have multiple, solve the issue right away. Procrastinating will only give you more to worry about later on because resolving keyword cannibalization can take a long time. Try including internal linking to reconcile the issue or get straight to merging and deleting. Prioritize keyword searches and you’ll have no problem getting the issue fixed in a timely manner.


Improve Keywords to Avoid Keyword Cannibalism

Do you need advice on optimizing your keywords for search engines or help with link building? SEO Design Chicago has a team of experts who can improve your website’s SEO. Contact us today!


  • How do you create an internal link?
  • How do you use Google Search Console?
  • What are website plugins?
  • How can I rank higher in search engines?
  • Why are internal links important?

Contact Us Today!

Call Now