If you’re not an SEO specialist you may have believed that the more pages you have targeting a keyword, the better your SEO ranking will be for that keyword. However, having several pages that target the same keyword on your website can actually do more harm than good to your rankings. This SEO misstep is called Keyword cannibalisation, and happens when you have a few pages with the same targeted keywords, which dilutes the strength of the core page.

What is keyword cannibalisation?

Search Engine Journal puts it this way: “Keyword cannibalisation is so called because you’re ‘cannibalising’ your own results – you’re splitting CTR, links, content, and (often) conversions between two pages that should be one”.  When this happens Google can’t pick up any of your expertise and you don’t improve the authority of your site for that subject.

How keyword cannibalisation can damage your SEO

Keyword cannibalisation can have several negative effects on your SEO efforts. Most people don’t even realise the disastrous consequences of cannibalisation on their site, which may include a drop off in site traffic, queries being directed to the wrong page, fluctuating SERP rankings, and ultimately a drop in site visits which could mean a drop in sales should you have an ecommerce site. As emphasized by Oncrawl, Keyword cannibalisation lets you miss out on valuable SEO opportunities that include the following:

  • Content quality: If you are focusing on the same keywords across multiple pages on your site, you may end up with duplicate content. This minimises your chances of receiving referrals and links.
  • Internal anchor text: Using internal anchor text to link to several pages focused on the same topic doesn’t add any value to your SEO. It is best to focus your anchor text on one specific page.
  • External links: External links are great for the SEO value of a page focused on one keyword. However, if you have the same keyword across different landing pages, your external link value is split to different pages instead of being targeted at one landing page.

Solving keyword cannibalisation

If you have fallen into the trap of keyword cannibalisation, the good news is that identifying the problem and fixing it is easy. Here are three possible solutions:

  • Restructure your website: According to Search Engine Journal, the simplest solution to tackling keyword cannibalisation is to “take your most authoritative page and to turn it into a landing page that links to other unique variations that fall under the umbrella of your targeted keywords.”
  • Create a new landing page: Another option is to create a unique landing page that serves as your authoritative source page which can link to all your other product pages.
  • Use 301 redirects: Making use of 301s gives you an opportunity to consolidate your cannibalised content by redirecting the less important pages to the targeted landing page. Doing this will ensure that your visitors land on the right landing page. Google will also rank the most valuable page. You should, however, note that this strategy only works best for pages with similar content that match specific keywords.
  • Look for new keywords: The final thing you can do is simply to find new keywords, as the only thing doing damage to your website is likely to be a poorly planned keyword strategy. All you need to do is ensure that your keywords describe your page’s content accurately.

While keyword cannibalisation can occur unintentionally, it happens more frequently today than ever before. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to this problem and the damage isn’t permanent. You can now easily find and fix cannibalisation issues on your site.