Do you have multiple pages in search results for the same keyword? That's called keyword cannibalization, and it's not good for SEO. But don't worry! Here's how to tell if you have a problem and how to fix it.
Does Keyword Cannibalization Pose a Problem?
Determining if keyword cannibalization is a real problem for your website is important. Sometimes, two pieces of content ranking together can be good, especially with an indented SERP. For example, Delish benefits from two pages ranking on the same page. It gives Delish more space in the search results, leading to more clicks. If you look at the two pages, you'll notice that they rank for the same keywords, like "quick, easy healthy lunch," "easy healthy lunch ideas," and more. Sometimes, it's best to leave two pages ranking together, especially if you're getting clicks and conversions.
Do you think your website has keyword cannibalization? Use Google’s site search with "URL+ 'keyword'". Check your results for similar content on the same topic. For instance, if you search the Delish website, you'll see that its listed content relates to "healthy" and "lunch”.If you see much of it, investigate if it is a problem. Look for pages that are too similar, have overlapping topics, or are redundant. Make sure you get all the issues!
How to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization for SEO Success
Consider these solutions for fixing keyword cannibalization:
Creating internal links is a great way to start addressing keyword cannibalization. This method won't require taking down any pages or redirecting content, so it's a safe option if you don't want to risk negative outcomes. Plus, it can help you create a stronger connection between pages on your website and make it easier for search engines to understand their relationship.
Internal linking helps readers find related content and makes it easier for Google to determine what a page should rank for. When creating content, ensure you know the topics the two pieces should rank for, then use an internal link with an exact match keyword or something very close to it.
To review which anchor texts you use, use Screaming Frog and filter for HTML. Pick the page you want to review and then check the Inlinks to see which pages link to it and with what anchor text. Now, if you want to optimize your internal linking strategy, edit the anchor text. Create a content database to prevent random link usage when building a content plan. This will help you pick the right keyword for your anchor links.
Keyword Groupings and Search Intent
You might have noticed that two pages have the same keyword, but you still want to keep them. To make it work, create a group of keywords and decide what each page should do. Every page should have a unique purpose. For example, Delish has two articles about lunch ideas. One is about lunch ideas for work, and the other is packed lunches. Packed lunches can be used for work but can also be used for other purposes.
Deciding when to use a 301 redirect is easy. Take a look at the page titles. If they focus on the same keyword, you might have an issue. For example, the Delish website has two pages about healthy lunches. One is about lunches for work. The other is about packed lunches. These are similar, but if the titles were "10 best Healthy Lunches" and "Best Healthy Lunches," they are too close. That's because the keywords are the same. To check, search both. If the results on the SERP are the same, you need to combine the content and redirect one to the other.
Before you consolidate two or more articles, it's important to do your research. Use data to help you decide which article's URL you'll keep and which you'll redirect.
Combine the content of the two articles. Make sure to edit it carefully and thoroughly. If you do, the result may be a good mix of both. To succeed, your content should be top-notch.
To find the most successful URL, go to Search Console and filter the data by page. Look at the number of clicks, impressions and average position. Usually, one URL will be much better than the others - so it's easy to spot the best one.
Check the backlink profile of the winning URL. You may redirect some links to others while carrying over the backlinks. But keeping the content on the URL with the strongest backlink is better!
Canonicalization in SEO consolidates multiple web pages with similar content into one page. It ensures that search engine crawlers are distinct from multiple versions of the same page and instead are directed to the most relevant version. By canonicalizing pages, search engines can more easily identify the source of the content and index it appropriately. This helps to boost the page's rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Cannibalization is more likely to happen if you don't follow a strict content plan. Writers can unknowingly produce the same type of content. To avoid this, keep track of keywords, other related words, and what topic or "pillar" the content should be about. Having a plan makes it easier to ensure you're not repeating yourself. A professional can help by assigning the right keywords. You can also check if there's content you can edit rather than create. Editing existing articles may give you great SEO results.