Though some have labelled the term “keyword cannibalization” as a poor choice to describe a digital marketing concept, there’s no doubt regarding the harmful effects it has on a business’s SEO efforts. Keyword cannibalization refers to targeting the same keyword across multiple pages of a single website. Instead of elevating ranks, it pits pages against each other and results in a business competing against itself.
Each page ends up having diminished authority, a lower CTR, and ultimately leads to lower conversion rates compared to what a single consolidated page could have achieved. In this blog, we’ll take a look at what keyword cannibalization is, its negative effect, and how to avoid it.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
By using a single keyword across numerous pages, you’re essentially “cannibalizing” your own efforts by splitting the content, links, conversions, and CTR across multiple pages. Instead of showing the depth and quality of your content, you’re actually forcing Google to compare your webpages and select which one suits the keyword the best.
For example, let’s say your website sells laptops and “laptops” is the sole keyword you target. This makes Google’s crawlers assume all of your webpages only sell laptops and doesn’t differentiate between the brands, whether they are performance-based, high-priced or affordable, etc.
The Negative Effects of Keyword Cannibalization on SEO Efforts
It’s unfortunate how disastrous keyword cannibalization can prove to be and how many businesses suffer wouldn’t even being aware of it. It’s possible that they’re satisfied with having a webpage ranked fourth or fifth without realizing it could rank higher had it not been for duplication keywords.
It also leads to a host of other consequences including fluctuating ranks, lost traffic, queries that lead to the wrong page, and decreased sales. The issue leads to other problems as well, some of which include:
- Diminished Page Authority:Instead of having a single page with high authoritative status, you’re forced to split the CTR among a few moderately relevant pages. These pages then end up competing against each other for SERP ranks and page views.
- Decreased Relevancy: Even though keyword duplication decreases page relevancy, Google may end up devaluing it even more. This happens because its crawlers try to determine which page fits the description best and if they all look similar; it might end up decreasing some in their value.
- Conversion Rates Plummet: In the absence of a single authoritative page, one page will end up ranking better than the rest. In most cases, visitors will land on less relevant pages that result in a loss of potential leads.
- Reflects Badly on the Content: Similar keywords targeted across multiple pages are a sign of poor content that’s stretched thin. It also gives off the image that your content doesn’t match the keywords on each page.
- Link and Anchor Text Dilution: Internal links and anchor text end up directing visitors to different pages instead of a single authoritative page. Similarly, backlinks are also split across multiple pages that could have otherwise led to a single source of information.
- Wasted Crawl Budget: The crawl budget refers to the number of times crawlers from popular search engines go through your website during a fixed time period. Duplicate keywords cause crawlers to index pages that don’t really lead visitors to the page a business wants them to land on. It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t really a problem for small websites with few pages. However, it significantly affects large e-commerce vendors or sites with multiple pages and many products to offer.
How to Fix the Problem
Fixing the keyword cannibalization issue depends on the root and severity of the problem. More often than not, the issue can be resolved with a bit of structure, however, complex cases may require unique solutions. The following are a few ways to deal with keyword cannibalization.
Consolidate the Content
If the overall content is lacking in quality then it’s worth combining it into one page. This way, you can take two or more underperforming pages and merge them into a single authoritative source.
Restructure the Website
A simple corrective approach involves restructuring your website in a way that makes the most authoritative page into the landing page as well. This way, you can reduce the shortfall of potential leads as the source page will have all the specific variations linking back to it.
Create Additional Landing Pages
The problem of topic duplication worsens for websites that lack a landing page and are unable to consolidate products on a single page. In such a case, it’s highly beneficial to create an additional and unique landing page that’ll act as the authoritative source page and link to other variations out there.
Discover New Keywords
Sometimes the issue simply lies with choosing the right keywords. You could have quality content with a diverse range of offerings yet the only thing holding your business back is a poor choice of keywords. Find new keywords that accurately describe the page content and watch a noticeable increase in traffic.
Use 301 Redirects
If you take a look at all the pages that are cannibalizing each other, you’ll find that some are more important than others in which case, 301 redirects are the way to go. For example, you might have created a very similar article to one that you posted years ago.
Here, you can simply redirect to the one which has more equity and has managed to generate backlinks over time. The process requires updating the metadata and changing all the backlinks from the less visible page to the one that’s more “valuable”.
Keyword cannibalization is an often underrated yet significant problem especially for websites that have a lot of webpages and have been running for a few years. Devebyte offers search engine optimization services. They have years of experience and are expert at giving businesses a much needed SEO-boost. Contact us today for more information.