A successful SEO campaign will result in the correct web page ranking on search engines for a keyword that will solve the search engine user’s intent. The web page will assist the user in filling the information gap and will encourage the user to take additional action that will result in a conversion.
Conversion actions can result in engagement, inquiries, or sales. However, this is only possible if the search engine user arrives at the correct web page.
One of the reasons why conversions from organic search do not occur is that the ranking web page is not what one search engine expects to see. And the reason behind it is keyword cannibalization. It is common on websites that have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of web pages.
Keyword cannibalization can increase the cost of a business when it comes to eCommerce SEO strategies. Particularly if your website has multiple category pages displaying the same products.
Here, we’ll discuss how identifying and fixing keyword cannibalization issues can help a web business’s SEO performance.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization can occur when two or more web pages or posts on a website target the same (or similar) keywords and compete against each other. The biggest problem with keyword cannibalization is that it usually harms a website’s organic performance.
Let us say you handle a website that focuses on search engine optimization. If you have more than one web page about SEO trends, you have likely seen better traffic and ranking by merging those multiple pages into one in-depth page. Having two-plus web pages is cutting into your possible traffic. You are cannibalizing your website.
How To Identify Keyword Cannibalization?
Fortunately, once you have identified the issue, correcting keyword cannibalization is simple. It is as simple as creating a keyword matrix to detect keyword cannibalization.
First, you need to create a spreadsheet that lists all of your site’s crucial URLs as well as keywords associated with them. You could also use a keyword mapping tool.
After you have listed your URLs and keywords, go through the list and look for duplicates. If you notice any, especially on core pages, you are most likely suffering from keyword cannibalization. It is now time to fix those pages! Keyword cannibalization can occur even if the meta information in your title tags appears to target the same keyword, so double-check those as well.
If you are using a rank tracking tool, you also need to use this time to look for thin content and keywords that are applied accidentally to the wrong page.
How to Solve Keyword Cannibalization Problems?
You have many options to solve keyword cannibalization problems. However, one crucial step you must take before you begin: identify which of the multiple pages should rank for the keyword and which assets require cannibalization fixing.
The asset you want to target the keyword is the page you want to rank, which we will refer to as the powerful page later. Currently, weaker pages are the asset that cannibalizes the powerful page.
Solution No. 1: 301 Redirect
The most common solution is to use a 301 redirect to merge the two cannibalizing properties into one. It tells Google that the weaker page is an older version of the content and that it should only rank the newer and updated page.
Solution No. 2: Internal Link Structure
Interlinking the powerful page from the weaker page is one solution to the cannibalization problem. Make sure to use the target keyword as the anchor text for the hyperlink as well.
This quick fix informs Google of the preferred landing page for that specific keyword. Doing so within the content is valuable, but doing so within the site taxonomy is even more beneficial.
Cannibalization frequently results in links originating from a page’s navigation links.
Solution No. 3: Re-Optimization
You can also retarget the vulnerable page with a different keyword. It would entail changing the meta tags — title and description and reworking the content to target a different keyword.
This strategy may need additional work, such as keyword research to identify another phrase for which you could reoptimize the page.
Solution No. 4: Canonical Tag
Another option is to add a canonical tag to the weaker page, pointing to the page where you want the keyword to rank. This option is ideal if you don’t want to remove your vulnerable web page but want to prevent Google from seeing it as a better option for ranking for the keyword.
One of the most common SEO issues on websites is keyword cannibalization. To detect and solve this problem, you will require a vast and dependable source of data to evaluate your website performance, spot concerning trends, and discover insights to avoid multiple pages competing for the same keyword.