The Keyword cannibalization or seo, at present, can have very negative effects on the strategies of search engine optimization of your website or eCommerce. Why is this topic so important? Because search engines and their algorithms are constantly evolving and try to get closer to relative perfection every day.
This means that they want to offer the most relevant content and with the highest possible quality, that is, that result that meets 100% the informational or consumption needs of their users.
These developments are catching those domains by surprise, since they are not periodically interested in optimizing their pages, now they have SEO On-Page problems that can affect their good organic visibility.
And one of these problems, the one that will make your efforts to generate quality content for the user and for Google to no avail, is the cannibalization of keywords … a topic that I will develop in depth today.
Therefore, this time I not only want to show you what keyword cannibalization is, but I would also like to explain what the negative effects it is. But that is not all, because you will also learn to detect this problem and, therefore, to give it the most effective solution, depending on the type of website you have.
What Is Keyword Cannibalization?
The keywords cannibalization is a concept that, in the technical jargon of SEO, refers to the situation for which we intend to position ourselves in the SERP with different URLs of our website for the same search intention.
Another simple way to explain it could be: SEO cannibalization is when you compete against yourself and by wanting to position more than one content you will be dividing your forces (therefore, you subtract effectiveness and confuse Google and your users).
From this definition, you should also pay special attention to what I have mentioned “for the same search intention” , that means that this topic goes beyond just wanting to position yourself with two URLs for the same keyword .
This is because it may be the case that the Keywords we are trying to position are relatively different, but, nevertheless, the search or «query» intention of these is the same.
Why Does This Competition Between Pages Occur With The Keywords Cannibalization?
This problem can be caused by a bad SEO Positioning strategy , as well as poor or poor planning of your content. But, outside the merely technical section, why not, it can also be due to a simple oversight.
This is a very common problem and almost nobody gets rid of it on the Internet.
Whether you are an eCommerce with thousands of products, a news site that generates a lot of information or a business with a simple corporate blog, this keyword cannibalization may be affecting you too.
So, for any type of website that wants to avoid losing authority, it is vital to take into account the pages with which they try to attack each of their users’ search intentions, internal linking strategies and the entire architecture of the information they possess.
In the case of a blog, the most advisable thing would be not to touch topics of commercial search intention, so as not to compete with the sales section of the website or eCommerce, and to have a well-organized editorial calendar, in which to carry out an exhaustive control of the topics that have already been touched.
Be that as it may, if you think about it coldly, there is no point in launching 2 contents to try to position the same keyword or, rather, the same search intention, when they could be addressed on a single page or in a single article, right?
Sometimes, especially in niches of a very specific subject, this cannibalization has also been taking place because they are treating the same subject from different angles in different contents.
Remember, not for much talking about the same thing you will position yourself better, on the contrary, the effect achieved will be just the opposite.
How Does Keyword Cannibalization Harm Your Web Positioning?
Some of the effects produced by the cannibalization of keywords are the following:
1. Your Authority Falls Hopelessly Facing The Seeker
As with duplicate content , this is not a factor that Google will directly penalize you for .
What the search engine does here is to lower the quality and authority of your pages, thus losing positions in the search results to your competitors.
In short, all that competition between your own URLs that I have been exposing you up to now, causes your strength to divide or decrease, negatively affecting your ranking in the SERP and, therefore, your organic visibility.
Instead of having a well-positioned page , with a high CTR and a significant user rating, you have several URLs with almost no relevance and where each one offers possibly incomplete information.
2. You Confuse The Search Engine
By dividing authority between different pages that struggle to position the same keyword, you are making the search engine not know which one is truly important to you or the one that has more valuable content for the user.
Furthermore, all these contents are really responding to the same intention and the new algorithms want to adjust the response with the greatest possible certainty and with the greatest relevance for what the user has demanded.
In this way, you create a kind of uncertainty about which to choose, a choice for which the search engine is not prepared to give an answer on its own … opting for pages from your competitors, URLs to which it attributes more strength and reliability.
In the best of cases, he will be able to present some of your pages in more or less relevant positions, although he will never do it in the place that perhaps they deserve.
3. You Confuse The User
In the event that the search engine offers several of your pages in the SERP, they may not present the complete information that the user was looking for, resulting in a rebound that will also affect your SEO.
This undoubtedly reveals to the search engine that your content is not relevant enough for that query.
The user’s perception of the quality of your page is, therefore, very bad, since this does nothing to offer an optimal user experience.
This bad image of your site, will presuppose a lack of ideas, imagination and creativity. In short, you will give the impression of lack of quality and competence, especially in the case of services that require deep knowledge and high professionalism.
4. You Are Indexing Pages That Are Unnecessary
In this way, in turn, you make search engines uselessly crawl URLs of your domain, thereby wasting time on Google.
This reason you can understand better once you understand what the Crawl Budget is exactly.
Perhaps in cases of moderately “small” blogs, this factor is not so important, since it will not have a large number of indexed URL’s.
However, imagine the case of an eCommerce with thousands of references, between product sheets, URLs of color variants of the same product, sales pages, catalogs, etc.
5. Keyword Cannibalization Hinders Link Building
With how difficult it is to make Link Building or earn quality inbound links, being cannibalizing themes, you will almost certainly have them spread across different places on your site.
For example: if you have 2 or 3 pages that talk about the same topic, how will others know which URL they should link to from one of their contents?
Which of them will be the main page or the one with really relevant information?
Based on this, they will make a random decision and the links they implement towards your website will be divided among several pages.
How To Identify If My Website Has SEO or Keyword Cannibalizations?
In general, I anticipate that it is normally not very difficult to detect the cannibalization of keywords. This problem could be detected in a comprehensive SEO audit of our website.
Although as you will see below, thanks to these 3 simple methods, you will get very clear and precise information.
1. Using The Internal Search Engine Of Your Web
This is a very basic and simple method, consisting only in writing the main key word or idea of the content that you suspect is cannibalizing each other.
The result of this action will give you all the content on your site that includes it. It is right there where you must intuit if there is content that meets the same search intention.
2. Use The Command «SITE:»
Among the basic functionalities of Google there are different commands that help you analyze a website. For example, with SITE you can detect your indexed pages:
And if to that search we add or add a term or key phrase in quotes, we will also see the content within that domain:
site: tuweb.com + «keyword»
The result will give you a SERP formed by all the ULRs of that domain that are indexed and that have that Keyword in common, that is, those that are fighting each other for a place in the same search.
It is now where, again at your discretion, you must carefully analyze whether these URLs have content that could be satisfying the same user need.
3. Through Your Search Console
If you have your website registered in the Google Search Console platform, you can also detect the cannibalization of keywords.
To do this, you must follow these simple steps:
- Enter your property and in the section Performance .
- Within the list of keywords displayed below the graph, click on the one you intend to analyze for cannibalizations.
- From here, activate the option « Pages «. This will show you which URL’s that keyword is ranking for.
- In case it is positioning for 2 or more different pages of your website, you will have Keyword cannibalization.
How To Correct Keyword Cannibalization On My Website or eCommerce?
Depending on the volume and size of your Internet domain, as well as the amount of content that you have generated throughout the life of your site, you will have to use one method or another that I propose below:
1. Create A Unique Content For Each Keyword
It is best to plan everything in advance and create a single page with all the necessary information for the user, that is, a single URL for each keyword .
2. 301 Redirect (Unify All URLs Into One)
If you already have carnivals, a possible solution could be to analyze those URLs with some competitive research tool, such as SEMrush , Ahrefs or DinoRANK to see which one has more strength organically speaking.
By this I mean that you should thoroughly analyze which of them has more authority, more inbound links, more positioned keywords , etc.
There could also be a simpler case, through which you check that one of them does not have backlinks or ranked keywords . Here you would already have a very easy time knowing which one to “sacrifice”.
So, from there, we would compose a single content with all the complete information within the URL with more organic force, adding to it the most remarkable of the others that we are going to discard. But…
What Do I Do Then With The Other URLs?
That said, the idea of simply eliminating them just might come to mind. I must remind you that, although they produce SEO cannibalization, they may receive internal links from other content on our website, have been shared on social networks, etc.
Therefore, if we eliminate them, everyone who wants to enter will get an ” Error 404 “. Given this, I will give you a solution:
If we redirect these to the content that we have taken as “reference” for that keyword or search intention, each time the user tries to enter the redirected content, they will end up in the main URL.
In this way, users will experience a better response to what they were looking for , as the latter has all the information they were looking for in a single piece of content. And in turn, this improvement in the UX means that we are giving positive signals to Google, so that it takes into consideration the action that we have carried out in organic terms.
Also, the redirected URL will transfer its authority to the destination and will make it stronger.
Despite these advantages, on the contrary, you should also value that you will lose all the comments you have from your readers in the content that will “disappear”. Like everything, it also has its downsides!
3. Internal Linking
A somewhat “light” measure by itself, not only to solve the cannibalization of keywords, but to “make up” and make Google see which is the 2 URLs is the most relevant is with the internal linking of one to another.
This basically consists in that, from the “least relevant” or worst positioned content, we would launch a “dofollow” type link with exact anchor text towards the most powerful and best quality URL.
My personal advice is that we remove this link as soon as possible. For example, if you are used to introducing your articles with an intro or previous introduction, this would be the ideal moment.
Why Would We Integrate It At The Beginning?
Very simple: logically, if Google robots start scanning content from start to finish, the sooner you see this backlink , the sooner you will see signs that the post we link to is more important to us for that keyword.
As I mentioned before, this is not a super effective solution to eliminate cannibalization on our website, but it is a fairly simple way to try to mark the way for the search engine.
In addition, it is ideal for cases in which you manage a client’s blog , which allows you to generate and publish content, but does not allow you to access certain technical sections of it, so it would be impossible for you to carry out a redirect.
Basically, the canonical consists of making a “suggestion” to Google that, in the face of various similar content or that in theory they should rank for the same keyword (or search intent), there is one that is the most relevant of all.
This alternative, however, has the downside that it does not transfer authority to the URL that we indicate as relevant for that search intention, contrary to what happened with 301 redirects.
In addition, the use of canonicals is nothing more than a “suggestion” that we make to the search engine, with which you can perfectly ignore this recommendation.
Why Is This Solution More Recommended For An eCommerce Than For A Blog?
This is an alternative more used in online stores than in blogs, since in an eCommerce the case of having cannibalization or duplicate content for terms of the type can perfectly occur:
- 1st «Red sneakers»
- 2nd «Green sports shoes»
- 3rd «White sneakers»
As you can imagine, we could add a long etcetera of URLs, as many as colors we present in our store.
Therefore, the main keyword in our case would always be “sneakers”, with the only exception of color, right?
It is here where this “suggestion” makes sense, since taking the red slippers product sheet as the canonical URL, there is no point in redirecting the sheets of the other colors to the red one, since in the user’s eyes the other colors will not exist , because they will always end in the destination URL that we have marked.
Sometimes, if we take the previous one as an example, it is almost inevitable that there may be dozens, or even hundreds of references that point to an identical Keyword.
It is obvious that you cannot change this and that you cannot put all the product variants in the same file.
You can resort to canonization, but sometimes it is preferable not to index these product pages in the search engines , leaving only the category pages .
This is easily accomplished by using the “noindex” tag . In this way, the search engines will ignore these pages and will not crawl them and you can dedicate all the effort to position the categories well.
As a general rule, keyword cannibalization and good positioning do not get along and this phenomenon seriously affects obtaining good positions for your domain in search engines.
It is important that you know how to identify it and detect where you should correct it to improve the ranking of your content, acting on those that are expendable and promoting those that can offer more relevant content.