Keyword Cannibalization: How to Stop Your Site from Eating Itself

Last Updated: September 12, 2023
Keyword Cannibalization

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

πŸ’‘ Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages target the same keyword on a website, which can lead to SEO issues. Common causes include poor site structure, keyword overuse, lack of research, and duplicate content.

πŸš€ Negative consequences of keyword cannibalization include lower SEO rankings, reduced traffic πŸ“‰, and a poor user experience πŸ™.

πŸ” Identifying keyword cannibalization involves monitoring traffic πŸ“Š, checking for duplicate keyword targeting πŸ”„, and low click-through rates πŸ–±οΈ.

πŸ› οΈ SEO tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, and SEMrush can help identify keyword cannibalization 🧰.

πŸ›‘οΈ Prevention strategies include a solid SEO plan πŸ“ˆ, thorough keyword research πŸ”, and using a content calendar πŸ—“οΈ.

πŸ” Site audits are crucial for early detection and fixing of keyword cannibalization πŸ•΅οΈ.

πŸ”‘ Proper keyword usage and understanding user intent are essential for effective SEO.

🧱 A content hierarchy πŸ“š, internal linking πŸ”—, and page consolidation can help fix keyword cannibalization.

πŸ“ˆ Monitoring keyword rankings and staying proactive are key to successful prevention.

Learn how to avoid the #SEO nightmare of Keyword Cannibalization! πŸš€ Discover its dangers, how to identify it, and prevention strategies in this comprehensive guide. Don't let your site eat itself! πŸ” #DigitalMarketing… Click To Tweet


Hey there, fellow SEO enthusiasts! Let’s talk about a little something called “Keyword Cannibalization.” No, it’s not a new cooking technique for your next BBQ, it’s a serious problem that can wreak havoc on your website’s search engine ranking.

So, what exactly is keyword cannibalization? It’s when you have multiple pages on your website that are targeting the same keyword or phrase. It might sound harmless at first, but trust me, it can have disastrous consequences for your SEO efforts.

Picture this: you have two different pages on your website that are both optimized for the same keyword. Google sees this and gets confused about which page to rank higher in search results. As a result, your website’s ranking for that keyword can plummet, leading to less traffic, fewer leads, and ultimately, fewer sales. Yikes!

That’s why it’s crucial to avoid keyword cannibalization at all costs. In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do to improve your website’s search engine ranking.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about keyword cannibalization, including what it is, why it’s bad for SEO, how to identify it, and most importantly, how to fix and prevent it.

So, get ready to dive into the world of keyword cannibalization with us. Don’t worry, we promise to make it informative, fun, and maybe even a little bit punny. Let’s get started!

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

If you’re new to the world of SEO, the term “Keyword Cannibalization” might sound like something straight out of a horror movie. But fear not, it’s not as scary as it sounds (well, maybe a little bit).

In simple terms, keyword cannibalization happens when multiple pages on your website are targeting the same keyword or phrase. It’s like having two chefs in the kitchen fighting over the same recipe. Not a pretty sight.

Let’s take a look at some examples. Say you have a website that sells shoes, and you have two pages targeting the keyword “running shoes.” One page is focused on the benefits of running shoes for women, while the other is about the best running shoes for beginners. Sound familiar?

The problem with this is that Google gets confused about which page to rank higher in search results. It’s like having a toddler trying to decide which toy to play with – they get overwhelmed and end up throwing a tantrum. And trust me, Google’s tantrums are much worse than any toddler’s.

So, how does keyword cannibalization happen? Well, it’s usually a result of poor planning and organization. You might have created multiple pages without realizing that they’re all targeting the same keyword, or maybe you’re trying to rank for a certain keyword but can’t decide which page to focus on. It happens to the best of us.

But the effects of keyword cannibalization can be disastrous. Your website’s ranking for that keyword can plummet, leading to less traffic and fewer leads. It’s like having a party with no guests – not exactly what you had in mind.

So, it’s important to keep an eye out for keyword cannibalization on your website and take steps to prevent it. Don’t worry, we’ll cover how to do that in later chapters. For now, let’s just say that keyword cannibalization is not something to be taken lightly.

In summary, keyword cannibalization is like having two chefs fighting over the same recipe. It’s a result of poor planning and organization, and it can have disastrous effects on your website’s search engine ranking. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you avoid the pitfalls of keyword cannibalization.

Keyword Cannibalization

Why Does Keyword Cannibalization Happen?

Now that we know what keyword cannibalization is, let’s dive into why it happens in the first place. Spoiler alert: it’s usually because someone dropped the ball (or the keyword, in this case).

Here are some of the most common reasons for keyword cannibalization:

1. Poor website structure – If your website has a messy structure, it can be difficult to keep track of which pages are targeting which keywords. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack (or a specific shoe in a cluttered closet). So, make sure your website is organized and easy to navigate.

2. Overuse of a particular keyword – Using a keyword too frequently across multiple pages can lead to keyword cannibalization. It’s like trying to eat a whole pizza by yourself – it might seem like a good idea at first, but eventually, you’ll regret it. Instead, focus on using the keyword strategically and sparingly.

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3. Lack of keyword research – If you’re not doing keyword research before creating new pages on your website, you might end up unintentionally targeting the same keyword multiple times. It’s like buying the same pair of shoes in different colors – you don’t realize it until it’s too late. Do your research and make sure you’re not duplicating content.

4. Duplicate content – Speaking of duplicating content, it’s a surefire way to confuse Google and cause keyword cannibalization. It’s like wearing the same outfit as someone else to a party – awkward. Make sure your website has unique and valuable content on every page.

Identifying the root cause of keyword cannibalization is crucial for preventing it from happening in the future. It’s like diagnosing an illness – you need to identify the symptoms and underlying causes before you can prescribe the right treatment. So, take a good look at your website and figure out where the problem lies.

In summary, keyword cannibalization happens for a variety of reasons, including poor website structure, overuse of a particular keyword, lack of keyword research, and duplicate content. By identifying the root cause, you can prevent it from happening again in the future.

Why is Keyword Cannibalization Bad for SEO?

Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – why is keyword cannibalization such a bad thing for SEO? It’s not just because it’s a long and difficult phrase to say (try saying it five times fast, I dare you). There are actually some serious consequences that come with keyword cannibalization.

Here are the top reasons why keyword cannibalization is bad for SEO:

1. Negative effects on search engine rankings – When you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, it’s like having multiple people shouting the same thing in a crowded room. Google gets confused and doesn’t know which page to rank higher. As a result, your search engine rankings suffer and you might end up on page 50 of the search results (which is basically internet purgatory).

2. Negative effects on website traffic – If your website isn’t ranking well in search engines, it’s going to have a negative impact on your website traffic. It’s like throwing a party but forgetting to send out invitations – no one is going to show up. You want people to find your website easily and visit frequently, but keyword cannibalization makes that difficult.

3. The impact on website user experience – Let’s say a user finds your website through a search engine, clicks on a page, and realizes it’s not what they were looking for because it’s too similar to another page on your website. It’s like going to a restaurant and realizing they only serve one dish in different variations – it gets boring quickly. This leads to a poor user experience and could result in them leaving your website altogether.

In summary, keyword cannibalization is bad for SEO because it has negative effects on search engine rankings, website traffic, and user experience. It’s like a domino effect – one problem leads to another, and before you know it, your website is in trouble.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

Are you worried that your website might be suffering from keyword cannibalization? Don’t worry, there are ways to identify if your website is a victim of this monstrous phenomenon.

Common Signs of Keyword Cannibalization

Just like any other disease, keyword cannibalization has its own set of symptoms. Here are some of the most common signs that your website might be suffering from this problem:

  • Decrease in organic traffic: If your website is experiencing a significant decrease in organic traffic, it could be a sign of keyword cannibalization. When your webpages are competing against each other for the same keyword, Google gets confused and may not show your content to users searching for that keyword.
  • Multiple pages targeting the same keyword: If you have multiple pages on your website targeting the same keyword, you might be cannibalizing your own content. This can lead to a diluted user experience and lower rankings for all the pages targeting the same keyword.
  • Low click-through rates (CTRs): Low CTRs can be another sign of keyword cannibalization. When you have multiple pages competing for the same keyword, users may be confused about which page to click on. This can result in a lower CTR and ultimately, lower rankings.

How to Use SEO Tools to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

If you’re not sure whether your website is suffering from keyword cannibalization, there are several SEO tools you can use to identify it. These tools include:

  • Google Search Console: This tool provides data on the keywords that your website is ranking for. If you notice that multiple pages are ranking for the same keyword, it could be a sign of keyword cannibalization.
  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs is an SEO tool that can help you identify which pages on your website are ranking for a particular keyword. If you find that multiple pages are ranking for the same keyword, it could be a sign of keyword cannibalization.
  • SEMrush: SEMrush is another SEO tool that can help you identify keyword cannibalization. It provides data on which pages on your website are ranking for which keywords. If you find that multiple pages are targeting the same keyword, it could be a sign of keyword cannibalization.

Importance of Identifying Keyword Cannibalization Early

Identifying keyword cannibalization early is crucial to prevent any negative impacts on your website’s SEO. By identifying the root cause of keyword cannibalization, you can take the necessary steps to fix the problem and avoid any negative impacts on your website’s search engine rankings and traffic. So, don’t wait until it’s too late! Keep an eye out for the signs of keyword cannibalization and take action as soon as possible.

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How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

So, you’ve identified that your website is suffering from keyword cannibalization. Don’t panic just yet – there are ways to fix it! Here are some options to consider:

Creating a Content Hierarchy

A content hierarchy is like a family tree for your website. By organizing your content into a hierarchy, you can ensure that each page on your site has a clear purpose and that there is no overlap between pages. This can be especially helpful in avoiding keyword cannibalization.

Proper Use of Internal Linking

Internal linking can be a powerful tool for SEO. By linking pages on your site to each other, you can create a clear structure that helps search engines understand the relationship between your content. However, it’s important to use internal linking properly to avoid keyword cannibalization. Make sure that you’re linking to the most relevant page on your site and that you’re not linking to pages that compete for the same keyword.

How to Consolidate Pages

If you have multiple pages on your site that are competing for the same keyword, consider consolidating them into one page. This can help you avoid cannibalization and improve the overall quality of your site. However, be sure to redirect any old pages to the new one to avoid losing traffic.

Best Practices for Avoiding Keyword Cannibalization in the Future

The best way to fix keyword cannibalization is to avoid it in the first place. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant, low-competition keywords for each page on your site.
  • Make sure your website structure is clear and easy to navigate.
  • Regularly audit your content to ensure that each page has a unique focus and purpose.
  • Use clear, descriptive titles and meta descriptions for each page on your site.

Remember, fixing keyword cannibalization is not a one-time fix. It requires ongoing effort and attention to ensure that your website remains optimized for search engines and provides a great user experience for your visitors.

How to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization

Keywords are the backbone of SEO. If your website doesn’t have the right keywords, your content won’t show up in search engine results pages (SERPs). Keyword cannibalization is one of the biggest mistakes that can destroy your SEO efforts. But fear not, my friends! I have some tips to help you prevent keyword cannibalization.

Importance of a Solid SEO Strategy

A solid SEO strategy is a must-have to prevent keyword cannibalization. It will help you to structure your website’s content and ensure that each page is optimized for a specific set of keywords. A well-planned SEO strategy is key to keeping your website’s content organized and efficient.

Conducting Thorough Keyword Research

Before creating content, it’s important to do your research. This includes identifying the keywords you want to rank for and ensuring that they’re not being used excessively on other pages. Conducting thorough keyword research will help you to prevent keyword cannibalization before it even happens.

Creating a Content Calendar

Creating a content calendar is another way to prevent keyword cannibalization. With a content calendar, you can plan your content in advance and ensure that you’re not duplicating keywords across multiple pages. By planning out your content in advance, you can ensure that you’re using your keywords effectively and efficiently.

Proper Use of Internal Linking

Internal linking is another key factor in preventing keyword cannibalization. It helps to ensure that your website’s content is well-organized and structured. When using internal links, make sure you’re linking to the correct pages and using appropriate anchor text. By doing so, you’ll help search engines understand the relationships between your website’s pages and the keywords you want to rank for.

Keyword cannibalization is a serious problem for website owners, but it’s not a death sentence for your SEO efforts. By implementing the tips and tricks discussed in this article, you can avoid keyword cannibalization and ensure that your website’s content is well-organized, efficient, and optimized for the keywords you want to rank for. Remember, prevention is always better than a cure, so make sure to have a solid SEO strategy, conduct thorough keyword research, create a content calendar, and use internal linking correctly to prevent keyword cannibalization.

Best Practices for Keyword Usage

Keywords are the lifeblood of SEO, but using them incorrectly can lead to cannibalization and all sorts of trouble. Here are some best practices for using keywords effectively without falling into the cannibalization trap:

How to Optimize for Multiple Keywords Without Cannibalization

Optimizing for multiple keywords can be tricky, especially if they’re related. Here are some tips for doing it right:

  • Create a content hierarchy: Organize your content into a hierarchy that reflects the importance of your keywords. Your main target keyword should be the focus of your top-level pages, while related keywords can be incorporated into subpages and blog posts.
  • Avoid overuse of target keywords: Using your target keyword too much can actually hurt your rankings. Instead, use related keywords and variations to add context and avoid cannibalization.
  • Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are less competitive and can help you rank for more specific search queries. Incorporate them into your content where it makes sense.

Tips for Proper Keyword Usage

Proper keyword usage is essential for effective SEO. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use keywords in the right places: Include your target keyword in your page title, meta description, header tags, and throughout your content. But be sure to use it naturally, and avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Match keywords to user intent: Choose keywords that align with the searcher’s intent. Are they looking for information, a product, or a service? Your content should meet their needs.
  • Keep an eye on your competitors: Use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to see which keywords your competitors are ranking for, and use that information to inform your own keyword strategy.
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The Importance of User Intent in Keyword Selection

Understanding user intent is crucial for choosing the right keywords. Here’s why:

  • Relevance: By choosing keywords that match the user’s intent, you’ll create content that’s relevant and useful to them.
  • Rankings: Google’s algorithm is getting better at understanding user intent, so matching your content to the user’s intent can help you rank higher.
  • Conversions: When your content meets the user’s intent, they’re more likely to take the desired action, whether that’s buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, or something else.

By following these best practices for keyword usage, you can optimize your content for search engines and avoid the pitfalls of cannibalization.

The Importance of a Site Audit

The site audit – It’s like going to the dentist. You know you should do it regularly, but it’s easy to forget or put off until it’s too late. And just like avoiding the dentist can lead to painful cavities, avoiding site audits can lead to painful keyword cannibalization.

So, let’s talk about why site audits are important for preventing keyword cannibalization. First of all, site audits help you identify any issues or errors on your website that may be affecting your SEO performance. This includes things like broken links, missing alt tags, slow page load times, and of course, keyword cannibalization.

By conducting regular site audits, you can catch any instances of keyword cannibalization early and take action to fix them before they do too much damage to your search engine rankings and traffic.

But wait, there’s more! Site audits can also help improve your overall website user experience. By identifying and fixing any errors or issues, you can ensure that your website is running smoothly and providing a positive experience for your visitors.

So, don’t neglect your site audits. Just like regular dental checkups, they may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but they’re essential for maintaining a healthy website and preventing painful problems like keyword cannibalization.

FAQ’s about Keyword Cannibalization

What is the difference between keyword cannibalization and keyword stuffing?

Keyword cannibalization is like a friendly fire in which two or more pages of your website are competing for the same keyword. On the other hand, keyword stuffing is the act of stuffing a web page with the same keyword multiple times to manipulate search engine rankings. So, in short, keyword cannibalization is an unintended consequence, while keyword stuffing is a deliberate and naughty act.

How long does it take to recover from keyword cannibalization?

The answer to this question, is not that simple. It depends on various factors like the extent of the cannibalization, the root cause of the problem, and the measures taken to fix it. In some cases, it may take a few weeks, while in others, it could take several months. But one thing is for sure: the sooner you identify and fix the issue, the quicker you’ll be able to recover.

Can keyword cannibalization be avoided altogether?

Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely? Unfortunately, my dear reader, the answer is no. Keyword cannibalization can happen to anyone, and sometimes it’s out of your control. However, with the right SEO strategy and regular site audits, you can minimize the risk and prevent it from happening too often.

What is the best tool for identifying keyword cannibalization?

Well, well, well. That’s a good question. There are many SEO tools out there that can help you identify keyword cannibalization, but one of the best ones is Google Search Console. It’s a free tool that provides valuable insights into your website’s performance, including the keywords that your pages are ranking for. You can also use other SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz to identify keyword cannibalization.

How can I monitor for keyword cannibalization over time?

Another excellent question. The best way to monitor for keyword cannibalization is to conduct regular site audits and track your keyword rankings. Set up alerts in Google Analytics or Google Search Console to notify you of any sudden changes in rankings or traffic. You can also use SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz to monitor your keyword rankings and track changes over time.


Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this article, which means you’re well on your way to becoming a keyword cannibalization expert. Give yourself a pat on the back – you deserve it!

To recap, we’ve covered a lot in this article. We’ve learned what keyword cannibalization is, how it happens, why it’s bad for SEO, how to identify it, and most importantly, how to prevent it. We’ve also discussed the importance of conducting regular site audits and following best practices for keyword usage.

So, what are the key takeaways? Let’s break it down:

  • Keyword cannibalization is when multiple pages on your website are competing for the same keyword, which can negatively impact your search engine rankings, website traffic, and user experience.
  • Keyword cannibalization happens due to poor website structure, overuse of a particular keyword, lack of keyword research, and duplicate content.
  • To fix keyword cannibalization, you can create a content hierarchy, use proper internal linking, and consolidate pages.
  • To prevent keyword cannibalization, it’s important to have a solid SEO strategy, conduct thorough keyword research, and use a content calendar.
  • Regular site audits are crucial for preventing keyword cannibalization and ensuring your website is running smoothly.

Now that you’re armed with all this knowledge, it’s time to take action. Don’t let keyword cannibalization take over your website – use the tips and tricks we’ve discussed in this article to stay ahead of the game.

About the Author

Shounak Gupte
Shounak Gupte

I am a Digital Marketing Consultant who can help you and your business increase your visibility on the internet by finding the right online marketing solution.

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