Key phrase Cannibalization: What Is It & How To Keep away from It?


Do you ever really feel like your web site isn’t climbing the SERP such as you need it to?

It might be the fault of a sneaky, unintentional mishap known as key phrase cannibalization.

Key phrase cannibalization is a standard problem that many on-line entrepreneurs face, however don’t fear – it’s not (at all times) as scary because it sounds!

In reality, it’s one thing you possibly can simply repair with the suitable instruments and information.

So sit again, calm down, and let’s dive into every little thing that you must find out about key phrase cannibalization and the way you keep away from it.

What’s key phrase cannibalization?

Key phrase cannibalization happens when two or extra topically an identical pages in your web site are competing for a similar key phrase in Google Search – leading to natural visitors lower, rating drops, and poor UX.

For instance, let’s say that you just run an internet site about cooking that comprises 2 separate pages about chocolate cookie recipes with the titles:

  • The Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
  • Final Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe”.

Each of those pages are about the identical matter, fulfill the identical search intent (informational weblog publish) and each of them goal the main focus key phrase: “chocolate chip cookies”.

In conditions like this, Google could have a tough time deciding which one from these pages needs to be rating to your focus key phrase, leading to a possible key phrase cannibalization problem.

What causes key phrase cannibalization?

As we talked about above, key phrase cannibalization can occur for a number of causes – probably the most widespread ones is just having an internet site with a number of pages that cowl the identical (or simply very related) matter content-wise.

Different widespread the reason why it’s possible you’ll expertise cannibalization points are:

  • Unhealthy linking construction – in some circumstances, linking an excessive amount of to your secondary pages (and to not the first ones) could trigger key phrase cannibalization. It’s because Google could assume that your secondary pages are extra necessary and needs to be rating to your focus key phrases.
  • On-page optimization points – having a number of pages optimized for a similar key phrase might also trigger potential cannibalization points.
  • Technical search engine optimisation points – in case your web site comprises a number of pages which might be in some way related to one another however solely a few of them are well-optimized for Google Search, it could enhance the possibilities that you may be rating with the improper pages in SERPs.
  • Outdated/outdated content material – If you happen to don’t frequently replace your web site’s content material, it’s possible you’ll inadvertently create a number of pages that focus on the identical queries over time – which can result in key phrase cannibalization.

Why is key phrase cannibalization unhealthy?

From the search engine optimisation perspective, key phrase cannibalization can deliver quite a few issues to your web site, comparable to:

  1. Natural visitors lower
  2. Rating drops
  3. Diluted hyperlink power

Let’s break these potential issues somewhat additional.

1. Decrease natural visitors (& CTR)

Having a number of pages which might be competing with one another for a similar question could result in a possible natural visitors lower (and decrease web site guests).

At any time when Google discovers 2 or extra pages in your web site which might be similar to one another, it has to prioritize one in every of them and show it as a possible reply for a specific search question.

In a scenario like this, it may possibly simply occur that you may be rating with a web page that isn’t so precious to Google customers or it was not supposed to rank for the given key phrase in any respect – resulting in a foul user-experience and decrease click-through price in Google Search.

In reality, key phrase cannibalization can lower your web site from a big visitors potential. ORKA socials encountered cannibalization issues on a specific e-commerce web site – it merely contained a number of pages that had been cannibalizing one another for varied focus key phrases.

After fixing all of the cannibalization points, this e-commerce web site achieved a 200% natural visitors enhance in lower than a month:

2. Diluted hyperlink power

Pages in your web site which might be cannibalizing one another to your focused key phrases could have diluted hyperlink power and total decrease web page authority.

The reason being fairly simple (if you concentrate on it) – exterior web sites may be linking to the improper or unimportant pages which might be (sadly) rating to your key phrases as an alternative of people who you initially supposed to show in Google Search.

This may probably injury your search engine optimisation efforts on a big scale.

In case you have too many pages cannibalizing one another for varied key phrases, the hyperlink authority of these pages will get diluted, resulting in decrease rankings in Google Search.

Or as John Mueller (Webmaster traits analyst) said:

John Mueller - keyword cannibalization quote

… which brings us to the third level.

3. Rating drops

On the finish of the day, key phrase cannibalization may cause vital rating drops to your web site.

By creating a number of topically related pages that fulfill the identical search intent, the worth of your content material will get diluted throughout all of them.

This can trigger a dramatic rating drop over time since your web site shall be principally competing with its personal pages in Google Search – versus your rivals who’ve extra consolidated and focused content material that may rise to the highest of the SERPs higher.

John Muller explains this downside a bit additional throughout one of many Google search engine optimisation office-hours classes:

Necessary word: Remember the fact that having a number of pages rating for a similar key phrase may not at all times be a foul factor.

Pages which might be experiencing key phrase cannibalization points often meet 3 principal standards:

  • They’re topically an identical
  • They supply the identical (or not less than very related) content material
  • They fulfill the identical search intent behind the key phrase

The third level performs an necessary function right here since many queries might need a blended search intent behind them (and show varied varieties of content material).

In a scenario like this, it may be utterly okay to rank with a number of internet pages for a specific focus key phrase so long as every of them satisfies a special search intent behind the question.

For instance, if we check out the key phrase “adidas london” in our SERPChecker software, we are able to clearly see that there’s a blended search intent behind the question – with sponsored merchandise, map pack with native shops and class internet pages:

SERPChecker example - adidas london query

After nearer inspection, we are able to clearly see that a number of high search outcomes are from the identical web site:

SERPChecker example - adidas london query multiple pages

On this specific instance, having a number of pages rating for the question may be truly a very good factor since they’re masking extra space on the high of the SERP and fulfill a number of search intents behind the key phrase collectively.

acknowledge key phrase cannibalization points?

Relating to pages which might be cannibalizing one another to your necessary key phrases there are a number of methods how you will discover them:

  1. Carry out a content material audit
  2. Use a “website: "key phrase" command
  3. Apply “&filter=0” in Google Search
  4. Try Google Search Console
  5. Use SERPWatcher

Let’s take a look at every of those strategies somewhat bit extra.

1. Carry out a content material audit

One of many best (although the least efficient) methods learn how to discover key phrase cannibalization is to easily check out your content material and carry out a easy audit.

If you happen to run a small web site with only a few pages, you possibly can manually assessment their content material and take a look at if a few of them are topically an identical (or not less than very related).

Along with that, you possibly can create a easy spreadsheet with each internet web page in a single column, and the focused key phrase in a second one. By making a easy key phrase map like this, you possibly can simply spot which pages may be competing with one another in Google Search.

For our cookie recipe instance talked about in the beginning, the spreadsheet would possibly look somewhat bit like this:

URL: Focus key phrase: Chocolate chip cookies Chocolate chip cookies Buttermilk biscuits

Now you possibly can simply see that two pages goal the identical key phrase, make adjustments to one in every of them, or simply mix them collectively.

2. Use a “website: “key phrase”” command

One other helpful approach for key phrase cannibalization detection is the utilization of website: "key phrase command in Google Search.

This command will present you all pages on the web site that comprise the given key phrase someplace of their content material.

Going again to our instance with the “chocolate chip cookies” key phrase (as a result of we merely love cookies 😅), if we use this command for one of many top-ranking recipe web sites ( in Google search, we are able to clearly see that lots of its pages are containing the given key phrase:

site command example - multiple pages ranking for the keyword

Does this imply that the web site has cannibalization points?

Properly, sure … however no.

The issue with this command is that Google will present you EVERY internet web page from the web site that comprises the given key phrase. This may additionally embody pages that don’t have anything to do with the “chocolate chip cookies” recipe or have utterly completely different intent.

The one solution to discover out whether or not or not a number of the pages are cannibalizing one another is to manually assessment their content material.

3. Apply “&filter=0” operator

&filter=0 is an operator on the finish of the Google URL string that forestalls the search engine from filtering out pages from the identical web site as search outcomes.

In different phrases – it can show a number of pages from the identical web site which might be rating in Google SERP for a similar focus key phrase (and subsequently probably cannibalizing one another).

The operator may also offer you an concept of how Google ranks your pages within the specific SERP.

To make the most of this function, merely sort a selected search question that you just wish to examine in Google Search after which add the &filter=0 on the finish of the Google URL:

Though it’s not essentially the most environment friendly technique, you should utilize it to shortly examine and assessment your pages in Google Search in an effort to spot potential key phrase cannibalization.

For instance, let’s check out the web site – and e-mail warm-up software that comprises varied weblog posts in regards to the e-mail warm-up course of – with a selected key phrase in thoughts “e-mail heat up companies

If we use the &filter=0 operator for this specific question we are able to clearly see that the web site seems a number of instances within the SERP:

WarmupInbox multiple pages ranking example

A few of the search outcomes should not a giant of a deal (e.g. homepage or some touchdown pages), however you possibly can clearly see 2 weblog posts which might be topically very related and may be cannibalizing one another for this key phrase:

Keyword cannibalization example - 2 topically similar pages

Through the use of this technique, we may shortly establish potential key phrase cannibalization in only a few seconds.

4. Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free software that has a number of helpful features – it’s also possible to put it to use to search out potential key phrase cannibalization.

To do that, head over to the “Search outcomes” tab within the “Efficiency” part on the suitable facet:

  1. Go to the “QUERIES” tab and choose a specific question that you just wish to examine.
  2. After that, go to the “PAGES” tab and manually assessment all of the URLs which might be rating for the actual key phrase.

If GSC reveals you a number of URLs below the “PAGES” tab, take a look at if greater than 1 URL is getting clicks and impressions – it may be a warning signal that the displayed URLs are competing with one another for the chosen search question:

GSC - keyword cannibalization example

5. Use SERPWatcher

You should use our SERPWatcher software to immediately discover whether or not or not you’re cannibalizing any of your necessary key phrases.

In case you have executed your key phrase analysis, merely add all your key phrases into the SERPWatcher and begin monitoring your web site’s efficiency for them.

At any time when key phrase cannibalization happens for any of your tracked key phrases, the software will present you a pink dot subsequent to it – indicating that there are a number of URLs out of your web site which might be rating for the chosen question:

SERPWatcher - red dot - keyword cannibalization example

By clicking on a key phrase, you possibly can see a “Place historical past” with URLs that had been rating for the given key phrase over time.

Beneath the graph you will discover the precise pages that may be cannibalizing one another for the given key phrase:

SERPWatcher - URLs with keyword cannibalization issue example

For a big set of monitoring key phrases, you possibly can merely use the “Filter” choice → “A number of URLs solely” tab → “Set filter”.

The software will present you the record of key phrases which might be displaying greater than 1 URL out of your web site in Google Search:

SERPWatcher - list of URLs with cannibalization issues example

Tip: If you need to attempt SERPWatcher and its rank-tracking potential, be certain that to take a look at Mangools free plan!

repair key phrase cannibalization

When you’ve recognized the pages in your web site which might be cannibalizing one another, the following step is to truly repair the difficulty. Listed here are some methods that may assist:

a) Consolidate duplicate content material

One of many “best” methods learn how to repair cannibalization points is to easily merge the content material from given internet pages collectively and create unified, contemporary content material that may rank higher than any of the cannibalized pages individually.

Relying on the kind of the online web page, it’s possible you’ll merely:

  • Evaluation the prevailing content material on pages which might be affected by cannibalization
  • Try if the content material wants an replace
  • Refresh the content material with new info
  • Merge the content material collectively onto 1 web page and publish it.

This may shortly resolve any potential key phrase cannibalization for a set of internet pages – particularly if they’re weblog posts or product pages which might be topically an identical.

Ahrefs noticed an enormous success with this technique in 2018 once they determined to merge two huge guides about damaged hyperlink constructing that had been cannibalizing one another. After consolidating their content material, the natural visitors skyrocketed in only a 1 month (and continued rising):

ahrefs merging content organic traffic example

Nonetheless, merging the content material will not be the top of your issues since you’ll nonetheless have URLs in your web site which might be related to one another (and so they nonetheless would possibly trigger some search engine optimisation issues).

That is the place 301 redirects are available in clutch…

b) Implement 301 redirects

A 301 redirect is an HTTP standing code that completely redirects customers and engines like google from one URL to a different.

By implementing redirects into secondary pages which might be cannibalizing your principal URL, you possibly can consolidate all search engine optimisation indicators into one principal internet web page and cease key phrase cannibalization altogether.

There are a couple of good practices that you need to comply with earlier than implementing 301 redirects:

1. Select one of many cannibalized URLs that needs to be rating in Google Search based mostly on its backlink profile – it’s at all times really useful to choose up the web page that has essentially the most backlinks, referring domains, and one of the best total web page authority.

You should use SiteProfiler to shortly examine the search engine optimisation authority of any URL and examine it with different pages which might be cannibalizing one another:

SiteProfiler example for authority

2. Be sure that to merge and replace content material into the chosen internet web page from the set of pages which have widespread cannibalization points (and publish it).

3. Apply 301 redirects to the cannibalized internet pages and redirect them to your principal, up to date one.

4. Take away redirected URLs out of your sitemap.

By following these practices, you’ll have consolidated content material on a single URL with a powerful backlink profile coming from all of the redirected internet pages – it will assist you repair the key phrase cannibalization, enhance your search engine optimisation efficiency and enhance the general rankings of your web site.

c) Enhance hyperlink construction and optimize anchor texts

Bettering your hyperlink construction and anchor texts may help you to consolidate the relevancy indicators and the authority of your most well-liked web page.

Through the use of descriptive and related hyperlink texts that may level to your most well-liked internet web page, you possibly can assist engines like google higher perceive which content material needs to be ranked and displayed within the SERP.

This may occasionally assist you (in sure conditions) stop a number of pages from competing with one another for a similar search question and enhance the general search engine optimisation of your web site.

Observe: Though this technique received’t essentially clear up your key phrase cannibalization points, it could assist Google higher perceive the distinction between two (or extra) pages which might be topically very related.

d) Use canonical tags (hardly ever)

Canonical tags are small items of HTML code that inform engines like google which URL is the grasp model from the set of pages which might be both an identical or not less than similar to it: 

 <hyperlink rel="canonical" href="” />

Though uncommon, it’s possible you’ll make the most of this tag in an effort to repair your key phrase cannibalization points you probably have a number of internet pages which might be virtually an identical to one another. 

The primary good thing about this tag is that it can assist you consolidate hyperlink power from all pages which might be competing with every in Google Search into one principal URL model

For instance, you probably have a number of product pages that show the identical product however with simply completely different parameters (e.g. colours, sizes, and so forth.), it’s possible you’ll make the most of canonical tags as a approach to inform Google that there’s just one principal web page that you just wish to show within the SERP (versus having a number of URLs preventing with one another).

Observe: Take note although that canonical tags function indicators, not as directives. If Google has a sound purpose to show an internet web page that isn’t your chosen one, it could ignore your canonical tags altogether.

e) Use noindex tags (very fastidiously)

The noindex tag is a small piece of code that you just would possibly put into an HTML doc to inform Google to utterly ignore the online web page:

 <meta title="robots" content material="noindex" />

Nonetheless, robots meta tags needs to be thought of as your final resort since they’ll utterly exclude the online pages from Google Search and stop them from spreading necessary rating indicators to your principal one.

From the sensible perspective, it’s possible you’ll contemplate noindex tags as a cannibalization repair if a few of your pages are:

  • Duplicate pages – URLs with an identical content material which might be competing with one another.
  • Consumer-generated (UGC) or auto-generated content material – pages that don’t present as a lot worth as your principal internet web page and are inflicting cannibalization points.

stop key phrase cannibalization

Stopping key phrase cannibalization from occurring within the first place is at all times higher than fixing it after the very fact.

Firstly, you possibly can stop cannibalization points just by doing thorough key phrase analysis (and mapping) earlier than creating content material to your web site.

If you’re utilizing KWFinder, you possibly can shortly analyze all your key phrases and divide them into particular person teams (or tabs) based on their matters, search intent, and so forth.

KWFinder - creating keyword lists example

Secondly, you need to create a strong and numerous content material technique that features a plan for key phrase focusing on, and ensure that every web page in your web site is focusing on a novel key phrase.

Observe: Remember the fact that matters and intents behind key phrases that you’re rating for could change now and again unexpectedly (particularly for trending or not-so-evergreen key phrases).

Since Google is continually attempting to determine what customers need once they sort their queries into the search, it could simply occur that sometime it can begin displaying completely different pages out of your web site in SERPs that you just initially supposed to.

In an effort to keep away from potential key phrase cannibalization sooner or later, you need to frequently examine the rating efficiency of your pages with instruments like SERPWatcher and be able to make any needed optimizations in your web site.



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