When it comes to online digital market, there is a very common misconception that higher the number of pages you will target a keyword, the better the ranking you will get for that keyword. And one of the major belief behind this fact is that the maximum number of pages you are trumpeting your niche, search engine giant like Google will pick up keywords more and will maximize the rankings on SERPs.
Well, it’s quite unfortunate but it’s not true at all. In fact, when you are targeting a specific keyword across a number of pages, then it will have completely exact meaning. The results will be completely opposite and you will end up making harm rather than making good for your SEO.
The reason is very simple and straightforward! Consider a situation when you have a number of pages ranking for the same keyword, now you will be competing with yourself only. As a result, each of pages will have lower CTR, least conversion rates and diminishes authority. But all these do not happen in case of one consolidate page. This misstep in the SEO industry is known as Keyword Cannibalization by the industry experts.
Keyword ‘cannibalization’ because by doing so, the users will be “cannibalizing” their own search results. They will be splitting their links, CTR, content and sometimes the conversions between two different pages that are supposed to be one.
By doing this, digital marketers will not be improving the authority of their website against that particular search query or they will be showing the depth of their skills related to SEO. But they will be asking Google to weigh the pages against each of them and then ask to choose the one that suits the keywords the most.
Well, unlike any SEO related problem this is one of the easiest to solve, of course, once it is identified properly. Expert SEO analysts suggest that identifying keyword cannibalization is as easy as generating a matrix of the keyword. One just has to create a spreadsheet in which all the critical URLs of the website along with the related keywords will be listed out.
Suppose, you have a website that mainly deals with selling shoes, then your spreadsheet will look just like the image shown below.
Other than that one can also use a keyword mapping tool and that will look like –
In case you come across duplicate entries of the keyword in the spreadsheet, then make sure that you are having an issue of keyword cannibalization. One must make sure that this issue only occurs when the meta tags in the title tags are targeting the similar keyword. In case you are opting for rank tracking tool, then also you should take this opportunity in order to identify the keywords that are integrated to the wrong page wrongly as well as the presence of poor quality content. So, in any of the cases, a double check is a must!
Solving the issue of keyword cannibalization entirely depends on the root of the problem. Out of 100, almost 80% cases are simply one of the organizations, but rest of the 20% of the issues might take the users to break out the concept of new landing pages or 301s. Below mentioned are some solutions through which one can easily out the issue.
You might need to create a distinct landing page and that will serve as the authoritative source page. This will also help you to consolidate all the product related pages at one place. This can also be used to link all the variations from the previous pages.
This is considered as the simplest solutions one can apply to solve the issue. Users can take out their most authoritative page and then turn it into a landing page that will link to different variations and that comes under the umbrella of the targeted keywords.
If you have content-rich pages that are of diverse and high quality then it is sure that your site might be suffering from weak keyword strategy. In this context, all you need to do is to find new keywords.
If you see that the pages in your site are not being able to allow having numerous pages targeting similar keyword then make sure to combine them into one single page. This might turn two underperforming pages and will turn them into an authoritative source.
Well, this solution is effective when you have different pages that are ranking for the similar keywords. The best thing about using 301s is that it allows SEO analysts to amalgamate the cannibalized content just by linking all the less relevant pages to a single one.
In case you are having e-Commerce website then it becomes very important to make sure that how the CMS of your site splits products with a varied range of size as well as colors.
Negative Impact of Keyword Cannibalization that Shows on Your SEO
It is very important to keep in mind that keyword cannibalization has some deadly shortcoming on the SEO of any given company or individual. This might result in the fluctuating rankings of your site on the SERPs, queries will be leading to incorrect pages, least amount of traffic to the website and most importantly significant downfall in the sales ratio. Check out the reason discussed below that why all these happen.
Due to keyword cannibalization, the backlinks that were supposed to go as a consolidated source of information are now split into two different pages. Similarly, the internal links and the anchor text also lead visitors to different pages apart from leading to the authoritative page.
It is obvious that you will be splitting the CTR to a different number of relevant pages instead of having an only page authoritative page. Thus, you have converted your own pages as your rivals and you will have to struggle hard to get back the higher rankings on the SERPs.
Having a number of pages having similar kind of keyword will let your audience that the content is probably thin. In addition to that, it also indicates Google that the content available in your site might not match with the keywords on each and every page.
Google makes use of the keywords to understand that what does your pages have and in case all the keywords are same, then Google will find it difficult to understand that which one is the best keyword.
It is evident that one of your pages will be able to convert better than the rest. Apart from redirecting new audience to the site, you will end up losing potential leads, especially when they land on the least relevant pages.
The concept of keyword cannibalization in nowadays is more relevant than it was ever before. It is strange that most of the sufferers are webmasters who go on to recognizing the importance of SEO. But while they want to optimize the site, they fail to extract the meaning regarding how to speak Google’s language. All it can be said that if your website is also cannibalizing the targeted keywords then solutions will not be too difficult to come. In addition to that, the level of damage will not be permanent.
Searchenginejournal and Screenshots by Author.