Keyword cannibalization can be tricky to identify and resolve. However, taking some time to analyze your website's structure and search performance can uncover cases of cannibalization. With a few adjustments to optimize pages differently and divert traffic more effectively, you can eliminate duplication that confuses search engines and visitors.
Read our informational: Expert Tips on Website Optimization for Search Engines.
Identifying Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple pages targeting the same term. Often, the pages end up competing against each other in search results.
Signs your site is suffering from cannibalization include:
Check Search Performance for Duplicate Rankings
Look at your position tracking data for key terms you want to rank well for. See if you have more than one URL listed - that indicates pages targeting the same keywords. Over time, those internal competitors dilute performance. Command less presence and gradually decline in rank.
Analyze Site Structure for Overlapping Topics
Examine your information architecture - how content is organized, and topics are covered across different sections. If you have multiple category pages or content pieces revolving around one concept, you likely have duplication. Those overlapping resources split the relevance signal around that topic.
Notice Referral Traffic Going to Multiple Pages
Use analytics to trace referral traffic through click-throughs from search engines. See which landing pages get visits from queries around priority keywords. If clicks disperse across various documents instead of concentrating on one, that is a red flag for cannibalization.
Distinguishing Optimization Opportunities
Once aware of cannibalizing content, you need to decipher what tweaks can better differentiate those pages.
Compare Page Purpose and Messaging
Read through all pages, targeting the same keyword. Assess their core focus, goals, and the unique value offered to visitors. If they convey nearly identical things or answer the same question, consolidation should be considered.
Contrast Content Depth and Details
Analyze how extensively each document covers aspects of the topic. One page may provide general overview info, while another dives deeper into specifics. Preserve the one offering more in-depth commentary while adjusting others.
Map Out User Intent Variations
Brainstorm the types of queries and intent driving traffic to cannibalized pages. One targets bottom-of-the-funnel product research, while another satisfies early informational needs. Optimizing for those distinct search purposes can separate content.
Redirecting Traffic Tactically
Page adjustments are only part of addressing cannibalization. You also need to direct existing traffic from redundant pages towards consolidated, better-optimized ones.
301 Redirect Thin Content to Authority Pages
If you end up removing or scaling back secondary pages to double down on priority ones, use 301 redirects. This permanent redirect code passes link equity to signal consolidated pages as the main resource.
Link Internally Between Related Pages
Place relevant linkage between pages touching on connected concepts, questions, or keywords. This ties them together for Google without targeting terms identically. Contextual internal links also aid navigation for visitors.
Revise Anchor Text to Support Target Pages
Point internal links, site search recommendations, site architecture, and other on-site signals toward designated target pages for terms. Anchor text and linking can endorse consolidated pages as the prime destination.
Ongoing Keyword Cannibalization Prevention
Eliminating current content duplication sets the foundation. Maintaining focus requires vigilance moving forward as your website grows.
Audit New Pages During Onboarding
As more pages get created, have a process to determine how their subjects and keywords fit with existing content. Reference earlier analysis around core topics and intent variations to guide optimization.
Name Pages and Files by Primary Focus
Standardized page titling conventions that put the most important phrase or concept first enable easy auditing. At a glance, you can cross-reference keywords across the site during optimization reviews.
Set Up Automated Performance Tracking
Use rank tracking and website analytics tools to receive automatic alerts around drops in rank or traffic. Declines often indicate underlying issues like cannibalization. The sooner detected, the quicker you can diagnose root causes.
Cannibalization may happen gradually over time. However, taking a systematic approach to identify and address duplication establishes the clarity search engines and visitors need. Consolidating authority and optimizing differences gives you the best shot at ranking well.
Keyword cannibalization can certainly present challenges as it muddles the relevance signal and authority passed to search engines. Multiple pages targeting the same terms confuse Google regarding which pages to surface for various queries. However, taking the time to routinely analyze site content for duplication, distinguish optimization paths, and consolidate authority offers solutions. Establishing one properly optimized page for each priority term, backed by redirects from redundant pages, brings clarity.
Continuing to keep keyword targeting and optimization distinct across your website then sustains concentration. While cannibalization may require initial investigation and adjustments, staying vigilant about differentiation prevents repeats. With some strategic analysis and updates, you can overcome clutter to better connect visitors with the answers they seek.
If tackling keyword cannibalization across a complex website feels daunting, the SEO specialists at MacroHype can lend a hand.