SEO is an ever-evolving component of digital marketing, and keyword cannibalism is one of the many pitfalls that can occur.
Keyword cannibalism occurs when two different pages on a website target the same keyword or phrase. This can confuse search engine crawlers, resulting in lower rankings for both pages.
So how do you know if your site has been caught up in Keyword Cannibalization?
In this article, we’ll discuss what keyboard cannibalism is and how to identify the signs that may indicate your website is affected by keyword cannibalism.
What is keyword cannibalism?
Keyword cannibalism occurs when two or more pages on a website target the same keyword or phrase. This is commonly seen with product pages, blog posts, and landing pages. For example, if two different product pages both target “women’s shoes,” then this would be classified as keyword cannibalism.
When keyword cannibalism occurs, it can have a negative effect on search engine rankings. This is because Google’s algorithms are designed to reward websites that provide relevant content for specific keyword queries.
When two pages on the same website both target the same keyword, then the algorithm will only rank one of them and not both.
For example, say you have two product pages that both target “women’s shoes.” Only one of these pages will likely rank in the search engine results. This can be damaging to businesses.
This means potential customers looking for these products may not find them through a search engine query.
What makes keyword cannibalization a problem?
Keyword cannibalization can significantly impact a website’s traffic and search engine rankings. It can result in some of your important pages not appearing or ranking well on search engines, meaning you could miss out on potential customers.
It can also result in two similar pages competing for the same keywords, leading to one page outperforming another. This means that certain pages on your website could be receiving less traffic than they would otherwise, while others might be getting too much.
Finally, it can cause confusion for search engine crawlers and robots – they may not know which page is the most relevant for a particular keyword or phrase and, therefore, won’t index either of them properly. This means that even if your pages would otherwise rank well, they may not end up doing so.
Signs That You May Be Affected By Keyword Cannibalism
Identifying keyword cannibalism is the first step in rectifying it. Here are a few ways to can sniff out keyword cannibalization.
1. Low Rankings for Pages Targeting the Same Keywords
If you’re noticing that multiple pages on your site are targeting the same keywords or phrases, but are receiving low rankings in search engine results, this may be a sign of keyword cannibalism.
For example, if you have two blog posts that target the same keyword and both of them are ranking low, this is an indication that your pages may be competing for the same search engine real estate.
A significant observation here is that only one of these pages should be ranking higher than the other, and not both.
2. Duplicate Content
If there is duplicate content on multiple pages of your website, then this could also be a sign that you’re experiencing keyword cannibalism.
If crawlers detect similar content on multiple pages, they may not know which page to prioritize when indexing, resulting in poor SEO rankings.
For example, if you have two product pages with similar descriptions and images, crawlers may not be able to distinguish between them and may decide to only index one version. The other page will get less exposure, potentially resulting in poor performance.
3. Low Organic Visits
If you’re noticing that the organic visits to your website have significantly decreased or remain stagnant despite optimizing your content for keywords, this could indicate that keyword cannibalism is at play. This can also be seen if you’re investing in SEO but not seeing any improvements in organic traffic.
For example, if you have several product pages with nearly identical content, the search engine may not be able to differentiate between them and will, therefore, only index one of them while ignoring the others. This can lead to a significant drop in organic visits and potential customers who cannot find the products they’re looking for.
4. Analyzing backlinks
Analyzing a website’s backlinks and internal links is also an important part of SEO. Backlinks from other websites which link to yours can be analyzed for quality and relevance.
The number, type, and source of backlinks all play into how your site ranks in search engine results. As well as sending signals to search engines, backlinks provide another benefit: they help to direct the flow of traffic to your website.
For example, if a website links to your page, visitors from that site may be directed to your content. This can lead to increased visibility, traffic, and potential customers, as well as potential sales.
Similarly, internal links – the links which connect pages on your website – can also help with SEO if structured properly. These interconnections between pages within a website can help Google crawl and index your content faster, leading to improved rankings.
5. Low Click-Through Rates
If your website has multiple pages targeting the same keyword but still has low click-through rates (CTR) from search engine results pages, this could be a sign of keyword cannibalism.
When multiple versions of the same content exist on your website, users may not know which page to choose when searching for a particular topic. This can lead to confusion and fewer people clicking through your site, resulting in a lower CTR.
For example, say a user is presented with multiple options for the same keyword query. They may be more likely to click on a competitor’s search results instead.
Similarly, you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword but with slightly different content. In this case, users may not know which one has the information they’re looking for. In response, they decide against clicking on any of them.
6. SEO Audit
It’s important to conduct an SEO audit to identify any potential instances of keyword cannibalism. This involves reviewing your web pages to ensure that each page targets different keywords and has unique content.
If possible, you should also consider consolidating similar web pages into one page. This is to create a more unified experience for visitors and help the search engine better understand your content.
For example, say you have two different pages with similar content. In this case, an SEO audit can help you identify which pages should be kept and those that should be removed or consolidated.
Additionally, this type of audit can reveal any other issues that might hurt your website’s rank. This includes duplicate content, thin content, slow page speed, etc.
7. Comparing metrics
Comparing metrics is an important way to address keyword cannibalization. Say two pages are competing for similar keywords. In this case, it’s essential to compare the metrics associated with each page.
This is to determine which one should be kept and which one should be removed or consolidated. This includes organic traffic, bounce rates, time on the page, etc.
Once you have identified which page is the most successful, you can work on optimizing it to gain more organic traffic and higher rankings. You can also use this comparison to identify why one page is performing better than another and make changes accordingly.
For example, say a successful page is optimized for mobile devices or has faster loading times. You can implement these strategies on the other page to help it perform better. Additionally, you can use the comparison to identify opportunities to cross-promote content between pages. This can be done by finding areas of overlap or complementary topics.
Once you have identified which page is performing better and made any necessary changes, you need to evaluate the results on an ongoing basis. This means checking back regularly to see if the changes you made.
This is done to ascertain the desired effect and make further adjustments as needed. It is also important to tweak any content and design elements that are not working well to ensure maximum performance.
Doing this regularly will help you keep track of your page’s performance. This is to ensure that it is always performing at its best.
Keyword cannibalization can be a major issue when it comes to SEO. Therefore, it’s important to take steps to ensure that your website doesn’t suffer from this problem.
By using the methods outlined above, you can easily identify any instances of keyword cannibalization.
You can also make necessary adjustments to optimize your content for maximum visibility. Doing this regularly will help you maintain your website’s performance and ensure that it ranks highly in search engine results.
By taking the time to optimize your content properly, you will be better positioned to maximize visibility and take advantage of valuable organic traffic.
Investing in keyword research, tracking page performance, and avoiding keyword cannibalization are all essential steps in this process.
If you need further help, reach out to an SEO agency can help you identify any issues with your website. They can also work with you to create an effective and sustainable SEO strategy.
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