What Is Keyword Cannibalization In SEO

Keyword cannibalization occurs when you target too many similar keywords across different pieces of content on your website.

Doing this can cause Google to become confused as to which piece of content is most important, and it may end up ranking something you don’t want to rank.

Keyword cannibalization can ultimately hurt your website and keep you from generating the traffic you seek. Let’s take a deeper look at keyword cannibalization and how it impacts your website.

Diving deeper into keyword cannibalization

The rapid adoption of new digital technologies can have unintended consequences, including the phenomenon known as keyword cannibalization.

This term refers to the phenomenon of a website’s ranking for one or more keywords dropping as other websites with similar content appear higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Websites that rank well for one keyword may suffer when their focus shifts to other related keywords.

Online marketers are always looking for new ways to increase traffic and ROI for their businesses.

However, if a website focuses too heavily on only a few select keywords, it may struggle to achieve the same success with different terms.

The content you intend to rank may be “cannibalized” by other content with similar keywords, resulting in your competition getting the traffic instead.

When competing websites start using similar keywords in their titles and descriptions, it can significantly reduce traffic and tarnish a site’s reputation.

Benefits of avoiding keyword cannibalism

Many small businesses don’t realize that they are cannibalizing their own potential by using the same keywords over and over again in their web content.

This can lead to a decrease in traffic, as Google may begin to rank your site lower for those keywords due to the lack of originality.

By avoiding keyword cannibalism, you can increase your chance of ranking higher for your most important terms and attracting new customers. 

One common way businesses fall victim to keyword cannibalism is by including too many of the same keywords throughout their website.

For example, if a business is targeting the keyword “auto insurance,” it might include the word “auto” in all of its titles, descriptions, and tags.

However, Google may start penalizing sites with too many occurrences of a single keyword because it believes these sites are all promoting the same product or service.

Why is keyword cannibalism bad for SEO?

Keyword cannibalism is a term used to describe the practice of optimizing a website for the sole purpose of increasing traffic from one’s own keywords, without regard for the negative consequences this may have on the site’s overall SEO.

While there are certainly benefits to optimizing a website for high-traffic keywords, doing so without regard for the site’s overall rank can ultimately have disastrous results.

The primary reason why keyword cannibalism is bad for SEO is that it can result in a site’s ranking being degraded.

This is because Googlebot is designed to crawl and index pages based on their individual relevance, not based on how many pages are optimized specifically for one keyword.

In other words, if your site has been optimized exclusively for keywords that Googlebot considers irrelevant, it will likely struggle to gain traction in search results.

This can be kind of tricky, so if you don’t have the expertise in-house, you can always outsource to a company offering SEO services. This can help you ensure you’re approaching the fixes the proper way.

How keyword cannibalism affects growing websites?

In recent years, keyword cannibalism has become a common problem on websites. While it may seem like a harmless practice, it can actually have negative consequences for a website’s growth.

Keyword cannibalism occurs when a website uses more than one keyword to improve its search engine ranking. However, this can lead to visitors using different keywords to find the same information, which reduces traffic and revenue. 

This issue is prevalent in new websites that are still trying to rank for specific keywords.

Over time, the website’s traffic and revenue will decline as other websites catch up with their keyword usage.

To avoid this problem, Website owners should target only a few critical keywords that they believe will be most beneficial for their site.

Additionally, they should make sure that their website content is relevant to those keywords and focuses on providing valuable information rather than advertising or affiliate links.


In conclusion, keyword cannibalization is the act of overdoing it with one or more keywords in your attempt to show up in a search engine’s SERP.

This can have a detrimental effect on your website’s organic traffic and can even result in a loss of rankings.

If you’re noticing a significant drop in traffic or rankings, it may be time to assess your website’s keyword strategy and address any concerns that may be associated with the overuse of certain keywords.

Hugo Baker
Latest posts by Hugo Baker (see all)
Categories SEO

1 thought on “What Is Keyword Cannibalization In SEO”

  1. Nice breakdown here Hugo. I update old posts regularly to catch any cannibalization errors I made during my green SEO days. As a newbie with my blog I did not know about this mistake but learning of the error helped me edit posts and rank more often on Google.



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