Identification and Fixation of Keyword Cannibalization – A Guide
What is Keyword Cannibalization? It occurs when we try to rank for a keyword with more than one URL on our website. You can relate the situation that you are playing chess on both side. When positioning more than one type of content reduces the effectiveness and confuse Google and user at the same time.
Here user intent is the focus. The keyword you want to rank might be different but the search intent will be the same. Now, in this blog, we will be looking at the different aspects related to the keyword cannibalization in SEO, identification, and its fixation. So, let’s talk about it one by one:
Multiple Pages Competition
Different URLs competing for the same keyword is not a new thing. No matter what, either you have e-commerce website having thousands of products, a news website with a lot of information, or a business having a corporate blog. In all these situations, keyword cannibalization will be affecting you.
If you want to avoid losing the website authority, it is very significant to select the right landing page for each query along with website architecture and internal linking strategy.
Just ask this question from yourself, why you need to create two pieces of content for same keyword or similar user search intent queries when they can be addressed on a single separate page. If you have a blog section on your commercial website, then it is recommended to have a keyword in the blog that is related to your service offering.
Furthermore, you should use an organized blog calendar to manage your topics that are already covered.
Keyword Cannibalization Affecting Your Website Positioning
You need to keep the five conditions in mind as listed below in which the keyword cannibalization will affect your website position:
Authority Fall in Google’s Eye: Having duplicate content will not save you from being penalized by Google. In this situation, the search engines will lower down your ranking on the SERP. The competition between your URLs will divide the strength and affect your organic visibility in a negative way.
Confusion of Search Engine: When authority is divided between the different pages that are ranking for the same keyword, then search engine is not able to identify which content is more valuable for the user. This situation will make the search engine to select the competitor for results that are having good readability. Your pages will appear in the search but will not be positioned high.
Confusion for User: If more than one pages are displayed on SERP, they may not give the required result needed by the user. This will lead to rebound and affect the SEO. Due to this, a search engine will understand that your content is not relevant according to the query.
Unnecessary Indexing of Pages: Keyword cannibalization enables the search engine to crawl the useless URLs of your website. This will affect your crawling budget. In the case of small blogs, many URLs are not indexed but in e-commerce website thousands of references between different types of products categories, URL parameters, catalog, sales pages etc are indexed.
Weak Link-Building: A successful link building strategy will add the extra layer of difficulty due to the fact that you might be cannibalizing themes and incoming links will scatter around the different page of your website. For instance, if your two or three pages are talking about the same topic how a person will know which URL should be linked?
Identification of Keyword Cannibalization
Here’s a question, how to identify keyword cannibalization? Detecting the keyword cannibalization is not difficult. You can detect this issue in a complete SEO audit of the website. This can be done by you or you can hire reputed SEO company for this service. You can use the following three methods to carry out this:
1- Use Website Search Widget
You need to search for the keyword that you think is competitive and you will found that multiple URLs will appear during keyword search. When you are going to upload a new page first, search for the main keyword using the search widget to see where else it appears to know the website keyword ranking.
2- Utilize “SITE:” Command
You can analyze your website using the different commands. For instance, typing SITE: can help you identify your indexed pages. When you will add a search term you will see the content within the domain. The result will offer a SERP formed by all URLs in the domain that are indexed. Furthermore, you will get the keywords that are competing against each other in the search.
3- Use Google Search Console
If website is registered on Google Search Console, then this tool can help you detect the keyword cannibalization. You need to do the following steps:
- Log in to your account. Go to the section Search Traffic and then to Search Analytics.
- In the list of keywords shown in below graph. Click on one keyword you desire to analyze in search of cannibalizations.
- Activate the Pages option. In this way, you will get the URLs for which a keyword is ranking for.
- If the keyword is positioned for more than two pages, then you are having keyword cannibalization.
Fixation of Keyword Cannibalization on Website or E-commerce
Now, the next question in your mind will be, how to fix keyword cannibalization? According to the volume and size of your domain along with the amount of content, you need to use one of the following five methods for fixation:
1- Create Keyword for Each URL
You need to plan everything before and create a single page with all the necessary information for the user. In simple words, you should have a single URL for each keyword.
2- Utilize 301 Redirects
You can use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to analyze the URLs having the organic strength. You need to analyze each URLs for a volume of incoming links, greater authority, and keyword positioned. After this, create a piece of content that has all the information in the URL with more organic strength. You might be thinking what about the other keywords?
Other keywords may also produce keyword cannibalization. They might receive internal links from other pages of the website that are already shared on social networks, etc. If you will eliminate them,and when people will try to access them they will get 404 error.
3- 301 Redirects
This practice will allow the user to get the desired information on the main page as a single landing page. Furthermore, this will contribute to UX improvement and will be a positive sign for Google so it will be taken into consideration that organic search will be carried out. The redirected URL will the transmit the authority to the destination making it stronger.
4- Canonical URL
It is an HTML tag, that suggests the Google that there are many pieces of content they should rank for the same keyword, while there will be one that is more relevant.
This approach has a disadvantage that it will not transfer the authority to URL that is indicated irrelevant or relevant for the search intent as in 301 redirects. Moreover, canonicals use is similar to the suggestion that is made to search engine, so Google can ignore this.
This solution is more valid for e-commerce website as compared to the blog. Consider the example, an e-commerce website will face keyword cannibalization for terms like Red Sneakers, White Sneakers, and Green Sneakers. You can imagine that we can add a list of all the colors sold in the store. So, the main keyword will be sneaker with the only exception of color. In this, the “suggestion” makes sense.
Using the above example, there will be a canonical tag in all URLs referencing to a grey sneaker. This will help Google to understand that the grey sneaker is the main product of this page.
For an e-commerce website, it is unavoidable that there will be dozens or hundreds of references that will be pointing to an identical keyword. You can utilize canonical here but sometimes it is not preferable to index these products in search engine leaving only the categories. You can easily achieve this using “no-index tag”. Doing so, the search engine will ignore the page and you can devote all your effort to position the categories.
5- Internal Linking
This practice is a light tactic that will tell Google that which URL is important for internal linking from page to another. In this, “DoFollow” link from a less relevant page is added to the powerful URL using exact anchor text. This method is best when you are managing a client blog. You will be able to create and publish content but cannot access the certain technical sections like cPanel so, this will make the redirection impossible. Therefore, you also need to focus on the internal link building strategy to analyze the things properly.
Keyword cannibalization can seriously affect your keyword ranking. It is imperative to identify and fix the keyword cannibalization for improving the content ranking so that relevant content appears on top of the SERPs. You also use keyword cannibalization checker to carry out the work.
Furthermore, if you are not able to do all this, you can get professional SEO services. Contact Marketalist, an experienced SEO company Boston who will provide you various services that include digital marketing, content marketing, monthly SEO maintenance and more to enhance your business ranking and visibility on the search engine.