Keyword Cannibalization – How to Identify and Avoid

Keyword cannibalization is a term that is used to describe a situation where several different pages on the site target for the same keyword or very closely related keywords. A confused keyword strategy can kill keywords ranking and qualify of traffic. This in turn will lead to decrease in trust factor and in DA if it is not solved. We will explore various methods to identify and avoid keyword cannibalization.

Cannibalization affects:

  • Site authority
  • Search Engine performance
  • Site rankings
  • Conversion rates

Common Types of Keyword Cannibalization

Several Pages target same set of keywords:

Paid traffic vs organic results cannibalization

UGC

Automated/Data Driven Content

Indicators for Keyword Cannibalization?

Monitoring your SERPS:

A fluctuating SERP is usually because of cannibalization.

Is the SERP of a particular keyword constantly changing? Fluctuating SERPs is a common sign of keyword cannibalization and typically means Google cannot figure out which page should rank.

Analyze Rank Fluctuations in target pages:

Check GSC- Will help you in understanding how many pages rank for the same keyword

Use Site Search + Target term

Keep a detailed map of keywords-to-URLs

Monitor Organic Traffic Share

How Can We Fix Keyword Cannibalization?

Depends on whether you are willing to pay or not pay for this solution. If you are willing to pay, I suggest you to opt for semrush’s position tracking tool.

There are two options when it comes to using this tool. You can view potential issues either by “pages” or by “keyword” to quickly find opportunities and start fixing them.

Starting with the keyword view should be your first step. You will be looking at cannibalization more frequently on a keyword-by-keyword basis instead of a page-by-page basis.

You can analyze any given keyword and see where multiple URLs are ranking and the positions they appear in to prioritize opportunities—considering the search volume, estimated traffic, and current ranking position.

The Position Tracking tool assists in analyzing URL fluctuations that could point to a cannibalization issue. You can also see a keyword’s history by clicking the arrow next to the keyword for an expanded view.

Using these features of the tool can help you to identify issues at a top-level and determine when this began and which pages are cannibalizing one another.

Semrush Position Tracking Tool

You will see a “cannibalization” tab within the tool—this is a great place to start finding issues that exist on your site.

Google Search Console (GSC) can be a great tool for finding cannibalization issues.

To use it, head to the performance report, and you will see, by default, a list of queries that your site has earned impressions and clicks from. 

Click into one of these queries, via the “pages tab” and you will see a list of the URLs that rank for that query and the associated stats that go along with it.

Build a Detailed SEO Map

Filter Duplicates in your SEO Map

Arrange SEO Map to ensure that every URL targets a unique matched phrase

Use a keyword generator to identify the new relevant terms

Target the affected pages

One page with definite authority will rank much higher and help the domain in the long run than split signal results

Nikhil Kuruganti

Align Internal Linking structure in the site

Orient outreach activities to the new map

Align paid activities with organic efforts: Keep testing the common CTR

How About Larger Data Driven- Content Sites?

The above said rules are applicable even to the data-driven sites. In fact, changing a faulty template can have multi-fold effect on the results.

How Can We Proactively Avoid Cannibalization?

Format SEO Map to show duplicates: You can get 80% of your work done there and then!

Focussing on Topic Clusters before coming up with Keywords

Audit your content regularly

Audit your ranking periodically

Set Strick UGC Rules or just block