SEO Teaching

Optimizing your articles for similar search terms may cause keyword cannibalization, affecting your rankings on Google. Chances are your content will compete with itself, becoming detrimental to your SEO.

Here is a guide that can help you understand key cannibalization and how to solve it.

What is keyword cannibalization?

This occurs when you have several articles or blog posts on your website designed to rank for the same search query. Unfortunately, optimizing articles with the same keywords or those that cover very similar topics impacts their ranking as they compete with each other.

Normally, Google only shows one or two results for a specific search query from the same domain. Hence, your articles may end up with a lower click-through rate and a diminished authority if you have several.

Why it’s bad for SEO

Key cannibalization hurts your SEO because you’ll be competing with yourself to rank in Google. For instance, when you have two articles on your site with the same focus keyword or the same topic, Google won’t be able to distinguish which should rank highest for the search term. Furthermore, essential factors such as click-through rate (CTR) and backlinks get diluted over similar posts. Therefore, your articles will probably rank lower.

However, keyword cannibalism can also occur when you optimize articles whose focus keywords are almost the same. For example, an article with “readability ranking factor” as a search term, and one with “does readability rank” as a search term can compete for rankings. This is because Google finds it hard to distinguish which of the two is important.

How to recognize it

You can check for keyword cannibalism on your site by searching for any specific keyword you suspect has multiple results. After the search, look at which of your pages you see on the search results and ranks. If any two pages with the same keyword rank on, for example, positions eight and nine, it’s time to act.

How to solve keyword cannibalization

There are four main steps to solving keyword cannibalization. These include:

1. Audit your content
2. Analyze performance
3. Decide what you want to keep
4. Take action – merge, redirect, or delete

First, you need to identify which content on your site ranks for the same keyword or the same topic. Then, look at the content performance to see the click-through rates and traffic generated from the articles. Lastly, you’ll need to decide what you want to keep, delete, or redirect.

Merge articles

You can improve your Google ranking by combining two articles with the same topic or those that attract the same audience. This way, you have well-written and lengthy content while solving your keyword cannibalization problem. But, make sure you redirect the deleted post to the one you keep.

Improving internal linking

Setting up an internal linking structure allows Google to identify which pages you want to rank high. For instance, you can link from articles that are less important to the ones that are more important so that Google figures out which you want to rank highest on search engines.

Online shops

For online shops, keyword cannibalization can be a problem since several product pages can target similar keywords. Therefore, it’s vital to link back every product page to your category page, which is the one you’ll optimize.

Keyword cannibalization can affect big websites

Growing websites also face a keyword cannibalization problem as you may write similar articles without your knowledge. Luckily, regularly checking for pages you want to rank the highest for search terms can help solve keyword cannibalization.

You’ll also have to rewrite some articles from time to time and make changes to your site’s structure.