What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalism is when different blog posts or articles on your site can rank in Google for the same search query. Either because the topics they cover are too similar or because you optimized them for the same key phrase.
If you optimize posts or articles for search terms that are similar to each other, they hurt each other’s chances of ranking. Most of the time, when you search for something, Google will only show you one or two results from the same domain. If you have a lot of trust, you might get 3.
What’s Wrong With Keyword Cannibalism for SEO?
If you use your own keywords, you’re competing with yourself to get to the top of Google’s search results. Say you have two posts about the same subject. If that happens, Google can’t tell which article should be at the top of the list for a certain search.
Also, important things like backlinks and CTR are spread out over more than one post. Because of this, it’s likely that they’ll all rank lower. So, when you optimize a post for a focus keyword you’ve already used, our SEO analysis will show a red bullet.
But keyword cannibalism can also happen if you optimize posts for focus keywords that aren’t exactly the same, but are almost the same. I wrote two posts about whether or not readability is a factor in ranking.
The focus keyword for the post “Does readability rank?” was “does readability rank,” while the focus keyword for the post “Readability ranks!” was “readability ranking factor.” The posts were written from slightly different points of view, but they were mostly the same. It’s hard for Google to decide which of the two articles is more important.
How to Recognize It?
It’s simple to determine if your website exhibits keyword cannibalism. You merely do a search for your website using any exact keyword you believe may return more than one result. I’ll Google “site:yoast.com readability ranks” in my situation. The first two results are the pieces I thought might have been cannibalized.
searching for “site:domain.com” You can quickly determine whether you have keyword cannibalism by searching for “keyword.” By entering the same query into Google (using a private browser or a local search result checker like https://valentin.app/), you can confirm your findings.
What pages from your website do you see in the search results, and where do they appear? Of course, it’s not a problem if two of your pages for the same keyword are ranked #1 and #2. Do you, however, see your articles, say, on positions 7 and 8? Then, it’s time to resolve the situation!
Solving Keyword Cannibalization
We have a thorough post by Joost that describes how to identify and address cannibalization problems on your site. The four steps you should follow to tackle this kind of problem are clearly described:
- Audit your content
- Analyze content performance
- Decide which ones to keep
- Act: merge, delete, redirect
You can choose which articles to keep, merge, or eliminate with the help of the first two steps. Combining and eliminating content will frequently be the acting part; nevertheless, improving internal linking on your site is also important:
Merge or Combine Articles
If two articles draw the same kind of reader and tell the same kind of story, you should combine them. Rewrite the two posts so that they are one awesome, awesome article. Google likes long, well-written content, so this will help your rankings and stop your keywords from being used by other pages.
In fact, we did just that with our two posts about how readability is used as a ranking factor. In the end, you will get rid of one of the articles and change the other. Use the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin to copy one of the posts, and then work from there.
And don’t just hit the delete button; always make sure to send the post you delete to the one you want to keep. If you are having trouble with that, Yoast SEO Premium can help: It makes it easy as pie to make redirects.
Improve Internal Linking
By setting up a good structure for internal links, you can help Google figure out which article is the most important. You should put links from posts that aren’t as important to you to posts that are. Google can then figure out (by following the links) which ones you want to show up higher in search results.
Your internal linking structure could help with some of the problems you’re having with keywords eating each other. You should think about which article is most important to you and link from less important long-tail articles to your most important article. In my article about how to rank with cornerstone content, you can learn more about how to do this.
Keyword Cannibalism Will Hurt Websites That Are Growing.
If your site gets bigger, it’s more likely that your own keywords will be used against you. You’ll write about the things you like, and without even realizing it, you’ll end up writing articles that are pretty similar.
I had the same thing happen to me. Check the keywords you want to rank for the most every so often. Check to see if you’re using the same keywords over and over again. You might have to change the way your site is set up or rewrite some articles from time to time.