Keyword Cannibalization - how to find issues, and how to fix them

SEOTesting.com has a report that helps find keyword cannibalization issues across your site that affect your top keywords.

In an ideal world each page on your website would target a specific keyword, but as websites age and more content gets published - it can be harder for Google to decide which page of your site is best to rank for a specific query.

You can find the keyword cannibalization report by selecting the site you wish to work with and visiting the Reports section from the left hand menu.

Screenshot of the keyword cannibalization report in SEOTesting.com

Screenshot of the keyword cannibalization report in SEOTesting.com - you can click on each keyword to see which urls are ranking for each query.

Upon clicking the button to request the cannibalization report, SEOTesting will start processing your sites data and send you an email when the report is ready to view.

This report takes the top 20% of queries that your site appears for in Google, and checks whether each keyword has multiple pages ranking.

If a query has 2 or more pages from your site being displayed in the search results this could indicate 2 or more of your pages are competing against each other. Fixing this issue could really improve your ranking for that keyword.

What is keyword cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization can occur when multiple pages are ranking for the same query.

It’s particularly an issue for older and growing websites where similar content has been created without sticking to a content/keyword plan.

Why is keyword cannibalization bad for websites?

Due to having multiple pieces of content that accidentally target the same keyword, Google is unsure which piece of content to rank highest from your site.

This means content in your sites top position can flip every so often or Google may divide your ability to rank for a particular keyword across 2 or more separate pages hurting your ability to rank highly.

How to fix keyword cannibalization issues

There are a number of options available to you if you find 2+ pages competing for the same keyword:

1, Check your page titles.

You may have a simple issue of duplicate page titles.

If so you may be able to remove the target keyword from any page that is not the target to rank for the keyword.

2, Link from the non-target pages to the main page you want to rank for that keyword.

If you do have multiple pages ranking for a keyword, and you want to keep all the pages, you should internally link from non-target pages to the target url. This link should use the keyword as the anchor text as this will indicate to Google that this target url is the one that should be ranking for this keyword.

Locating keyword cannibalization issues can be turned into a positive for a site by showing you lots of opportunities to include additional internal links across the site.

3, Merge pages and redirect.

There may be the possibility of taking multiple pages ranking for the same keyword and combining them into a single comprehensive page.

If you do this, make sure you redirect any urls you combine to the url you are targeting for the keyword.

4, Remove pages and redirect.

Rather than merge articles together, it may be a simple task of removing unnecessary pages that accidently target a keyword. As with merging, make sure you redirect any urls you remove to the page you do want to rank for the keyword.

5, You might decide to do nothing.

Sometimes having 2 results in the search results for a keyword is what you want, especially if they fulfill different types of search intent for example an ecommerce page and a review article.

Summary

Keyword cannibalization could be harming your efforts to rank specific keywords. I recommend running the Keyword Cannibalization report at least once a quarter. This will help you diagnose cannibalization issues so you can fix them and give your target page the best chance of ranking well.