Is Keyword Cannibalization Hurting your SEO Performance?

By Kevin Cotch

Keyword cannibalization is a common issue that applies to all types of websites. To make matters worse, some marketers are not aware that their website might be facing a keyword cannibalization issue. Instead, marketers often look at a website on a page-by-page basis instead of the whole website when it comes to targeting keywords.

In fact, many websites face a keyword cannibalization issue because of historic content or a lack of a clear search strategy. It is important to identify and address a keyword cannibalization issue to maximize your search visibility and plan your future content creation.

Before explaining what keyword cannibalization is, it’s important to understand why this issue is relevant in the digital marketing industry. In today’s world, many websites are faced with historic content that still ranks for target terms. What is often forgotten is that that historic content can compete with new content being created, which leads to cannibalizing traffic or the keyword topics.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is when your website has multiple pages that are mainly targeting the same core keyword and/or keyword topic. This situation often occurs due to CMS issues related to parameter pages, as well as, when the same keyword is intentionally used on multiple pages.

Unfortunately, keyword cannibalization is still occurring on multiple websites which can impact your search engine optimization (SEO) results as each page might compete with each other in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are multiple reasons why you would want to fix keyword cannibalization including:

  • Diluting authority between pages: multiple pages with the same primary keyword topic can will make it more difficult for search engines to understand what the authoritative page is.
  • Inefficient crawling and indexing of pages: Having multiple pages that are competing with each other makes search engines crawl pages that are not needed.

One of the biggest issues that keyword cannibalization causes is that search engines need to pick what the best page is for that keyword topic. In other words, that means that you are competing with yourself.

Hypothetical Keyword Cannibalization Example

To help explain keyword cannibalization example, let’s walk through a hypothetical example. This example will focus on the lack of a website’s internal structure and overall keyword targeting strategy.

For example, let’s say you have an eCommerce website that sells lacrosse equipment (selfish plug, as I coach lacrosse and the season just started). Most eCommerce websites use parameters to filter/sort products. For this example, our lacrosse store has a page for “lacrosse heads” that shows all the lacrosse heads that we sell. We might run into a keyword cannibalization issue if we have multiple parameter pages for each manufacturer of “lacrosse heads.”

In this example, our store might have a “lacrosse heads” page with the URL of www.lacrossestore.com/lacrosse-heads. Then on the page we options to select the manufacturer, which results in a new parameter page of www.lacrossestore.com/lacrosse-heads?brand=1. Essentially, that page would have the same title tag and keyword topic that could compete with the main www.lacrossestore.com/lacrosse-heads page. A search engine would Go to the full article.

Source:: Online Marketing Blot – TopRank

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