Marketing 3 minute read

Keyword Cannibalisation: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them for Better Search Engine Rankings

Escape keyword cannibalization and elevate your website's SEO potential.

When it comes to SEO, choosing the right keywords and optimizing your content for them is essential to improve your search engine rankings. However, many website owners and marketers make a common mistake known as “Keyword Cannibalization” that can actually harm their SEO efforts. In simple terms, keyword cannibalization refers to the situation where multiple pages on a website are competing for the same keyword, causing confusion for search engines and weakening the overall search ranking of the site. This article will discuss the common mistakes that lead to keyword cannibalization and provide actionable tips on how to avoid them, in order to achieve better search engine rankings and improve your website’s visibility.


What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple pages or blog posts on your website targeting the same keyword. While it might seem like a good strategy to have more page ranking for a specific keyword, it can actually be detrimental to your website’s SEO.

This is because search engines like Google prioritize delivering the most relevant and informative content to users, and having multiple pages competing for the same keyword can dilute the overall authority of your website. Essentially, instead of one page dominating the search results for a specific keyword, you end up with multiple pages competing for that top spot, which weakens the overall ranking potential of your site. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the concept of keyword cannibalization, explore its negative impact on your website’s SEO, and provide practical tips on how to avoid this common mistake.


The Negative Effects of Keyword Cannibalization on Your Website’s Search Engine Rankings

Imagine you have two pages on your website that are both optimized for the same keyword. Despite having great on-page SEO and being part of the same website, these pages are actually competing against each other. This competition can confuse Google’s algorithm and cause it to display both pages in search results, rather than just one.

In addition to harming your website’s SEO, keyword cannibalization can also have negative effects on user engagement. Splitting user traffic between multiple pages can result in lower engagement metrics like higher bounce rates, lower click-through rates, and weaker backlinks. This dilutes the overall performance of your content, which can further harm your SEO rankings.

It’s essential to understand that keyword cannibalization affects not only your keywords but also your content’s intent. If you have two pages optimized for the same keywords and intended for users in the same stage of their buying journey, they may end up competing with each other. This competition can hinder each page’s ability to rank higher in search results.

Once you’ve identified keyword cannibalization in your content gap analysis, it’s crucial to take steps to stop your pages from competing. Failure to do so can lead to negative effects such as decreased search engine rankings, lower click-through rates, and reduced conversions.

  1. Split click-through rate decreases the authority: One of the negative consequences of keyword cannibalization is the potential loss of authority for your pages. When two pages compete for the same keyword, the click-through rate is split between them, preventing either page from establishing itself as the definitive authority on the topic.
  2. Multiple pages competing dilutes user experience: It’s always best to give users the information they’re looking for with as few clicks as possible. Rather than having everything they need for the topic on one page, your website requires them to look at multiple pages.
  3. Wrong page can be devalued by Google due to cannibalization: Keyword cannibalization can lead to Google’s algorithm choosing the wrong page for a particular keyword, despite your intention of highlighting one page over the other. This can potentially reduce the visibility and traffic of your intended page.
  4. Quality and value of the page diminish with cannibalization: When search engines see multiple pages on a website competing for the same keyword, they may interpret it as a signal that the website lacks sufficient content on that topic. This can negatively impact the website’s search engine rankings.


Spotting the pitfalls of keyword cannibalization and how to circumvent them

Identifying keyword cannibalization is easy with a search engine like Google. To perform a quick content gap analysis, type “site:<your website> <keyword phrase>” on your search bar. It should show you the list of pages ranking for those keywords. If you’re working with experienced content marketing experts and digital marketing professionals, they can take steps to prevent two pages from trying to rank for the same keywords. Webmasters can add this to their on-page SEO checklist by checking their website for cannibalization through Google Search Console.

Finding more than one of your pages for a keyword search result isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If your product or service falls in the same niche or industry, it’s common for more than one page to pop up. For instance, roof inspections and roof maintenance are different types of services, but service providers may provide both, and their scopes can overlap in some areas.

In this case, cannibalization isn’t necessarily bad as long as one is clearly favored over the other in search results. But if you find that both pages are on the same search result and are ranking low, that’s a sign of keyword cannibalization.


Partner with Unthinkable for effective on-page SEO services that prevent keyword cannibalization

At Unthinkable, we take steps to ensure your website isn’t hindering its own potential to rank higher on search engine results. Whether it’s our SEO writing services, CRO audit services or content marketing services, we’re careful to avoid keyword cannibalization from happening.

After identifying keyword cannibalization on prospective clients with a thorough website audit, identify the issue and recommend the necessary solution to minimize cannibalization without sacrificing the visits and user count already accumulated from both pages.


Maximizing Your Website’s SEO Potential

The Importance of Preventing Keyword Cannibalization Through Content Audits and On-Page Optimization Strategies. Our content gap analysis, performed during a content audit, identifies potential keyword cannibalization risks. We recommend solutions like merging pages, and redirects, fixing internal links, and deleting outdated content to prevent keyword cannibalization and improve your website’s SEO performance.

From your content audit, we can recommend a number of solutions. Usually, resolving instances of keyword cannibalization means adding the following on-page optimization strategies to your website content management:

Merging pages:

  • Combining similar pages into one larger page to avoid keyword cannibalization.
  • Consolidating overlapping content into a single, more comprehensive page.
  • Creating a new page that covers both topics and redirecting the old pages to it.
  • Streamlining your content and ensuring that you provide the most relevant and complete information to your users.


  • Redirecting one page to the other to eliminate the possibility of cannibalization.
  • Updating your internal linking structure to point to the correct page and avoid confusion.
  • Using a 301 redirect to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the most relevant page.
  • Making sure that all of your links point to a single, authoritative page on the topic.

Fixing your internal links:

  • Reviewing your internal linking structure to ensure that it accurately reflects the importance of each page.
  • Updating your internal links to point to the most relevant and authoritative page.
  • Creating a hierarchical structure for your pages to indicate which ones are the most important.
  • Using internal linking to signal to Google which pages should be considered the most relevant.

Deleting outdated content:

  • Removing old, outdated content to prevent keyword cannibalization.
  • Consolidating old content into newer pages that have more up-to-date information.
  • Updating older pages to ensure that they are still relevant and informative.
  • Using analytics data to determine which pages are the most popular and valuable, and focusing on those pages.

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