Keyword cannibalization, SEO Agency will explain this concept to you in more detail. It’s a means to get around Google’s ever-changing algorithmic framework. Google’s machine learning-based algorithms have significantly improved over the past ten years at connecting subjects and determining relevance. Despite this, the algorithm is still being run by a machine and is still far from ideal.
Because of this, Google will frequently be unable to determine whether a page on your website is better suited for a certain keyword than another. It’s likely that your site has covered the same subject more than once, especially if you’ve been writing material for a while.
Having two pages that Google must decide between (and maybe assigning comparable ranking values) could prevent you from ever making it into the top three, which would potentially affect my overall keyword ranking.
Now, occasionally it’s crucial to have unique content on your website that addresses the same subject in a similar manner, a little differently, or even in a different year. However, there are methods for getting around “laser concentrating” pages to rank even though others may be seen as being of a similar type by Google; we’ll discuss those at the conclusion.
With this tutorial, I hope to clearly explain what keyword cannibalization is, how to cope with it, when to utilize each specific choice, and how to give priority to one page’s rankings over another.
What Is Keyword Cannibalization?
When the wrong page on your website appears in Google’s search engine results pages for the wrong keyword or keywords, or when you have numerous pages ranking for the same keyword when you only want one, such practice is known as keyword cannibalization.
This usually happens when a website targets the same (or closely related) keywords on several pages. The majority of SEOs think that this makes Google’s algorithms “confused” and causes them to give the page identical ranking values.
How To Spot Keyword Cannibalization
On Your Site Without personally spotting the cannibalization by looking at pages that are ranking in the SERPs, it can be quite challenging to spot keyword cannibalization. In order to mass scrape Google for you, you’ll probably need at least one tool (like Ahrefs or Moz), rather than having rank trackers analyze every keyword you can think of or locate.
We’ll discuss how to manually scrape cannibalization concerns later in the tutorial if you don’t have a subscription to one of those tools.
Using Ahrefs, Finding Cannibalization
If you happen to have an Ahrefs subscription (which by 2020, the majority of skilled SEOs should have), they’ve created a 5-step Google sheet that will automatically discover any keywords that may be used by numerous pages to cannibalize traffic.
Here, duplicate the template sheet.
Within Ahrefs, export an ENTIRE REPORT (not the “quick report”) of your organic positions.
Choose the first tab on sheet #1 of the template, choose “File” from the menu, then “Import,” and then add your report on organic placements.
Simply tick the box that says “Append to current sheet” when asked to import the data, then click the large green “Import Data” button and wait up to 60 seconds.
You can get a list of all the keywords in the report that are cannibalized by various pages by selecting the “Results” column.
Using this Google sheet, Ahrefs has by far the fastest approach to detect cannibalized pages; all other methodologies call for manual data sorting and, for the most part, still require tool subscriptions to execute.
Manually Detecting Cannibalization
You’ll need to have a membership to Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMRush and be able to extract the organic position data from one of those programs unless you have a list of all of your keywords and utilize a scraper extension. Therefore, you never actually perform this kind of task manually.
Please take note that some of these tools have varying levels of subscriptions that will get you access to more or fewer data. In order to have enough data for the size of the site you’re evaluating, be sure to pay attention to how many exports you’re getting with your subscription level!
The Five Alternatives For Addressing Keyword Cannibalization
Making the right decision is crucial when attempting to carry out a proper re-optimization campaign for keyword cannibalization. No indexing a page with all the link juice, 301ing a page with the most pertinent content, or deleting a page that visitors visit frequently are all actions you want to avoid taking.
Since there are only really 5 main strategies for preventing keyword cannibalization, I’ll do my best to explain which one is employed in which situation. But with this one, you’ll need to use some of your own common sense to figure out which is ideal for your particular site.
I do not accept responsibility if you choose the incorrect choice on your page! I’ll make an effort to explain which choices are most appropriate for various situations.
First Option: Merge the content/pages
This is the choice for you if you have fresh material, but your old content is still ranking, or if you have two pieces of information that target related topics but might be integrated to provide a page that is much better for the end-user experience.
The ideal strategy of keyword cannibalization to determine how to combine the two pages is to first examine your competitors’ SERP performance in terms of things like word count, picture usage, backlink quantity and quality, and topical authority for that keyword.
Once you are aware of how many photographs should be included on the page and how long it should be. Then you may go through each post and combine and remove text until it contains the most recent information and is using the appropriate optimized headers and pictures.
Avoid using the same image or related text more than once. Remember that you can always make minor tweaks to help the whole thing flow together more easily, and it’s always worthwhile to conduct some competitor research to determine whether you need to lengthen the post to match the average word count of your rivals.
Second Option: Canonical Tag
Google created the canonical tag to allow websites to maintain pages for users while instructing search engines to treat them differently. It sounds complicated because Google made it complicated.
The tag itself, though, couldn’t be more straightforward to apply. All you have to do is add your URL to the example code below and add it to your page about the cannibalization issue.
An illustration would be to insert this code into the header of page A, which is stealing content from page B. If you don’t use this rel-tag in the header consistently, Google’s bots won’t be able to recognize it and take advantage of it.
Third Option: Delete The Page / 404
This choice is for the direst situations. When a page is utterly unnecessary, has no relevance to the page it is now cannibalizing, or has unfavorable backlinks that you don’t want to use since they could harm the rankings of your new page.
When utilizing a custom website, you might need to delete the page within your host’s FTP or cPanel (or a similar CMS) because most CMSs offer trash can feature for pages that simply let you move a page into the trash.
Fourth Option: 301 Redirects
301 redirects are one of the simplest ways to stop cannibalization. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a 301 redirect is basically what it sounds like. switching from one URL to another
The main problem with 301 redirects right now is that Google has publicly stated that they have a cap on the quantity of “link juice” that may move via every 301 redirects. To avoid creating a redirect chain—a series of successive redirects—you should aim to make one URL redirect directly to another.
We want to ask ourselves a set of questions once we’ve discovered our cannibalized pages and we want to use the 301 methods:
- Which page has the most appropriate URL for the task?
- The best OnPage is on whatever page.
- Which page has the most history and longevity?
The page with the most (and best/strongest/best) backlinks is the last and most crucial factor. The next step is to 301 any further pages on this page, but keep in mind that doing so could result in the loss of more longtail traffic.
Making A 301 Redirect
It all relies on your content management system (CMS). For example, WordPress has a wide selection of redirect management plugins, including Redirection by John Godley. These will also have a range of free and paid extensions if you are using an ECommerce-based CMS like Shopify or Magento.
As an alternative, you can use a host’s built-in redirect management system, such as cPanel. Alternately, you can directly alter your.htaccess file by creating permanent 301s, though I don’t advise doing so unless you are certain how to accomplish so.
Fifth Option: NoIndex
The reason this is the last choice on the list is that it’s also the simplest: you want the page to remain on your website so that visitors can access it, but you don’t want search engines to crawl or index it.
The following meta tag needs to be added to the header of the particular page if you want to NoIndex it:
Robots meta name, noindex content
This meta tag will prevent any bots, not just Google, from indexing the page, but you can easily alter the meta tag to exclude Google only.
Googlebot’s content is “noindex” in the meta tag.
Note: A page may contain both of the aforementioned meta tags at once.
How to Prevent Cannibalization of One Page
According to keyword cannibalization, even if two of your pages are really identical, you want to retain both of them in the SERPs. For instance, I may target “SEO Consultant” and “SEO Consultant Firm” on separate pages because they are two keywords with marginally distinct intentions. Google may get unsure of which website to prioritize for a certain term or may simply rank one page higher than the other.
So how can we ensure that Google ranks the correct website for the correct keyword? We internal optimize for the target variation while de-optimizing the pages for the one variation.
If we were to apply our Consultant vs. Consultant Firm example strictly, we would eliminate any references to “firm” or any of its synonyms from the consultant page.
Use any tool to locate synonyms for the phrase; then, simply conduct a search on the page to find and delete any instances of those words.
Additionally, you should make sure that your meta title is optimized with the exact match keywords utilized and that any additional crawlable code, such as schema or a social meta tag or card, is free of synonym variations.
We’ll then want to use the exact match keyword variant to internally link the sites with ONE link (it’s crucial that you just do one link from each page on the other). As an illustration, we would use our SEO Consultant page’s connection to the phrase “SEO Consultant Firm.”
In order to exploit the term and its variations as internal links, you can also search the website for further opportunities for internal linking.
Keyword cannibalization can be a big problem for website owners and SEOs trying to rank for certain pages. Fortunately, it’s one of the issues that we are able to resolve, which will result in MASSIVE traffic changes for both our websites and those of our clients.