How Keyword Cannibalization Hurts Your Website

Posted on Jan 21, 2020 by Kerry O'Malley

As time goes by, you should have more and more pages of content on your website. If you add content like blogs regularly, those pages accumulate and it’s easy to forget what you’ve already blogged about. After all, most businesses only have a certain range of subjects that they want to write about. So, it goes without saying that over time, some of your content will be about the same topic. You may not know it, but your similar content could be competing with itself in search engines. This is known as keyword cannibalization and fixing it should be an important part of your marketing strategy.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

This problem occurs when a site has multiple pages of content that highlight or focus on the same keyword or keyword phrases. Most businesses have a limited range of topics they want to write about, and this is especially true if you’re primarily adding content about the same products or services. It can become challenging to write about the same topic over and over, without being repetitive or redundant. Search engines may have a difficult time distinguishing between those similar pages and because of that, your content is ranked lower in search results.

How Can I Identify Keyword Cannibalization?

Identify potential problem pages on your site, using Google. Use the word “site:” with quotes surrounding the suspect keyword. For example, we could perform a search to see how often we’ve written about “keyword cannibalization” on the Marketects site. We would just enter this into “keyword cannibalization”

This query will pull up a list of all the posts and pages on our site that mention the topic “keyword cannibalization.” For the sake of argument, let’s say the search returned 10 pages of results on our site.

We would then move into the analysis stage using Google Search Console or a similar tool to see which of the 10 pages are ranking well and which aren’t. This allows us to identify which pages are generating clicks – which are pages we’ll leave “as is” – and the pages that aren’t generating many clicks – which are pages requiring action.  

How Can I Fix Keyword Cannibalization?

We don’t recommend deleting low performing pages, as that can hurt your rankings as well. However, you can use a redirect feature to direct clicks to the higher performing pages.

To prevent future keyword cannibalization issues, consider a more organized, documented approach to new content development. We suggest implementing an ongoing content calendar as new pages of content are created. The calendar allows you to quickly reference pages that have already been created and their keyword focus. Include the following in your calendar:

  • Topic of the landing page, post, or blog
  • Keyword(s) to focus on, preferably with semantic search
  • Date of posting, sharing, etc.
  • Content creator
  • Where it will be featured, on the website, as well as anywhere else (email, social media, trade industry website, etc.)

When coming up with topics, try to expand on your products or services, rather than just recycling past content. Look for content gaps and find creative ways to fill them. Case studies and customer testimonials are always great, but not always available. Think like a potential customer and try to write content that answers common questions asked about your company and its offerings.

You have enough REAL competition! Don’t compete with yourself by using the same keywords and topics in your content. Keyword cannibalization happens on the best of sites, especially sites that have existed for many years. The issue is expected to grow in the future as B2B’s outpace themselves. It is more important now than ever for your business to create content that addresses your target audiences’ needs, rather than repeating what you’ve already written. If you approach content creation with that mindset, you’ll improve the health of your website AND provide information that will move potential customers closer to a sale.

Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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