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Keyword Cannibalization in SEO

Last Updated : 23 Jan, 2024
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Keyword Cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on the same website compete for the same keyword. This can confuse search engines and lead to lower rankings. It’s important to have a clear keyword strategy to avoid this issue. The challenge is to identify and resolve instances of keyword cannibalization to ensure optimal ranking.

What Is Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization refers to a situation in which multiple pages on a website are competing against each other for the same target keywords. When different pages within the same website target identical or very similar keywords, it can confuse search engines in determining which page is the most relevant and authoritative for those keywords. This can result in negative consequences for the site’s overall search engine optimization (SEO) performance

Let’s consider an example of keyword cannibalization in the context of an e-commerce website selling smartphones:

  1. Scenario:
    • The website has a product page optimized for the keyword “best smartphones.”
    • The website also had a blog post titled “Top 10 Smartphones of 2022” that also targets the keyword “best smartphones.”
  2. Issue:
    • Both the product page and the blog post target the same primary keyword, “best smartphones.”
  3. Consequences:
    • Search engines may struggle to determine which page should rank higher for the keyword “best smartphones.”
    • Users searching for the best smartphones may find either the product page or the blog post in search results, leading to potential confusion.

Why Keyword Cannibalization is bad?

Keyword cannibalization is considered bad for several reasons, and it can have negative impacts on a website’s overall search engine optimization (SEO) performance. Here are key reasons why it’s considered undesirable:

  • Confusion for Search Engines:
    • When multiple pages on a website target the same or very similar keywords, it creates confusion for search engines. Search engines may struggle to determine which page should rank highest for a particular query.
  • Dilution of Ranking Signals:
    • Keyword cannibalization can dilute the ranking signals and authority that a single page could accumulate if it were the primary target for specific keywords. Instead of consolidating authority on one page, it’s spread across multiple pages.
  • Poor User Experience:
    • Keyword cannibalization can create a confusing user experience. Users may not easily find the most relevant information, leading to frustration and potentially higher bounce rates.
  • Inefficient Use of Resources:
    • It can result in inefficient use of resources, as efforts and resources are dispersed across multiple pages targeting the same keywords. This can hinder the website’s ability to rank strongly for specific terms.
  • Competing Against Yourself:
    • Essentially, by having multiple pages competing for the same keywords, you are competing against yourself in search engine results. This self-competition can prevent any of the pages from achieving optimal rankings.


Cannibalization in SEO

  • Difficulty in Establishing Authority:
    • Establishing a page as an authoritative source for specific keywords becomes challenging when authority is split among multiple pages. Search engines may hesitate to consider any one page as the go-to source.
  • Reduced Click-Through Rates (CTRs):
    • If multiple pages from the same website appear in search results for the same query, users may be unsure which link to click. This uncertainty can lead to lower click-through rates, impacting the overall visibility of the website.
  • Impact on SEO Metrics:
    • Keyword cannibalization can negatively impact important SEO metrics such as rankings, organic traffic, and user engagement. It makes it harder to achieve and maintain high positions in search engine results.
  • Algorithmic Penalties:
    • In some cases, keyword cannibalization might trigger algorithmic penalties from search engines, affecting the overall search visibility of the website.
  • Suboptimal Content Strategy:
    • Having multiple pages targeting the same keywords might indicate a suboptimal content strategy. A more strategic approach involves creating unique, valuable content for different topics and keywords.

How to Find Keyword Cannibalization?

Identifying keyword cannibalization involves analyzing your website’s content and identifying instances where multiple pages target the same or very similar keywords. Here are steps to help you find cannibalized keywords:

  • Compile a List of Target Keywords:
    • Begin by compiling a list of target keywords for your website. These are the keywords you are actively trying to rank for in search engine results.

List of Target Keywords

  • Perform a Site-wide Keyword Analysis:
    • Use SEO tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or third-party tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz to analyze the performance of each page on your site for specific keywords.
    • Identify which keywords each page is ranking for and whether there’s overlap between pages.
  • Review On-Page Optimization:
    • Examine the on-page optimization of each page, including meta titles, meta descriptions, and the main content. Look for instances where multiple pages are optimized for the same or very similar keywords.
  • Check Internal Links:
    • Analyze internal linking structures. Check whether multiple pages are linking with anchor text optimized for the same keywords.
    • Identify pages that are frequently linked to using specific anchor text that matches the target keywords.
  • Use SEO Tools:
    • Utilize SEO tools with features specifically designed to identify keyword cannibalization. For example, tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs may have features that highlight instances of cannibalization or conflicting keyword targeting.

Cannibalization detection Tool

  • Review Rankings and Traffic Data:
    • Analyze ranking and traffic data for each page targeting specific keywords. Identify patterns where multiple pages are competing for the same keyword, potentially leading to cannibalization.
  • Check Search Engine Results:
    • Manually search for your target keywords on search engines and observe which pages from your website appear in the results.
    • Note if multiple pages from your site are consistently appearing for the same keyword.


Page Position on search

  • Consolidate Data and Evaluate:
    • Consolidate the data you’ve gathered and evaluate whether there are clear instances of keyword cannibalization.
    • Look for pages that share similar or identical target keywords, and where their presence in search results may be causing confusion.
  • Address and Optimize:
    • Once identified, address keyword cannibalization by either consolidating content, using canonical tags, or optimizing pages for distinct, relevant keywords.
    • Update internal links to guide search engines on the preferred page for specific keywords.

How To Fix Keyword Cannibalization?

Fixing keyword cannibalization involves taking strategic actions to consolidate or optimize your content, ensuring that search engines and users can identify the most relevant and authoritative page for specific keywords. Here are steps to address and fix keyword cannibalization:

  • Identify Cannibalized Keywords:
    • Based on your analysis, identify the specific keywords for which multiple pages on your site are competing or causing cannibalization using some external tools.

identify cannibalization using ubersuggest

  • Evaluate Content Relevance:
    • Assess the relevance of each page targeting the cannibalized keywords. Identify the page that provides the most comprehensive and valuable information for users.
  • Update On-Page Optimization:
    • If consolidation is not possible or preferred, update the on-page optimization of each page to target distinct, relevant keywords. Ensure that meta titles, meta descriptions, and content are unique and focused.

Types of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Update Internal Linking:
    • Review and update internal linking structures to prioritize the preferred page for specific keywords. Adjust anchor text to guide search engines on the primary source.
  • Re-submit XML Sitemap:
    • After making changes, re-submit your XML sitemap to search engines. This helps search engines discover and index the updated content efficiently.
  • Monitor Performance:
    • Monitor the performance of the updated pages. Track rankings, organic traffic, and user engagement to ensure that the changes positively impact your SEO efforts.
  • Use 301 Redirects:
    • If you choose to consolidate content by redirecting one page to another, use 301 redirects. This ensures that users and search engines are directed to the preferred page and helps preserve SEO value.

  • Address Off-Site Backlinks:
    • If multiple pages have acquired backlinks for the same keywords, consider reaching out to webmasters to update or redirect those links. This helps consolidate the SEO value.
  • Regularly Review and Optimize:
    • Regularly review your content and keyword targeting strategies. As your website evolves, new instances of keyword cannibalization may arise. Continuously optimize your content to maintain a clear and effective SEO strategy.


Keyword cannibalization can hinder a website’s SEO efforts by creating confusion for search engines, diluting authority, and providing a suboptimal experience for users. It’s essential to identify and address instances of keyword cannibalization to ensure a more focused, authoritative, and user-friendly online presence.

Q-1. How does cannibalization affect SEO?

Ans. Cannibalization in SEO occurs when there are too many identical keywords in content. This can lead to keyword confusion where search engines like Google may have difficulty determining which page has to be ranked higher against a specific query. This can negatively affect the SEO performance.

Q-2. How do I fix keyword cannibalization in SEO?

Ans. There can be multiple ways by which you can fix keyword cannibalization like if multiple pages are ranking against the same query then you can update or optimize the content by deleting the duplicate content, reducing the similar keyword, or by changing the keyword. You can also merge the pages into a single, Comprehensive, and authoritative page.

Q-3. Is keyword cannibalization good or bad?

Ans. Keyword Cannibalization is bad as multiple pages targeting the same keyword affect the organic performance of a website and also negatively affect the SEO performance.

Q-4. How do you avoid keyword cannibalization in SEO?

Ans. Keyword cannibalization can be avoided in SEO by making a proper plan of your content and website structure in such a way that each page targets unique and relevant keywords and topics. Strategies like conducting keyword research, creating a content strategy, performing a site audit, mapping keywords to pages, Using clear On-Page SEO, etc. can be helpful to avoid Keyword Cannibalization in SEO.

Q-5. How do you identify keyword Cannibalisation in SEO?

Ans. It can be identified easily by searching the most relevant keywords on search engines. If multiple pages appear close to one another in the Search Engine Result Page(SERP) then there is a cannaibalisation issue.

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