Why Keyword Cannibalization is Ruining Your SEO Strategy (And How to Fix It)





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May 27, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Why Keyword Cannibalization is Ruining Your SEO Strategy (And How to Fix It)

Why Keyword Cannibalization is Ruining Your SEO Strategy (And How to Fix It)

SEO is an intricate and powerful digital marketing strategy, but even the savviest marketers can make critical mistakes. One of the most common blunders is keyword cannibalization – when multiple pages on your website compete for the same search terms. This seemingly innocuous error can wreak havoc on your rankings, traffic, and conversions.

As an SEO agency in Manchester, UK, we’ve seen firsthand how keyword cannibalization can derail an otherwise well-crafted strategy. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dissect the problem of keyword cannibalization, explore its wide-reaching consequences, and share proven tactics to overcome this insidious SEO issue.

Understanding Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple pages on your website targeting the same or very similar keywords. Instead of having one authoritative page rank highly for a particular search query, you end up competing against yourself, diluting your site’s SEO value.

Imagine you own an e-commerce store that sells running shoes. You’ve created a category page for “running shoes” and several product pages that also target the keyword “running shoes.” On the surface, this might seem like a smart strategy to capture more search traffic. However, Google now faces the dilemma of deciding which of your pages should rank highest for that query.

This is the essence of keyword cannibalization – you’re essentially asking search engines to choose between your own webpages, rather than presenting a clear, authoritative source of information.

The Detrimental Effects of Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization may seem like a minor oversight, but its consequences can be severe:

  1. Decreased Rankings: When multiple pages on your site target the same keywords, they end up competing against each other in the search results. This makes it harder for any one page to achieve a top ranking, as search engines struggle to determine which page is the most relevant.

  2. Reduced Click-Through Rates (CTR): Even if your pages manage to rank, users may be less likely to click through if they see multiple results from your website. This dilutes your overall CTR, making it more difficult to drive qualified traffic to your site.

  3. Diminished Conversions: With lower rankings and click-through rates, your conversion rates are likely to suffer as well. Users may become frustrated or confused when presented with too many similar options, causing them to abandon their purchase journey.

  4. Wasted Backlink Authority: Backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO, but keyword cannibalization can undermine their value. Instead of consolidating authority and relevance on a single page, your backlinks are spread across multiple, competing URLs.

  5. Inefficient Content Strategy: Maintaining multiple pages that target the same keywords is an inefficient use of your time and resources. You could be investing that effort into creating unique, high-quality content that truly resonates with your audience.

Identifying and Resolving Keyword Cannibalization

The first step in overcoming keyword cannibalization is to identify the problem. Utilize tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console to audit your website and uncover instances where your pages are competing for the same search queries.

Once you’ve mapped out your keyword cannibalization issues, it’s time to take action. There are two primary strategies to resolve this SEO challenge:

  1. Consolidation: If you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, consider consolidating their content into a single, authoritative page. This allows you to channel all of your SEO efforts into one optimized page, rather than diluting your authority across several competing URLs.

To implement this strategy, use canonical tags to designate the primary page and redirect any duplicate content. This signals to search engines which version of the page is the definitive source.

  1. Differentiation: If you prefer to maintain separate pages, you’ll need to optimize them for distinct keywords and search intent. This may involve targeting more specific, long-tail variations of your original keyword or shifting the focus to different audience segments or use cases.

Revamp your on-page optimization, internal linking structure, and content to ensure each page has a clearly defined purpose and target audience. This will help search engines understand the unique value proposition of each page.

Regardless of which approach you choose, the key is to maintain a cohesive, well-structured website that provides a seamless user experience. Regular content audits and keyword research can help you stay ahead of emerging keyword cannibalization issues.

Preventing Keyword Cannibalization

The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies to keyword cannibalization. By being proactive in your SEO strategy, you can avoid the pitfalls of this common problem altogether.

Here are some best practices to prevent keyword cannibalization:

  1. Develop a Targeted Keyword Strategy: Carefully research and select your target keywords, ensuring that each page on your website has a unique focus. Avoid optimizing multiple pages for the same broad terms.

  2. Monitor Keyword Performance: Continuously track the rankings and performance of your target keywords. This will help you identify any emerging cannibalization issues before they spiral out of control.

  3. Prioritize Content Quality over Quantity: Instead of churning out numerous pages optimized for similar keywords, invest in creating truly valuable, in-depth content that resonates with your audience.

  4. Conduct Regular Content Audits: Periodically review your website’s content to ensure it remains relevant, up-to-date, and free from cannibalization issues. Consolidate or differentiate pages as needed.

By staying vigilant and proactively managing your keyword strategy, you can avoid the pitfalls of keyword cannibalization and ensure your SEO efforts are working in harmony to drive sustainable growth.


Keyword cannibalization may seem like a complex and daunting problem, but with the right approach, it can be easily overcome. As an SEO agency in Manchester, UK, we’ve helped countless clients reclaim their rightful place in the search results by identifying and resolving this insidious issue.

Remember, your website’s SEO performance is a delicate balance. One misstep, like keyword cannibalization, can undo all your hard work. By understanding the problem, implementing effective solutions, and maintaining a proactive approach, you can ensure your SEO strategy is working for you, not against you.

Don’t let keyword cannibalization sabotage your digital marketing efforts. Take control of your SEO today and start seeing the results you deserve. If you need further assistance, our team of SEO experts is here to help. Contact us now to get your customized SEO tune-up strategy.

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