What is keyword cannibalization or cannibalization of keywords?
The cannibalization of keywords is the internal competition for the web positioning of the same keywords.
One of the most important tasks when you enter the world of Digital Marketing is the optimization of SEO factors to get a good position in Google and occupy the top positions of Google to get visibility.
However this effort can lead us to be our own competition generating the opposite effect.
Why is the cannibalization of content produced?
The need to specialize in a specific sector often leads us to orient a whole web around a single term or phrase in several pages of the site.
That is when we find several pages that have the same keyword target in the title and the header tags.
Negative effects of keyword cannibalization
Although a priori we can think that the more URL we have “dedicated” to the same search term better results we can get, the reality is that it is NOT.
You must think that we have enough with external competition to fight against ourselves.
Performing this cannibalization of keywords has numerous negative effects that I expose you below:
Rate of conversion decreases
In the best case, you have several pages positioned for the same term, and one of them will convert better.
Instead of directing new visitors to that page and turning it into the most authoritative page, you’re losing potential contacts when they reach less relevant pages.
Diluted page authority
To the same extent as the previous effect, instead of having a page and encouraging it to increase its authority, you are competing with yourself and dividing the authority between your own pages.
Waste your Crawl Budget
The Crawl Budget is the time that trackers like Google are assigned to visit your website and thus reflect the results in their indexes and the results of the search terms.
From this point of view, it is a waste to use that limited time for the same keywords , instead of optimizing this resource.
You confuse Google
Google in the best case will position several of your pages with the same keywords, however, you run the risk that it does not position the one that interests you and lose positions in the ranking.
How to detect if I have cannibalization of keywords?
If you have a website and you also take care of the generation of content, you only need to know that this concept exists and that you may be cannibalizing your own content.
You may try hard to get your website positioned and what happens is that you are suffering this … self-destruction.
To detect if a website is cannibalizing its own contents you can use these methods:
Make a map of your site
You can use a simple Excel sheet with the names of your pages and keywords. You can also add other parameters such as search volume, traffic, outbound links, inbound links etc. (I recommend you read this article from MOZ: Keyword Map for SEO)
You can also use the Screaming frog tool: this free tool will track all the URLs of your site, giving you valuable information among which you can filter the fields that interest you.
When you have made the map of your site based on the parameters that we have commented you will be available, not only to know if you are suffering from a cannibalization of your own content but a map of your site with the necessary information will facilitate a perfect structure of contents where to find opportunities for growth.
The webmaster tool of Google (Search Console) offers information about possible incidents and thus solve it in an easy and effective way.
To do this goes to Search Console: in the control panel of the web that you are going to consult, a menu like >> Appearance appears in the search engine >> HTML improvements
With this simple action you can get very valid information about duplicate page titles, duplicate meta-descriptions etc…
In addition, you can go to the search traffic screen >> analytic.
In this first screen of search analytics, checking the boxes as I show you in the image, you get a list of the main queries of your site (3), where you can see the keywords for the search results.
If you mark a search term and then check the page box, it may happen that you will see several pages of the website for the same term: you will see the amount of clicks that they receive and you can choose the one that most interests you with the methods to solve the cannibalization.
You can search directly on Google using. Google will return the URLs that you have indexed from your site.
How to solve content cannibalization?
Once we detect the problem, we must get down working to solve it, and for this we must do the following:
Strengthen the content
If we have detected that there are 2-3 articles that are competing for the same keywords, we can merge it into a single more extensive one that without a doubt gathers all the users, and increases the page authority.
It may be necessary that after analyzing the website and making the web map it is necessary to plan a restructuring of the website that avoids the internal competition of keywords.
Those URLs that may have disappeared after the merger or restructuring process should redirect 301 to avoid causing 404 errors and pointing to the new content we have planned.
Also with this method you transfer the page authority to the destination page.
Use this method so that Google does not show a page that is not important to you.
Set canonical URLs
A method that can also be useful without making redirects is the use of canonical URL.
By using the rel = “canonical” tag in the header of the url we are telling search engines (Google) that this page is the preferred one from a set of similar pages.
With this method you avoid that Google decides and you are the one who decides the main interest. However, there is no transfer of authority.
- The cannibalization of keywords is more frequent than you may think.
- Conduct a site study and solve the problems.
- It generates a calendar of contents well structured and solves the problem BEFORE it occurs.
- DO NOT dedicate more than one page to the same keyword.
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