Keyword cannibalization. It doesn’t sound pretty, does it?
But this isn’t a horror story. SEO keyword cannibalization happens when the creators of a website aren’t strategic about how they use keywords on their pages. Knowing how to avoid keyword cannibalization is vital to ensure your content efficiently supports your keyword targets.
By stuffing their pages with too many keywords, or creating multiple pages that satisfy the same search intent, they create a site with various pages that compete with—or cannibalize—one another.
But it’s a common problem that can happen to any site over time, so learning how to identify and correct it will help you optimize your site without undertaking any new content creation. Let’s look at what habits lead to keyword cannibalization and learn how to fix them.
SEO keyword cannibalization happens when sites:
Let’s imagine a company that sells sunglasses. The website development team created their site years ago without an accurate understanding of SEO—that’s search engine optimization, the process of improving website traffic to a website from search engines like Google.
These web developers crammed every keyword that could apply to sunglasses in every post they ever wrote, trying to appeal to every customer in the market for any of their products.
They also built up lots of content over the years, including a few blog posts about sunglasses that got many hits but never converted to sales. These blog posts keep ranking high, while their current promos for fashionable new cat-eye sunglasses never go anywhere.
They have created a messy situation in which many of their pages compete with one another, and none of the right ones stand out.
Instead, each page on a website site should focus on a single keyword, and that keyword should be the focus for that page only. If that company wanted people to purchase those fashionable cat-eye sunglasses, they needed to have precisely one page that ranked for the keywords “fashionable cat-eye sunglasses.”
Now it’s your turn. Google will show you if your site has various pages competing with one another. Search “site:yourdomain.com keyword,” and you will get the search results for that keyword.
Look at which of your sites ranked highest for that keyword. Is that the page you would like to see, or is another page competing with that? Or do you have a real keyword cannibalization problem?
It’s hard enough competing with all the other sites out there—you don’t want your website to compete with itself. Streamline your site and get out of your own way by avoiding keyword cannibalization.
Identify the keywords you want to target. Use a keyword research tool to determine which keywords you should go after in your industry.
Audit your site. You’ve already used Google to find your site’s rankings of a given keyword. Now keep going. What are those priority keywords you want to target for your business? How aggressively are you pursuing those keywords?
Focus on the content of your existing pages. If your pages are competing with one another, does that mean you need to hit copy-all and delete? No. Refine your current text and the information on the page to differentiate it from all your other pages so that it is no longer in competition. Make it more specific, targeted to a single mid-tail or long-tail keyword that your site will have a better chance of ranking on.
Consolidate competing sites into longer pages. If you have two pages competing, and you combine them onto one page, you’ve not only solved your competition problem, but you’ve also created a longer, richer, more authoritative article that Google will reward with more hits. What’s not to love?
Slash the trash. Is there anything on your site that no longer serves your company and is simply in the way? Delete it.
At CC&A, our SEO department has a deep understanding of how Google ranks sites and keywords. Our staff can go much further to optimize your site and improve its performance locally, nationally, or internationally. Contact us today to speak to our qualified professionals.
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