Blog Post Title

Keyword Cannibalization

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages or pieces of content on your website target the same or very similar keywords. Instead of having one strong page that ranks well for a specific keyword, you end up with several pages competing against each other, ultimately diluting your ranking potential.

Imagine you own a bakery with a website. You have three different pages: one for chocolate cake, one for chocolate frosting, and one for chocolate ganache. While these are distinct offerings, they all center around the keyword chocolate. This overlap can confuse search engines, making it difficult to determine which page is the most relevant for users searching for that term.

Why is Keyword Cannibalization Bad for SEO?

Keyword cannibalization can wreak havoc on your SEO efforts. Here’s why:

1. Diluted Ranking Signals

Search engines like Google use various factors to determine which page should rank higher for a particular keyword. These include content relevance, backlinks, user experience metrics, and more. When you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, you essentially split these ranking signals across those pages. Instead of concentrating the authority on one strong page, you dilute it, making it harder for any of your pages to reach the coveted top spot on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

2. Wasted Crawl Budget

Search engines have a limited crawl budget for each website. This refers to the number of pages they’ll crawl and index within a given timeframe. If your site has numerous pages targeting the same keywords, you’re essentially wasting your crawl budget on redundant content. Search engines might end up crawling multiple similar pages instead of indexing other important content on your website.

3. Fluctuating Rankings

Cannibalization can lead to unpredictable ranking fluctuations. As search engines try to decipher which page is most relevant, they might rank one page higher for a while, then switch to another, and so on. This instability can negatively impact your organic traffic and make it harder to track your SEO progress.

4. Lower Click-Through Rates (CTR)

Imagine searching for chocolate cake and seeing two results from the same bakery, both titled very similarly. This lack of clarity can confuse users. They might be unsure which link to click, potentially lowering the click-through rate for both pages.

5. Internal Competition

Instead of your pages supporting each other in the SERPs, they end up competing with each other for visibility and clicks. This is counterproductive and ultimately harms your overall SEO performance.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

Detecting keyword cannibalization early on is crucial. Here are some methods to uncover this issue on your website:

1. Google Search Console

Use Google Search Console (GSC) to see which keywords are driving traffic to your site. Look for instances where multiple pages are ranking for the same keyword. This might indicate potential cannibalization, especially if the pages are ranking close to each other.

2. Keyword Research Tools

Utilize keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz. These tools can help you identify keywords that your website is ranking for. Look for patterns where multiple pages are targeting the same keywords.

3. Site Audit Tools

Employ website audit tools like Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl to crawl your website and identify any duplicate or near-duplicate content. These tools can flag pages with similar titles, meta descriptions, and content, suggesting potential keyword cannibalization.

4. Manual Analysis

For smaller websites, a manual analysis of your most important pages and their target keywords can be helpful. Review the content, titles, and meta descriptions to see if there is any unintentional keyword overlap.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

Once you’ve identified instances of keyword cannibalization, it’s time to implement solutions:

1. Content Consolidation

If you have multiple pages covering very similar topics, consider consolidating them into a single, comprehensive page. This allows you to combine the ranking signals and create a stronger authority page on that topic. Ensure the consolidated page is well-structured, informative, and provides a great user experience.

2. Keyword Re-optimization

If you want to keep multiple pages separate, re-optimize them to target different, more specific keywords. This helps clarify the focus of each page for search engines and reduces keyword overlap. For example, instead of three pages targeting chocolate, you could have one for chocolate cake recipes, another for chocolate frosting techniques, and a third for how to make chocolate ganache.

3. 301 Redirects

For pages that are truly redundant or no longer relevant, implement 301 redirects to point users and search engines to the most relevant page on your site for that topic. This helps consolidate ranking signals and improve user experience.

4. Internal Linking

Ensure your internal linking structure is optimized and reinforces the desired keyword hierarchy. Link to the most relevant pages using appropriate anchor text, helping search engines understand the relationship between your content and which pages are most important for specific keywords.

5. Content Pruning

In some cases, it might be necessary to delete low-quality or thin content that’s contributing to keyword cannibalization. This can improve your overall site quality and prevent search engines from crawling and indexing low-value pages.

Best Practices to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization

Prevention is always better than cure. Follow these best practices to avoid keyword cannibalization from the outset:

1. Keyword Mapping

Implement a robust keyword mapping strategy. Assign specific keywords or keyword clusters to each page on your website. This ensures that each page has a clear focus and reduces the risk of unintentional keyword overlap.

2. Content Planning

Plan your content strategically. Before creating new content, research relevant keywords and ensure that you’re not duplicating existing content on your website.

3. Regular Content Audits

Conduct regular content audits to identify any instances of keyword cannibalization. This allows you to catch and address the issue early on before it impacts your SEO performance.

4. Communication and Collaboration

Encourage communication and collaboration within your content and SEO teams. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal, reducing the likelihood of duplicated content and keyword cannibalization.


Keyword cannibalization can significantly hinder your SEO efforts, leading to diluted rankings, wasted crawl budget, and a confusing user experience. By understanding the causes, identifying instances of cannibalization, and implementing the right solutions, you can reclaim your keyword rankings, improve your website’s organic visibility, and drive more targeted traffic to your most important pages. Remember that regular monitoring, content audits, and a well-defined keyword strategy are key to preventing and addressing keyword cannibalization effectively.