What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Published by Jimmy Ombom on

keyword

SEO practices, like so many business tips, lose value as technology changes.

Ten years ago, SEO focused on aligning the content on webpages with keyword searches and also on adjusting the links.

Today’s SEO is still about links, but as omnichannel behaviour becomes prevalent and platforms beyond your website factor into a search query, marketers must learn the possible ways that competition for customer attention can needlessly overlap.

One of those ways is SEO cannibalization, a condition in which multiple pages of a website give the same exposure for a given keyword in a search query.  

Keyword Overload: Too Much of a Good Thing  

Many managers mistakenly think having every page optimized for a given keyword is an advantage in search. Instead, what happens is those pages compete against each other in that query, which actually narrows the scope in which the site (and business) is exposed online. In these cases it’s unclear for search engines which page should rank for that term, and this in turn impacts how high all of the pages rank, lowering click through rates and conversions from search driven site visits.

Furthermore, analytic metrics associated with cannibalized pages skews any SEO input to digital ad and social media hashtags campaigns, since SEO results dictate strategy choices for keywords used in those campaigns. Which means you could potentially have paid search campaigns competing for visitors. This is essentialy throwing away a budget for an audience who would have otherwise arrived to your site — and your business — naturally.

Let’s say a bakery is using “pies” as the only keyword being used in the meta tags and URL subdirectories. The bakery in this case is signaling to the search engines that every page within the sites is about “pies,” without considering variation on the products, such as a cobbler, tart or turnover.

To do a quick check on how your site presence appears relative to a keyword query, type “site: your website URL” and then the keyword in a Google search query box. What you’ll see is a list of the website pages that appear when the keyword is used, indicating which pages are potentially competing against each other.

How to Avoid SEO Cannibalization

If you feel your site contains some form of cannibalization, there are a few tactics available to reduce the condition. 

SEO Cannibalization
keywords metadata or seo concept with key and word

The easiest way to address cannibalization is to plan action phrases that elaborate on your intended keywords. The resulting phrases should speak to customer needs or how your product and service addresses your customers need. So to return to our bakery example, let’s say the preferred keyword is “apple pie.”

 In this instance you may want to use the phrase “apple pie delivery” — phrases that speak to services that a bakery would offer, as oppose to “baking apple pie” — phrases that speak to what a customer would do. In each instance, you have customers with different needs, and these customers would seek different solutions to those needs.

You can use micro-moments to turn keywords into action phrases with your intended audience. This may sound like the “long-tail keywords” tip that has been used over the years. But because of the use of voice assistants, customers are starting to use more verbs as well as nouns to describe their needs. I explained some of this behaviour in a previous post on word association. 

Word association behaviour offers marketers an opportunity to digitally distinguish a business, product or service towards the type of needs customers raise frequently.  

A few other tactics can also be used to reduce keyword cannibalization.

Examine how you can redesign your site structure for better descriptions in the page URL, header and H1 element tags. Make a table to map these website elements against the site structure. You can then relabel with the keyword phrases coordinated against the structure. This activity may trigger the need for a site redesign, especially if you uncover new niches or customer behaviors.  

Create landing pages hosted at the same server as your site. This means having those pages as a subdirectory of your main site. Landing pages can spread the keyword usage, and introduce new choices for a search engine to consider.

Use this tactic as a temporary fix if a complete site redesign isn’t possible in the short term. But marketers should consider a site redesign as a better option to take advantage of the latest web component elements and for better mobile search quality.

Apply 301 redirect page for pages that have been removed or to redirect the link relevance of duplicate pages to one single page. Use the aforementioned site: URL search tip to help identify the affected pages and choose which page you want to highlight. Your visitors will then land on the right version.

Keep Your SEO Hungry

No matter what kind of site you have, updating the SEO is critical for staying competitive. Cannibalization is common in long-operating businesses that have changed products and services over time. Evaluating how to minimize that cannibalization must be a part of a marketing plan to upgrade customer experience.

How material of a website affects its SEO

We all know the most commonly used terms in SEO revolve around keywords, brainstorming, and the content of a website, which plays a vital role in ranking it. The whole material of a website is based on relevancy, and if there isn’t any, then Google can penalize for providing incorrect information. This happens mostly when people are trying to use keywords more than the percentage described by the webmasters or adding information that is relevant but entirely misleading. These problems can be fixed in a small amount of time and are easy to detect as well.

The next most significant factor for receiving penalties is duplication in content, and there are two reasons why this occurs. If you are running a blog and you reposted your articles, second if you copied material from a site to use on yours. There is a right way of doing everything; no doubt it requires a little bit of effort, but believe me, it’s worth it.

  •    Don’t Use Same keywords In Every Page

Using the same keywords throughout your website means you are competing with your own self and in this manner, none of your pages will be able to rank properly as they are in constant struggle and are fighting to be on top with similar keywords and almost identical material. You must use different keywords to rank each page of your site and interlink them to assist crawlers and visitors. If they find useful content, they may move to the other page of your website as well.

  •    Prevent From Using Copied Content    

The bond of quality Content and SEO can hurl the ranking of a website. It can only result when you are using the correct method and authentic material. Else, prepare for unrecoverable penalties. This cannot just be the case with you, there are several sites, and many plagiarists waiting to fetch quality articles. Ranked sites do not really care, and they have people who regularly check if somebody used their material or not.

  •    Add Canonical Element In Your Republished Blogs/Post

Blogs do not go through such penalization issues; they just experience a decrease in their ranks. Still, it’s not a good thing to republish articles if you are running a blog that receives significant traffic every day. Sometimes it becomes essential to update an old blog, and there is an appropriate way of doing it without reposting the same thing that has a repetition of sentences. You can use the Canonical tag to update the blog which will let search engines know that it’s a copy of another page along with its location. In this manner, your blog will not be considered plagiarized, and your site pages will keep their ranks.

Ways to restructure your website

Several online tools can be utilized for this motive. The only problem people have and are facing is the de-rank because of not interlinking pages and by adding unauthentic content. It also decreases the crawl ability percentage of a website, which is the process in which a search engine understands what the site is about, by going through its pages and subpages. Crawlers face difficulty and miss the pages that are not interlinked. Also, if the content contains plagiarism, then this can be a worst-case scenario, so it is better to let the material of your site go through these programs available on the internet:

  • Plagiarism Detector

Plagiarism is copying or stealing someone’s content and taking credit for it. If it is protected by copyright law, then it is considered a crime else, it reflects academic dishonesty. There are basically two types of plagiarisms, one that is written directly with an intention and the other which is composed accidentally. There is a chance that the words we use to construct common phrases are already being practiced elsewhere. You won’t know that until you run a free plagiarism checker on your material.

Also, this tool can be utilized to check if the current material of the website is being used somewhere else. It is essential to run a routine check on your content, especially if you have a site that is ranked. Some people even take the whole content of the site to construct theirs, and it is imperative that you report them to Google.

  • Grammar Checker

Running a grammar checker becomes compulsory when you are not very good at English, and it can be because it’s your second language. Also, it is used by professionals as well, to take care of their grammatical errors. These tools assist you in removing any extra punctuation marks and fixing spelling errors. According to the news, the future updates for search engines and tools used to enhance content quality will be based on AI. All these programs will check the structure of your content instead of just suggesting word as synonyms.

We all are aware of homonyms, which spell and sound the same but have an entirely different meaning, which makes it difficult for bots sometimes to understand the content of a website while finding relevancy to the terms and creating a search index.

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Categories: SEO

Jimmy Ombom

Jimmy Ombom is a webmaster and design mania. Very passionate in online marketing and product development. When he is not writing, you can find him reading everyday changes in marketing.

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