What is Keyword Cannibalization and How to Find, Fix, and Prevent It

By Prasoon Gupta
Join Over 3700+
subscribers. Stay updated with latest digital marketing news.

In the realm of digital visibility, securing a top position in search engine rankings, such as those on Google, is crucial. However, have you ever inadvertently undermined your own SEO endeavors? A complex issue known as keyword cannibalization can arise on any website, regardless of meticulous efforts to optimize search engine performance. This issue occurs when multiple pages on a single website compete for the same keywords.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on your website target the same or similar keywords, leading to competition among those pages. This competition can confuse search engines and potentially weaken your site’s overall ranking potential. Consider a scenario where you have two articles titled ‘Best Running Shoes for Beginners’ on your website. Although these articles should function collaboratively to achieve a high ranking on Google’s first page, they inadvertently compete against each other. This can confuse Google and make it hard for either article to rank very high.

How Does Keyword Cannibalization Hurt Your SEO?

The consequences of keyword Cannibalization can be detrimental to your SEO strategy. Let’s explore some key ways it can negatively impact your website:

1. Reduced Ranking Potential: When multiple pages compete for the same keyword, search engines might struggle to identify the most relevant one. This can lead to both pages ranking lower than they potentially could if they targeted different keywords.

2. Scattered Link Authority: Backlinks, which serve as votes of confidence from other websites, are crucial for SEO success. With keyword cannibalization, backlinks pointing to various pages targeting the same keyword get divided, weakening the overall authority of each page in the eyes of search engines.

3. Confusing User Experience: Visitors landing on a page expecting specific information based on the keyword might be disappointed if the content doesn’t fully address their needs. This can lead to higher bounce rates and lower user engagement, sending negative signals back to search engines.

How to Find Cannibalized Keywords?

Keyword cannibalization, the stealthy SEO Troublemaker, can significantly hamper your website’s ranking potential. Imagine multiple pages on your website unknowingly competing for the same keywords, confusing search engines and diluting your ranking power. So, how do you identify these hidden competitors lurking within your website? Here are effective methods packed with stats and examples to help you find cannibalized keywords:

1. Leverage SEO Audit Tools

SEO audit tools are your data-driven allies in the fight against keyword cannibalization. These tools crawl your website, analyze content, and identify pages targeting the same or highly similar keywords. Here’s how to leverage them effectively:

  • Ahrefs: This popular SEO tool offers a dedicated “Cannibalization” report. It showcases the number of affected keywords, cannibalized pages, and the estimated organic traffic you’re potentially losing due to cannibalization.
  • SEMrush: The “Organic Research” section within SEMrush allows you to identify keywords where your website has multiple ranking URLs. Analyze these URLs to see if they are unintentionally competing for the same search intent.
  • Screaming Frog: This SEO crawler tool can help you identify pages with duplicate or near-duplicate titles and meta descriptions, which can be a red flag for keyword cannibalization.

2. Manual Review with a Keen Eye

Don’t underestimate the power of a thorough manual review.  Here’s what to look for:

  • Content Similarity: Carefully analyze the content of multiple pages suspected of targeting the same keyword. Do they cover the same ground with very similar information?
  • Search Intent: Even with slightly different keywords, assess if the overall search intent (informational, transactional, etc.) is identical across multiple pages.
  • User Experience: Would a visitor searching for a specific keyword be satisfied landing on any of the potentially cannibalized pages?
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
  • Save

3. Search Engine Analysis (The Real-World Test)

Sometimes, a simple Google search can expose cannibalization. Here’s what to do:

  • Search for Your Target Keywords: Enter the keyword(s) you suspect might be causing cannibalization into a search engine and see if multiple pages from your website appear in the results.
  • Analyze Ranking Positions: If you see multiple URLs from your website ranking for the same keyword, but none are achieving a dominant position (e.g., top 3 results), it might be a sign of cannibalization.

Example: You enter “best protein powder for weight loss” into Google and see three pages from your website ranking on page 2 or 3. This could indicate that these pages are fragmenting your ranking potential for this keyword.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization?

Imagine multiple pages on your website unknowingly competing for the same keywords, confusing search engines and diluting your ranking power. But fear not! Here are powerful strategies to help you fix keyword cannibalization and optimize your website for success:

1. Content Consolidation: Merging for Strength

If you’ve identified two or more pages with highly similar content targeting the same keyword, content consolidation can be a powerful solution. Here’s how it works:

  • Identify the Strongest Contender: Analyze the existing pages and choose the one with the most comprehensive and valuable content, the strongest backlinks profile, and the best on-page optimization.
  • Merge and Redirect: Combine the content from the weaker pages into the chosen stronger page. Ensure the consolidated page offers a more in-depth and informative experience for users searching for that specific keyword.
  • Strategic Redirects: Implement a 301 permanent redirect from the weaker pages to the newly consolidated page. This ensures search engines understand the new hierarchy and transfer link equity to the stronger page.

2. Content Differentiation: Refining Your Focus

For pages with a similar theme but slightly different focuses, content differentiation can be an effective strategy:

  • Identify Unique Selling Points: Analyze each page and determine its unique value proposition. Does one focus on budget-friendly options, while another caters to specific hiking needs?
  • Refine Content for Distinct Keywords: Based on the identified unique selling points, refine the content of each page to target slightly different, more specific keywords. This helps establish each page as an authority on its particular aspect of the broader topic.
  • Internal Linking: Strategically link between these differentiated pages to guide users and search engines to the most relevant content based on their search intent.

3. Internal Linking: Building a Strategic Web

Internal linking plays a crucial role in combating keyword cannibalization by directing users and search engines to the most relevant page for a particular keyword:

  • Link to the Most Authoritative Page: When linking to a keyword within your website, point users to the page that best addresses that specific keyword and offers the most valuable content.
  • Anchor Text Optimization: Utilize keyword-rich anchor text for your internal links. This helps search engines understand the thematic connection between linked pages.
  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing: While including relevant keywords in anchor text is important, avoid keyword stuffing, which can appear unnatural and negatively impact SEO.

Example:  Imagine you have a blog post titled “The Best Running Shoes for Beginners (2024 Edition)” and another titled “Running Shoe Reviews & Buying Guide.”  Within the buying guide, you could include an internal link to the “Best Running Shoes” post using the anchor text “See our top picks for the best running shoes for beginners.”  This guides users to the most relevant page for specific shoe recommendations while maintaining a natural reading flow.

4. Content Revamp: Breathing New Life into Existing Content

For pages with outdated or thin content, a revamp can be a valuable strategy to address cannibalization and improve overall SEO:

  • Update Content for Relevancy: Review the content and ensure it’s current, addresses user search intent effectively, and incorporates the latest trends or information related to the target keyword.
  • Expand on Existing Content: If the content is thin, consider expanding it with additional details, high-quality visuals, or user-generated content like reviews or testimonials to enhance user experience and establish expertise.
  • Optimize Title Tags & Meta Descriptions: Ensure the title tags and meta descriptions accurately reflect the updated content and target the chosen keyword effectively.
  • Save

Capture 5X Traffic & 10X Rankings*, within 90 Days from DS© Proven Power SEO Strategy!

Contact us to get a free SEO/PPC audit and discuss how you can outrank your competition within the first 3 months.

How to Avoid SEO Cannibalization?

By implementing proactive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of keyword cannibalization and ensure your website thrives in the competitive world of SEO.

1. Keyword Research: Laying the Foundation

Thorough keyword research is the cornerstone of avoiding keyword cannibalization. Here’s how to conduct effective research:

  • Identify Relevant Keywords: Utilize keyword research tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Google Keyword Planner to identify relevant keywords with strong search volume and low competition.
  • Target Specific Keywords: For each piece of content you create, target a specific primary keyword along with a set of relevant secondary keywords. This helps establish clear focus and avoid unintentional overlap with other pages.
  • Long-Tail Keywords: Think about integrating long-tail keywords, which are highly specific and face less competition.This allows you to create targeted content for various user search intents without inadvertently competing with other pages on your website.

Example: Let’s say you’re creating content about healthy eating.  Keyword research might reveal “healthy recipes” as a high-volume keyword, but it’s also likely highly competitive.  Instead, you could target a long-tail keyword like “easy vegetarian meal prep recipes for beginners” – this caters to a more specific audience and reduces the risk of competing with other pages on your website that might target broader terms like “healthy recipes.”

2. Content Planning: Charting Your Course

A well-defined content plan acts as a roadmap, ensuring your website avoids keyword cannibalization pitfalls:

  • Keyword Mapping: Map out your target keywords and assign them to specific pages on your website. This creates a clear hierarchy and prevents multiple pages from unintentionally targeting the same keyword.
  • Content Calendar: Develop a content calendar that outlines topics, target keywords, and publication schedules. This helps maintain consistency and ensures you’re not accidentally creating content that overlaps with existing pages.
  • Content Audits: Conduct periodic content audits to assess the performance of your existing content and identify any potential keyword overlap issues. This proactive approach allows you to address cannibalization before it significantly impacts your SEO performance.

Example: Your content plan might include a blog post titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Plant-Based Eating” targeting the keyword “plant-based diet for beginners.” You wouldn’t create another post titled “Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet” as this might target a similar keyword and audience, leading to potential cannibalization.

3. Content Optimization: Sending Clear Signals

Optimizing your website’s content for specific keywords ensures search engines understand the focus of each page and prevents confusion:

  • On-Page Optimization: Optimize page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, and image alt text with relevant keywords, but avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Content Structure: Structure your content logically, using headings and subheadings to break down information and improve readability. This can help search engines understand the thematic flow and identify the main topic of each page.
  • Internal Linking: Utilize internal linking strategically to connect relevant pages on your website. However, avoid linking multiple pages to the same keyword to prevent sending mixed signals to search engines.

4. Collaboration with SEO Experts

Partnering with experienced SEO professionals can be a valuable asset in preventing keyword cannibalization:

  • SEO Expertise: SEO experts possess the knowledge and tools to conduct in-depth keyword research, identify potential cannibalization issues, and develop a comprehensive content strategy.
  • Competitive Analysis: They can analyze your competitor’s websites to identify successful keyword strategies and ensure your content targets relevant keywords without unintentionally competing with yourself.
  • Ongoing Monitoring: SEO professionals can monitor your website’s performance over time and identify any emerging signs of keyword cannibalization, allowing for prompt corrective action.


Keyword Cannibalization is a hidden threat that can significantly hinder your SEO performance. By understanding its impact, implementing strategies to address existing issues, and adopting preventative measures, you can ensure your website reaches its full SEO potential. Remember, a well-structured website with clear keyword targeting is crucial for organic traffic growth and online success. Don’t let keyword Cannibalization become the silent SEO foe that holds your website back. If you suspect you might be facing this issue, consider consulting with a reputable SEO agency. Their expertise can help you identify and rectify any keyword Cannibalization problems, ensuring your website’s content is optimized for search engines and resonates with your target audience.

Schedule a Free 1-on-1 SEO/PPC Consultation Today

Grow website traffic, generate leads, track user behavior, and improve ROI. Pick your preferred date and time to register

Schedule Free Consultation


Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap