Google processes 8.5 billion searches every day, meaning your target market is already out there, searching for your products and services. Most people also click on the first set of results they see, so if your website isn’t appearing near the top of the results pages, they won’t find your business.

Marketers spend much of their resources on organic search and SEO, including keyword research. That’s smart, but there’s also a problem you need to consider: keyword cannibalization.

What is keyword cannibalization? In short, it’s when several pages on your website are ranking for the same keywords. However, there’s much more to it, including why it affects your marketing strategy and how you can avoid it.

Here’s what you need to know to fix keyword cannibalization.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Not too long ago, some people used to abuse search engines through a tactic called keyword stuffing. People wrote content for search algorithms, not for the consumer. Not only was it frowned upon, but it didn’t provide quality results.

These days, search algorithms are much more complex and designed to weed out low-quality content that provides little value to the consumer.

Keyword cannibalization is now a side effect of using the same keywords too often, and it can result in lower search rankings. It can happen when you have too many of the same or similar keywords on your website.

As a result, Google can’t determine which content to rank higher. It may prioritize one page over another that you’d prefer to focus on. Unfortunately, it can also lower the rank of all the pages that contain the same keyword.

Often, businesses will optimize content using key-phrases that are too similar. This practice causes the articles to hurt one another, decreasing the chance of ranking higher.

When you have multiple pieces of content on your website that are ranking for the same search query, you’re essentially competing against yourself or cannibalizing your own results.

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization

You can fix the problem by creating a keyword matrix. A simple way to do so is to use a spreadsheet containing all the important pages on your website and the associated keywords.

For example, if your business sells clothing, you could break it down like this:

  • URL – Casual tops
  • URL – Skirts and dresses
  • URL – Women’s sneakers
  • URL – Women’s activewear

Once you’ve completed the spreadsheet, scan it for duplicate keywords or phrases. Pay special attention to your core pages, and don’t forget to check the metadata too.

If you spot any duplicates, it’s likely you’re already seeing the effects of keyword cannibalization.

Alternatively, you can search for your site and any keywords you suspect have duplicates. Try typing in the following after replacing ‘domain name’ and ‘keyword’ with the relevant information.

Site:Domain Name “Keyword”

Google will pull up the results, and you can spot which articles are most likely suffering.

Keyword Cannibalization Solutions

The good news is that once you learn how to identify keyword cannibalization, you can take steps to fix the issue. First, you’ll have to determine the root cause of the problem.

Often, reorganizing your site can help to correct the error. You may also need to delete or merge content.

Check Your Keyword Tags

A keyword tagging system keeps content organized and easy to find. If you already use tagging, spotting duplicate content will be much easier. Simply search for a particular keyword and see what comes up.

You may find many instances of duplicate or very similar content. Make a list of all the content and the keywords and save it in a spreadsheet.

You can also Google your site and a specific keyword using the method we mentioned earlier.

After this audit, you can determine which pages are ranking and which aren’t doing well.

Determine the Traffic Each Page Gets

Local SEO is especially critical for small businesses, as visibility is key to thriving in a sea of competitors. Therefore, you must conduct audits frequently to check for errors such as keyword cannibalization.

You want to keep a close eye on your data, especially the keywords your site ranks for and the click-through rate for those keywords. You also need to analyze the traffic each page gets to determine where you can tweak your strategy.

Sound tricky? You don’t have to do it all alone. An SEO company helps local businesses optimize their websites, improve visibility, and reach potential customers.

By investing in SEO services, you can determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Keep or Delete Content

Next, it’s time to go through your content and determine what you’ll keep and what you want to remove. At this stage, you also have to decide where you want to redirect users.

For instance, you can create an ultimate guide where you can merge content together and create a great resource.

In many cases, you’ll be able to take content from one article and include it in another. You’ll likely delete a lot of content, and it will take some time, but it will improve your ranking.

To avoid any errors, it’s best to clone an article and work on the cloned post before publishing the changes.

Again, use analytics to guide you. Find out where you have thin content or underperforming pages. Take action to resolve these issues to create a more authoritative source.

Don’t Suffer From Keyword Cannibalization

So, what is keyword cannibalization? It’s a side effect of having too many of the same or similar keywords and phrases throughout your website. Duplicate content can often result in this effect, which harms your ranking on Google and other search engines.

Thankfully, you can take the steps outlined above to improve your ranking.

If you’re ready to optimize your website and take your business to the next level, nuBranch Media can help. We’re a digital marketing agency based here in Toronto, and we offer services such as website design, local SEO, and more.