What Is Keyword Cannibalization and The Ways to Avoid It?

Keyword cannibalization

Who would have wondered there did be cannibals on the internet? Well, cannibals exist in a digital sense and are unwittingly created for themselves by some websites.

Joking apart, keyword cannibalization is an easy trap to fall into which in turn can affect your keyword rankings. Although this form of cannibalism does not involve biting someone, it revolves around keyword duplicity.

So let us first understand what Is Keyword Cannibalization? How to identify it? The ways to avoid it and if not, at least use solutions for keyword cannibalization.

Rest assured, keyword cannibalization is bad for SEO which means, you either don’t fall into it or try your best to get out of it.

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

A website needs unique content to grow successfully however, it also means that more and more posts are bound to be created.

Your website will be related to some niche and consequently have posts on similar topics. This is when keyword cannibalization happens.

Keyword cannibalization may be defined as two or more pages in your website targeting the same keyword.

In other words, having some or many posts on the same keywords results in your pages competing with each other to achieve a higher ranking in the SERPs.

Generally, cannibalization is in the context of SEO and organic traffic, but it can affect your paid strategy as well. In that, your PPC campaigns can lose affectivity since they’ll end up cannibalizing themselves.

Keyword Cannibalism Bad for SEO

A variety of problems can be caused by keyword cannibalization which can harm your website’s performance and here are some of the ways it reacts.

  • Internal Competition for Ranking: When you have some articles optimized for similar search queries, it’ll affect the ranking chances of all the articles involved. The search engine will only show one or two results from the same domain.
  • Page Authority Reduced: By splitting your backlinks and CTR across many pages instead of having a single high-authority page, the website may end up gaining a lower rank.
  • Wrong URL Ranks: Sometimes, pages with low conversion and content quality can get ranked higher than your target page. In other words, your SEO works but with undesirable results

How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization?


Identifying possible keyword cannibalization problems on your website is easy. Normally, Googling ‘site:domain.com “keyword” shows if you’re suffering from keyword cannibalism.

In case multiple pages of your website are listed close to one another for the same keyword in SERPs, your website is suffering from the problem.

Another way to identify cannibalization is through Google Search Console. Head to the performance report where you will see a list of queries informing form where your site has earned impressions and clicks.

Click on any one of the queries and see a list of URLs that rank for it. You know you have a keyword cannibalization problem when there is more than one URL showing in the pages tab.

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

One of the best ways to avoid keyword cannibalization is to be diligent in one’s content planning and research.

If you have done proper research and organized the phrases and keywords you want to target, then you will naturally eliminate the chances for multiple content on the same keywords.

Here are 4 other properties that you should care for when creating content to avoid keyword cannibalization:

  • One Keyword Per Page: It is best to have one unique target keyword or phrase per page. It is unwise to have multiple pages having the same terms, but you can work with semantic variations and use multiple pages to boost the relevance of the website for a specific keyword.
  • Quality First: Quality speaks louder and longer than quantity therefore aim for quality instead of quantity. A single well-written page has a higher chance to achieve SEO goals than having multiple pages on a single keyword that can only serve to create confusion.
  • Balance SEO and PPC: Although SEO and PPC seem two different strategies, they are still interdependent, or at least have synergy. Complementing SEO and PPC targets can help a lot in rising up the SERP.

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Keyword Cannibalization Solutions


Generally, keyword cannibalization is bad for SEO but that doesn’t mean it always needs to be fixed. For example, if you are holding the first and second rank for the same keyword for long period then, keyword cannibalization isn’t exactly a concern.

Meanwhile, the solution for keyword cannibalization can vary depending on the root cause of the problem. Here are a few Keyword cannibalization solutions based on different scenarios.

1. 301 Redirects

In case your website has multiple pages targeting the same term but you need only one to remain live, then solve the problem using 301 redirects.

That is, choose the best page out of all the pages and use a 301 on all the remaining duplicates. Thus your visitor will always reach the right version of the page and thus, only the most valuable page for a query will be ranked by Google.

2. Canonicalization

A canonical tag (rel=“canonical”) differentiates the main version for duplicate, near-duplicate, and similar pages.

This snippet of HTML code from the less important page to the important page informs the search engine that there is some content similarity of duplication among the pages but one of the pages is the more important one.

This works best when you have two similar pages and you need to keep both of them. However, the search engine ranks one page over the other since the page is defined to be superior.

Thus you eliminate the competition between your pages for better SERP results. However, it must be noted that the use of canonicals is nothing but a “suggestion” and the search engine reserves the right to accept it or not.

3. Merge Pages

Say you have two weak pages on the same keywords and are competing with each other through cannibalization, it is well advised to merge both of them into a single page with higher authority. This removes internal competition and also increases credibility.

4. Pages Re-Optimized

Better to have a weaker page retargeted for a different keyword. The change should also include Meta tags – title and description as well as the entire content.

Although the strategy might need a little extra work, it sure is worth the effort.

5. Improve Internal Linking

Internal links are not only for site navigation but also help Google understand the hierarchy of your website.

In some cases, a proper internal linking structure can solve cannibalization issues. After all, the majority of your internal links should point towards high-value pages.

6. No Index

This is another novel way to handle cannibalization issues. In this approach, all the pages will exist without indexing except for one page which will be indexed.

This means, the audience can use the pages but the content will not affect your website’s authority. However, users will not be able to find the unindexed pages via search engines.


In conclusion, keyword cannibalization can happen in both SEO and PPC areas and reduce your profits. That does not mean it completely baffles search engines with near duplicity.

This article will is designed to identify and remediate any cannibalization issues that you might be facing currently.

However, you can always get in touch with the experienced SEO team of OneCity for any further assistance in making your website a hit.

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