Your rankings may suffer from keyword cannibalization if you optimize your content for related search phrases because you'll be "devouring" your own chances to rank in Google! It's likely that your content may begin to compete with itself, especially as your site expands.
The majority of digital marketing teams use keyword optimization to raise the visibility of their content in search results. More keywords, in theory, equate to higher optimization.
In order to improve your chances of ranking, it can be tempting to employ the same keywords on many sites.
If your postings are in competition with each other for the same term, this tactic can backfire.
Consider this: You won't know which link to click on if you're looking for "the greatest running shoes" and you come across two articles from the same publisher with these terms in the headline.
In this article, I'll discuss how keyword cannibalism can harm SEO, how to spot it, and what you can do to stop it.
What is the term "keyword cannibalization"?
If you have multiple blog posts or articles on your website that can rank for the same Google search term, this is known as keyword cannibalization. Either because you optimized them for the same keyphrase or because the topics they cover are too similar. Similar search keywords are eaten up by posts and articles you optimize for them, decreasing their chances of ranking. For any given query, Google typically displays no more than 1 or 2 results from the same domain. If your domain has a lot of authority, you might earn 3.
Why is keyword cannibalism detrimental to SEO?
Cannibalizing your own keywords puts you in a Google search engine ranking battle with yourself. Let's imagine you wrote two articles on the same subject. In that circumstance, Google is unable to determine which article ought to appear first for a certain query. In addition, crucial elements like backlinks and CTR are spread out among multiple postings rather than just one. They will most likely both rank lower as a result. As a result, if you optimize a post for a focus keyword you've already used, our SEO analysis will display a red bullet.
However, if you optimize posts for emphasis keywords that are nearly the same but not quite the same, keyword cannibalism may also happen. For instance, I discussed the topic of readability as a ranking criteria in two posts. However, the post titled "Does readability rank?" was targeted for the keyword "does readability rank," whereas the one titled "Readability ranks!" was enhanced for the focus keyword "readability ranking factor." Although they had a slightly varied slant, the posts were essentially identical. It is challenging for Google to determine which of the two articles is more crucial.
Did you see the same article recently? Yes, this cannibalization problem has been resolved by this point, however, we kept this example to serve as an example.
How can you spot it?
It's simple to determine if your website exhibits keyword cannibalism. You merely do a search for your website using any exact keyword you believe may return more than one result. Google "site:yoast.com readability ranks"; The first two results are the pieces would possibly have been cannibalized.
Searching for "site:domain.com" You can quickly determine whether you have keyword cannibalism by searching for "keyword." By entering the same query into Google (using a private browser or a local search result checker like https://valentin.app/), you can confirm your findings. What pages from your website do you see in the search results, and where do they appear? Of course, it's not a problem if two of your pages for the same keyword are ranked #1 and #2. Do you, however, see your articles, say, on positions 7 and 8? Then, it's time to resolve the situation!
How Do One Find Cannibalized Keywords?
Don't worry if you think that your website may be using the same keywords more than once. By following a few straightforward procedures, you can locate and solve them with ease.
You can use the following methods to look for keyword cannibalization.
Look Up Information on Your Website
An easy technique to find keyword cannibalization is to seek up relevant search terms for your industry.
If your business provides digital marketing services, for instance, and you routinely post articles on SEO and marketing-related issues, you might Google some of the keywords you frequently use.
These might present themselves as "SEO methods" or "simple marketing advise."
Such a search returns all websites that are rated for this inquiry. See if any of your posts are in competition with one another for a position.
Create a matrix of keywords.
Using a spreadsheet or keyword mapping tool, you may compile a list of all the main URLs on your website together with the terms related to each page to determine whether or not keyword cannibalism is taking place. Even while listing everything could be time-consuming, it's also a pretty thorough technique of looking for duplicates, especially if your site has amassed a lot of pages over time. Look closely at your main pages to check for any duplicate entries that would indicate term cannibalization is taking place.
Site Search tailored to Google
Entering the name of your website before the search term will help you detect keyword cannibalization more quickly. The Google search results seem as follows:
Keyword cannibalization: Google
Use of External Tools-To make things simpler and obtain thorough data for better keyword planning, you can also use keyword research tools like Ubersuggest. This can speed up the process of identifying keyword cannibalization and lower the time, cost, and effort needed to remove competitor pages from your website.
Solving keyword cannibalization
We have a thorough post by Joost that describes how to identify and address cannibalization problems on your site. The four steps you should follow to tackle this kind of problem are clearly described:
Inspect your content.
Perform a content analysis
Choose which to keep.
Act: combine, remove, and redirect
You can choose which articles to keep, merge, or eliminate with the help of the first two steps. Combining and eliminating content will frequently be the acting part; nevertheless, improving internal linking on your site is also important:
Combine or merge articles
When two pieces have the same readership and essentially convey the same message, you should combine them. Rewrite the two posts to create one magnificent, epic piece. That will improve your ranks (Google loves long, well-written articles) and eliminate term cannibalization.
With our two blogs on readability as a ranking factor, we actually did just that. You will ultimately delete one of the two articles and modify the other. Clone one of the posts using the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin, then continues from there. Remember to always redirect the post you delete to the one you maintain; don't just hit the delete button!
If you're having trouble with that, Yoast SEO Premium can be of assistance: It makes it simple to create redirects!
Upgrading internal linking
By creating an effective internal linking structure, you may assist Google in determining which content is the most important. The posts that are most significant to you should be linked to posts that are less important. Google will be able to determine which links you want to appear at the top of search results by clicking on them.
Your keyword cannibalization issues might be partially resolved by your internal linking structure. Consider which article is most significant to you, then link from the lesser-importance long-tail articles to that article. In my essay about ranking using cornerstone content, I go into greater detail about how to do this.
Develop a Strategic Keyword Plan
If you've been involved in digital marketing for some time, you are aware of the importance of keyword strategy.
The positive news? To the point where there is no competition and problematic overlap, one of the easiest methods to avoid keyword cannibalization is to fine-tune your chosen keyword approach.
This basically entails optimizing various pages to target various keywords and search queries.
You can therefore optimize each page for a different but related search term like "digital marketing strategy," "marketing strategies," "SEO for beginners," etc. rather than having five sites competing for the search term "SEO advice."
By doing so, you may stay on topic while providing unique material for a range of relevant search terms for your sector.
Here are some paid and free resources for keyword planning and research:
Answer the public
Search Console by Google
Moz Keyword Explorer
Cannibalization of keywords and online stores
Now that product pages are targeting comparable keywords, you might be concerned if you own an online store. It makes it logical for online stores to have many pages for similar products. In this situation, it's crucial to think carefully about the site's structure. A smart move is to link back to your category page, which you should rank well, from each product page. Additionally, keep a look out for outdated product pages which might potentially replace more crucial pages and delete and redirect those — Yoast SEO Premium's helpful redirect manager could make that easier!
Growing websites will be affected by keyword cannibalism.
The risk that keyword cannibalism may affect your website increases as it grows. You'll unknowingly write essays on your favorite subjects that are very similar.
That is what also occurred to me. You should periodically examine the terms you want to rank for most. Make sure to determine if you are keyword cannibalizing. You'll probably need to occasionally update the layout of your website or rewrite a few articles.
Five Steps to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization
Consider consolidating all of the content from two websites that perform comparable functions, such as one that recommends healthy dog food and another that identifies unhealthy dog food.
While it won't always be the best option, combining material can frequently make things easier while also improving your website's search engine optimization.
Although it is extreme, you might want to think about completely eliminating problematic web content—especially if it isn't longer pertinent to your website. Delete the material if your company has expanded and that previous, lesser professional, individual blog post employing a certain set of keywords is still showing up above your targeted site content. Both the issue and the substance are gone if they were ever-present.
Removal of a keyword is always a possibility if one wishes to keep certain content for other reasons and the former’s presence isn't essential. The good thing about this method is that it is simple and easy to use, even though manual solutions are usually longer and harder. Change the internal linking.
If you have web material that links to other information on your website, you may be able to improve the connections themselves. Links generate importance for search engines such as Google, thus if you connect to some other piece of content or website, the linked content may be ranked higher by the search engine.
Try expanding or altering your website's internal linking so that less significant content links to the material you wish to emphasize and prioritize. You are telling the search engine results page (SERP) that the linked material should take precedence by doing this. Being successful on SERP is still crucial.
Requests to Change Inbound Links
Although it will be one of the most challenging cannibalization forms to handle, it can be crucial. How many other individuals have linked back to your content is a feature that SEO takes into account when ranking search results. If you conduct a search on your website, you can discover that one of the factors that contribute to less significant content continuing to rank higher than your more recent, relevant content is the building of links from other websites.
You can use software to track backlinks if you have the resources and the time to do so, especially if the websites with which the connections are associated are very powerful ones. After that, you can get in touch with the webmasters to ask them to modify or remove the links. In the ideal scenario, they will swap the outdated links you don't want for the fresh ones you want to favour, which will really improve your SEO ranking.
Make Comprehensive Pages
Content teams may decide to divide some topics into multiple posts because they appear too complicated to be covered in a single blog post.
For instance, "how to make money blogging" is a difficult topic, hence you frequently see several entries addressing various aspects of the issue.
A fast Google search for "how to make money blogging" yields three different outcomes. One discusses blogging for novices, the second discusses monetizing your site in 2021, and the third discusses the challenges of timing blog monetization.
Imagine that these were all from your site rather than from three different sites.
This leads to a lot of unneeded competition because the majority of these deal with concepts that are similar. Additionally, keyword cannibalization occurs because the majority of them rank for comparable search terms.
Instead of publishing a unique blog post for each query, the audience might have, you can prevent this by developing a single comprehensive page that covers all the pertinent subtopics.
As you can target long-tail keywords, include pertinent headers, include several search queries on a single page, and avoid competing with yourself, this is better for SEO.
Consider including a clickable table of contents so readers can quickly find the portions they need because this could make for a very long blog post.
When it comes to determining search rankings, modern search algorithms are significantly more intelligent and discriminating.
The key to ranking well on search engines is always going to be having quality material, and avoiding keyword cannibalization can help you better highlight and draw attention to your intended content.
A few years ago, individuals thought that filling their content with keywords and utilizing the same keyword on multiple pages would help it rank higher. This is no longer accurate, though.
You are now forced to compete with yourself and reduce your success because several pages are ranking for the same keywords and search queries.
Instead, it is much preferable to concentrate on focused keywords for certain content, give subjects precedence over keyword stuffing, and develop thorough landing pages rather than brief blog entries.
This may help you rank higher in search engine results, which will eventually help you reach a wider audience organically.
It is extremely simple to correct keyword cannibalizing, even if you have already encountered it. Reconsider your SEO alternatives, remove articles that raise competition but don't advance your marketing objectives, and concentrate on combining competing material whenever it is possible.
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