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Keyword Cannibalisation: Cancelling out your own Keywords

“YOU get this keyword! YOU get this keyword! YOU get this keyword!”

KEYWORDMEMEA Keyword is a word you put on your web-page which matches both the theme of your content and the search queries made by your audience. The purpose of keywords is to improve the webpage ranking on a search engine.

Because of this, finding a great keyword that perfectly captures your brand/product and your audience's search terms, can result in some keyword craziness.

Next thing you know, you have three pages on your website all optimised and targeted for this one fabulous keyword.

But that’s okay because this will result in your site shooting to the top of the page for this search term, right?


Welcome to keyword cannibalisation, where the several of the same keywords enter the ring to fight it out. No-one makes it out alive.

Keyword cannibalisation happens when you have too many pages optimised for a single keyword/phrase, whether that’s due to poor website structure or research.

Google wants to understand your content - it's in their best interest. When you have multiple pages optimised for a certain keyword/phrase, you're going out of your way to confuse the big G - when Google is confused you can kiss your rankings goodbye. Here's why:

Relevany query for keyword


When Google bots crawl through your site they will see the same keyword over and over. They will not take this to mean that you are super relevant to this keyword, but will instead be confused. The bots will be forced to choose a page that they feel best fits the query that a person has searched for.

When this happens, you mess up a number of rank-boosting opportunities:

  • Internal Anchor Text: Your anchor text ends up leading your users to a number of different pages, instead of one page with all the information they need on the subject.
  • External Links: You may have three external sites linking to your first page with ‘cake’ as the keyword. Then you have eight sites linking to your second cake page, and two sites linking to your third cake page. That is a total of 13 links that could’ve been concentrated on one page, but are instead divided amongst three.
  • Content Value: Three pages of primarily the same topic is not good quality content. One page of great content is the best way to attract links and referrals - not through duplication, and boring repetition.
  • Conversion Rate: One page will be converting better than others - so what is the point in having pages targeting the same traffic, but converting at a lower rate?
  • Important content gets devalued: Google doesn’t know which page is the most important one, so it will guess instead. This could mean your best and brightest cake page gets almost no traffic because it isn’t ranked by Google.

Identifying the issue:

Once you’re aware that you have a problem, discovering where the problem lies is very simple.

Create a spreadsheet containing all your web pages and their targeted keywords. This is something that we do at The Web Company very early on, ensuring there is no overlap within the architecture of your website.

Once you have a spreadsheet you can easily scan through all the keywords ensuring you have no double-ups.

How to fix it:

Because there are a couple of reasons for this issue, there are a few solutions specific to those reasons:

  1. Website Restructure:

Take your most authoritative page (cakes) and make it the source page for all others.

For the other pages, instead of using a singular keyword, try to use variations on that keyword. For example, don’t use the Keyword “cakes” on repeat. Use ‘wedding cakes’, ‘birthday cakes’, ‘custom cakes’ etc.

Those variations can all be linked back to an original source: ‘cakes’.

2) Consolidate your content:

It is not always possible to spread your content out amongst a number of pages as the pages may not have enough unique content between them. What you might need is a single page that consolidates a number of pages in one.

3) More keyword research:

If your site is already well structured and your pages are diverse then the issue is the keyword strategy. The solution is some thorough keyword research. Delve deep to find keywords that accurately describe each page’s content. It might take some time but it is worth it.

So take a look at your website, do a quick review of your keywords, and see if there is some keyword cannibalisation taking place on your site. Fix those issues quick-smart, and if you need any support, we are always here to help!


:   Tags: SEO

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