For any search engine optimization company, the issue on keyword cannibalization should be met with the same importance as what you give to other SEO related concerns like keyword stuffing, broken links, use of the same anchor text multiple times, etc. Without fully understanding the threat posed by keyword cannibalization, one will never realize the detrimental effects it has on the site’s ranking.
Keyword cannibalization occurs when the pages within your site battle against each other for specific keywords. Having multiple pages targeting exact same keywords is like eating the chance of other pages to achieve rankings. In most cases, this is done by SEO company unintentionally and without realizing that keyword cannibalization is already killing the other pages within the site, thus affecting the overall ranking of the site.
Search engine crawlers, when faced with a situation where multiple pages appear for a single keyword entry, will not crawl on all pages (no matter how many they are), but will only choose one (out of say ten pages) with the best relevant content. The remaining 9 pages will be totally scrapped. When this happens, the search engine optimization efforts you have painstakingly integrated into those pages will be lost including potential clients, unique visitors and returning visitors.
To best appreciate the impact of keyword cannibalization on SEO efforts, the following lists down the rank-boosting features lost with keyword cannibalization as explained by Rand Fishkin in an SEOmoz article:
- The value of internal anchor text on one target is diminished by spreading out to multiple different pages with the same subject.
- The value of content quality will be compromised. Instead of having a single page with the best content to attract links and referrals, you end up having multiple pages of lesser content value.
- The value of the external link is not consolidated into one page but rather spread out in many pages within the site.
- A single page with good conversion rates performance is always better than multiple versions with low conversion rate performance targeting the same traffic.
Having understood the impact of keyword cannibalization, one can focus on implementing ways to prevent or avoid keyword cannibalization. Instead of targeting the specific keyword on every page, the pages are geared on unique and relevant variations of keywords (i.e. women’s sunglasses, men’s sunglasses, kid’s sunglasses) with all of them linking back to the original or main page for the specific keyword targeted (sunglasses). This makes it easy for search engine spiders to determine, detect and identify the most relevant page for every query. Not only will this be valuable to search engines but it will also give a better user experience and a more organized information structure.
In case keyword cannibalization is already existent on your site, the best way to counter it is to implement a 301 on every ‘cannibalized’ page to a single version. This will ensure that your site visitors will get to the right page. Additionally, the link equity and relevance built and established over the years will direct search engine spiders to the most relevant and highest-ranking page for the query.
You can ask your search engine optimization team or your SEO service provider to check on your website’s keyword cannibalization status and make necessary changes if there’s any. The immediate repair of website pages targeting the same keyword will avoid search engine robot confusion in crawling your pages and will rank your website accordingly. Also, Internet users will find ease in navigating your website that could increase website traffic.
After correcting keyword cannibalization mistakes, your SEO efforts will be more effective and efficient because you have elicited one major factor that greatly contributes to any drop in website ranking.