Keyword cannibalization (SEO)

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In the realm of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages of the same website compete for the same or similar keywords. This can create confusion for search engines, diluting the perceived relevance and authority of each page.


Here are some issues associated with keyword cannibalization:

  • Search Engine Confusion: If multiple pages on your website are optimized for the same keyword or very similar keywords, search engines may have difficulty determining which page is the most relevant or authoritative on the topic. As a result, search engines might rank none of the competing pages as well as they would if there was a clear, standout page on the topic.
  • Diluted Backlinks: Instead of having all backlinks pointing to one authoritative page on a topic, they might be spread across multiple pages. This dilutes the SEO value of those backlinks.
  • Diluted Content Value: Instead of one comprehensive, high-quality page on a topic, you might end up with several weaker pages that don't each provide complete or satisfying information on their own.
  • Conversion Rate Issues: If similar content is spread across multiple pages, users might land on a page that isn't optimized for conversion or doesn't offer the best user experience. This can lead to missed opportunities.
  • Crawl Budget Issues: For larger sites, there's a thing called "crawl budget", which refers to the number of pages search engine bots will crawl on your site at any given time. If you have many similar or duplicate pages, you might be wasting your crawl budget on non-unique content.


How to Address Keyword Cannibalization:

  • Conduct an Audit: Start by conducting a keyword audit. Identify which pages of your website are ranking for the same keywords.
  • Merge Content: If two or more pages cover very similar topics, consider merging them into one comprehensive page. This can consolidate the SEO value and reduce confusion.
  • Use Canonical Tags: If for some reason you need to keep multiple pages with similar content, you can use the rel="canonical" tag to tell search engines which version is the "master" or primary version.
  • Use Internal Linking Strategically: Point internal links to the page you consider the most authoritative on the topic. This signals to search engines which page you deem most important.
  • De-Optimize: If merging isn't an option and you have pages that shouldn't be competing but are, consider de-optimizing one. This means you might change the title, meta description, and content to be less focused on the problematic keyword.
  • Noindex: If a page isn't providing value to users or search engines, but you still want it on your site (maybe it's for a specific audience or purpose), you can use the noindex directive to prevent search engines from indexing it.

WooCommerce sites

At various WooCommerce sites, we frequently run into this problem in the following way: