Published on December 16th, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi


What Is Keyword Cannibalization and How to Avoid It?

Books and other sources of information are more or less replaced by the Internet. If you want some to check something quickly it’s much more efficient to just Google it that to go through an encyclopedia, right?

People simply reach out to the nearest electronic device with a connection to the internet and search for whatever information they need. Does anyone even remember Yellow Pages anymore?

Although this type of searching and information gathering is very efficient by many standards (it’s more eco-friendly for instance), there is a downside to people that actually want to be recognized and found on the Internet, to put in other words, people trying to get to the first page might just end up lost in an ocean of information.

A digital marketing agency Play Media that has one of the greatest rankings in SEO analysis and optimization suggests that maybe one of the things you are missing out is the correct use of keywords.

What Is Keyword Cannibalization and Why Is It Problematic?

So the word keyword cannibalization might sound a little rough and out of place in the world of digital marketing, but it is, in fact, a legit term used to describe a very common mistake digital marketers make.

Simply put, keyword cannibalization describes the issue of having multiple pages competing for the same or similar keyword.

Keyword cannibalization is unfortunately very problematic and although cloud computing increase flexibility this must be fixed in another way.

So the bottom line is; when multiple pages have the same or similar keyword targets, it can create confusion within the search engine which leads to struggle when deciding which page to rank for which keyword.

So for example; you are a proud owner of a clothing line store and you sell your products online, and there is a category in your online store dedicated to “skinny jeans” and the target term on that page is “skinny jeans”.

Later you decided to create two blog posts that cover topics related to skinny jeans. For example how to wear skinny jeans and what are the best skinny jeans. Sometime later you will realize that your blogs are competing with your online store category for skinny jeans.

Now is this a necessary evil or not? It depends on what your intent is. Check out this excellent Whiteboard Friday blog post created by Moz to find out more about this topic.

How to Spot the Problem and Eliminate It?

Many websites are dealing with this problem and because it is very hard to determine how much a page is held back by keyword cannibalization Moz suggests that you should “treat this issue by analyzing clusters of pages that have some degree of cannibalization rather than single pages”.

You can eliminate this problem by:

  • Merging some of the content
  • Deleting some of the content
  • Removing keywords
  • Changing metadata

Merging Content

Instead of having many web pages that are doing similar things, for example, a page that is covering the topics of the trendiest skinny jeans of the season and the trendiest skinny jeans for winter, you can just consider merging this content into a single page. This doesn’t always work for every situation but more than not this can increase your site’s SEO.

Deleting Content

If you are just starting out this might not be the best solution, but if you already have plenty of content then you can consider deleting some irrelevant content for your website. If your business has grown over time and some old blog that wasn’t even greatly done has a higher ranking than some of your desired content then consider just simply deleting it. With this, you are also “deleting” the problem.

Removing Keywords

If deleting some old content seems too extreme for you, you can consider removing the keywords. This way you get to keep your old blog and will solve your cannibalization problem as well.

Changing Meta Data

If multiple pages have metadata (title tags and headings) that target the same or similar keywords then you have a problem with cannibalization. So the next logical thing to do is to fix your title tags and headings.


Keyword cannibalization can really cause some trouble but luckily these problems can be easily fixed. With regular examinations of your site, your SEO should always be on the right track. So although this problem should be fixed as soon as possible if you are having regular site audits this shouldn’t become a major problem.

Search algorithms have become very sophisticated and good content is always number one when reaching for the top. But making sure you are playing by the rules will certainly rank you better and your content will be recognized as relevant by search engines.

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.

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