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What Is ‘Keyword Cannibalisation?’ Is It As Unappetising As It Sounds?

The SEO and digital marketing industry is packed full of colourful terminology (some more self-explanatory than others). One of my personal favourites is ‘keyword cannibalisation’. To me, it conjures imagery of the word “HUNGRY” tearing around a website, eating every other word in its path, slowly growing in size until it eventually fills the screen!

And as fun as that image is, it doesn’t really help you understand the exact nature or meaning of the phrase.

Fortunately, in this article we’re going to tell you what it’s all about. Is keyword cannibalisation as unappetising as it sounds?

What is keyword cannibalisation?

Keyword cannibalization refers to when you have too many identical or similar sounding keywords spread throughout all of the pages and content on your website.

As a result of this, Google will then start struggling to discern which content is more important.

What happens then is Google may give some low-priority content on your website higher rankings than your most important pages. That, and it may also result in all of the pages with those focus keywords dropping in the SERPS (search engine results pages).

If you’ve been struggling to rank a specific page and you feel like you’ve tried everything to increase traffic to it, this could be why!

How can you prevent keyword cannibalisation on your website?

There are 4 fairly straightforward methods you can use to prevent keyword cannibalisation on your website:

  • Merge your content: the first thing that you could try is to merge some of the existing content on your website. If you have two web pages that are both serving a very similar purpose you can join them together as one super page. For example: you have a blog post on the benefits of hiring SEO services, and then you have a different blog post that talks about the potential pitfalls with hiring SEO services. These two blogs could be joined into one, thus reducing the keyword cannibalisation issues for the focus keyword “SEO services.”
  • Delete old content: while it might sound a little bit extreme, sometimes deleting content from your website is the right move. You have to ask: How valuable is this content? Is it still relevant today? Does it add value to the customer experience? Is it an old blog post that you published when you very first started writing? Where possible, cut the fat.
  • Remove or change keywords: this is certainly the least attractive solution as it requires a lot of manual action, but going through certain pages and removing or changing keywords can be very effective – especially if you used to have a bad habit of keyword stuffing in the past.
  • Improve internal linking: another effective way to signal to Google which pages in your website are more important is by internal linking. If you create multiple new blog posts and they each link to a single ‘central’ blog post or service page, it lets Google know which should take priority in the ranking process.

Quick recap:

  • Keyword cannibalisation occurs when you have too many identical or similar keywords on multiple pages throughout your website.
  • As a result of keyword cannibalisation, certain low-priority pages may end up ranking higher.
  • In order to combat this, you can:
  • Merge content.
  • Delete content.
  • Remove or change keywords.
  • Improve your internal linking.