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Having multiple pages devoted to the same keyword results in the crawling and indexing of pages that aren’t needed.
Furthermore, a complete, in-depth page is more likely to be linked to than lighter, less comprehensive pieces.
Just make sure your keywords accurately describe your page’s content. Will a website visitor who searched for the target keyword be satisfied by the content on each page that ranks for it?
You’re Squandering Crawl Budget.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
Simply create a spreadsheet that lists all of your site’s important URLs and their associated keywords.
This should help you spot pages targeting the same keywords.
Here are five possible solutions.
Looking at your pages in a spreadsheet with the following details can help you spot better keyword opportunities for similar pages:
These five solutions will fix most cases of keyword cannibalization. Still, if you manage an ecommerce website, you should be particularly careful to note how your CMS separates products with variable sizes and colors.
Instead of having one highly authoritative page, you’re splitting your CTR among multiple moderately-relevant pages.
Google May Devalue The More Relevant Page.
More often than not, the issue is simply one of organization. But particularly stubborn cases may require that you break out the 301s or new landing pages.
Note that keyword cannibalization can even occur if the meta information in your title tags seems to target the same keyword, so double-check those, too.
If you have two pages ranking well for a long-tail keyword, see if there is a related broad term you could be focusing on for one of them to capture more traffic.
Ironically, its victims are usually webmasters who recognize the importance of SEO for their business. Yet while they intend to optimize their site, they don’t fully understand how to ‘speak’ Google’s language.
They might even be happy that one page is ranking in the fifth and sixth slot for their targeted keyword, without realizing that one authoritative page would probably rank higher and convert better.
3. Consolidate Your Content.
We call this SEO misstep keyword cannibalization.
For example, if your site sells shoes, then your spreadsheet might look like this:
When you do this, you aren’t showing Google the breadth or depth of your knowledge. You aren’t improving the authority of your site for that query, either.
If your CMS is organizing products like this, you should either restrict duplicate pages from being indexed using robots.txt or <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> tags, or you should use canonical URLs to consolidate link signals for the duplicate content.
Once you’ve listed your URLs and their keywords, run down the list and look for any duplicate entries.
From there, you can determine which pages are most valuable, which can be consolidated, and which need new keywords.
The trick to finding real cannibalization issues is to look for pages that target the same keywords and fulfill the same or very similar intent.
Most of the time, yes. But as our more experienced readers will know, there’s a lot of “it depends” in SEO, so there are times when things are a bit more nuanced.
This works best when you want to check for cannibalization issues for a specific keyword.
Is keyword cannibalization bad?
Here’s how to it in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer:
Let’s look at a few ways to identify these pages.
People often try to solve cannibalization at the keyword level with seemingly logical solutions that are fundamentally flawed in practice. Let’s take a closer look at these, so you know what not to do.
Head to Google and search for site:yourwebsite.com “topic” . You’ll see all the pages on your site related to that topic.
If we do this for site:moz.com “keyword cannibalization” , you can see that the first three results are the ones we previously discovered in Site Explorer:
It ranks #1 for its primary target keyword…
Keyword cannibalization solutions we rarely (or never) recommend.
Perhaps. But then again, our guide to submitting websites to search engines couldn’t be performing any better in organic search right now.
Our historical estimated organic traffic to these two pages also shows the positive change (the arrow marks the consolidation date):
For example, if we look at Moz’s historical rankings for “keyword cannibalization,” we see three pages ranking in the last six months—none of which ranked higher than position #8:
Given that pages tend to rank for many keywords, that’s not always the case.
Option 1. Do a content audit.
… and seems to have pretty much maxed out its “traffic potential” (it’s getting more traffic than every other similar guide):
For example, we have two very similar guides:
So we know now Moz could rank higher than position #6 by combining some of these pages and redirecting. It’s also evident that Google currently considers the page in position #6 the most relevant result for this keyword. Thus, it probably makes sense to work primarily with that page and redirect the other pages there.
Another example of a nuanced scenario is targeting the same keyword on multiple pages that fulfill different intents. This is fine if the keyword has mixed intent, and this usually isn’t a real cannibalization issue. Sure, you may see some keyword overlap or periodic rank swaps. But each page will usually get traffic from its own bucket of long-tail keywords.
For example, if we search for “keyword cannibalization” in Google, we only see one result from Moz in the top 20: