Marketers are (rightfully) obsessed with keywords. They’re the lifeblood of search engines, after all. As such, people can easily get carried away with them, putting them where they don’t belong or simply using way more than what’s needed.

Keyword cannibalization can be as scary as it sounds, damaging your organic search rankings and taking a bite out of your long-term profits. If you don’t know how to spot it – and more importantly how to fix it – you’ll forever be grappling with these unpredictable ups and downs.

More likely than not, you’re left with pages that don’t perform nearly as well as they could. We assume you’d like to avoid such a fate, so keep reading for the answers on keyword cannibalization.

What is Keyword Cannibalisation?

As the name suggests, keyword cannibalization is when near-identical keywords conflict with one another, resulting in fluctuating rankings. Struggling to identify which content to display higher in the SERPs, the engine can sometimes give a higher status to a single page that you may or may not have prioritized, whilst lowering other pages with those same keywords.

In your site has numerous posts concerned with a single search query, the engine really has a hard time choosing which is best. This could have happened because the topics covered are just too close to each other, or you actually designed it that way by over-optimising select keywords.

What is Keyword Cannibalisation?

A search engine like Google will usually only display one result per domain for each search query and thus keyword cannibalization can negatively impact your SEO. Your competing pages are essentially eating away at their chance of success, hence the name keyword cannibalization. Expert SEO services can help those who are struggling to correctly optimise content.

Why is Keyword Cannibalization bad for SEO?

There’s already enough competition out there, so why would you try to compete with yourself? The sci-fi equivalent of keyword cannibalization is the evil moustached clone that wants only to disrupt things. While a single page may sometimes see a brief boost, it’s more likely for all of the pages involved to be negatively impacted in the long run.

By managing multiple pages that cover a shared focus keyword, you have no control over where your visitors land. The search engine is god, and absolutely works in mysterious ways, so it’s hard to pinpoint why exactly it might prioritize a page that you yourself wouldn’t. The only way to properly direct visitors through your site is to learn how to spot keyword cannibalization and resolve it.

How to spot Keyword Cannibalization

If the highest ranking post is actually one that you wrote a long time ago, you’d probably prefer that people read your more recent content. Similarly, if your top spot is going to a page that you feel isn’t your most authoritative, you’ll want to rectify that, too.

As we’re dealing with keywords, it’s relatively simple to find out whether you’re cannibalizing content. Doing a site search for your biggest keywords can reveal where they are most concentrated, and whether or not they’re spread across too many pages. Search domain plus keyword (, keyword) to see which pages are getting the limelight and whether that counts as cannibalization.

Remember that keyword cannibalism can also happen when you optimize keywords that are almost the same, so you should look out for any instance where pages are getting in each other’s way. You may have two posts that seem to take a different approach, yet if they cover the same themes and feature near-identical keywords they’ll also become cannibalistic.

Fixing Keyword Cannibalization

Luckily, it’s not too complicated to solve keyword cannibalization, so let’s have a look at the first things that professional SEO agencies advise:

  1. Merge Content

If you’ve got 2 or 3 articles that are virtually the same, built on the same foundation but perhaps different in a stylistic way, you should merge them into a single entry. Long-form content provides immense value to your visitors and as such it’s something that search engines favour.

  1. Internal Linking

You can set up your internal link structure to tell the story of which posts you think are the most important on your site. Link away from your less valuable pages to your preferred content. In doing so, you’re basically drawing up a road map for the search engine, which is now able to determine the pages you’re attempting to rank highest.

  1. Trim the Excess

If you can’t see a decent way of combining your content, or it seems strange to have such similar discussions linked to one another, you could simply delete the pages that are performing weakly. It can be hard to give up on content, especially if you’ve spent a large amount of time or money on it, but keeping conflicting posts will hurt your overall site success.

Putting an End to Keyword Cannibalisation

Keyword cannibalization isn’t the worst SEO problem in the world, but if can be symptomatic of deeper issues with site structure and content marketing strategy. Shtudio is a SEO agency in Australia that specialises in top-tier sites with content to match, so get in touch if you need a helping hand with your web design and digital marketing.