Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is & Why It Matters

Have you ever wondered why some of your web pages aren’t ranking as well as they should, despite your best efforts? The culprit might be keyword cannibalization. Don’t worry; it’s not as scary as it sounds. Let’s break it down in simple terms.

One webpage eating another

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Imagine you own a restaurant, and you have multiple menu items that are essentially the same dish with slight variations. When customers look at your menu, they might get confused about which one to choose. That’s similar to what happens with keyword cannibalization on your website.

In SEO terms, keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple pages on your website that are all trying to rank for the same keyword or phrase. It’s like your web pages are competing against each other instead of working together.

Keyword Cannibalization Meaning

The term “keyword cannibalization” refers to a situation where multiple pages on your website target the same keyword or keyphrase. Instead of having a single, strong page that ranks well for that keyword, you end up with several weaker pages that split the ranking power among them. This can confuse search engines and dilute the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.

Why is Keyword Cannibalization a Problem?

Going back to our restaurant analogy, if you have too many similar dishes, it might be hard for customers to decide what to order. Similarly, when you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword, it can confuse search engines. They might not know which page to show in search results, leading to lower rankings for all of them.

SEO Impact

Here are some specific ways keyword cannibalization can hurt your website:

  1. Lower Rankings: When your pages compete against each other, they might all end up with lower rankings than if you had one strong, focused page.
  2. Diluted Page Authority: Instead of having one authoritative page on a topic, your authority gets spread thin across multiple pages.
  3. Poor User Experience: Visitors might get frustrated if they keep finding similar content on different pages of your site.
  4. Wasted Resources: You’re spending time and effort creating and maintaining multiple pages when one could do the job better.
webpage chains breaking

Internal Keyword Cannibalization

Internal keyword cannibalization occurs within your own website. It’s a common issue for sites with a lot of content, such as blogs, e-commerce sites, and large informational websites. This type of cannibalization can be particularly damaging because it spreads your ranking potential thinly across multiple pages instead of consolidating it.

How to Spot & Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

Identifying keyword cannibalization doesn’t require advanced technical skills. Here are a few simple ways to check:

  1. Use Google Search Console: Look for keywords where multiple pages from your site are showing up in search results.
  2. Site Search: Use Google to search your site for a specific keyword (type “site
  3. .com keyword” in Google). If multiple pages come up, you might have a cannibalization issue.
  4. SEO Tools: If you’re using SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush, they often have features to help identify cannibalization problems.

Keyword Cannibalization Checker Tools

Several tools can help you identify keyword cannibalization issues:

  • Ahrefs Keyword Cannibalization Checker: Ahrefs offers a robust tool that can help you identify pages on your site that are competing for the same keyword.
  • Semrush Keyword Cannibalization Tool: Semrush provides detailed reports and insights into cannibalization issues, helping you pinpoint and resolve them effectively.

Fixing Keyword Cannibalization

Once you’ve identified the issue, here are some ways to address it:

  1. Combine and Conquer: If you have multiple similar pages, consider combining them into one comprehensive page. This can create a stronger, more authoritative resource.
  2. Differentiate Your Content: If you wish to maintain several pages, ensure that each one focuses on a unique facet of the subject or serves a distinct group of viewers.
  3. Internal Linking: Use your internal linking structure to indicate which page is the most important for a particular topic.
  4. Use Canonical Tags: Tags help search engines identify the main version of a page when there is similar content on different pages.
internal linking comp

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization with Semrush

Semrush provides a step-by-step guide to resolving keyword cannibalization:

  1. Identify Cannibalized Keywords: Use Semrush’s tools to identify keywords where multiple pages are ranking.
  2. Analyze Content: Review the content of the competing pages to determine if they can be combined or need differentiation.
  3. Consolidate or Differentiate: Decide if you want to put all the content on one page or split it into multiple pages. This will help you focus on different aspects of the keyword..
  4. Monitor Results: After making changes, monitor the results to ensure that the issue is resolved and that your rankings improve.

Preventing Future Cannibalization

To avoid this issue in the future:

  1. Plan Your Content: Before creating new pages, check if you already have content on that topic.
  2. Use a Keyword Map: Keep track of which keywords each page is targeting to avoid overlap.
  3. Regular Audits: Periodically review your content to ensure you’re not unintentionally creating competing pages.

Prevent Keyword Cannibalization in SEO

  • Keyword Mapping: Create a keyword map that assigns specific keywords to specific pages. This prevents overlap and ensures each page has a unique focus.
  • Content Strategy: Develop a content strategy that clearly outlines the purpose and target keywords for each piece of content.
  • SEO Audits: Conduct regular SEO audits to identify and address any cannibalization issues before they impact your rankings.

Advanced Strategies for Managing Keyword Cannibalization

  • Beyond the basics, there are advanced strategies you can implement to manage and prevent keyword cannibalization:

Use Advanced SEO Tools

  • Tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Google Search Console can help you effectively manage keyword cannibalization with detailed insights and features.

    • Ahrefs: Use Ahrefs to analyze your site’s keyword rankings and identify any cannibalization issues. Ahrefs’ comprehensive reports can help you pinpoint problematic pages and keywords.
    • Semrush: Semrush offers a keyword cannibalization tool that provides detailed reports and actionable insights. Use it to monitor your keywords and ensure each page is targeting unique keywords.

Optimize Your Internal Linking

Internal linking can play a crucial role in managing keyword cannibalization:

    • Strategic Linking: Use internal links to indicate the importance of specific pages. Link to your most important pages from other relevant content to consolidate ranking power.
    • Anchor Text Optimization: Ensure your anchor texts are varied and relevant. Avoid using the same anchor text for multiple pages targeting the same keyword.

Leverage Canonical Tags

Canonical tags are a powerful tool for managing duplicate content and keyword cannibalization:

    • Canonical Tags: Use canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of a page. This helps search engines understand which page to rank when you have similar content on multiple pages.
    • Implement Canonical Tags: Ensure you correctly implement canonical tags on your site to avoid confusion and potential ranking issues.
canonical tags comp

Content Differentiation

Differentiating your content is essential to prevent keyword cannibalization:

  • Unique Content: Ensure each page has unique content that targets different aspects of a keyword or topic. This prevents overlap and provides value to your audience.
  • Audience Segmentation: Tailor your content to different audience segments. This allows you to target various keywords and user intents without causing cannibalization.

Case Studies and Examples

Real-world examples can provide valuable insights into managing keyword cannibalization:

Case Studies and Examples

Real-world examples can provide valuable insights into managing keyword cannibalization:

Example 1: E-commerce Site

An e-commerce site selling shoes identified that multiple product pages were competing for the same keyword. By consolidating similar product pages and optimizing internal linking, they improved their rankings and increased sales.

Example 2: Blog Site

A blog site with multiple articles on the same topic was experiencing keyword cannibalization. By using a keyword map and differentiating content, they improved their rankings and user engagement.


Keyword cannibalization might sound complex, but addressing it can significantly improve your website’s performance in search results. By ensuring each page has a clear, unique purpose, you’re not only helping search engines understand your site better but also providing a better experience for your visitors.

Remember, in the world of SEO, sometimes less is more. A single, well-crafted page often performs better than multiple pages competing for the same spotlight. So, take a look at your website, identify any cannibalization issues, and start making those pages work together instead of against each other. Your search rankings (and your visitors) will thank you!

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