After a few years of working in various areas of web development, SEO and web design, there is one thing I’ve heard a lot:
Even though I’m sure people love to talk about ethnology; in most cases, I was listening to classic SEO language, whether it is to make one’s look brighter, or to actually do something about it.
What is keyword cannibalism?
Keyword cannibalism happens when your website has more than 1 page targeting the same keyword. While actually not leading to any penalty, it doesn’t help your rankings. In fact, fixing it could have a great impact on your rankings since you would help Search Engines understand your site better.
Example 1: Stuffing
Your website is trying to rank for the keyword “fur coats“.
So you’ve added it to every page, in the content, and also in the meta and the name of the pages.
The consequence: Search Engines don’t know which page does what since they are all sharing the same “focused keyword”.
Example 2: Conversion and SEO conflict
You’ve been careful not to stuff your meta Titles and tried to have different content on every page.
Your website has a service page named “eco friendly fur coats“.
It also has a blog post that explain how eco-friendly the coats are. Even though the content is different, the URLs and page names are very similar “fur coats are eco-friendly“.
Consequence: Even though you were careful, search engines are still confused and don’t know which page to rank for the keyword “eco-friendly fur coats” or the keyword “fur coats eco-friendly”. After all they are both very similar and any of the two pages could be relevant.
Don’t make Google choose, tell her* how to rank your website!
Here are all the advantages of fixing cannibalism:
Content quality: If you keep writing about the same topic over and over again, chances are you’re gonna repeat yourself. Even if you avoid having duplicate content, your content quality will not be at its best.
SEO Juice: When you have 10 sites linking to 5 pages, that’s 2 external links each. If you have only one page, it gets 10 links. Basic maths.
SEO Weight: If you manage to merge your competing pages into one long, interesting page, not only the UX will be better, but the SEO weight of your new page will be much greater.
Conversions: Choose the page with the best Conversion rate and improve that one. No need to send visitors to low conversion rate pages.
How to fix cannibalism in a few, quick steps.
Know your web site exact Information Architecture. Use Google Search to find out what Google knows about your website. Go to Google and search for “site:yoursite.com keyword”. You should see something like this:
Now if you think that result #2 and result #3 are actually very similar, here is what you can do:
Option 1: Merge them into one strong page. Keep the strongest (the one that ranks the best for that keyword), and add the content from the weakest page. Once you’re done don’t forget to do a redirection 301 (permanent) to tell Google that your content has moved. Here is what it looks like in a .htaccess file, in case you’re wondering:
RedirectMatch 301 development http://www.noblepixels.com/web-development-services/
Option 2: Re-align the content of one of the pages. I recommend you pick the weakest (the lowest in term of page rank or traffic depending on your goals) and change the content so it’s clear what it does. In our case, I would focus more on the values and ethic of web development so there is no ambiguity. When you’re done, put a link on the modified page to the main page with the proper anchor. Like this:
Find out more about development.
Extra bonus points for making it to the bottom of this article on keyword cannibalism
Well done, you probably care a lot about fixing your website’s cannibalism situation. So I’m gonna give you a few more advice.
Map down your Information Architecture. You think you know your website like the back of your hand? Well, maybe you do. But are you 100% certain that your WordPress hasn’t generated tag pages or category pages? Worst, did you forget to remove the “hello World” article? Take a look at your sitemap to be sure.
100% Optimized. Have you heard about “long tail” or “niche”? They are perfect for fixing cannibalism. Instead of having 5 pages on your website competing for one keyword, make sure each page competes for a different keyword. You’ll have your main page “fur coats” and then 4 differents “smaller” keywords targeted like “duck fur coats”, “organic fur coats”, “synthetic fur coats”, “sustainable fur clothe line”. Make sure you use 100% of your content. You can use Moz Keyword Explorer to better find what keywords to target.
Get indexed in minutes! despite how scammy that title sounds like, you can actually get indexed in minutes. Connect to Google Search Console and click on your website (assuming you already added it). Then, in the left column, go to Crawl and click on “Fetch as Google“.
Then you simply add your modified pages or new pages one by one and request submit to index. If you’re submiting a page with a lot of links you can ask for this page and its direct links to be indexed as well.
Google will then index your content in minutes, which should motivate you to fix keyword cannibalism right now.
*Yes, Google is a lady.