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What is Keyword Cannibalization in Digital Marketing?

Learn all about digital marketing, we have built this glossary to help you understand everything to thrive in online marketing and promoting your website or business.

1. What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword Cannibalization is an event that happens when multiple pages on the same website are all trying to rank for the same keyword. When this happens, instead of having one strong page that the search engines can rank, you have multiple weak pages that dilute the overall SEO power of your website. It leads to self-competition, confused search engines, and ultimately lower search engine rankings.
While it might seem logical to have as many opportunities as possible to rank for a keyword, it actually has a detrimental effect because search engines like Google don’t know which page is most relevant for the keyword. This can result in less relevant pages outranking others that could provide more value to users, thus compromising user experience and ROI.
The idea behind avoiding keyword cannibalization is to create a strategic keyword mapping which places each relevant keyword on a suitable, distinct page. This also helps to create a logical user journey through your website, improving user experience alongside SEO benefits.
2. Role of Keyword Cannibalization in digital marketing
Keyword Cannibalization plays a tricky role in digital marketing. While the aim is to rank high on search engine results through prime keywords, cannibalization can lead to self-competition and confusion among search engines. Your pages could end up being shown for wrong search queries, negatively affecting your click-through rate and conversions.
Furthermore, it undermines the effectiveness of your backlinks because they are spread out across multiple pages that target the same keyword. This dilution of SEO power means you’re less likely to rank well for that keyword.
Identifying and addressing keyword cannibalization is a crucial part of an effective SEO strategy and is fundamental for achieving optimal organic visibility. By properly structuring your website and using a clearly defined keyword strategy, you can avoid keyword cannibalization and improve the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.
3. Examples of Keyword Cannibalization
An example of keyword cannibalization might be an e-commerce website which sells shoes. If they have separate pages for 'men's shoes', 'best men's shoes', and 'comfortable men's shoes', all with similar content, this can constitute keyword cannibalization as all pages are competing for similar keyword segments.
A blog site that frequently discusses a specific topic and uses the same keyword for multiple articles can also be a victim of keyword cannibalization. Without proper keyword mapping, the repeated use of the same keyword can cause internal competition.
To resolve keyword cannibalization, a good practice would be to analyze your website with a SEO tool to detect any cannibalization issues. Afterwards, you can either merge the competing pages, delete redundant ones or use canonical tags and noindex tags. This will allow the search engine to understand which page is more important and ultimately prevent keyword cannibalization.