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What is keyword cannibalisation and how does it damage your ranking?

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19 December 2022

To improve your search engine ranking, you have been told by marketing experts to use keywords and key phrases across your website. Why? Because these are the terms being keyed into search engines by users. By playing your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) cards well with the right keywords and phrases, your website can climb the rankings like a pro.

Well, that’s all pretty straightforward then! So you just need to plant loads of the same keywords and phrases on repeat across my website. Yes?

No! That’s ‘keyword cannibalisation’.

Confused? Let us explain.

The dangers of keyword cannibalisation

Keyword cannibalisation is when too many identical or similar keywords are spread across your website. This confuses search engines because they don’t know which page to rank more highly. Effectively you are cannibalising your search engine results by splitting your click-through rates (CTR) along with your links, content and potential conversions.

When you split the impact of your keywords, you are diminishing your reputation with Google and other engines, which like to rank websites that show true authority and knowledge. The search engine might also give a higher ranking to a web page that is less important to you than another.

It’s also important to note that modern search algorithms look harshly upon deliberate ‘keyword stuffing’ where it’s obvious that the content is simply playing the SEO game of using a plethora of keywords and phrases just to improve the web page’s ranking.

How to avoid keyword cannibalisation

Here are some options for avoiding keyword cannibalism.

Consolidate pages

By redirecting old, outdated pages to a priority page, or combining multiple pages into a new page, you can improve the organic performance of your website. Either option will consolidate ranking signals, such as backlinks and internal links, into one targeted page rather than having the impact diluted across multiple pages.

Delete old or irrelevant content

Not unlike having a good clearout, deleting content might sound a bit extreme (particularly to those of us less enamoured by the prospect of housekeeping!), but irrelevant content could be holding your SEO aspirations back. Business priorities change, so it’s good to refresh and remove content regularly.

Review your internal links

For effective SEO, links are really important. They establish importance. If you link a landing page to another page, you are telling search engines that the linked page is important, so they might rank it more highly.

Change your internal links so that less important content is linked to the pages you want to prioritise.

eCommerce 301 redirects

On eCommerce websites, a product page that is serving little purpose can cannibalise important keywords. Here you can use a 301 redirect to take a user to a more ideal page without losing authority or traffic. 301 redirects are useful on eCommerce sites simply because product offerings are prone to change.

Get in touch

Code Galaxy is a software development and website design consultancy. For more information on keyword cannibalisation or for other help with your website or software, contact us using our online form.

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