Problems with Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization isn’t an issue that’s in the SEO forums much, nor is it something that many SEOs feature prominently in site reviews (at least, from my experience), but it can be detrimental to potential rankings for several different reasons. First, I’ll illustrate how keyword cannibalization happens.

It typically starts when a website’s information architecture calls for the targeting of a single term or phrase on multiple pages of the site. Many times this is done unintentionally, but results in several or even dozens of pages that have the same keyword target in the title and header tags. I’ve heard several clients explain the logic behind this in a similar fashion:

Many times intentionally or unintentionally we target one specific keyword on 2 or more pages on same website. Such type of keyword targeting is called keyword cannibalization. This issue can be a cause of having both very less no. keywords or a huge no. of keywords that are to be targetted on a website. It can also be a cause of 2 or more variations of a same keyword. And most of the times site owners and SEOs are unaware of this issue or they are not much bothered about it.

Keyword cannibalization happens when certain pages within your site compete against each other for certain keywords. From the word cannibal, your pages are eating the popularity of other pages to gain rankings. Sometimes it’s an unavoidable occurrence because as we develop page contents, we sometimes have an inherent intention to rank for keywords regardless of which pages they appear. Instead of mapping contents/pages to keywords, we think it’s not so bad to place important keywords on all pages.

Another situation is that when we have broad contents, we tend to bundle them into one page instead of focusing specific contents on separate pages.

For example, if I sell different kinds of shoes (running shoes, kids shoes, training shoes, trailwalking shoes, basketball shoes) and build one page that will contain all of the featured products. Mapping a keyword to all of the pages will not make one page representative enough for that keyword.

Problems it can cause:

  1. It forces search engines to choose the best page among different pages which target same keyword/s. basically pages of one single website compete with one another for certain search terms.
  2. It divides the link juice coming from inbound links into different pages of a website. Consider a few links coming to a certain page with an anchor text and that same anchor text is used to link to other pages (which target the same keyword) as well. These links can be pointed to one single page in ideal situation. And that would be a better and organized scenario as well.
  3. It creates issues of duplicate content. Though webmasters and site owners keep a check on duplicate content issue but due to keyword canniblization repetitions happen in the content which in the end is not a good sign.

To avoid this problem, a thorough classification of keywords needs to be done and more than that, a well organized site structure or internal linking structure is required.

Please share your view about Keyword Cannibalization

Post by Synram Technolab


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Daniel has more than 5 years of practical experience with web and software development, social media marketing, internet marketing, SEO and eCommerce. He studied computing, multimedia and eCommerce in the US (1999-2005). In 2002 he completed the Associate Bankers Diploma (American Institute of Bankers) and he is also Google and Microsoft certified. I'm working at Synram Technolab Pvt. Ltd. as a SEO Expert cum Marketing Activity Analyst cum Project Coordinator. Check out my Website:

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