Content | October 7, 2016

What is Keyword Cannibalisation? Why Does It Matter?

Have a huge site map, added a load of new products or categories, or simply think there may have been conflicting SEO efforts made during an agency handover? Then you’ll want to read this. 

Let’s Keep Things Simple… What is Keyword Cannibalisation?

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when multiple pages of a website are optimised for the same search terms.

Why Does Keyword Cannibalisation Happen?

You want to rank as best you can for your top selling items, to maximise traffic and the likelihood of conversions. So, it may seem tempting to add the same keyword to every page title, use it as anchor text on multiple pages and stuff it into the copy wherever you can.

However, you may be doing more harm than good.

But, Why is That a Bad Thing?

To explain this, let’s use an analogy. Take a look at the Where’s Wally (Waldo to our American friends) picture at the top of this blog. Everyone is dressed the same in matching red and white stripy tops, hats and round spectacles, so how can you tell who is the real Wally?

A similar thing happens when multiple pages are optimised for the same keywords. Search engines will look at your site and see a crowd of pages that all appear to be the same. They will then ‘cannibalise’ each other, in a fight to the death style battle that sees the best page win.

How does Google decide which page is best? Well, that’s a long story that involves a mysterious tale of 200 elusive ranking factors – we won’t get into that right now. What is more clear, is the negative effect this easy-to-do blunder causes.

The Effects of Keyword Cannibalisation

Pointless Anchor Text – The quality of internal anchor text will be devalued as the same subject terms will link to multiple pages.

Divided External Links – If you have multiple pages optimised for the same keyword, it is likely that you also have external links to different pages too. As a result, the authority these links provide will be spread widely, rather than concentrated in one place.

Think: Jack of all trades, master of none.

Conversion Rate Confusion – One page will always come out on top, so it’s a waste to have other, lower converting, pages targeting the same traffic.

As a result, you’ll be missing out on organic traffic and compromising the user experience – resulting in lost revenue.

So, How To Solve a Problem Like SEO Cannibalisation?

Well, the first step is to read our guide ‘Liberty’s Essential Guide to Solving the Keyword Cannibalisation Conundrum‘ and then give our friendly team of cannibalisation marketing experts a call. Our Senior SEO Specialist, Jason, has built a handy tool that will analyse your entire site and tell you exactly what pages are cannibalising and for what. Google will soon be spotting your Wally in mere seconds with our help.

Alternatively, if you have a specific question that just can’t wait, tweet us @_libertydigital!

(main image: William Murphy under CC BY-SA 2.0)

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