SEO | October 7, 2016
Liberty’s Essential Guide to Solving the Keyword Cannibalisation Conundrum
So, I recently blogged about keyword cannibalisation. I defined what it actually is and why it matters to digital marketers. You can read the post here. But now you recognise and understand the issue, how do you fix it?
Well, you could always give our friendly team a call and let Liberty fix it for you… but if you’d prefer to give it a good stab yourself, here’s my advice:
You Need to Find Cannibalising Pages Before You Can Fix Them
Before you can solve a problem like keyword cannibalisation, you need to know which pages are cannibalising one another, and for which keyword terms. Here at Liberty, our Senior SEO Specialist, Jason, has a built a magical tool that will analyse an entire site with ease and will present us with what we need to know.
However, there are other tools out there that will provide you with similar answers. The two most commonly used for this use are probably Screaming Frog and the good old fashioned Google search.
We won’t insult your intelligence by explaining how the latter method works, but if you have multiple, similar pages appearing when you search for your key terms this is a red flag.
Here’s how we’d find duplicate content using Screaming Frog:
Navigate to the internal tab and filter your data to view HTML pages, then sort by size or word count. If multiple pages have near identical figures, it is likely that it may have cannibalisation issues.
Highlight the entire meta title, meta description or heading column and click ‘conditional formatting’, ‘highlight cell rules’, then ‘duplicate values’ at the top.
Alternatively, after running a crawl of your site, navigate to the URL tab and filter by duplicate. This will present you with all the pages that have an identical hashtag, and therefore the same source code.
The next step? Address your issues with our following guidance.
Share the Love and Be More Specific
The easiest way to fix a keyword cannibalisation issue is to use term variations. So, let’s imagine that you run an automotive website that sells various cars. Instead of all pages being optimised for the term ‘cars’ (which would cause pretty bad cannibalisation issues), every page should be optimised for its own unique variable.
So, a category page for Volkswagen Cars should contain the word ‘Volkswagen’ in key locations such as the meta title and body content. That way it won’t get confused with the more general ‘cars’ page.
This small change will help Google to understand which page is most relevant for each search and ensure the best page is presented in search results. This improves the user experience, and will also increase conversion rates. the likelihood of a conversion. Plus, the architecture of your site will become much easier to navigate.
Use 301s to Change Direction
Using keyword variations is a textbook step to addressing SEO cannibalisation glitches, but if your site has many similar pages that can’t be differentiated, then it might be time for an old friend … the 301 redirect.
Simply identify all of the pages that are cannibalising one another and if they all say much of a muchness you may benefit from redirecting some of them to a select few pages.
But how do you decide which page becomes leader of the pack and which others get trampled on the way to the top? Consider competing pages’:
• Traffic levels
• Search rankings
• Conversion rates
• In-bound links
Once you’ve made the decision of which pages win (and which ones lose), you have to figure out where the other pages are best redirected to and use 301s to point them where they need to go. This will make sure that users are sent to the most relevant page… whatever link they click on.
Practice Good Meta Procedure
Nothing makes a copywriter scream more than duplicated meta descriptions across a site. Just don’t do it to yourself. Every page should have distinctive meta titles and descriptions that are optimised for those specific keywords we discussed earlier.
To keep it short and simple, the homepage and landing page should have broad terms and the deeper into the site you go, the more longtail optimised terms should be.
Don’t Forget the Anchor!
Like a boat won’t move if it tries to sail off without lifting the anchor, you won’t get very far with fixing your cannibalisation marketing conundrum without analysing and fixing your anchor text.
Anchor text is a simple way of showing both search engines and visitors to your site what a linked page is about. And if all of your internal links say the same thing, while linking to different pages, things can get a little confusing for poor Google spiders.
Opt for keyword-rich and bespoke anchor text for each link destination to not only improve clarity, but to show what you want those pages to rank for in SERPs. And whatever you do, don’t have two pages linking to one another using identical anchor text.
Need a Bit More Help?
Want a bit more info on this topic or perhaps to get our help in fixing your SEO cannibalisation? Then get in touch!