What is Keyword Cannibalization: Detect and Get to the Root!

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Keyword Cannibalization – Cannibalizing keywords, is one of the common SEO mistakes.

So, how to fix this error? Let's learn about Keyword Cannibalization as well as quick and effective ways to fix Keyword Cannibalization in this article. Watch now!

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

As the name suggests, Keyword Cannibalization means that your keywords are being “eaten”, but not by anyone else but from other pages of your business website.

This error occurs when you have too many similar or similar keywords spread throughout the content on your website and make it impossible for search engines like Google to distinguish which content should rank higher. This means it will sometimes give a higher ranking to a site that you don't want to prioritize.

Keyword Cannibalization là gì?
The poweredbysearch site is being “cannibalized for keywords”

Because when you cause Keyword Cannibalism, you are not showing Google the authority of your website for the target query, but instead you are making Google weigh your pages against each other, choosing which pages Google deems most relevant with the most relevant keywords.

For example, if your site sells shoes and “shoes” is the only keyword you target, you are essentially telling Google that every single one of your pages is about “shoes” regardless of whether they are footwear. hiking, tennis shoes, sports shoes, etc.

Of course, that's not good at all (and specifically why and how I will talk later).

But before going any further you should understand the nature of the problem first, let's go through the most common types of Keyword Cannibalism errors.

Types of Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword Cannibalization in SEO basically has 2 main types:

1. Two or more landing pages on your website are competing for the same keywords

For example, your two pages rank the same for the keyword “ankle boots”.

URL                                                Ranking                                      Title Tag for “ankle boots”
Page A: /boots/all                        Women's Boots – Ankle & Chelsea Boots | In Stock Rated 8

Page B: /boots/boots-ankle/      Female Ankle Boots              |In Stock Rated 5

Is this a keyword cannibal bug? The answer is: yes and no.

If many pages are ranking for the same term, then there is a high chance that these pages have factors that make the search engine think they are ranking for the same query, so the risk of keyword cannibalism is very high.

But that doesn't mean you need to panic and change everything on both pages to avoid keyword cannibalization. Because the exact answer depends on each case and different goals.

Case 1: Both pages rank really high on the front page.

In this case, Keyword Cannibalization can work in your favor: More rankings mean more traffic to your website, so consider it “good” cannibalization.

If so you should do the following:

  • Consider changing the meta descriptions to be more attractive and unique than each other, to avoid two pages showing the same message and not impressing the user.
  • In the case of a secondary, non-SEO purpose page that ranks higher, it's a good idea to check on Google Search Console (GSC) to see which pages are getting the most clicks for that unique term. Then decide whether to change other elements of your SEO to better address that particular keyword.

URL Ranking Title Tag for “ankle boots”

Page A: /boots/all Women's Boots – Chelsea Boots & Others | In stock Test and decide

Case 2: Page A is on the front page, Page B is “lost”

In the event that site A (sub) is ranking high on the front page and page B is outside the top 15–20 results, you need to decide if this little “cannibalism” is worth the time and resources. yours or not, as this may not be an emergency.

If you decide it's worth doing, I recommend doing the following:

  • Continue to monitor the keywords that the two pages are ranking for to anticipate future Google ranking possibilities.
  • Prioritize this issue after dealing with other important SEO issues.

Không phải lúc nào Keyword Cannibalization cũng xấu
Keyword Cannibalization is not always bad

Case 3

In the event that both pages are ranking on page two or page three of the SERP, it's possible that your Keyword Cannibalization problem is holding back one or both pages.

If so, my advice is as follows:

  • Check on Google Search Console to see which of your pages are getting the most clicks for that keyword.
    You should also check for similar terms, as the keywords on page two or page three of the SERP will show very low clicks in the GSC. Then decide which page should be the main focus – which is more relevant from a content perspective – and be ready to experiment with changes to the on-page SEO factors of both pages.
  • Review your title tags, headers, and page content and try to find elements that both overlap.

If the level of overlap is high, maybe these two pages need to merge/normalize/redirect one to the other (I'll cover this below).

2. Two or more pages on the website are alternately “turning over” for the same keyword

In the case of “flipping” i.e. the keyword, “ankle boots” of two pages A & B are both rankings at different times, as Google seems to have trouble deciding which page to choose for this term.

This is a common problem that I'm sure many websites have encountered, specifically landing pages that seem to alternately rank for a fixed set of keywords.

If this happens to you, try and answer the questions below.

When did this “turning over” start?

Pinpointing the right moment in a problem can help you understand how it all started in the first place. Maybe the canonical tag was missing, or was there some change in the on-page element or an algorithm update that messed things up?

How many pages alternately rank for the same keyword?

The fewer pages that are subject to volatility, the better and easier to deal with. Try to identify which pages are relevant and examine all the factors that can cause this instability.

How often do these pages take turns?

Try to find out how often pages change each other, the bottom line is: as few times as possible. You can try to compare the “turnover” time with the SEO plan to see if the problem is caused by other unexpected changes.

If the flip has only happened once then there is hardly anything to worry about, as it can be a small fluctuation in the SERP, as Google runs tests and changes it almost daily. ^^

How to identify keyword cannibalization issues (in seconds)
To do this, you first need Ahrefs.

Good news: I've simplified and automated the process of identifying keyword kill issues in Google Sheets. (Right in the next part.)

But first, check out the tedious and time consuming process that most people do:

  • Paste the web link into Site Explorer
  • Go to the Organic Keywords report
  • Export all keywords to CSV (note: remove any extraneous data/columns if necessary)
  • Open the CSV in Excel (or Google Sheets). Then sort the keywords A Z
  • Filter through the file manually and mark all duplicate keywords
  • That's the end of the most time-consuming manual process.

Are you thinking it's not that complicated?

Well, it's not too bad if your site only ranks for a handful of keywords. But if you're ranking for thousands of keywords, it can take hours!

So if you want to automate this process, make a copy of this Google sheet.

Here are the instructions for using the specific sheet.

1. Export Organic Keywords from Site Explorer Of Ahrefs .

First thing, you need to find all the keywords your site ranks for in order to use Ahrefs' Site Explorer.

You can do this using the Organic Keywords report.

sử dụng báo cáo Organic Keywords

use the report Organic Keywords
Next, click on the SERP features filter and click exclude All featured.

tính năng serp và loại trừ featured

featured serp and exclusions
Then export the report and download the CSV.

2. Import the data (from the downloaded CSV) into the Keyword Cannibalization Finder Tool sheet

Open the Keyword Cannibalization Finder Tool you copied earlier. Then, redirect to the sheet titled “1. Ahrefs KW Export” (you will probably be on this sheet by default, but you should double check).

Make sure cell A1 is selected — just click it once with your cursor.

Go to File > Import.

Then, upload a CSV export of the Organic Keywords report.

You will then see a pop-up — click on the option to “replace data at selected cell”. Leave all other options at default.

keyword cannibalization tool upload data

keyword cannibalization tool upload data
Click “Import Data”.

cannibal là gì? Nút nhập dữ liệu

3. Done!

That's it — just navigate to the “results” tab to see the results.

results tab

results tab

You will see a display like this:

vấn đề tiềm ẩn về việc ăn thịt từ khóa - keyword cannibalization issuesAs you can see, it only pulls through terms that have more than one page in the SERPs (i.e. potential keyword cannibalization issues).

Another note: . This is pretty accurate, but not 100% absolute. Sometimes there are “false alarms” (e.g. HTTP and HTTPS versions of a page).

This sheet will show you keywords (column 1), current ranking position (column 2), search volume (column 3) and URLs (column 4).

You see, no need to spend hours sifting through thousands of URLs — it's all automated!

But now that you have identified the URLs with the Keyword Cannibalization error, so how to fix them?

6 Negative Effects of Keyword Cannibalization on SEO

Keyword cannibalism has a number of damaging consequences for SEO. Many SEO-er mistakes Keyword Cannibalization not only do not know that their website is wrong but also does not know that they make this mistake.

They may even rejoice when a page ranks at 5 or 6 for a targeted keyword, not realizing that a page with strong authority is likely to rank higher and convert better, in when Keyword Cannibalization lowers the authority of the pages and there are many other consequences that I will list here.

However, the actual consequences are obvious: lost website traffic, queries leading to the wrong page, fluctuating SERP rankings, and ultimately, lost revenue.

Why? Because:

1. You are reducing the authority of the page

Instead of having one high authority page, you're splitting your CTR into multiple pages of moderate relevance.

You've essentially turned your pages into each other's competitors for page views and SERP ranking.

2. You are “diluting” your link juice and anchor text

Backlinks from an aggregate source are likely being split between two (or more) pages.

Similarly, your anchor text and internal links are leading visitors to many different pages instead of one authoritative page on the topic.

3. Google can devalue more relevant pages

Keywords are one of the main ways we help Google understand the content of our pages.

So if all the keywords are the same, Google will try to understand which is the most relevant – and possibly misinterpreted, ranking for the subpage instead of the main page you want.

4. Keyword Cannibalization Costs Your Budget

Having multiple pages devoted to the same keyword leads to unnecessary crawling and indexing of pages.

Note: small sites probably won't notice a difference or never have to worry about crawl budgets, but large e-commerce sites or vendors with multiple products will. notice this difference.

5. Signaling Google about a poor quality page

Multiple pages targeting the same keyword tells users that your content may be stretched, and it also signals to Google that your content may not match your keywords on every page. . If you are noticed by Google and hit with a stick… you know the consequences 🙁

6. Conversion Rate Affected

Surely one of your pages will convert better than the rest.

Instead of driving new visitors to that page and turning it into the most authoritative page, Keyword Cannibalization costs you potential customers by leading them to less relevant pages that rank higher.

tỷ lệ chuyển đổi bị ảnh hưởng

conversion rate affected

The lower the page rank, the lower the CTR (chart from SISTRIX)

So how to detect Keyword Cannibalization errors, let's go into the following ways to identify keyword cannibalization errors.

How to fix Keyword Cannibalization
The solution to “keyword cannibalism” depends on the root of the problem.

Here are five possible solutions for you.

1. Website Restructuring

The simplest solution is often to choose the most authoritative site and modify the content and linking system between the pages so that the main page you choose will have the most power, passed on to the subsites.

At the same time, the subpages will need to remove the confusing elements about the target keyword by changing the content to be more unique, correcting the on-page elements that are duplicated between the pages.

If we go back to our shoe product example, it makes more sense to set “shoes” as the canonical source page and link to pages on the same topic but with more specific content.

2. Create a new source page

Same with the above method but this is the case where you don't have any pages to choose as a landing page, so we will create a new page to aggregate all product pages into one place.

This method often applies to large e-commerce websites when the product pages compete for a common product keyword.

At this point, the source page that I am talking about here is creating a hub page.

Simply put, a hub page is a single page of important information, usually a category site or an introduction to a certain topic connected with subcategories and more detailed articles.

In this case, you would benefit from creating a single landing page to serve as the authoritative source page and link to all the subpages. Creating multiple landing pages with only minor keyword variations may seem like thin content at first.

But the more landing pages you have on your website, the more chances your visitors will turn into leads. Do you believe it?

A recent HubSpot study revealed that as they increase the number of landing pages from 1-10 to 11-15, companies reported a massive 55% lead increase.

Go even further and develop over 40 landing pages, and you can see a 300% increase. That's a really attractive number.

3. Merge content

I can't restructure the links, I can't create a new one, so I can just merge them all.

If your pages aren't unique enough to warrant multiple subpages for the same keyword, consider combining them into one page with full content and possibly good SEO for that keyword.

This is an opportunity to take two underperforming pages and turn them into a more authoritative source, while also solving the thin content problems.

Kill two birds with one stone.

4. Find new keywords

In the end, if you've been lucky enough to have all the rich, varied pages and the only thing your site has to deal with is a poorly planned keyword strategy, that might be all you need to do. is to find new similar keywords and then make an optimization plan according to that keyword.

Just make sure your keywords accurately describe what your page is targeting. But if you don't want to change the keyword, and can't apply the above methods, there is one last way for you 🙂

5. Use 301 redirects

While I generally advise against using too many 301s, they can be necessary if you already have multiple pages ranking for the same algorithm. language.

Using 301s allows you to consolidate your cannibalized content by linking all of your less relevant pages to a single, more authoritative version.

Please note that this tactic is only suitable for pages with similar content and those that match specific keyword queries.

sử dụng redirect 301
These five solutions will fix most cases of keyword cannibalization, but if you manage an e-commerce website, you should especially pay attention to how CMS (Content Management System) Your separation of products of variable size and color.

Some CMS programs create separate pages for every product variant.

If your CMS is hosting products like this, you should restrict indexing of duplicate pages by using robots.txt or <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> tags, or you canonical URLs should be used to consolidate link signals for duplicate content.

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization problems in the future

Solving long-standing keyword cannibalization problems is a bit difficult, but it's worth it.

So the best option is to try to avoid them in the first place

Fortunately, this is quite simple to do. You just need to follow this process whenever you are going to publish a new page or blog post:

First, go to Google and do “site:domain + target keyword”.

For example, if you are going to publish a blog post about “link building”, then search like this.

cách tránh vấn đề về Keyword Cannibalization

How to avoid the Keyword Cannibalization problem
Then check the results Google returns.

If you detect a page/post of yours that seems to be targeting this keyword, you should reconsider your target keyword for the new page/post.

Note: You can check if that page/post is ranking for this keyword by going to the actual keyword and checking the SERPs. Or you can add that keyword to Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker – which will show you where you are currently ranking.

If not, just go ahead and optimize for that keyword.


Above is my entire tutorial on Keyword Cannibalization – Keyword Cannibalization, including classification, recognition, treatment and prevention, all. Cool!

So I believe that, based on this article, you can filter and handle the Keyword Cannibalization error for your website, and share it with those who need it. Because these steps are super easy to apply, SEO newbies can do it too.

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