Keyword cannibalization: what it is and how to manage it

If you want your content strategy to appeal not only to your insurance customers but also to search engines, you need to know the “keyword cannibalization” problem. To prevent and solve it.

The Topic Of This Post

  • 1 What is keyword cannibalization?
  • 2 The damage of keyword cannibalization
  • 3 Preventive measures
  • 4 How to solve the keyword cannibalization problem?

What is keyword cannibalization?

In English keyword cannibalization, the cannibalization of keywords occurs when two or more contents of a website are optimized on the same keyword. Google gets confused because it can’t figure out which content to rank higher in the SERP for that particular query.

What happens then? The search engine, which has a hard time understanding what and how to index, gives priority in turn to content that answers the same query, showing one higher on the results page, sometimes showing the other. It may also happen that Google positions the least strong URL from a marketing strategy point of view.

But, in practice, how do you stumble upon keyword cannibalization?

Let’s take 2 examples:

  • E-commerce with an integrated blog: if I optimize a product sheet and an article of an e-commerce site with the integrated blog for the same keyword, one page could eat the other. The risk is to position the article for a transactional rather than informational keyword, while the product sheet that responds to the same transactional keyword gets lost in the maze of Google. And I will convert much, much less.
  • Articles – or pages – too similar: I have a blog and I optimize more content on the same keyword or I create many articles that respond to the same search intent. My articles conflict with each other on the SERP, in other words, I become my competitor. The whole website and the Marketing Strategy are negatively affected.

One content should never eat another content.

But what are the negative consequences of wild keyword cannibalization and what are the tools available to prevent or solve the problem?

The damage of keyword cannibalization

Let’s start with the negative consequences of keyword cannibalization.

What are the main damages of a problem that can affect anyone dealing with SEO-oriented online content?

  1. Ranking unstable: we have already seen that when Google does not know what content to give way, positioning may swing between the most effective content from the point of view of your strategy and the least effective.
  2. Traffic Loss: A fluctuating ranking inevitably leads to a loss of traffic. If I optimize two or more contents for the same keyword, I risk making secondary/poor quality / irrelevant content for conversion purposes splash in the first position. Meanwhile, the pillar content is tossed to the eighth page of results, and no one – or almost no one – will ever go to read it. I guess you already know that there is no better place to hide a corpse than the second page of Google!
  3. Less authoritative website: SEO cannibalization is a great way to tell Google that your website and content are of poor quality (even when they aren’t). Trying to position yourself well by writing more content on the same keyword is not a great move and communicates to the Search engine that perhaps it is appropriate to lower the ranking of the website.
  4. Fewer conversions: last but not least, when you lose a valuable positioning opportunity, you also lose customers and insured conversions. Returning to the example of the e-commerce site with an integrated blog: if you write informative content based on a transactional keyword, in addition to bypassing the basic rules of SEO, you will engulf the web page dedicated to the product you have optimized on the same keyword. And if your potential customers can’t see that product sheet, they’ll never buy.

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent the problem of keyword cannibalization and repair the damage once the hitch has already occurred.

Preventive measures

First, you should check if your site has been a victim of keyword cannibalization.

Here are 2 ways to do it:

  1. site: + “keyword”: write this text string in the search bar, entering the name of your site + the keyword you want to examine in quotes, then press enter. The search engine will return in SERP all the articles and pages that answer the typed keyword. This way you will have an overview of the content that responds to the same keywords in front of your eyes. Right among these contents you will have to go looking for cannibals, cannibalized … and decide what to do. I’ll talk about it in a few lines.
  2. Free or paid SEO tools: there are some free tools, for example, , which allow you to evaluate the positioning of URLs based on a specific keyword. Alternatively, you can choose a paid SEO utility. With the help of SEOZoom, for example, it is possible to identify the cannibalization of keywords thanks to a special section of the first Italian tool for managing all SEO activities.

The importance of planning (because prevention is better than cure)

Anyone with a blog or website with career aspirations should come up with an editorial plan.

Planning in detail the contents to be created allows you to minimize the margin of error, especially as regards the overall architecture of the blog and its efficiency from the point of view of SEO.

Predicting the topics to be discussed in advance means first of all deciding which keywords to compete for and what type of search intent to intercept with each content, minimizing the risk of publishing duplicate (or even tripled or quadrupled) content, thus enhancing one’s Inbound strategy Marketing.

The editorial plan, more than any super-advanced tool, can nip the keyword cannibalization problem in the bud and ensure your website an over-the-top ranking.

How to solve the keyword cannibalization problem?

Oops, too late! The keyword cannibalization virus has already hit your blog or website.

What to do to solve the problem?

Here are the main steps to follow to combat SEO cannibalization.

  • Delete content: The cannibalization of keywords can be solved by deleting the cannibal content to position the cannibalized one. This solution is desirable when the content to be deleted does not add anything to the “main” content, ie what you intended to place.
  • Combine multiple contents: if two or more contents that you eat together are all important, and therefore you want to continue to exploit their potential, you can choose to merge them into a single pillar content.
  • Use the Rel = “canonical” tag: two pieces of content are similar and you find them both useful. You don’t want to bundle them and would like both to remain on your website while only placing the content that you believe is the main one. With the tag Rel = “canonical” you can communicate to the search engine which of the two URLs represents the main page/article, therefore the one to be positioned. So you don’t confuse Google and avoid cannibalization.
  • Review your internal links: did you know that if two contents cannibalize each other – for example, two blog articles – and the less effective content ranks higher than the most effective one, or rather higher than the article you intended to rank first, the fault could be also of Crosslinking? Yes, because when building an internal link structure you must always keep in mind which of the articles – or pages – linked together by the hyperlink is fundamental from the point of view of the marketing strategy. So if you have optimized two articles on the same keyword and you have inserted a link in the “most important” content that points to the “less important” content, immediately correct your mistake and reverse the direction of Crosslinking.


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