Detect and Prevent Keyword Cannibalization for Best SEO Score
Whether you work with an SEO agency or do your own site optimization, you need to know what "keyword cannibalization" is — and how to avoid it.
Keyword cannibalization occurs when two or more pieces of your content compete to rank for the same keyword. Search engines like Google cannot decide which of them to rank higher, thus reducing your site's authority.
This guide is about detecting and avoiding keyword cannibalization, focusing on
- Using SEO tools to identify cannibalization issues
- Preventing keyword cannibalization using advanced SEO techniques
Do you think your site has keyword cannibalization issues?
Want to learn more about the Digital Authority Partners approach to SEO? Watch this video!
How To Detect Keyword Cannibalization?
Just like you need to find broken links, you also must identify pages involved in keyword cannibalization. When you notice that pages with the same keywords do not rank at all, despite all your SEO efforts, it is time to check for keyword cannibalization. These pages could confuse search engines, because they are targeting the same keywords.
Below are ways you can detect keyword cannibalization on your site.
1. Use Your Site Search Widget
A search widget helps your visitors find topics or content on your site. You can also use this widget to find cannibalized keywords. Of course, you need to know any possible cannibalized content or keywords to run a search.
For instance, say that you have a site for natural skin-whitening treatments. You listed your primary keywords and think the key phrase "skin whitening remedies" is cannibalized. Type this phrase into the search widget and hit enter.
You should get a list of all pages on your site with the same primary keyword. Place these URLs on a spreadsheet and review each one for duplicate keywords.
2. Find Issues with the “SITE:” Command
When you run a Google search, use the SITE: command to find all pages on your site that contain the target keyword. For example, if you type site:clearwhiteskin.com + "skin whitening remedies," Google will return a list of all pages at clearwhiteskin.com with URLs containing “skin whitening remedies.”
Analyze these pages by clicking on them one by one, to look for keyword cannibalization issues.
3. Get Results with Google Search Console
Another Google tool for finding keyword issues is the Google Search Console. With this free service, you can track, manage, and fix problems with how your site performs in Google results.
Sign up for the service and log in to your account. Start your keyword cannibalization search by going to Search Traffic > Search Analytics. You should get a list of your keywords.
Choose the keyword that you think has problems with cannibalization, and then choose Pages to get a list of URLs. If you find that the keyword has two or more pages ranking for it, you may have keyword cannibalization issues.
How To Prevent Keyword Cannibalization Using Advanced SEO?
Now that you know how to find keyword cannibalization issues, you can use these strategies to audit your content regularly. It is important to learn how to avoid having duplicate content on your site to better rank the content. Let us look at advanced SEO strategies to prevent keyword cannibalization.
1. Use 301 Redirects
One of the ways to stop keyword cannibalization is to use 301 redirects. A server sends a 301 HTTP status code to a browser to permanently redirect one URL to another. If you find old or duplicate content competing with your important page, you can use a 301 redirect to immediately lead users to your new content.
A 301 redirect happens quickly, and most users are unaware that they have been redirected. The only way to know this is that the page URL differs from the one typed in or clicked. For example, an outdated page about "skin bleaching" that is still trying to rank against the new page with the same keyword needs a 301 redirect to lead your audience to the latest content.
HTTP 301 redirects also move the link equity, or ranking power, from the old or duplicate page to the new page. When using 301 redirects, remember the following:
- Redirect users from HTTP to the HTTPS version of your site. Google considers HTTPS one of the top-ranking signals, and if your site still uses HTTP, you can add a 301 redirect to move users to your HTTPs site. Use an SEO tool like Ahrefs Site Audit to look for HTTPS issues.
- Remove pages with 301 codes from your sitemap. Search engines check sitemaps to understand content carefully, and having pages with 301 redirect codes make Google revisit them.
- Avoid 301 redirects if you want to use old content. If you're going to repurpose, test, or continue indexing old content, you can canonicalize the new content. This, instead, allows users to visit your old content.
The redirect command that you choose depends on how long you want to redirect users to new pages. HTTP 301 is a redirect that shows the new redirect URL in search results. You can keep a 301 redirect for as long as you’d like.
2. Prevent Issues with Canonical URL
Apply a canonical URL to your new or more important page to avoid keyword cannibalization. This element tells Google that despite similarities in your content, one of these pages is the most relevant.
As an example, you have two pages about "natural skin whitening" and you want to rank the most updated one, while still allowing people to find old content. A canonical URL tells Google which page is the most current and important, but it doesn't transfer ranking power from the old site to the new one. Use a canonical URL carefully, and consider doing the following:
- Use canonical URL for an e-commerce site. If you sell products with categories and subcategories, you can prevent cannibalization by using a canonical URL that leads customers to your product categories.
- Apply a canonical tag to your homepage. This ensures that Google consistently ranks your home page, or another page, that you wish Google to crawl and index.
3. Produce Separate Content for Every Keyword
Diligently create content for each of your posts and have a single URL for every keyword that you want to rank. This means your keyword "skin whitening remedies" has only one page, and "natural skin whitening for sensitive skin" has another dedicated page.
Create a content creation calendar, a tool that helps you create unique and high-ranking content, while avoiding duplicate content. A content calendar tracks tasks and keeps them well organized. Make sure that everyone on your content creation team has access to the calendar.
With advanced SEO techniques, you can find keyword cannibalization and avoid it. Use your site's widgets, the Google SITE command, and Search Console to find duplicate content issues. To avoid keyword cannibalization, use 301 redirects, canonical URLs, and keyword pages.
Using the right keywords and these advanced SEO strategies, you can rank your site higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Learn more about keyword cannibalization, and how you can detect and avoid this issue. Contact Digital Authority Partners today.
Want to meet with our team?
Book a meeting directly here