Keyword cannibalization is a prevalent issue in the ever-evolving field of SEO – a phenomenon that undermines a website’s potential to rank high in search engine results. Interpreting its repercussions is essential for SEO professionals and understanding its detrimental aspects offers a gateway to tackle its effects. The guide aims to define, interpret, and offer solutions to handle keyword cannibalization effectively.

What is keyword cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on a website compete for ranking in search engines using the same or similar keywords. This is an unhealthy practice as it confuses search engines to choose one of the competing pages to display, eventually leading to loss of traffic and potential conversions.

Search engine algorithms are programmed to select the most relevant page among others for a particular keyword. In a situation where multiple pages stand out, the decision becomes difficult, which could ultimately affect the site’s SEO ranking.

Keyword cannibalization interferes with the site authority, hampers the page value, and causes dilution in link equity. When search engines fail to determine the most relevant page for a target keyword, they fluctuate between the pages, causing page rankings to vary widely. This implies that the webpages are losing their authority, which they might have otherwise accumulated over time.

Keyword cannibalization isn’t a penalty but an issue caused due to improper SEO practices. So, it’s essential to acknowledge the problem and take appropriate action. If handled with precision, the issue can considerably be curbed, and websites can regain their target audience effectively and efficiently.

Why is understanding keyword cannibalization important?

The essence of keywords in SEO is significant, and so is the issue of keyword cannibalization. This often overlooked aspect can be the root cause of declining SEO performance. Here are the reasons why tackling keyword cannibalization is essential.

Keyword cannibalization affects the website’s authority. With multiple competing webpages for the same keyword, the pages’ value gets diluted. Search engines cannot determine the most important page – thus leading to rank fluctuations. Moreover, it confuses users, causing a negative impact on the website user experience.

Earmarking a webpage for a specific keyword while avoiding the same on other pages can result in increased relevance. Search engines find it easier to determine which page is most closely related to a specific keyword. This process, called keyword mapping, helps prevent keyword cannibalization and improves SEO.

Lastly, it impacts the website’s conversion rate. Usually, a webpage is designed with a conversion goal in mind. However, if the traffic gets directed to a less relevant page due to keyword cannibalization, it may lead to reduced conversions. Therefore, addressing keyword cannibalization is crucial in enhancing web traffic and potential conversions.

Types of keyword cannibalization

Understanding keyword cannibalization requires a look at its types. The issue usually arises in three different forms: duplicate content cannibalization, semantic keyword cannibalization, and URL-based keyword cannibalization.

  • Duplicate content cannibalization happens when the exact content appears across multiple pages on a website. This confuses search engines and splits the traffic between these pages, diluting the impact. Instead, having unique content on each page enhances the chances of ranking high in search results.
  • Semantic keyword cannibalization is another common type where pages on a website compete for variations of a keyword, causing confusion for search engines and users alike. A thorough keyword research and mapping strategy can mitigate this problem.
  • URL-based keyword cannibalization occurs when different URLs of the same website are optimized around the same keyword. A canonical URL or a 301 redirect can help in this case by indicating the preferred page to search engines.

Examples of keyword cannibalization

Blog posts

A common instance of keyword cannibalization is the repeated use of the same keyword in multiple blog posts within a website. The same target keyword used in separate posts can lead to confusion for search engines in determining the most relevant content to rank.

Product pages

Another example is on eCommerce websites, where similar products carry the same target keyword, leading to keyword cannibalization.


Using identical keywords in different metadata of several pages results in another instance of keyword cannibalization. This again leaves search engines in a dilemma to choose the most suitable page for ranking.

Handy tips about keyword cannibalization

Recognizing keyword cannibalization is the first step toward resolving it. Here are some useful tips to prevent keyword cannibalization.

Keyword mapping

Assign specific keywords to each webpage. This practice of keyword mapping can effectively prevent keyword cannibalization.

301 redirects

If you have multiple pages optimized for the same keyword, use 301 redirects to direct all traffic to one unified page.

Use canonical tags

Applying canonical tags can tell search engines about your preferred version of the web page, thus avoiding keyword cannibalization.


Keyword cannibalization is an SEO issue that can largely impact the website’s performance, authority, and conversion rate. Recognizing its existence, understanding its forms, and taking proactive measures can minimize its adverse effects on your site.

Whether you’re an SEO professional, digital marketer, blogger, or website owner, understanding keyword cannibalization and its potential implications is a critical part of optimizing your website for search engines.

By carefully selecting and mapping your keywords, monitoring for potential keyword cannibalization, and using redirections and canonical tags where appropriate, you can ensure that your website’s potential is not being undermined by keyword cannibalization.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is keyword cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages of a website compete for ranking on search engines with the same or similar keywords.

Why does keyword cannibalization matter?

Keyword cannibalization confuses search engines, dilutes page value, and hampers site authority, which may affect the site’s SEO ranking. It also affects the user experience and may lead to reduced conversions.

How can keyword cannibalization be prevented?

Keyword cannibalization can be prevented through keyword mapping, avoiding duplicate content, using 301 redirects, and canonical tags.

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A canonical tag is a crucial tool in SEO, preventing duplicate content issues and guiding search engines to the preferred version of a page. It helps improve site ranking, user experience, and organic traffic. Proper implementation and best practices are essential for effective SEO management.

Canonical tag

Canonical tags play a crucial role in SEO by preventing duplicate content issues and improving website visibility. They help search engines understand the preferred version of a page, leading to better crawling and indexing. Different types of canonical tags and best practices ensure effective SEO management and enhance user experience. Get the URLsLab plugin for improved SEO ranking.

Canonical URLs are essential for SEO, managing duplicate content, enhancing user experience, and focusing SEO efforts. They consolidate similar URLs, improving rankings and user engagement. The canonical tag, represented as rel=”canonical” within the HTML code, is used to set up a canonical URL. It helps direct search engine algorithms to specific webpages, ensuring the valuable “link juice” is not watered down amongst duplicate versions, but instead focuses on improving the ranking and visibility of the crucial page.

Canonical URL

Canonical URLs are crucial for SEO, managing duplicate content, enhancing user experience, and focusing SEO efforts. They consolidate similar URLs, improve ranking, and prevent potential duplicate content penalties. They are also important for eCommerce, blogs, news platforms, and can be used to maximize SEO benefits.

Duplicate content refers to identical or similar content appearing in multiple places on the internet. It can impact SEO and search engine rankings. Managing it is crucial for website visibility and business growth. Techniques like canonical tags and 301 redirects can help. Download the URLsLab plugin for SEO control.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content refers to identical or similar content appearing in multiple places online. It can impact SEO and lead to lower search engine rankings. Prevent it using techniques like canonical tags and 301 redirects. Managing duplicate content is crucial for website visibility and business growth.

Unnatural links are artificial, deceitful, or manipulative links that manipulate a site’s ranking. Identifying and removing them is crucial to avoid penalties and maintain website integrity. Paid links, reciprocal links, and large-scale article marketing or guest post links are examples. Regular audits, using Google’s Disavow tool, and focusing on organic link building are key strategies to avoid unnatural links and protect your website.

Unnatural links

Unnatural links can harm your website's ranking. They are artificial, manipulative links that violate Google’s guidelines. Identifying and removing them is crucial to protect your site. Focus on organic link-building and perform regular audits to avoid them. Be proactive in managing unnatural links to maintain your website’s integrity and ranking in Google searches.

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