Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Keyword Cannibalization: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Most digital marketing teams rely on keyword optimization to rank their content higher in search results. The idea is more keywords = better optimization. 

Because of this, it can be tempting to use the same keywords on multiple pages to increase your chances of ranking

However, this strategy can backfire if your posts compete for the same keyword.

Think about it: If you’re looking for “the best running shoes” and see two articles from the same company with these keywords in the title, you’ll be pretty confused about what to click on.

Not only is this confusing for readers, but it’s also bad for SEO.

Keep reading to learn what keyword cannibalism is, why it’s bad for SEO, how to find keyword cannibalization, and how to fix the issue.

What Is Keyword Cannibalization?

If multiple pages on your website are optimized for the same search query, you’re essentially competing with yourself—which can result in all pages rankly poorly. When this happens, we call it keyword cannibalization.

Never heard of it before? Here are some examples below.

What Are Examples of Keyword Cannibalization?

Say, I’m new to digital marketing and want to learn more about link building. So, I search “link building” on Google, and here are the results:

Examples of Keyword Cannibalization

At the top of the search results, I come across two posts from the same website, covering almost the same subject matter. Which one should I click?

And, I won’t say I’m perfect, either. Here’s an example from my blog

Keyword Cannibalization on neilpatel.com

My two posts compete for the same search query, “SEO writing” and creating a keyword cannibalization situation.

This confuses the readers and search engine algorithms, making it difficult for your content to rank and get the audience’s attention.

How Do I Find Cannibalized Keywords?

If you believe your website may have some keyword cannibalization, don’t worry. You can easily find and fix them by following a few simple steps.

Here are some techniques you can try to find keyword cannibalization.

Search Through Your Website

A straightforward way to search for keyword cannibalization is to look up search queries relevant to your industry.

For example, if you’re a company offering digital marketing services and frequently upload content on marketing and SEO topics, do a Google search with some of the keywords you use often. 

These could look like “SEO strategies” or “marketing tips for beginners.”

Such a search pulls up all web pages ranked for this query. Check to see if two or more of your posts are competing for a spot.

Google-specific Site Search

To make finding keyword cannibalization easier, type the name of your site before entering the search query. Here’s what it looks like in Google search engine:

keyword cannibalization on Google

Using External Tools

You can also use keyword research tools like Ubersuggest to simplify things and get comprehensive data for better keyword planning. This can help you find keyword cannibalization faster and reduce the time, money, and effort required to weed out competing pages from your site. 

Tips to Prevent Keyword Cannibalization

Finding and fixing keyword cannibalization is possible, but sometimes it’s better to prevent the issue than spend time and money fixing it.

How?

Here are some expert-recommended strategies to prevent keyword cannibalization and improve your digital marketing plan

1. Create a Targeted Keyword Strategy

If you’ve been working in digital marketing for a while, you know keyword strategy matters.

The good news? One of the best ways to prevent keyword cannibalization is to hone your targeted keyword strategy, so there’s no competition and problematic overlap.

In a nutshell, this means optimizing different pages to target different keywords and search queries.

So instead of having five pages competing for the search query “SEO tips,” you can optimize each page for a similar but separate query like “digital marketing strategy,” “marketing techniques,” “SEO for beginners,” and so on.

This way, you can stay on topic while offering different content for various search queries relevant to your industry.

Here are some free and paid tools you can use for keyword research and planning:

2. Track Keyword Rankings and Performance

Having a keyword strategy isn’t enough. Once you have identified the keywords you want to work with, you also need to track their performance over time

Consistently tracking keyword analytics will help you understand which keywords are ranking, which ones have too much competition, which may be caught up in cannibalization, and which ones need a boost.

You can track keyword rankings, performance, and other analytics directly through your website analytics tool, or you can use external tools like Google Analytics, Ubersuggest, SErush, Ahrefs, Moz, SEO monitor, and others.

Keep track of this data and use it to tweak your keyword strategy to avoid keyword cannibalism or fix it when it happens (more on that below).

3. Focus on Topics First, Keywords Come Second

Sometimes keyword cannibalization happens because marketing teams become more focused on optimizing keywords than creating content around relevant topics.

If you’re running behind keywords, there’s a chance you’ll neglect the topics and content quality, which will eventually slow your progress towards meeting your marketing goals.

So instead of pouring all your resources into keyword research, make it a part of your marketing strategy to focus on topics as well.

Find what topics your audience is interested in and direct your resources toward serving those interests. Let the keywords come second.

This will help increase audience loyalty, pull in new readers and establish brand authority in the industry.

How do you find what topics your readers are interested in?

Here are some ways to find what your audience wants:

You can also use tools like Quora, Google’s “people also ask” feature, and Reddit to find what people in your target demographic are talking about and what their pain points are.

When you start incorporating these ideas, the quality of your content will likely improve, and your organic reach will increase without relying strictly on keywords. 

4. Do Regular Content Audits

Okay, so you’ve outlined a solid keyword strategy, set up tools to track performance and put more effort into audience interest topics. Now what? 

Now you need to perform regular content audits to see if what you’re publishing is still in line with your readers’ interests and marketing goals.

Your content audits should ask the following:

  • Are your topics still relevant?
  • Is the information you’re posting outdated?
  • Are the statistics correct?
  • Are you prioritizing the right keywords?
  • Which topics and keywords best meet your marketing goals?

5. Create Comprehensive Pages

Some topics can seem too complex to cover in a single blog post, so content teams decide to break it down into several sub-posts.

For instance, “how to make money blogging” is a complex topic, so you often find multiple posts addressing different parts of the subject.

A quick Google search with the query “how to make money blogging” immediately pulls up three different results. One talks about blogging for beginners, the second talks about monetizing your blog in 2021, and the third addresses the time concerns of monetizing a blog.

Keyword cannibalization "Best way to make money blogging" on Google search

Now, imagine if these were all from your site rather than three separate sites.

As most of these are addressing overlapping concepts, it creates a lot of unnecessary competition. In addition, since most rank for a similar search query, it creates keyword cannibalization.

You can avoid this by creating one single comprehensive page addressing all the relevant subtopics instead of posting a separate blog post for every question the audience could potentially have.

This is better for SEO as it lets you target long-tail keywords, add relevant headers, include multiple search queries on a single page, and avoid competition with yourself.

This could make for a very long blog post, so consider a clickable table of contents so people can easily find the sections they need.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

There are various ways to fix keyword cannibalization. Follow the steps below to find which strategy works best for you.

  1. Change Content Optimization

    If multiple pages are ranking for the same keyword and search query, change the optimization settings. This could mean reducing the keywords, changing the keywords, or restructuring the content.

  2. Consider Deleting Some Posts

    Sometimes merely re-optimizing posts may not be enough to fix keyword cannibalization. In this case, consider deleting some of the overlapping content. 
    Note: Don’t do this if both posts generate decent organic traffic and bring in business leads.

  3. Merge Content

    If two or more posts of yours are ranking for the same keyword but you don’t want to delete them, consider merging them.
    Going with our previous example, this could mean clubbing the “blogging for beginners” and “how long it takes to monetize a blog” posts together to form a single comprehensive guide for monetizing a blog aimed at new writers.

Keyword Cannibalization Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about keyword cannibalization:

Why is keyword cannibalization bad?

Keyword cannibalization is bad for SEO as it forces two or more of your pages to compete with each other for a higher rank. It can reduce the ranking of both pages, eventually wasting your marketing efforts and resources. 

How can I target longtail keywords without cannibalizing keywords?

You can target longtail keywords without cannibalizing keywords by using separate longtail keywords to optimize each post rather than creating multiple content pieces ranking for the same search query.

You can also consider creating one comprehensive guide to act as a landing page instead of many small subtopic pages that compete with each other.

What's the difference between keyword stuffing and keyword cannibalization?

The first step to avoiding keyword cannibalization is to see where it happens. Then, decide what your personal best path is. For example, we recommend creating one comprehensive post rather than publishing multiple posts competing for the same search query. Another option is to work with separate keywords for different posts. 

{
“@context”: “https://schema.org”,
“@type”: “FAQPage”,
“mainEntity”: [
{
“@type”: “Question”,
“name”: “Why is keyword cannibalization bad?”,
“acceptedAnswer”: {
“@type”: “Answer”,
“text”: ”

Keyword cannibalization is bad for SEO as it forces two or more of your pages to compete with each other for a higher rank. It can reduce the ranking of both pages, eventually wasting your marketing efforts and resources. 


}
}
, {
“@type”: “Question”,
“name”: “How can I target longtail keywords without cannibalizing keywords?”,
“acceptedAnswer”: {
“@type”: “Answer”,
“text”: ”

You can target longtail keywords without cannibalizing keywords by using separate longtail keywords to optimize each post rather than creating multiple content pieces ranking for the same search query.

You can also consider creating one comprehensive guide to act as a landing page instead of many small subtopic pages that compete with each other.


}
}
, {
“@type”: “Question”,
“name”: “What's the difference between keyword stuffing and keyword cannibalization?”,
“acceptedAnswer”: {
“@type”: “Answer”,
“text”: ”

The first step to avoiding keyword cannibalization is to see where it happens. Then, decide what your personal best path is. For example, we recommend creating one comprehensive post rather than publishing multiple posts competing for the same search query. Another option is to work with separate keywords for different posts. 


}
}
]
}

Keyword Cannibalization Conclusion

A few years ago, people believed keyword stuffing and using the same keyword for multiple pages would help rank their content higher. However, this is no longer true

Now, ranking multiple pages for the same keywords and search queries forces you to compete with yourself and drive down your success.

Instead, it’s much better to focus on targeted keywords for specific posts, prioritize topics over keyword stuffing, and create comprehensive landing pages in place of mini blog posts. 

This can potentially help increase your rank on the search engine results page and eventually help increase your organic reach.

Even if you’ve already experienced keyword cannibalizing, fixing it is relatively easy. Rework your optimization options, delete posts that increase competition but aren’t helping you meet your marketing goals, and focus on merging competing content whenever possible.

Which keyword cannibalization management strategy will you try today?

The Impact of Continuous Scrolling on SEO

The Impact of Continuous Scrolling on SEO

Google recently made a change to mobile search results. It’s called continuous scrolling, and while it’s a minor tweak to the SERPs, it might have an impact on your SEO.

Here’s everything you need to know about continuous scrolling.

What Is Continuous Scrolling?

You always hear marketers talking about the distinction between page one and page two in SEO.

However, if you’ve performed any mobile Google searches in the U.S. lately, you might have noticed the results keep going as you scroll.

That’s because rather than breaking the results down into pages, Google now shows four pages worth of results through continuous scrolling. This is currently limited to mobile searches in the U.S. but set to expand in 2022.

Plus, continuous scrolling isn’t limited to Google.

Traditionally, we’ve used pagination to break up information on the web. However, this requires people to keep clicking. Particularly on mobile, this isn’t ideal for user experience.

Some websites, apps, and, of course, Google are turning to continuous scrolling.

The big question is, what does this mean for your SEO?

Effects of Continuous Scrolling in Mobile Search on SEO, Impressions, and CTR

What does continuous scrolling mean for SERP performance? Will you get more or fewer impressions and clicks?

The answer is…it remains to be seen. Continuous scrolling will undoubtedly change how we interact with the SERPs. Still, without pagination, your actual location on the scroll—your search engine results position rather than page—-will matter more than ever.  

Here are five predictions you might see come true as a result of continuous scrolling.

Page One Click-Through Rate (CTR) Will Go Down

When page two results are more accessible, the CTR for page one results is likely to drop. Continuous scrolling has the feel of a newsfeed from social media, so people are more likely to explore their options. 

continuous scrolling on mobile search will make the ctr go down

The results at the top of the rankings are there for a reason: They’re generally the best pages to answer the search query. As consumers, we’ve all been socialized to accept this point, as evidenced by the top result getting 43.32 percent of the clicks

With time, people might get more accustomed to scrolling through the results, which will likely impact CTRs for page one results. However, it’s still not time to start celebrating if you’re stuck on page two.

There May Be More Impressions for Page Two Results

If you make it easier for people to access page two results, they will get more impressions. The difficulty is, you’re also training people to scroll through the results and explore their options further, so they won’t necessarily stop on page two.

Pages on page two of the results might get some more impressions. At present, 0.78 percent of searchers click on something from the second page. However, those page two results have to compete with page one more immediately.

More Rich Results

When you imagine a news feed on social media, you see lots of images and videos. Google’s equivalent is rich results that contain features like shopping, video, featured snippets, commonly asked questions, and much more. 

"Bugs Bunny" search on Google's continuous scrolling

The more users feel comfortable scrolling the SERPs, the easier it is for Google to include rich results. With static pages, it’s challenging to have too many rich elements because it would be overkill. With continuous scrolling, this becomes easier from a user experience standpoint.

More Zero-Click Searches

Zero-click searches have been increasing rapidly over the years. Nearly 65 percent of searches result in the user not clicking a link, which is likely to increase with continuous scrolling. 

There are many reasons people might not click on results, but perhaps the biggest one is they got all the information they need from rich results or meta descriptions

If continuous scrolling results in more rich features, it may well mean more zero-click searches.

Desktop Will Follow

One of the reasons continuous scrolling has been rolled out on mobile is because it fits better with the user experience. On desktop, it’s easy to click the “see more” button.

That doesn’t mean desktop is going to stay the same, though.

If Google sees promising results from continuous scrolling, like increased ad revenue and improved UX, it’s likely continuous scrolling will also roll out on desktop.

What Continuous Scrolling Means for Marketers

While it’s difficult to make any significant recommendations until we see how continuous scrolling plays out, there are some essential things you should be thinking about.

Keep a Closer Eye on Your Data

Data is important no matter what’s happening in the world of SEO.

While marketers often focus on the information we can glean from Google Analytics, such as visitors, bounce rates, and time on page, the information in Google Search Console (GSC) can be equally important.

For this particular update, all the information you need will be in GSC.

This is where you can see how your page ranks for a search term and the click-through rate it gets. If you start seeing significant fluctuations in your CTR on mobile, it could be partly due to continuous scrolling.

Don’t just watch this happen; brainstorm how to get your CTR back up and keep bringing those clicks to your site.

Optimize to Feature in Rich Results

One of the ways to optimize for continuous scrolling is to make sure you’re doing schema markup well. Schema is like a language that allows you to communicate with the search engines and tell them what pages are about and which bits are most important. 

By using Schema markup correctly, you’re more likely to perform well in featured snippets, local results, and commonly asked questions. 

Focus on Your Titles and Metas

The more competition there is for clicks, the more you’ve got to use the limited real estate you have to stand out. For standard results, this means optimizing your titles and meta descriptions

It’s easy to get drawn to the rich results, but people are still looking for the same thing they always have—quick access to information. The right title and meta description can assure people they’re going to get this.

You’ve got to grab people’s attention, match user intent, and give people confidence that you’re going to answer their questions.

Look Out for the Continuous Scrolling Trend

Continuous scrolling has been around for a long time, especially on social media. You tend to see it more often on apps because they’re specifically designed for mobile devices, but that doesn’t mean it won’t become standard on websites. 

continuous scrolling on website

While continuous scrolling can offer a slightly improved UX (particularly on mobile), it comes with limitations. To get the maximum benefit, it has to be implemented exceptionally well, and even so, it doesn’t offer a big SEO boost. 

For now, continuous scrolling isn’t the norm on websites, but we can’t say this won’t change.

Frequently Asked Questions About Continuous Scrolling

Why should I care about continuous scrolling on search?

Continuous scrolling is going to affect a lot of searches. If you’re not ready for the changes, it could have a significant impact on your traffic.

Is there going to be continuous search scrolling on desktop?

For now, Google has only announced plans for continuous scrolling on mobile. However, this could change.

How are users affected by continuous scrolling on mobile search?

Continuous scrolling makes the results on pages two, three, and four more accessible.

When did Google roll out continuous scrolling on mobile search?

Google announced continuous scrolling for US mobile searches in October 2021.

{
“@context”: “https://schema.org”,
“@type”: “FAQPage”,
“mainEntity”: [
{
“@type”: “Question”,
“name”: “Why should I care about continuous scrolling on search?”,
“acceptedAnswer”: {
“@type”: “Answer”,
“text”: ”

Continuous scrolling is going to affect a lot of searches. If you’re not ready for the changes, it could have a significant impact on your traffic.


}
}
, {
“@type”: “Question”,
“name”: “Is there going to be continuous search scrolling on desktop?”,
“acceptedAnswer”: {
“@type”: “Answer”,
“text”: ”

For now, Google has only announced plans for continuous scrolling on mobile. However, this could change.


}
}
, {
“@type”: “Question”,
“name”: “How are users affected by continuous scrolling on mobile search?”,
“acceptedAnswer”: {
“@type”: “Answer”,
“text”: ”

Continuous scrolling makes the results on pages two, three, and four more accessible.


}
}
, {
“@type”: “Question”,
“name”: “When did Google roll out continuous scrolling on mobile search?”,
“acceptedAnswer”: {
“@type”: “Answer”,
“text”: ”

Google announced continuous scrolling for US mobile searches in October 2021.


}
}
]
}

Continuous Scrolling on Mobile Search Conclusion

Continuous scrolling certainly doesn’t mean you need to rip up the SEO rulebook.

It’s a SERP change designed to improve user experience. With additional pages’ results being more accessible, it might mean a drop in CTR for the top results. However, those results may still stay on top if they provide the most credible and immediate information.

We’re also likely to see more rich results on mobile, which could result in increased zero-click searches.

To keep up with these changes, marketers have to ensure they’re focused on getting their schema markup right, and optimizing titles and meta descriptions. Of course, these are all important for SEO anyway. As long as you’re doing the basics well, you shouldn’t have a problem. 

How do you feel about continuous scrolling?