Managing a website is no easy task. To have an effective online presence, you need to implement high-performance strategic digital actions. To do this, it is important to know the ins and outs of SEO. You also need to understand search engine requirements. 

However, even with a well-honed strategic plan, you can still make mistakes. There are even phenomena that can occur without you even realizing it. One of the most common is keyword cannibalization. This occurs when several content items or pages on your platform target the same keyword. This phenomenon is detrimental to your SEO and therefore to your visibility on the web. 

Key points for understanding keyword cannibalization 

Keyword cannibalization is not a complex concept. However, many professionals are still unfamiliar with it. 

Keywords: the cornerstone of site referencing

Keywords are an essential part of your SEO strategy. They are the ideas that guide the improvement of your site's content. By choosing them correctly and using them wisely, you'll increase the number of visits to your online platform.

To choose the right keywords to use in your articles, you need to take your target's needs into account. Google's referencing algorithms classify web pages according to the terms used in their searches. They then proceed to index them. This involves browsing a site's articles and gathering information about each web page for analysis. In particular, they will check the lexical field used. The data collected will then be used to position web pages in response to an Internet user's queries. Google then displays the pages that correspond to the needs in the request. So, if you want your target audience to discover your platform, you need to use the keywords they use when browsing. 

To harness the power of keywords, you need to use them correctly. This is where SEO comes in. These are the techniques that enable your web pages to appear among the first results of query solutions. This improves the visibility of your pages. 

Keyword cannibalization: what is it? 

To get your site listed on search engines, you need to choose the right keywords. This is part of natural referencing, which aims to integrate the right keywords into your articles or commercial links.

We speak of keyword cannibalization when several of your web pages are optimized for the same keyword. In other words, several of your articles appear in the search results of specialized platforms. This cannibalization of keywords leads to competition between your own texts. For example, you have an e-commerce site selling shoes, and the only keyword you're targeting is "shoes". Instead of focusing on long-tail keywords like men's shoes, compete with your pages on a single keyword. This type of keyword is also seen as irrelevant, since it is generalist. 

Keyword cannibalization and SEO cannibalization: what are the differences?

 It's important to distinguish between keyword cannibalization and SEO cannibalization. These two phenomena are closely linked, but different from each other. 

Keyword cannibalization occurs when the pages of a site target the same keywords. It creates competition between the pages in question and damages the platform's visibility. Keyword cannibalization refers to a problem with the content and keywords used on a site's web pages.

SEO cannibalization, on the other hand, is a much broader concept than keyword cannibalization. It even encompasses the latter. In fact, cannibalization SEO covers several aspects of search engine optimization. It may relate to problems with site architecture, tags or internal links. 

SEO cannibalization occurs when several of your pages overlap in terms of content or targeted keywords. It can also be the result of inappropriate SEO techniques, such as the use of one or more keywords. Other causes of SEO cannibalization include poorly designed internal links or misuse of meta tags.

Keyword cannibalization and duplicate content: two distinct phenomena 

Keyword cannibalization and duplicate content are two common SEO concerns. However, they are not the same thing. The first concerns the use of the same keyword on one or more pages. The second refers to the use of content or parts of content on other pages.

Duplicate content can be intra- or extra-site. In the case of keyword cannibalization, it only occurs between two pages on the same site. Whether internal or external, duplicate content is penalized. What's more, it's detrimental to the user experience, SEO and site traffic.

Keyword cannibalization and duplicate content both have a negative impact on your business. So it's important to distinguish between them in order to resolve them as effectively as possible. 

What are the causes of keyword cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is not an isolated phenomenon. There are a number of practices that could encourage it. 

Inconsistent anchor texts

By using the same text to anchor several links or publications, you run the risk of making search engine algorithms understand that the links in question all have the same value. As a result, search robots will have difficulty determining which page to display in response to the user's request.

Unstructured internal links

When your site's internal links aren't structured correctly, this can lead to keyword cannibalization. Indeed, the more pages your site has, the greater the risk of competition between content. So you're faced with a problem of similarity between pages. To overcome this problem, it's best to optimize page link architecture of your site. This will help you to correctly indicate the most important pages, and therefore those that should be highlighted according to your target audience's expectations.

Misconfigured hrflang tags

hrflang tags are used tooptimize page display languages or country pages on your online platform. When hrflang tags are incorrectly configured, Internet users land on pages that don't correspond to their geographical location. Cannibalization occurs as the search engine displays irrelevant pages. This is true even if the pages requested by your target actually exist. 

Incorrect metadata configuration

You must avoid optimize the metadata of your web pages for the same keyword. This could lead to cannibalization of keywords, even when they are similar relevant words.

The negative impact of this phenomenon on your SEO 

SEO keyword cannibalization can take the form ofstrategic action. Indeed, many professionals consciously provoke this type of cannibalization. Their aim is to repel pages from competing platforms. However, this technique is not always effective, and has many drawbacks. Keyword cannibalization undermines :

  • to the position, 
  • conversion rate 
  • and your site's reputation in different ways.

Keyword cannibalization undermines the authority of your web pages

When you have cannibalized keywords, you end up with a CTR that's split between pages. The latter are more or less relevant than the former. As a result, pages compete for visibility on research platforms. In fact, when the algorithms detect pages targeting the same keyword, they determine which is the most important, to the detriment of the others. 

In addition, the cannibalization of keywords creates confusion which leads search solutions to opt for the competition's pages. These are deemed more reliable and relevant than yours. 

Keyword cannibalization reduces link performance

Backlinks must point to a relevant source of information. However, with the cannibalization of keywords, links are divided between several articles. All your efforts to obtain quality backlinks will be in vain.

Keyword cannibalization wastes your site's crawl budget 

The crawl budget corresponds to number of times Google crawls your site during a given period. But when your pages are dedicated to a single keyword, the algorithms crawl and index irrelevant pages. This wasted crawl budget is a greater loss for e-commerce platforms than for smaller ones.

Keyword cannibalization gives the impression of a low-quality site

When web users notice that several pages on a single site are targeting the same keyword, they deduce that the text is unreliable. This keyword cannibalization also indicates that it's possible that the texts on your pages may not match the keywords you're using. 

Keyword cannibalization reduces your site's conversion rate

With cannibalized keywords, you'll have difficulties in increasing your conversion rate. In fact, there's a risk that cannibalizing pages will achieve a higher SERP position than higher-quality pages. Prospects may land on a page that is not intended for the purchase of your products or services.

How can you detect the presence of keyword cannibalization on your site? 

There are two ways to spot when your keywords are cannibalizing each other.

Search using a site operator

L'site:" search operator displays the text of a platform in the Serp. This is an effective way of identifying the presence or absence of keyword cannibalization on your site. 

To carry out this search, all you need to do is enter the formula "site:" in front of the keyword you wish to check. More precisely, you need to insert in the search bar " keyword ". In the example of the shoe e-commerce site cited above, let's suppose your brand name is "Moda" and you want the keyword "women's shoes". You'd write: women's shoes. The search platform will then display pages related to this keyword.

List all your keywords in an Excel file

To find out whether your site is threatened by keyword cannibalization, you can create an Excel file. In this spreadsheet, you should make an inventory of your keywords and collect information such as :

  • the number of articles in which they are integrated 
  • and the traffic it brings. 

What solutions can you use to identify keyword cannibalization problems? 

Keyword cannibalization is a serious threat to your SEO. Fortunately, there are powerful SEO solutions that can help. 

Google Search Console 

Google Search Console is a free tool. It allows you to monitor visibility of your site on the search engine. This platform also integratesarticle performance analysis of your web pages. It also enables you to identify keywords that are performing well in terms of organic traffic. But also, to spot indexing problems. 

By going to the Search Console tab dedicated to performance reports, you'll find the queries, keywords and clicks they bring to your site. Then you need to browse the queries via the "page" tab. This will allow you to see if there are multiple URLs on your platform listed for the same keyword. 


Ahrefs is the SEO tool of choice for SEO experts. It allows you to :

  • do keyword research, 
  • analyze the competition in your business sector 
  • and track your position on search platforms. 

Ah refs also helps you in the checking inbound and outbound links of your platform. This tool is indispensable for improving your SEO texts. 

Ah refs software provides you with a complete report on your site's organic keywords. This report is available in the explorer tab. 


When you use SEM rush, you benefit from an all-in-one SEO tool. In fact, the platform's functionalities are such that you can set up a strategic online marketing axis in line with your business. You can optimize your competitive intelligence. You'll also have access to keywords with excellent brand awareness. You can also optimize your articles.

To spot the presence of keyword cannibalization on SEM rush, you need to proceed in the same way as on Ah refs. This software provides you with a list of the keywords on your web pages and related information. By accessing the paid version of SEM rush, you can track the position of your keywords. It also gives you access to the keyword cannibalization ratio and the cannibalization score. If you see a score of 100 %, there is no cannibalization. 


RyteSearch is one of the best SEO enhancement solutions you'll find on the market. It lets you :

  • spot any problems with the crawl, 
  • improve the indexing of your pages 
  • detect 404 errors.

RyteSearch also lets you test the mobile use of your site. Thanks to the multitude of features it integrates, you'll also be able to measure visibility of your site on search platforms.

To identify your site's cannibalized keywords on RytesSearch, simply access the keyword report in the "Optimize" tab. This report shows you which pages are affected and details of the keywords involved.


SEOquantum is a tool dedicated to semantic analysis and keyword research. It offers you a unique approach to SEO, providing you with keywords based on semantic understanding of search intent. So you have everything you need to reach your target audience with relevant text and keywords. 

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz is SEO software that meets the requirements of online marketing professionals. Although it's not free, you can access some free solutions, such as its Chrome extension. It integrates a wide range of features, including :

  • keyword generation, 
  • search for links 
  • and technical audit. 

Its dashboard gives you an overview of overview of your site's position on search platforms. You'll also get a report on the keywords that bring in the most traffic. 

With Moz Keyword Explorer, you can quickly spot errors that are detrimental to the performance of your pages. So you can rework them to avoid reducing your SEO to zero. What's more, our solutions enable you to exploring your data in CSV format. This means you can download important information and analyze it offline. 

How can you solve the problem of keyword cannibalization on your site? 

If you've detected a keyword cannibalization problem on your online presence platform, there are a number of techniques you can use to solve it. Here are a few tips that may help.

Put the search intent of web users at the heart of your a strategic focus

Search engines are designed to provide Internet users with results that correspond to their requests. That's why you need to precisely identify your target audience's problem and propose a solution in your article. 

Consolidate your content 

To solve the keyword cannibalization problem, you need to rework your articles. This results in articles that address specific themes. Remember that general texts don't attract the attention of Internet users. They also don't appeal to search solutions. 

Ideally, you should create completely different articles, even if they deal with the same subject. You can also associate article and landing page improvement. This solution facilitates the conversion of visitors who have made informational requests.

Re-optimize competing pages 

Since keyword cannibalization is caused by optimizing multiple pages for a single keyword, you can re-optimize your pages. How do I re-optimize? Essentially, this involves re-targeting by indicating the main page or text to be linked to a keyword.

Merge certain content or pages on your site

If you have similar articles on your site and they target the same keyword, you should consider merge them. By combining them, you eliminate keyword cannibalization while still obtaining a quality article. It also increases your page's visibility. It also helps you retain visitors to your site for longer. However, there are a few things you need to consider before proceeding. You need to choose : 

∙ The URL of the new content

∙ The request you will answer

∙ How you'll approach the ideas in the two articles

∙ The hierarchization of the article.

Use 301 redirects

301 or permanent redirects are an HTTP status code that tells the client browser that the page it wishes to view has been moved to another URL. And it does so permanently. These redirects enable you to consolidating cannibalized texts. To do this, you need to link all less relevant pages to a single, reliable text. To do this successfully, you need careful URL analysis which enjoys the greatest notoriety. You must also examine the volume of inbound links and keywords that are positioned. You can use these elements for your new publication. 

Proceed to a canonization  

If your site contains similar or even identical pages, search engine algorithms may consider them duplicate articles. The search platform used may penalize them. Visit canonical beacon is designed to tell search platforms which page to prioritize among similar pages. Thanks to canonicalization, you can avoid the worries of duplicate articles and cannibalization. Search solutions will display the canonical link when a request is made by a web surfer. 

Analyze the SERP

Keywords can cover four types of search needs: 

∙ Navigation requests 

∙ Informational queries

∙ Transactional requests 

∙ Commercial requests

It is therefore essential to precisely define research expectations that correspond to each of your keywords. This is done when you create your texts. In this way, you can ensure that several articles targeting different intentions complement each other. You should also optimize your local referencing so that your texts respond to local queries. This will help you stand out from the competition. 

Use the "noindex" attribute and the "nofollow" tag

The Noindex attribute lets you indicate when a web page should not be indexed by search engines. It also prevents a page from being displayed on SERPs. Thus, it will delete from indexes.

The nofollow tag, on the other hand, means that search platform algorithms should not crawl links embedded on a page. It can then be used to suppress keyword cannibalization. This can be achieved by integrating them into pages with redirect links to competing pages.

Review the structure of internal links

By improving your site's link architecture, you can hope to solve the problem of keyword cannibalization. Indeed, search platforms attach particular importance to the internal and external links of an online platform. As a result, the search platform prioritizes the links and displays the content it considers most important. 

How to avoid keyword cannibalization?

It's true that keyword cannibalization problems can be identified and resolved. However, it's best to prevent them in the first place, to avoid jeopardizing your SEO. 

Set up a relevant keyword strategy

The best way to avoid keyword cannibalization is to implement a clear keyword strategy. But it also has to be precise and efficient for your site. To do this, you need to identify the most frequently used terms in your industry. Today, there are powerful solutions that can help you with this step. For example, you can use Google Keyword planner, SEM rush or Arhefs. These programs provide you with valuable information to improve your SEO, such as :

  • search volume 
  • the relevance of each keyword.

To choose your keywords correctly, you need to consider their relevance to the articles you already have. 

Vary your keywords

To avoid using the same keyword for all your pages, use synonyms and related expressions. So you need to broaden the semantic scope of your target queries as much as possible. This avoids any risk of competition between your pages. Note, however, that Google's algorithms understand synonyms. So avoid similar pages. One tip that may help is to get Google to contribute to get the job done. All you have to do is choose a main keyword and enter it in the search bar. The search solution then presents you with a list of related topics. For example, if you enter "shoes" in the search bar, it will suggest the following topics: 

  • Women's shoes, 
  • men's shoes, 
  • chaussure par cher 
  • ... 

You'll also need to carry out related research to better understand what your target audience is looking for.

Ensure that each keyword is associated with a unique page 

A web page must correspond to a keyword. Each of your pages should be unique, and should fully cover the request dedicated to it. This way, you avoid having to create several pages in an attempt to provide additional information. Each page you create must offer added value to your audience. 

For example, your site sells shoes. You might think that creating several pages with the keyword "sports shoes" would ensure that your articles cover all variations of this word. This reasoning inevitably leads to keyword cannibalization. It's better to limit yourself to a page optimized for the main keyword. Then you canuse sub-categories or specific product pages.

Make sure your site architecture is logical 

Site architecture plays a vital role in user experience and SEO. Indeed, when your platform is well structured, search solutions easily understand the relevance of each page according to keywords. 

Note that your website must include categories and sub-categories. In addition, each page should be dedicated to a specific subject. Don't hesitate to add internal links to make navigation intuitive. 

Monitor your site's performance 

To reduce the risk of cannibalization of relevant words, you should regularly audit your site. If you want to keep a close eye on the performance of your articles on search solutions, use position analysis tools. These platforms will also enable you to quickly identify cannibalization concerns and act accordingly. 

During the audit, check that each page is ranked for the targeted keyword. As soon as you notice competing pages, take the necessary steps to correct the problem. Depending on the source of the cannibalization, you may, for example, have to modify your content or restructure your internal links. 

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