Managing a website is no mean feat. To have an effective online presence, you need to implement effective strategic digital actions. To do this, it is important to know the ins and outs of search engine optimisation. You also need to understand the requirements of search engines. 

However, even with a well-honed strategy, you can still make mistakes. There are even phenomena that can occur without you realising it. One of the most common is keyword cannibalisation. This occurs when several pieces of content 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 cannibalisation 

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

Keywords: the cornerstone for referencing a site

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

To choose the right keywords to use in your articles, you need to take into account the needs of your target audience. Google's referencing algorithms classify web pages according to the terms used by Internet users in their searches. They then proceed to index them. This consists of going through the articles on a site and gathering information about each web page with a view to analysis. In particular, they will check the lexical field used. The data collected will then be used to position web pages in order to respond to an Internet user's requests. Google then displays the pages that correspond to the needs in the request. As a result, you need to use keywords that your target audience uses when browsing if you want them to discover your platform. 

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

Keyword cannibalisation: 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 talk about keyword cannibalisation when several of your web pages are optimised for the same keyword. In other words, several of your articles appear in the search results of specialist platforms. This cannibalisation of keywords leads to competition between your own texts. For example, you have an e-commerce site selling shoes and the only keyword you are targeting is "shoes". Instead of focusing on long-tail keywords such as men's shoes, you're pitting your pages against each other on a single keyword. This type of keyword is also considered irrelevant because it is general. 

Keyword cannibalisation and SEO cannibalisation: what are the differences?

 We need to distinguish between keyword cannibalisation and SEO cannibalisation. These two phenomena are closely linked, but different from each other. 

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

SEO cannibalisation is a much broader concept than keyword cannibalisation. It even encompasses the latter. In fact, cannibalisation SEO covers several aspects of search engine optimisation. It may relate to problems with the site's architecture, tags or internal links. 

SEO cannibalisation 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 cannibalisation include poorly designed internal links or poor use of meta tags.

Keyword cannibalisation and duplicate content: two phenomena to be distinguished 

Keyword cannibalisation and duplicate content are two common SEO concerns. However, they are different from each other. The first concerns the use of the same keyword for one or more pages. The second refers to the use of content or parts of content on other pages.

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

Keyword cannibalisation and duplicate content both have a negative impact on your business. It is therefore important to distinguish between them in order to resolve them as effectively as possible. 

What are the causes of keyword cannibalisation?

Keyword cannibalisation is not an isolated phenomenon. There are several 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 the search engine algorithms understand that the links in question all have the same value. As a result, search robots will find it difficult to determine which page they need to display to respond to visitors' requests.

Unstructured internal links

When your site's internal links are not structured correctly, this can lead to keyword cannibalisation. The more pages your site has, the greater the risk of competition between content. You are therefore faced with a problem of similarity between pages. To overcome this problem, it is in your interest to optimise 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

The purpose of hrflang tags is tooptimise page display languages or country pages on your online platform. When hrflang tags are incorrectly configured, web users land on pages that do not correspond to their geographical location. Cannibalisation occurs because the search engine displays irrelevant pages. And this is true even if the pages requested by your target actually exist. 

Incorrect configuration of metadata

You must avoid optimise the metadata of your web pages for the same keyword. This could encourage the cannibalisation of keywords, even when they are similar relevant words.

The negative consequences of this phenomenon on your search engine optimisation 

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

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

Keyword cannibalisation undermines the authority of your web pages

When you have cannibalised keywords, you end up with a CTR that is divided between pages. The latter are more or less relevant than a page with a high profile. 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 at the expense of the others. 

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

Keyword cannibalisation reduces the performance of your links

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

Keyword cannibalisation wastes your site's crawl budget 

The crawl budget corresponds to number of times Google crawls your site during a given period. When your pages are dedicated to a single keyword, the algorithms crawl and index pages that are not relevant. Wasting the crawl budget is a greater loss for e-commerce platforms than for small platforms.

Keyword cannibalisation gives the impression of a poor quality site

When Internet users notice that several pages on a single site are targeting the same keyword, they deduce that the text is unreliable. This keyword cannibalisation also means that the texts on your pages may not correspond to the keywords you are using. 

Keyword cannibalisation reduces your site's conversion rate

With cannibalised keywords, you'll have difficulties in increasing your conversion rate. There is a risk that cannibalising pages will obtain a better SERP position than pages of better quality. Prospects may therefore land on a page that is not intended for the purchase of your products or services.

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

There are two ways of identifying when your keywords are cannibalising each other.

Perform a 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 whether or not your site is cannibalising keywords. 

To carry out this search, all you need to do is enter the phrase "site:" in front of the keyword you want to check. To be more precise, you need to insert the phrase "site:" in the search bar.votresite.com: keyword ". In the example of the e-commerce site for shoes given above, let's assume that your brand is called "Moda" and that you want the keyword "women's shoes". You would write: Moda.com: women's shoes. The search platform will then display the pages relating to this keyword.

List all your keywords in an Excel file

To find out if your site is threatened by keyword cannibalisation, 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 included 
  • and the traffic it brings. 

What solutions can you use to identify concerns about keyword cannibalisation? 

Keyword cannibalisation is a serious threat to your SEO. Fortunately, there are some powerful SEO solutions that will be of invaluable assistance. 

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 includesarticle performance analysis of your web pages. It can also be used to identify keywords that are performing well in terms of organic traffic. It can also identify indexing problems. 

If you go 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 go through the queries via the "page" tab. This will allow you to see if there are several URLs on your platform that are listed for the same keyword. 

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool among SEO experts. It allows you to :

  • research keywords, 
  • analyse the competition in your sector 
  • and track your position on search platforms. 

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

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

SEMrush

By using SEM rush, you benefit from an all-in-one SEO tool. In fact, the features of this platform are such that you can put in place an online marketing strategy in line with your business. You can optimise your competitive intelligence. You will also have access to keywords with an excellent reputation. You can also optimise your articles.

To spot the presence of keyword cannibalisation 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. This also gives you access to the keyword cannibalisation ratio and the cannibalisation score. If you see a score of 100 %, this means that there is no cannibalisation. 

RyteSearchSucces

RyteSearch is one of the best search engine optimisation solutions on the market. It allows you to :

  • 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 functions it includes, you can also measure visibility of your site on search platforms.

To identify the keywords cannibalised from your site on RytesSearch, simply access the keywords report in the "Optimise" tab. This report shows you which pages are affected and details of the keywords involved.

SEOquantum

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 a 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 needs of online marketing professionals. Although you have to pay for it, you can access certain free solutions such as its Chrome extension. It incorporates a variety of features, including :

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

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

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

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

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

Put the search intent of Internet 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 accurately identify your target audience's problem and propose a solution by writing your article. 

Consolidate your content 

To solve the keyword cannibalisation problem, you need to rework your articles. This allows you to obtain articles that deal with specific themes. Remember that general texts do not attract the attention of Internet users. They are also not attractive to search engines. 

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 makes it easier to convert visitors who have made informational requests.

Re-optimise competing pages 

Since keyword cannibalisation is caused by optimising several pages for a single keyword, you can re-optimise your pages. How do I re-optimise? This process essentially consists of revising the targeting by indicating the page or main text that should 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 can eliminate keyword cannibalisation and still obtain a quality article. Merging them also helps to increase the visibility of your page. It also helps you retain visitors to your site for longer. However, before proceeding with this merger, you need to take certain factors into account. You need to choose : 

∙ The URL of the new content

∙ The request you will be responding to

∙ How you will approach the ideas in the two articles

∙ The hierarchisation of the article.

Use 301 redirects

301 or permanent redirects are an HTTP status code that tells the client browser that the page it wants to view has been moved to another URL. And it does so permanently. These redirects allow you to consolidating cannibalised texts. To do this, you need to link all the pages that are less relevant to a single, reliable text. To do this successfully, you need careful analysis of the URL which has the best reputation. You must also examine the volume of incoming links and keywords which are positioned. These elements will be used for your new publication. 

Proceed to a canonisation  

If your site contains similar or even identical pages, search engine algorithms may consider them to be duplicate articles. The search platform used may penalise them. The canonical beacon is designed to indicate to search platforms which page they should prioritise among similar pages. Thanks to canonisation, you can avoid the problems of duplicate articles and cannibalisation. Search solutions will display the canonical link when a request is made by an Internet user. 

Analyse the SERP

Keywords can cover four types of research needs: 

∙ Navigation requests 

∙ Information requests

∙ Transactional requests 

∙ Commercial requests

It is therefore essential to clearly define research expectations that correspond to each of your keywords. This is done when you create your texts. In this way, it is possible to ensure that several articles targeting different intentions complement each other. You should also optimise your local referencing so that the 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 allows you to indicate when a web page should not be indexed by search solutions. It also prevents a page from being displayed on the SERPs. It will therefore delete from its indexes.

The nofollow tag means that search platform algorithms should not explore links embedded in a page. It can then be used to eliminate the cannibalisation of keywords. This can be achieved by integrating them into pages containing 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 cannibalisation. Search platforms attach particular importance to the internal and external links of an online platform. As a result, the search platform prioritises the links and displays the content it considers most important. 

How can you avoid keyword cannibalisation?

Of course, it is possible to identify and resolve problems of keyword cannibalisation. However, it is better to prevent them from happening in the first place to avoid jeopardising your search engine optimisation. 

Set up a relevant keyword strategy

The best way to avoid keyword cannibalisation is to implement a clear keyword strategy. But it also has to be precise and effective for your site. To do this, you need to identify the most commonly used terms in your business sector. There are some powerful solutions available today that can help you at this stage. For example, you can use Google Keyword planner, SEM rush or Arhefs. These programs provide you with valuable information to improve your search engine optimisation, such as :

  • the volume of research 
  • 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 widen the semantic field of the queries you are targeting 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 could help you is to get Google to contribute to complete your task. All you have to do is choose a main keyword and enter it in the search bar. The search solution then offers you a list of related subjects. For example, if you enter "shoes" in the search bar, it will suggest the following subjects: 

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

You will 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 cover the entire request to which it is dedicated. This way, you avoid having to create several pages to try and provide additional information. Each page you create should 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 the variations of this word. This reasoning will inevitably lead you to cannibalise keywords. It is therefore preferable to limit yourself to a page optimised for the main keyword. Then you canuse sub-categories or specific product pages.

Make sure your site architecture is logical 

The architecture of a site plays a vital role in user experience and search engine optimisation. When your platform is well structured, search engines easily understand the relevance of each page in terms of keywords. 

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

Monitor your site's performance 

To reduce the risk of cannibalising 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 any concerns about cannibalisation and act accordingly. 

During the audit, check that each page is ranked for the targeted keyword. As soon as you notice pages that are in competition with each other, take the necessary steps to correct the problem. Depending on the source of the cannibalisation, you may, for example, have to modify your content or restructure your links internally. 

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