Keyword Cannibalization and How to Handle It

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Keyword cannibalization (no matter how awfully terrifying it may sound) is a widely-spread website internal information structure problem that occurs when multiple subpages are (heavily) targeting one and the same key term.

Very often webmasters are unaware of any keyword cannibalization problems throughout the site – for example, (partial) internal duplicate content issues caused by the site CMS (e.g. pagination causes multiple pages with one and the same title) can account for it.

Others intentionally optimize several pages for one key term “to strengthen” the effect: they think the more a keyword is used throughout the site, the more important it seems for a search engine.

Keyword cannibalization is the issue not to be taken lightly because:

  • It causes inadequate index and crawl depth by forcing Google to choose between many pages and pick one it feels best fits the query “filtering” the rest of relevant pages;
  • It accounts for lower SEO effectiveness: efforts are not focused: you are spreading link power, keyword targeting, and anchor text on your site across multiple pages.
  • It causes internal site competition: your own pages compete with each other for a position in Google.

How to avoid or solve keyword cannibalization problems?

Hierarchic structure

Here is also a useful discussion on optimizing your site for multiple keywords.

  • Carefully think over your website architecture to make the most of internal anchor text and keyword prominence.
Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Probuddha

    A very useful post Ann. Duplicate content, pagination and keyword cannibalization are some of the worst enemies of ecom websites and the tragic part of it is that most webmasters do not realize the consequences they might be facing due to such issues.

    Along with the suggestions stated above, careful implementation of nofollow and noindex attributes are also a useful way to combat pagination, duplicate content and keyword cannibalization.


    useful for me too.
    i’ll take care with my keyword density in future.

  • Donald Rush

    So I use a seo plugin for my wp theme. Is it ok to use the same keyword for the titles? Or are you speaking directly to urls being different.

  • Ann Smarty

    Hi Donald, I’d appreciate an example of what you are speaking about.

  • Dave

    nice post, if you have forgotten to implement the noindex tags, you can spend weeks fighting with the search engines to remove old content.

    the organisation of internal informational structure is the most important element that many websites forget about.

  • Istvan Kovacs

    I don’t understand…:)

  • Jignesh Padhiyar

    Thanks for Sharing Such a Nice Information.

  • Rod

    Nice post Ann!

    Yeah, many blogs and sites commit a mistake on using keywords in the wrong manner. And making original content always has been a problem.

    Thanks for sharin!

  • SEObetty

    Great tip about organizing keyword lists. As difficult as it is, keeping track of which terms are optimized on which pages really is important. Thanks, Ann!