Keyword Cannibalization: Understanding, Identifying, and Solving SEO Conflicts






Managing keywords effectively is vital, yet it poses hidden complexities. Assigning relevant keywords across your website’s pages may seem straightforward; however, it exposes you to the risks of keyword cannibalization.

This issue may counteract your efforts to climb the search engine rankings. But what exactly does this phenomenon entail, and how can it impact your digital marketing strategy? 

Understanding the nature of keyword cannibalization is essential to preemptively addressing it and avoiding detrimental effects on your search visibility. Let’s explore what keyword cannibalization involves and why it demands attention.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?


Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple web pages target the same keyword, leading to the possibility of both pages appearing simultaneously in search results. 

Initially, this scenario might seem advantageous; however, it can introduce several unintended challenges. 

The occurrence of such issues underscores the necessity of addressing keyword cannibalization promptly to avert the evolution of these complications into more severe problems. 

This necessity sets the stage for an exploration of the adverse impacts of keyword cannibalization on a website’s search engine performance.

Why is keyword cannibalization bad?

When two pages from the same website target identical keywords, it creates a competitive scenario where both pages are less likely to rank well in search engine results. 

This issue, known as SEO keyword cannibalization, results in decreased visibility for both pages, as they compete against each other rather than complementing one another in search rankings. 

Moreover, this competition contradicts the strategy of diversifying targeted keywords across different pages to enhance site-wide visibility. 

This reduction in individual page effectiveness could potentially open doors for competitors to rank higher for the same keywords. 

While it might seem counterproductive, this situation does lead us to ponder if there might be any redeeming qualities to keyword cannibalization.

Are There Any Good Points to Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization may seem beneficial when aiming to monopolize search engine results for a single keyword. 

This tactic might be effective if your goal is to dominate a particular search term and you possess the necessary resources and capabilities to implement this strategy successfully. 

However, for most website owners, having multiple pages compete for the same keyword can dilute their SEO efforts, making it counterproductive. Such scenarios often lead to poorer rankings rather than the desired dominance. 

In the rare cases where cannibalization proves advantageous, it’s typically when a site already holds a commanding presence for that keyword. 

Understanding the dynamics of keyword usage across your site can be pivotal, prompting a more profound exploration into how these issues manifest and the tools available to detect them.

How to Find Keyword Cannibalization Issues


Identifying keyword cannibalization involves three distinct methods. The goal is to swiftly detect instances where multiple pages target the same keyword, allowing for prompt adjustment of keywords on affected pages. Each method, when applied correctly, offers a rapid response to mitigate any negative impacts on SEO.

These techniques include examining your site’s current keyword deployments, utilizing tools such as Google Search Console and its alternatives, and analyzing reports specifically designed to reveal keyword overlaps. As we move forward, we’ll explore these strategies in more detail to understand their roles in maintaining SEO integrity.

Searching Your Site

The most obvious way to find a keyword cannibalization issue is to use the search operator options on most search engines.

For example, putting search operators like “site:[your domain address]” into Google allows you to limit your search to just your own website. From there, you can insert the keyword you want to check for and then see which pages come up.

This is a good way to find duplicate pages or relevant pages that have the same keyword and search intent.

While not perfect and often missing some pages, this is a good way to find keyword cannibalization problems at basically any time, with only a brief search required.

Google Search Console (And Alternatives)

Google Search Console is ideal for identifying a range of SEO issues, and that can include trying to identify keyword cannibalization.

While you might not have a dedicated alarm to tell you when keyword cannibalization occurs, you can still see it in the data you gather.

Google Search Console allows you to check multiple keywords at once and see which pages are appearing for specific queries.

This can be good for working out which pages are appearing for which searches since similar pages with identical keywords will not always appear together.

Remember that GSC has equivalents on other search platforms, too.

These will all work differently, but as long as they provide a breakdown of similar keywords, it should not be hard to identify keyword cannibalization before it becomes too much of a problem.

Cannibalization Reports

Certain tools generate reports on keyword cannibalization, revealing which pages and keywords appear in search queries. 

These reports provide a comprehensive view of how pages compete, highlighting those with similar search intent. 

The effectiveness of these tools in identifying similar pages can vary, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the chosen software to regularly monitor for keyword cannibalization. 

Understanding the dynamics of keyword competition within your site sets the stage for addressing these issues effectively. 

As we consider these insights, we subtly transition into exploring methods for resolving keyword cannibalization.

How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization

Resolving keyword cannibalization is fundamentally about ensuring that no two pages target the same keyword with identical search intent. 

This approach minimizes overlap and can improve search rankings. Achieving this, however, requires a clear understanding of each available method for addressing the issue. Simply altering the text is insufficient.

The key strategies include implementing redirects, using canonical tags, optimizing links or content, creating new content, and applying noindex tags. 

Each method plays a specific role in redirecting or reshaping how search engines view and process content on your site, setting the stage for more detailed adjustments that might include everything from technical redirects to strategic content updates.


Sometimes, multiple pages focus on the same search intent and the same keyword, but you only really need one of them to get the results you are looking for.

These might be similar FAQ pages or blog posts that are all focused on the same topic.

301 redirects can be a good way to point the cannibal pages back to the preferred page that you actually want to promote.

As long as Google knows that you have redirected that URL, you can get rid of the self-created competition and ensure that only one site search result appears at a time.

Google automatically removes redirects from its index after a few weeks.

Using this method basically means that you get to keep all of the boosted SEO with none of the downsides, both before and after the now-redirected page is de-indexed.

This method also allows you to push all of the ranking power and “link juice” onto a single page when doing SEO work, meaning that you are not having to spread your SEO offers across multiple landing pages targeting the same keyword.

Canonical Tags

A canonical tag tells Google that two similar pages are duplicates and that they should not both be treated as complete pages.

In other words, it allows you to tag one page as the “parent” and others as the “children,” preventing Google from seeing them as duplicate content that needs to be penalized.

These tags are easy enough to add, requiring only a small change to a page’s HTTP header.

Not only does this avoid the duplicate content issue, but it also tells Google which of the duplicate pages is the primary one, which becomes your preferred page that is displayed on search engines.

This makes it extremely easy to highlight a preferred page, even if there are copies of it across other URLs.

You will not have to delete any of the other versions of the page, even if they are spread across multiple URLs, since only one of them is actually visible and counted in search results.

Some cases of keyword cannibalization occur by accident when the wrong page begins to gain more traction than it should.

It only takes one page exploding in popularity or ranking value to mean it is ranking higher than another, which can accidentally target it at a keyword you did not intend to target.

This is common with category pages in site search systems.

While the top-level category page might be the more relevant page to most users, you could accidentally boost a subcategory even higher, forcing Google to choose between two pages on the same website that are basically almost identical.

It is important to optimize your links to point to the right pages.

While spreading links out is not normally bad for SEO, doing it poorly can have the wrong pages rank higher than they should while neglecting the intended landing page.

Remember: related pages generally share a target keyword, but that target keyword is not actually relevant unless you get those pages ranking.

If multiple pages start to gain ranking power due to link building, and they all share the same keywords, then keyword cannibalization is almost inevitable.

Creating New Content

Another common cause of keyword cannibalization is creating multiple pages that all target similar keywords because they are all different variations of the same topic or are effectively different versions of one article.

An article about football boots is different from one about running shoes. Multiple pages about the same keywords (such as articles about choosing running shoes, buying running shoes, finding running shoe deals, etc.) are much more likely to cross over with one another.

If the topics are similar, then the anchor text might be, too, and the organic traffic is going to overlap heavily.

Since the pages are so similar, having them all ranking high will not necessarily draw in more traffic because each one is targeting the same organic traffic audience.

It is a good idea to create content that actually stands out. Do not just make multiple pages focused on re-used anchor text: give every new page and article something relevant to a specific audience.

You want each new piece of content to feel like something that had to be an entirely new article and could not just be rolled into an existing piece of content that targets the same niche.

In many situations, you can prevent keyword cannibalization by making sure that you only have one highly authoritative page per search intent for every keyword you are trying to target.

Having one landing page instead of multiple pages makes keyword overlap far less likely.

Noindex Tags

If all else fails, you can insert noindex tags to tell crawlers not to index a certain page. While this cuts off the rankings forwarding that could boost a page’s search engine results page rank, it also marks the chosen web pages as off-limits to the indexing system.

By doing this, you can undo the accidental indexing of things like product pages, technical pages, or anything that was not meant to be ranking in the first place.

It is common to have pages compete with others that were not even meant to be competitive, so removing their ability to get indexed can really help.

Remember that this completely cuts off the ability of that one page to be indexed, at least until you remove the tag.

This means no organic traffic to that page and no presence in search results, so it is best used for pages that are not meant to get traffic, like the categories on an ecommerce website to the terms and conditions page on a service-focused site.

Search Engines Hate The Same Keyword on Multiple Pages

In straightforward terms, assigning each keyword to a unique page optimizes content visibility and relevance. 

Exceptions like search intent, where the purpose behind a query can shift the relevance of pages, do exist. However, multiple pages targeting the same audience with identical internet usage and keywords typically indicate a strategic misstep.

Effective keyword management involves several strategies: conducting keyword research to uncover alternatives, analyzing successful approaches on other ecommerce sites, and utilizing tools such as Google Analytics to detect overlapping keywords. Each step should be approached with thoughtful deliberation, as hasty decisions can lead to long-term SEO setbacks.

As we consider these methods to address keyword overlaps, it’s also useful to contemplate ongoing strategies that can proactively mitigate these issues, thereby smoothing the path forward for sustained digital marketing success.

Preventing Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages from the same website compete for the same keywords, leading to diluted search rankings. 

This issue arises from a lack of strategic planning in content creation and keyword assignment, where each page inadvertently impacts the others’ visibility. 

Commonly overlooked in favor of link building or site optimization, keyword cannibalization can undermine a website’s SEO efforts by causing content clashes. 

Such conflicts may result in both pages underperforming against competitors who optimize their content and keyword strategies more carefully. 

Addressing these clashes promptly can preserve or enhance your site’s ranking potential. As we explore the measures to counteract these issues, one may wonder how platforms like Searcharoo specifically adapt to manage and mitigate keyword cannibalization effectively.

How Does Searcharoo Stand Out as the Ultimate Solution for Resolving Keyword Cannibalization Challenges?

Searcharoo excels as a premier tool for addressing keyword cannibalization by leveraging its sophisticated algorithms and comprehensive analysis features. 

It scrutinizes each website’s content, identifying keyword overlaps and their origins effectively. The platform offers precise recommendations for merging content and enhancing internal links, all through an intuitive interface.

Real-time monitoring by Searcharoo detects new cannibalization issues swiftly, ensuring ongoing optimization. Integration with leading SEO tools amplifies its utility, positioning Searcharoo as a critical tool for boosting search engine rankings.

With all these capabilities at your disposal, one might wonder if the additional step of engaging an SEO agency is necessary to tackle keyword cannibalization.

Is Hiring an SEO Agency Necessary to Resolve Keyword Cannibalization Issues?

Hiring an SEO agency isn’t always essential to resolve keyword cannibalization issues, as it’s possible to address them independently with careful analysis and optimization strategies. 

By utilizing SEO tools to identify conflicting pages, evaluating content, optimizing pages for unique keywords, and potentially consolidating or redirecting pages, you can mitigate cannibalization problems. Guaranteeing proper internal linking and monitoring performance allows for ongoing refinement.

However, for complex cases or persistent issues, seeking assistance from an SEO agency or expert can provide specialized insight and support to effectively resolve the problem and optimize your website’s search engine performance.

About Searcharoo

Searcharoo is a Link Building & Content Marketing company run by SEO’s based in the UK.

Our goal from the start has been to provide premium links and content services, at fair and affordable prices.

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