Keyword Cannibalization meaning & how to fix it

What is the meaning of Keyword Cannibalization? Why and how does it happen? And how can you avoid them? Is there any relation between keyword cannibalization and keyword stuffing? Well, in this post, I will be shedding light on keyword cannibalization and related issues.  At the onset let me discuss Keyword cannibalization meaning and if it has any similarity with Keyword Stuffing.


The practice of using the same keyword in multiple posts is called keyword cannibalization. Why do we use the term cannibalization used here? Well, it is a known to all that the word cannibalization is derived from the word cannibals. What do the cannibals do? They eat the animals of the same species they belong to. Example, humans eating humans, cobra eating cobra.
But how does it fit into the phrase “keyword cannibalization”. When you write multiple posts with the same focus keyword, Google perceives that you are trying to rank for that keyword. Here, all your posts with the same keyword won’t rank . Because search engines will not display all the posts in the SERP. Rather they will filter through all such posts and select only one post for SERP result page, they deem fit.

Now, when one blog post supersedes other(s) with the same keyword, the keyword of the successful post is said to have eaten into the same keyword strategy for other post(s). Hence, the term Keyword Cannibalisation in a layman’s language.
Ranking more than one post in the SERP for one keyword is extremely rare. Authority sites or bloggers like Neil Patel, Hubspot have mastered that art.
The picture below shows that two of Hubspot posts have ranked for the same focus keyword. But the point is that when you read them, the posts are unique and hardly have any similarity with each other in spite of relating to same subjects.



Stuffing and cannibalization of keywords are not the same and one thing.
KEYWORD STUFFING is over-optimising of a particular page or blog post with a search term to manipulate ranking in the Search Engine Result Page. This unethical practice will get you penalized as Google, of late is concentrating on quality content. And won’t tolerate anything rubbish in the form of stuffing.

KEYWORD CANNIBALISATION, on the other hand, is over-optimisation of your blog or site wherein multiple pages/posts are written with the same keyword. It won’t get you penalized but you are likely to face negative SEO experiences like a dip in ranking, inappropriate optimization etc.
While keyword stuffing has been in check through various updates from Google from time to time, Keyword cannibalization has been around, for more often than not, it happens inadvertently.
Since the early days of blogging, it has been taking place without the knowledge of the webmasters.
Intentional indulgement in cannibalization is attributable to the fact that webmasters want Google to realize that they want some posts or the entire site to rank for a keyword.


USING KEYWORD RANK TOOL – A page or a post becomes a victim of keyword cannibalization when it is not found in the SERP result for the intended keyword.  Deploy any keyword ranking tool to ascertain your ranking.  A ranking in the result pages for a keyword means that it is OK.  Google has not surrendered it for another post of yours.  However, this is not always accurate.  It is more or less hypothetical.

Besides, there are keywords you unknowingly rank for.  An unnoticed cannibalized page can pave way for a page with less importance.
YOAST SEO PLUG-IN – You have used a keyword in the past but while writing a new post you cannot recollect it.  Such problems are common with big blogs having a large number of posts.  So, use the Yoast SEO Plug-in to identify any repetition of a keyword.
It is very simple to use.  You simply type the intended search term in the focus keyword space of the plug-in.  This tool will clearly show in the content analysis section if you are erroneously repeating the keyword.  This information is very useful.    A screenshot is provided here.
Using Yoast SEO Plug-in for identifying keyword cannibalization
But the downside of this tool is that it cannot identify keywords with minor differences.  And will only show up exact match keywords used before.  Therefore, this tool is not a full proof one.


Here, I have enlisted the drawbacks of keyword cannibalization and how to avoid it?
1.    When you are targeting a particular keyword for multiple pages, you restrict the findability of your blog.  People won’t get you for other keywords.  So, webmasters willing to put up a unique content, a blog or site, should give up this method.  They should concentrate more on writing with different keywords.  This will give them new content ideas, opportunity to write fresh and unique content, expand the findability of your blog.

2.      You can also write with LSI keyword to address the issue of cannibalization.  Don’t use exact match keywords.  You should also be careful about using LSI keywords which are closely related.

3.     If your blog or site commands high ranking for numerous keywords, you stand to get a good amount of search engine traffic to your site.  High search traffic will get you high conversion rate.

4.      Writing a fresh and unique content repeatedly with the same search term is never easy and impossible for a blogger.  You have to severely compromise with your content quality.  You finally come out with a series of spun content.

5.      Newbies often don’t realize that Google does not display multiple posts with the same keyword in the result pages of Googles.  Google will select only that post which it thinks to be the best.  But Google’s choice may not concur with that of yours.  The best post as per your choice is ignored.

6.      Google never indexes or crawls ignored pages or posts. That is bad for SEO.

7.       Besides these, Moz has brought out some adverse SEO results of keyword cannibalization.
  • Internal Anchor Text – Rand Fishkin of Moz maintains that as you are pointing to so many different pages with same focus keyword, you can’t focus on the value of internal anchor text on one target.
  • External Links – If 5 sites link to one page with keyword “Blue Jeans,” 4 sites link to another of your “Blue Jeans” pages and 7 sites link to yet another “Blue Jeans” page, then you are distributing your external link juice amongst three pages instead of consolidating them into one page.
  • Content Quality –  As mentioned earlier, it is not possible to maintain the standard of every post with same keyword. The best page or post can’t attract links and referrals as your site has too many similar pages emulating one another.
8.      Why does not Google display multiple posts of a blog with the same search term in its search results.  As per, Google loves to give user-friendly results in its SERP.  It maintains that with its variety.  So, it will never show two or more posts of a blog/site with same terms in a result page.
Though not widely discussed, keyword cannibalization can have an adverse impact on your SEO.  So, start implementing these tips to avoid cannibalization while writing a new blog post next time.

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