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Keyword Cannibalization


Keyword cannibalization can happen when multiple pages or posts on a website go after the exact keywords and compete. This can be a big issue because it usually hurts how well the website shows up in search results naturally. For instance, imagine you have a website all about web development. If you have more than one page talking about “best web developing companies,” you might get more visitors and rank better by combining those pages into one detailed page. 

Having multiple pages is like stealing from your website. Picture when you have two almost identical things, like two-holiday spots, two movies, or two delicious-sounding dishes at your go-to restaurant. You can’t focus on either completely.

You always feel like you’re missing out, even if you pick one. Another example is when a group of kids try to be the first in line, but someone else sneaks in front of them.


Why it isn’t good

Imagine we have two pages trying to attract attention using the same keyword. One is doing well and ranks at #1, but the other page, which we want to do well, is not showing up anywhere. This situation is like a classic case of keyword cannibalization. It seems like one page is eating up the traffic that the other page should be getting.


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Example: picture that you run a blog about healthy eating called

“HealthyEats.Com,” and you want to check for issues with plant-based recipes. Search for “HealthyEats.Com, plant-based recipes,” and similar variations. You’ll see a list of results. If they are not what you want, and there’s an old blog post about plant-based recipes from two years ago ranking higher than your recent and more important one, then that’s a keyword problem.

Keyword cannibalization is terrible. It’s important to know that a real cannibalization problem happens when different pages are all trying to focus on the same keyword, which harms how well the website shows up in search results naturally.

Why it’s essential to find and fix keyword cannibalization problems

The reason is straightforward. When you have several pages competing for the same keyword, you’re probably missing out on a lot of potential traffic. Instead, your pages end up competing against each other.

Which websites suffer most from keyword cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization can impact any website, but specific sites, like e-commerce or news websites, are especially vulnerable. These websites often have multiple pages going after the exact keywords, especially if they offer the same products or cover the same subjects.

Growing websites can also face this issue. As new content gets added, ensuring each page focuses on unique keywords becomes trickier. Unintentional cannibalization can occur if there’s a lack of communication among content creators or no clear plan for targeting specific keywords.

How to find keyword cannibalization issues

If you’re trying to determine if your website has some keyword confusion, there are some simple questions to consider. One big question is:

Do we feel like our website isn’t doing as well as we want it to in terms of SEO?

It’s a tricky question because many people who work on SEO think their website should be ranked higher. But let’s dig a bit deeper. Are there times when we do well with just one page using similar words, and when we add a second page, things seem to go downhill? If we notice things happening like that, it’s not super clear, but it might make us start thinking something’s not quite right.

Do both competing pages show up?

Similarly, when we check out examples of similar keywords that are pretty clear in what they mean, for example, comparing the search results for “best burgers” and “buy burgers,” if these two keywords give us completely different results, then we might think, “Alright, we need separate pages for these, and we just have to make sure they’re different.”

But if the same pages pop up for all those keywords, we might think about just having one page because it seems that’s what Google prefers. It’s not separating these intentions. So, it’s not super clear, but it’s like a little clue we can look for.

Combine or Make it Different?

After deciding whether to stick with one page or have two, we must bring things together or make them distinct. Let’s think there should be just one page. We might take our two pages, put together the best content, choose the most vital URL with the most backlinks and history, and then redirect the other URL to this combined page that has the best content, serving the slight difference in what we now know is one purpose and so on.

If we want two pages, we don’t want them to compete with each other. So, we need to make sure they’re very clearly different. Sometimes, a commercial page, like a “Buy Burgers” page, might have some extra text at the bottom about burgers for SEO reasons, confusing its primary purpose.

Similarly, we might have added products on another page or made it look more commercial. If we’re going to keep both, we have to ensure they very clearly cater to separate purposes and don’t have the same info and keywords, for the most part, and so on.


Best keyword cannibalization tools for mastering SEO efficiency

Google Search Console (GSC)

There are lots of tools to help you find keyword cannibalization issues. One helpful tool is Google Search Console (GSC), which gets data directly from Google. To spot cannibalization, use the Performance report in GSC. Check the top queries to see if more than one page ranks for the same term. If yes, then that’s a cannibalization problem.

It might not be a big issue if the other pages have only a few views. But if, for example, you have two pages on Page 2 of search results for one keyword, consider fixing it. Remove one page and redirect the URL to the other to boost it to Page 1.

Always double-check GSC data with actual search results. GSC might show problems that are already fixed. Also, explore the Coverage report in GSC, specifically the ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ section. It reveals pages Google crawled but doesn’t want to index. Look for pages on similar topics, as they could cause cannibalization.


  • It’s free.
  • You get data directly from Google.


  • It requires much manual work, so be prepared to spend much of your time.
  • GSC hides some queries you rank for, meaning you might miss some keyword rankings.



Another helpful tool is called SEOTesting. SEOTesting’s report makes it faster to use Google Search Console info. It shows which queries have multiple pages ranking, saving you from checking each one manually. You can export the report to Excel or Google Sheets.

The good thing about SEOTesting is that you can test if the changes you made to the pages increased clicks, impressions, and rankings. It helps you know if your efforts to fix keyword cannibalization worked.


  • It uses the same data as Google Search Console (GSC)
  • The report is much faster and makes it easy to find cannibalization.


  • It’s not free, so you do have to pay for a subscription to run the cannibalization report.


Keyword cannibalization solutions that are NOT recommended

Many people try to fix keyword cannibalization with sensible ideas that don’t work well in reality. Let’s take a closer look at these so you can avoid them.

Getting rid of the page

Deleting the page is not usually a smart move unless the page doesn’t bring any value to your business or only ranks for the keyword, causing cannibalization. These situations are not common, so deleting the page is not something you should do often when dealing with keyword cannibalization.

Canonicalizing the page

Choosing one page as the main one is only a good idea when dealing with similar or similar pages, which is called duplicate content. However, it’s not a solution for fixing keyword cannibalization. 

Making the page less optimized

In theory, making a page less optimized might seem logical, but it doesn’t work well because you can’t just make a page less optimized for one keyword. It doesn’t happen like that. For example, removing all the links inside the page with the keyword causing the cannibalization will likely also impact how well the page ranks for other keywords. The same goes for taking out any mentions of the keyword causing the issue.

Creating webpage content with keywords

Once you have a list of keywords, it is time to start writing the webpage structure and its content. But be careful. If you try to use a keyword in a sentence as often as possible, your web page could be tagged as spammy. Search engines could ignore your web page because you were keyword stuffing. Also referred to as stuffing, keyword stuffing merely means taking many keywords and shoving them on a webpage to be ranked higher in a search engine query.

This was a widespread practice when the web first appeared, but it has been frowned upon. The best way to avoid this is to write the content out naturally, putting the keywords in when needed. By the end, you should have decent SEO content on a webpage.

Negative Keywords

Wordstream provides a simple and easy layout for adding negative keywords to Google Ads. You can add a negative keyword if there is a word in a search that you don’t want an ad to show for. Essentially, a negative keyword will do the exact opposite of a keyword and hide our ad. For example, using the above scenario, you could have added “dance” to the negative keywords for that campaign. Then people that searched “new dance club Washington” wouldn’t see your ad for golf clubs. You could also use this approach for locations, an example being that “Florida” is negative, so search traffic about Florida will not see information from Washington. All that must be done is to navigate to the proper campaign and ad group (shown right) and then enter negative keywords.

Your website’s reach will be significantly furthered by properly incorporating negative keywords, paid-to-advertise, and well-written content paired with the invaluable ability to filter unwanted traffic. Your website will be ready to attract the attention of anyone looking for your product or service.

Keyword cannibalization solutions for best SEO efficiency

Here are three possible solutions to fix keyword cannibalization.

Start organizing your website.

One straightforward way is to transform your main authoritative page into a landing page. For instance, if you focus on shoes, make “shoes” the main page and link to other specific variations. This helps simplify your content.

Make New Landing Pages

If you don’t already have a landing page that brings together all your product pages, then you should be creating one. This new page becomes your primary source, linking to all your product variations. For example, you could have a page for “hiking shoes” and another for “sneakers for men.” This strategy helps you target general keywords with your main pages and more specific ones with your variations.

Combine your content

If your pages are too similar to have multiple pages about the same thing, consider putting them together into one. This is a chance to make two not-so-great pages into a more robust and more trusted source. First, look at your website data to determine which page is doing better regarding how many people visit, how long they stay, and if they do what you want them to do.

Maybe one page gets more visitors, and the other makes people do what you want. If that’s the case, combine the content that makes people do what you want onto the page that more people visit. This keeps its ranking and gets more people to do what you want. Plus, it helps avoid getting in trouble with Google for having not-so-great or similar content.


Keyword cannibalization is common, especially for website owners who know little about SEO. They want to improve their site, but sometimes they don’t quite understand how Google works.

The good news is that if your website has this problem with its main words, you can quickly fix it. You can make your SEO efficient with the right tools and a positive attitude.

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