Keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization occurs when several pages of a website compete in the search engines for the same keyword or keyword phrase.

Instead of strengthening the authority and relevance of a single page, the strength is spread across several pages. This situation leads to these pages “cannibalizing” each other’s rankings and visibility in the search results.

Effects of keyword cannibalization

The effects of keyword cannibalization on a website can be far-reaching, from declining rankings to reduced visibility in search results. Here are the main effects:

Negative effects on search engine rankings

Keyword cannibalization can lead to a direct deterioration of a website’s position in the search results. When search engines identify multiple pages from the same domain for a keyword, this can lead to uncertainty about which page best matches the search queries, often resulting in lower rankings for all pages involved.

Confusion for search engines and users

  • Search engines: They may have trouble selecting the most relevant page for a particular query, which can result in none of the pages ranking as high as they could.
  • Users: Could be directed to less relevant pages, affecting the user experience and potentially leading to higher bounce rates.

Reduced visibility in the search results

The presence of a website in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) can be affected by keyword cannibalization. Pages that share the ranking often have a lower visibility than a single, highly optimized page.

Table 1: Effects of keyword cannibalization

Effect Description
Deteriorated rankings Rankings can fall as authority is spread over several pages.
Confusion with search engines Difficulties in selecting the most relevant page for search queries.
Impaired user experience Users might not find the information they are looking for.
Reduced visibility Overall visibility in search results may decrease.

Causes of keyword cannibalization

To effectively address keyword cannibalization, it’s important to understand the root causes. These can range from technical problems to strategic errors. Here are the most common reasons why keyword cannibalization occurs:

Multiple page optimization for the same keyword

One of the most common causes of keyword cannibalization is the on-page optimization of several pages for the same keyword or very similar keywords. This often happens unintentionally when content is created without a clear SEO strategy.

Unclear internal linking

Internal links that are not clearly defined can lead to keyword cannibalization. If several pages are linked internally with the same anchor texts, this can confuse search engines and signal to them that several pages are relevant for the same topic.

Similar content on different pages

If different pages of a website have very similar or duplicate content, this can also lead to keyword cannibalization. Search engines may have difficulty identifying the unique value proposition of each page.

List of the most common causes of keyword cannibalization:

  • Non-strategic content creation: Creating content without considering SEO goals or strategies.
  • Duplicates or similar content: Presence of content that overlaps in topic and focus without clear differentiation.
  • Incorrect internal linking practice: Unclear or contradictory signals from internal links that can confuse search engines.
  • Lack of page focus: Lack of clear, thematically focused pages that concentrate on specific keywords.

Now that we’ve looked at the causes, it makes sense to look at how to identify keyword cannibalization.

Identification of keyword cannibalization

Identifying keyword cannibalization is the first step to solving the problem. There are several methods and tools that can help determine whether a website is affected by this phenomenon.

Use of SEO tools for analysis

SEO tools such as Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMrush or Moz offer extensive functions for analyzing keywords and their performance. By monitoring the rankings for specific keywords, it is then possible to recognize whether several pages rank for the same search queries and how their positions change over time.

Checking the internal linking

A detailed review of the internal linking structure can be informative. Website crawling tools, such as Screaming Frog or Sitebulb, make it possible to see how pages are linked together and whether certain anchor texts are overused, which could indicate potential cannibalization.

Search engine analysis for duplicate content

A simple search in search engines with the site query (e.g. keyword) can show whether several pages of a website are competing with the same keyword. This method provides a quick overview of how pages are positioned for certain search queries.

Steps to identify keyword cannibalization:

  1. Use SEO tools: Analyze keyword rankings and page performance.
  2. Check internal links: Identify excessive links with the same anchor texts.
  3. Use search engines: Run site queries to see which pages rank for the same keywords.
  4. Content analysis: Compare content for similarities or duplicates that could lead to cannibalization.

With an understanding of how to identify keyword cannibalization, we can now move on to the solutions to fix the problem.

Solutions for keyword cannibalization

Once keyword cannibalization has been identified, the next step is to implement strategies to fix and optimize website structure and content. Here are some effective solutions:

Consolidation of content

When multiple pages compete for the same keyword and offer similar content, consolidating these pages into a single, comprehensive resource can be the solution. This strengthens the authority of the remaining page and improves the user experience.

Adjustment of the internal linking

Review and optimize the internal linking structure to ensure that it sends a clear signal to search engines as to which page should be prioritized for certain keywords. Instead of linking to several pages with the same anchor texts, concentrate the linking on the most relevant page.

Realignment of the keywords

Another strategy is to rethink the keyword assignment for affected pages. By refocusing pages on different but related keywords or keyword phrases, competition between pages can be reduced and visibility for a wider range of search queries can be increased.


Solution approach Description
Consolidation of content Merge similar content into one comprehensive page to increase authority and relevance.
Adjustment of the internal linking Optimization of the linking structure to send clear signals to search engines.
Realignment of the keywords Assignment of new, specific keywords to pages to avoid direct competition.



Keyword cannibalization can affect the SEO performance and user experience of a website. By understanding the causes, identifying affected areas and implementing effective solution strategies, the visibility and rankings of pages can be improved. Continuous monitoring and adjustment of the keyword strategy and internal links are crucial to avoid keyword cannibalization and build a strong online presence.

Important points on keyword cannibalization:

  • Understand what keyword cannibalization is and why it is a problem.
  • Recognize the effects and causes of keyword cannibalization.
  • Implementation of solutions and best practices for elimination and prevention.

With this information and strategies, you are well positioned to protect your website from the negative effects of keyword cannibalization and optimize its SEO performance.