Are you suffering from keyword cannibalization?

Keyword Cannibalization

Danger, Will Robinson (a gratuitous Lost in Space quote).  If you are using the same keywords repeatedly for your SEO keyphrase and tags, you are likely suffering from keyword cannibalization.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is what happens when multiple pages on a website use the same keyword.  One keyword on several pages cannibalizes your search results and lowers your rankings.  You are confusing the search engines, hurting their ability to identify which page is most relevant to a given search.  You get penalized as a result.

When you have multiple pages with the same keyword, it hurts your click-through rate and authority, and it wastes your crawl budge.  It causes search engines to either rank fewer of your pages or lower the ranking of your pages.  In effect, you’re competing against yourself – your posts or pages are fighting for search engine ranking priority.  This can occur even if your keywords are not identical, but similar.

How do you find if you are suffering from keyword cannibalization?

This is the easy part – go to a search engine and check your site and a keyword.  For example, you can google your site plus a keyword.  Here’s what it would look like for this website: keyword

How to cure keyword cannibalization

The place to start for curing keyword cannibalization is your internal link structure.  Your internal link structure will help search engines crawl your site and find pages with similar content.  The following image can help you visualize this.

Pyramid Link Structure

Start at the top with your home page. This may not be where everyone starts, but it should offer easy navigation to places that you want your audience to go. It will also tell search engines what’s important on your site.

Navigation tools include a menu, breadcrumb trails, categories (you can see my categories in the right sidebar), taxonomies, and tags. You’ll notice that I have more than two categories listed in the right sidebar. I also have more than 400 posts on this website. If you’re starting out, begin with just two categories. You can expand this as your content grows.

Next, connect your content by linking posts with related content. Helping search engines see the connections between your content will help them rank your pages higher. Create anchor texts, clickable links that take readers to related content. Here’s what this looks like:

Anchor Texts

Don’t overdo this! Keyword stuffing is a no-no and search engines will penalize your site if you do it.

Consolidate. If you have several posts on the same topic, consider combining them into one, longer post. Google loves longer posts, you’ll eliminate your cannibalization issues, and you’ll help your audience get the best content from you in one place. Look for duplicate or similar content and combine or eliminate it.

Find new keywords. Instead of using the same keywords over and over again, find new high-performing keywords that accurately describe your content. Highly relevant and high-performing keywords will boost your SEO while helping searchers find what they’re looking for on your site. Next week, I’ll do an entire post on keyword strategy.

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