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Keywords cannibalization

This explosive and picturesque name describes a situation where several different pages on the site are rank for the same keyword in the search engine, or worse – a page that they did not intend to display for a particular query is shown, even though they intended another page to be ranked on the same keyword. This is usually a situation we want to avoid. In an ideal world, every keyword should direct the user to a single page on our site. So, what are the problems with keyword cannibalization, and how exactly to fix it? All in the following article. Example of cannibalization:

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5 problems that can result from keyword cannibalization

Less clicks

At the end of the day, what interests us when it comes to ranking our site in search engines is the number of clicks (CTR). This is because the CTR actually represents the number of user’s visits on our website. In the case of keyword cannibalization, the CTR of the website we manage is likely to be significantly smaller.


Less conversions

This is a direct result of the previous section. When there are fewer clicks, there are fewer conversions. Conversions are the beating heart of the business. Without conversions, we will not be able to promote the user down the marketing funnel and achieve the business results we would like to achieve.


Infringement of authority

When a site displays a number of different results for a keyword, it is a violation of the website’s authority. This display configuration can be interpreted as a search engine indecision about the match of the website to the user’s query.


Ratings damage

The common assumption is that when Google debates which pages on a particular site should be displayed for a user query, it will not rush to rank those pages in high places for the same keywords.


Optimization efforts damage

Many of the efforts put into SEO are centeres on the page optimization process. At a situation where multiple pages are ranked for a single keyword, optimization becomes more difficult and complicated. In this situation, we will have to invest more resources to prioritize one page over the other for showing in the search engines.


3 possible reasons for keyword cannibalization

There are quite a few reasons that can prevent a search engine from displaying different pages in the search results for the same keyword. Here are some of the reasons:

External links pointing to the wrong page

If the page you don’t really want to rank for a particular keyword is given authoritative and relevant external links for a particular keyword phrase, then those irrelevant pages may start to rank for that word.


Internal links pointing to the wrong page

Incorrect internal links work can also create keyword cannibalization. In a situation where internal content has been built up for years on the site that directs the user to different pages for the same subject, such a problem can arise.


Different levels of optimization

If, for example, the page that is not really supposed to be ranked for the key phrases contains better and more successful titles and descriptions, the zipped images and ALT tags well explain what the user will find on the page, and on the other hand at a page that supposed to be ranked, it can make cannibalizing of the specific keyword.


4 possible solutions

It is possible, and even desirable, to resolve the issue of displaying different pages on the website for the same search phrase. Here are some of the actions you can and should do:


External links

Direct external links with the relevant anchor text to the page you want to rank. Also make sure you follow all the rules for managing a high-quality external link profile, in particular: Ensure a high-quality anchor profile, integrate an authoritative and relevant source for the resulting links, build the link profile with the appropriate niche frequency, and more.


Internal links

Review and fix the relevant internal links on the website. Direct these links to the relevant page that you want to promote for the specific key phrase, you can use the Broken Links plugin and save a lot of time.



Optimize content on the page you want to promote. At the same time, de-optimize (i.e., lower the optimization level) the page that you don’t want to promote for the relevant key phrase.



Enrich the page on the website that you want to rank high for the search phrase in relevant content. Create meaningful, high-volume texts, add photos and videos and update the information on the page regularly.


4 more solutions in case the above 4 solutions did not help

Okay, there’s no point in be stressed. There are a few more tools in our arsenal. Here are some of them:

Removes the indexed page from the index

You can request to remove a rogue page that is nicely ranked for a key phrase, that is not directed for the page, from Google’s index using the following link. If this request is made, you will not continue to suffer from the problem that is so troubling to you: cannibalization of this key phrase.


Change the rogue page’s URL

If you change the rogue page’s URL without referencing, it will signal to Google over time that this page in its current index is no longer relevant to the user.


A standard redirect in the outgoing link from text

Yes, it’s that simple. Include a textual link to the relevant page on the rogue page and ask the users to move to it. Over time, Google may also understand which of the two pages is more relevant to the key phrases of the user’s query.


301 redirect

Redirects the users from the rogue page to the relevant page with 301 redirect will help you achieve your goal: directing all surfers to the page that is relevant to them, though it will in fact eliminate the existence of the rogue page (which you may need for other purposes). Therefore, you should use this option as a last resort.


In conclusion

Keyword cannibalization is an undesirable feature that has implications of rankings, number of website visitors, website authority, conversion rate, and ability to optimize the website. Such cannibalization occurs due to a number of factors, including external and internal links, improper site optimization, and various technical issues. There are a number of ways to overcome this problem, some of which come with a price tag: optimizing your website’s pages, removing them from the index, or bypassing them.

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Asael Dreyer
Asael Dreyer

CEO of a SEO and affiliation company with approximately 125 employees and hundreds of clients worldwide, founder of Digipharm - an online store for ordering content and backlinks for SEO professionals, leads the largest group of SEO professionals in Israel on Facebook and WhatsApp.

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