How to Fix Keyword Cannibalisation for SEO

Keyword cannibalisation in SEO can be a perplexing issue for website owners and content creators. It occurs when multiple pages on a site compete for the same keywords or search terms, potentially harming the site’s SEO performance. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical ways to address keyword cannibalisation, using real-world examples to guide you through the process.

Understanding Keyword Cannibalisation

Before delving into solutions, it’s essential to understand what keyword cannibalisation is. Simply put, it occurs when multiple pages on your website target the same or very similar keywords, leading to confusion for search engines. This can result in lower rankings, as search engines struggle to determine which page is most relevant for a given query.

Example 1: Consolidating Similar Content

Scenario: You are a recruitment agency, and have a page or post giving information on ‘Head of Marketing Salaries’ and another on ‘Head of Marketing Salaries London’.

Solution: Consolidate these two pages. Begin with general information about Head of Marketing salaries and then delve into regional differences, like salaries in London. This approach not only streamlines your content but also provides a comprehensive resource for readers, enhancing user experience and SEO.

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Example 2: Distinguishing Between Similar Topics

Scenario: You are an architecture firm in Wimbledon, London, and your website has several project pages showcasing your work in the Wimbledon area, and also a page talking about the architectural services you offer to homeowners in Wimbledon, and both types pages rank at various times for the same keywords.

Solution: It’s crucial to differentiate these pages clearly:

  1. For the overview of your services page, ensure it gives a holistic overview of your architect services to Wimbledon, and optimise it for general keywords like ‘architects Wimbledon’. By all means, refer to local projects you have done in the Wimbledon area, but don’t give full details on this page – instead, link to the relevant projects, making sure the anchor-text used on those links clearly tells both humans and search engines that the project pages are just that – specific projects.

  2. Then on the project pages, select longer-tail keywords that are relevant to each project, such as ‘kitchen extension architect Wimbledon’ or ‘heritage architect wimbledon’, etc, and ensure every project refers back to the main ‘wimbledon architect’ page with appropriate anchor text such as ‘View a full overview of our wimbledon architecture services’ or just ‘Wimbledon architects’ – this will instruct the search engines that the service overview page is the central ‘pillar page’ to rank for short-tail searches, supported by the surrounding project pages that are more specific.

Addressing Temporary Ranking Fluctuations

Occasionally, you might notice that the correct page for a keyword temporarily drops in rankings, with another less relevant page appearing instead. This can happen due to various reasons, such as Google glitches or server issues during crawling. If this fluctuation is brief, it’s usually not a cause for concern. However, if it’s a recurring issue or the page doesn’t reappear in rankings, further investigation is needed.

The Unpredictability of Content Consolidation

It’s important to note that consolidating content can have unpredictable effects on SEO. Sometimes it improves rankings, and other times it might not. The best approach is to perform A/B testing: carefully monitor the results after making changes and be prepared to revert or try different strategies if the outcome is not as expected. Allow at least four weeks for results to stabilise before drawing conclusions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Identify and Understand Cannibalisation: Use SEO tools to spot pages competing for the same keywords.

  2. Consolidate Similar Content: Merge closely related content into a comprehensive resource.

  3. Distinguish Between Topics: Clearly differentiate pages that cover similar areas but serve different purposes.

  4. Monitor and Adapt: Keep an eye on how changes affect your SEO and be ready to adjust your strategy.

In conclusion, fixing keyword cannibalisation requires a blend of strategic content consolidation, clear differentiation between topics, and continuous monitoring. By following these steps and adapting based on performance, you can enhance your site’s SEO and ensure that each page effectively targets the right audience. Remember, SEO is an ever-evolving field, and staying flexible in your approach is key to success.

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