Keyword cannibalization happens when several pages on your website compete for the same keyword or phrase in Google. Here’s how to find and fix it. There’s a common misconception that the more pages you have targeting a keyword, the better you’ll rank for that keyword. In fact, targeting a specific term across multiple pages almost always has the exact opposite effect. You’ll probably end up doing more harm than good to your Search Engine Optimization. The reason is simple: when you have multiple pages ranking for the same keyword, you’re actually competing with yourself. This SEO misstep is called keyword cannibalization.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is so called because you’re “cannibalizing” your own results – you’re splitting CTR, links, content, and (often) conversions between two pages that should be one. When you do this, you aren’t showing Google the breadth or depth of your knowledge, and you aren’t improving the authority of your site for that query.

Instead, you’re asking Google to weigh your pages against each other and choose which ones it thinks suits the matching keywords best. For example, if your website sells shoes, and “shoes” is the only keyword you target, you’re essentially telling Google that every page is about “shoes” regardless of whether they’re hiking shoes, tennis shoes, sneakers, etc.

Below are the negative effects of keyword cannibalization.

Diminished Page Authority

Instead of having one highly authoritative page, you’re splitting your CTR to multiple moderately relevant pages. Essentially, you’ve turned your pages into competitors and now you’re fighting for pageviews and SERP ranks.

Diluted Links and Anchor Texts

Backlinks that could have gone to one consolidated source of information are now being split between two (or more) pages. Similarly, your anchor text and internal links are leading visitors to multiple different pages instead of one authoritative page on the subject.

Devalued Relevant Pages

Keywords are one of the main ways in which we help Google understand what our pages are about. If all of your keywords are the same, Google tries to understand which page is the best fit – and if your content is too similar, it might get it wrong.

Squandered Crawl Budgets

Your crawl budget is the number of times a search engine spider crawls your website in a given time period. Automate winning Google, Facebook and Microsoft ads strategies. Having multiple pages devoted to the same keyword results in the crawling and indexing of pages that aren’t needed.

Poor Page Quality Reputation

Multiple pages targeting the same keyword tells your users that your content is probably stretched thin, and it also signals Google that your content may not match your keywords on each page.

Low Conversion Rates

Inevitably one of your pages will convert better than the rest. Instead of directing new visitors to that page, and making it the most authoritative page possible, you’re instead losing potential leads when they land on less relevant pages.