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The best tool to fix keyword cannibalization

Learn what keyword cannibalization is, how to detect it, and how Entail's keyword cannibalization tool can help you solve it.

Tom Amitay - Organic marketing & SEO expert
By Tom Amitay
Romi Hector
Edited by Romi Hector
Mari Jordaan
Fact-check by Mari Jordaan

Updated July 2, 2024.

Having multiple pages rank for the same keyword might seem like a win. But unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While there are exceptions, targeting the same set of keywords across multiple pages can lead to keyword cannibalization, which can hurt your website’s rankings and decrease traffic.

Let’s explore keyword cannibalization, why it’s bad for SEO, and what makes Entail’s keyword cannibalization tool the best solution to fix and prevent it.

Key takeaways

  • Keyword cannibalization happens when multiple pages compete for the same set of keywords.
  • Keyword cannibalization can negatively affect your website ranking and traffic.
  • Identifying keyword cannibalization is difficult because a website may rank for millions of keywords, a lot of which have overlapping intent. 
  • Entail’s keyword cannibalization tool can help you solve and identify keyword cannibalization across your entire website.

What is keyword cannibalization? 

Keyword cannibalization is when multiple pages on a website compete against each other because they target the same keyword or group of keywords with the same intent. 

There are a few ways keyword cannibalization may occur. Let’s use the keyword “SEO site audit” to illustrate each:

  1. Creating a page on “What is a site audit?”, another on “Why do you need a site audit?”, and another on “How to run a site audit”

  2. Unknowingly creating another page on “How to run a site audit” despite already publishing one before

  3. Having multiple pages with sections that target the same topic (e.g., “how to check meta tags”)

Each of these pages could rank for “SEO site audit” and other very similar keywords.

Why is keyword cannibalization bad for SEO?

Keyword cannibalization isn’t always a bad thing, but Google’s algorithm doesn’t reward websites that target the same keywords in different ways. It needs to understand which piece of content addresses the target query best. 

If the answer to a specific query is divided between multiple pages, it dilutes the page’s authority or relevance. Additionally, if a competitor covers all the topics that would satisfy the search intent on one page, it would outrank you.

» Stop cannibalization in its tracks with Entail’s keyword cannibalization tool.

Multiple pages targeting the same keywords isn’t always cannibalization

SEOs are often obsessed with having only one page rank for a specific keyword, but that’s very rarely the case. You can target the same keywords on multiple pages without it being cannibalization if the search query has more than one meaning or intent.

For example, if someone searches “New York,” they may be looking for a map, news, activities, restaurants, etc. So, if you can build two or more pages that answer a different aspect of a broad query, you can target the same keyword.

Here’s an example of what this may look like from a website with six pages ranking for “variant inventory policy Shopify.”

Screenshot from Google Search Console showing a case that is not keyword cannibalization

This is not keyword cannibalization because one post ranks much higher. The rest of them are ranking in lower positions, getting fewer impressions and no clicks. 

These pages aren’t really competing for the same keyword based on the results on Google. In fact, this tells you that the lower-ranking pages should link to the main one using this keyword or variations of it as anchor text to give it more authority.

How to find keyword cannibalization 

There are many ways to address keyword cannibalization, but the most difficult part is identifying it on websites with multiple pages that rank for thousands of keywords each. Some of our clients’ pages even rank for over a million keywords. Managing all these pages and effectively targeting so many keywords is a significant challenge. 

Although almost all of them are complicated, there are various techniques to analyze keyword cannibalization. You can do it manually or use tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, and SEMrush, but I find this to be very inaccurate and inefficient.

Besides Entails keyword cannibalization checker tool, I haven’t seen any solution that properly deals with keyword cannibalization. Let me show you how it works.

Identify cannibalization with Entail’s keyword cannibalization tool

Entail’s keyword cannibalization tool maps all the topics that your website may rank for. In this example, it mapped about 47k topics that are relevant to this website.

Screenshot of Entail's keyword cannibalization tool

We focus on topics instead of individual keywords, so you can check which keywords every topic ranks for. For example, the topic “what is SSL pending” is built from all these keywords with the same intent. 

Entail's cannibalization tool showing relevant keywords for a topic

We can also see 25 keywords with the same intent and all the posts ranking for them. There are also eight posts ranking on the first SERP. This is cannibalization.

Entail's keyword cannibalization tool showing pages that rank for a topic

Entail’s keyword cannibalization checker tool can show you what’s not cannibalization, too. Let’s look at an example.

Here, you have five posts ranking for the topic “Google merchant vs. Google my business,” but only one is predominantly ranking for this keyword. The rest aren’t getting much traffic and impressions. As I mentioned previously, these factors indicate this isn't cannibalization.

Entail's keyword cannibalization tool indicating a case that is not cannibalization

Our tool allows you to see each topic, which pages are ranking for it, and whether there’s cannibalization. No need to go on Google Search Console and check every keyword for each page to find a needle in a haystack.

How to fix keyword cannibalization

In general, fixing cannibalization means ensuring that your pages offer a complete answer to the main search query. However, if you’re looking for a more specific solution, there are a few strategies you could use depending on the type of cannibalization you’re dealing with.

301 redirects

If you have multiple pages targeting the same topic and search intent, you should merge them. Choose the most important page, move any relevant content to it, and delete the others. Then, add a 301 redirect to each deleted page, sending both users and Google to the main page. This also transfers the authority of the deleted pages to the main one.

Moving or deleting overlapping content

It can happen that two pages compete for the same keywords but also rank for different ones. If you want to maintain those rankings, you should remove the competing content from one of the pages. You can either delete the overlapping content from the second page or add it to the first page. 

By doing so, the first page is the only one targeting the topic, while the second page continues to target the others. That way, you won’t need to delete pages or implement redirects.

Canonical and noindex tags 

If you have multiple pages targeting the same topics but need to keep all of them, you can use canonical or noindex tags.

First, determine the most important page. Then, block the less critical ones from being indexed by adding a noindex tag or removing them from the robots.txt file. Alternatively, you could use a canonical tag, which signals to Google that while the content is necessary on your site, it should refer to the main page for this topic.

» Discover proven techniques to solve “crawled - currently not indexed.”

Linking to the main page

If you have two different pages that rank for many keywords, but approximately 10% of them overlap, you might be facing a mild case of keyword cannibalization. In this case, you should decide which page you want to prioritize.

Instead of removing content from the secondary page, link from this page to the primary one. Use the overlapping keyword as the anchor text to indicate that while the topic is mentioned on the secondary page, the primary page is the main source for this specific content.

» Improve internal linking with our guide.

Create a new page

In another scenario, you might have multiple pages that rank for the same keywords but don’t rank highly or accurately target those keywords. If this happens, you can create a new page specifically aimed at these keywords. Then, link to this new page from all other pages that rank lower.

How to prevent keyword cannibalization

Preventing keyword cannibalization can be just as challenging as identifying it. You need to make sure that you’re not selecting topics that you already rank for. This is nearly impossible without a solution like Entail’s keyword cannibalization tool, which maps the topics relevant to your website and shows which pages are ranking for specific keywords. It also indicates whether these topics are already generating traffic.

You can see all content targeting a specific topic and assess whether each post does so effectively. This allows you to check whether you’ve already covered a topic before creating new content, eliminating the need to individually check each keyword on Google Search Console or do a SERP analysis.

» Need help fixing content cannibalization? Talk to an expert.

Solve keyword cannibalization once and for all

Keyword cannibalization is a common challenge that most of our clients encounter. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, fixing keyword cannibalization can be straightforward and manageable. Identifying overlaps early and applying the recommended strategies can simplify the process. Of course, it’s even simpler if you’re able to manage it with the right tool.