June 27, 2024

What Causes Keyword Cannibalisation?

When writing content for a website, the standard practice is to include various keywords throughout. This allows web pages to be ranked by Google for relevant search queries. Therefore, developing an effective keyword strategy is vital for a successful SEO campaign. One thing you’ll notice with your keyword performance is that keyword cannibalisation may happen. This is a fairly common phenomenon in SEO, but what causes keyword cannibalisation? How can it be fixed and/or avoided?

Keyword cannibalisation is caused by two or more pages from the same website using the same keyword and serving the same purpose. When two or more pages with the same search intent and keywords are published to a domain, Google can no longer accurately determine which page is the most relevant for a search query, and so the pages can have a detrimental effect on each others’ ranking.

Find out more about keyword cannibalisation and its causes below, including a guide with instructions on steps to take for identifying keyword cannibalisation.

What Is Keyword Cannibalisation In SEO?

Any good SEO campaign integrates a powerful keyword strategy, designed to accurately target a wide variety of keywords that can successfully draw users to the website. However, it is not as simple as adding the keywords to all pages and hoping for the best. Keywords must be placed strategically so as to achieve the best possible ranking for the website. This means carefully considering search intent, as well as avoiding keyword cannibalisation. SEO professionals are often tasked with identifying keyword cannibalisation and rectifying any occurrences. 

Keyword cannibalisation describes when webpages’ rankings are harmed due to the fact that the same keyword is used on multiple pages that serve the same purpose. Google is unable to determine which page is the most relevant result for associated queries, and you essentially end up competing with yourself for rankings. Not only does this negatively impact page rankings, backlinks become diluted over several posts instead of one, meaning that both pages will likely rank lower.

Find out more about developing a successful keyword strategy by reading our detailed blog on Keyword Best Practices.

Why Does Keyword Cannibalisation Occur?

Keyword cannibalisation ultimately occurs due to the way that Google crawls, indexes and ranks websites. When you write content that contains the same keywords and has the same search intent as other pages on the same domain, Google is unable to determine which result should rank highest for a certain query. This can happen when:

A common belief in SEO is that keyword cannibalisation exclusively occurs due to the same keyword being on multiple pages. However, you can use the same keyword on multiple pages, as long as the purpose of the pages is different. For example, using the same keyword on a blog article and a product category page will not always result in keyword cannibalisation. In fact, using this keyword strategy could help your website to achieve higher rankings and improve on-site experience for users by catering for multiple search intents using the same keyword. It is up to you to show Google that you are conscious of a user’s search intent and, by offering multiple resources to cater for these intents, your website can be rewarded with higher rankings.

Branded Keywords

As a rule of thumb, branded keywords are less of a concern when it comes to keyword cannibalisation. It is common to achieve multiple high rankings for the same branded keyword, meaning that as long as you are serving the user’s search intent, you can use the same brand keyword on multiple pages. 

How Can I Detect Keyword Cannibalisation?

There are a number of ways to analyse your website’s top keywords and detect whether or not cannibalisation is occurring, which will help you to focus your efforts on rectifying any instances. Find a guide to using these methods below:

Google Search Console

Below are the steps for using Google Search Console to detect keyword cannibalisation:

  1. Access your Google Search Console account.
  2. Select the property you wish to analyse.
  3. Click on ‘Search Results’ on the left menu bar, in the ‘Performance’ section.
  4. Scroll down to view the search queries that have gained your website clicks and impressions.
  5. Choose a keyword that you want to check. Clicking one of these terms will apply a ‘Query:’ filter.
  6. Select the ‘Pages’ tab, and manually review to see if multiple URLs are ranking for the same keyword.
  7. If there are multiple URLs gaining impressions and clicks for the same query, this could be an indication that keyword cannibalisation is occurring.

Manually

A more manual way of analysing what pages rank for certain keywords is to perform a site search. Simply:

  1. Enter ‘Site:[your domain] “Keyword”’ into Google, where “Keyword” is a term you wish to analyse for cannibalisation.
  2. This shows all the pages on your website that are ranking for that term.
  3. Manually inspect the results, and decide whether or not the pages displayed cater to the same search intent or not.

Find out more about crawling and indexing in Google’s in-depth guide.

How Do I Fix Keyword Cannibalisation?

Once you have detected keyword cannibalisation, the next logical step is to go about remedying it to ensure that it will not have a negative impact on your website. The most obvious solution is to simply decide which page should be the priority, make this clear to Google through optimisation to ensure that this page and only this page will rank for the relevant keyword. Other options include:

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalisation

To avoid keyword cannibalisation occuring in the first place, it will be important that you select keywords carefully, giving consideration to each term’s search intent. Then, once keywords are collected, consider creating a keyword mapping document that clearly outlines which URL is receiving each keyword. This should help to avoid the same keyword being used on multiple pages. 

Similarly, when producing content, it is vital to avoid producing and publishing content that cater to the same search intent. It’s also good practice at this stage to avoid using the same language and keywords on pages where cannibalisation could be a risk. This is just one reason why unique content is so important.

Contact Wildcat Digital for SEO Help

Our team of SEO professionals have extensive experience with developing an effective keyword strategy, and can provide the fix needed to remedy occurrences of keyword cannibalisation. Contact us today to find out more about our available resources, and give us a call to discuss your SEO requirements further.

Post by

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Will Hitchmough

Founder

Our founder, Will Hitchmough, worked at a number of high profile Sheffield Digital Agencies before founding Wildcat Digital in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of all things related to SEO, PPC and Paid Social, as well as an expert knowledge of digital strategy.

Digital Marketing can be a minefield for many businesses, with many agencies ready to take your money without knowing how to deliver results. I founded Wildcat Digital to deliver digital success to businesses with smaller budgets in a transparent way.

Chloe Robinson

Content Strategist Team Lead

With a degree in Marketing and a background in more traditional, offline marketing, Chloe joined Wildcat in 2021 after deciding to move into the digital marketing industry. She joined us as a Content Specialist and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a Content Strategist and later an SEO Team Leader.

Outside of work, Chloe is an avid creative. If she’s not knitting, you’ll likely find her behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen trying (and often failing!) to make sourdough.

Paul Pennington

SEO Account Director

Paul has a strong background in SEO, having previously founded and ran a successful eCommerce business, as well as running a personal blog that achieves an average of 17K users per month. Paul’s knowledge of SEO is extensive, with a strong emphasis on client handling and technical SEO.

Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and staying active with weight lifting and combat sports.

Nadea van der Merwe

Head of Operations

Nadea joined Wildcat in 2021 and has since overhauled the way we work. She has a background in various administrative, operations and HR roles, which gave her the experience and skills needed to lead and organise a growing business. 

Outside of work, Nadea loves anything that keeps her active, but she especially enjoys hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Molly Sturgeon

SEO Account Manager

With a background in sales, Molly is a natural Account Manager, brilliantly handling any issues that come her way. Having joined us as a Digital Marketing Executive, and working part-time through her final year of University, Molly is a shining example of how hard work pays off. She is now an SEO Account Manager with a particular interest in Content and Client Management. 

In her spare time, Molly loves to get out in nature, hiking and exploring the Peak District. She also loves cooking and likes to unwind with a bit of yoga.

Libby Oldale

Senior PPC Account Manager

Libby joined Wildcat in 2021 as our first PPC hire. With a degree in Digital Media Production, a Master’s in Digital Media Management and previous experience in Social Media Management, Libby hit the ground running and has since climbed the ranks to Senior PPC Account Manager and has a particular interest in the eCommerce sector.

Outside of work, Libby likes gaming, and cooking and likes to keep active by lifting weights.

Jasmine Savery

SEO Team Leader

Jasmine joined Wildcat in 2022 with a strong background in SEO and Account Management. At the time, she was finishing up a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has since worked her way up to SEO Team Leader. Jasmine excels at content writing and promotion, and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to join the dots on multi-channel campaigns.

In her spare time, Jasmine volunteers at a charity, helping combat loneliness & social isolation experienced by older neighbours. Outside of Wildcat, she owns a catering company, Savery Grazing, creating delicious grazing tables & platters for a range of events. She also loves skiing and exploring the Peak District.

Braden Godley

Senior PPC Executive

Prior to joining Wildcat, Braden founded and ran his own Social Media Management agency where he gained valuable skills in growing brands’ online presence, which has since proven invaluable in his role at Wildcat. 

Outside of work, Braden is a big football fan, regularly travelling to Pride Park to support Derby County. He also enjoys watching and playing snooker, hiking in the Peak District, and attending air and car shows.

Jon Herdman

Senior SEO Executive

After spending ten years managing businesses, restaurants, cafes and event spaces across Sheffield, Jon decided to change careers and joined Wildcat as an SEO Executive in 2022. He especially enjoys the client management side of the job, helping them to understand digital marketing and ways in which they can build their business’s presence online. 

Outside of work, Jon likes to keep fit with running, badminton and football, and also loves music. 

Rachel Davies

SEO Executive

Rachel joined us as a graduate, having recently graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in English Literature. Since joining, Rachel has proven herself to be a Content Queen, and particularly enjoys getting stuck into projects that allow her to explore her creative side. 

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including rugby, singing, reading, and spending time with her family and three labradors.

Carl Atterbury

PPC Team Leader

Carl joined Wildcat in 2023 with a wealth of experience in PPC. He has experience working with a wide range of clients, industries and budgets, from small local businesses all the way to international e-commerce businesses. Carl has a particular interest in strategic planning and forecasting. He is passionate about data analysis and creating sustainable long-term cross-channel strategies.

In his spare time, Carl enjoys keeping fit by lifting weights, bouldering and running. He’s also a keen musician, having played the double bass and bass guitar for 20 years.

Dariusz Baczyk

Team Lead & Technical SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Computer Science and SEO experience dating back to 2017, Dariusz has a wide range of SEO skills and knowledge. His specialist knowledge of Technical SEO has firmly landed him the title of Wildcat’s Technical Wizard, and he has recently taken on the responsibility of Team Leader for the Panthers Team.

In his spare time, Dariusz loves hiking, experimenting and trying new coffees and loves learning new things. He is currently learning more about CRO and AI and how this could benefit our clients.

Jamie Stowe

SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Film and TV production, and a varied career history, Jamie made the move to marketing with a Masters degree in Digital Media Management. He has since worked in SEO at Agencies across Sheffield, before joining Wildcat and working his way up to SEO Account Manager. Jamie has a particular interest in backlinks and Digital PR and has recently gained a client a valuable backlink from Forbes!

In his spare time, Jamie is an avid foodie and loves trying new restaurants and cuisines. He also loves to travel and spent a year travelling to Australia after university.

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Andy joined Wildcat in 2023 after starting his digital marketing career in-house for a local Sheffield company. Since joining, he has developed a strong interest in Technical SEO and has strong skills in Account Management. 

Outside of work, Andy loves music and plays in a couple of bands. He also enjoys rock climbing, cycling, photography and good food.

Siena Russell

Client Success Coordinator

Siena joined us in 2023 with a background in sales and digital marketing. She leads on client relationships across the company, ensuring that our customers are happy throughout their journey with us, from their initial consultation through to onboarding and beyond. 

Outside of work, Siena enjoys travelling and getting stuck into the local culture. She likes to make the most of her experiences and particularly enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations around the world.

Thea Chapman

Senior SEO Executive

Thea has a wealth of experience in SEO, having previously worked for other Digital Marketing Agencies in Sheffield. She has a particular interest and skills in Technical SEO, but is more than willing to get stuck in and give anything a go. 

Outside of work, Thea spends most of her time with her children, but also loves reading, photography and gardening. 

Tom Brookes

PPC Executive

Before joining Wildcat, Tom worked across different industries, building skills in sales and customer service. He later developed a passion for digital marketing whilst working on personal marketing projects and freelance ventures, and gained numerous certifications in PPC and Social Media. 

Outside of work, Tom enjoys staying active by going to the gym and hiking. He also loves travelling and motorbiking.

Rich Ayre

Head of Growth

Rich joined us in May 2024 to head up our growth team. With years of experience helping other agencies to grow, Rich joins us at an exciting time as Wildcat is working on a five-year plan to become one of the biggest agencies in the UK.

Outside of work, Rich is a father to three children, which keeps him very busy! He’s also recently started running again to keep fit and loves a bit of DIY.

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