It is common thinking among people that if multiple pages are ranked with one keyword, it will be better to rank on Google. This misconception will hurt your efforts instead of strengthening them. The end result of trying to rank with one keyword on multiple will be the opposite of what you may be expecting. Google ranks the pages on the basis of different parameters. Keywords are only one parameter. And using the same keyword for different pages will be like you are competing with yourself. So this negates the work done on all but one page that will rank higher. The other pages will have:
- Lower Authority
- Lower Conversion rate
- Low CTR
In technical terms, this is what we call Keyword Cannibalization.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Cannibalization fits well here. Because you are eating out your own work and negating the efforts put in to rank them. By using the same keyword, you are basically dividing the number of clicks that will land the visitors on a page. Where everything can be handled on one page, you are diverting the incoming traffic to different pages. To give you an example, assume that you have an eCommerce store that sells shoes. It is evident that you will be selling different types of shoes. Now, if you are using the same keyword “Shoes” for all the pages, Google won’t be able to send the relevant traffic to the right page. And out of all the pages having the same keyword, suppose that the one which has Formal Shoes is ranked the highest relatively. In that case, a person who wants to buy sports shoes will land on the shoes which have only formal shoes. The same goes for canvas shoes, sneakers, tennis shoes and what not. So, you are diverting all the traffic to one page, that does not even have the right product most of the time.
Negative Effects of Keyword Cannibalization that will severely hurt your SEO
Keyword Cannibalization is not something that you should ignore. Some may think that two of their pages are ranking consecutively on SERPs, say on 5th or 6th rank. But what they must understand by using one keyword for one page, it will increase their authority. Which then leads to better rankings and more conversions. The consequences of keyword cannibalization include: higher bounce rate, traffic is directed to wrong pages, fluctuating SERP rankings, and lower sales.
- Hurting the Page Authority
Where you must be building your page authority on the basis of one keyword, you have declared it an open fight among your pages. They are fighting with each other to rank higher on SERP. Where the traffic should be visiting one page, they are landing on different pages thus reducing the CTR, compromising on your page views.
- Segregating your Traffic to Multiple Pages:
Well, it may seem that more traffic is good for your website authority. But it is not good when you are diverting that traffic to wrong pages. Where the backlinks that you have generated could be directed to one relevant page, they are going to different and irrelevant pages.The efforts put in with regards to anchor texts and internal linking will also not bear fruit as the traffic is going to different landing pages. Only if you would have used one keyword for one page, all this traffic would have landed on a single page thereby increasing its overall authority.
- Google will not rank the right page
You cannot blame Google for this. Google looks at the keywords through which the page is ranked. The keywords help it understand what the page is all about. And with all the pages being ranked on the same keyword, it will only rank higher the one which fits best.
- Crawl Budget Issues:
Crawl budget refers to the frequency by which the Google Crawlers scan your website. More than one page with the same keyword will only lead to indexing of the unwanted pages.
- Unmatched Content means poor page Quality:
When Google finds out that different pages are ranked on the same keyword and the content on the landing pages does not match the corresponding content, it will lead Google astray. This will mean that the page quality is poor.
- Lower Conversion Rate
Even though the conversion rate for one page will be good, the other pages will suffer. The pages which are cannibalizing the relevant page may rank higher than the one which needs those conversions.
Identifying Keyword Cannibalization
There isn’t anything that you cannot fix when it comes to keyword cannibalization. But identifying it is the key.
The Spreadsheet Method:
What you need to do is create a keyword matrix. Open a spreadsheet and start writing all the different keywords that are relevant to your domain or business. Then corresponding to those keywords, note down the landing pages that are linked with that keyword. Once you have done it, search for those landing pages that are ranked with the same keyword.
Fixing Keyword Cannibalization:
Well, here is the deal. You must deoptimize the landing pages first and then start again with the keyword allocation. And in no case, you should think about completing forgetting about the rest of the landing pages. They are still getting some traffic. This is intricate work. Your motive must be to not let the traffic wander on other pages and rectify the issues. So, here are the steps to correct keyword cannibalization:
- Website Reconfiguration:
The best way to solve this is by converting your most popular page, the one which has the highest traffic and conversions into a pillar page. This means that you will rely on your best working keyword and then linking the keywords that come under its purview with that page.
- New Landing Pages:
The landing pages that are being redirected to via similar keywords should be changed. Creating new landing pages for all the keywords that are not yet allocated to any keyword is essential. This way you can work on creating more authoritative pages that can be ranked on SERP on the basis of their dedicated keyword.
- Club two pages:
In the next step, you can also consolidate the content written for two different pages and rank them under one keyword. For instance, you can use keyword “canvas shoes”. And under it, you can also insert products and content pertaining to designer canvas shoes. This is done to solve the thin content issue and create another good source that will be able to rank better.
- Use New Keywords:
Another thing that you can do is get new keywords and then link them to the already existing landing pages that are bereft of the dedicated keywords. In this, you must pay attention to the previously linked keywords and their target landing pages.
- 301 Redirects:
A 301 Redirect means that the already cannibalized pages will land on another URL. But what you must pay heed to the content of the redirected page. It must be similar to the keyword. It should not be the case that you are redirecting a page that is meant to attract clothing traffic to a page which talks about shoes. So, this link between the keyword and the 301 redirect page source has to be taken care of.
On the one hand, the evil of keyword cannibalization is more prevalent today, it also needs to be understood in depth. Following the SEO practices is easy, but to be able to rank on Google, you must understand how Google ranks pages. In this case, the solution is rather simple and effective. And the best thing is that keyword cannibalization won’t cause permanent damage to your website.