What is cannibalization?

You must have experienced that by searching for a keyword, two pages of your site are displayed in Google results; That is, two separate pages from a domain are ranked in one keyword. But is this a good thing? Of course not! This phenomenon, called cannibalization, has a detrimental effect on our site SEO, especially when the site is growing. But what is cannibalization?

Cannibalization is a topic that we intend to address in the following article. If you are optimizing your pages for converging keywords, it is likely that the content of your pages will compete with each other and be cannibalized. Therefore, we suggest that you continue with this article to learn the negative effects of cannibalization in SEO, and learn the techniques of developing the right keyword strategy to prevent cannibalization and fix this problem.

What is cannibalization?

According to SEO strategies, each page of our site should be optimized for a specific “keyword”. But sometimes due to inappropriate keyword strategy, two pages with separate URLs and purpose are ranked for the same keyword. In this case, when we search for the keyword in Google, we will see two pages of the site. This condition is called cannibalism.

Cannibalization occurs when two pages cover the same topic and purpose at the same time. Pages that are cannibalized compete with each other, do not grow, and often degrade each other.

How does cannibalization happen?

Cannibalism occurs when two separate URLs have the same keyword and concept. Cannibalization has not occurred if the keyword of our pages is different, but both have a good position in the search results of a keyword.

But when we produce several different contents for a keyword, or in other words, a large volume of content, homogenization is inevitable. Even if two pages with different content are optimized for keywords that are very similar, homogenization is still possible. Cannibalization usually happens unintentionally, but can be solved with a proper keyword strategy. In this case, we suggest you read our article ” Internal SEO “.


The destructive effects of cannibalism on the SEO site; Homosexuality in SEO

You might say to yourself, that for a keyword to display two pages of our site is not bad! We have a better chance of being seen by the user, why should cannibalism be bad for our site SEO?

In response, we must say that cannibalism in SEO is a disaster! Homogeneous pages compete with us for rankings on Google instead of competitors, so they will never experience growth. To better understand this, we will continue with an example.

Suppose we have two pages for the topic “SEO training”, ie both pages are optimized for the word SEO training. In this case, Google can not determine which article to rank for this word. Even if the page we think is the home page is in a better position in terms of content quality, backlinks and user experience, both of them will not rank well. Because it is difficult for Google to determine which article is more important.

In general, pages that suffer from cannibalism hit the SEO of the clock in several ways:

  • The chance of the target page to get a good ranking and attract more users is lost.
  • Cannibalized plates are constantly experiencing sharp fluctuations in rankings.
  • None of the pages are strong enough to rank well.

But how do we recognize these pages? However, the more pages there are, the more damage our site will suffer.

The best way to identify cannibalized pages

Are these two pages cannibalized just by entering a keyword phrase that shows us two separate URLs from one site? Certainly not. There are two valid methods for diagnosing cannibalism that we introduce to you:

Cannibalization detection with the help of the Performance section of the Google Console search

Google Search Console is literally the right hand of SEO experts. To the extent that it even helps us to identify cannibalized pages.

To identify pages that have been malicious, we must first enter the Performane section of this tool. Then click on the NEW tab and select the Query option to enter the desired keyword and wait for the results to be displayed. After displaying the results, we have to click on the Pages tab to see the list of pages for which the word is ranked and visited. Pages with similar click-through rates are usually suspected of cannibalism.

Detect cannibalization with Google Console Search

Identify cannibalized pages with the help of Site technique:

If you do not have access to the console search panel, you can use the keyword site: url.com technique. This method is very convenient and simple. Just enter the site address and keyword like the image to display a list of our site pages where the keyword is ranked.

This method may be faster, but it requires more care and examination than the previous method. Because finally, to know the number of visits and clicks of each URL, we must return to the search console.


How to prevent cannibalism in SEO?

Maybe if we get our keyword strategy right from the start and check our keyword rankings regularly, we can easily prevent cannibalism.

Developing a keyword strategy in SEO has an important and general rule; One keyword for each URL. Never forget this rule, because it helps to optimize each URL for a specific keyword set or a specific keyword phrase.

During the implementation of this strategy, we must constantly review and compare the page rankings so that if we notice a competition between the two pages, we can solve the problem from the beginning. In the following, we want to get acquainted with some practical and powerful techniques, which if you see Cannibalization on your site, you can use them to solve the problem of these pages in a short time.

Get acquainted (gain, obtain) with present-day techniques that came from Cannibalism

Suppose that with the help of one of the techniques that we taught you in the previous section, we noticed that two pages cannibalize. What should we do now?

Use the canonical tag

The first treatment suggested is the use of canonical tags. The canonical tag tells Google which of the two pages, our homepage or our landing page, is the keyword to be ranked. Canonical is one of the most important SEO concepts, to use it, we need to pay attention to a few practical points.

Practical tips for using canonical tags to improve SEO

There are two ways to transfer credit from one page to another using the canonical tag:

The first method; In proprietary CMSs

If we use a dedicated content management system, we have to tell the site developer to use the Canonical tag to specify the home page so that the credit transfer can be done properly.

The second method; In WordPress CMS

If we use WordPress, in the settings section of the Yoast plugin and the advanced section, we can enter the home page address. The same goes for the Rankmath plugin. We can use the advanced part and the conventional link.

Transferring credit with these methods usually takes 1 to 2 weeks and depends on how often our old article is viewed.


Use 301 redirect

The next method is to redirect. If one of these two pages does not rank well in terms of traffic statistics and content quality, we can transfer the credibility of this page to the target page with a 301 redirect. This will take the visitors of this page to the main page and the transfer of rank will be done by Google in a short time. For more information, we suggest you read the article What is a 301 redirect.

Use page merges to create a powerful page

Another solution is to merge the content of these two pages that are intertwined. In this method, we transfer any content, image, video or podcast with the quality that is on the second page to the target page and review its content in a short time. By doing this, over time, Google will separate the rankings of these two sites and the cannibalization will be eliminated.

Get help from the noindex tag

If these two solutions are not applicable, we use the Navindex tag. This technique helps the page that we do not want to rank out of the sitemap, robots.txt file and Google index and not be displayed to users.

Change the keyword of the pages

If you want to preserve the content of both pages, you can change the keyword on the page that competes with our target page. Of course, we do not mean fundamental change. We can make this change by turning a keyword into a long tail keyword phrase. For example, if the keyword is “espresso coffee”, change it to “how to make espresso coffee”.

This improves the ranking of the target page, as it no longer has an internal competitor. The second page is also ranked in a new phrase. This action will have positive results for our site SEO; Of course, if done correctly. In this case, we suggest that you read our article ” What are keywords ” to get more complete information about the importance of keywords in the SEO of different pages of the site.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does cannibalism cause a problem?

When two long, quality content competes with the same keyword. In this situation, the two pages are homogenous and neither of them can get a good ranking.

What is the fastest way to identify cannibalized pages?

If you want to check the cannibalization status of the pages at a glance, you can use the following formula:

Site: example.com keyword

What is the best tool to identify pages that are cannibalized?

The best and most reliable tool is Google Search Console.

What is the easiest way to prevent the cannibalization of web pages?

The simplest way is to assign a non-duplicate keyword to each page, use a variety of keywords, and review the page rank continuously.

Concluding remarks

Finally, the larger our site, the greater the likelihood of cannibalism. Because we write about topics of interest to users, and over time, we may get involved in writing articles that may be similar. Therefore, it is better to review the site keyword plan once in a while and check their status on the results page, to change or modify them if necessary.