Ryte’s updated Keyword Cannibalization Report is the best in the industry! It provides you all the information you need to quickly and easily find and solve keyword cannibalization issues.
Keyword cannibalization has a negative impact on your rankings. It occurs when more than one URL on a website ranks for the same keyword intent, meaning there’s a risk that Google will rank an older / lower converting page rather than the page you want to rank for the keyword. Keyword cannibalization usually occurs on growing websites when a lot of sub- or landing pages are created quickly. Ryte's updated report helps you solve the issue easily - the smart algorithm behind the report even lists the cannibalization according to priority so you know what to fix first.
When websites grow quickly, it can be hard to track all content that’s on offer - your blog might be building up with overlapping topics, maybe a new team is promoting its innovative products through a separate CMS.
If you don’t have a mechanism in place that helps you avoid duplicate (or similar) content, you will see sooner or later that search engines may not be ranking the page you want to rank for a certain keyword. The SERPs are based on tests carried out by Google - but do you really want Google to decide which of your webpages should be ranking?
With Ryte’s Search Success, you can easily identify keyword cannibalisations and get the information you need to fix them.
Keyword cannibalization describes the phenomenon when several subpages of a website rank for the same keyword, meaning that you “cannibalize” your own URLs. User signals such as CTR, links, and conversions are therefore divided between two or more pages.
If you have keyword cannibalization on your website, you are not showing Google the full extent of your knowledge for a topic or search query. Google has to weigh up your URLs and decide which one fits the respective query best. This means that a less important URL might rank highly, and users could end up looking at a page that does not contain the information you want them to see, for example a page containing outdated information.
The consequences of keyword cannibalization include reduced website traffic, lower conversion rates, fluctuating SERP rankings, and ultimately lost revenue.
Keyword cannibalization has many possible causes, all of which can be easily avoided.
Identical titles and descriptions: You may think that you have a better chance of ranking for a certain keyword if all of your pages use this keyword as a title, and if they have the same meta description. However, although your chances of ranking for the focus keyword will increase, it’s likely that a lot of your pages will rank for this keyword, causing keyword cannibalization. Pages with identical titles and descriptions also make it difficult for Google to judge which page is most relevant.
Similar content: You have probably heard that duplicate content has a negative impact on SEO because the search engines don’t know which URL to index. The problem is the same if the content on two URLs is similar - it’s still difficult for the search engines to know which page to rank more highly, and Google may end up ranking more than one page.
Bad internal linking: Keyword cannibalization can also be caused by a poor internal linking structure, because the pages linked to more often will be considered as more important by Google. If your URLs are at risk of cannibalizing each other, ensuring a sensible link hierarchy will help Google more accurately judge the most important page.
Inconsistent use of anchor texts: If you always use the same anchor texts for different links, you show the Google crawler that the pages have the same importance. Anchor texts can therefore contribute to keyword cannibalization by making it harder for Google to judge which page is more relevant.
With the Ryte Keyword Cannibalisation Report, you can identify all cannibalisations on your website in one glance. You can find it in Ryte's Search Success tool under the navigation point: "Optimize".
The report shows you keywords that are ranking for more than one URL. Sitelinks are not included. Multiple rankings and brand rankings are indicated separately under the column “Type” so you are aware of your true cannibalisations that need to be fixed.
Figure 1: Keyword cannibalisation report in Ryte Search Success
Simply click the arrow next to each keyword to see which pages are ranking for this keyword. As you see impressions, clicks, CTR and position for each one, you can easily evaluate which page is most relevant and where you may want to delete or redirect pages.
Figure 2: Easily identify cannibalising pages
The list is ordered by priority. Our algorithm calculates the priority of cannibalisations using a range of factors such as number of ranking pages, and clicks. THerefore, you can be sure you see your most severe cannibalisations at the top of the list, so you know where to start fixing! The green dots highlight the highest performing metrics so you can easily decide which piece of content is of higher quality and should be prioritised.
Of course, it’s inevitable that multiple URLs will be ranking for your brand keywords. That’s why the report gives them a separate label so it’s even clearer where cannibalisations occur.
Multiple rankings can occur for example when you are ranking with positions 1 and 2 for a certain keyword with different search intents. This can promote brand authority, and is certainly not a problem you want to solve. The keyword cannibalisation report distinguishes between cannibalisations and multiple rankings, meaning you see the actual problems. Brand rankings are also inevitable - you would expect to be ranking with multiple URLs when the search query contains a brand keyword. The report names brand rankings separately, so you know you don’t need to "solve" these.
You can now get updates on keyword cannibalisation directly on the Search Success Overview. With automated insights, when a new, severe keyword cannibalisation crops up, you get this information directly onto the News Feed in the Search Success Overview. As the SES overview is also now mobile responsive, this means you can check on your keyword cannibalisations whenever and wherever you like!
Learn more about automated insights and the News Feed in this article.
Figure 3: Keyword cannibalization automated insights
To learn more about our keyword cannibalization report, sign up for our webinar!.
If two URLs cannibalize each other, firstly you should identify which of the two pages is your preferred page. The more relevant page should receive the traffic for this keyword, and should therefore rank higher. (If you’re not sure which is more important, the preferred page should be the page that currently receives more traffic.)
Let’s use watering your garden as an example. With most watering cans, you can add a "rose" so that the water is distributed among lots of flowers. In the case of gardening, this is good - you don’t want your plants waterlogged! But with website traffic, you want the power to be concentrated on one URL, not dispersed across many. The goal should be to focus all traffic on one of the two URLs for maximum impact.
1. Delete / redirect pages
You might find content that is no longer relevant when identifying keyword cannibalization on your website. This could therefore be a good opportunity to weed out old content! If you find any outdated content, you should transfer any relevant text or information to the higher performing URL, and then delete the outdated page. You should also set up a 301 direct so that the user doesn’t receive a 404 status code.
For example, you have two landing pages ranking for the term "running shoes". One of the pages focusses on an older model of running shoe and is therefore no longer relevant, but it contains practical advice about how to look after the shoes. You should transfer the relevant information, i.e. the advice, to the page about the newer model, and then delete the older page.
2. De-index pages
When identifying keyword cannibalization, you may realize that some cannibalized URLs do not need to be in the index at all. Pages that are very similar, for example product pages, do not all need to be indexed; there is no added value for the user in seeing every individual page in the Google search results.
In this case, de-indexing your pages will help you solve the problem of keyword cannibalization. You can easily de-index your pages using the nofollow attribute in the robots.txt file. John Mueller then recommends including these URLs in your sitemap with a lastmod date reflecting the change in robots meta values.
3. Reformulate the content to have a different keyword focus
One method is to adjust the content on both pages to make sure they are optimized for a different target keyword. Both pages will therefore provide comprehensive information on two different topics. For example, page A & B rank for the keyword "pizza". However, the term "vegetarian pizza" is more important on page B. Therefore, you could adjust the content on page B to have a higher focus on vegetarian pizza, and transfer the content and links that are only relevant for "pizza" to page A.
4. Use a canonical tag
If pages A and B are very similar, and page B does not provide any added value to the user, you should use a canonical tag that refers to the more relevant page, or to the page that receives more traffic or external links. A canonical tag is an ideal solution if you want both pages A and B to be indexed - the canonical tag will simply show Google which page is more important. For example, if you want all product pages to be included in the index, a canonical tag is the best solution.
Ideally, one page should be ranking per keyword or user intent. However, it’s hard to keep track of this with websites that are growing quickly. If additional subpages or landing pages with identical keywords are created when expanding a website or during a relaunch, Google won’t be able to recognize which page is really relevant. With the keyword cannibalisation report, including automated insights onto the News Feed in the Search Success Overview, you have all the information you need to quickly and efficiently solve your problems with keyword cannibalisation - to ensure more traffic, better rankings and a better user experience.
Learn more about how to use the new Keyword Cannibalisation Report in our webinar!Watch recording
Published on 02/04/2021 by Olivia Willson.
Who writes here
After studying at King’s College London, Olivia moved to Munich, where she joined the Ryte team in 2017. She is in charge of product marketing and CRO, and also helps out with SEO and content marketing. When she's not working, you can usually find her outside, either running around a track, or hiking up a mountain.