From an SEO outlook, people who approach digital marketing to improve their business, often get caught up in a way of “optimizing” a page. This optimization mindset may cause them to overlook things such as good user experience and high-value content. This typically happens when pages are written about similar topics, or your blog covers similar topics with the primary keyword all over the pages.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization occurs, when you have a page optimized for a certain keyword/keyword phrase, and there are similar pages present on your domain that is most effective for the same keyword/keyword phrase.
In a nutshell, keyword cannibalization happens when your website has multiple pages targeting the same keyword or theme. Sometimes these are cases of duplicate content or content marketers have created similar pages with the assumption that they will capture even more traffic by having more than one page dedicated to their primary keyword focus.
When your main keywords are all over the site then your pages compete with one another for the most important keywords. It doesn’t mean that your site is more relevant for those keywords, just because you use them everywhere. Actually, it means that no page is relevant enough to rank highly for the desired terms. So when you have multiple pages that overlap in subject, then Google and other search engines struggle to make a choice as to which page is most relevant to a searcher’s query
What happens is that the search engines are served humungous choices for those particular keywords and hence is forced to pick and choose whichever it feels is the best fit. This limits the search potential of your website. Cannibalization issues also make you overlook on important rank-boosting features like your internal anchor text, external links, content quality, and conversion rates.
Best Practices to avoid Keyword Cannibalization
How can you NOT write about the same thing again at some point? Maybe you haven’t really planned out where you are going with your content strategy.
Page Specific Keyword Focus:
Target different sets of keywords for different pages. Set unique key phrases for each web page, write topic-relevant content and use those keywords in the title tag, headings, body text and ALT text for images. Just list every page of your e-commerce website on a spreadsheet. Note the focus keyword you’ve used against each page. When you scrutinize the keyword column on the spreadsheet, there shouldn’t be any doubling of exact keywords.
Facilitate Google zero on the authority pages
Make sure you spotlight on distinctive variations of keywords/key phrases for every page and ensure that they all point their link to the actual page for that key phrase. This boosts search engine to find the authority page for that keyword. Integrating your specific target keywords within the content of a page can certainly have an impact on rankings because it’s a very strong signal that tells search engines what that page is about.
Maintain good Meta description standards:
Create unique Meta tag titles and descriptions for your homepage and subpages. Homepage and category pages can have the broad competitive keywords and let the inner level page/ deeper pages mine the long tail of search and hence directing the engines to the most relevant and highest-ranking-potential page for the query.
Be watchfully on Internal links & anchor text
The clickable text of a link is known as “anchor text.” Anchor text can be a very important signal to search engines of what that linked page is about. One of the most crucial ways to use keywords across your website is in the anchor text of internal links from one page on your site to another. By using keyword-rich anchor text in your internal links, you’re telling search engines what those pages are about, and potentially, what terms those pages should rank for.
Never internally link your target keyword for one page to another page on your own site. You want to make it very clear to search engines which page you want to rank for which keyword. You don’t want to have multiple pages on your site competing to rank for the same keywords.
Use 301 redirects:
If keyword cannibalization occurs, make use of 301 redirects, and ensure all cannibalizing pages head to the single authority version. If you need to change the URL of a page as it is shown in search engine results, you can use a server-side 301 redirect. This is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page. The 301 status code means that a page has permanently moved to a new location.
Content marketers must define the goal of a specific piece of content before sitting down to create it. Is this piece of content meant to generate more awareness and traffic, or is the intent to create more sales? But remember, SEO demands your time and dedication. And the benefits are tremendous. If you want your site to have a higher SERP ranking, you will have to be consistent and thorough in your process.
Please feel free to add few more points to avoid keyword Cannibalization,
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