September 28, 2023

What Is Key phrase Cannibalization?

Key phrase cannibalization is an search engine optimization concern that happens when a number of pages on a website compete with one another for a similar Google rankings. 

Pages compete after they goal the identical key phrase and fulfill the identical search intent—i.e., serve the identical objective. Or Google interprets them as doing so.

search engine optimization key phrase cannibalization can occur while you:

  • Publish related items of content material over time
  • Publish a brand new model of a web page with out redirecting the outdated one
  • Create completely different paths to the identical product class
  • Optimize related pages for a similar key phrase
  • Don’t optimize subcategory pages

Key phrase cannibalization in search engine optimization is not simply attributable to mentioning the identical key phrase on a number of pages. 

You may goal a key phrase on a number of pages if the search intent is completely different. 

Take the search engine outcomes web page (SERP) for “resorts in paris france.” 

The search intent is combined:

Google ranks journey guides as a result of some searchers need details about resorts in Paris. 

hotels in Paris france informational page google search

Nevertheless it additionally ranks resort listings, as a result of some searchers are able to e book.

hotels in Paris france commercial page google search

When you owned a resort website, you may create each varieties of pages. And goal the key phrase on each with out inflicting key phrase cannibalization.

Catering to each varieties of search intent might aid you safe one excessive rating, rank for different helpful key phrases, and ship a greater on-site expertise to customers.

Additionally, within the case of branded key phrases (key phrases that include your model identify), it’s widespread to safe a number of excessive rankings for a similar key phrase. 

So that you don’t normally have to fret about key phrase cannibalization with most branded key phrases. So long as you’re serving the consumer’s search intent with each web page you create.

For instance, Apple occupies the highest three natural outcomes for “macbook professional 13 inch” right here:

SERP Analysis showing top three organic results

The highest end result takes the consumer via key product options.

macbook pro key product features

The second permits consumers to start out the checkout course of.

choose your new macbook pro page

And the third covers product specs in depth.

product specifications page

On this instance, concentrating on the identical key phrase on a number of pages results in a number of excessive rankings. Which helps Apple dominate the SERP and enhance visitors. 

It’s not key phrase cannibalization as a result of every web page fulfills a definite want. 

Find out how to Discover Cannibalized Key phrases

search engine optimization cannibalization can hurt your rankings and conversions. So it’s necessary to determine points as quickly as doable.

Listed here are 3 ways to search out cannibalized key phrases:

Semrush’s Cannibalization Report

Semrush’s Place Monitoring software screens your Google rankings to determine potential circumstances of key phrase cannibalization. It supplies key insights within the Cannibalization Report.

To get began, enter your area and click on “Arrange monitoring.”

Position Tracking tool

Enter the placement you wish to monitor rankings in. Then click on “Proceed To Key phrases.”

Continue To Keywords button

Now, add your goal key phrases. Use the “Import from…” button so as to add key phrases from Google Analytics. It’s also possible to import from different locations or get key phrase strategies from Semrush. 

Tip: When you’re undecided what your goal key phrases are, try our key phrase analysis information.

add keywords to campaign step

Click on “Add key phrases to marketing campaign” and “Begin Monitoring.”

Start Tracking button

Your challenge is now prepared.

Go to the “Cannibalization” tab to see the variety of:

  • Affected key phrases: Key phrases which have a couple of web page rating within the prime 100
  • Cannibal pages: URLs that share a key phrase rating with one other URL (or extra)
Cannibalization tab

Scroll right down to the “Cannibalization” part. 

We suggest wanting on the “Key phrases” breakdown.

Keywords tab

Use the arrow to broaden any end result. You’ll see rating URLs and related knowledge, reminiscent of:

  • Pos.: The URL’s rating for the key phrase (on the newest date in view)
  • Quantity: The typical variety of month-to-month searches for the key phrase (in your chosen location) 
Pos and volume highlighted

Keep in mind: 

Having a number of URLs rank for a similar key phrase isn’t essentially an issue. Particularly if a number of ranks effectively (within the prime three positions).

To determine key phrase cannibalization, ask your self whether or not the pages fulfill the identical consumer want. 

In that case, you must implement the appropriate fix.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free software that may aid you determine key phrase cannibalization search engine optimization points. Nevertheless it does require some handbook work.

Tip: New to GSC? Begin with our definitive information to Google Search Console.

Sign up, then click on “Search outcomes” within the “Efficiency” menu.

Search results under performance

Scroll right down to see an inventory of search queries (or key phrases) your website has earned impressions and clicks from.

Click on a key phrase you wish to examine. This can apply a “Question:” filter. 

Professional tip: To use a customized question filter, scroll as much as click on “+ New” then “Question…” and enter your settings. You need to use this selection to examine a number of associated key phrases without delay.

Query: h1 tag example option highlighted

Navigate to the “PAGES” tab to see which URL ranks for this question. 

PAGES tab highlighted

If a couple of URL earns clicks and impressions, this may very well be an indication of key phrase cannibalization.

Manually analyze the pages to see whether or not they have overlapping search intent. Then implement the suitable solution

URL clicks and impressions under pages

Search Your Web site

Discover overlapping pages the handbook manner by looking your website by way of Google.

The “website:[domain]” search operator filters for outcomes out of your area. Use it together with a key phrase to search out associated pages.

Like this: nitendo switch results

Analyze the outcomes. Do any pages cater to the identical search intent? In that case, you’ve gotten a possible key phrase cannibalization concern to handle. We’ll cowl that subsequent. 

Tip: Google “website:” queries don’t all the time discover every little thing. An alternative choice is to go looking your website by way of your content material administration system (CMS). 

Find out how to Repair Key phrase Cannibalization

Right here’s the fundamental concept behind fixing key phrase cannibalization: 

Choose one most well-liked web page (additionally known as the “main” or “principal” web page) for every affected key phrase. And make this desire clear to Google so it is aware of which to rank highest.

One of the simplest ways to point this desire is determined by the circumstances.

Listed here are some widespread options:

Discover every answer in additional element under.


Maybe you’ve gotten a number of pages that focus on the identical key phrase and fulfill the identical search intent. However you solely want one in every of them.

For instance:

  • A number of weblog posts protecting the identical subject
  • Outdated variations of touchdown pages
  • Close to-identical FAQ pages

On this case, redirects can remedy your key phrase cannibalization concern.

To get began, analyze your overlapping URLs and select the popular web page.This needs to be the URL with the strongest search engine optimization potential, which you’ll be able to decide with metrics like the next:


What to measure 

Find out how to discover it


The variety of backlinks pointing to the web page

Semrush’s Backlink Analytics software


The web page at present rating highest for cannibalized key phrases

Google Search Console or Semrush’s Place Monitoring software

Site visitors

The entire variety of visits to the web page over the previous 30 days 

Google Analytics or Semrush’s Natural Site visitors Insights software

Observe: You may redirect all of your overlapping pages to a brand new URL. Nevertheless it’s normally higher to construct on the efficiency of an present web page.

Subsequent, draft an up to date model of your most well-liked web page. Add helpful information from the cannibal pages and optimize your content material for goal key phrases.

You’re then able to do the next:

Along with eliminating inside competitors, this technique helps to consolidate all of the “rating energy” in a single place. 

Google usually removes redirected URLs from its index inside just a few weeks. (Though you must maintain your redirects in place for not less than a 12 months.) This could repair the key phrase cannibalization concern and enhance your most well-liked web page’s rankings.

Canonical Tags

Typically, it’s essential maintain duplicate or near-duplicate pages. You need customers to entry them by way of your website or elsewhere. However they don’t add search engine optimization worth.

The next sorts, for instance:

  • Devoted pay-per-click (PPC) touchdown pages
  • Different paths to the identical product class (e.g., “/equipment/socks/” and “/footwear/socks/”)
  • Pages with complicated URL parameters (e.g., “/equipment/socks?measurement=10&coloration=blue”)

On this case, canonicalization might aid you remedy key phrase cannibalization points. 

Canonicalization is utilizing a canonical tag to level Google to the first model of a replica web page. The tag is added to the cannibal web page’s HTTP header and appears like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://www.web" />

Canonical tags inform Google that the canonical web page is the popular web page—the one that ought to seem in search outcomes. This consolidates your rating energy in a single web page, reasonably than diluting it throughout a number of URLs.

To study extra, try our newbie’s information to canonical tags.

Key phrase cannibalization can happen when a extra authoritative web page (i.e., a web page with stronger search engine optimization indicators) overshadows an analogous web page.

Let’s say you’ve gotten a “/laptops/” class web page with hyperlinks and content material that reference gaming laptops. Versus a “/laptops/gaming/” subcategory web page with no hyperlinks and little content material related to gaming laptops.

Google could rank the “/laptops/” web page increased for the key phrase “gaming laptops.” As a result of it struggles to acknowledge the extra related end result.

You may direct Google to the fitting place by constructing a hyperlink from the cannibal web page (“/laptops/”) to the popular web page (“/laptops/gaming/”). Utilizing the cannibalized key phrase (“gaming laptops”) as anchor textual content.

Like this:

Gaming laptops highlighted

Hyperlink to “/laptops/gaming/” from different related pages, too. Ensuring to make use of descriptive anchor textual content. Inside linking is a straightforward and efficient manner to assist Google perceive your website’s construction.

Professional tip: Constructing backlinks (or exterior hyperlinks) to your most well-liked web page also can assist with rankings. See our information to study extra.

Subsequent, optimize your most well-liked web page for its goal key phrase. This can be a key operate of on-page search engine optimization.

For instance, Greatest Purchase has a gaming laptop computer class web page that mentions “gaming laptops” within the following key locations:

gaming laptops on Best Buy

You may get suggestions to your most well-liked web page utilizing Semrush’s On Web page search engine optimization Checker. It supplies optimization concepts primarily based on the highest 10 outcomes to your goal key phrases.

On Page SEO Checker

These methods ought to assist Google acknowledge the popular web page and rank it increased. 

Content material Creation

Key phrase cannibalization can happen while you goal the identical key phrase on a number of associated pages. Since you don’t have one web page that clearly caters to the searcher’s wants greatest.

Let’s say you’ve gotten “Oak eating tables” and “Walnut eating tables” class pages. And also you goal the key phrase “wooden eating tables” on each.

To repair this potential key phrase cannibalization concern, create a extremely related “Wooden eating tables” class web page (that features merchandise out of your oak and walnut collections). And optimize it utilizing our on-page search engine optimization guidelines.

These sorts of pages carry out greatest on the SERP:

category pages highlighted in google SERP

You must also “de-optimize” your oak and walnut pages for the “wooden eating tables” key phrase. There are two most important methods to do that:

  1. Exchange mentions of this key phrase with extra related key phrases (e.g., “oak eating tables”)
  2. Add a hyperlink to the brand new “Wooden eating tables” web page utilizing the anchor textual content “wooden eating tables” (or one thing related)

This new web page ought to repair the key phrase cannibalization concern over time. And ship a greater consumer expertise to related consumers. Each ought to in the end result in extra gross sales.

Noindex Tags

The noindex tag is a chunk of HTML code that instructs search engines like google to not index a web page—i.e., to not embrace it in search outcomes. It appears like this:

<meta identify="robots" content material="noindex" />

Excluding cannibal pages from search outcomes can cease them from competing along with your most well-liked web page. Nevertheless, there isn’t a “forwarding” of rating indicators with noindex tags.

So, you must solely use noindex as a final resort. For instance, on weblog tag pages which have skinny content material, no backlinks, and no natural visitors.

Be taught extra about noindex tags and the way to implement them in our robots meta tag information.

Find out how to Forestall Key phrase Cannibalization

To stop key phrase cannibalization, keep away from publishing pages that focus on the identical key phrase and fulfill the identical search intent. All the time examine your website earlier than creating (or optimizing) content material. 

You may search by way of your CMS. Or use the “website:[domain] ” operator in Google.

Like this: authentic jerseys google search

When you discover a web page that ranks for a similar key phrase and caters to the identical search intent, optimize that web page reasonably than creating a brand new one. Or put together the mandatory redirects, canonicals, or noindex tags and launch every little thing concurrently. That manner, Google by no means has an opportunity to get confused.

And monitor your rankings by way of Semrush’s Place Monitoring software or Google Search Console. The earlier you discover and repair key phrase cannibalization points, the higher your website ought to carry out.