You can hardly find a digital marketing team that doesn’t make use of keyword optimization to improve the position of their webpages in search results. Some people may conclude that utilizing more keywords guarantees better ranking and eventually use the same keywords to optimize different pages. In reality, it’s a failed strategy that results in so-called keyword cannibalization. This hidden hazard devours your chances to rank higher.
In this article, we’ll define keyword cannibalization both in SEO and mobile marketing and explain how to deal with it.
What is Keyword Cannibalization in SEO?
Let’s start with the definition of the term in the context of SEO. Keyword cannibalization is the phenomenon that occurs when a few pages on your website are optimized for the same or synonymous keywords. It triggers competition of keywords featured in the title or meta description. Taking into consideration that Google normally shows only 1-2 results from the same domain, optimizing your blog post, article, or landing page for the same search query will sabotage their ranking. You will simply compete against yourself.
Keyword Cannibalization in PPC (pay-per-click)
When it comes to paid advertising based on the PPC model (for example, Google Adwords and Apple Search Ads), this term refers to cases when you run 2 or more campaigns that target the same search query. This situation leads to costs and conversion deterioration. Thus, you get less effective ads at a higher cost.
How to Check for Keyword Cannibalization?
To recognize the fact that your website performance was affected by keyword cannibalism, you should simply do a Google search to test your site for the problem using keywords that can potentially have a few results. Google Search Console (GSC) supported by Google Sheets is another great tool to detect cannibalization.
Now let’s define how to check keyword cannibalization signs when it comes to advertising. Start with auditing your campaigns and excluding the following possible issues:
- Keyword Overlap (when different ads target the same keywords);
- Geographic Overlap (for example, when one of your campaigns targets a location (let’s say a city) while another is targeted at the entire country without excluding the city);
- PPC-SEO Overlap (when paid traffic overlaps your organic performance).
Sure, there are rather controversial cases when it might be hard to identify genuine cannibalization cases. For example, when it comes to Apple Search Ads (ASA) campaigns with branded keywords, some app publishers tend to conclude that they lead to keyword cannibalization and considerable budget waste. But it’s not necessarily true.
In reality, running ASA campaigns that bid on branded keywords is one of the most effective brand protection tactics. In fact, if you stop running such Search Ads, your competitors will. Thus, they’ll take the sweet spot and ad clicks that belong to you.
How to Fix Keyword Cannibalization?
If you detect keyword cannibalization within your site, here’s a simple actionable template that will help you solve the issue (no worries, it doesn’t require extensive command in any field).
Step 1. Audit your content and review the performance of your webpages;
Step 2. Make a decision on which pieces of content you should keep;
Step 3. Put your content in order via merging, attaching links, and redirecting.
If there are 2 pages that feature an article or blog post on one topic and they drive the same audience, it’s worth merging them into one profound piece of content. It doesn’t only tackle keyword cannibalization but also improves your ranking as apparently, the Google algorithm approves of extensive in-depth materials. Don’t forget to take care of your internal linking
Here is the list of things you shouldn’t do:
- Deleting the webpage – it’s normally better to opt for good old redirection instead;
- Noindexing the webpage – this will result in the page not ranking for anything;
- Canonicalizing the page – this solution is applicable only if you deal with content duplication when a few pages are near or exact copies.
Remember that there is always an option to opt for specialized tools (like Pi Datametrics or Keylogs Cannibalization Checker) to handle the problem.
When it comes to PPC campaigns, it makes sense to run a keyword report to identify the overlaps. Ensure that traffic driven by broad-match keywords isn’t already covered by exact-match keywords. Once you resolve main issues with overlapping keywords, do your best to avoid them by always double-checking spelling and eliminating plural forms. Preventing cannibalization should be one of your priorities.
In the context of Apple Search Ads, you can avoid cannibalization with help of organic ranking insights by SplitMetrics Acquire. This tool gives information necessary for smart campaign decisions including cannibalization prevention and overspending control.