This unnoticed and unfortunate problem harms the search engine optimization potential of the pages included. When more than 1 page has the same/similar key word target, it creates confusion” in the eyes of the search engine, resulting in a struggle to determine what page to rank for what term.
Where is most common to find cannibalisation problems in SEO?
Despite the fact that the expression cannibalisation” doesn’t sound very suitable for electronic advertising, this core concept has been around for a long time. This term simply refers to the problem of getting multiple pages competing for the same (or very similar) keywords/keyword clusters, hence the cannibalisation.
If you read the title of this blog and even only for a second, thought about the iconic film The Silence of the Lambs”, welcome to the club you aren’t alone!
I realise that some of my pages are actually ranking for a few important phrases that my class page has been visible for.
More than what you might think — almost every site that I have worked in the past few years have some degree of cannibalisation that needs resolving. It’s difficult to estimate this problem might holds back a single page, as it involves a group of pages whose potential is being restricted. So, my suggestion is to take care of this issue by analysing clusters of pages that have some degree of cannibalisation rather than single pages.
Why don’t you try the below?
1) At meta data level:
. .and the response is — It depends about the situation, the exact search phrases, and the intent of the user when searching for a particular term.
When two or more pages have meta info (title tags and headings mainly) which target the same or quite similar keywords, cannibalisation occurs. As meta information that is only needs adjusting this requires a type of fix.
|Page URL||New Title Tag||New Header 1|
|/boots/all||Women’s Boots – All Types of Winter Boots|
These kinds of keyword cannibalisation often happens on e-commerce websites which have many category (or subcategory) pages with the intention to target certain keywords, such as the example above. Ideally, we would wish a boots page to target boots related provisions, while the other two pages should be focusing on the kinds of boots we’re selling on those pages: chelsea and ankle.
How serious of a problem is keyword cannibalisation?
We fail to differentiate our e-commerce site’s meta information to target the specific subgroup of key words that we should aim for —
Is this a real cannibalisation issue? The answer is both no and yes.
In the eyes of a search engine, how different are these two blog posts, each of which aim to tackle a similar intent? That is the question when going through this undertaking, you should ask yourself. My suggestion is the following: Before investing resources and time make the effort to examine your existing content.
For instance, it could be the case that, for the keyword”ankle boots”, two of my pages are ranking at the same time:
In the instances where the two pages have really high ranks on the first page of the SERPS, this could work in your benefit: More space occupied means more visitors for your pages, so treat it as”great” cannibalisation.
Does it mean change and you need to panic everything? Surely not. It depends upon your objective and the scenario.
The fact that e-commerce pages tend to have text on them makes meta information significant, as it will be among the elements search engines look at to understand how a page and the other differ.
2) At page content level
1) Two or more landing pages on your website which are competing for the same keywords
If it happens to you, attempt to find an answer to these questions:This is a common issue that I am certain that many of you have encountered, where landing pages appear to be very volatile and rank for a group of keywords in a non-consistent method.
When did this flip-flopping begin?
The fewer pages subject to volatility, the better and easier to tackle. Try to identify which pages are involved and inspect all components which may have triggered this uncertainty.
- Keep monitoring the key words for which the two pages seem to show, in case Google might react differently in the future.
- Come back to the small cannibalisation point after you have addressed your most important issues.
That specific keyword.
If the flip-flop appears to have stopped and has occurred, there’s likely nothing to worry about, as it’s probably a volatility in the SERP. At the day’s end, we need to
In the cases or three of the SERP, then it may be the case your cannibalisation is holding one or both of these back.
In the instances where page A has high rankings page among the SERPS and page B is nowhere to be seen (beyond the top 15-20 results), it is up to you to determine if this minor cannibalisation is worth your time and resources, as this may not be an urgency.
It might be the case that, for example, the keyword ankle boots” for two of my pages are ranking at different times, as Google seems to have a difficult time deciding which page to choose for your term.
- Check on GSC to determine which of your pages is getting the most amount of clicks for that single keyword. You also need to check on similar terms, since three of the SERP or key words on page two will show clicks in GSC. Decide which page should be your primary focus and be open to check changes for SEO elements of the pages.
- Review your title tags, headings, and page copies and try to find instances where both pages seem to overlap. If the level of duplication between them is really high, it might be worth consolidating/canonicalising/redirecting you to the other (I’ll touch on this below).
If Google responds by favouring my /boots/ankle-boots/ page instead (Page B), which might gain higher rankings, then great! If not, the worst case scenario is you keep enjoying the 2 results on page one of the SERP and can revert the changes back.
Where this all started pinpointing the ideal moment in time might help you realize how the problem originated in the first location. Maybe a tag went missing, perhaps some changes to your on-page elements or an algorithm or happened update things up?
I recommend you do the following, if you decide that it is worth pursuing:
How frequently do these webpages flip-flop?
Try and figure out the better, how often the page for a keyword has shifted: the fewer times. Cross reference the changes’ time it might have been caused by other alterations. It is necessary to distinguish the different types of cannibalisation you try to be flexible with alternatives and may encounter — not every fix is going to be the same.
|Page URL||Date of blog post|
|Page A: blog/how-to-wear-ankle-boots||May 2016|
|Page B: blog/how-to-wear-ankle-boots-in-2019||December 2018|
In several instances the response is no, and if this is the case, 301 redirects are your friends.
As an example, you may have made a new (or very similar) version of the identical article your site posted years ago, so you may consider redirecting one of them — generally speaking, the older URL might have more equity in the eyes of search engines and possibly would have attracted some backlinks over time.
The second table (shown above) indicates the individual pages which have rated for each keyword for the period of time chosen. In this specific example, for our key word X (which, as we know, has changed URLs 24 times in the period of time selected) the column route would show the list of individual URLs which have been reverse osmosis.
What solutions should I employ to tackle cannibalisation?
If you’re searching for a speedier approach, you can build a Google Data Studio dashboard which links to your GSC to provide data in real time, so you don’t need to check on your reports when you think there is a cannibalisation issue (credit to my colleague Dom).
I am certain SEOMonitor, SEMrush, and other tools offer the same ability to retrieve that sort of data as Ahrefs’ method listed above. Google Search Console and Google Sheets are your friends, if you don’t have any tools at your disposal, but it is going to be more of a manual process.
Ask yourself this question: do I really need all of the pages I discovered cannibalising each other?
Watch their five minute video here to see how to do it.
I will explain what tools I normally use to discover cannibalisation fluxes that are major, but I am sure there are numerous ways to reach the very same results — if you wish to share your hints, please do comment below!
I started when I talked about the different types of cannibalisation touching on solutions, but let’s have a more holistic approach and clarify what solutions are available.
The table captures the list of keyword culprits for the period of time chosen. For instance, keyword’X’ in the top of the table has generated 13 organic clicks (total_clicks) from GSC over the period considered and changed ranking URL roughly 24 times (num_of_pages).
Ideally, most rank monitoring tools will have the ability to do when ranking URL has changed with time, this discover. Back in the day I used monitoring tools like Pi and Linkdex Datametrics to do just this.
I know all of us love tools that help you speed up tasks that are long, and one of my favourites is Ahrefs. I recommend using their fantastic method which will locate your ‘cannibals’ in moments.
Tools to set up for Form 2 of cannibalisation: When two or more landing pages are flip-flopping for the same keyword
At Distilled, we utilize STAT, which displays this information under History, within the main Keyword tab — see screenshot below as example.
One caveat of these kinds of tools is that data is often accessible only by keyword and will require data analysis. The insights you will glean are well worth the effort, although this means it may take a little bit of time to confirm all key words involved in this cannibalisation.
If page A has backlinks and, if so, the number of keywords check
Remember that Google runs everyday to changes and test.
The best way to identify which pages are victims of cannibalisation
Tools to deploy for type 1 of cannibalisation: When two of more landing pages are competing for the same keyword
For example, you may have created a new article that falls under a particular content theme (in this example, boots cleaning). You then realise that a paragraph of your page that is new B rolls on leather boots and the way to look after them, which is. In case both posts respond to similar intents (one targeting cleaning leather just , another targeting cleaning boots generally ), then it might be worth consolidating the offending content from page B to page A, and add an internal link to page A rather than the paragraph which covers leather boots in webpage B.
|Page URL||Date of blog post|
|Page A: blog/how-to-clean-leather-boots||December 2017|
|Page B: /blog/boots-cleaning-guide-2019/||January 2019|
What to do:
|Page URL||Date of blog article|
|Page A: blog/how-to-wear-ankle-boots-with-skinny-jeans||December 2017|
|Page B: blog/how-to-wear-high-ankle-boots||January 2019|
As already touched on, it involves a metadata type of cannibalisation, which is what I termed as type 1. After identifying the pages whose meta data appear to overlap or target the same/highly similar keywords, you will need to choose which is your primary page for that keyword/keyword group and re-optimise the rival pages.
See the case earlier to get a better idea.
- Find the offending part of content on page B, review it and consolidate the most compelling bits to page A
- Use a canonical tag from page A to page B. As a psychologist to Google, you might also use a self-referencing canonical tag on page B.
- After having evaluated accessibility and internal link equity of both pages, you may want to alter all/some internal links (coming from the site to page A) to page B if you deem it useful.
- If page A has enough equity and visibility, do a 301 redirect from page B to page A, alter all internal links (coming from the website to page B) to page A, and update metadata of page A if necessary (including the mention of 2019 for instance)
- If not, do the opposite: finish a 301 redirect from page A to page B and change all internal links (coming from the website to page A) to page B.
In case you do need all of the pages which are cannibalising for any reason (possibly PPC, social, or testing purposes, or maybe it’s just as they’re still applicable ) then canonical tags are your friends. While the equity from page A will be moved to page B. the difference with a 301 redirect is that both pages will still exist
You’d use consolidation if you think the cannibalisation is a result of content between pages, which is likely to be cannibalisation’s kind 2, as stated earlier. It is crucial to set up your main page so you are ready to act on the pages that are inner that are competing. Content consolidation requires you to move the offending content to your main page so as to stop this problem and improve your rankings.
Let’s say you created a new article that covers a similar topic to another existing one (but has a different angle) and you find out that both pages are cannibalising each other. After a quick analysis, you may decide you want Page B to function as”primary”, which means you may use a canonical tag from page A pointing to page B. You would want to use canonicalisation if both pages’ material is varied enough that it should be seen by users but not so much that search engines should think that it’s different.
What to do:
It’s ranking for (and how well it’s ranking for those keywords)Things to do:
This type of solution involves consolidating a part or the whole content of a page into another. It is down to you to decide if it’s worth keeping the page you have stripped just 301 redirect or content from it to the other, once that has happened. You think there are better ways to help with cannibalisation and if you, like me, are a lover of knowledge sharing, please comment below!