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How to Identify and Tackle Keyword Cannibalisation in 2019

In the event you learn the identify of this weblog and in some way, even just for a 2d, idea concerning the iconic film “The Silence of the Lambs”, welcome to the membership — you aren’t on my own!

Even if the time period “cannibalisation” does no longer sound very appropriate for virtual advertising, this core idea has been round for a very long time. This time period merely identifies the problem of getting a couple of pages competing for a similar (or very identical) key phrases/key phrase clusters, therefore the cannibalisation.

What can we imply by way of cannibalisation in search engine optimization?

This unlucky and continuously omitted downside harms the search engine optimization doable of the pages concerned. When multiple web page has the similar/identical key phrase goal, it creates “confusion” within the eyes of the hunt engine, leading to a battle to come to a decision what web page to rank for what time period.

As an example, say my imaginary e-commerce website online sells sneakers on-line and I’ve created a devoted class web page that goals the time period ‘ankle boots’: www.distilledshoes.com/boots/ankle-boots/

Figuring out the significance of editorial content material, over the years I come to a decision to create two weblog posts that quilt subjects associated with ankle boots off the again of a key phrase analysis: one submit on tips on how to put on ankle boots and any other concerning the best 10 techniques to put on ankle boots in 2019:

One month later, I realise that a few of my weblog pages are if truth be told rating for a couple of key phrases that my e-commerce class web page was once to begin with visual for.

Now the query is: is that this just right or unhealthy for my website online?

Drum roll, please…and the solution is — It relies at the state of affairs, the precise key phrases, and the intent of the person when in search of a selected time period.

Key phrase cannibalisation isn’t black or white — there are a couple of gray spaces and we can try to cross even though a number of situations on this weblog submit. I like to recommend you spend five mins checking this superior Whiteboard Friday which covers the subject of seek intent extraordinarily smartly.

How severe of an issue is key phrase cannibalisation?

A lot more than what you could suppose — virtually each website online that I’ve labored on previously few years have some extent of cannibalisation that wishes resolving. It’s onerous to estimate how a lot a unmarried web page could be held again by way of this factor, because it comes to a gaggle of pages whose doable is being restricted. So, my advice is to regard this factor by way of analysing clusters of pages that experience some extent of cannibalisation slightly than unmarried pages.

The place is maximum not unusual to seek out cannibalisation issues in search engine optimization?

In most cases, you’ll be able to come throughout two major placements for cannibalisation:

1) At meta information degree:

When two or extra pages have meta information (identify tags and headings basically) which goal the similar or very identical key phrases, cannibalisation happens. This calls for a much less labour-intensive form of repair, as best meta information wishes adjusting.

For instance: my e-commerce website has 3 boots-related pages, that have the next meta information:

Web page URL Name tag Header 1
/boots/all /Ladies’s Boots – Ankle & Chelsea Boots | Distilled Footwear Ladies’s Ankle & Chelsea Boots
/boots/ankle-boots/ Ladies’s Ankle Boots | Distilled Footwear Ankle Boots
boots/chelsea-boots/ Ladies’s Chelsea Boots | Distilled Footwear Chelsea Boots

A majority of these key phrase cannibalisation continuously happens on e-commerce websites that have many class (or subcategory) pages as a way to goal explicit key phrases, akin to the instance above. Preferably, we’d wish to have a generic boots web page to focus on generic boots connected phrases, whilst the opposite two pages will have to be specializing in the particular forms of boots we’re promoting on the ones pages: ankle and chelsea.

Why no longer take a look at the under as a substitute?

Web page URL New Name Tag New Header 1
/boots/all Ladies’s Boots – All Forms of Wintry weather Boots | Distilled Footwear Ladies’s Wintry weather Boots
/boots/ankle-boots/ Ladies’s Ankle Boots | Distilled Footwear Ankle Boots
boots/chelsea-boots/ Ladies’s Chelsea Boots | Distilled Footwear Chelsea Boots

Extra continuously than no longer, we fail to distinguish our e-commerce website’s meta information to focus on the very explicit subgroup of key phrases that we will have to purpose for — in any case, that is the principle level of getting such a lot of class pages, no? If within the subject, in finding right here a weblog submit I wrote at the topic.

The truth that e-commerce pages generally tend to have little or no textual content on them makes meta information crucial, as it’s going to be one of the vital major components search engines like google take a look at to know the way a web page differs from the opposite.

2) At web page content material degree

When cannibalisation happens at web page content material degree (that means two or extra pages generally tend to hide very identical subjects of their frame content material), it in most cases wishes extra paintings than the above instance, because it calls for the webmaster to first in finding the entire competing pages after which come to a decision on the most productive strategy to take on the problem.

For instance: say my e-commerce has two weblog pages which quilt the next subjects:

Web page URL Goal of the thing
/weblog/how-to-clean-leather-boots/ Suggests tips on how to maintain leather-based boots so that they last more
/weblog/boots-cleaning-guide-2019/ Presentations a 121 instruction manual on tips on how to clear various kinds of boots

A majority of these key phrase cannibalisation most often happens on editorial pages, or transactional pages supplied with considerable quantity of textual content.

It’s basic to elucidate one thing: search engine optimization is continuously no longer the principle driving force when generating editorial content material, as other groups are fascinated with generating content material for social and engagement causes, and relatively so. Particularly in greater companies, it’s simple to underestimate how advanced it’s to discover a stability between all departments and the way simply issues may also be ignored.

From a natural search engine optimization viewpoint, I will be able to guarantee you that the 2 pages above are very more likely to be topic to cannibalisation. In spite of the reality they have got other editorial angles, they’ll most definitely show some extent of duplicated content material between them (extra in this later).

Within the eyes of a seek engine, how other are those two weblog posts, either one of which purpose to deal with a relatively identical intent? That’s the major query you will have to ask your self when going via this activity. My advice is the next: Earlier than making an investment time and sources into growing new pages, take some time to check your current content material.

What are the forms of cannibalisation in search engine optimization?

Merely put, it is advisable to come throughout 2 major sorts:

1) Two or extra touchdown pages to your website online which can be competing for a similar key phrases

As an example, it might be the case that, for the key phrase “ankle boots”, two of my pages are rating on the identical time:

Web page URL Name tag Rating for the key phrase “ankle boots”
Web page A: /boots/all Ladies’s Boots – Ankle & Chelsea Boots | Distilled Footwear Place eight
Pabe B: /boots/ankle-boots/ Ladies’s Ankle Boots | Distilled Footwear Place five

Is that this an actual cannibalisation factor? The solution is each sure and no.

If a couple of pages are rating for a similar time period, this is because a seek engine reveals components of each pages that they suspect reply to the question by hook or by crook — so technically talking, they’re doable ‘cannibals’.

Does it imply you want to panic and alter the entirety on each pages? For sure no longer. It very a lot will depend on the state of affairs and your goal.

State of affairs 1

Within the cases the place each pages have truly excessive ratings at the first web page of the SERPS, this is able to paintings to your merit: More room occupied way extra site visitors in your pages, so deal with it as “just right” cannibalisation.

If that is so, I like to recommend you do the next:

  • Imagine converting the meta descriptions to lead them to extra attractive and distinctive from every different. You do not need each pages to turn the similar message and fail to provoke the person.
  • If you realise that among the 2 pages, the “secondary/non-intended web page” is rating upper (for instance: Web page A /boots/all ranks upper than Web page B /boots/ankle-boots/ for the time period ‘ankle boots’), you will have to test on Google Seek Console (GSC) to peer which web page is getting probably the most quantity of clicks for that unmarried time period. Then, come to a decision whether it is price changing different components of your search engine optimization to raised deal with that individual key phrase.

As an example, what would occur if I got rid of the time period ankle boots from my /boots/all (Web page A) identify tag and web page replica? If Google reacts by way of favouring my /boots/ankle-boots/ web page as a substitute (Web page B), which would possibly achieve upper positions, then nice! If no longer, the worst case state of affairs is you’ll be able to revert the adjustments again and stay playing the 2 effects on web page one of the vital SERP.

Web page URL Name tag Rating for the key phrase “ankle boots”
Web page A: /boots/all Ladies’s Boots – Chelsea Boots & many extra sorts | Distilled Footwear Take a look at and come to a decision

State of affairs 2

Within the cases the place web page A has excessive ratings web page one of the vital SERPS and web page B is nowhere to be noticed (past the highest 15–20 effects), it’s as much as you to come to a decision if this minor cannibalisation is price your time and sources, as this is probably not an urgency.

If you make a decision that it’s price pursuing, I like to recommend you do the next:

  • Stay tracking the key phrases for which the 2 pages appear to turn, in case Google would possibly react in a different way one day.
  • Come again to this minor cannibalisation level after getting addressed your maximum vital problems.

State of affairs three

Within the cases the place each pages are rating in web page two or 3 of the SERP, then it could be the case that your cannibalisation is retaining one or either one of them again.

If that is so, I like to recommend you do the next:

  • Test on GSC to peer which of your pages is getting probably the most quantity of clicks for that unmarried key phrase. You will have to additionally test on identical phrases, since key phrases on web page two or 3 of the SERP will display very low clicks in GSC. Then, come to a decision which web page will have to be your number one center of attention — the person who is healthier suited from a content material point of view — and be open to check adjustments for on-page search engine optimization components of each pages.
  • Overview your identify tags, headings, and web page copies and take a look at to seek out cases the place each pages appear to overlap. If the stage of duplication between them is truly excessive, it could be price consolidating/canonicalising/redirecting one to the opposite (I will contact in this under).

2) Two or extra touchdown pages to your website online which can be flip-flopping for a similar key phrase

It might be the case that, for example, the key phrase “ankle boots” for 2 of my pages are rating at other instances, as Google turns out to have a troublesome time deciding which web page to make a choice for the time period.

Web page URL Rating for the key phrase “ankle boots” on 1st of January Rating for the key phrase “ankle boots” on fifth of January
Web page A: /boots/all Place 6 No longer rating
Pabe B: /boots/ankle-boots/ No longer rating Place eight

If this occurs to you, try to in finding a solution to the next questions:This can be a not unusual factor that I’m positive a lot of you’ve got encountered, by which touchdown pages appear to be very unstable and rank for a gaggle of key phrases in a non-consistent approach.

When did this flip-flopping get started?

Pinpointing the best second in time the place this all started would possibly allow you to know the way the issue originated within the first position. Perhaps a canonical tag came about or went lacking, possibly some adjustments on your on-page components or an set of rules replace combined issues up?

What number of pages flip-flop between every different for a similar key phrase?

The less pages topic to volatility, the easier and more straightforward to deal with. Attempt to determine which pages are concerned and check out all components that would possibly have brought on this instability.

How continuously do those pages flip-flop?

Try to learn how continuously the rating web page for a key phrase has modified: the less instances, the easier. Pass reference the time of the adjustments along with your wisdom of the website in case it could had been led to by way of different changes.

If the flip-flop has came about best as soon as and turns out to have stopped, there may be most definitely not anything to fret about, as it is most likely a one-off volatility within the SERP. On the finish of the day, we wish to remember the fact that Google runs check and adjustments virtually on a regular basis.

Tips on how to determine which pages are sufferers of cannibalisation

I can give an explanation for what gear I in most cases use to stumble on main cannibalisation fluxes, however I’m positive there are a number of techniques to succeed in the similar effects — if you wish to percentage your pointers, please do remark under!

Equipment to deploy for sort 1 of cannibalisation: When two of extra touchdown pages are competing for a similar key phrase

I do know all of us love gear that allow you to accelerate lengthy duties, and certainly one of my favourites is Ahrefs. I like to recommend the use of their incredible approach which is able to in finding your ‘cannibals’ in mins.

Watch their 5 minute video right here to peer tips on how to do it.

I’m positive SEMrush, SEOMonitor, and different identical gear be offering the similar talent to retrieve that more or less information, possibly simply no longer as speedy as Ahrefs’ approach indexed above. In the event you should not have any gear at your disposal, Google Seek Console and Google Sheets can be your mates, however it’s going to be extra of a handbook procedure.

Equipment to deploy for Kind 2 of cannibalisation: When two or extra touchdown pages are flip-flopping for a similar key phrase

Preferably, maximum rank monitoring gear will be capable to do that functionally uncover when a key phrase has modified rating URL over the years. Again within the day I used monitoring gear like Linkdex and Pi Datametrics to just do this.

At Distilled, we use STAT, which shows this information underneath Historical past, inside the principle Key phrase tab — see screenshot under as instance.

One caveat of a lot of these rating gear is that this information is continuously obtainable best by way of key phrase and would require information research. This implies it should take somewhat of time to test all key phrases concerned on this cannibalisation, however the insights you’ll be able to glean are smartly well worth the effort.

Google Information Studio Dashboard

In case you are in search of a speedier way, you’ll be able to construct a Google Information Studio dashboard that connects on your GSC to offer information in actual time, so that you don’t have to test to your reviews whilst you suppose there’s a cannibalisation factor (credit score to my colleague Dom).

Our instance of a dashboard incorporates two tables (see screenshots under):

The desk above captures the whole record of key phrase offenders for the time frame decided on. As an example, key phrase ‘X’ on the best of the desk has generated 13 natural clicks (total_clicks) from GSC over the length thought to be and adjusted rating URL roughly 24 instances (num_of_pages).

The second one desk (proven above) signifies the person pages that experience ranked for every key phrase for the time frame decided on. On this specific instance, for our key phrase X (which, as we all know, has modified URLs 24 instances within the time frame decided on) the column trail would display the record of particular person URLs which have been turn flopping.

What answers will have to I put into effect to take on cannibalisation?

You will need to distinguish the various kinds of cannibalisation chances are you’ll come upon and take a look at to be versatile with answers — no longer each repair would be the identical.

I began referring to conceivable answers when I used to be speaking concerning the various kinds of cannibalisation, however let’s take a extra holistic way and give an explanation for what answers are to be had.

301 redirection

Ask your self this query: do I truly want the entire pages that I discovered cannibalising every different?

In numerous cases the solution is no, and if that’s the case, 301 redirects are your mates.

As an example, you may have created a brand new (or very identical) model of the similar article your website posted years in the past, so chances are you’ll believe redirecting certainly one of them — most often talking, the older URL would possibly have extra fairness within the eyes of search engines like google and doubtlessly would have attracted some back links over the years.

Web page URL Date of weblog submit
Web page A: weblog/how-to-wear-ankle-boots Would possibly 2016
Web page B: weblog/how-to-wear-ankle-boots-in-2019 December 2018

Test if web page A has back links and, if that is so, what number of key phrases it’s rating for (and the way smartly it’s rating for the ones key phrases)What to do:

  • If web page A has sufficient fairness and visibility, do a 301 redirect from web page B to web page A, trade all inner hyperlinks (coming from the website to web page B) to web page A, and replace metadata of web page A if essential (together with the reference of 2019 for example)
  • If no longer, do the other: entire a 301 redirect from web page A to web page B and alter all inner hyperlinks (coming from the website to web page A) to web page B.


If you do want the entire pages which can be cannibalising for no matter reason why (possibly PPC, social, or checking out functions, or possibly it is only as a result of they’re nonetheless related) then canonical tags are your mates. The principle distinction with a 301 redirect is that each pages will nonetheless exist, whilst the fairness from web page A can be transferred to web page B.

Shall we say you created a brand new article that covers a identical subject to any other current one (however has a special attitude) and also you in finding out that each pages are cannibalising every different. After a snappy research, chances are you’ll come to a decision you need Web page B to be your “number one”, so you’ll be able to use a canonical tag from web page A pointing to web page B. You can wish to use canonicalisation if the content material of the 2 pages is various sufficient that customers will have to see it however no longer such a lot that search engines like google will have to suppose it is other.

Web page URL Date of weblog submit
Web page A: weblog/how-to-wear-ankle-boots-with-skinny-jeans December 2017
Web page B: weblog/how-to-wear-high-ankle-boots January 2019

What to do:

  • Use a canonical tag from web page A to web page B. As a reinforcement to Google, it is advisable to additionally use a self-referencing canonical tag on web page B.
  • After having assessed accessibility and inner hyperlink fairness of each pages, chances are you’ll wish to trade all/some inner hyperlinks (coming from the website to web page A) to web page B when you deem it helpful.

Pages re-optimisation

As already touched on, it basically comes to a metadata form of cannibalisation, which is what I named as sort 1 on this article. After figuring out the pages whose meta information appear to overlap or in some way goal the similar/extremely identical key phrases, it is important to come to a decision which is your number one web page for that key phrase/key phrase crew and re-optimise the competing pages.

See the instance previous within the weblog submit to get a greater concept.

Content material consolidation

This sort of answer comes to consolidating an element or all of the content material of a web page into any other. As soon as that has came about, it’s right down to you to come to a decision whether it is price holding the web page you’ve got stripped content material from or simply 301 redirect it to the opposite.

You can use consolidation as an choice when you suppose the cannibalisation is a results of identical or duplicated content material between a couple of pages, which is much more likely to be the kind 2 of cannibalisation, as mentioned previous. It is very important to determine your number one web page first so you’ll be able to act at the competing inner pages. Content material consolidation calls for you to transport the offending content material on your number one web page to be able to forestall this downside and support your ratings.

For instance, you may have created a brand new article that falls underneath a definite content material theme (on this example, boots cleansing). Then you definately realise paragraph of your new web page B touches on leather-based boots and tips on how to maintain them, which is one thing you’ve got coated in web page A. In case each articles reply to identical intents (one concentrated on cleansing leather-based best, the opposite concentrated on cleansing boots basically), then it’s price consolidating the offending content material from web page B to web page A, and upload an inner hyperlink to web page A as a substitute of the paragraph that covers leather-based boots in web page B.

Web page URL Date of weblog submit
Web page A: weblog/how-to-clean-leather-boots December 2017
Web page B: /weblog/boots-cleaning-guide-2019/ January 2019

What to do:

  • To find the offending a part of content material on web page B, evaluate it and consolidate probably the most compelling bits to web page A
  • Exchange the stripped content material on web page B with an instantaneous inner hyperlink pointing to web page A
  • Continuously after having consolidated the content material of a web page to any other, there’s no scope for the web page the place content material has been stripped from so it will have to simply be redirected (301).

How can I keep away from cannibalisation within the first position?

One of the simplest ways to stop cannibalisation from taking place is an easy, but underrated activity, that comes to key phrase mapping. Enforcing a proper mapping technique in your website is a key a part of your search engine optimization, as vital as your key phrase analysis.

Carson Ward has written an excellent moz weblog submit concerning the subject, I like to recommend you take a look.

Don’t take ‘intent’ with no consideration

Otherwise to keep away from cannibalisation, and the ultimate tip I wish to percentage with you, comes to one thing maximum of you’re accustomed to: seek intent.

As a rule, we take issues with no consideration, assuming Google will behave in a definite method and display positive form of effects. What I imply by way of that is: While you paintings to your key phrase mapping, don’t overlook to test what sort of effects search engines like google show ahead of assuming a definite end result. Continuously, even Google isn’t positive and won’t at all times get intent proper.

As an example, when in search of ‘sneakers present concepts’ and ‘present concepts for shoe fans’ I am getting two very other SERPs although my intent is more or less the similar: I’m in search of concepts for a present which comes to sneakers.

The SERP at the left presentations a SERP for a question of “sneakers present concepts”. It shows a row of images from Google Photographs with the hyperlink to peer extra, one editorial web page (informational content material), after which the remainder of effects are all transactional/e-commerce pages for me to shop for from. Google has assumed that I’d like to peer business pages as I could be just about a conversion.

The SERP at the proper presentations a SERP for a question of “present concepts for display loves”, exhibiting a row of Google Buying groceries commercials after which a featured snippet, taken from an article web page, whilst the remaining are a mixture of transactional and editorial pages, with Pinterest rating two times within the best 10. Obviously Google isn’t positive what I would favor to peer right here. Am I nonetheless within the attention segment or am I transferring to conversion?

The instance above is simply one of the vital many I encountered when going via my key phrase analysis and mapping activity. Earlier than going after a definite key phrase/key phrase cluster, try to deal with some of these issues:

  • Test if certainly one of your current pages has already coated it.
  • If that is so, how smartly have you ever coated the key phrase goal? What are you able to do to support my center of attention? Is there any cannibalisation this is retaining you again?
  • In the event you do no longer have a web page for it, is it price growing one and what implications will it have to your current pages?
  • Test what effects Google is exhibiting for that key phrase goal, because it could be other out of your expectancies.
  • After you have created a brand new web page/s, double test this has no longer created unintended and unplanned cannibalisation additional down the road by way of the use of the information on this submit.


Key phrase cannibalisation is an underrated, however slightly important, downside, particularly for websites which have been working for a number of years and finally end up having a number of pages. On the other hand, concern no longer — there are easy techniques to observe this factor and optimistically this submit let you accelerate the entire procedure to seek out such cases.

Lots of the instances, it is only a question of the use of probably the most logical way whilst making an allowance for different search engine optimization components akin to back links, crawlability, and content material duplication. If conceivable, at all times check your adjustments first ahead of making use of it at site-wide degree or making them everlasting.

In the event you, like me, are partial to wisdom sharing and also you suppose there are higher techniques to assist with cannibalisation, please remark under!


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