How To Tackle Keyword Cannibalisation & Dominate the SERPs [Updated for 2024]

keyword cannibalisation

Below you can find an updated version of my BrightonSEO talk about How To Tackle Keyword Cannibalisation and Dominate the SERPs. Delivered at SEOday 2024, this has been expanded to cover recent Google Updates and discuss in more detail how you can leverage the Reviews System for organic success.

Keyword Cannibalisation in 2024: Summary

 

Throwing As Much S**t Against the Wall As You Can & Hoping It Sticks Doesn’t Work

This is true of SEO as much as is of football, and the theme of content saturation and the keyword cannibalisation it creates is perhaps the best example of this.

What Is Organic Keyword Cannibalisation?

“Where URLs on the same domain compete for organic non brand rankings, confusing search engines and creating SERP flux. This dilutes the visibility and performance of all pages, hampering overall SEO performance”

This isn’t pinched from anywhere, this is my definition and although there may be more succinct descriptions, it has always been a good way of describing the issue to clients. The key aspect being this SERP flux, created by near duplicate or similar URLs competing for organic rankings and ultimately struggling.

Core Updates Favour Reliable People First Content

The best way to strip back keyword cannibalisation and why it’s a problem for SEO, especially given recent Core Updates is the fact that they favour “reliable, people first content”.

core updates and keyword cannibalisation

Many have taken this terminology to be an attack on AI generated or spun copy, but this still very much related to content that has been created simply for search engines. Much of the similar content we see when tackling keyword cannibalisation emanates from historic SEO activity whereby the strategy has been to create URLs for every single keyword with no regard for search intent.

 

Panda Created a Huge Saturation of Content on the Web

 

Whilst some level of keyword cannibalisation is inevitable, particularly for enterprise level sites or those with significant authority, Panda and the ethos of “content is king” that it spawned is some way responsible.

Although it can’t be argued that content isn’t integral to a successful SEO campaign and Panda absolutely gave the SERPs a much needed clean-up back in 2011, it created an obsession with creating content for content’s sake in the hope it boosted SEO performance.

Nowadays, this over saturation of content on the same topics and focussed on the same keywords is actually bad for SEO as Google clamps down on content that hasn’t been created “people first”.

 

Search Intent Is Now Key

Search intent is not new, nor is its importance to a great content strategy. However, ensuring your content has been created to match the intent of its target themes and keywords has never been more important.

With e-commerce sites housing content on PLPs (product landing pages), PDPs (product description pages), blogs, articles, guides and other evergreen content hubs and possibly other templates, nailing this search intent is the best way to avoid keyword cannibalisation when targeting terms across your domain.

 

Off The Grain: SEO Case Study

All the keyword cannibalisation themes discussed in the talk, are based on successes we have had with our client Off The Grain. A site with low authority compared to its direct competitors but that has seen significant impact in terms of organic visibility, traffic and most crucially, sales.

Now outranking the likes of Etsy, eBay and Wayfair for its key terms, this has been achieved through effective optimisation for Google’s Review System as well as resolving a large amount of keyword cannibalisation that had accumulated before SEO was a consideration.

 

off the grain seo visibility - keyword cannibalisation

 

Much of this keyword cannibalisation was caused by PDPs and PLPs competing with each other, but removing similar PLPs and refining content on PDP pages using the Product Review criteria helped us to address a range of SEO issues in one go.

The impact that recent Google Core Updates have had on the site vindicate the approach and show how low authority sites can compete for high volume keywords when onsite SEO is in great shape.

 

How Can I Resolve Keyword Cannibalisation?

 

The juicy bit and thing that most of us go to SEO talk for, is the actionable insight.

So, a quick summary of how you can go away and resolve keyword cannibalisation for your website or client, if indeed it is creating SEO issues:

 

Google Site Search & SERP Analysis

Not the perfect solution, but a great place to start. Remember that a site search will bring back anything deemed relevant to that term, so there will be a lot of noise but you can use a plug-in such as SEO Minion to download the SERPs for a phrase and manually review.

 

Ahrefs

This tool has great position history functionality which allows you to see weekly fluctuations and more crucially, and changes in the landing pages that have ranked. If there are lots of these or they are changing regularly, then the likelihood is that you have a problem.

 

Sistrix

 

This is similar functionality but with a daily ranking history feature which is displayed a bit more succinctly and allows you to easily see of you have an issue with SERP flux.

 

Keyword Insights (KWI)

AI based tools such as Keyword Insights help you to quickly establish if a cluster of keywords needs its own landing page or would cause keyword cannibalisation issues.

 

addressing keyword cannibalisation with keyword insights

 

You can use their SERP similarity tool to see how similar the results are for two terms and upload your keyword set and allow their AI to do its magic and cluster them all for you quickly.

 

Google Search Console

And of course, trusty Google Search Console. The only accurate way to see which of your landing pages are getting clicks and impressions for a given term is GSC. So any analysis you take from 3rd party tools should be checked and refined and ultimately, check your Google Search Console data to ensure the trends correlate.

 

How To Tackle Keyword Cannibalisation & Dominate the SERPs: Summary

 

  • SEO & Content Audit: Is keyword cannibalisation an issue for your site?

 

  • Prune out any duplicate, similar, thin or low engagement URLs

 

  • Cluster your keywords: merge and consolidate wherever possible based on search data, search intent and the SERPs

 

  • Fill in your content gaps, not by creating URLS for every keyword but by optimising for clusters and entities. Keep an eye on PDP vs PLP

 

  • Don’t over optimise for money keywords, you don’t need 20 blogs on a topic

 

If you have any question about keyword cannibalisation and it’s impact on SEO performance, or anything else regarding your organic strategy then just drop us a line at [email protected]

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