What Is Keyword Cannibalization and How To Avoid It
Updated: Nov 14
You might think 'the more, the better' when it comes to blog content, right?
It’s best to publish as many search-optimized blogs as possible, right?
Well, that depends.
Yes—it's fundamentally important to frequently publish blog content. Google favours websites that constantly publish new content.
But gone are the days of quantity over quality. Rather than publishing dozens of 500-word blog posts on the same keyword, it's ideal to publish stronger pieces of long-form content about strategic keywords.
Publishing too much content about one keyword can actually be harmful to your site’s authority ranking.
That’s because this can lead to keyword cannibalization.
What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization (also known as content cannibalization) happens when two or more of your pages are competing for the same keyword.
Google doesn’t know which one to rank higher, and as a result, both pages can drop.
Here is an example of keyword cannibalization.
Notice how two pages from the same site pop up when you search “leather shoes portugal.”
While this might seem like a good thing, it’s not. Keyword cannibalization may be hurting your website more than it helps.
Instead of claiming more SERP real estate, Google’s algorithm isn’t sure which page to rank higher. Sites with greater authority scores then swoop in, and push your pages down.
These results from the image above are quite far down on the first page, and might not be as high as they could be.
On top of that, this is actually a waste of your content's hard work—you’re competing with yourself!
How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization
So, how do you avoid this frustrating (although common) SEO problem?
Let’s say you run a culture blog about Paris. You often write about culture news, events, and now, you decide you want to rank highly for the keyword “best paris restaurants.”
Where do you begin?
Well, steer clear of writing five different blogs on the "best restaurants in Paris." This can certainly lead to keyword cannibalization on the topic.
Instead, it's ideal to create a targeted keyword strategy using keyword clusters.
What are Keyword Clusters?
Building keyword clusters starts with keyword research around your base topic.
Note: you can do this manually or through tools like Content Distribution. Today we'll focus on the manual route.
In this case, the topic will be “paris restaurants.”
Plug that into Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, or another similar SEO tool.
You will then see a lengthy list of keywords.
But let’s filter those down.
In this case, we want to exclude all references to irrelevant cities in the US.
Let’s also adjust the keyword difficulty percentage to 0-30%. This will show us keywords that are possible to rank for.
These are the results.
Notice how Semrush categorizes keywords on the left-hand side. These keywords could be the foundation of our subtopics.
So while your primary keyword topic might be “paris restaurants,” you can start writing pieces of content around:
Best latin quarter restaurants paris
Best kosher restaurants paris
Best mexican restaurants paris
Top restaurants in paris arrondissement
Top paris restaurants with a view
This way, you’ll cover a lot more real estate than just ranking for “best paris restaurants.”
And here's the kicker. Because these are easier topics to rank for, there’s a good chance you’ll show up higher in search for them. Google will likely favour your site over other, and build up your authority ranking.
Note: Unsure what your site's authority ranking is? You can find this in a tool like Semrush. Theirs is known as "Authority Score."
The more pages that rank, the higher your authority ranking will be.
This may increase the likelihood of showing up not just for easier topics like "best mexican restaurants paris," but for harder ones, too.
And eventually, we might be the top source for "best restaurants paris"—the ultimate goal!
So what's the takeaway here?
Keyword cannibalization isn't a good thing. Steer clear of it.
Instead, focus on a targeted keyword strategy based on keyword clusters and building site authority.
It takes more time, but the hard work will be worth the reward.