This search engine optimization (SEO) guide explains how to fix keyword cannibalization in SEO.
Below, you’ll find a list of the top ways to eliminate keyword cannibalization on your website to stop web pages from competing with each other for the same keywords in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
There’s also a section with additional resources that explain more about the fundamentals of keyword cannibalization to help you create a better search engine optimization strategy.
Table of Contents
How To Fix Keyword Cannibalization In SEO
1. De-Optimize the Page
The first way for how to fix keyword cannibalization in SEO is to de-optimize the problematic page for specific search queries.
This step involves reducing the keyword usage (or density) on the competing page so it becomes de-optimized for that specific term. At the same time, you can boost the relevancy of the target SEO keyword on the correct page by optimizing it more heavily for the target search phrase.
2. Merge the Cannibalized Pages
Another best practice for fixing keyword cannibalization is to merge the competing pages into a single, more authoritative resource. This is a great option if neither page is especially strong on its own.
When using the method to eliminate cannibalization issues, you should consider metrics like organic traffic, conversion rate, and keyword rankings for each competing web page to identify the strongest performer. This URL will then be the foundation of your new, combined page.
For example, if one web page has high traffic and the other has a high conversion rate, then you should use the high-traffic page as your base URL for fixing keyword cannibalization problems. This strategy will allow you to move the high conversion rate content onto the page that’s getting more visitors—resulting in a better web page that has both strengths.
Once you’ve chosen your strongest page, merge the content from the weaker page into it. Also, exclude sections that overlap with content that’s already on the foundation page. Finally, create a 301 redirect from the weaker URL to the stronger URL to cause it to drop out of the SERPs.
3. Use a Canonical URL
A quick and easy way to fix keyword cannibalization in search engine optimization while keeping the problematic page still published without much additional work is to canonicalize the URL.
Using a canonical URL informs search engine crawlers that a specific URL is the master page and should be used for indexing and ranking in the SERPs. This is a common SEO practice for websites that have duplicate or near similar content.
For example, a site owner may have five landing pages for a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign that contains the exact same layout and content but the call-to-action (CTA) is different for testing the conversion rates.
In that case, you wouldn’t want Google and other search engines to think that you’re trying to manipulate the search results by having five near duplicate pages. Therefore, setting up a canonical URL to the master page is the correct practice to follow and is encouraged by search engine providers like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to prevent indexing and ranking issues.
However, this strategy is not only useful for fixing problems with similar content. It can also work for any type of competing page in the SERPs, whether it has duplicate content or not.
You can canonicalize any URL to another URL to stop keyword cannibalization on a website. Plus, using this method will help pass any established link equity from the problematic page to the correct URL for SEO purposes (i.e., increased Page Authority score).
4. Delete and Redirect the Cannibalizing Pages
If you want to eliminate keyword cannibalization issues and don’t care about the content on the weaker page, then you can simply delete it and redirect the URL to the stronger content.
This step works well if you accidentally created one or more pages targeting the same user search intent or keywords. In this case, you only want a single web page to be crawled by the search engines because having several pages attracting the same audience only decreases organic visibility and traffic for the stronger page.
To use this method for fixing cannibalization issues, choose the URL with the best visibility, traffic, and bounce rate. Then create a 301 redirect from the competing pages you want to stop the web crawlers from accessing so it leads to the target page you want to rank high in the SERPs. Next, delete those other web pages from your server so they don’t get accidentally republished under different URL structures.
5. Noindex the Page
If you can’t delete, merge, canonicalize, or redirect problematic pages on your website, the final option to fix keyword cannibalization is to noindex the competing URLs. However, you should only use this strategy as a last resort for SEO because the other methods listed on this page offer better results.
The noindex tag effectively tells Google and other search engines to completely exclude the page from the search index. However, the content still remains published on your site and a search engine crawler can still access the URL. Although rare, some URLs do accidentally get reindexed even though they have the noindex tag, which is why this should be your last choice for stopping keyword cannibalization issues.
To noindex a web page, you just have to add the rel=”noindex” tag in the header section of the HTML code. If you’re using WordPress and have an SEO plugin like AIOSEO, Rank Math, or Yoast installed, then you can just check a box to noindex a URL without touching any of the HTML.
Once you put the noindex tag in place for the cannibalizing page, you should see the change take effect within a week or two by seeing the URL drop out of the SERPs.
Canonicalization is a much-preferred method of fixing keyword cannibalization over the noindex solution because canonicalized URLs still contribute ranking signals to the target page by transferring their link equity to the URL. Noindexing a web page removes the passing of PageRank value for SEO because the incoming backlinks are cut off and not rerouted to another URL on the domain.
Learn More About Keyword Cannibalization
The links below explain more about keyword cannibalization and how it applies to search engine optimization. Use these resources to expand your knowledge on the subject.
- How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization In SEO
- How to Identify Keyword Cannibalization In SEO
- Best Keyword Cannibalization Checker Tools for SEO
Fix Keyword Cannibalization In SEO Summary
I hope you enjoyed this guide explaining how to fix keyword cannibalization in SEO.
As you discovered, there are several ways to eliminate keyword cannibalization on your website to stop web pages from competing for the same keywords in the SERPs, with the top search engine optimization strategies including de-optimizing the problematic page, merging the cannibalized pages together, using a canonical URL, deleting and redirecting duplicate content, and using the noindex tag. Following these guidelines can help improve your overall SEO strategy for higher rankings and traffic.