Keyword Cannibalisation: Why It Negatively Affects Your SEO

Keyword Cannibalisation: Why It Negatively Affects Your SEO

Updated on: 15 September 2023

Keyword Cannibalisation: Why It Negatively Affects Your SEO

With SEO already being difficult enough as you compete with other brands to rank higher on the results page, the last thing you need is to compete with yourself inadvertently. This is essentially what happens when your site suffers from keyword cannibalisation, which occurs when you have numerous articles or blog posts ranking for the exact same query on search engines. This often happens when you publish new content that is either too similar to what you have previously written or you have optimised them to the same set of keywords, causing the nearly identical posts to eat away at each other’s potential to rank. Google generally shows as many as two results from the same domain in their SERPs, while domains with a higher authority may get up to three.

Why Keyword Cannibalisation is Detrimental To Your SEO Strategy

As mentioned, experiencing keyword cannibalisation with your content means competing against yourself in ranking on the results page. For instance, when two posts cover the same topic with only minute differences, Google will have difficulty choosing the one to rank the highest for matching queries. Moreover, critical factors like CTR and backlinks that get used over several posts instead of just one inevitably get diluted, causing both articles they are found to rank lower. This is why optimising new posts with keywords you have already used previously is generally not recommended.

Recognising keyword cannibalisation is simple enough; just do a focused search on your site using Google’s search operators like ‘site:’ for specific keywords that you believe may turn up with multiple results. Finding a couple of your pages rank high for the same keyword may pose no issue, but if they are somehow at the lower end of the results, you have a problem.

Tips on Resolving Keyword Cannibalisation

Rooting out keyword cannibalisation on your website starts with performing a content audit and analysing your content marketing performance. Doing so lets you determine the articles causing the problem and makes it easy to choose which ones to keep, merge, or delete.

Merge Similar Articles

Two or more articles that tell almost the same story and attract the same audience are better off being merged. Rewriting these articles into a singular and more comprehensive post eliminates your keyword cannibalisation problem and improves your odds of ranking higher, as Google prefers lengthy and well-written content.

Improve Your Internal Linking Structure

Establishing a good internal linking structure is another way you can help search engines determine which of your similar articles is the most important. This entails linking from posts of low importance to those of higher importance, enabling Google to follow the links and figure out which article you want to rank the highest in SERPS.


Your website will naturally grow over time, which means you are bound to encounter the keyword cannibalisation problem sooner or later as you continue writing new articles that share similarities without even knowing it.

Hence, it is recommended to frequently review the keywords you wish to rank for the most to keep this particular issue in check and prevent it from hindering your SEO efforts.