Keyword Cannibalization in simple terms happens when two or more pages on a website have same search keyword or term. The duplicate theme leads to a conflict which Google doesn’t seem to get and fails to determine which page to show when the keyword or the term is searched. The same keyword on all the pages does more harm than good, it makes the search engine think your website is not relevant. It usually happens when the website doesn’t have a strong landing page. Or when a subpage or lower page gets more prominence than a landing page. One of the reasons we perform SEO is to have better control over the experience our website provides.
A lot of marketers are not even aware of this issue hitting their website which makes the matters get worse. The common mistake here is that the marketers look at the website page by page and not as one single unit, since the outlook is wrong, they fall victim to keyword cannibalization.
In fact, many websites face this issue because of historic content or a lack of a clear search strategy. It is important to identify and address a major search engine optimization issue to maximize your search visibility and plan your future content creation. Since, it is a pain to revamp websites, the content stays there and gets outdated, hitting the search volumes and taking the numbers down.
Quite possible that out of the several pages on the same topic, only one or few pages are converting better than the rest. You can test this theory by looking at your data in Google Analytics such as Tracking goals or Ecommerce Conversions Tracking, for example, or through tools like Optimizely. It’s a waste of effort to have multiple lower converting pages targeting the same traffic.Here are two things you should not be doing – Diluting authority between pages and inefficient crawling & indexing of pages, more than one page with the same primary keyword can make it more difficult for the search engines to understand what the authoritative page is; Also, having multiple pages that are pitching against each other makes the search engine crawl pages that are not needed.
Having a strong landing page can be the cure in the first instance. However, this page needs to have good content and links.Ultimately webmasters and content writers need to confirm which page they want to appear for a given search term. Once the page is decided upon then internal linking, content and backlink strategies should be devised.
If your product pages have strong link profiles, but continuously cannibalise each other, then in some instances you can 301 redirect them to a single page, to collate these links. You can then go on to create new product pages. This technique takes the view that the sum of all the parts is better than the individual parts. However, monitoring your assets on a daily basis is the only way using to discover and remedy cannibalization.