So how can you avoid content cannibalization?
What Is Content Cannibalization?
Content cannibalization, or keyword cannibalization, occurs when multiple web pages (or blog articles) contain content that is too similar to each other. These pages will then compete with each other for the same keywords, confusing search engines. Google isn’t sure which one to rank and it may not rank the same one on any given day. This means that instead of driving traffic to both pages at the same time, you’re actually dividing your website’s traffic between the two pages.
Can Internal Links Cause Cannibalization?
The internal link structure of your website can also sometimes cause cannibalization that can occur independently of the pages’ content. If you consistently link to a sub-page on your website, much more so than the home page, then Google may determine that that sub-page is more important than your home page in the hierarchy of your website. When this occurs, the ‘more popular’ web page may be displayed in the search results. This can drive traffic away from web pages that you want to have more traffic.
How Do I Determine that Content Is Too Similar?
To discover which pages are too similar to each other, you can look at which pages aren’t getting as much traffic. The reason for the lower traffic may be cannibalization. You can also do an audit of your content. Look at the content of each page and determine its focus and intent. If two similar pages have different purposes, then there are steps you can take to further differentiate them. If they have the same purpose, then merging the two together may be a better solution.
Can I Merge Content that Is Too Similar?
One option to avoid cannibalization is to merge together any pages that have topics that are too similar. This will direct all traffic that used to be split between the pages to just one, unified web page. Plus, merging content may have the added bonus of fleshing out thinner content. The combined web page will be longer and overall more informative and useful to users.
How Can I Differentiate Pages?
If merging the pages’ content isn’t an option or isn’t preferable, you can try instead to differentiate the pages. Go over the on-page SEO for each page and check the meta-data. If you can re-name headings and the pages’ titles, that can help differentiate them further, both for users and for Google’s algorithm.
It’s also a good idea to go over the content of similar pages. Some rewriting to differentiate the focus of each page may benefit both pages.