How Keyword Cannibalization Could Be a Surprising Opportunity in SEO

As more organizations define their ongoing SEO strategy, many of them are growing concerned about using every search keyword to the fullest.

“Having an optimized page visible in search results isn’t quite enough anymore,” the logic goes. “It’s essential that the content shown for each keyword be the absolute best we’ve got.”

While this makes sense, the conclusion many SEO experts reach is a dangerous one:

“That means there’s one – and only one – ideal page that should rank for each keyword.”

As greater numbers of keyword-rich pages go up on a site, some marketers and webmasters worry about pages “competing against each other” by having several different results from their domain show up in multiple positions on the search results page.

This phenomenon has a name: Keyword cannibalization.

However, it’s a lot less scary than it sounds!

There are several important things to realize about keyword cannibalization:

Technically, It Doesn’t Exist

A number of theories have popped up around the idea of keyword cannibalization, including that having multiple pages in consideration for a certain keyword means Google won’t show any of them. Another: That Google or other search engines can get confused when multiple pages focus on the same keyword. Luckily, there’s no evidence to support either of these claims.

It May Be Better for Users

Although page results in the highest SERP position are the most likely to get clicked, users can often tell at a glance when a page isn’t for them. Pages often talk about a certain subject, but don’t provide the information a user is looking for. With multiple results, they’re more likely to find the right one – plus, they can tell that your site has lots of content centered on their area of interest.

keyword cannibalization

More Results = More Traffic

Every blog post is written with a certain kind of user in mind. You could be targeting total newcomers, warm leads, or existing customers, for example. Each person will have different expectations for your content, and they could end up at a page that isn’t what you hoped. It all adds organic traffic, though, and good site navigation will help users get where they want to be.

It Can Help You Optimize

If you’re in the position of having multiple pages jostling for premium search result real estate, you can use results data itself to help you fine-tune your SEO strategy. Add the string &filter=0 to a Google search URL where your pages appear and you’ll see “unfiltered” results. This can include multiple results from each site, giving you a sense of which ones are ranking best.

In short, don’t fear keyword cannibalization: It could even help new customers find you more easily.