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How to Fix SEO Cannibalization and What It Is

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What is SEO Cannibalization?

In the vast world of SEO, cannibalization refers to a situation where multiple web pages from the same domain compete for rankings using the same or very similar keywords. Think of it as a self-inflicted wound, where instead of helping each other, your pages end up harming their own rankings.

The Roots of the Issue

At its core, SEO cannibalization stems from a lack of direction or clarity in content strategy. When multiple pages are produced on the same topic without distinct keyword targeting, they inadvertently battle against each other in search engine rankings.

Why is it a Problem for Websites?

This internal competition can be detrimental. Search engines like Google struggle to identify the most relevant page from your site for a specific keyword, leading to potential devaluation of your content. Plus, the SEO efforts you pour into these pages get divided, thereby reducing the effectiveness of your strategy.

Recognizing the Signs of SEO Cannibalization

Similar Page Titles

If you navigate through your website and notice numerous pages with nearly identical titles, you're likely experiencing cannibalization. Such repetition confuses search algorithms about which page to rank higher for a given query.

Content Overlaps

While it's essential to cover a topic thoroughly, repeated content across separate pages can be a sign of cannibalization. It's not just about the exact words; even similar themes and structures can trigger this issue.

Competitive Keywords

Upon reviewing your pages, if you find them frequently targeting the same set of keywords, you're in the cannibalization zone. It's like having two soldiers from the same army fighting over one shield.

How do I check where I have SEO cannibalization in my site?

Detecting SEO cannibalization is the first crucial step towards resolving it. Ignoring it could mean allowing your pages to compete against each other, undermining your SEO efforts. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you spot potential trouble areas:

Use SEO Tools

There are several SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz that can help detect cannibalization. They provide detailed reports highlighting keyword overlaps among your web pages.

Manual Inspection

Go through your site's content, especially if you've written about similar topics. Check for pages with nearly identical titles, meta descriptions, or headings. Look for repeated keywords across different pages.

Google Search Operator

Use the "site:" operator on Google. For instance, if you want to see how many of your pages rank for "digital marketing tips," you'd type in "digital marketing tips". This search will show all the pages on your domain that mention that exact phrase.

Check Google Search Console

Review the 'Performance' section. Identify keywords where multiple pages from your site are appearing in the search results. This could indicate potential cannibalization.

Analyze Internal Links

Using tools like Screaming Frog, check for excessive internal links pointing to multiple pages with similar content. This can dilute the value of each page.

Engage an SEO Expert

Sometimes, the expert eye can spot nuances that tools or manual checks might miss. An SEO professional can conduct a thorough audit, highlight issues, and even help you resolve them.

By systematically working through these steps, you'll be able to identify where SEO cannibalization exists on your site and take the necessary steps to address it, ensuring each page serves a unique and valuable purpose in your overall SEO strategy.

Methods to Fix SEO Cannibalization

Merging Content

Instead of having two half-baked pages, why not create one comprehensive masterpiece? Merging overlapping content can enhance the depth and richness of information, making it more valuable to both users and search engines.

Using Canonical Tags

These handy tags allow webmasters to point search engines towards the "main" page when similar content exists. It's a nifty way to consolidate ranking signals without physically merging pages.

Redirection Techniques

301 redirects are a savior. By redirecting a less important page to a more significant one, you effectively merge their SEO strengths, ensuring that the target page receives all the attention and ranking prowess.

Adjusting Internal Links

Refining your internal linking structure can work wonders. By strategically pointing links to your primary pages, you can guide both users and search engines to your most relevant and essential content.

Benefits of Fixing SEO Cannibalization

Addressing cannibalization not only cleans up your site's structure but also leads to increased organic visibility. When each page has a clear, unique purpose, search engines can more effectively index and rank your content.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Be wary of producing content without a clear strategy. Regularly audit your pages for overlapping keywords, and always prioritize quality over quantity. Remember, it's better to have one strong page than several weak ones.


Understanding and addressing SEO cannibalization is crucial for an effective SEO strategy. By ensuring that each piece of content has a distinct and valuable purpose, you can enhance user experience and boost your site's visibility on search engines. Stay vigilant, stay strategic, and watch your digital presence soar!

Higglo Digital is a full-service SEO and web agency. From Hulu to Blizzard, we’ve worked with clients across many industries and markets including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, New York City and Sydney. We have the expertise and experience to take your brand to the next level. We create memorable brand experiences and award winning websites.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes SEO cannibalization?

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It's often a result of unclear content strategy, leading to multiple pages targeting the same keywords.

How does cannibalization impact my site's ranking?

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It divides the SEO strength of your pages, confusing search engines and potentially lowering your ranking.

Can I avoid SEO cannibalization completely?

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With regular audits, strategic planning, and clarity in content creation, you can significantly minimize its occurrence.

Do search engines penalize for cannibalization?

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Not directly, but it affects your site's performance, which in turn impacts rankings.

How often should I check for SEO cannibalization?

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As a rule of thumb, check whenever you add new content or make significant changes to existing pages.

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