SEO Keywords Cannibalization – Are You Making This Mistake Too?

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As a web design Singapore company, we understand why business owners want to rank their websites highly in search engine result pages. Towards that end, they sometimes attempt to do so by stuffing their pages with keywords, resulting in several pages that contain the same keywords. Do you do that too? If so, this may be the reason why your website is not ranking well on Google.

Keywords tell Google what your page is about in order for it to return the most relevant results to a user’s search query. When multiple pages contain the same keywords, Google does not know which page out of all your pages containing the same keyword to return in its results. Known as keyword cannibalization, it hurts your ranking and can affect your conversion rate.

For example, if your site sells backpacks and all of your pages are targeted only for the ‘backpack’ keyword without differentiating for the different types of backpacks (outdoors, school, etc.), you are effectively telling Google every page is about backpacks. When a search for ‘backpack’ is employed, Google is forced to pick the page it thinks best matches for the term. However, it can at times get things wrong and consequently return a less than optimal page. In this way, rather than a single highly authoritative page, your pages now have to compete against each other to appear in Google’s search results.

Furthermore, if your site produces content and has posts that are picked up by other sites, having multiple pages on the same subject may lead to other sites linking to different pages. This spreads the attributed authority thin amongst internal pages and lowers your ability to rank well in general.

How do you know if your problem is keyword cannibalization?

Some common symptoms of keyword cannibalization include Google returning the wrong page for a search term, a page on your site no longer getting traffic for its key search term, or a page on your site disappearing and appearing again in Google. To verify if you have a keyword cannibalization issue, compile a list of all your site’s important URLs and the keywords on those pages to determine if there are any duplicate keywords. Keep in mind that meta information in your title tags can also contribute to keyword cannibalization, so make sure to look them through.

What you can do to resolve keyword cannibalization

1. Differentiate pages and link back to a main landing page

Rather than targeting ‘backpacks’ for every page, distinguish pages by their variations and link them back to a main landing page for the general keyword. For example, following from our earlier analogy, we would separate the site into individual pages that reflect the different types of backpacks there are and target those pages for the specific keyword variation – a page for ‘school backpacks’, another for ‘outdoor backpacks’ and one for ‘work backpacks’, then link them all back to a main ‘backpacks’ landing page. Thus, Google can now easily determine the most relevant page to return for a query.

2. Collate your content

In other instances, your content may not be robust enough to justify having multiple pages targeting different keywords. For such cases, consider collating your content into a single page so that it yields a more authoritative showing. To pass the ranking power of your previous individual pages to the collated main page, use a 301 permanent redirect. It will also send all traffic from the previous individual pages to your collated main page.


Organizing your content well allows you to dictate which page to put forth for a particular search term and search engines to easily understand your site’s information architecture in order to return the most relevant results to users. You get a landing page most optimal for conversions, Google doesn’t get confused, and users get their queries answered – a win for everybody!

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