Do you have keyword cannibalisation problems?
What are keyword cannibalisation problems?
When the landing page that ranks for a targeted keyword keeps changing, you have a keyword cannibalisation issue.
You may have heard this problem referred to as an Internal Page Conflict issue, and if you look at ranking reports on a regular basis, I’m betting you’ve noticed this issue.
I’m betting you’ve noticed that the landing page for a keyword sometimes changes.
Now, you may not consider this to be a big deal.
Whether you rank with one page or another, it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re ranking, right…?
Well, not quite.
Having your site rank for a targeted keyword is important.
Having the right page that ranks for the targeted keyword is just as important.
When us SEOs look at rankings, we aren’t just looking at the position we rank on, we also consider the page that is ranking, and how stable the page that ranks, for the keyword, is in the SERPs.
The page that ranks for a keyword indicates how well the page is optimised for the keyword, i.e. how well the page targets the keyword.
Having more than one page that ranks for a keyword isn’t a problem. This wouldn’t be considered an internal page conflict.
It’s simply Google identifying that more than one page is relevant for the given query thereby presenting them – one after another.
However, when the landing page that’s displayed for a ranking changes, and changes frequently, you have a keyword cannibalisation problem.
What does this mean?
It means that Google is unsure of the best page on your site that represents the keyword that’s being queried – the keyword that you’re targeting, the keyword that you’re ranking for.
Why is this a big deal?
It’s a big deal because having a page that ranks for a keyword, which isn’t intended to rank for the keyword, could lose you traffic you otherwise would have received had you had the appropriate page ranking for the keyword.
Remember, targeting a keyword also means you target the page that should rank for the keyword.
It’s no good ranking for a keyword if the page that ranks doesn’t satisfy the user who searches with the keyword you’re targeting.
Even if you’re number one, even if you’re in position 0, if the page does not satisfy the user intent, you will not get that user to convert.
It’s not enough to have your site ranking. You need to ensure you have the appropriate page that ranks for the keyword you’re targeting.
It’s unfortunate for a brand to spend so much time and budget improving their search visibility only to have non-targeted pages ranking, or worse, to end up with non-targeted pages conflicting with the targeted pages for high value targeted keywords.
This happens all too often.
How does this end up happening?
Brands fall into the pitfall of failing to address this one simple question when building pages.
If a page has an SEO equity to it, simply ask this question:
Is this the best page that satisfies the search intent behind the targeted keywords?
It’s an open and broad question but one that can (and perhaps should) be used to ensure you’re not creating pages that will conflict with another that already targets the keyword you’re aiming for.
You wanna be looking at pages as assets.
Assets that you aim to grow.
What I mean by this is, instead of creating new pages all the time, simply to target keywords, think of the purpose of pages.
Purpose first, and then keywords.
You may find that it’s better to update pages, consistently, rather than to consistently create new ones.
Aim to have one page for a targeted keyword.
This page should be the most important page for the term that provides precisely what the user wants when they search with the term, and enters your site via organic.
A quick hack to understand what the purpose of a page should be is to gather insights from the landscape of the term you’re going after.
If there is a demand to the keyword you aim to target, there is already someone who is satisfying searchers.
You may deem they’re not doing a very good job of it, which is great for you.
But regardless, you’ll be able to see what users expect, and also get a sense of what search engines aim to deliver to searchers. You’ll be able to see what search engines value as a result of the keyword you’re aiming to target.
Cannibalisations easily happens when new pages are created.
This is why you must have SEO involved when you create new pages.
Any page you create needs SEO to be aware of it – as a bare minimum, SEO need to be aware of it.
As long as a page is searchable, it can inadvertently end up conflicting with another page.
It’s very easy for Web Managers to ignore SEO, usually because they’re unaware of where SEO fits in.
The better SEO is integrate in your process for publishing pages, the better you’ll be able to avoid cannibalisation issues.
One thing you could do, in way of prevention, is to have a massive spreadsheet of your equity pages and the keywords targeted on each page.
When a new page is being created, cross-reference the document to ensure that a keyword is not already being targeted.
It’s a long process. It’s a lot of work. But it’s worth it.
It’ll prevent you from inadvertently creating pages that compete with each other.
SEO is hard enough.
Why make it harder by having pages that compete with each other?