Natural referencing is a technical area, sometimes difficult to approach correctly. Several factors affect the positioning of a site or web page on search engines. The consequences are not always positive. This is particularly the case of the SEO cannibalization


SEO cannibalization: what is it?

It is important to understand the definition of SEO cannibalization in order to be able to detect it and find solutions to correct it. SEO cannibalization can be defined as competition between two or more web pages, from the same website, optimized on the same keyword in search results.

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SEO cannibalization affects large sites or blogs that contain a lot of text content, but not only. It can just as easily affect a niche site that only deals with a few very specific subjects. Indeed, many articles will be treated on subjects often related, which can involve a recurrence of certain keywords. This can impact both the home page and the internal pages of a site.

What is its downside for SEO?

The major drawback of SEO cannibalization is that the web page that we would like to position on a specific term, and that we find the most relevant, could be cannibalized by another page of the site that deals with the same expression. The latter could steal its place in the search engine results. The algorithm of the search engine will not know which URL to position on the keyword. In addition, it will disperse the authority obtained by the pages in question.

In addition, SEO cannibalization takes over the crawl of search engine robots.

What is the downside of SEO cannibalization?

Do not confuse SEO cannibalization and duplicate content

As we have just discussed, the SEO cannibalization is the fact that several pages of the same site can be positioned on the same keyword. It will therefore not necessarily be the page that we want to highlight that will be optimized on the chosen term. Whereas duplicate content, in French, duplicate content, designates the content of a web page very similar to another or even identical. This is to be strongly avoided, as Google is not fond of it.

How to detect SEO cannibalization?

If you want to know what topics are covered on your website, you can easily find all the pages indexed by Google. To do this, simply type in the Google search bar: site: followed by the desired keyword. It is obvious that you must replace the “” part with the address of your website. The search engine will reveal all the pages it has stored in the blink of an eye. The best thing is to check the keywords and look at the pages linked to these keywords that go up on the search engine.

Solutions to prevent SEO cannibalization

The SEO cannibalization can be prevented with a little attention. If some seek to implement this technique in order to maximize their chances of finding themselves in the search engine results in the face of too weak competitors. This allows them to place multiple pages of their sites in the search engine results. However, this remains to be avoided.

The right keyword choice

Choosing the right keyword for content is essential in SEO. It is important to think carefully about the expression you want to use in a text. Did you think that it would be wise to use synonyms? The algorithms of search engines are more and more advanced. Indeed, they are now able to group expressions and understand the synonyms of a word.

To be sure you don’t use the same expression, designing an Excel table, listing all the keywords assigned to each site URL, is a good way to avoid duplicates. If you want to deal with a related subject, you will be able to consult the document and redefine your angle in order tobring new content.

Solutions to prevent SEO cannibalization

Writing unique content

This advice obviously follows from the previous one. It is important that the content of one web page is unique and not duplicated from another. In addition, a page must correspond to a request.

Google’s goal is to provide quality and relevant content when users request it. It will not offer duplicate content, quite the contrary. Google’s algorithms are increasingly understanding user queries, as well as web pages on its search engine.

Take into account research intent

When writing content for a site, you have to think about the search intention of Internet users. When a surfer searches on search engines, he has some idea of ​​the query. The query differs if you are looking for information, if you want to buy, etc.

There are four:

  • Information research intention: when the user searches for information on a product or service;
  • Decision-making research intention: when the user is in the purchasing process and needs information to make his decision;
  • Intent for transactional research: when the user searches for a product or service to compare with the idea of ​​making a purchase;
  • Intent of navigational search: when the user types his request directly into the Google search bar. It shows a willingness to go to a specific place.

How to correct the SEO cannibalization of existing pages?

If you discover cannibalized content on your site, you have several options available to you.

Delete content

If you find a page on your site that is of little importance, that is outdated, and that cannibalizes another, more important page, it is advisable to delete it if it does not bring you traffic.

For this, you can use the “noindex” which will allow you to deindex the Google page, but its content will remain active for other acquisition channels such as emailing, social networks, direct search, etc.

To permanently delete the content, you can use HTML code 404 or 410. If you decide to do this, make sure that the page in question has not generated any traffic recently.

Merge content

Another solution is to merge the content of the page with the least traffic with the page that receives the most. This will allow only one of the two pages to gain authority.

It is possible to use the tag canonical in this case. It consists in specifying to Google which page holds the original content of the two. This tag is to be used if it is necessary that the two pages remain available and active.

Another possibility is to redirect using the HTML 301 code. This will allow you to keep the internal links which point to the preserved page. Everything will then be concentrated on one page.

How to correct the seo cannibalization of existing pages?

Rewrite the content

The last option is to rework the articles if they are both important and generate traffic. Pay attention to your SEO writing and in this case try to find a new angle for the two articles concerned.