In lay terms “keyword cannibalism” is a situation where multiple pages are targeting the same keyword. Keyword cannibalism will not bring you a Google penalty, of course, but such a situation is not effective for bringing targeted traffic. When multiple pages target a keyword, it creates confusion for the search engines. You do not want to compete between your own pages when your real competitors are waiting for your rankings to fall.

Keyword cannibalism may also occur when social media pages gain rankings quicker than your website pages. Social media pages are often viewed as authoritative enough to replace your primary content in the search listings. Competing with your own social media profiles is not necessarily a bad situation to have.

How to avoid keyword cannibalism for pages on one domain:

  1. Make a list of all your important pages and keywords you want to rank high for. Use the WebCEO Online Rank Checker (you need a “by pages” report) to see what pages already have high rankings for the desired keywords. Now you can see what pages need to be retargeted. Concentrate on 2-3 primary keywords for a page and 3-5 secondary ones.
  2. Then, when you identify collisions (i.e., multiple pages associated with a particular keyword), you can merge the pages or repurpose the competing pages to target alternate (and unique) keywords and long tails.
  3. Try to be as specific as possible on your final destination pages, and try to be a little bit more vague on pages that you’re building up to reinforce that destination (by linking).
  4. When you link to a page, use the phrases with the primary keywords as a link text and your long tail keywords in the Meta Description of the linking page.
  5. Never use the same titles on different pages of your site. Always try and make your individual pages rank for different long tail keywords instead of hitting on your main keyword in all of your website texts.