Skip to content

A&B Consulting Group | Branding, Optimizing & Advertising

What is SEO cannibalization?

Woman in yellow shirt holding cellphone searching for a business

I’m sure you’ve heard of SEO cannibalization, and I bet that when they were taking about it, you nodded saying, “sure, cannibalizations …” and in your mind the only thing that played was the Hannibal Lecter movie key scenes (Come on! I can’t be the only one who this happened to!)

Cannibalizations are one of the mistakes that web pages make the most, especially when we begin to have a certain amount of content. It’s a problem because Google takes it into account when positioning us better or worse in its search engine.

In this post we want you to learn what a cannibalization of keywords is, but not only that! We want you to be able to locate them on your website, and be able to repair them by yourself. 

Are you Ready? Let’s Rock!


What is it?

We will start by defining what cannibalizations are so that we know what we are talking about in the rest of the article. So when you think of cannibalization, Hannibal Lecter will not be the only thing that comes to your mind.

 A SEO cannibalization occurs when a keyword is trying to rank with two or more URLs without domain. In other words, we are trying to position a keyword with different parts of our website, making ourselves the competition.


Why is it bad to cannibalize content?

When reading the definition, the first question that may come to your mind is: but is that bad? Why is it a mistake?Cannibalizations are negative because if we have two contents, or rather two URLs, competing with each other to rank the same keyword or search intent, the following will be happening:

  • If the visits are spread over several URLs, they will have fewer clicks and therefore a lower CTR (which is a positioning factor). Remember that a content in position 1 has many more clicks than two in position 5 or 7. So, you would be lowering your position in the search engines by yourself.
  • You create confusion. If you have two pages that talk about the same thing, it is difficult to tell which one is the most relevant, both for Google and for users.
  • Google spends a specific time visiting and analyzing your website. If you have more URLs, you will be lengthening the time that Google needs to review your entire web page well.
  • After all, by what we have said, by dividing your forces you’re “diluting” the authority of your content, making it rank worse.

BONUS: If you are also considering making SEM strategies to improve your Google positioning, these could also be affected and your cost per click could even be more expensive. 

Are cannibalizations always bad?

But wait… are they always bad? 

Well we have to tell you that always always, not. There can be some very specific cases in which we can be successful with cannibalizations, but this phrase must be quarantined, which we know a lot about that; we’ll explain here:

Do you think Amazon isn’t happy with this cannibalization? It has the first and second position, taking much more traffic, but this is a REAAAALLY specific case, this doesn’t even apply to all its products. 

But if you want to know if it applies to you, this is what you have to consider: it has to be a web page with great authority and a lot of brand positioning and, second, they are cases in which the search intention is not entirely clear (adult or child, women or man, blue or green). 

While removing these very special examples, as a general rule, we must locate and avoid keyword cannibalization on our website.


Types of cannibalizations

In addition to the typical cases that we have spoken about two blog articles that cannibalize for a specific keyword, there are other types of cannibalizations, usually more related to online stores.

It is important to take them into account, in order to locate them on our website. These types of keyword cannibalization are:

  • Blog articles that cannibalize with product sheets
  • Product sheets that cannibalize with categories
  • Tags that cannibalize with categories

Why do cannibalizations occur on my website?

Surely, it is the question that comes to mind at this point … why me? What have I done wrong?I didn’t even ask to be born (so dramatic, we know). 

It is important that you know why cannibalizations occur so that you can locate and correct them and, much more importantly, so that you can prevent it from happening again in the future. These are the main reasons why SEO cannibalizations occur:

  • Not having a good content strategy

This is the main reason why cannibalizations occur. We have to base the content of our website on a good study of keywords that takes into account the search intention of each keyword.If we do not have a well-defined editorial calendar and the keywords that we are going to attack in each URL, we will start writing wildly and, eventually, we will talk about similar topics that will begin to cannibalize. That is why it is important that you add a tab to your editorial calendar with the main keyword that attacks that content.

  • Not having a good web architecture

The second reason is poor web architecture. If we do not clearly define the structure of our website and start creating and linking insanely, we will create a maze for both the user and Google. This will cause us to inadvertently create too much duplicate content, and have keyword cannibalization issues between them.

  • Not having a good link building strategy

This problem is not so common, but we must take it into account. We all know that authoritative links can help you position a keyword, so you have to take into account the theme of the web that links you and that the anchor text is appropriate.

Imagine that we have two posts that talk about two similar topics but in principle, they are not cannibalizing because they respond to two different search intentions. For example, a post talks about what the CTR is and another about how to improve our CTR. If we put quality links to both of them from the same websites and with the anchor “what is the CTR”, we can cause them to start trying to position the two posts by the same keyword and start cannibalizing.

At this point, you are already a whole Jedi, full of knowledge. Now you know what SEO cannibalizations are, apart from those in the movies LOL!


We hope you liked the post and we are looking forward to reading your comments. If you would like someone to support you to avoid this type of practice in addition to generating high quality content, branding and marketing strategies, do not hesitate to contact us!

See you in the comments!