Content cannibalization – what it is and how it affects the positioning of your website

Keywords are undeniably your key to search engine success. However, you should remember to use them skillfully, because optimizing content on several subpages for the same phrases leads to the phenomenon of content cannibalization. You can read below what exactly cannibalization is and how it affects your website.


Content cannibalization, what really is it?

The word cannibalization can freeze the blood of many SEO specialists. The phenomenon commonly called content cannibalization is in most cases detrimental to our website. It occurs when a given domain has several subpages optimized for the same keywords or containing duplicate text. As a result, correct positioning may be impossible, and the subpages of a given website will "eat" each other.

The phenomenon in question consequently leads to a negative impact on search results, and therefore has a direct impact on traffic and sales. This is all due to the optimization of several subpages for the same keywords, which creates a problem for Google robots in deciding which of the subpages better responds to the user's query.


What are the causes of cannibalization?

One of the most common causes of cannibalization is, of course, optimizing content on several subpages of a domain for the same keywords. This is not the only action leading to the discussed phenomenon, because the causes of cannibalization also include:

  • content duplication, i.e. creating very similar subpages and categories,
  • errors in external and internal linking, which involve using the same link text (anchor) to redirect to different subpages,
  • no canonical tags implemented,
  • duplicate meta title and meta description tags,
  • incorrect or missing 301 redirects.

If your website is experiencing any of these problems, read on and find out how to fix it!


Check if cannibalization applies to your website!

Are you putting a lot of effort into optimizing your domain, but still no visible results? It's time to stop for a moment and check whether your website has not fallen victim to cannibalization.

The list below presents several tools that will enable you to thoroughly analyze your domain:

Google Search Console

One of the tools that will quickly and easily show whether your subpages are positioned for the same keywords. In the "effectiveness" section at the bottom of the page you will find a list of keywords. After clicking on a given word, you will be redirected to a subpage with a link that is optimized for this specific phrase. The more links, the bigger the problem!

Screaming Frog

A tool that offers checking 500 links in its free version. We perform the analysis using the URL address, which we paste in the top panel of the page. The program scans the website for us and looks for repeated elements, such as: page title, headers, meta description tags, alt tags or duplicate content.


The tool offers website analysis in a very easy way during a 14-day trial period. Just enter your website URL, go to the "Visibility Analysis" section and select the "Cannibalization" tab. Senuto searches the entire domain and then presents keywords and URLs that have been cannibalized.


Is cannibalization bad?

The phenomenon of content cannibalization is perceived as an error of a given website, which leads to a negative impact on traffic and the position of the website, although this is not always true.

Positive cannibalization is a very rare event that can happen to high inventory domains. In this case, several subpages belonging to the same website and optimized for the same keyword appear among the top search results. Ultimately, this leads to better organic traffic.

Unfortunately, positive cannibalization does not happen very often, and thinking about more views of your website's subpages can be disastrous. Google robots that index websites ensure fair competition and combat unethical activities. The effect of such unethical behavior is a systematic decline in search results, which has a negative impact on traffic on a given website, and thus on a decline in sales and profit.

There is one conclusion. Content cannibalization must be fought!


How to effectively get rid of cannibalization?

Effectively combating the phenomenon of cannibalization is not the simplest task, which is largely determined by the cause of the problem. It should not only be based on differentiating the content of each subpage, but also on taking care of the appropriate technical values ​​of your domain.

Specialists from Brand new Brand have prepared several tips that will greatly facilitate your fight against content cannibalization.

  1. Content updating and differentiation

The first step to improving the quality of your website should be to modify the content so that it is significantly different from each other. Remember that one subpage should correspond to one query.

  1. 301 redirect

An effective way to eliminate several URLs corresponding to one keyword is to select one and the best subpage and redirect traffic from the rest to it. The only condition for such action is the similar theme and function of the subpages. Otherwise, the 301 redirect may be incorrect, resulting in a lower position in search results.

  1. Use the Rel canonical tag

Thanks to the rel canonical tag, instead of setting redirections, we can select the most important subpage for us, which will be indexed by the search engine.

  1. Take care of internal and external linking

Remember to be consistent when creating redirects, because one anchor should correspond to one subpage.

The phenomenon of cannibalization is a kind of trap that you can fall into very often. It is very important to constantly take care of the order of your website, proper positioning and frequent analysis.

We know that this task is not the easiest one, so contact us and our specialists will provide professional support for your website!

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