Keyword Cannibalisation: What It Is and What It Isn’t

Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalisation refers to instances where more than one page on a website targets the same keyword and serves the same search intent.

Rankings are harmed because the pages are competing for prominence, and Google doesn’t know which page is more relevant.

Keyword cannibalisation is often misunderstood, much like my daughter, who at age three impressed everyone she met by telling them of her aspirations to be a pilot when she grew up. Turns out, she just had a slight speech delay and actually wanted to be a pirate. Not quite as inspiring as flying a Boeing 737, but whatever floats your boat I guess. Or pirate ship, as the case may be.

To clear up any uncertainty, it’s important to clarify that having multiple pages that target the same keyword is not, in itself, a problem. This is where keyword cannibalisation can get confusing.

Having numerous pages on your website that mention the same keyword can make perfect sense, and these pages aren’t going to compete for the same spot on SERPs as long as they are responding to a different search intent.

How Does Keyword Cannibalism Happen?

If you have a website selling kitchen appliances, you may have several different pages that target the keyword ‘dual air fryers’.

As long as each of these pages serves a different intention, you don’t have a problem.

One page might list ‘The Best Dual Air Fryers in 2024’, which satisfies the search intent for users who want to compare different air fryer models. Another might be about ‘Family Recipes for Dual Air Fryers’, which satisfies the search intent for those looking for ways to use their air fryer. And, one might be a product page to purchase a dual air fryer, satisfying the search intent for users who are ready to buy an air fryer. Each of these pages is going to mention the ‘dual air fryers’ keyword, but they are going to respond to different search intents. This is not keyword cannibalisation.

It only occurs when two pages target the same keyword and have the same search intent. Typically this happens in the following instances:

  • Similar content is published on your site over time
  • An updated page is published without redirecting the old page
  • Similar content is optimised for an identical keyword

One more time for those in the back: mentioning the same keyword across multiple pages on your site is not keyword cannibalisation, as long as your search intent is different.

In fact, offering a diverse selection of content covering the same keyword can actually be beneficial to your users, giving them a more comprehensive user experience and helping your search engine ranking.

Don’t be afraid of optimising multiple pages for the same keyword, just remember to focus on satisfying a different search intent for each page.

Identifying Keyword Cannibalisation

There are several ways to determine if keyword cannibalisation is an issue for your website, which we explore here.

Site Search

You can manually search your site for overlapping content using your CMS, or run a quick Google search. Input “site: [domain] [keyword]” to find all of the related content on your site.

Identifying keyword cannibalisation
For example, searching “ Paris hotel” will help you find all of the pages on the website that relate to the keyword ‘Paris hotel’.

Once you can see your pages that target the same keyword, you can determine whether or not they serve different search intents.

Google Search Console Tool

In your Google Search Console, locate the Performance menu and click Search results. Scroll through the list of queries that have resulted in clicks to your page, and then select a keyword to check.

Click on the Pages tab to see a list of your URLs that have ranked for this keyword. If multiple URLs are shown here, this could be an indication of keyword cannibalisation. Determine the search intent for each of these pages that ranked for the same keyword.

Google Search Console - Identifying Keyword Cannibalisation
Google Search Console

Remedies for Keyword Cannibalisation

You can technically ‘fix’ it in various ways, but there’s really only one way that isn’t going to harm your rankings and rates of organic traffic. Essentially, it’s the only fix worth doing.

Consolidate Pages

If you suspect keyword cannibalisation then you probably have a selection of pages on your site that are all saying a similar thing. There might be overlapping content, or even duplicate content, that doesn’t need to be spread across a number of pages. What you want to do here, is take all of the information from these pages and consolidate it into one page.

If you had three different guides explaining how to rewire an old house, put all of that information onto one page, and you’ll have a much more comprehensive guide that’s likely going to draw more traffic than your three old thin guides put together.

Use one of the existing URLs of your old guides for the updated guide, and redirect the remaining two old pages to point at the updated, consolidated page.

Keyword Cannibalisation ‘Fixes’ To Avoid

Deleting Pages

If you’ve got multiple pages ranking for the same keyword with the same search intent, then you might image simply deleting all but one of those pages is a quick fix.

It isn’t.

Unless the page has no relevance at all to your website, deleting it is of no benefit, and it removes the possibility of getting ranked for other keywords on the page.

Removing Keywords

Also known as de-optimising, you could remove keywords from a similar page so that it isn’t competing with your main page.

Read also: Keyword Research: Revealed and Refined

This rarely works, because you can’t delete all mention of a keyword without completely reworking the content. A better solution would be to consolidate the similar pages.


If you noindex a page, this signals to Google that you don’t want users to find it. While this might stop it from competing with your other similar page, it also means this page isn’t going to rank for anything, making it have no value to your site.

After All Said

Learning what keyword cannibalisation is, and, equally important, what it isn’t, is going to be super helpful when it comes to optimising your website for search engines. Avoiding it will help to ensure your ranking equity doesn’t get diluted, ultimately increasing the likelihood of your pages performing well in search engine results.

Still need some help with your SEO efforts? Contact us today.

Karli Edmondson-Matthews
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