What is keyword cannibalization and how can you avoid it in your online writing?
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Being a blogger and running a blog includes many skills that people do not always consider before they get started. Think about you, you not only need to be able to write interesting content but you also should be well-versed on the many search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. That is, if you want your blog to be read and followed of course! In addition to being mindful of SEO techniques, it is just as important for you to be aware of when you can overdo it and cause your over vigilant efforts to work against you.
Keyword cannibalization means that you have various blog posts or articles on your site that can rank for the same search query in Google. Either because the topic they cover is too similar or because you optimized them for the same keyphrase. If you optimize posts or articles for similar search queries, they’re eating away at each other’s chances to rank.
Properly optimizing your website for search engines is a balancing game. If you use too many different keywords in one post, you may minimize your efforts in creating an authoritative website. If you use the same keywords on too many pages, you may be unintentionally committing keyword cannibalization.
This type of SEO mistake can easily happen to any of us who promote a blog or website within a very specific niche. For example, a beauty blogger may mistakenly use the keyword “makeup swatch” in too many of their blog posts. This would, inevitably, result in their individual pages competing for search engine attention which may diminish the results the blogger could have achieved if they had used these keywords in fewer areas around their website.
If you believe you may have accidentally committed keyword cannibalization, here are four essential steps you can take to minimize the effects on your website:
1. Be Conscious of Your Keywords
One of the best ways to avoid keyword cannibalization is to be conscious of your keywords as you write your website content and blog posts. Even if you are not intentionally using the same keywords too many times throughout your website, you may be doing so without even realizing it!
For example, a food blogger may purposefully use the keywords “birthday cake” in a blog post, but they may not know that when they write “how to bake” that they are using those words as additional keywords. This food blogger may unintentionally commit keyword cannibalization if many of their other blogs included the keywords of “how to bake”. As you can see, it is very easy to make this mistake within niche websites!
2. Clean House and Delete Old Irrelevant Posts
Appropriate search engine optimization is a process that involves many steps and strategies you can perform for your site. These steps, when done well, will make your website more searchable and likely to appear as a top site on search engines. If you suspect that you perhaps have some keyword cannibalization happening on your website, you can reduce the effects of this mistake by cleaning house. That is, you can reflect on some of your older blog posts and consider deleting them altogether.
Deleting old blog posts that may be irrelevant to your site or readers now will also enhance your chances of getting rid of pages on your website that are serving as competitors for your newer posts. It is not recommended that you delete all of your old posts. Most of us do have a few older posts that could, for the betterment of our website, be deleted.
3. Review and Change Up Your Wording
So, what should you do with all of the high-quality blog posts that add value to your site? Even after you “clean house” and delete irrelevant pages that may be competing with your newer content, it is possible for keyword cannibalization to be happening on your blog. Take the time to go through each of your blog posts, and read them closely looking for purposeful or unintentional keywords that may be repeated through your website. If you see that two or more posts may be using the same keyphrases or keywords, you can replace them with synonyms to reduce the likelihood that those posts become competitors.
Especially if you have stuck closely with one niche, it is quite possible that two or more of your blog posts are competing for search engine recognition. Remember, this can reduce your overall views and traffic. Brush up on some of the most commonly used keywords and look through each of your posts for instances where you may have turned these words or phrases into keywords.
For example, “how to” posts very commonly show up in instances of keyword cannibalization. Words very common and specific to your niche are easily incorporated into multiple posts without writers realizing what they’re doing. Replace these common phrases, if you do not want them to serve as keywords within that post, with other similar words and phrases. This will allow the right keywords to go to work for the posts they were meant to serve.
4. Adjust Your Meta Description Keywords
In case you were wondering, a meta description is a short summary of the contents of your blog post or webpage and it is included in the HTML coding of your site. This little description, around 155 characters in length, is most effective when you include your intended keywords. Make sure you are not using the same meta description keywords for different blog posts, because this is a sure way to commit keyword cannibalization!
Read through your meta descriptions for each blog post and webpage and make sure that the keywords that are repeated and used are the ones that were intended to be there. Just like within the content of a blog post or webpage, it can be easy to use common catch phrases that will turn into keywords if they are used too many times.
If keyword cannibalization is a new term you are just now learning about, don’t worry! Once you recognize this common SEO mistake within your own website it will be hard not to notice from now on. Fixing instances of keyword cannibalization can be time consuming but, once you have fixed this mistake, it is easy to prevent in future blog posts and webpages!
Until next time!
Thank you, Casey for this very useful article.