What is “keyword cannibalization?”
“Cannibalization” doesn’t stir up good images.
So, you know it’s not good.
But what is it?
It’s when multiple web pages under your control target the same keyword. The thinking is that your pages compete against each other and actually hurt your own rankings. And some people believe Google won’t rank any of your pages as a result.
It seems to make sense on the surface.
But in reality, it doesn’t happen.
Gary Illyes, a leading Google spokesperson, said this about keyword cannibalization:
For added evidence, just look at this screenshot for the search “technical SEO:”
Search Engine Land owns 5 of the top 10 positions for that term!
So this “keyword cannibalization” argument doesn’t hold any water.
What Might Be Really Going On?
I’m not entirely sure. But some SEOs claim to experience this.
It could be that they simply don’t want to accept responsibility for the fact that they can’t get multiple pages to rank for the same term.
Or it could be that they want to blame Google and make excuses to their clients so they don’t look bad.
I don’t know.
But that’s the way people’s minds frequently work.
So when some observe this phenomenon, they may actually be inventing it themselves!
How to Turn This Into Your Next Big SEO Ranking Opportunity
Since “keyword cannibalization” doesn’t actually exist, you can do a lot with content related to the same topic.
Here are some strategies:
Go Right Ahead and Create Content Related to the Same Topic
When you do create content, you almost always have multiple angles and related tangents to discuss. So, if you have a small e-book’s worth of knowledge on a topic (10,000 words or so), just create 5-10 articles on the same topic – each with their own in-depth unique content. You’ll be fine.
Target Semantically Related Keywords
Now let’s say you still feel a little uncomfortable with the whole idea of targeting just a single keyword.
No problem! You simply look at other related keywords to target.
Let’s go back to the “technical SEO” search from before. Simply scroll to the bottom of that page, and you get a list of other related searches that interest users:
This tool focuses on more long-tail search terms that small businesses have an easier time ranking for.
And last, you could even take a look at what Google’s keyword planner shows:
It gives you every search – large and small. For the head terms like “technical SEO,” you likely don’t have any realistic chance of ranking for those.
Typically, they’re dominated by large websites with dozens of authors and 100,000 or more readers.
But, you might be able to rank for a term like “SEO audit” or “website audit” after a year or so.
Why Is This Your Biggest Opportunity?
It’s probably because of the misunderstanding among SEOs and website owners.
If you’ve known me or read this blog for any amount of time, you know about all the misinformation out there.
With only some understanding the reality of SEO, and the fact that you’re one of those, you have a nice advantage over the lost, mistaken, and confused.
That’s why an SEO who charges a high hourly rate becomes worth every penny.
…Otherwise, you spend years wandering around, trying to figure out what works.
So for now, realize this concept doesn’t exist. And continue creating amazing content other websites can’t match that also fills a need for your audience.
And you’ll do just fine!