Internal content cannibalisation is an overlooked problem in search engine optimisation (SEO), and companies need to takes steps to identify and get rid of it, according to online marketing competitive research service SEMrush’s Content Writer Meri Chobanyan.
She says that the basic meaning of content cannibalisation is when content is too alike, causing competition between a website’s own uniform resource locators (URLs). Since Google doesn’t like ranking more than one page from a website, similar pages create a seesaw effect. This means web traffic is lessened because the bot is confused about which content to rank.
Chobanyan has identified seven issues related to content cannibalisation, and how they can be addressed.
- If the problem is with internal linking, then placing the most important page at the top of the hierarchy may resolve it.
- Spam can show up in a URL if you overuse keywords with anchor text that directs visitors to the incorrect page; this can be avoided by ensuring you use natural keywords that are both useful and mapped to the correct page.
- Using duplicate or similar content on a website requires proper canonicalisation.
- The potential of two pages or more can be killed if they’re optimised to target the same keyword terms; to avoid this, don’t over-optimise primary terms on non-targeted pages, and be sure to optimise secondary target pages.
- When content is diluted, you’re essentially diminishing the impact of that content. Websites that have pages dedicated to similar ideas, for example, ‘how to care of shoes in different seasons’ and ‘summer shoe care’, should merge these pages.
- Content can be cannibalised if the site structure’s logic is bad; Chobanyan recommends that you “surround your content with a sectional environment of contextual relevance”.
- If you can’t identify the problem, temporarily noindex the page and look out for these symptoms: pages that rank for the same term, pages that hang around page two or never quite make it into the top spots, URLs that rank for the same terms depending on the season, well-ranked pages that don’t get a decent click-through rate (CTR) and shared impressions for different pages but the same terms in Google Search Console; from there, you can look to make improvements.
Chobanyan’s recommends giving your website a full audit using the right tools in order to catch internal content cannibalisation and ensure it realises its ranking potential.