When it comes to SEO, keywords are our best friends, right? Hold the phone. Although that generally is the case, some webmasters have a tendency to use the same keywords over and over, which sort of defeats the purpose of using them. Confused? Let us explain.
“Keyword cannibalization” is a term used among SEO professionals to refer to websites’ habit of using the same few keywords repeatedly throughout the site. Webmasters might not even know they are doing it, but a quick check of the site index can point to instances of heavy repetition. In many cases, this may even be done intentionally, with the expectation that if the keywords are used more times, that will potentially resonate more with a web crawler’s algorithm.
Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t work to the site’s advantage for a variety of reasons. First, a site that only lists a few keywords for searching will not appear to be as deep when it comes to indexing, so search engines will be forced to make a choice on which one of the pages with the same keywords is the best one. In a sense, you will be competing against yourself as the pages fight one another for the top ranking spot. Plus, if you have strong content and internal links but don’t use a variety of keywords, you’ve wasted all the effort of including hard-fought backlinks.
At the very least, you can think about the downside of keyword cannibalization from your site visitors’ point of view. Why would they want to continue visiting a site than only has information on a single subject? Also, when you have one page that’s rocking the keywords and getting all the attention, what benefit are you getting from all the other pages and internal links on your site? From your own point of view, you want to maximize the potential of a site you’ve spent so much time and effort maintaining.
There are a few different ways to avoid or fix instances of keyword cannibalization on your website. Start by building a list of the different keywords used on your site to find out if you have an overuse problem. At the same time, create a list of keywords you don’t feature much or want to include more of. This is a good time to look at your site map. Perhaps you will need to restructure your page topics to increase your ability to include additional keywords in a logical fashion or to boost your ability to add internal links. Finally, you might consider adding a redirect from internal pages that sends search engines back to the page you really want visitors to see, such as the home page.
Keyword cannibalization is not the end of the world if your website is strong otherwise. However, you can take greater advantage of SEO and rank higher in the listings if you take a few simple steps to alleviate the problem of overly repetitive keywords. After you make the changes, be sure to monitor the results on your analytics to see how the effort paid off.