Cannibalization Definition For SEO & Rankings

Canniblization occurs when a webpage on one domain begins to compete with & outrank another page from the same domain for the same query.

This becomes troublesome when one landing page is particularly crafted around one topic, yet falls behind in ranking results to another page on the same site.

This leads to a poor user experience as the user will still need to navigate their way to your desired landing page from the cannibalizer page, and may be a signal that your content is beginning to be too similar to other pieces of content, which may lead to troubles with duplicate content. 

How To Avoid Webpage Cannibalization

The easiest way to avoid webpage cannibalization is to have a well structured taxonomy & clear Information Architecture across your site.

However, this will not always do the trick.

One common cause of cannibalization is when directives are not properly used, and so a page that was not designed to compete in organic search begins to outrank pages that were.

Using proper directives that match across the on-page tags, XML Sitemap & Robots.txt file will help to avoid cannibalization.

Always be sure that your content silos are structured in a way so that no pages’ target keywords overlap other those of other pages.

This should be reflected both in the keywords contained in all tags, as well as in the body content itself.

How To Fix Webpage Cannibalization

When URLs compete against one another on your site that are not supposed to & it is unrelated to directives, it is time to analyze the content on each.

Adding more content to each page that helps differentiate them from one another & ensuring that all tags are optimized accordingly can help.

Let’s say that the pages are competing & that the one that converts better isn’t ranking as well for the terms that you are targeting on it.

One solution would be to take the content from one page & add it to the better converting page’s content, and placing a 301 re-direct from the old URL to the new one.

This way, eventually the old URL will be removed from Google’s index, while the link equity that helped the old URL compete with the existing URL will still be passed along to the new URL, helping it to compete better in rankings.