Why Is Keyword Cannibalization Bad SEO?

When most people think of SEO or search engine optimization, typically they think about keywords. Proper keyword use and website placement is a great place to start with SEO. Keywords definitely still have a place in SEO today, although the…

When most people think of SEO or search engine optimization, typically they think about keywords. Proper keyword use and website placement is a great place to start with SEO. Keywords definitely still have a place in SEO today, although the search industry and best practices for SEO have changed quite a bit from the early days. Two commonly used – but bad – SEO tactics are keyword stuffing and keyword cannibalization. Let’s go over why you should avoid them.

Outdated SEO Tactic: Keyword Stuffing

In the mid-2000s you could do plenty of keyword stuffing without search engines penalizing your website for it. What is keyword stuffing? It’s using the same keyword over and over again on one page or across multiple pages on a website. Google defines it as:

“the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose).”

In some cases keyword stuffing made the copy of websites difficult to read which cut down on the usability of websites and diminished user experience. This is why Google altered its algorithm to punish websites using this SEO strategy. If you were to try keyword stuffing today, it is more likely to hurt your rankings than help at all.

Another Bad SEO Tactic: Keyword Cannibalization

In recent years, keyword cannibalization has been more of an issue than keyword stuffing. What is keyword cannibalization? It’s targeting a specific search term across multiple pages on a website. This sounds like a good idea in the sense that the website would attract users to multiple pages all with the same goal of selling that product or service. In reality, by splitting the attention of search engines, all the pages on the site will rank lower for that term.

We all know content is king, but having all of your website’s pages focusing on the same keyword is not going to help. Keyword cannibalization is not so different than keyword stuffing, really. While the content on each individual page may be better, the idea is the same: promote the same topic and keyword over and over. Unfortunately, from the search algorithm’s perspective you are competing with your own pages to rank.

That is not to say you cannot have a few pages and articles that talk about the same topic. In fact, you should. This will help with navigation, and interlinking those pages will help educate and improve user experience. But optimizing one page correctly for a search term and other pages for related (but not exactly the same) terms is a much better strategy for pulling traffic from a search engine because of the way algorithms work.

If this sounds confusing, we are here to help. The search world and SEO are ever changing. With the right partner, your website can attract the right traffic and rank well at the same time.

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Rachel Potter

Rachel Potter has been writing her whole life, moving from academic writing to blogging to fiction and now marketing. She's been dabbling in social media since its inception and is still fascinated by it. She has a background in librarianship and loves to research, gather, and organize information. When she's not at work, she enjoys writing fiction, studying herbalism, gardening, singing in her church choir, and walking her happy, silly dog around the neighborhood.