Are you Cannibalizing Your Own Keywords?

Keyword cannibalization is a major problem for bloggers and website owners. The problem is, most of them don’t know it.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Spend a short time looking around an expert SEO website like this and you will quickly learn how important keywords and keyword phrases are in attracting traffic to your site and improving your search engine rankings. Do some more reading and you will learn about the importance of using your keywords in the title, description and keyword tags.

You are on the right track to mastering search engine optimization but, chances are, it won’t be long until you make a major mistake—the same mistake that many website owners and bloggers the world over make—keyword cannibalization.

Keyword what?

Keyword cannibalization is probably one of the most common problems website owners face without ever really knowing it. It does severe damage to their site rankings and prevents their site from getting the traffic it is capable of getting.

It usually begins immediately after the keyword research phase, when a site owner has identified a set of keywords that is relevant to their site and target audience. They now begin to optimize their entire site using these keywords and they begin to use the same set of keywords and keyword phrases on every single page of their site. That’s fine isn’t it? No. Here’s an example of why not.

Let’s say you own a blog about cosmetic dentistry. You use the keyword phrase “cosmetic dentistry” on every single page of your blog, hoping that this will increase keyword density throughout your site. When you generate incoming links you use the phrase “cosmetic dentistry” as the anchor text, no matter which page in your blog you are linking to.

You think your chances of getting a high rank for the phrase are very high because you have used the target keyword on every single page on your site and you have a large number of incoming links. It is actually the opposite. Why? Because Google ranks pages not sites.

In very simple terms this means that, by using the same keyword or keyword phrase on every single page of your site, you are forcing Google to choose just one of your pages and rank it higher than the others. The more pages you optimize for the keyword the harder it will be to actually get a high ranking because you are diluting your link building efforts.

For example, let’s suppose an anchored incoming link is worth 1 point. If you have 50 links to 50 pages, the highest score a page on your site will have is 1. However, if you have 50 anchored links to just one page on your site, that page will score 50 and will therefore have a higher chance of ranking well. The same logic can be applied to any internal links you create. If you are pointing internal links that all say “cosmetic dentistry” randomly throughout different pages on your site then you are heavily diluting the value of those links.

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

Now all this may sound extremely complicated but actually it’s very, very simple—never optimize more than one page on your site for the same target keyword or keyword phrase. Give every single page a different keyword and use anchored links containing those keywords to link to the given page. Use your more important keywords on your homepage and then research alternatives to distribute throughout the remainder of your site. Easy!

Guest author Sarah is founder of, an online editing and proofreading agency that offers affordable expert SEO editing services for websites and blogs that need assistance in improving their website rankings.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.