What is ‘keyword cannibalisation’? How can you fix it?

The term ‘keyword cannibalisation’ refers to when a website’s information architecture relies on a single keyword or phrase on multiple parts of the website. While this can occur unintentionally, having a group of pages that target the same keyword can cause problems.

Keyword cannibalisation can also happen if you don’t respect Google’s guidelines about keyword stuffing. This is if you don’t adhere to these guidelines across multiple pages. For the majority, the point behind keyword stuffing strategies is to rank for a specific term.

Keyword cannibalisation

DSM Digital school of marketing - keyword cannibalisation

What does ‘keyword stuffing’ mean?

The term “Keyword stuffing” denotes a system of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers. This is in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Frequently, these keywords appear in a list or group. In addition, these may appear out of context (not as natural prose). Making pages full with keywords or numbers has the result of a negative user experience. It is possible that this could harm your site’s ranking.

What is keyword density?

Keyword density, in terms of search engine optimisation, is the percentage of times a keyword is used in the copy.

A useful equation to use – in order to calculate the density of keywords in your copy – is as follows:

  • Keyword Density = (Number of words in copy) / (Number of times keyword appears in copy)

If the keyword density is 11.75% there are 47 words and the keyword appears four times. This percentage is greater than the keyword stuffing percentage threshold. It is a best practice to stick to a 2% keyword density, even though there is no exact number for proper keyword density.

DSM Digital school of marketing - keyword cannibalisation

Interestingly enough, there exists a type of keyword stuffing that isn’t visible to audiences. This particular tactic stuffs terms and phrases in places which are hidden from readers. It includes:

  • Using text that is the same colour as the background (to hide words from readers but display them to search engine crawlers)
  • Repeating text in the page’s code, meta tags, alt attributes, and comment tags

These types of keyword stuffing may lead brands into thinking that they can trick search engines into giving them higher search engine rankings. Unfortunately, both tactics can actually lead to lower scores for a website.

To avoid keyword stuffing, you should focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

Examples of keyword stuffing include:

  • Lists of phone numbers minus substantial added value
  • Blocks of text which list cities. In addition it states a webpage is trying to rank for
  • Repetition of the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:
  • We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at cigar.humidors@example.com.

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