So, you've spent a good while perfecting your new insight. You have sent it around your team for proofing, the marketing and BD team have looked at it from a commercial perspective and you're ready to upload.
With the amount of time you put into that article, and the teamwork that went into it, it would be devastating if nobody saw it because your new content and old content are working against each other.
This is exactly what content cannibalization is.
What is content cannibalization?
This is when two pieces of content on the site compete for the same query (keyword/search term) on search engines such as Google.
You have enough competition outside of your organisation; you don’t need to be fighting with yourself too!
It's very easy to do. As the site gets bigger, the chances of content cannibalism increase. You’ll be writing about your important subjects and without even knowing it, you’ll write articles that end up rather similar.
Let's look at how this affects your content, as on the surface it may seem quite harmless.
How does this work?
Search engines treat searches as queries or questions, which means there has to be an answer to that question.
So, the top rankings on the page are what the search engine thinks is the best answer to that question.
This is where the problem lies.
If a search engine discovers a number of our pages targeting the same topics and keywords, it won’t know what the best answer to the question is. So, in its confusion, it just doesn’t rank either.
This will affect the maximum traffic your new web page can get, really undermining all the hard work you put into your insight. While your article may be seen, it won't reach its full potential without this degree of strategy.
So what strategies can you implement to tackle this?
How do I prevent this?
The best way to stop this is to make sure there's no chance of conflicts, eliminating any wasted time or effort:
- Speak to your marketing team to check for conflicts or crossovers on content already written. There may be something in the pipeline you are unaware of.
- If you know you have written on the subject before, request the article be updated rather than create a new one.
- Do a search on the site, for any specific keyword you suspect might conflict with your article.
- Perform a site search on google for your keyword/phrase. To do this, you type "site:” and your site name, followed by the keyword or phrase.
- Search on your site using the internal search function if your site has one.
When looking at the results ask yourself this: do two articles provide the same answer to a question someone may ask? If the answer is yes, they will be competing with one another.
What can I do with competing content?
If you can't stop it at the source, there are ways to fix this. Some of the actions can include:
- Merge or combine articles: If two articles both attract the same audience and tell the same story, you should combine them. This removes any dilution of your message across multiple pages.
- Repurpose conflicting articles: sometimes you can slightly change the article to answer a different question.
- Redirect pages to the better article: if the article you're writing written addresses everything a consolidation would need, redirect pages to this one.
- Improve internal linking: search engines can figure out, by following links, which ones you want to pop up highest in the search engines if given the right context. Linking from posts that are less important, to posts that are the most important gives it an idea of hierarchy.
You aren’t limited to just one of these actions. You can use some in combination with each other to further improve the rankings of the page.
Remember it’s better to have this issue and a choice on how to create better visibility than not getting started at all!
Each month we hope to provide a new digital tips. If you have any questions, please contact Sean Cronin.
Written by Sean Cronin