In order to avoid cannibalization, companies must first know what it is and why they should care. The term “cannibalization” means a company’s sales will drop as a result of its product being too similar to another company’s products. Companies can utilize this knowledge through the use of pricing strategies or other methods in order to reduce their risk for cannibalism.,
The author’s opinions are solely his or her own (with the exception of hypnosis), and they may or may not represent those of SagaReach.
Tom Capper talks you through an issue that many SEOs have faced: cannibalization, in today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. What exactly is it, how can you recognize it, and what can you do about it? Keep an eye out to find out!
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Transcription of Video
SagaReach followers, it’s Friday, and today we’re going to speak about cannibalization, which we spell in the UK as cannibalization. Now that that’s out of the way, what exactly do we mean when we say “cannibalization”?
What exactly is cannibalism?
So, in this case, one site has two competing URLs and, we believe, performs worse as a result. So it’s possible that the site’s equity is divided across its two separate URLs, or that Google isn’t sure which one to display. Or maybe Google sees it as a duplicate content issue or something similar. The site suffers in one way or another as a consequence of having two URLs.
As an example, I’ve created this fictitious SERP. Assume SagaReach is attempting to rank for the term “burgers.” Imagine that SagaReach has gone off on a tangent in its business strategy, and we’re now trying to rank for “burgers.”
So we have Inferior Bergz at position one, and we would really want to outrank these guys, but for some reason we aren’t. Then there’s SagaReach’s Buy Burgers page on the moz.com/shop subfolder in position two, which clearly doesn’t exist, but this is a hypothetical. This is a commercial landing page from which you may order a burger.
Then, in third place, we have the SagaReach blog’s Best Burgers page. It has further information. It tells you what characteristics make a good burger, how to recognize a good burger, where to get a good burger, and other more impartial editorial information.
So, in this case, we think that if SagaReach just had one page for this term, it could be able to usurp the top position. If we believe this is the case, we would most likely refer to it as cannibalism.
The alternate idea, on the other hand, is that there might be two intentions at work here. It’s possible that Google wants to display a commercial page and an informative page on this SERP, since the second best commercial page and the best informational page are both from SagaReach. In recent years, we’ve heard Google or Google officials speak about having locations on search results that are reserved for certain types of results, such as informative results or something similar. This does not necessarily imply that there is cannibalism. So we’re going to talk about how we may disambiguate a scenario like this a little bit later.
Cannibalism in the traditional sense
But first, let’s take a look at the typical scenario. So, when you see a graph like this, you’re looking at a classic, extremely clear-cut, pretty blatant example of cannibalism.
As a result, this is the kind of graph you’d see in a lot of rank monitoring applications. On the bottom axis, you can see the time and the days of the week. Then there’s rank, which we clearly want to be as high as possible and as near to number one as feasible.
Then there are the two color-coded URLs, which are green and red in this case. When one of them rises to the top, the other fades into obscurity, and isn’t even in the top 100. There is always just one at a time, and they kind of supersede each other in the SERP. When we observe this kind of activity, we may be quite certain that we’re seeing some form of cannibalism.
Cases that aren’t so evident
However, it is not always clear. So, if I Google search Naples, as in the place name, I find Wikipedia ranking first and second, which is a nice example that I just discovered. The first-placed Wikipedia article was about Naples, Italy, while the second-placed Wikipedia page was about Naples, Florida.
In such circumstance, I don’t believe Wikipedia is cannibalizing itself. I believe they’ve merely happened to have… Google determined that this SERP is ambiguous and that the keyword “Naples” needs several intents to be supplied, with Wikipedia being the best result for two of those intents.
So I wouldn’t go to Wikipedia and say, “Oh, you should merge these two articles into a Naples, Florida, and Italy page,” or anything similar. Clearly, this isn’t required.
Questions to ponder
So, if you’re trying to figure out if there’s cannibalism going on in a more unclear situation, here are some questions to consider.
1. Are we concerned that we are underperforming?
So, one of the better questions we might ask, and one that is tough to answer in SEO, is: Do we believe we are underperforming? So, I’m sure that every SEO in the world, if not all, believes that their site deserves to rank higher. However, do we have any other instances of extremely comparable keywords for which we just have one page and are doing considerably better? Is it possible that when we introduced the second page, we all collapsed? Because if we observe that kind of conduct, it may, you know, it’s not conclusive, but it could raise some red flags.
2. Do both competing pages show up?
Similarly, if we look at examples of similar keywords that are less ambiguous in intent, such as in the case of burgers, if the SERP for “best burgers” and the SERP for “buy burgers” had completely different results in general, we might think, oh, okay, we should have two separate pages here, and we just need to make sure they’re clearly differentiated.
However, if the same sites are showing up for all of those keywords, we may want to consider having just one page, since that seems to be what Google prefers. It’s not really possible to separate these intentions. So that’s the type of thing we can search for, which isn’t quite clear but gives us an indication, as I said.
3. Do you want to consolidate or differentiate?
Once we’ve decided whether we want two pages or one, or if two pages or one is the best answer in this situation, we’ll either consolidate or distinguish.
So, if we believe there should only be one page, we could combine the best content from both pages, choose the strongest URL in terms of backlinks and history, and redirect the other URL to this combined page that has the best content, serves the slight variation of what we now know is one intent, and so on.
We don’t want them to cannibalize each other if we want two pages. As a result, we must ensure that they are clearly distinguished. What commonly occurs is that a commercial website, such as this Buy Burgers page, may include a block of text at the bottom with a load of editorial or SEO material about burgers, which can make it difficult to figure out what purpose this page is providing.
Similarly, on this page, we may have chosen at some point that we want to highlight certain items or whatever. It may have begun to appear a little too commercial. So, if we’re going to have both of them, we need to make sure that they’re clearly speaking to different intentions and don’t have the same content and keywords for the most part, or anything like that.
Finally, it would be preferable if we had avoided the problem in the first place. So, as a fast suggestion, before you generate a piece of content, like, before I wrote this Whiteboard Friday, I conducted a site:moz.com cannibalization to check what material regarding cannibalization has already been on SagaReach.com.
I notice that this item is rather ancient, so we may — it’s an extremely old Whiteboard Friday, so we might think about diverting it. Cannibalism is mentioned in this work, although it isn’t truly about it. Maybe it’s about something else. So long as it’s not targeting that term, everything should be good, and so on. Consider what other pieces are available; if there is anything that is essentially targeting the same phrase, you may want to consider consolidating, redirecting, or just upgrading the old item.
That concludes today’s discussion. Thank you so much for everything.
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