Web Page Cannibalism: How to Keep Hannibal Lecter Away from Your Content

Jen Saunders

Halloween is a few weeks away, and in the spirit of the holiday and all the “things that go bump in the night”, let’s have some fun and learn about a very REAL threat to your content within the context of a fictional character based on a real person that committed one of the most heinous crimes on humanity–cannibalism. But this crime doesn’t simply make our skin crawl to the point it is left out of history books (European front lines were ripe with it during WWII), cannibalism also demolishes your web content.

We are talking about keyword and topical cannibalism. This is when multiple web pages rank for the same keyword or for the same topic thus spreading the search juice way to thin to get high organic ranking. In other words, pages cannibalize one another as they both try to rank for the same keyword or industry-related topic.

In most cases web masters aren’t even aware that savage cannibalism is taking place. Business owners and even many content marketing agencies have the best intention to rank a site or web page, but there is no clear-cut strategy that prevents content cannibalism, and when you are eating yourself, you aren’t empowering specific pages with SEO juice to get high ranking.  Instead you chew on the fat of your efforts like Hannibal Lecter dining on a member of the Baltimore Philharmonic.

When your pages are eating one another, you have a Hannibal Lecter problem. Based on a real surgeon from Mexico named Alfredo BalliTreviño, Hannibal Lecter terrified audiences in in 1991 (quite literally, as I was in the theatre and watched people walk out demanding a refund from being traumatized) and if you aren’t mindful with content creation, Lecter will slip into your site and eat your pages with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

content cannibalization

Keyword Cannibalization Now, and Then

In today’s post RankBrain landscape, the threat of keyword cannibalization now trickles into topic-focused content. If you are at the top of your SEO game, you will know that Google favors sites with structured content in a pillar cluster model. So if one page is ranking for a topic with specific keywords, and other pages rank for that same topic (with or without exact match keywords) you are degrading your efforts. A few years ago you could rank various pages for various versions of the same keyword, but now the topic must be specifically unique from other page topics. If you want to “get all Agent Starling” and dive into your site looking for the cannibal, begin by identifying general pages with no specific topic and rewrite them to reflect a topic based on a common question people ask in your industry. By doing this you will locate the cannibalism, and eradicate it with precise topical text designed to award organic ranking to the specific page and to the site as a whole.

pillar cluster content

Content Pillar Cluster Models Kill Cannibals

In order to rid your website of pesky cannibals, turn to the top digital content agencies who use the pillar cluster model to rank their client’s sites and convert visitors into buyers. Your best content is going to use direct match AND longtail keywords within the context of a specific topic per page. Sure, you will repeat keywords on various pages, but your H tags and page topics will differentiate them and prevent cannibalization.

content marketing in Los Angeles

What the Best Content Strategy Looks Like

Here is an example of what the best content strategy looks like; something that can be applied to any business type, in any industry.

Business Type – Scuba diving shop. They sell scuba gear in their brick and mortar location and have an eCommerce site where most sales take place. The business also certifies divers and runs local dive trips.

Keyword they want to rank for – best scuba regulators

Keyword variations to target include:

  • Best cold water scuba regulators
  • Best regulators for tropical diving
  • Regulators for tech divers
  • Best regulators for advanced divers
  • Regulators for beginner divers
  • Scuba regulators
  • Sherwood scuba regulators
  • Mares scuba regulators
  • Scuba Pro regulators
  • Titanium scuba regulators

These keywords will have their own additional varieties. For example, if we take “best cold water scuba regulators”, other variations can be “regulators for cold fresh water”, “regulators for ice diving” and “cold salt water regulators”. However, each page will have a unique topic to give these keywords their own individual context.

Once you have your keywords mapped out they need to fuel topic specific articles. The pillar content cluster model calls for a number of articles that all relate to a main keyword BUT has their own topic and contextual sustenance. Then a link points to the pillar page, or primary service page. This raises the domain authority by showing Google you have structured, expert information that resonates with the emotional intentions behind a search query.

In this same example your pillar page would be your primary category page on scuba regulators. Then one of several main topics would revolve around cold water regulators with article titles like “What Makes a Regulator Rated for Cold Water” “5 Tips on Buying the Best Cold Water Regulator” and “What Kind of Diver Benefits from Cold Water Regulated Scuba Equipment”.

When your content comprises of multi-subject, multi topic articles with a rich mix of keyword types embedded in a unique context, you can rest assured knowing your site is safe from Hannibal Lecter and the grizzly effects of keyword consuming content cannibalism.

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About
Jen Saunders is the Director of SEO for WEBITMD bringing more than 15 years of search marketing experience. She spent 13 years in Europe earning her PhD while looking at lots of old neat stuff. Jen enjoys simple things, like trees, sunrises, and the delicate lull of a 16th century harpsichord. Jen enjoys meditating and studies Buddhism. She is a certified master scuba diver, dolls make her nervous, and she enjoys craft beer. Jen has two cats, Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers and Lord Joffrey Gaius Pitty-Paws. They are her heirs.


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