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Thoughts

Content cannibalisation and how to avoid it

By Heath Reidy / September 4th 2019

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When you run an ecommerce site, you’ll want most of your traffic to go straight to your product pages, with users having the intent to buy something. But what if your other content pages, like your blogs, stop this from happening? 

This is where the issue of content cannibalisation comes in. We explain what exactly is it, why you should avoid it, and how. 

 

What is content cannibalisation?  

Content cannibalisation, or keyword cannibalisation as it’s often referred to, is basically where you target the same keywords across different pages of your website. As Google will only rank one page (or at the most two pages) that targets a certain keyword on your site, it will take the page that is of highest quality in terms of content, and rank it. 

So why is this a problem? 

Well, while Google will probably rank the best page using that keyword, it means that it will just ignore the other pages on your site where the search term has been used. This means all the hard word in putting those other pages together has gone to waste. Ranking the wrong pages can have a detrimental effect on your site. You might attract traffic, just not many sales.  

Unlike some experts claim, what I won’t say is that this will lead to a penalty from Google. Unless there’s evidence to back this up, I can confidently say this is false. Google aren’t going to spend time penalising you for every keyword you use from page to page. 

What I will say though is that doing this is a poor use of your resources – your time, your staff or those people doing the work, and your budget.  

To avoid this, it’s wise to ensure you make the best use of your keywords, such as using specific terms for each page. For instance, imagine you provide web design services and you want to write content about those services across your site. Rather than targeting the same keywords related to web design from page to page, you should write about different elements of it for each page.

 

Blog cannibalisation and why it’s not good for your site 

When you think about the idea of blog cannibalisation, you might imagine big, scary-looking blogs going round eating smaller ones. Well, that’s kind of what it is but in terms of performance – one blog eating up the effectiveness of another piece of content and outperforming it.

In ecommerce, blog cannibalisation is the result of using the same keywords in your blog as your product pages. For instance, Google ranks your high-quality blog, which consists of substantial content about a product. But it doesn’t rank your product page, which only includes a short, low-quality product description, where users can buy that item. 

This can result in: 

  • An increase in traffic to your site. Great.
  • More people coming to your blog instead of your product page. Not so great. 
  • A drop in your conversions as there’s nowhere on your blog page to buy your product. Not good.  

This happens because a high-ranking blog, which includes keywords and substantive content that’s directly related to a product, will attract people with an intent to buy. As a result, you end up attracting potential buyers to a blog page where they can’t make a purchase, instead of taking them to your product page where they can. 

Okay, so your blog will (or should have) a CTA with a link to a page related to the products the article is about. The problem with this is that people with buyer intent might not even read enough of the blog to notice the link. Having not found what they want to buy, they might decide to click out of the page and exit your site instead.     

 

An example of blog cannibalisation

To give an example of blog cannibalisation, imagine your run an ecommerce site where users can buy blockbuster films on DVD. You have put together a product page where users can buy one of the latest DVDs, with a product description about it. But, in addition to this, you have also published on the site a film review of that DVD. 

The film review is 500 words and contains substantial content, including keywords directly related to the film title. 

The product description is 100 words long and consists of weak content, mainly about your next day delivery service.   

As a result: 

Google ranks the review higher than the product page

        v

A surge of traffic is drawn to your review page, specifically people with an intent to buy

        v

Fewer people come to your product page to buy the film 

        v

With nowhere on the review page to buy the film, potential buyers click out of the page and exit your site

        v

Your site conversion rate drops 

How to avoid blog cannibalisation

So how do you avoid this happening? 

It comes down to making sure you use the right keywords to get the right people to the right pages on your site. For instance:  

Product pages – using product-related keywords to attract people with buyer intent

Blog pages – using research-related keywords to attract people doing research around a product 

In the case of the blockbuster DVD, research-related search terms could include:

  • How does the film compare with others in its genre?
  • Who is in the film?
  • What is the story behind the film?
  • What features does the DVD include? 

As well as making sure your ecommerce blogs are doing what they should, avoiding blog cannibalisation also comes down to writing good product descriptions for your product pages. This includes:

  • Writing substantial content about that product
  • Helping the reader visualise using it 
  • Selling the benefits of it 

You can learn more about pointers like these in our blog, writing product descriptions for SEO.  

 

Helping your content to do the right thing

Avoiding cannibalising your content (and understanding why this is important) is crucial to making sure each page of your ecommerce site delivers, from your blogs to your products pages. Achieving this can come down to having an effective content strategy. With this, you can know what your content needs to do, and you can create the right content that attracts the right people to your business. 

 

We’d love to explore how our content marketing strategies could deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 0845 322 8789 or get in touch