Happy Friday, Moz fans, and today we’re going to be talking about cannibalization, which here in the UK we spell like this: cannibalisation. With that out of the way, what do we mean by cannibalization?
What is cannibalization?
So this is basically where one site has two competing URLs and performs, we suspect, less well because of it. So maybe we think the site is splitting its equity between its two different URLs, or maybe Google is getting confused about which one to show. Or maybe Google considers it a duplicate content problem or something like that. One way or another, the site does less well as a result of having two URLs.
So I’ve got this imaginary SERP here as an example. So imagine that Moz is trying to rank for the keyword “burgers.” Just imagine that Moz has decided to take a wild tangent in its business model and we’re going to try and rank for “burgers” now.
So in position one here, we’ve got Inferior Bergz, and we would hope to outrank these people really, but for some reason we’re not doing. Then in position two, we’ve got Moz’s Buy Burgers page on the moz.com/shop subdirectory, which obviously doesn’t exist, but this is a hypothetical. This is a commercial landing page where you can go and purchase a burger.
Then in position three, we’ve got this Best Burgers page on the Moz blog. It’s more informational. It’s telling you what are the attributes to a good burger, how can you identify a good burger, where should you go to acquire a good burger, all this kind of more neutral editorial information.
So we hypothesize in this situation that maybe if Moz only had one page going for this keyword, maybe it could actually supplant the top spot. If we think that’s the case, then we would probably talk about this as cannibalization.
However, the alternative hypothesis is, well, actually there could be two intents here. It might be that Google wishes to show a commercial page and an informational page on this SERP, and it so happens that the second best commercial page is Moz’s and the best informational page is also Moz’s. We’ve heard Google talk in recent years or representatives of Google talk in recent years about having positions on search results that are sort of reserved for certain kinds of results, that might be reserved for an informational result or something like that. So this doesn’t necessarily mean there’s cannibalization. So we’re going to talk a little bit later on about how we might sort of disambiguate a situation like this.
First, though, let’s talk about the classic case. So the classic, really clear-cut, really obvious case of cannibalization is where you see a graph like this one.
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