For about a month, I was trying to get a page to rank for a 3 keywords phrase in Google.mu but it not was listed in the SERPs at all. The content of the webpage was crafted nicely just for those keywords and it had useful information as well; original text and research which I’ve conducted myself. Just to be clear, I’m talking about two webpages from the same website, not different domains.

To explain the circumstances which led to this abnormality, let’s name the first webpage A (unoptimised) and the second webpage B (optimised). Page A has been around for over a year and was ranking for “aaa bbb ccc” and Page B was completely new but was meant to benefit from the domain authority as it was another URL on the same website (same sub domain). The keywords Page B was intended to rank for were “zzz bbb ccc” and as you can see it was only the first keyword which was different.

As both pages talked roughly about the same topic, Google thought Page A would be a better match for the query since it acquired more authority through aging and internal links. However Page A had only a mention of the keyword Page B was supposed to rank for and it was driving me nuts to see Page B not being shown in the SERPs but Page A instead.

This is when I revisited the term keyword cannibalisation and then it occurred to me the same thing was happening on my site. You see my title tag was so closely matched for both pages and Google was getting confused. The title of the webpage is very important and it was to be unique and you need to be targeting something specific with it. If you’re sending the wrong signal by having duplicate or near duplicate title tags, then obviously Google will have to make a decision about which pages it’s going to show in the search results and that sometimes may not be what you expected to see. This is how a non-optimised page was ranking instead of the most relevant page on my domain, the one which talked in depth about the subject in question.

To overcome the problem, I’ve had to find a variation of the title tag which was a bit longer but included the keywords I was aiming for and guess what, 3 days after making the change, I was happy to see the intended page was ranking instead of the other one. The reason why this is important is because if the visitor does not find what he’s looking for when he lands on your webpage, he will hit the previous button immediately and you will have a lot of bounces. He doesn’t want to see an article where what he’s looking for has been talked about briefly but wants something better than that. Also your conversion rates will go down if you have a non-optimised page ranking.

So it is in your best interest to have an seo audit and check your website properly for places where you might be cannibalising your keywords and apply the remedial solutions straight away. The good thing about this is that what once you identify these pages which are affecting your conversions, you can quickly re-rank them again. In my case, my rankings have been stable for more than 7 days now.

3/May/2013

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