How Can Different Departments Avoid Keyword Cannibalization?

This week’s Ask An SEO question comes from Caroline in Cleveland, who wrote:

Multiple divisions of our company want to rank for the same keywords.

Are there any tips for how to approach this type of situation? It seems like our company will be competing against itself in SERPs for page 1 rankings.

People are far too worried about keyword cannibalization these days.

The reality is that if you are working within a company where it makes sense for several products to rank for the same keyword, you very may well run into a situation where one of your sites will rank above the other.

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However, in most cases, this just isn’t the big deal that Bill over in “blue widgets” wants to make it.

Just because more than one product is ranking for “blue widgets” doesn’t mean that getting the sale or lead is a zero-sum game.

In fact, by having a multi-divisional corporation rank for many keywords around the same topic, you have a much better chance of creating a branded preference for your goods and services.

You also have a better chance of being the site where the sale takes place.

Divisions Should Share Data

It’s best to share data with your divisional counterparts.

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When you keep things from each other, you can easily make a hostile work environment.

Heads of divisions need to communicate with each other on how they are going to work together, rather than how they plan to beat the competition in their own company.

For example, each division should cross-promote the other with graphics on the pages that rank.

After all, if it makes sense for both divisions to rank for the same keywords, it should make sense for each division to cross-promote the other.

After all, if you are looking for a “red widget” but accidentally end up on the “blue widget” page – if you see a promotion for the “red widget” you are likely going to click on that promotion.

Set Communication With Higher-ups

In reality, my experience has shown me that ranking above a competitor by a couple of spots doesn’t always translate to an excess of sales.

If your company has multiple divisions ranking for specific keywords around a topic, you should be able to track exactly how much traffic and how many sales those queries are driving.

You need to communicate these figures to your higher-ups.

Make sure you communicate that the goal is to increase and traffic sales in aggregate rather than judge each division on its own.

By working to increase the overall pie rather than just what is collected by each division will make the entire corporation stronger.

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Sometimes it can be hard for those running the company to see that.

So it’s important to communicate the “overall growth” message early and often.

Compete – But Help One Another

You want to outrank your divisional competitor, but if you don’t (and they outrank you) it’s still good for the overall organization.

You should be providing help to your divisional counterparts when they aren’t ranking well.

Give each other tips and tricks on how to rank higher in SERPs.

If you and your divisional counterparts hold the number 1 and number 2 spots of the SERP, you are more likely to get the sale – or at least create a brand preference.

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More resources:


Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

Featured image: TarikVision/Shutterstock

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