How can different departments avoid cannibalizing keywords?


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

Several divisions of our company want to be ranked for the same keywords.

Are there any tips on how to approach this situation? It seems that our company will compete against itself in the SERPs for ranking on the first page.

People these days are too worried about cannibalizing keywords.

The reality is that if you work in a company where it makes sense to rank several products for the same keyword, you can very easily come across a situation where one of your pages will rank above the other.

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However, in most cases, it’s just not the big thing that Bill over in the “blue widgets” wants to achieve.

Just because more than one product is ranked for “blue widgets” does not mean that achieving sales or potential customers is a zero-sum game.

In fact, if you have a multi-division corporation ranking for many keywords on the same topic, you have a much better chance of creating branded preference for your goods and services.

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

Departments should share data

It is best to share data with your colleagues in the division.

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When you keep things apart, you can easily create a hostile work environment.

Heads of departments need to communicate with each other about how they will work together, not how they plan to beat the competition in their own company.

For example, each division should cross-promote the other s graphics on 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’re looking for a “red widget” but end up on the “blue widget” page – if you see a promotion for the “red widget”, you’ll probably click on that promotion.

Set up communication with senior staff

In reality, my experience has shown me that ranking above the competition for a few places does not always mean excess sales.

If your company has multiple departments ranked for specific keywords around a topic, you should be able to track exactly how much traffic and how much sales these queries drive.

You should to communicate these figures to your senior officials.

Make sure you communicate that the goal is to increase sales and sales in total, not to judge each division separately.

Working to increase the total cake, not just what each division collects, will make the whole corporation stronger.

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Sometimes it can be difficult for those who run a company to see that.

It is therefore important to convey the message of “overall growth” early and often.

Compete – but help each other

You want to outperform your competitor in the division, but if you don’t (and they prestige you) it’s still good for the entire organization.

You should provide assistance to your colleagues in the division when they are not well ranked.

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

If you and your colleagues in the division hold No. 1 and No. 2 in the SERP, you are more likely to win sales – or at least create a brand preference.

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More resources:


Ask SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the best SEO experts in the industry, hand-picked by the Search Engine Journal. Have a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You may see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

Featured image: TarikVision / Shutterstock

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