Is copying your #1 competitor always a good idea?

24 replies
  • SEO
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I'm just curious.

If you type in "mold remediation nj", my number 1 competitor isn't really the best romodel for SEO. Especially if you check their backlinks and notice that they all come from the same 2-3 sites. Then you see that they have tons of spun content on their site, are link stuffing and keyword stuffing.

Yet still, they rank really well. A ton of their keywords rank in the top 3. It boggles my mind how stable their rank has been and how they never budge.

So naturally I've been trying to copy them for about 5 months now. Around month 3-4 my keywords were ranking good. This last month my rankings have sucked. I'm still not gaining any stability.

With the amount of links I have built, I should not be on page 1 for my more competitive keywords. But comparing my own site to sites on pages 2-3, I have more relevant backlinks than those sites, yet I still rank back by pages 10-20.

I have no idea if copying my #1 competitor is such a smart idea anymore.

Its weird because some of the sites that rank under him, have more diversified backlinks from more different sites.

The biggest difference I seem to see here is age. The sites in the top 3 are all really old sites. Which is making me think it'll be impossible to compete with a 5 month old site.

I have NO ISSUES outsourcing SEO. And I've already outsourced it on 2 sites and got great results from a company doing all whitehat SEO.

But they are expensive. So I thought "maybe I can find someone cheaper on WF". The problem is, there are too many suppliers, and I feel like the only way I'll know which one is good, is by learning how to rank my own sites and what is the right/wrong way of doing it.

I started my own little network, and at first saw a major leap in many of my keywords. Problem is it didn't last long. Maybe I just need to build more links, I have no idea.

I think my real question is this. If you have an older site, can you basically get away with murder in the SERPS?

I'm trying to see the larger picture behind all of this, and thats what I see. The 2 oldest sites, don't seem to give a damn about a natural backlink profile. One of them has spun content all over the site. There are younger sites underneath them, with more links, more diverse links, that still can't touch the top 3 spots.

To me, it seems like if you don't have a 4-5 year old site in this niche, then you aren't reaching the top 3 no matter what you do.

Am I looking too deep into this or what?

-Red
#competitor #copying #good #idea
  • Profile picture of the author trade4861
    Maybe your link structure and quality is not as good as you think. Could be other factors involved like the quality of your content etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    I guess your competition is [a b s o l u t e l y s p o t l e s s m o l d [dot] com]?

    The host for that sites name servers is located at: Eastampton, NJ 08060
    • NS1 [dot] WHIZ-TECH [dot] COM
    • NS2 [dot] WHIZ-TECH [dot] COM

    Just saying...

    [edit]
    I Googled the host office US address, it's a residential street, not sure what that's about (fake?)?
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  • Profile picture of the author squadron
    That's an interesting question. It is very difficult to copy all aspects of a competitor given domain age, link profile and keyword density.
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    • Profile picture of the author mycongme
      Originally Posted by squadron View Post

      copy all aspects of a competitor given domain age,
      How you do that? Rest were good enough but how you fight with age issue?? :confused: .. Using time machine
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  • Profile picture of the author dlundy1
    "Copying" ... NO,

    "Competitive analysis, and Patterning".... YES.

    IF they are good at what they do
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    Don't Give UP! See how I made mt first $69.73 online :)

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    • Profile picture of the author JSProjects
      Originally Posted by dlundy1 View Post

      "Copying" ... NO,

      "Competitive analysis, and Patterning".... YES.

      IF they are good at what they do
      Agreed. And don't focus on just the # 1 result. Analyze the entire 1st page.
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  • Profile picture of the author kaytav
    a b s o l u t e l y s p o t l e s s m o l d [dot] com . I checked the site. Their On Page too looks messed up. I wonder how it is ranking high on. They don't even have high Domain authority, neither do they have lot of backlinks...
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  • Profile picture of the author trade4861
    I didn't go through all the pages but the site didn't look that bad, in fact I kind of liked it. Didn't see spun content and the keyword stuffing wasn't to extreme.
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  • Profile picture of the author RedShifted
    /\ You have to go to one of their backpages, then you'll see about 250 links crammed on the bottom. All those pages are spun. So technically, the high majority of the site is spun content, they just try to hide it somewhat.

    Like if you go to their "structural mold remediation" page, then scan to the bottom, you'll see nothing but hundreds of links. Thats the spun content I was talking about. Those links are on a lot of their pages.

    The site just seems to violate so many rules as far as SEO goes.
    They don't link naturally in their content.
    The high majority of their backlinks come from 2 domains (which are crap domains).
    They keyword stuff the hell out a lot of their pages, this is just 1 example from a page:

    Mold Inspection NJ, Mold Testing NJ,
    Mold Remediation NJ, Mold Removal NJ, Since 1995

    Mold Removal, Mold Remediation, Mold Testing, Mold Inspection,
    Warren NJ, Dumont NJ, Glen Ridge NJ, Montville NJ,
    Denville NJ, Wharton NJ

    Mold Remediation, Mold Removal, Mold Testing,
    Mold Inspection, New Jersey

    I just don't understand why they rank so well. And it confuses me as to whether I should be doing what they're doing, since they've had a firm #1 spot for a long time.
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    • Profile picture of the author marketinguk
      Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

      / You have to go to one of their backpages, then you'll see about 250 links crammed on the bottom. All those pages are spun. So technically, the high majority of the site is spun content, they just try to hide it somewhat.

      Like if you go to their "structural mold remediation" page, then scan to the bottom, you'll see nothing but hundreds of links. Thats the spun content I was talking about. Those links are on a lot of their pages.

      The site just seems to violate so many rules as far as SEO goes.
      They don't link naturally in their content.
      The high majority of their backlinks come from 2 domains (which are crap domains).
      They keyword stuff the hell out a lot of their pages, this is just 1 example from a page:

      Mold Inspection NJ, Mold Testing NJ,
      Mold Remediation NJ, Mold Removal NJ, Since 1995

      Mold Removal, Mold Remediation, Mold Testing, Mold Inspection,
      Warren NJ, Dumont NJ, Glen Ridge NJ, Montville NJ,
      Denville NJ, Wharton NJ

      Mold Remediation, Mold Removal, Mold Testing,
      Mold Inspection, New Jersey

      I just don't understand why they rank so well. And it confuses me as to whether I should be doing what they're doing, since they've had a firm #1 spot for a long time.
      Look if the site that you're referring to is definitely breaking Google's guidelines then report them to Google for spam. However, this is as long as your own house is in order of course. If you are happy with that then I would definitely report them and see what happens over the coming weeks. If Google agrees with you then they'll eventually vanish.

      Just a thought!
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
      Banned
      Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

      / You have to go to one of their backpages, then you'll see about 250 links crammed on the bottom. All those pages are spun. So technically, the high majority of the site is spun content, they just try to hide it somewhat.

      Like if you go to their "structural mold remediation" page, then scan to the bottom, you'll see nothing but hundreds of links. Thats the spun content I was talking about. Those links are on a lot of their pages.

      The site just seems to violate so many rules as far as SEO goes.
      They don't link naturally in their content.
      The high majority of their backlinks come from 2 domains (which are crap domains).
      They keyword stuff the hell out a lot of their pages, this is just 1 example from a page:

      Mold Inspection NJ, Mold Testing NJ,
      Mold Remediation NJ, Mold Removal NJ, Since 1995

      Mold Removal, Mold Remediation, Mold Testing, Mold Inspection,
      Warren NJ, Dumont NJ, Glen Ridge NJ, Montville NJ,
      Denville NJ, Wharton NJ

      Mold Remediation, Mold Removal, Mold Testing,
      Mold Inspection, New Jersey

      I just don't understand why they rank so well. And it confuses me as to whether I should be doing what they're doing, since they've had a firm #1 spot for a long time.
      They're doing what I've suggested to do in older forum threads, only they're spamming out the site. Do the same only don't make it look so obvious.

      Here's the spamfest your talking about (links at bottom of page).

      Now take the first link (town name) from the spamfest/links, which is Aberdeen. That Aberdeen internal link points to a page that includes GEO location info. (town name, zip code, area code (phone number), all laser targeted to that exact town (Aberdeen), now repeat for the other 50 or whatever surrounding towns. Basically pass GEO location relevancy from one internal page to the next internal page, repeat...

      It doesn't have to look like a spamfest to get similar internal linking as the competition.

      I haven't tried this but it would be interesting to know If it helps local ranking. All the thumbnail images you see on Google Maps are hosted on Panoramio, those Panoramio pages also include all the GEO location that associate those Panoramio images with GEO locations on Google Maps, here's an example image page. Now go to Google maps & search for the zip code 07747, you should see the same Panaramio image in the left sidebar of Google Maps.

      My point with the Panaramio image is, it might help tie your own images to the [exact] GEO location that your targeting. Don't spam out Panoramio, still a couple of images might help along with the usual SEO.
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  • Profile picture of the author nik0
    Banned
    Sites that are there for a long time (with or without many back links) seem to have a great advantage.

    You said that you build a small network of sites and that the rankings didn't last long. Could be that you bought domains where the owner let their domain expire and started with a new one, and informed all the back link sources that they had to change the links to his site. Pretty standard way of having the PR of a domain drop quickly.
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  • I personally think that it is still important to get ideas from your competitors. However, still, you will need to come up something that is your own. Do not just plain copy everything, always build a good plan that you think is best suited for your site. Copying will not do the trick of being successful. Use your competitors ideas to come up with something more.
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  • Profile picture of the author jfambrini
    For a long time it seemed to me that three of my competitors could do nothing wrong and no matter what they did, they remained on page 1. One relied on links from low PR directories, the other on spun content and the third has loads of duplicate content. The three of them have done no link building in the past year and more and have survived all Google updates and keep surging in SERPs. I have now given up and have now started to focus on what I could do differently.
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  • Profile picture of the author Velant
    Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

    I'm just curious.

    If you type in "mold remediation nj", my number 1 competitor isn't really the best romodel for SEO. Especially if you check their backlinks and notice that they all come from the same 2-3 sites. Then you see that they have tons of spun content on their site, are link stuffing and keyword stuffing.

    Yet still, they rank really well. A ton of their keywords rank in the top 3. It boggles my mind how stable their rank has been and how they never budge.
    Their backlinks that you can uncover are not the whole story. Quailty and age of links play a huge role.

    Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

    So naturally I've been trying to copy them for about 5 months now. Around month 3-4 my keywords were ranking good. This last month my rankings have sucked. I'm still not gaining any stability.
    Not surprising for a 5 months old site.


    Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

    I
    I think my real question is this. If you have an older site, can you basically get away with murder in the SERPS?
    It's not so much the age of the site as it is existing backlinks and backlinking pre-history (see above). Also onsite user behaviour is important (bounce rate, views/visit, time spent on site).


    Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

    To me, it seems like if you don't have a 4-5 year old site in this niche, then you aren't reaching the top 3 no matter what you do.
    That's not true. We ranked 2 years 1-page old site on top 3 for a long time while the competitors below them were 7-10 years old sites with tons of backlinks and 100's of webpages. So it is very much possible.
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    • Profile picture of the author RedShifted
      Originally Posted by Velant View Post

      Their backlinks that you can uncover are not the whole story. Quailty and age of links play a huge role.

      Not surprising for a 5 months old site.


      It's not so much the age of the site as it is existing backlinks and backlinking pre-history (see above). Also onsite user behaviour is important (bounce rate, views/visit, time spent on site).


      That's not true. We ranked 2 years 1-page old site on top 3 for a long time while the competitors below them were 7-10 years old sites with tons of backlinks and 100's of webpages. So it is very much possible.
      This was a very focused, quality response, thank you!

      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      They're doing what I've suggested to do in older forum threads, only they're spamming out the site. Do the same only don't make it look so obvious.

      Here's the spamfest your talking about (links at bottom of page).

      Now take the first link (town name) from the spamfest/links, which is Aberdeen. That Aberdeen internal link points to a page that includes GEO location info. (town name, zip code, area code (phone number), all laser targeted to that exact town (Aberdeen), now repeat for the other 50 or whatever surrounding towns. Basically pass GEO location relevancy from one internal page to the next internal page, repeat...

      It doesn't have to look like a spamfest to get similar internal linking as the competition.

      I haven't tried this but it would be interesting to know If it helps local ranking. All the thumbnail images you see on Google Maps are hosted on Panoramio, those Panoramio pages also include all the GEO location that associate those Panoramio images with GEO locations on Google Maps, here's an example image page. Now go to Google maps & search for the zip code 07747, you should see the same Panaramio image in the left sidebar of Google Maps.

      My point with the Panaramio image is, it might help tie your own images to the [exact] GEO location that your targeting. Don't spam out Panoramio, still a couple of images might help along with the usual SEO.
      The thing with the links on the bottom of the page, I started that about 1-2 months ago.

      http://www.mymoldremovalguys.com/mol...al-new-jersey/

      (my links need to be structured better I know)

      I just have a long way to go as there are about 500 towns in NJ.

      Add to that how long it takes to do backlinking, and this is becoming a task that I'm convinced its time to outsource.

      I bought up a few domains, and have been posting geotargeted content on them, that links back to my homepage (like they do), but it takes a lot of time in combination with everything else I'm doing (local search/youtube/cl/sales/marketing other sites)... so it may be time to outsource the SEO for this site. Problem is I hate outsourcing because I'm addicted to learning.
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      • Profile picture of the author Velant
        Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

        This was a very focused, quality response, thank you!
        You are welcome.

        Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

        I bought up a few domains, and have been posting geotargeted content on them, that links back to my homepage (like they do), but it takes a lot of time in combination with everything else I'm doing (local search/youtube/cl/sales/marketing other sites)...
        Sounds like real dilemma hehe
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  • Profile picture of the author smodha
    "Good artists copy, great artists steal" - Picasso
    Signature
    I Sell What People Want. The Money Is A Bonus..
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    • Profile picture of the author kaytav
      Originally Posted by smodha View Post

      "Good artists copy, great artists steal" - Picasso
      You do either of the 2??
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  • Profile picture of the author InitialEffort
    An aged domain with PageRank already has trust and certain degree of authority with Google. It will still normally rank much faster than new domain even if for example its content completely changed because past content doesn’t affect ranking for present topic. An Aged Domain with PR will usually rank much faster than a new domain. It is presently the one of the most powerful and effective SEO weapons.

    For me, reverse engineering is for the purpose of checking the competitor’s backlinking strategies – checking on where they’re getting their backlinks from, the domain age of each links, analysing the number of links per page and analysing the number of OBLs per page. Reverse engineer to get ideas, not necessarily to copy what they’re doing. It is still fulfilling to think of your own technique in order to succeed than just depending on someone else’s ideas.
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    • Profile picture of the author Velant
      Originally Posted by InitialEffort View Post

      For me, reverse engineering is for the purpose of checking the competitor's backlinking strategies - checking on where they're getting their backlinks from, the domain age of each links, analysing the number of links per page and analysing the number of OBLs per page. Reverse engineer to get ideas, not necessarily to copy what they're doing. It is still fulfilling to think of your own technique in order to succeed than just depending on someone else's ideas.
      Reverse engineering is a hugely time consuming research and even if done properly and thoroughly will not enable you to reproduce everything (or even most of things) your competitors do. Besides none of the existing tools or services will show you all the backlinks, especially if there are tons of them. The sole purpose of reverse engineering is to estimate the 'strength' of promotion campaigns implemented by your competitors and setup your own with similar strength.

      Originally Posted by RedShifted View Post

      ... so it may be time to outsource the SEO for this site. Problem is I hate outsourcing because I'm addicted to learning.
      The problem with this approach is that excessive curiosity and thirst for learning may get you stuck in analysis-paralysis, and this can become a real time-waste.

      With regard to DIY SEO vs outsourcing. You may be smart person and a quick learner. However, SEO is ever-changing and very much an experimental science, so unless you have a large enough ensemble of data (websites/keywords/competition strength) to experiment with over sufficiently long period of time (I am talking years) - your smartness will never out beat years of experience and the scale of experimental data available to professionals.
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      • Profile picture of the author jfambrini
        Originally Posted by Velant View Post


        With regard to DIY SEO vs outsourcing. You may be smart person and a quick learner. However, SEO is ever-changing and very much an experimental science, so unless you have a large enough ensemble of data (websites/keywords/competition strength) to experiment with over sufficiently long period of time (I am talking years) - your smartness will never out beat years of experience and the scale of experimental data available to professionals.
        Point well taken but on the flip side it is hard to know who knows their stuff in SEO. Early last year we had invited various SEO companies to bid and present sites they had done successful SEO for. Two months ago I looked at these sites again and with no exception all of these sites were no longer on page 1 for searches they had been optimized for. Panda and Penguin has defeated a lot of old-timers.
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        • Profile picture of the author Velant
          Originally Posted by jfambrini View Post

          Point well taken but on the flip side it is hard to know who knows their stuff in SEO. Early last year we had invited various SEO companies to bid and present sites they had done successful SEO for. Two months ago I looked at these sites again and with no exception all of these sites were no longer on page 1 for searches they had been optimized for. Panda and Penguin has defeated a lot of old-timers.
          Most reputable and established SEO companies never disclose their clients URLs and/or keywords as they are bound by NDA.
          The fact that those companies/people submitted you their clients data only implies that they are amateurs, hence the results.
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  • Profile picture of the author davidfrankk
    Get ideas from your competitors, don't just blindly copy them. You claim to have many backlinks. Well that could well be a reason why Google isn't ranking your site well. Since the Penguin update, over SEO has also started being penalized. Try to filter your backlinks. Get rid of the low quality ones and try to make the good ones more visible.
    If you think you've been affected by the Panda update that took place earlier this year, here is an article that could help you recover from it.
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