In short, no. If you're just copying their strategy, you're not doing anything original. Google likes original.
Actually, that is less and less my experience. Google still doesn't have good algorithms for detecting original.
G doesn't seem to be too concerned with "unique" in many fields, but they do like "popular".
That, on the other hand, is what I see most often in moderately competitive areas. For a travel term I was looking at recently for Best [Location] [Feature], what I find is that the good, original, researched articles have all been pushed off the front page with one exception. They have been entirely replaced by listicle articles from TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Hotels.com, etc, etc.... The big travel players. 10 Best [Location] [Features]. The higher the number the better.
That is, while Google has no algorithm to directly measure originality or quality, they can directly measure user engagement and increasingly, that seems to matter. In the case above, that can be a problem and actually reduce the originality and quality of the pages returned for searches like that one, for reasons I'll get to in a second.
When you click through to the articles, they are terrible and utterly unoriginal. In fact, they are clearly auto-generated and they are rife with error. They show photos labelled "Town A" and it has a feature that is 1.5 hours away AND requires a 1 hour hike to get to. So, total time, it's 2.5 hours from the named town to the feature in question. All manner of information and pictures are incorrect, mislabeled and so on.
So, rather than "following" their strategy, perhaps you can study and improve on it. So, let's say you search on Best Florida Amusement Parks or Best Paris Museums or Best London Indian Restaurant or whatever it is that you're looking for and, like me, you find absolutely atrocious listicle articles. Then you *might* be able to create your own list that is actually good, and then try to shop that content around and get links.
The challenge that we've run into is that as an individual feature, it can be hard to get it right. Let's say you are wanting to rank for Best Doughnut Shop in Kathmandu. You search and you see that Trip Advisor and Hotels.com are competing for the top spots with 10 Best Doughnut Shops in Kathmandu and 21 Best Doughnut Shops in Kathmandu (remember, the higher the number, the better and always put it at the front of your headline).
So you're just one doughnut shop. What does your 10 Best Doughnut Shops in Kathmandu article look like? If you don't have a list that leads with a number, you don't get the CTR from your users and you will not rank. Maybe you're comfortable with an article that includes your nine competitors. Maybe, if you're really bold, you put yourself at #2. But, can you get buy-in from the CEO, Chairman of the Board, BOD, VP of Marketing and the Director of Brand Positioning for your doughnut shop? Sometimes, not all stakeholders will be willing to show you as the #2 doughnut shop in Kathmandu.
That's just one example of one case where it appears to me
- it's not quality, it's user signals that will win the game
- it's not originality, but big site/brand equity that will win the game
- it's not "following" but "building on" that *might* let you crawl your way onto page 1 if the space isn't too competitive.