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Is it a good idea to follow the content strategy of your competitors?

Those who rank high / get more traffic

     
1:09 pm on Sep 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If I follow - not copy / paste - the content strategies of successful sites in my niche, would that be a good idea? Would I be penalized by google for that?
2:35 pm on Sept 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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In short, no. If you're just copying their strategy, you're not doing anything original. Google likes original.

Do something different and original from your competitors and then you'll have 100% of the available traffic.
3:21 pm on Sept 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It is tough to come up with content ideas after a point.
4:50 pm on Sept 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Depends what you mean by “follow” and what you mean by “content strategies”. Something tells me you’re not talking about looking at other sites and saying “Oh, that’s a good way to do it, I hadn’t thought of that” or possibly “Oh, everyone else is doing suchandsuch* so that’s probably what users expect at this point”.

It is tough to come up with content ideas after a point.
Well, yeah, but copying is tough too. There exist major corporations whose entire business model is based on swiping other people’s ideas; successful swipery (swipage?) is a talent all its own.


* Within reason. I don’t care HOW many sites use hamburger menus, I still can’t stand them and their stupid little icon.
5:02 pm on Sept 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have it on firm assurance from a hipster hitch-hiker, that those icons are known as macaroons ;)

G doesn't seem to be too concerned with "unique" in many fields, but they do like "popular" with many backlinks, preferably backed by large corp with VC money..

If you know your subject , content ideas are not hard to come up with, the tough part is having the time to write down all the ideas ..
8:52 pm on Sept 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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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.
11:29 am on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Plagiarism is strictly prohibited. You might get banned for such attempt by Google. You can take ideas from your competitor's website to know about the content type, formulation, literature, etc. But at the end of the day, your thoughts should be put to make it original altogether.
11:30 am on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Is it a good idea to follow the content strategy of your competitors?

it depends if you want to be a follower, or a leader...

Plagiarism is strictly prohibited. You might get banned for such attempt by Google.

The "might" is important. See how many scrappers are doing great in the Google's SERP...
12:14 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Plagiarism is strictly prohibited

If that were true..Pinterest would not exist it, would have been banned by Google on day one..
2:18 pm on Sept 28, 2018 (gmt 0)

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...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...


Could it be that users don't want to read good articles?

Could it be that users are happier with listicles that deliver bite size comparison data chunks that are easily consumed in a mobile phone?

It is tough to come up with content ideas after a point.


Look at how publishers do what they do in completely different niches.
5:29 am on Sept 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Could it be that users don't want to read good articles?


Exactly my point. It's user signals rather than originality or quality that seems to drive these results.

Could it be that users are happier with listicles that deliver bite size comparison data chunks that are easily consumed in a mobile phone?


I'm not convinced of that. I think they have found a way to really make the best of Google's current bias. They are clickbait titles and enough content on the page to avoid a quick bounce. The pages are attrocious though and horrid on mobile. The recipe seems to be
- clickbait title that matches the user's query
- garbage page that often does not match the promise of the title at all, but which does have enough info to keep someone busy
- lots of shiny things to look at to keep users on the page.

Looking at the pages, I actually wonder if promising but ultimately confusing info is part of the strategy to keep users on the page and send the proper signals.

The people at the top are very smart and definitely adapting well to Google's current signal set. I'm planning to copy them, but instead of automated crap, make manual pages that copy the formula, but offer superior info.... at least that's the plan.

So to answer the OP's question - not following them, but studying them and trying to get out in front of them.
1:56 pm on Feb 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I personally think it to be a good idea (if your competitor is exploring). Following doesn't mean copying anyway, I do follow many of my competitors and get writing skills from them.