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Why is my competitor better ranked with duplicate content?

     
4:18 am on Oct 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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So here's the back end... I have had my online store for almost 10 years and have always had the best rankings for all of my keywords. Over the last couple of years, rankings have gone down and down. I do blame a lot of this on myself where I got content with the site and income and hardly never did any updates or created new content or really anything to grow the business. I'm now trying to change this around and frequently writing new articles and having the website rebuilt in Magento.

Three years ago an old associate of mine secretly went into business against me and started selling the same products that I was selling. He also copied every paragraph on my site and used it on his own site. A lot of my content was not unique so I can't be annoyed about that, but he also took my unique content. He also took nearly every one of my own pictures and put them on his site. Not long after, his site began to rank well. Soon after that he made another website selling the exact same products, same pictures/information but just on a different template. Both are even hosted on the same hosting account.

Now to the present, both of his duplicate websites and now ranked much higher than mine. I have literally gone from the very 1st position to page 5 for my primary keyword - Both his websites are page 2. For all minor keywords I am still on the first page, but both his sites are ranked higher. This has seen my sales reduce by about 50% this year.

What I am desperately trying to work out is how the hell are his websites doing so well? From every backlink check site, page rank site etc, my site still has far better stats than his with much better quality links.

Looking through WT it says I have not been penalised either.

Does anyone have any ideas on what has happened?
5:37 pm on Oct 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi Anon

That must be very frustrating. Have you reported his site to google? I think you can report sites if they have copied your text and photos for copyright.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the CSS template. From my own experience, I remember targeting a very hard keyword consisting of 2 words. Imagine "Cars London" how tough that would be. Well turns out that I spent months on a custom made css template to get it to rank number 1 but to no avail. I then noticed that for another keyword I was ranking very good and realized that this was not because of a custom CSS template, but a free one that I downloaded from the web. I dont have a logical explanation why that is, all I know is that when I changed the template to the free one i pulled from the web for that hard keyword it then started to rank really well, even with the same text and content. The CSS template you use or magento in this case might be the issue.

Hope that helps.
7:47 pm on Oct 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Anon:

You have two separate questions:

1) Why are you ranking on page 5 when you used to rank on Page 1 (and this has nothing to do with where your EX associate's site ranks), and

2) Why would a site that is mostly copied content rank well. (unrelated to where YOUR site is ranking currently.)

And I will throw in a bonus issue:

3) Why haven't you filed a DMCA / sued the guy who is using your original content and images?
12:22 am on Oct 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for your replies. Just to respond to some of your queries.

kimbodude - sorry for the confusion. The Magento website is still being built and not live yet. Currently I am using a template (not through Magento).

Planet13 -
1) I understand most of the reasoning behind this. Most of the sites ahead of us are now all local listing. I guess that's the way Google are headed now.
2) This is probably the question I'm trying to work out most.
3) Originally I spoke to him about and mentioned the legalities. He agreed to remove his website (back then he only had one). What he did was block my IP address so it looked like he removed the site while building his duplicate second site. I only recently found all of this out.

I'm on the DMCA page right now looking it up.

I've noticed he still has pictures on his website which are directly linked from mine. Is this good ammunition?
1:07 am on Oct 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've noticed he still has pictures on his website which are directly linked from mine. Is this good ammunition?

This is more than a smoking gun... it is a gun actively firing bullets. ;)

How to capture this so the evidence survives later changes?

Wayback Machine can sometimes be helpful in such situations, but it might well not have archived as frequently as you might hope. (And the sad paradox about Wayback machine is that it can also make your content easier for competitors to scrape.)
5:28 am on Oct 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have the same problem. My site is Australian and 2 Australian websites have copied my content. Will filing a DMCA work for Australian sites or only US?
5:39 am on Oct 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am not sure, but they must have some copyright laws in Australia that would pertain to this, right?
12:25 pm on Oct 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"What I am desperately trying to work out is how the hell are his websites doing so well? From every backlink check site, page rank site etc, my site still has far better stats than his with much better quality links."

I suspect this could be due to the age of your links. Whilst you might have more and better links the competitor might have more and better links in recent months. If your site starts getting new quality links regularly it probably will cause a ranking boost (according to my theory and limited testing).
6:23 pm on Oct 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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you think your links are better... change the way you think. Google thinks his are better.
10:39 am on Oct 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for all the replies guys. I did put in a DMCA / Spam report a couple of weeks ago. Does anyone know how long these usually take?

Since Penguin 3.0 all of this sites have done very well in increasing rankings, mine are about the same.

In terms of linking, his second website which is now his most successful ONLY has links coming from one of his other unrelated sites (which is a blog that is not overly huge). That is literally the only website he links from.

I can now also see she has made a third duplicate website - word for word, picture for picture. So now he has 3 websiets.

I'm going to contiune adding content and improving links and hope something comes from the Google reports.
11:15 am on Oct 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Are you sure you're not seeing personalised results? The more you look at his site, the more Google will push it to the top of your serps
12:53 pm on Oct 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Just curious...when you do a site:yourdomain.com do all your titles include a site name that includes key words?

I've compared the big site that have infiltrated my niche and the one common denominator is a lack of repeated site titles in all page titles, or the site title is a made up word, like houzz, decoist, roomzaar or the like. It seems the repetition of the site name in the title may be one reason that many sites are slowly slipping.

I've removed my keyword loaded title (not intentionally keyword loaded) and replaced it with my domain name. We'll see what happens...I can't slip any further backwards, that for sure.

Imagine if it were that simple.
3:31 pm on Oct 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for all the replies guys. I did put in a DMCA / Spam report a couple of weeks ago. Does anyone know how long these usually take?

If you submitted your DMCA with the host where the copies are it takes 24 hours or less if they are a SafeHarbor host (most major hosts are SafeHarbor compliant). If you submit only with Google, it takes until they process the DMCAs they already are working on - which is millions at any given time. It may help that you have filed a spam report as well.
9:38 pm on Oct 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi londrum, I wish that was the case but certain it's not personalised.

Samwest, for the most part no. But Google has changed about 50% of my own titles and added my primary keyword to a lot of my titles. Ironically for the majority of those products, that keyword has nothing to do with those products though.

However for my competitor, the primary keyword is in the title of EVERY one of his pages and EVERY one of his domains. I initially had the same a while back but was told this was quite spammy. I'm also not using my domain name instead as you have
9:49 pm on Oct 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If he's hotlinking images from your site, you can have some fun and create an .htaccess file that redirects those requests to, uh, "different" images of the same size.
12:20 am on Oct 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Heh; I've done that. Amazing how quickly those hotlinks disappeared.
12:27 am on Oct 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Had a similar problem with a very popular jpg diagram that we had on our site since the 90's. It always came up #1 in the image serps for a very competitive term for many years. Then tons of people noticed this and started copying it to their scraper sites (it even has our copyright right on it) and all their multiple copies (from multiple independent sites) started ranking 1st with at least 6 different copies from different sites in the top 100. With duplication penalties, Panda/Penguin the entire site started slipping. Every time I'd track down the top copier and send the DMCA, report it to Google, have to prove we owned it longer, etc.,etc. all of which takes a lot of time each, plus days delay time from each contact. As soon as each was gone and eventually removed from the index (can take a while with images) we'd be there a day or so and another one would simply pop up to take it's (and our) place. Ultimately it looked like we were just another copier. Eventually I just had to give up, and removed the image so WE wouldn't get penalized any more, but the loss of the keyword hurt our traffic by probably 25%.
 

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