SEO Copying Pitfall #6: Are You Copying the Right Things
The last and most important reason why copying competitors websites can be a problem is when the copier doesn’t know what to look for. If a student copies answers on a test they need to know which answers go to which questions or they’ll get a failing grade. The same is true on SEO copying.
The issue with websites and their search engine optimization strategy is that it’s like an essay test, not multiple choice or true/false. It’s really not practical to copy word for word because there are a lot of right answers. The secret is finding the best combination, one that works for you and your intended audience. So even when copying you need to have a firm understanding of the principles before you can use the knowledge effectively. Ultimately, if done effectively, it’s not copying at all. What you are doing is taking some best practices and applying them to your site.
So do the groundwork. Pick up a book, hire a consultant, listen to tapes, sign up for newsletters, search the web, attend a seminar, anything to get the basics of SEO before diving in. When you have that complete, you’ll be better equipped to analyze competitors sites and what they are doing well. Then instead of copying haphazardly, you can get ideas. When you use competitors as inspiration rather than a template, great things can happen. It provides an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and benefit from their inspirations. Copying outright will likely be a bane to your website, insightful analysis and assimilation of good techniques will always produce improvement.