I regularly see new bloggers making the following terrible mistake.
- Find all the competitors in their niche through Google.
- Plug competitor’s sites into keyword research tools.
- Lazily spin their top content.
This Doesn’t Work! In theory, if you rank for all the top site’s top content, you’d be wildly successful. So why doesn’t it work?
1) The Best Posts on Big Sites are Wildly Competitive
My site is about how to create a digital business from scratch. This is a competitive niche with a million competitors I could choose from. As an example, let’s put problogger.com into UberSuggest and see what Ubersuggest thinks their top posts are.
It appears that his top 3 posts target the keyword “Make Money Blogging.” Seems like a topic I should definitely write about, right?
WRONG! If I Google “Make Money Blogging,” I have to scroll all the way to page 23 of Google before the results are non-competitive.
Your blog has to get onto the first page for that article to have any chance of generating real traffic. Do you see the problem here? To get to page 1, you have to compete with the most authoritative players in the industry. A new blog doesn’t have the domain authority to get there!
2) The Big Sites Smaller Posts Are Also Competitive!
New bloggers pretty quickly realize that the above statement is true. So the next logical step is saying, “OK, I won’t copy their top posts; I’ll pay the keyword research tools so I can see their smaller posts. Then copy those posts. I’m a genius.”
Hopefully, you’re seeing the obvious problem here. By copying the biggest sites, you’re ensuring there’s maximal competition for the #1 spot. If you’re just lazily spinning their content, there’s a 0% chance you ever obtain a #1 ranking (At least with this method you have some chance at the top 10).
My point is that your goal is to find topics where there is ZERO competition. By copying any of your top competitor’s topic ideas, you’re guaranteed to never find that. As a beginner, you’re ideally looking for SERP’s with bad posts from small websites or forums coming up on page 1.
3) Keyword Research Tools Aren’t Accurate Anyway!
Keyword research tools can’t accurately predict search volume! Just as an example, Ubersuggest claimed my post on M1 Macs for XCode Development got 23 visitors in January 2021; it got 3,205. An order of magnitude difference in predicted traffic vs. real traffic.
So you’re going to these tools, trying to find their top posts, and potentially being wildly misled as to which posts get all the traffic anyway. Even if you thought that copying competitors was a good idea, it doesn’t work all that great when you’re way off on which posts actually get the traffic.
4) Copying Ensures You Won’t Be Successful for Multiple Years
We all want to get rich quick, not 5+ YEARS from now. Right?
Well, you need to understand that Google prefers “older” content. Your posts won’t hit their peak in Google until 2-3 years after they were written. It’d take multiple years before my post on “How to make money blogging,” would outrank premium competition. Even if the post was excellent.
Assuming copying worked (it doesn’t), it would still take 2-3 years to see the results of your stealing. You could have just created a ton of great original content targeting low competition stuff in that time. You’d be successful significantly faster that way.
5) Me-Too Content Isn’t High-Quality Content
Imagine typing “Gift Ideas for Mothers day” into Google.
The first site gives you five decent gift ideas. Then the 2nd and 3rd site gives you the exact same gift ideas. You assume this is all Google has to offer, so you bounce from Google. Do you think Google’s will reward sites 2 and 3 as they drive traffic away from Google? I don’t.
This is what happens when you copy your competitors. The people clicking through to your website have literally already read what you wrote. They continued scrolling because they didn’t like the first result, not because they want to see it again. Serving up the exact same content is a terrible strategy.
6) Google Hides Duplicate Content
Google flat out doesn’t show duplicate content. If you copy your biggest competitor word for word, Google has to choose who the authority is. Otherwise, the same content ends up in the SERP over and over which annoys their users.
Google will choose the big website over your new blog forever. Meaning you will get zero impressions and zero search traffic forever.
7) There Are Serious Penalties to Violating Copyright
This is the Internet, lots of people are copying stuff they shouldn’t, and they sometimes get away with it. There’s so much copying happening that the rules are difficult to enforce every time they’re broken.
That said, it’s definitely not impossible to face the following consequences if you infringe on your competition’s copyright.
- You could get sued. I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not saying you absolutely will get sued, but it’s certainly a possibility.
- Your hosting provider could shut you down via a DMCA complaint.
- Your DNS provider could shut you down via a DMCA complaint.
- Google could shut you down with a good enough DMCA complaint. No traffic, no ads, no hosting, no DNS services, etc.
IDK if you’ve ever operated a business that was at risk of completely disappearing overnight. But, it’s stressful. Do you want to lie awake every night wondering if this is your last night as a “successful” business owner? I wouldn’t.
And with tools like CopyScape, finding plagiarized material has become quite easy to do.