Don’t Be an SEO Copycat

Written by Nick Stamoulis

The first step to an SEO campaign is to do research. This includes determining top online competitors and checking out their SEO and online marketing strategy. This is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked, but it shouldn’t be agonized over either. Unfortunately, some website and business owners tend to get too hung up on what the competition is doing.

It’s good to know what competitors are up to because it’s possible that they are using a few tactics that you hadn’t thought of yet that might be perfectly in line with the strategy that you’d like to take. That’s fine. However, outright copying the competition is not the right way to go. This is true for two reasons. First, it just makes you look bad. It looks like you can’t think for yourself and aren’t creative. If you take this approach, no matter what you do, the competition has already done it. Second, you could be missing out on lots of opportunities.

Who’s to say that your competition is doing everything right in their online marketing and SEO efforts? It’s possible that they didn’t take all of the right steps or didn’t do their research and could even be using black hat tactics. You certainly don’t want to get into that mess just because your competitors already have. Think about what happened to J.C. Penny a few months back. What if you had been copying everything that they did? You’d get penalized as well.

One key component of SEO that competitors take notice of and often want to copy is the targeted keywords that they chose. People sometimes think “if they are using those keywords, then I should be too”. This isn’t necessarily the case. You don’t know how your competitors chose their keywords. Maybe they just assumed what would rank and didn’t do any research. There’s a good possibility that there are important keywords or keyword phrases that have search volume that the competition overlooked. This presents a great opportunity for you to rank well for those keywords.

Limiting yourself to what the competition is doing in SEO is the wrong approach. Hire a consultant, an agency, or an in house person that is knowledgeable about the industry and then trust their opinions. They might come up with a strategy that the competition isn’t implementing, and that’s okay. Who knows, it might work so well that the competition will start to look to you for inspiration.

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