#36 – Copycats: How to Deal With Them & How To Reverse Engineer Without Being a Clone (Perrin & Gael)

What you will learn

  • Why Ripping an entire site off is a bad idea and what to do instead
  • How to deal with someone who copies your website
  • How to inspire yourself from the competition without being a blatant clone
  • The things you can and you can't copy from other websites
  • Personal stories on how we handle copycat situations

Gael & Perrin sit down and talk about their Copycat stories on both sides of the fence.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Full Transcript

Welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, the place to learn field tested, no BS tactics to grow hack your online business, and finally, live life on your own terms. Now, your hosts, Gael and Mark.

Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast. In Today’s episode I have Perrin who is back on the podcast. Welcome back Perrin.

Perrin: Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be back. I was really weirdly shocked that everybody on the Facebook group wanted me back on, I think maybe they missed me.

Gael: Yeah. Actually the podcast numbers are really good, the ones we were talking about the common creation, your downloads were pretty good so I think that it seems people are pretty happy, I’ve also received a few email auto responders where people are like I subscribed because Perrin joined Authority Hacker, so I guess you’re becoming kind of like part of the brand.

Perrin: There you go, bringing that celebrity.

Gael: Cool. What are we talking about today?

Perrin: We are talking about the thing that I hate the most in internet marketing, and that is copycats, people copying other sites.

Gael: Okay, copycats I guess there is going to be some nuances there, because some of the stuff we talk about is the [01:26 inaudible] competition and inspiring yourself from them, right? So, can you precise your thinking here?

Perrin: Well, it’s just a very tricky topic I think, because you guys know that I’ve been doing this for a long time and like half of my sites that I have ever built have been in the public sphere, so of course, if you know anything about internet marketing, you know that there is this predominant culture of basically everybody copying everybody. But, one of the things that we do around here is look at our competition and say, “How can we smartly reverse engineer what they are doing, and compete with them, in an epical way” so we’ll use phrases like stealing keywords, or we’ll look at content and we’ll try to recreate it and make it better, and so there is a real gray area between what is copying somebody, what is just ripping somebody off and then what is actual competitor reverse engineering. So, I think we’re going to try to touch on that line, try to define it a little bit better and see where the bad guys land and then see where we land.

Gael: But, first of all, we’ve got to say unless you are ripping off someone copyright and material, it’s kind of allowed, like let’s talk the ethics for a second, right, it’s kind of allowed to rip off a lot of people’s stuff out, you’re just not allowed to take their images, you are not allowed to take their logo obviously, and if you are kind of like misleading people- building branding that is so close to their branding, that they might go to your site etc, link to your site etc, because they think you’re someone else, then that would be illegal, but other than that, it’s not illegal, right?

Perrin: Yes, and we have, I am going to share a story about what we are talking about later, but yeah that’s the long and short of it.

Gael: Okay, and I think in essence, the difference between ripping someone off completely and inspiring yourself is essentially doing it smartly, there is a gap of understanding of why people do things, and when you reverse engineer your competition, like the way we do it, and we’ll talk about the things we do, about things like keywords, things like thinking about content, and that kind of stuff, then we try to understand why and we try to see how it fits into our original strategy, lie we have our own goals, we don’t align our goals on theirs, like it’s not like I would just going to take their keywords and rank for all their keywords exactly and then copy exactly the monetization they have etc, it’s more like okay- putting that into your own vision versus ripping off the entire website and entire concept. But, I’ll let you go with your story actually.

Perrin: Yeah, so, like I said, I have been doing my sites in the public sphere for a really long time, the first site I made was the shaving site back when I was doing my very first entrepreneurial pursuits case study, the site that I have currently that I don’t mention on Authority Hacker and I never mentioned it on-

Gael: But you mentioned it on Backlinko.

Perrin: I pretty dumbly mentioned it on Backlinko only because I was like in link building mode and I was like man, that would be a crazy link, and I did this case study on Backlinko, and it is a great link, the obvious side effect of that is that people saw it and just copied the hell out of it. So, not only have I seen tertiary copies, like exact copies of my site layout, structure, logo, in other niches though, but I’ve also come across a few copies of my site in my own niche, targeting my own keywords and that sort of thing. But there is one buy in particular who copied most of my keywords, at least the most profitable ones, he copied my article structure, he copied a lot of the elements that I had int here, so like my version of product tables, I have like these animated calorie counters, I have a certain article structure with like headlines, things that I cover for every article type and he copied basically all of that. And he copied my about page, and he copied my disclaimer, but- he changed the words, right, so if you look at his site-

Gael: So that’s the only original thing, right, the actual words?

Perrin: It’s the actual words, right. And his site looks a little bit different, so he didn’t use my logo or anything. But if you look at his site, and you look at my site, you go oh yeah, it’s really clear, this guy is just ripping off this site. And who cares, first of all, like one of the things we’re going to talk about in this podcast is that most of the time you don’t need to worry about your competitors, but he started ranking for some of these keywords, and I thought that that was about the time that I should probably talk to a lawyer, and nowadays it’s not a big deal to hire a lawyer, I hired a really great lawyer on Upwork, it’s like a $100 an hour but I only need to talk to the guy for like an hour or two every week, right. It’s not a huge deal to hire a lawyer, but because this guy was using my expression of this idea, and ranking for some of these keywords I figured I should talk to a lawyer, and so, I hired a lawyer and had him look at the sites, and had him look at the articles, and basically what he said was, “Yeah, this guy is clearly coping you and he has copied the whole lot of elements, I think you have a valid claim for a common law copyright, but- he is pretty much exactly in the gray area.” If I wanted to take it to court, and who knows, if I figure out how much revenue he is actually getting- if it’s a couple of hundred bucks who cares, right, but-

Gael: The real question is how much you’re losing, not how much he is making.

Perrin: How much I’m losing, right. If I decided it’s worth it then we’d go to court and it’s just going to come down to legal fees and stuff, but, it was a really interesting case study for me because my business is still growing, it’s not like this copycat came online, copied my site and all of the sudden my revenue tanked.

Gael: It’s not like you invented the niche, right, you’re not the first guy to enter it.

Perrin: It’s not like I invented the niche, there are plenty of people writing about these different topics, and he changed the words, but there is just this common sense element of like, he obviously and he like comments, on Backlinko and I ran into him commenting on Backlinko, so like-

Gael: To get the link from the page, to get the link from the same page?

Perrin: Not from the same page, but a different page to that site. But there is evidence that- one of the big things in copyright law, apparently, this is what I learned after talking with my lawyer, is that one of the things that can really help a copyright case is that someone had the opportunity to copy, so like if someone saw or heard or read something first, and then went and did something extremely similar to that, that can really help copycat case and this guy obviously did that. But, the really interesting thing about this is that it’s right in the gray area, and I could lose, and this guy could lose but it’s just a call of like how much is worth it. And also, for me, it’s a really weird question about like am I just being kind of an ass?

Gael: I was going to bring it up, because when you started that site, you took another domain and you had to close it down because some people were thinking you were too close to them even though you didn’t intend to copy them, right, but probably the feeling that guy would have would be quite similar.

Perrin: Yeah, for sure, and I think I would hope you would not feel similar, because what I did was my brand name was similar to another brand name, and we are in the same niche, but I had never heard of them before. This guy, I think obviously copied my site, so if he would have been notified I think he would probably understand that he did copy, obviously this guy is checking my site every day, to see what’s going on, but yeah, it’s very interesting.

Gael: Have you ever copied the site?

Perrin: Have I ever copied the site? No, I don’t think so, I’ve clearly been inspired by sites, and I think after you’ve been doing internet marketing enough, you start to understand the best practices, and like we all see what’s working for other people, we want to try it on our site but, no I have a really strong personal directive I think, or urge or feeling, that I want to be different, I just don’t want my sites to look like everybody else, that’s part of the reason that bothers me when people copy me, because I don’t want a bunch of sites that look like my site, like I want to be the unique one or I want to be doing it the best, and I really take a lot of care in coming up with like how I form my articles, new elements that I am introducing and that sort of thing and so, I don’t think I would feel right copying the site, like obviously, I am going to try to compete with people on keyword and stuff, but that was a question for me, because like maybe this guy is just competing with me but at the end of the day, I felt like that wasn’t the case because, one of my main competitors in this niche, someone who beats me for lot of keywords, we are probably split right down at the middle 50-50 with like me beating him on keywords, him beating me on keywords, his site makes twice as much money as me, but we’re actually like after talking we’re like friends and I hope he does well and we link to each other and that sort of thing. He is covering the same topics as me, and he is beating me and he is making more money, I don’t feel like he is copying me even though like we’re writing about the same stuff, we have the same kind of content. And so, for me the question was what’s the difference between these two, this guy who is making more money than me in the same niche, and then this other guy, who makes me more angry but doesn’t really have an effect on my business. And I think it’s just the intent.

Gael: Yeah.

Perrin: This guy really wants to copy my site.

Gael: I mean, it’s really about like the motivation and what people want, it’s like if you walk in there and you’re like I’m just going to copy this site and try to take their money, then essentially you are going to create a copycat site that is in a gray area, so you might not gain trouble, but you might. But if you’re coming to that actually trying to solve a problem for the end user, for us it’s like trying to help people being healthier, and making healthier choices for people that have everyday jobs and normal people essentially. And, you focus on that and then you inspire yourself and then you’re going to have a more original take on that, and that’s where the problem is. But, let’s talk about what is smart to copy. And what is not so smart to copy, like obviously there are things that for example, I am going to start one, one thing that is not so smart to copy is the WordPress theme. So many people get obsessed with like, oh my god, what theme are you using, and like, even in online marketing, how many blogs you [13:11 inaudible] since we used it.

Perrin: It’s so strange.

Gael: There is so many, so many people have even switched and went out of their way taking risks with their rankings and so on to copy a theme, like Health Ambition, we switched the theme three times in the past year I think, and I’ve seen some sites literally like switch theme when we switched theme, like two weeks later.

Perrin: It’s so strange, when Colleen and I were doing the case study on niche pursuits if you don’t know, one of the things I was doing, I was in the middle of when I was transitioning from Niche Pursuits to Authority Hacker, and then I’m finishing, is doing a case study with a student, we’re building a site together; when we finally revealed the site, I told Colleen there is one question we cannot answer in the comments, okay, no matter how many times they ask, don’t answer this question, and that is what theme are you suing. because, it doesn’t matter how many link building tactics you have, how many market research tactics you put in the article, the first thing people are going to ask is what’s your theme. Because, for some reason, people think it matters a bunch and never does. Every single site I have ever built was on different theme, they all do fine.

Gael: Although, I am actually asking myself this question, and that’s more critic towards Thrive themes, so actually we had a podcast about WordPress themes, and the truth is, at some point Health Ambition was running on focus blog and the traffic search and then we searched another theme and it’s been still declining things, and I am actually considering like testing different themes, like testing to put focus blog back just to see if jumps back up. I believe it’s more like a coding thing, it’s not the design, it’s not something like that, it’s juts like maybe there’s some glitch in the theme that like doesn’t make all the content indexible, or whatever that problem is. So that may just be a gliche that they have but otherwise, like the theme doesn’t matter, honestly it’s like if the theme is done correctly, you have no problem, and I’ve seen some default Genesis for a lot of people is a great theme, it doesn’t do anything special, but it does well, and that’s it, that’s the secret, the some way you can get pretty good coffee at Starbucks you don’t need something crazy.

Perrin: Right, yeah. And like, it’s just a regular stuff that’s important, you need clean code, you need black text on the white background, and then, it has to look nice and simple. Like it’s not the specific theme that is making someone succeed or fail.

Gael: Yeah. Another thing that I see a lot of people copy that is kind of irritating when you are the original creator, is brand colors. A lot of people will not only copy your keywords, copy everything, but they are going to take the exact same brand colors. In many cases, Health Ambition now we have this kind of cartoon version of our persona, I mean we also have cartoons on Authority Hacker, it’s kind of our thing, basically using cartoons as a way to display people on the site, and I’ve seen so many health sites with ambition in the domain name, with a cartoon logo of a brunette girl and in orange shirt.

Perrin: And you didn’t even do that that long ago.

Gael: No, but there is a few already and that is not going to help you be successful, it doesn’t matter. Just do something original, that is how- you are not one of these copycats but instead you can inspire yourself, you can maybe take one of the many colors that site uses but don’t use all the same colors, that’s it, the only thing, the one thing I like to use is I like to use is brandcolor.net, I’ll put the link in the show notes, but essentially, these are the colors that the big brands use you have the AOL colors, you have all the really big ones, Coca Cola, etc, and mix and match these and you can actually create some pretty decent brand colors without being a designer. Just don’t get the exact same colors from another brand, or you need to be in a very different niche and arrange them in a very different way.

Perrin: Yeah, for sure, so if you are going to guess when we look at this people who will copy your layout, your theme, your brand colors, your keywords, if you were going to guess, what do you think is behind that mindset?

Gael: These are people that have never made money online, and they are like not believing that they can come up with anything original that would make money, therefore they are like oh I’m just going to take something proven and copy that as close as I can, so they have a chance to make some money and the truth is, it never works.

Perrin: So isn’t that a smart idea, I am just playing devil’s advocate here, so like when you go into marketing, one of the things you learn is to take something that’s proven and do that instead of doing something totally original, so aren’t you contradicting yourself, Gael?

Gael: Well- well, the thing is like, I could swap the themes on my site and still make money. I could swap the brand colors on my site and still make money. I could swap the logo and still make money. And the next one I want to talk about is like homepage/homepage layout. A lot of people will copy the exact homepage from other people, and that seriously, anyway, especially if you are doing SEO like 99% of your traffic is not going to land on your homepage. Your homepage is mostly going to be the second page people visit after visiting an article they are like, oh that’s nice, let’s check what this site is about. And they click on the logo, they land on the homepage, and so your homepage just try to be a little bit original there, don’t have the exact same layout as someone else, and that’s going to make you look a lot less like a copycat essentially. So, yeah, it’s a good idea to copy things, I know we are going to talk about the things that are smart to copy, but these things are not, these things don’t matter, I can go and swap the themes on our sites right now, they might be broken a little bit, I may need to tweak them, but to be frank, I wouldn’t mind so much and we will probably, I know I am waiting for the v2 of Thrive themes at the end of the year and I am going to swap the themes, and we’re going to see a lot of the copycats just swap at the same time. So it’s like I’m not really attached to it, so these are not things that make you successful and that shows a lack of understanding, when people are copying these colors, when people are copying these themes, when people are doing all that stuff, essentially that shows the lack of understanding of what actually moves the needle into an online business, so that’s why I think a lot of these people are newbies.

Perrin: Yeah, for sure. I would say if I was going to put [19:58 inaudible] I would say that it’s first of all laziness, second of all fear, just like you mentioned, like fear of not being able to make your own stuff and then also just like you mentioned, not understanding what actually works in online marketing. And some of those things are fine, everybody is afraid, everybody start somewhere, you are not going to understand completely but hopefully, you can see that in any business, people who really succeed are not the people who come to second and copy people exactly.

Gael: Yeah, I mean, go and try and make another groupon today, it’s going to be complicated. It’s like go and try to do another AirBnB, it’s going to be really difficult, same with Uber same with everything, like you can see, if you want to make something that is decent and big, and you know, I am talking about AirBnB and Uber there so if you were 10% of their success then you would be pretty rich, but like on niche sites, small authority sites, if that site makes 10K a month and you won’t make a lot of money being second. Unless that site makes millions and millions a year, it’s going to be complicated and I see a lot of people copying Digital Marketer as well, they show Survival Life, and I see a lot of people got into that niche, you know.

Perrin: Yeah, it’s just filled with SEO and IMers nowadays.

Gael: Yeah, I would definitely go, that’s why I don’t want to talk to much about the niches, because I know as soon as I say there is going to be like a gazillion people, but trust me, you wouldn’t be looking at niches, niches nobody is talking about. That is why we don’t reveal new sites as well, so like for me I am like okay, Health Ambition is a case study site, I revealed it now, you guys can look at it, and we accept that there is going to be a bunch of copycats, but, we don’t just make money showing people how to make money, we actually run sites, so for that reason I also need to keep an eye on our competition, that’s why I can’t reveal every site.

Perrin: Yeah, for sure. I was going to say at the same time, I am not really worried about the competition, who is copycats, you know, like of course some people are going to look at that niche and they are going to be- maybe they are experienced internet marketers, they know how to build links, they know how to promote content all this other stuff, and they are going to get int here and compete with you, and you want to limit those folks obviously, but I am really not worried about the copycats, necessarily and I know you are not either, but for example maybe this guy who is copying me who I got a lawyer for, I a not worried about this person, first of all, my business is growing, year over year, more than I am happy with, right, it’s doing really well. Also, I know that I have like 15 000 dollars invested in the site, I’ve spent many hundreds of hours, making content, building links, and I have all these skills I am not confident that this person who is so lazy that he copied my site exactly has all this skills and or is willing to invest all of the time and money. So, there is also an element of not worrying about copycats, that’s important for people who have sites, who might be getting copied themselves.

Gael: Yeah, I was going to bring it up actually a bit later, it’s like, end of the day running after them all the time is just not a good idea, you’re better off working on your business etc. It’ really like, to be honest, even for you I don’t think it’s worth it, the guy you mentioned, I don’t think it’s going to be worth, like you’re better off growing your site even more. But, it’s like, that is what opens the door to things like negative SEO and one star review span from five stars, I wouldn’t do that, but I know some people who would. And, also I have yet to see an exact copycat, the only people that I know that are really successful doing that is the guys from Rocket Internet in Germany, who made a specialty of copying like Zappos and AirBnB etc and they made copies that are worth billions of dollars. But, that is the only copycats I know that did really well together with some like Indian car companies and stuff like that.

Perrin: And I think it’s a little bit different, that’s something called Blue Ocean strategy, which is and I think that’s what Blue Ocean strategy is, basically like taking your proven model, your proven company and putting it into a completely different market.

Gael: They do the same markets as well.

Perrin: But they do it in a different country.

Gael: Yes.

Perrin: Right, so it’s not the US like AirBnB market, it’s the German AirBnB market. So it’s different people, but so like it’s not the same as like seeing a site on Showerheads in the US Google market and making a site on the Showerheads in the US Google market.

Gael: Yeah, the scope is so small as well, it’s like once again, you always get a fraction of the success of the original when you make a copy, so like you know, if you get a fraction of AirBnB it’s great, if you get a fraction of a Showerhead review site from Amazon, not so great.

Perrin: Yeah, as of worth 100 or 200 dollars a month for all that time and effort.

Gael: Alright, let’s talk about the things that are smart to copy, because I am not saying that you shouldn’t look at your competition and you shouldn’t inspire yourself, quite the contrary, a lot of the stuff we talk about in Authority Hacker pro is about doing a lot of understanding of your competition, see what works, what doesn’t, and emulating what works and not wasting your time on what didn’t work for them. So, the first thing I recommend people look at is the keywords, I think that is my favorite by far way of doing keyword research, is to take people that are in your domain authority range and if you have a brand new site, we take domain rating from Ahrefs so I take people that are like 35 or below, for domain rating and yeah, put them in Ahrefs so I look at the, and a lot of people look at the top keywords, you know, like there is the top keywords and the top pages, I always look at the top pages, I mean, with the way Google works, with like semantic search and so on, now it understands the topics, looking at the single keyword doesn’t make much sense, actually, you are better off looking at the broad topic google is ranking that site for, and essentially these pages are ranked for hundreds of keywords, so and we need to do something about semantic search at some point, we are working on that, so we’ll talk about that. But, how much do you use the competition for keywords?

Perrin: Right now, that’s 100% of my keyword research, and we talk about this a lot and our like keyword research campaigns, sorry, not campaigns, but blueprints and the members area butt here are really like two types of research, traditional keyword research where you are plugging keywords into a tool and then getting long tail keywords, and that’s okay for like amazon product words, that sort of thing, but, what I really like to do is reverse engineer my competition, I do think there is an ethical way to do it and an unethical way to do it. One of the things I would never do is take one competitor, plug them in and take just all of their keywords or and pages. I try really hard not to do that, there are a few exceptions where I plug in a competitor and I see like ten really great pages, and I might go after all ten, but what I typically try to do is just take the best pages, the best two or three or four, five pages from like 40 or 50 competitors and compete with them. First of all, it’s much more efficient right, like taking just the best stuff from a whole bunch of people, you’re going to have a lot more potential traffic.

Gael: Yeah, I mean most websites get most of their traffic from like four or five pages, you know.

Perrin: Right, yeah, so copying those four or five and competing with them, trying to do better, is a good idea, so it’s much more efficient anyway but also I think from ethical standpoint, just copying one person’s keywords doesn’t sit well with me personally. I don’t think it’s very cool.

Gael: Yeah, it’s not very efficient either, like when you do that the point is to take what worked best for people.

Perrin: Right, not everything including the stuff that works medium well or doesn’t work at all.

Gael: Yeah, that’s the point, the point is like okay, let’s find everything that worked really well for them and you are better taking the top 10% of like a 100 competitors, than copying 10 competitors.

Perrin: Right.

Gael: And you get just as much, you’ll probably get a lot more traffic from the same investment in content and so on. Also, when we talk about that a lot of people are going to do that but then they are going to take that competitor and do the exact same article. Don’t do that. That is the copycat way, like what you need to do is once you’ve got the topic, then you stop your research as if you were writing the article from scratch, and that doesn’t mean you can’t google the keywords and read the articles, it means you don’t just read that one article and just resay everything it has, I mean, first of all I think with segmentic search developing and so on, I think the definition of duplicate content is going to be expanding to content that says the same stuff, not just that has the same words; and overall, if you want to outrank someone, you need to make something better, so if you just take them as a source and just make something slightly worse because you can never cover exactly everything they said, there is, like it’s just not as good, so what you need to do is you need to read the top 10 or 20 pages on that topic, take notes of different parts of different pages and maybe do complimentary research and what we use is we use workflow to do this kind of research, and from there, build that page around that topic, that will feel very different because you have done all that research, you are essentially putting the originality in your research rather than in the topic which, you know, if you are doing SEO anyway, you can’t be that original in terms of topics.

Perrin: Yeah, and it’s going to be trickier with semantic search, because some questions are narrower, like how many articles, or like how much can you really say differently for the question, why the people fart, who knows, right, that’s actually Health Ambition ranks for various similar keywords.

Gael: Actually, there is a lot of reasons.

Perrin: That came from Gael’s personal research. But there are some narrow questions like that, right, like how much can you say different and sometimes you end up saying a lot of the same stuff, and that’s just how it is going to be if you want to compete for that keyword, but, what it looks like for me from a practical standpoint, what my writers instructions are is like okay, this is the competitor article that I know does well; I want you to look at that and see what makes sense to cover, then look at the top five in Google and see what makes sense to cover from those, and then try to find some holes, like what are these people not covering that could be covered and then put that in your article too. So, it’s looking at all of the results taking the best stuff from these articles to put it into one article, your article, finding the gaps and then adding on to it.

So, it’s a little bit tricky, you are going to end up covering some of the same information, you don’t have to make everything different right.

Gael: You can’t anyway, otherwise it’s wrong.

Perrin: Competing, right, otherwise it’s wrong, but, there is an opportunity to consolidate all the different subtopics, and fill in the gaps where people aren’t covering some of these.

Gael: It’s like in school, it’s like in university, when you have to write a paper and your entire class writes about the same topic, and you can clearly tell when people copied from each other, and when they come up with their own research, well that’s exactly the same stuff, and actually Google is developing AI that’s going to understand exactly that. It’s going to start understanding who copied each other and who actually came up with original research and guess what they are going to put on top. Okay, something else that you can copy is obviously link sources, like I would tell most link building these days is reverse engineering or advanced Google research, I mean most white hat building at least. And, copying link sources is fair game I think, because as long as the editor of this source site also wants to link to you, I don’t think there is a problem, it’s annoying for the person that you reverse engineered, but actually, not that much usually, it doesn’t really change much and that’s how we do it, we use Ahrefs we find the links that people that link to similar pieces of content and then outreach to this people and ask for a link, and that works very well for us, and that is completely fine and I don’t think you can be called a copycat if you do that.

Perrin: Yeah, I think that is just similar marketing strategy, and that’s, the other important thing about that is that it’s not really hurting the person whose link sources you are copying, they still have their link they are also getting link from the same site, so it’s really kind of no harm.

Gael: You would be surprised though, sometimes we do our outreach and people are like we ask them to put our link alongside the other links, and so people say oh no I like the article better so I replace the link, so that does happen, it’s just, it’s like probably 5% of the time really.

Perrin: It’s not a big deal, it’s never your goal.

Gael: And then at the end, if you don’t ask for it, it’s the editor of choice, but you know, if you do that kind of outreach, it does happen, you do remove some links from your competitors. Not a lot though. Another thing that is good to copy is content that did well on social, I think that’s essentially a little bit like, you do like skyscraper content but for social, so I use the content explorer on Ahrefs like you could be using Buzzsumo as well, I know that’s the trendy tool, other SEO is used but I like to pay only for one tool so I just get Ahrefs. And it’s pretty good. And yeah, it’s like you just either type a keyword or you put a domain in the content explorer, it shows you the stuff that did the best on Pinterest, on facebook etc, for us we do a lot of Pinterest, so it’s pretty cool to be able to navigate on Pinterest, find the site that has a lot of followers, pull up their domain in and find the content that gets the most repins. And that allows us to generally cover a bit of social traffic so I think that’s fair game provided once again, you don’t use the exact same content, you don’t exactly copy it, you just build your own take on the topic, you know.

Perrin: Yeah, and I think the key for that, and first of all, if you want to see how many people are actually doing this, go to any highly shared article for any website whether it’s Bored Panda or whatever it is and Google that exact title, and Google will show you a whole bunch of articles with that exact title or like very similar, like slightly changed articles, everybody does this. The reason why it’s not a huge deal is because everybody has their own social audiences, right, so if you have a 100,000 Facebook fans, and you see a popular article and you mark it, you could market it to your Facebook fans while somebody else markets it to their Facebook fans. Of course, it’s not that cotton dry on all social platforms, like maybe if the pin goes viral you can cut into somebody else’s traffic, but for the most part, everybody has their own social audiences that they’ve built and so it’s not as big of a deal as like Google rankings are.

Gael: Yeah, I mean, it can be a little annoying sometimes but it’s not too bad, and you won’t be labeled as like a copycat for doing that essentially, and that’s pretty smart to copy actually, you can get some traffic from that, you will not waste time producing content that doesn’t get shared and so on, so that is pretty cool. And, finally, another thing that I do but I don’t think you do is I look at the led magnet and stuff people use actually, like one of the lead magnets that run on Health Ambition right now was actually, well, what I do is I use Thrive lead so I AB test stuff, and actually we have a very big Thrive leads review coming up soon that Mark wrote, something like 14,000 words or something, it’s crazy, that shows you how we do all this stuff, but we essentially like when we brainstorm lead magnets, one thing that we do is we look at what the competitors offer and slightly change it so for example if it’s like a seven day mini course we change it to like a five day mini course or ten day mini course, or whatever. And, about similar topics, and we ab test all these ideas against each other, and then we find what gets us the most opt in rate. And that, eliminates the guess work, I do that and I also look at stuff that gets a lot of links and shares, in the industry and build something similar as a lead magnet, essentially. So I think that’s fine, provided once again, your design doesn’t look exactly like their design if you have like a fake ebook cover or that kind of stuff, like don’t make it look exactly like their stuff. Change the number, the beginning if you have like ten tips like change it to seven tips or 20 tips or whatever you want, but keep the same topic.

Perrin: And I think the point there too is that these people are already on your site, especially in something like the [37:38 inaudible] niche they already know you, so like you’ve already have, you won that person’s attention so using something similar to some what somebody else is doing I think is not necessarily a big deal, plus, especially if it’s like a report or core, or like a list of tool or whatever, you’re going to be writing different content and that person is lead magnet anyway. That might be a little bit of a gray area, you don’t want to like give someone’s course away or whatever, but you are going to write your own five day mini course or list of tools or whatever it happens to be, so just a lead magnet, the idea for a lead magnet I think is totally fair game.

Gael: Yeah, so that is basically the things that actually move the needle and provided you take, you out your own take on these things like it’s not going to look like you just ripped another site off, right, not like if you took the colors, not if you copied the homepage, the logo, the theme etc, so yeah, so you can reverse engineer, you can inspire yourself, but I think copying the other things is just going to create you know, it could be trouble, it could not be trouble, but in the end, it’s not going to change anything for your success personally, anyway, so I don’t think it’s worth taking the risk of doing it. So, copy the keywords, copy the link sources, copy the social updates, copy the content that worked well on social, but don’t copy the homepage, the theme, the logo and the brand colors essentially. Do you want to add anything to that?

Perrin: No, I don’t think so. I guess, maybe I just remember a conversation I had with some guy who copied my shaving site, and this was back when, I wrote the mindset and I finally asked him like why did you just copied this exactly, because he had emailed me asking for help, right, and he was just like well, I have never done this before, you have a lot of success so I feel like if I do this it should work, right, because it’s already working for you. And so I feel, and I also had had people email me some people I count as friends, like thinking that I would be flattered that they have copied my layout and my logo and all this other stuff. Like, isn’t it cool? And so, I don’t know, if you are out there and you have that mindset, I would encourage you to challenge yourself to do something that is uniquely your own not just because it’s going to piss people off, or because you might be pissing people off, but because you are going to be more successful if you make your own thing and invest in doing something that is a little bit more unique and a little bit better than everybody else, not just the same.

Gael: Yeah, I think it’s going to be hard to be successful if you don’t even understand what you are doing, you are just copying someone else anyway. Like, it’s like you won’t be able to grow your site other than copying that person that you copied originally. So, if you succeed that way, it’s probably not going to be very long term success, it’s not going to be a big success, it’s going to be really tiny, so if your goal is to make 200 bucks a month, yeah, maybe do that, but you’ll probably just change your goal if that’s your goal, you know. Your goal should probably be something a little bit higher, and a little bit more ambitious, and you know the thing is, even if your goal is to make let’s go crazy 100,000 dollars a month and you fail, you only make 10% of that, you’ll be more successful than most people that copy other people and make 200 bucks a month. So you are better off going for something a little bit more ambitious, treat this like a real business, like would you go in the street and open a shop that is exactly the copy of the next door shop? Probably not. And, if you are taking that seriously, if you had to invest into a brick and mortar business etc, you wouldn’t do that, but, yeah, I’ve had also copycats for Health Ambition and it was exactly the same actually, and actually the guy that copied Health Ambition was like Oh I am so sorry, I really love your stuff is actually an Authority Hacker pro member. I really love your stuff, etc, and I thought it would be okay and you know, people don’t even understand, they don’t even get why it’s a little bit annoying, and upsetting, they just think that it’s just, they have a chance and that’s the only way they will ever make money, it won’t, just treat it like a real business, treat it as if you were opening a brick and mortar and if you did that, and if you had to face your neighbors face to face, you would not do that.

Perrin: Yeah, for sure, and the other implication that I think is really important is that if you really want to be successful online, you want to- earn a living especially, put your energy into learning the skills and not trying to do internet marketing as a paint by number, if you put your energy in learning the skills instead of copying someone in the long run, you’ll be much more successful.

Gael: This is why I have actually refused to release a point a to point b type program, like building an authority site, like Authority Hacker pro is a series of tactics but it’s up to you to implement them when you want and when it makes sense. But a lot of people ask that it’s like we would probably make a lot of money if I did that but I’ve refused so far, actually. Anyway, we are going to close this podcast right now, and guys, thanks for listening, thanks for taking the time to listen to that, and take a positive note out of that podcast, be ambitious, build your business as if you were building brick and mortar business, take it as seriously, don’t aim to make 200 bucks a month , aim to make like a real living, make aim to be really unsuccessful, even if you get 10% of that you will be more successful than if you succeed copying other people. So, Perrin, thanks for joining, and guys thanks for listening, we’ll see you guys in the next episode.

Perrin: Ciao.

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4 Comments

  1. Great podcast as is always the case :)

    I have to ask though…was this as a result of a certain Facebook group post not too long ago, from someone who blatantly ripped off your content as well as that of others and also had a certain hosting affiliate ad in prominent position !?!

    P.s. I love your site and am currently in the process of trying your Clickbank “mini funnel” method :)

  2. I enjoyed this podcast and was especially heartened when you said you don’t just make money telling people how to make money, you actually run sites. There is too much of the former these days and not enough of the latter.

    You can’t reveal your niches, for all the reasons you stated in the podcast, but are you able to reveal the number of sites you run or the number of niches you’re pursuing – outside of AuthorityHacker and HealthAmbition for Gael and outside of the couple of niches that PC has publicly revealed?

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