SEO Battlezone

Round 6

Is Copycat Content Effective For SEO?

Michael King and Zach Chahalis vs. Copycat Content

Episode Time Stamps

  • [0:00] Intro
  • [1:11] Copycat Content Is Everywhere
  • [2:51] Copycat Content Works, But Not For Long
  • [4:09] The Shift Is Happening Now
  • [5:43] Original Content Is Not The Only Factor
  • [6:58] Stop Copying Everyone Else 
  • [8:35] The Value Of Your Content Can Offset Technical Flaws
  • [9:36] Additional Thoughts
  • [13:54] Outro

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In episode 6, Mike King and Zach Chahalis of iPullRank discuss whether copycat content is a worthwhile strategy for SEO.

Mike and Zach share their thoughts on if Google incentivizes original content in the SERPs and what other factors may be at play.

They also give their thoughts on what will change going forward in order to increase diversity within search results.

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ROUND
1

Is Copycat Content A Sound SEO Strategy?

Mike’s Take:

Clearly, it is, cause when you Google things, you see a ton of different results that talk about the same thing.

I talked about in my blog post, how there’s gonna be a point where everyone can create perfectly optimized content and because we have tools like Surfer SEO and what have you, that will tell you which of the features that are expected.

Then you’ve got tools like Jasper AI (because of the integration with Surfer SEO) that can take those features and then write you content based on that. It pretty much just aligns with how people do marketing in general, right?

When you think of it people, are like, what are our competitors doing? Let’s do that too. There’s very little innovation.

So yes, it’s gonna work because it’s effectively how organizations work when they create content.

But I think that Google also has to get smarter about that, which they are. They understand that, if there is an article that writes about more things than what everyone else is writing, let’s give them a boost.

And that concept is called Information Gain. And so, I think forever, we’re going to have people that just copy other people, but there are going to be incentives for people that can expand the knowledge in what they’re writing.

 

Zach’s Take:

Obviously, it’s working now.

Looking at the landscape, the amount of duplicate skyscraper content that we continue to see being served in SERPS that provides little to no differentiation in value to the next result is everywhere. So obviously, it works.

We’re not talking about flat-out duplicate content, but everyone just talking about the same idea, the same topic, the same findings, the results just all start to look the same.

So yes, obviously it works, but I do agree with Mike as well that there’s gonna be increased emphasis from the Information Gain perspective.

What additional value or benefit do you provide that kind of sets you apart from what else is going on there?

I think that’ll be the big thing, but to answer the question, yeah, it works. Is it great? No.

ROUND
2

How long will it be before original content is incentivized in the SERPS?

Mike’s Take:

It’s happening now.

Google filed a patent in 2020 around the concept of an information gain score. Information gain isn’t a new concept and information retrieval either.

It’s very much something that I suspect they’ve had in their scoring functions for a long time. It’s just that they’ve gotten better at it on the back of transformers and things like that.

And so, I think even today you’re seeing more diversity of information being served in the results. Not dramatically more, but you’re seeing more things in SERPs where they’re touching on something different. With there being so many tools that effectively say, “you should be talking about this,” it’s gonna be up to the people that are true subject matter experts or thought leaders in the space that can talk about something new that yields value for the actual searcher.

And so, I think that Google is already trying to surface that. The real question is how much does that overpower other signals they might be using?

I don’t know that it’s overpowering links or anything like that, but I think at some point as they’re continuing to figure out what’s helpful content, they may want to turn the dial up on that Information Gain.

 

Zach’s Take:

Yes. But, it’s not the only factor, right?

If you are just gonna stand up a website yesterday, and this is your first piece of content, but you’re a subject matter expert in something and you have no authority and you haven’t built up yourself as an entity, is it gonna perform?

Debatable. Probably not without some additional help.

So yes, I would say it’s happening now, but there are other things at play that are going to impact that beyond just the added benefit of information gain and you providing that new content. There need to be other factors that you’re looking at too.

ROUND
3

As Google diversifies the SERPs, should you be doing anything differently going forward?

Mike’s Take:

Yeah. You should stop just copying everyone else.

Of course, to some degree, you do have to have some of the same basic information because search engines learn from what they’ve already indexed to determine what they should index next. But you should really be leveraging more expert information whether that’s interviewing experts and seeing what they think and working those concepts into what you’re talking about.

Another way to do it is to look at the related entities to your core entities and see what they’re about. How can we work in information about that? Because that reinforces your topic, but it doesn’t necessarily end up copying what everyone else is doing.

Most of the tools out there aren’t leveraging entity recognition and entity mapping when they’re giving you suggestions. They’re just looking straight up and down the SERP and saying, “these are the words that are being used. These are the questions and header tags, things like that.”

So if you go the entity route, you’re gonna be doing something that most people aren’t, because there are just far fewer entity-driven tools in SEO, to begin with, and it’s not something that a lot of people are doing.

So going in that direction will help you differentiate what you’re doing versus your competitors because frankly, it’s just less ubiquitous in our space.

Zach’s Take:

I agree. I’ll take a slightly different perspective on it.

In theory, if you are providing that better content, something that goes a bit deeper, talking about something new, talking about something different, it might offset the need in some other areas of your SEO strategy, right?

So you could kind of think about like, maybe if I’m providing this content in a good clear-cut manner, maybe I don’t have to have as much information in, let’s say, structured data markup to support it if we’re providing that information in a way that Google can access it. I don’t think it negates having it entirely, but the value of the content might offset some technical hindrances of your site depending on how bad it is, that’s a different issue for a different day. But I think there are ways that content can offset some of those other considerations of your SEO strategy.

BATTLEZONE BREAKDOWN

Your SEO Battlezone Fighters

Michael King | Founder & CEO | iPullRank

Zach Chahalis | Director of SEO | iPullRank

Michael King

Title: Founder and CEO

Business: iPullRank

Bio: An artist and a technologist, all rolled into one, Mike King is the Founder & CEO of the enterprise SEO and content strategy agency, iPullRank. Mike consults with companies all over the world, including brands ranging from SAP, American Express, HSBC, SanDisk, General Mills, and FTD, to a laundry list of promising eCommerce, publisher, and financial services organizations.

Mike has held previous roles as Marketing Director, Developer, and tactical SEO at multi-national agencies such as Publicis Modem, iAcquire, and Razorfish. Effortlessly leaning on his background as an independent hip-hop musician, Mike King is a dynamic speaker who is called upon to contribute to conferences, webinars, and blogs all over the world.

Zach Chahalis

Title: Director of SEO

Business: iPullRank

Bio: Zach Chahalis has over a dozen years of experience in digital marketing focused on developing and executing SEO strategies for Fortune 500 brands including Genuine Parts Company, GameStop, Michaels Stores, Sodexo, CoStar Group, and Global Payments Inc.

Zach also has experience working both agency-side and in-house with companies of all shapes and sizes ranging from local universities and regional home builders to national hotel groups and multinationals. Additionally, Zach leverages his experience and degree in business administration to develop data-driven marketing strategies beyond SEO, including developing several national loyalty rewards programs as well as leading analytics implementations and PPC campaigns for large brands.

Zach is also the co-founder of the ATL SEO organization.

Referree: Garrett Sussman

Title: Demand Generation Manager

Garrett loves SEO like the 90s loves slap bracelets.

Each week he officiates the fiery hot takes that Zach and Michael are slinging.

Enjoy this? Check out Garrett’s video show round-up of everything search engine optimization, The SEO Weekly , and his weekly SEO podcast Rankable.

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