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  1. Idan Cohen

    So true! I totally agree that many websites are built by combining elements from competitors websites.
    To be honest, even advanced marketers may find it hard to decide on every element of a website when in the process of building.
    I have (shamefully) done the same myself in order to get it up and running and from there on it’s all about data and testing.

    Another reason why many websites copy is because the HIPPO is telling (or commanding) them to do so. Would you argue with the HIPPO?

  2. Taylor Dean

    i clearly understand your point here in your article. and i realize you’re right. very fantastic point of view of yours. thanks a lot for sharing!

  3. Robert Black

    I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to write this article, I thought it was only me that thought this. If anyone has ever done an internet marketing course they’ll know that almost every “guru” teaches to simply duplicate “what’s working”. Well sadly it’s not that simple, I wish it were.

    Looking at successful sites in your particular niche is good as a guide, and possibly useful for analysing trends. However I think the keys to a successful site lie more in differentiating yourself from the competition (does no-one talk about USPs any more?) and building a relationship with your users and customers.

  4. Megan

    I really enjoyed reading this article (like many others here I’ve come into contact with the “if our competitors are doing so must we!” line more times than I can count); however, I don’t agree that most web designers are only concerned with making things pretty and are just slapping designs together. I’m sadden that your experience with web designers has been so abysmal but please do not call us all out.

    There are many designers that not only follow design principles to make websites visually pleasing but also user experience principles to facilitate and enrich users’ engagement, flow, conversion, and goals.

  5. Aaron Boland

    Thanks for the article, Peep. We’re always banging on about designing with data and doing what it takes to support your business and user goals – people seem to think you can get instant success with a shiny, trendy website.

    It’s often a veneer that masks some terrible operational practices which are the real reason that they’re struggling!

    Too much time spend on bling and impressing the easily impressed!

  6. Jon Gibson

    I read the opening paragraph of your post and it immediately resonated with my own experience. The car industry is particularly guilty of the copycat approach – politically, it can be very difficult to break the mould, and new approaches are seen as too risky to try. I’ve seen entire briefs created from a scrapbook of competitor approaches, leading to a frankenstein solution.

  7. Anand

    Hello Peep Laja …..
    I am new here but really impress with your concept.


  8. Great post! While I still think there is much to learn from keeping a close eye on your competitors, i.e. new technologies they may be using like click-to-call or other website enhancements, you’re absolutely right that their sites are the results of opinions and are not definitively correct. Thanks for the resources!

  9. Eva Hussain

    We’ve had our ideas and website ripped off so many times I’ve lost count. I suppose it is a form of flattery but I am forever amazed that all some people that are apparently clever, gutsy and forward thinking are capable of is plagiarism.

  10. Peep Laja Peep Laja

    I’m glad this resonated with so many people. I hope we can move away from Hippo-based decision making to evidence based approach.

  11. Trent Jessee

    Right on the mark Peep! Thanks for the enlightening article. I get the same type of response when coaching students who were taught to duplicate and replicate other businesses. Knowing what to duplicate and replicate though is key.

  12. Alan Bleiweiss

    I see this all the time. “Here’s our competitors”. Heck, even running data via SEMRush shows enough of a trendline to clearly see most competitors visibility have tanked in recent months. Let’s follow them. Right. Smart idea. #wow

  13. Darlene with BlogBoldly

    Your title cracks me up.. and you’re right, nine times out of ten your competitor doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    I have about 4-5 bloggers who I trust do deliver tested strategies that work. Quite frankly, because I trust them, I figure they save me a ton of time and I can focus on what I do best.

    ~ darlene

  14. adam briggs

    Mate. You nailed that topic. One of the more interesting pieces ive read in a while. Love your no bullshit approach.

  15. Very much dead on target. To see how the big guys work the web from behind the scenes is astonishing… astonishing anything gets done at all!

  16. Collin Davis

    This is typically true in companies where the heads have very little knowledge of SEO and other forms of marketing. They look at their competitor’s business model and just because their competitor was successful try to ape what they are doing even without testing where they may be going wrong.

    Their data however can’t be retrieved for proof and this is where marketers can have an extremely tough job convincing the leaders higher up the rung.

  17. Maggie Holley


    Right On ‘the money’!

    “Have the mindset that you’re running an experiment. The thing you copy is an hypothesis – and you need to test it.
    Run it against your current site and see if it makes a difference. Then either implement or discard”

    I may make this post required reading for ALL my clients!
    Of course SEO as we knew it IS largely dead.
    That doesn’t matter! The fundamentals have not changed..Just the hard and fast ‘rules.’
    Keep ’em coming Peep!

  18. Mike Essex

    Hah so true, and that’s exactly why I don’t do web design any more.

    Of course the SEO industry is exactly the same but more along the lines of “They are ranking first so we have to copy what they do.”

    Measure your own data, test to see what works and do more of that.

  19. yassin

    copying competitors is a form of procrastination i’d say.

    But we can also learn tons from observing our competitors. Evaluating the force of their value props, checking out their offers & promotions, spying on their ppc ads , doing usability testing on their sites, and checking if there are any CRO case studies around on them etc… can bring alot of insights.

    Which helps in formulating hypotheses that MUST be validated/invalidated quantitatively (Testing).

    Make your day great

  20. Stewart

    My mantra is “our biggest competitor is ourselves”


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Stop Copying Your Competitors: They Don’t Know What They’re Doing Either