There was a discussion Twitter about competitor research and duplicating the SEO strategy. The person researched their competitor and found obvious examples of spammy tactics that obviously were helping. John Mueller entered the discussion and gave an answer that gave a profound insight into competitor research.
Here is the original question on Twitter
“Hey SEO’s will I get penalized for duplicating local service pages and just changing the cities?
For example: will “HVAC Repair Dallas” and “HVAC Repair Houston” get flagged as duplicate content if they’re the same except for the city?”
“How frustrating it is when a site that appears to have thin content still manages to rank well.”
To which John Mueller responded:
“They might be ranking well despite these things, not because of them — no need to copy their bad practices, when you know better!”