Cults share many of the same characteristics.

Human nature being what it is, and the dark side being what it is, it is no wonder that cults share many of the same characteristics. It is like when you put chemicals together the result is  the same.
Some of the similar characteristics:They are anti simple human decency supposedly in the name of some higher morality. There is a  sanctimonious sense of supreme virtue for one cult or sect and despising outsiders, and a charismatic leaders that gets all the perks and benefits. Babbling nonsense prolific writings of meaningless babble or supposed prophecy.
The main things are antinomianism [loosening of the restrictions of the Torah while at the same time hypocritically claiming to be adhering to the Torah. The other is the exaggerated spirituality with trances and contact with supposedly spirits of tzadikim which are really demons, since the Torah itself tells us לא תדרוש אל המתים "Do not seek the dead"]

But I should mention that not everything that seems like a cult is bad. Even if it has many cult aspects it might be doing good or be a lot better that groups that seem a lot more respectable. As a rule the groups that make the most effort to seem normal and respectable are in fact the most demon possessed.
You can be in a great yeshiva like I was in Shar Yashuv and think that there are better more respectable places and really be mistaken. I mean Shar Yashuv was in fact a yeshiva for beginners. It had and I think still has no reputation. Still in the higher classes [that is beginning from year two until yer four] it is Ivy league. Same with the Mir in NY. Those two places were probably the best I ever saw, and yet their reputation is not very high. People would rather go to Brisk or the Mir in Israel. I can't see why. The only place in Israel I think is really great is Ponovitch.

The yeshivas in Jerusalem think they are best because of their address. But they are all delusional. The only really great yeshivas in Jerusalem are Merkaz HaRav of Rav Kook and the Yeshivat HaGra of Rav Eliyahu Zilverman.