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  Home Content Site Development Website Planning Wednesday, April 16, 2014 
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Planning For Your Website
Published: Monday, October 06, 2003


Choosing the website topic
Probably you have already chosen a topic for your website. If not, it is always better to decide on a topic before proceeding further. However, it might not always be the case if you are an amateur webmaster. When I started my first leisure website, I did not have any particular topic in mind, and wanted to start a new website providing various different services. I added a jokes/humor section, which got listed on Yahoo and DMOZ directories. I was excited, saw a potential to add a dating and personals section. That failed miserably because I did not do my homework. Then I added a web poll service, and that became very popular. And hence, decided to move the service to PollToolkit.com and finally combine it with WebsiteGear.

In order to choose your website topic, consider these points:
  • What are your areas of interest?

  • Do you know enough in that area to deliver good content or services?

  • Do you provide any goods or services or plan to provide in the future?

The points mentioned above usually will not apply to all websites. If a company already has a line of products or services, and want to add a website to deliver them via the internet, this section is probably not very relevant. However, if you are looking for a content based website, or willing to provide a new service, this planning section will help you.

Researching your competition
Setting up an internet presence via a website has a relatively low barrier to entry. One can set up a website with a few bucks per month of investment. However, competition is the same or probably more, than in any brick and mortar establishment. Usually for a brick and mortar business, it takes tons of money to buy/lease real estate, setup furniture and equipment, hire employees etc. Once the business picks up, the only fear is any competition that is local to that area. However, on the internet, because of the low barriers to entry, competition is very high. New websites pop up in thousands every day. What makes competition worse on the internet are free advertising channels that the web search engines provide. Well, one might argue that the advertising is free only if your website is better than the rest of the competition. And that is partly true. We will discuss advertising in general under a separate topic.

To learn about your competition, run a quick search on any of the search engines like Google or Yahoo for the keywords you think best describe your website topic. For example, if your topic is race cars, you may want to search on race cars, performance cars etc. See which sites are listed within the top 20 listings. Pick some of the websites that frequently turn up on most of the search queries for all the different keywords. Those are the well established sites in your area of interest.

Visit those websites, and look at the content that they provide. Try to find out why they are so popular on the search results. Often popularity in the search results may be due to various factors:
  • It has been there for long (from the early internet times in 1996).

  • The content is unique and lots of people like it.

  • Uses a better technology including linking methods.

  • Has a huge fan base.

After reviewing the competitors' websites, you have to figure out these questions:
  • What can I offer better that these websites, so that people will visit my website?

  • Is anything missing in these sites that I can provide? Usually expertise in that area helps to deliver unique content.

  • Can I offer services at a cheaper rate? Cost and pricing strategies will be discussed later.

Researching the competition is not a one time process, you have to do this every now and then to figure out how your website is ranked compared to the others. For example - Did your competitor update their website or provide a better service or product at a cheaper price?
Naming Your Website Next Article
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