Waikiki Site – Sizing up Your Online Competition

Post image for Waikiki Site – Sizing up Your Online Competition

by Ryan

This post is part of the Waikiki Site Series, in which I’ll show you how to build a successful travel niche website from concept to reality.

If I simply build a Waikiki site it’s not going to magically pop up onto the front page of Google every time someone searches. I wish that were the case, but it’s not. Like in any business, we’re going to have competition here. However, this is going to be online competition, which has many different characteristics than offline competition.

This is a pretty long post so it’s divided into three sections:
Finding Your Competition
Analyzing Their Backlinks and Rankings
Questioning What You Can do Better Than Them


Finding the Online Competition

The competition is easy to find online. You simply type in keywords you have acquired by building your sitemap and doing keyword research when you found your niche.

As an example let’s analyze our competition for the term “Waikiki.”

Since Google drives the majority of search engine traffic online let’s take a look at what pops up when we search for the term “Waikiki.”

I would also recommend checking with Yahoo and Bing as well, just to see if there are any differences, but most likely there will not be many.

Google Search for "Waikiki" Feb 2010

Google Search for "Waikiki" Feb 2010

So we’ve found our main competitors online for the term “Waikiki.”

Here are the results listed in order and my thoughts.

  1. Hawaii Official Tourism Site – Gonna be hard to beat this one, in fact I’m quite doubtful.
  2. Shack Waikiki – A local bar… why is this number 2?
  3. Waikiki.com – My main competition, and one will will focus on analyzing.
  4. Honolulu.gov – Government website, doesn’t cover our topic.
  5. Wikipedia – Front page as always!
  6. Waikikitimes – Beach Cam, nothing more.
  7. Aloha.com – Another travel website, but lacking in content.
  8. Sheraton-Waikiki – An individual hotel, not a full guide.
  9. Waikiki Aquarium – Self Explanatory.

**As a side note, notice that there are 4 images that show up on the front page.  This is important as we will especially focus on optimizing our images to rank well on the site (via alt tags).  I’ll explore that in further posts as we’re developing the site.

From the list above of the top 9 sites, only 2 are travel site related and are our competition.  Obviously we need to beat out the other sites as well, but that should be pretty easy all things considering.

Waikiki.com is our main competition here.  They’re the only half decent site I’ve seen that has our same target market and audience.  They have a lot of similar content and they’re ranked very well for Waikiki.

Analyzing the Online Competition’s Backlinks and Rankings

One of the main advantages the competition will have at first is a greater number of backlinks. Backlinks are simply links coming to their site from another site. I won’t go into detail explaining the importance of backlnks and how they work, but think of them as other sites giving referrals to your site. If a very popular site gives you a referral it’s much stronger than a small blog giving your a referral so each backlink has a different amount of strength.

I’ve compiled some useful tools that you can use to check for the competition’s backlinks and to see how well they rank online. This will give us an idea of where we can also find backlinks and a rough estimate of how much traffic they get.

Domain Pop

Search for waikiki.com on Domain-pop.com

Search for waikiki.com on Domain-pop.com

The first tool we can use to check is a free service online known as Domain Pop.  Simply type in the domain you’d like to research for online competition and you’ll be given the number of links and pages that are indexed on Google and Yahoo.

Not only that, you’ll also be able to see what exact pages are linking to the competition.  Once you know this you can approach these sites to see if you can get yours linked as well.  It also gives you a concrete goal to shoot for – that is, shooting for more backlinks than the competition.

Alexa

Alexa is owned by Amazon.com and is a website ranking system.  Each website in the world is ranked by their service.  Nobody, besides them, knows exactly what goes into their equation, but the amount of traffic a site gets is a major indicator for a higher ranking.

Waikiki.com ranking on Alexa.com

Waikiki.com ranking on Alexa.com

Search Status Plugin

searchstatus-screenshot
My personal favorite way to check for backlinks is using Google and Yahoo. You can download the Search Status toolbar for firefox, which will allow you to check for backlinks from Google and Yahoo for whatever page you’re one. Simply click on show backward links for all domains and new windows will appear showing the Google and Yahoo’s indexed backlinks.

For more information about how it works and to download the plugin visit the Search Status Site

3 Questions to Determine What You Can do Better Than the Online Competition

Now that we have our target (Waikiki.com), let’s consider how we can beat them. By beating another website we have to become more useful and relevant to the site topic… how can we do this? Here are 3 questions to consider when sizing up the competition:

1. What questions is this website not answering?
Does the site not answer particular topics that you would cover in this niche?

2. What Can I do Better?
Can you create better images, or maybe create video to go along with it? How about adding a free e-book or adding rating systems. There is always a way to improve, especially online, as technologies are constantly changing and adding new value to online users.

3. What’s My Competitive Advantage?
You, have the ability to say whatever you’d like because it’s your own site. You can tell people exactly how it is, which many people will enjoy because they want non biased information. If you build a site you can explain exactly how something works, which many corporate sites cannot. Often your competitive advantage will be your unique online voice and the experiences you’ve had which are unique.

Using these questions for my main competitor (Waikiki.com) I’ve come up with the following answers:

1. What Questions is the Site Not Answering?
It doesn’t touch on real estate, it doesn’t give opinions, ratings, or comments. It doesn’t provide a lot of unique video or stories from the Waikiki area. There is no moving guide and no unique content other than a generic overview of the Waikiki area. Where are the best watering holes? Where can you get the best sushi? Where do I find the best deal on bikes? None of these questions are answered.

2. What can I do better?
Here are just a few of the many things I can do better than them.

  • Add a free moving to Waikiki Ebook.
  • Discuss Waikiki Real Estate and team up with a local realtor
  • Review each restaurant and bar in the area with video
  • Add a lot more video of the Waikiki area that doesn’t feel like stock footage
  • Highlight unique things like street performers, the fireworks, and best eateries
  • Add a “getting married in Waikiki” section that is a one stop advice page
  • Provide more detailed content and advice in general
  • A Waikiki Facts and Questions section where readers can email me for advice

3. What is my competitive advantage?
I have the ability to be more creative, am not lured by creating a corporate site with a ton of obvious advertisements, and I can tell a story from the first person perspective, thus building trust with my readers. I can also create comments sections and provide my own story which many people could probably relate to.

So there you have it, an overview of how to look at your online competition. If there’s something I haven’t touched on feel free to let me know.

How do you analyze your online competition?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Investing Newbie February 11, 2010 at 6:30 am

Ryan, are you assuming that the creater of Waikiki.com is passive? Aren’t you worried that the creater of the Waikiki travel site will discover your “improvement points” and just better their site?
.-= Investing Newbie´s last blog ..The Real Winners =-.

Ryan February 11, 2010 at 10:30 am

I really don’t care if the Waikiki.com owner finds out about this to be honest… At the end of the day the site is going to be a lot of work, they still would have to out work and out perform me in the actual building of the site… if it’s a corporate site (which I believe it is) they won’t be able to. Maybe I’m overconfident, but I believe I can deliver a higher quality product and can beat anyone who tries to outdo me… I don’t like to lose, lol.

Michael Jordan was successful at basketball because he spent more hours on the court practicing than everyone else… everyone knows this… most people just don’t want to put in the time.

I once listened to a very successful real estate investor who gave a speech at a seminar and he said “I’m telling you all my secrets, but I’m doing that because 99% of you won’t take action on them.”

Even if they find out, it’s going to be hard to gain the backlinks I’ll receive to the site from this case study, and completely overhaul their site to build in the things I will be doing. Either way, healthy competition is a good thing.
.-= Ryan´s last blog ..Hiking Diamond Head and Snorkeling In Waikiki =-.

Kiesha @ Highly Favored February 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm

This is excellent advice that really can be applied to any site – I’m amazed at how you are breaking this down. I can’t say I’ve spent a whole of time doing an extensive analysis like this. This is definitely a great strategy for ensuring success.
I’m sure you’ll out do them – maybe you will become the Michael Jordan of travel niche sites :)
Bravo!
.-= Kiesha @ Highly Favored´s last blog ..Infinite Possibilities =-.

Ryan February 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Haha, I like the sound of that!

Hopefully this helps with your own site(s) when analyzing the competition.
.-= Ryan´s last blog ..Hiking Diamond Head and Snorkeling In Waikiki =-.

Little House February 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

You really did your homework! To help improve your back links, you can submit your website to free directories. Here is a site I use that rates the directories, there are about 15 that I use religiously on this list:
http://www.best-web-directories.com/free-directories.htm

I hope this helps!
P.S. DMOZ is a very important one.
.-= Little House´s last blog ..What Makes a City Great? =-.

LeanLifeCoach February 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Who knows maybe you’ll get a job offer from Waikiki.com!

Great detail. I’ll second you on the Alexa plug-in! It has been very helpful.
.-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..Why The GDP Needs A Makeover =-.

danny February 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm

thanks for sharing this info, i’m really glad that i visited your site after hearing it from lisa’s case study video. it seems to me that you’re trying your best to help out others who have yet to achieve with planting their own dollars. And that very much includes me! thanks again and keep up the good work.

Jeremy Johnson February 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Woah, reading this one several more times – it seems to help that your travel website is very focused on a particular area – made finding your competition easier and I don’t doubt, especially with your list of things you made that you can do better, that your site will rise to the top.

I think with my site that there are several keyword phrases I would have to search to get all the competition – either that or I’d have to find the one phrase that I think best describes my site. Either way, you’ve given me more to add to my VERY LARGE list of things to do as a new blogger. Not many people are willing to get this specific about the strategies they are using and strategies are oh so very important. Thanks!
.-= Jeremy Johnson´s last blog ..How To Be A Hot Nerd =-.

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