“Research is formalised curiosity, it is poking and prying with a purpose.” - Zora Neale Hurston
One of the most important things when creating a website is market research. Whether it's for the logo, the general design, the copywriting or the layout, seeing what the competitors are doing is vital. You need to look at what the successful competitors are doing just as much as what the unsuccessful competitors are doing.
Stay with the big players
These days design plays a big part in organic SEO and the success of websites within the major search engines. With more generic industries you'll find that the most successful websites will follow a pretty similar design structure and layout. Figure out what layout the big players are using and use that as a starting point. Be creative and unique but there's no harm in getting design inspiration from successful outlets.
Content is key
Look at what language the more successful competitors use. Make sure your content is relevant, coherent and cohesive like theirs. Also, take a look at the type of copy that is on a less successful competitor. The chances are there will be typos, it'll lack good grammar and wont be extensive enough to be successful for the major search engines.
Research and plan meticulously
Going in blind when setting up a website for an industry that you know nothing about is a dangerous game. Get the research done. Make a solid plan based on the copy and layout of the most successful websites in the industry. Update the site regularly with fresh content and keep the design up to date. Don't let the brand go stale and keep up to speed with your competitors.