This chapter will deal with the tools and approaches that will be used in undertaking the project. The justification of design that will be used in the research will also be looked upon including the procedures and the instruments that will be used. The chapter starts with the research philosophy that will be used the entire project. The tools and methods of collecting and analyzing data will also be dealt with in this chapter. It will conclude with the ethical considerations that will have to be taken into account when undertaking the project.
The research philosophy entails the creation and development of knowledge in a given area and the nature of that knowledge can be applied to the research project. In summary, the research philosophy can be seen to be the personal beliefs of the researcher and the way in which the researcher looks at the world. Research philosophy has its use in research projects. This section will deal with the research philosophy and the strategy that will be used. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhil (2007) stress the importance of getting an understanding of theoretical and background to sociological and managerial research as they have a great influence on the relationship between knowledge and the progression of the same. In addition to this, the research philosophies enlighten us on how research should be carried out and done. The first approaches to research philosophy are epistemology, which has its basis on the way research is organized and emphasized; it stresses the importance of having knowledge organized in theories. Another approach in research is that of Ontology which is based on suggestions and not relating these suggestions to knowledge. This approach is rather concerned with nature and structure of existence and reality.
Another definition of Epistemology is by Tadajewski (2004, p. 312) who states “Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge, specifically how knowledge about knowledge is possible and concerns the study of the criteria that delimit what does and does not constitute warranted knowledge”. Two branches that come out of Epistemology are positivism and interpretivism/phenomenology.
It is important to define the research philosophy that will be used in this paper. The research philosophy is concerned with the development of knowledge and the nature of that knowledge (Saunders et al., 2007, p. 101). It has been argued that it is not in order to conduct a research without understanding the background of the philosophy that has been used. It is important to understand the importance of combining personal belief, the experience of the researcher and the knowledge of philosophy; they will underpin the process of selecting strategy, and the selection of methods that are used for the research project. The research philosophy influences the research in the process of doing the research. It is important to get a full understanding of the assumptions that are underlying which underpin the research strategy, which, in this case, is concerned with the attitude and feelings towards the use of SEO in marketing. There are three ways of evaluating research philosophy that is being used, which are epistemology, ontology and axiology. The first, epistemology, is what constitutes the body of knowledge that is acceptable in the study area. In this case, our research, the literature review shows that the use of SEO in marketing improves sales. There are different views and meanings that concern the use of SEO marketing. Another definition of epistemology can be taken to be the assumptions concerning the pool of knowledge of an area of study for a subject that is based on a given ontology. The research ontology concerns with truths and axioms that are accepted about a given subject. In our case, it is generally accepted that SEO optimization increases the chances of a company being recognized by a client. Interpretation and the perception of the participants will be evaluated and will be evident that different views will be required. The ontology that has been used in this research is more of Gnostic or subjective, ambiguous and hidden instead of orthodox or objective. It ends up coming up with opinions, views, many perspectives and stories.
The research will take a phenomenological or interpretivist approach instead of a positivist, realist, or a critical realist approach. Interpretivism philosophy engages having interviews with people and not objects and the findings that are got out of this research are interpreted basing on the behaviors, viewpoints, and the philosophy of participants engaged and not objects or resources. In support, Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007, p. 106) affirm that interpretivism “advocates the differences between conducting research among people rather than objects such as computers and trucks. The axiology that is the personal values for this research that concern the subject of SEO optimization to increase marketing and sales for an organization.
The choice of research is based on two divergent bases of theories, which lie in the methodology of theories and development of knowledgebase. According to Sekaran (2003), the theories assist in being acquainted with, comprehending, understanding and projecting the whole research investigation phenomenon. The two theories are the Deductive theory and Inductive theory. The former theory typifies the normal and regular relation that exists between the theories and the research, and the latter typifies the experience as opposed to relation between research and theory (Remenyi et al., 1998).
In a deductive choice of research theory, the first thing that takes place is development of theories and then they are followed by tests that are acquired through empirical findings or observations on the same; this then leads to a logical conclusion by abridging facts which are already available (Sekaran, 2003 and Crowther and Lancaster, 2009).
The other research approach is inductive research choice where the events take place in reverse order. In this theory, the development of theories is done after observation of data and information so that they can explain them (Sekaran, 2003). In short, it is after obtaining facts from observing a given phenomenon that suggestions take place; the suggestions can be in form of theories also. One advantage that this research choice has over the deductive research choice is that it is its capability of being flexible as all categories of information can be used to come up with the theories finally.
This research takes inductive approach to carry out the research process. In this case, the findings are acquired from various different sources and then the implications and suggestions are deduced for the theory that will guide to the entire research project (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Comparing this research approach to the deductive research choice, the deductive research choice follows a linear approach and this would mean that we would be restricted as it follows a given process systematically. Whereas given the fact that our research will be dealing with responses from different people and who might be having various responses, it implies that everyone has a different mindset and therefore it requires that we analyze a new theory based on findings thus can be met by inductive approach only (Bryman and Bell, 2007 and Remenyi et al., 1998).
Research strategy aids in coming up with a framework that is used for gathering and analyzing the data that have been obtained during the research process (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Bryman and Bell (2007) further they underscore the significance that is attached with the right choice of research strategy that is used as it helps to reveal various dimensions of research and processes. Moreover, the significance of choosing the suitable approach lies in “expressing casual connections between variables; generalizing to larger groups of individuals than those actually forming part of the investigation; understanding behavior and the meaning of that behavior in its specific social context and having an over-time appreciation of social phenomena and their interconnections” (Bryman and Bell, 2007, p. 40).
Nevertheless, as pointed by Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007, p. 135), it must be observed that no strategy can be kept in a superior position than the other. In addition, “right choice strategy institutes from research question, objectives, existing knowledge, availability of time and resources and own philosophical underpinning”.
An organization can choose from many research strategies options. One of the commonly used is surveys, experimental strategy, historical research, action research, and ethnography.
In this approach, I will make use of existing literature that relate with search engine optimization. Many scholars have researched on this topic. Their work will act as a guide in my research work. There is much information from online academic databases that will be useful when undertaking this research. What will favor the researcher is that there are many researches that have been conducted by companies regarding using SEO in marketing. The researcher hopes that the extensive research that has been undertaken will form a good source of information that will be used in the research.
The research will also make use of questionnaires to get the quantitative data that will be used. There will be questionnaires distributed to senior managers and departmental heads. The questionnaires will also be distributed to marketers who make use of SEO to advertise. The data will then be analyzed by making use of SPSS for quantitative analysis and NVivo for qualitative data analysis.
The peculiarity between quantitative and qualitative methods are the basis for the growth of research strategies, philosophies, strategies and data collection techniques applied. Bryman and Bell (2007) assert that the distinction aids in developing of an umbrella consisting of various business research practices and issues.
The main subject of peculiarity stands in the disposition of numeric or non-numeric data or information that has to be collected and analyzed.
This is applied when the research philosophies, methodologies and methods entail getting numeric data or stresses on the quantification (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). In addition, Bryman and Bell (2007) state that it relates itself with a deductive approach and a positivist epistemological course.
This is engaged if the research philosophies, methodologies, and methods entail getting non-numerical data or stresses on the disposition of quality of data that has been collected (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). In addition, Bryman and Bell (2007) state that it relates with inductive approach and an interpretivist epistemological course.
In addition, although quantitative approach is related with practices, a qualitative approach is related with the postulation (Baker, & Foy, 2008). The peculiarity amid qualitative and quantitative research is asserted by Welman and Kruger (2001), p. 72 that “the former investigates the naturally occurring settings, while the latter is restricted to phenomena that are artificially created by the researcher”.
Stressing on the significance of choosing the suitable approach, the approach that most relates itself with the research questions. In addition, Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007) state that the researcher should question his subconscious or make use of his mind for the same and take the process of research to be one with high creativity.
In view of this qualitative research relates itself with the detailed status and aids to examine many issues, which could not have been identified by the quantitative approach. It has helped to get the situations that could not be identified in numerical data (Newman, & Benz, 1998).
There is the carrying out of a literature review so that the theories of SEO and their roles in marketing.
There is the use of a self-administered questionnaire that will be sent to all corporate employees that are contacted in this study. This provides a chance to conduct a snowball research where the views from the few corporate staff who are working in companies that make use of SEO marketing (Singh, 2007). The questionnaires which are negative and are leading are avoided as much as possible; there will be a careful consideration that will be given to sequencing and a clear layout and design (Proctor, 2003; Jobber, 2004; Fisher, 2007 and Saunders et al, 2007).
A pilot test will have to be carried out with few staff so that the various grades and responses can be evaluated and see which of the points seem to bring confusion to the respondents. The feedback includes the comments about the effectiveness of the questions that have been asked.
It is expected that some issues like sequencing of questions will come up; this will require amendment of the questionnaire. This will make the questionnaires to be reliable and readable and made them to be attractive and less ambiguous. The duration that takes to complete the questionnaires will also be tested; it is estimated to take between five to ten minutes.
It will be important to ensure that the questionnaires be sent to the target corporate employees by use of email. This will eradicate the possibility of random sampling, which is a limitation that is normally experienced in the case.
The managers and marketers who will be on leave will be left and those who will not be feeling well will not be interfered. Questionnaires will be individually addressed to the respondents instead of using line managers or through group mail.
After the questionnaires shall have been distributed and responses collected, the researcher will embark on literature review to look for similar research that has been collected over time. As argued by Khanzode (2004), this will form a basis for argument and comparison. It is no doubt that extensive research has been undertaken in this area. There will also be statistics that will be obtained from companies, which have already implemented this marketing strategy, and their outcome due to this will be a source of information for the researcher.
After data collection, analysis will be done using Nvivo 9.0 software. The analysis of the data is intended by making use of discourse analysis approach which was highlighted by Crowther and Lancaster, (2009); in this approach, data and information which has been collected is deconstructed in a way so that it is possible to interpret the real or implications that are hidden further in what has been put forward by people in the process of collecting data. In addition, assumptions of background information will be taken to close the scrutiny of the data that will have been provided to aid in firming the analysis base and conclusions that shall have been given.
It is clear that the marketers and managers will like to make comments with strict confidentiality; this will be made clear to the respondents that information will be regarded as confidential as possible and that the information will be stored with utmost confidentiality as much as possible. This assurance will be taken care of in the course of answering the questionnaires. The questionnaires will be labeled in a way that was known to the researcher alone. The researcher will take a neutral stance as much as possible as the respondents might be suspicious that someone in the company could be out collecting data but I will explain the purpose of the research so that all forms of fears will be cleared.
It will be considered unethical to give questionnaires to staff that have already left the companies since 2007; this will be taken to be an unintended use of information at the given time.
The research has been analyzed in terms of philosophy, strategy, design, instruments and the procedures and has been presented above. The findings from the questionnaires and the literature review will be presented in the chapter that follows.
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