SEO Across All Market Sectors

Is It Possible?


Back in 2007 I was talking to a solicitor who was quizzing me about Internet marketing and SEO in general. In response to a general enquiry I had mentioned that I had over two hundred websites in many diverse sectors, and he was sceptical that I could have knowledge of so many different areas.

That has always stuck with me as a perfectly valid question to ask (even if it isn’t asked out loud): how on earth does one person know about lots of different things to the extent that they can presume to have websites about them which are apparently ‘expert’? To the layman, this assumption seems certainly arrogant at the very least.

So let me explain the position in relation to another industry which I worked in for over 20 years, the market research industry.

I was working at National Opinion Polls and later MORI and Research International, as well as other companies which were less ‘blue chip’, in the process of data collection and analysis, from the early 1980s and onwards.

We worked very much on a job-by-job basis. At any one time I was running several research projects concurrently, and these could all be very dissimilar to each other (there was no reason why they should not be). The only similarities between the surveys running was what differentiated them as being business-to-business surveys (which we ran during the working day 9 to 5) and consumer surveys (which were run in the weekday evenings and at the weekends). Sometimes it was possible for even these to overlap.

On any one day I would be responsible for a team of people running a research project on employee relations, another on component delivery efficiency, another on trade magazine readability, another on group opinions among City analysts and yet another on the quality control procedures of semiconductors.

Then for the consumer sector I would run simultaneous research projects on ground coffee beans, washing powder, disposable nappies (diapers), deliverability of Yellow Pages directories and the awareness (market penetration) of adverts for a certain brand of beer.

The most extreme case of this diversity was the omnibus survey, run over the weekend, in which a whole cluster of different questions on very different sectors were strung together in one questionnaire and fired off to respondents a thousand at a time, the results collected, tabulated and presented to our highly satisfied clients on Monday morning.

Did this mean that I was an expert on employee relations, City stocks, semiconductor quality and ground coffee beans? No, of course not. But I was able to conduct research on these subjects and produce good data which could be relied on and then in some cases acted upon if need be.

Because even though our clients were involved in very different fields, the procedures we used were more or less exactly the same. What was good for researching coffee beans could also be relied upon to provide excellent data on deliverability of Yellow Pages directories. The processes involved in researching employee relations were the same as those involved in finding out what chaps in the City thought. And finding out how efficiently those components were being delivered to their customers used the same stage-by-stage system as assessing the market penetration of ads for Holsten Export.

That being said, I was always keen to learn at least a little bit about the things I was researching. Oh, the happy hours teaching myself about how semiconductors worked and the vagaries of the Gini coefficient! Apart from anything else it brought home to me the fact that most people don’t know how other industries actually work, and that the appearance is usually very different from the reality. (Did you know, for example, that banks do not lend money at all, but rather they create it, using what is called the Fractional Reserve system?)

In the market research industry the research process can be roughly split into several stages:

Quantifying the objectives
Writing the questionnaire
Defining the sample
Data collection
Coding of verbatim responses into numerics
Data processing
Presentation of results
Recommendation for action (where appropriate)

In the fuzzier and less certain world of Internet marketing a similar set of stages may be defined:

Deciding on a target consumer profile
Drawing up a list of keywords
Assessing competition
Creating a website
Building authority for the website
Optimising conversion rates to desired objectives
Locating micro-market strengths and building on them
Constantly refining and improving the above

I still like to learn a little bit on the background to the industry I am promoting digitally, but the procedures of digitally promoting them are all more or less exactly the same.