Back in the day, you had to go to the library to do any and all research (except for the stuff you could find in the family’s trusty, but seldom-used, household encyclopedia). When you got to the library, you had to thumb through card catalog and the periodical directories. Then, you had to go to the shelves to find your books (filed according to the Dewey Decimal System) or take your magazine list to the reference librarian. It could take hours and hours…maybe even several trips back and forth.
Sure, you can still do research that way. In fact, you can even find what you want at a library near you or anywhere in the world by looking it up on WorldCat.org (a catalog of library catalogs).
Now, you have another alternative that doesn’t require leaving your house (or even getting dressed, for that matter). Any time, day or night, if you want to find out all sorts of information, all you have to do is just sit down at your computer. If you’re on-the-go, you can even investigate topics of all shapes and sizes on your smartphone or pad. It couldn’t be easier or more convenient to research blog topics and website content. Right?
My answer is a resounding, “Maybe!” With everything at your fingertips, the new problem is knowing where to start. And even more importantly, you have to determine what’s reliable and what’s total B.S. Just because it’s on the Internet, certainly doesn’t mean it’s true or even accurate.
Doing research the right way could be the key to your success. After all, people come to your blog for unique, high-quality content. And you certainly don’t want to disappoint.
- Start with a basic search engine
Google, of course! Just type in your query and wait for the hits to roll in. That’s just a start.
So, don’t stop there. Also try some of the other top search engines, like Bing, Yahoo! Search, Ask, and AOL Search, to conduct your research. And feel free to experiment with some of the others, as well, including WOW, Infospace, DuckDuckGo, and Contenko. If you’re looking for a different (and smarter) kind of Q & A site, I suggest you give Quora a try.
These search tools will provide you with access to nearly all published websites made available to the public. They will also display and rank websites for you according to topic relevancy, based on the keywords you enter into the search engine.
- Don’t forget about Social Search engines
Socially generated content, through Twitter, forums, and Facebook, is the fastest growing source for fresh information on the Internet. You need to make use of it and tap into its power. Get real-time results on social trending on Topsy. Plus, you can also search on SocialMention, BoardReader, Omgili, SimilarSites, and HARO—Help A Reporter.
- Use the right keywords…and be specific
It’s important to use very specific keyword phrases to locate information. For example, if you are looking for information on bullying, enter specific keywords, such as “how to know when a child is being bullied,” instead of a generic phrase such as “bullying,” which may bring back thousands of results for unrelated websites for adult bullying, cyber bullying, and more.
- Review several pages of results for valid information
Just because it’s at the top of your Google search doesn’t make it reliable. Consider that it’s at the top of the list, because entries are written with keywords that push it to the top…it’s part of a revenue-generating marketing pitch and not necessarily because it’s true.
Look beyond the first page…and even beyond the first five pages. Not only will you reveal more sites to check out, but you will also be able to check the validity of your research in more places. Plus, you’ll get a more well-rounded search.
- Use current information for your Internet research
Watch for time-sensitive data and out-dated or inaccurate information. For example, if you’re researching a specific type of computer software, use information from the last few weeks or months…not from several years ago.
- Cite or list all of your Internet resources
You should copy the exact link you used (like https://solamaragency.com/2014/04/6-ways-to-use-youtube-to-bolster-your-local-seo/). You can also insert a hyperlink in MS Word to the cited resource (for example, “If you want to bolster your local SEO, you can…”)
- Make sure a source is reliable
In her post for Hubspot, Cat Simmons delivers tips for being more sure that the information you find is true:
- Consult sources that have a good reputation—Look for information through a well-established site that is affiliated with a recognized organization, preferably one that you have already heard of. This could be a well-known magazine or newspaper site, a familiar corporation, a university, or a government site Be wary of sites selling themselves as so-called experts or gurus, with no evidence or years of experience to back it up. Also, steer clear of sites that look unprofessional or disorganized.
- Research more than one source for the information—Check out various sources on the subject or question, to see what the general consensus appears to be. If they generally agree, in broad terms, then it’s more likely to be the accepted truth. Beware of several sites showing exactly the same information or sites with it just slightly rearranged, because the information was probably copied…meaning that an original, unreliable source was propagated.
- Look for feedback relating to the information—Often, reliable information will include fabricated feedback and/or testimonials. To determine if the feedback is true or fabricated, check up on the sources via websites mentioned in the posts, with links to other supporting sites.
- Select information that has been “peer reviewed”—This means that other people with related experience have reviewed, screened and/or tested the material and the claims before they have been released to the public.
- Trust your gut—From your own life experience, you’ll often get a gut-feeling if something is reliable or just doesn’t “make sense” or “add up.”
What’s the easiest and most dependable way of all to do the research for your website or blogs? Have Solamar do the research for you! (BTW, we’ll also write, design, and post your blogs and website!)