8 research tips to help you find free content
9th February 2001
This is for all of you free content
hunters. I hope this article helps you locate that elusive, specialised
little easier and in a more timely manner.
Search engines, Portals, Vortals, Category Killers,
Directories, Indexes they are all valid places to start looking for
information on the internet. The internet has evolved now so that anyone
can publish information and anyone can share their thoughts and knowledge.
It is a vast swirling quagmire of data, with no core protocol for managing
and indexing the information on it. Whenever you search for information
you must approach multiple search engines and each one returns different
results, all of which may have to be painstakingly followed through,
search engine by search engine - link by link, in fact research shows that
even the largest search engines have only about 20% of the internets
Eight tips to help you better search the internet for
1. Reverse Engineer the process
When you initially make a foray into locating
information on the internet you are usually swamped with either too much information
or not enough. The trick to narrowing down and locating your data is to
write down in as much detail the type of data you are looking for and then
write down a list of people and organizations who would most likely create
or collect the data. Now put yourself in the shoes of the person whose job
it is to disseminate that created/collected data.
search engines would you publish it too ?
keywords would you use to describe your data ?
specialist publications, directories and portals would you likely
contact to list your information.
Armed with this knowledge you can then plan your search
2. Have a search strategy
Sit down and write out your objectives. Think about where you would
like your research to take you and then write down the search engines and
indexes you should visit and in what order.
Its your biggest asset when searching for information online. It is so
easy to go wandering off down the wrong path, distracted by something that
may seem useful later on, yet is not really relevant to the task at hand.
The trick is to stay focused and plan your research strategy in advance
and then stick to it.
4. Learn to skim effectively
Skim those resources, whittle them down, make them into a manageable
list that can be pursued in more depth. Anything that doesn’t grab your
attention within your search strategy, dump it, anything that passes
muster, put it into a sump. Keep digging until you have about 20 to 30 key
urls to explore.
5. Cost it
Huge amounts of information are free and although it is not usually an
issue for free content hunters, if you are after accurate data and
statistics to publish on your website, don’t be surprised to learn
that a report you finally locate after hours of searching will
actually cost you (not the headlines, but usually the rights to publish
the content of the article). For anything but the most basic of research
and articles, always
budget some sort of cost into your project, whether it be a few dollars
for a particular news article or $5000 for a premium report from a fully
fledged market research corporation such as Jupiter
Research or PC Data
6. Think Laterally
Who is the intended audience of the data ? Are their specialist sites or
organizations that the data may have been listed with ? Perhaps an annual
report contains the information ? Perhaps a competitor ?
7. Document your search
It can be easy to lose track of what you are doing. Record your
progress and make notes to be able to come back and retrace your path.
Keep notes on your favorite search engines and directories, as your list
grows you will realise the importance of describing the type of data found
on each one.
If things are starting to look grim and time is of the essence,
don’t be ashamed of outsourcing parts of your research. A professional
researcher can usually find the information you require in a fraction of
Copyright © 2000 Mark Wickman, All Rights Reserved
Mark Wickman - email@example.com
Mark Wickman is an independent consultant specialising in Internet
Research and Custom Internet and Software Development. His online CV is
located at http://markgcv.wickman.net/