A content writer is the ultimate “Jack of all trades,” able to grasp another’s voice, conduct quick research, and then produce quality content. But that quick research isn’t done in a dusty library surrounded by outdated encyclopedias, or by flipping through stacks of newspapers for the latest catchy headline. Writers have perfected the art of sifting through millions of bits and bytes online to create quality content that customers love. Here are a few internet research tips that can help you harness the power of Google while avoiding the pitfalls.
Internet Research Tips to Create Quality Blog Posts
Be careful about opinion versus fact. Creating quality content means understanding the difference between opinion and fact. While Google will offer up a mix of both, opinions expressed on someone’s personal blog aren’t the best source for content writing. While business blogs may contain some facts, they also might be your customer’s competitor. News, product or service information, trends, statistics—these are the building blocks for great posts. Search for facts to use as the backbone for your writing and you’ll stand a better chance of creating content your customer will love.
- Search smart. Here are a few ways to quickly narrow down Google search so you’re not wading through millions of possibilities. To sort by a particular source, use a colon. “Entrepreneurs:nytimes.com” will bring up a list of New York Times articles discussing entrepreneurs. To omit a word from search so you don’t have to scroll through irrelevant results, include a hyphen before the word you don’t want to see. If you need an exact word string, use quotes like this: “Beekeepers in Wisconsin”. Finally, the asterisk wildcard search is a wonderful way to find what you need when you’re not sure. For instance, if you want to find the lyrics to the Whitney Houston song and only have a vague idea, use the wildcard search like this: I decided * walk in * shadow. Google will fill in the *’s and give you the lyrics to the song. By using little tricks to search smarter, you’ll significantly reduce the time it takes to find what you need.
- Recognize quality sources. Wikipedia is a great place to start for background information, but not so great as a quotable or authoritative source. Think of Wikipedia as a crowd-sourced collection of information, but not an “authority” on any subject. You can find quality sources by searching for journal articles, by using Google’s Search Tools then sorting for resources from the last year or two, or even by using the super cool Alexa traffic rank extension for a quick way to recognize high-ranking websites. A well-ranked source like Forbes, Pew Research Center, or a trade journal focused on the subject you’re writing about is what you’re going for. And linking back to a quality source will increase your customer’s blog authority and rank as well.
- Fall in love with numbers. Google is a treasure trove of numbers, comparisons, and trends. From “statistics: how many general contractors in Denver” to “latest trends in beekeeping“, you can find numbers on just about any subject that will help you come off looking like a star. If you read a narrative that talks about some interesting statistics you’d like to reference in your post, backtrack to the original study.
The internet puts millions of bits of information at your fingertips. As a writer, it’s important to craft a strategy for how best to tap into that vast library of information to find what you need. By following these online research tips, you’ll have the tools you need to create quality content that your clients will love. And with a little practice, you might even become best friends with Google.