But it’s a wild and woolly world of information out there, and it can sometimes be tricky to find the precise bit of data you’re looking for from a credible source. Site: This operator allows you to search only the results from a specific website. These search terms can be helpful in targeting your results in search beyond the search engines, like when searching within a specific website, social network, or online database. When searching for information in Google, go to Search Tools, then click on Any time to bring up a drop-down menu that allows you select a specific date range for your search, or to search only for information from the last day, week, month, or year. Search for embeddable social media posts Sometimes the best way to quote a source or provide an example is to embed the original social post in your content, like this: After all, there’s no chance of misquoting when you’re directly sharing the original source. On Twitter, you can use advanced search functions to find posts by user, date, search terms, language, and even mood, or use all of these in combination to laser-target your search. But Marketwatch is not the source of the information, so you need to keep going to find the original source to cite yourself. Good places to search include the company’s blog, news or media relations page, and about page. For instance, you can learn from our post on Facebook demographics that 82 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds online use Facebook, a statistic we gathered from a Pew Research Center report. This guide from the Centre for Investigative Journalism provides some good tips for working with statistics: Incorporating all of these techniques will help you use the Web for effective research to build your credibility and support your content marketing strategy, making your site a credible source of quality information for your followers and potential leads.
Content may be king, but poorly researched content can make you
look more like the court jester.
Developing your research skills will ensure that your writing
for content marketing and social sharing helps solidify your
reputation as an expert in your field. But it’s a wild and woolly
world of information out there, and it can sometimes be tricky to
find the precise bit of data you’re looking for from a credible
Even if you do strike research gold, you can still go wrong by
using statistics incorrectly—something even professional
journalists can struggle with. So, what’s an aspiring marketer to
In this guide, you’ll learn how to conduct effective online
research to provide a solid basis for all of the content you
Google, of course, is an online researcher’s best friend—but it
can also be your worst enemy, sucking you into time-wasting dead
ends as you hunt for information. It can also lead you astray,
since it returns information unfiltered for credibility. Remember:
Just because you found a “fact” on the internet doesn’t make it
First, let’s talk about how to use some advanced search
techniques to target your research efforts and minimize the amount
of time you spend searching through irrelevant information.
Google search operators and advanced search
Google search operators can help you find precisely what you’re
looking for by narrowing down the potential matches to your search.
Some of the most useful include:
- “”: Placing a search string in quotation marks tells
Google that you’re searching for a specific phrase, rather than
just a combination of words (example: “online research
- *: An asterisk acts as a wildcard, allowing Google to
fill in the blanks (example: “to * own self be true”).
- Site: This operator allows you to search only the
results from a specific website. This is particularly helpful if a
website does not have its own search field. Be sure not to insert a
space after the colon (example: site:Hootsuite.com add
- ..: Placing two periods between numbers instructs Google
to search for any numbers in that range (example: Space Shuttle
You can also use Google’s advanced search page
to narrow your results by language, region, file type, and more,
without having to memorize any search operators.
Boolean search operators
Boolean search is named after George Boole, a 19th century
British mathematician who developed much of the logic that
underpins how we use search engines to find what we’re looking for
online. These search terms can be helpful in targeting your results
in search beyond the search engines, like when searching within a
specific website, social network, or online database.
- AND: Using AND between two search terms indicates that
you only want results that include both search terms. For example,
searching Instagram AND Facebook AND Snapchat will reveal only
sources that mention all three of these social networks. Keep in
mind that Google automatically treat all searches as AND
- OR: Using OR between search terms indicates that you
want to search for any of the terms rather than all. So, searching
for Instagram OR Facebook OR Snapchat will return sources that
mention only Instagram, sources that mention only Facebook, and
sources that mention only Snapchat, as well as sources that mention
any combination of these networks.
- NOT: Using NOT before a search term eliminates results
that include that term. So, searching Instagram NOT Facebook would
return only sources that mention Instagram but do not mention its
parent company, Facebook. When using Google, place a minus sign in
front of the term instead of using the word NOT, like this:
Research tips and best practices
Filter results by date
While information doesn’t come with a clear…