Research Tips

The first thing I do when I do a Google search, is go up and click on ‘tools’, just under the search bar over on the right. Then go to the left and click the down arrow next to “Any Time” and pick a time frame that works for me and the search term.

If I’m looking for information that I don’t think is discussed abundantly or likely hasn’t changed in quite a while, I’ll pick a year. I cannot remember the last time, if ever, I have searched for anything older than a year.

But if I’m looking for something that is a hot topic or changes quickly, like bugs in the latest version of something, I’ll click the last month or even the last week. If I’m looking for local power outages, I’ll click last or hour.

If I were to look for results for the last week or month in a topic that is just not that popular or doesn’t change often, I’d likely not get any useful results at all. For example, let’s look for the ‘dimensions of a cover image for LinkedIn,’ but limit our results to entries less than a day old.

As you can see, none of the entries answer my question. In fact, they have nothing to do with what I’m looking for.

So, choose a time frame that makes sense for your particular query. You’ll likely never want to leave it unchanged if you are doing a search for anything regarding Social Media or Business Processes.

Moving on:
When I do a search, I start with a few keywords and then I judge whether those keywords are giving me the results I want. Sometimes I add more keywords because the first result of my search returned many entries that didn’t answer my query. For example, if I wanted to learn how to use the Facebook Pixel, and I did a search on ‘Facebook Pixel,’ I would get a return that looked like this and had X number of pages.

Something else I look at is who supplied this information. I already have my favorite resources for most anything relating to Social Media. Not to say I don’t give somebody new a chance. I’m always looking for a different perspective or an explanation that is more clear than I had before. I want to update my subscription boards with material that will help my subscribers save time and frustration whenever possible.

However, I do now recognize some sources that just plain suck. Or I remember that their site is littered with pop-ups and ads and I avoid them. But you may be new to your research path and you have to go through all the chum to get to the good stuff. 

When you find it, Bookmark it.

Take advantage of the systems you already have available to you. Bookmark good sources and tag the page or site so you know where it is later. I have hundreds of bookmarks.

As I’m on a Mac, I also use ‘notes.’ As a writer and resource curator I will often read something that I think needs to be shared and so I’ll stick it in a note with some words or phrases or even a paragraph or two of a post I’ll eventually publish. I’m writing this post in Notes right now. I can put links in it to use for hyperlinks later. I can save pictures or videos here. Whatever tools you have, use them.

I will say that I’m not the best in going back and deleting old stuff. I generally do a purge of older content every few months. I do photos much less frequently. I cannot be the only one that takes 8 shots of the same thing, usually a fury kid, and cannot part with any of them… even though they are virtually identical.

Come on, raise you hand… you know you do that too.

So, how do I determine if a post or article was written by somebody I can trust? First, I judge the particular content. Does the material fly? And does it flow? Is it grammatical correct spelled correctly? If yes, I go check them out. It’s called due diligence. I go look at their website. Does it look nice? Is it inviting? Do I want to stay? If they are giving SEO advice, do they rank high in a search? Does their content look updated? If there is no date on their post, I’ll often scroll to the bottom of the webpage and see what the copyright year is. If it is not the current year and we are not in January, I’ll dismiss the site.

I can also check out how many times their website is linked to. Additionally, I’ll check out their social media pages and get a feel for who they are, number of followers or connections, activity on that platform, etc.

There is a lot that goes in to determining if a source is credible. But I’m always on the lookout.

Finding good sources, that are current, accurate easy to digest is not easy or fast. But if you enjoy being online and the challenge of tweaking keywords or having to think about where you might find a particular answer, it’s time well-spent. I happen to enjoy research.

My brother asked me to help him find a phone number for a business that had not sent him something he ordered 3 months previously. He had emailed them and received no response. I did several search, including the domain name, Facebook pages and forums. I found the owners full name and phone number, although it was somewhat obvious those items were not being publicized. I also found another way to message him. We sent a message. A phone call would have been the follow-up. He responded quickly with apologies and a damn good tear-jerking story.

I love research. You might, too.

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