The internet is a lush sea of information. Search engines are excellent gatekeepers of this information and can undoubtedly help you find an answer to any solution you are looking for. On any given SERP you typically get several results, but how do you decide which one to pick? You want to find the answer to your question from a recognizable name or brand, a reputable source so you know the information is correct.
Why not take the same approach when sourcing information on your own site or blog?
I was recently working on a blog post about interesting stats on images. I started out by searching "cool facts about web images." Eureka! I hit the jackpot! Link upon link to great stats about the powerful influence of visuals on the web.
My bubble was soon burst when the sites I visited did not link to the original source of the stat. Or I wasted countless minutes clicking through a wormhole of links to other blogs that linked to another blog that mentioned the stat, to yet another blog that simply regurgitated a post on another blog mentioning the stat with no source in site.
Why Proper Sources
My inner journalist was weeping over the multitude of links masquerading as proper sources all over the internet. But why bother having proper sources to begin with?
First of all, it makes you look good. You are showing your readers, colleagues and competition that you took the time to source your material, building credibility as a thorough and trustworthy source to others.
Second, if you're going to give out a nice, juicy link, you better make sure it's to the site that did the leg work in the first place. Not only do they deserve the share, you can also feel confident that what you're linking to is a bona fide, proven fact and not just something that somebody somewhere made up and posted on the internet.
After coming to the conclusion that finding legit facts on the web was going to be harder than I thought, I knew I had to switch gears.
Luckily, through my pain and suffering I have come up with some tips on how to find proper sources on the internet quickly and relatively easily.
How To Find The Right Sources
Sourcing a stat with no link
You found a great stat but the site you found it on doesn't have a link to the source. Did they mention the study where they found it or who the researcher was? If so, don't give up yet! Pull up your faithful search engine and search for the title or the author's name in conjunction with the subject of what you're looking for. More likely than not, you should be able to find the source.
Specifying your search
Instead of just searching for "the most amazing, mind-blowing image stats," narrow your search by including qualifying words like study, case study, research or academic text. Instead of getting a SERP full of repurposed information, you should turn up some more trustworthy sources.
Use credible websites or journals
Instead of doing a generic search, try finding a website or journal that produces case studies or academic papers that you already know are valid. You will still have to do a bit of digging but are much more likely to be rewarded for your work when you start with a reputable site. Here are a few examples:
Be your own source
It would undoubtedly take longer for your to do your own case study or research, but think of the benefits it could yield. If you get really stuck looking for original sources on a subject, why not be the source? You get another chance to make yourself look good and after all your hard work, hopefully some great links or mentions to boost your site.
Even though it is way easier to take information found on the internet at face value, that doesn't mean it is always right. Instead of getting into a pickle where you've linked or sourced false facts, do the research ahead of time and feel confident in the information you're adding to the sea of the internet.