How to Do Online Research in 3 Easy Steps

by Ann Smarty July 19th, 2010 

As a blogger and copywriter I often have to do some research online collecting materials and information for my article or link bait. To be honest, I enjoy the process. For the years online (and while still studying), I have fine-tuned the process to be able to both find as much information as needed and do it fast and efficiently.

Online research

Here is the exact way I am doing that:

1. Get Focused

The first thing to do is to collect some basic info on the subject that would work as foundation to my further research. Here are the steps I usually take at this stage:

  1. Find definitions (Google's DEFINE: operator usually does a good job here);
  2. Scan through top 10 - 20 results in Google for the base term;
  3. While scanning, keep brief notes (open the .txt or .doc file and drop some basic info there: names, dates, numbers, major opinions, quotes, etc).

The most important part here is to save all the essential information using as few words as possible.

Once this initial step is completed, I usually have a "tree" of the basic information.

Here's an example of this "notes tree" I have done while doing research on "Online Shopping Behavior by Gender":

online research - notes

Now I can "grow" that tree expanding my search tools as well as the keyword range.

2. Expand The Keywords

For more results I need to vary the keyword phrase I am using: start experimenting with various synonyms and ways to express the similar concept / idea.

Besides using my brain, I take advantage of traditional (and not only) keyword research tools and other various ways to expand my search:

Online research

3. Expand the Search Tools and Sources

Now that I have created the list of all possible keywords and phrases to use, I can vary tools and sources to use in my search:

  • Use Google's "Time" search;
  • Use online glossaries and dictionaries
  • Use Twitter search;

Tip: If you are doing research and using Twitter search, you may be up to useful resources on the topic. Get Twitter search results include tweeted links by using [filter:links] operator.

  • Use social search aggregators like Social Mention (with plenty of filters inside, like Blog search, social network search, Q&A site search, etc)

Social Mention

4. Putting It All Together

With my keyword and source choice being expanded, I don't forget to grow my "tree" of notes as well. Here are my rules of thumb:

  • Get really focused at the beginning of the research - this will save my time by letting me both get an idea of the subject matter and keep from going through unnecessary details;
  • Expand moderately: the key is not to find as many related keywords and alternative sources as I can - the key is to move in the right direction researching the topic.
  • When saving my info, use as few words as I can: my notes are to be used to save details, to create the content I am going to use my own brain (this way I will end up with the totally unique content).

Do you use any tricks when conducting online research? Please share them!

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is a blogger and SEO consultant and professional blogger. Check out Ann's personal project My Blog Guest - the forum meant to connect guest bloggers to blog owner for plenty of mutual benefits. Ann also provides guest blogging services.

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6 Responses to “How to Do Online Research in 3 Easy Steps”

  1. Dos hanif says:

    Hi..thanks for you great tips. I've been online for 2 years now and still learning how to conduct research especially before deciding into which niche I want to
    jump into. Google Wheel is something new to me. So I'll do some research for this tool. Thanks again!
    .-= Dos hanif recently posted: 5 Real Secrets For Your Own Internet Business Success That You Must Follow To Avoid Failures =-.

  2. My problem is not necessarily the research, it's more the SEO part. It's just so tedious and it almost puts the breaks on all that exciting, fast research.

  3. Juliette says:

    Thanks for the article…you've given me new approaches to the way I currently research material. For instance, I never remember to see what the wonder wheel might give me for additional ideas.

    Thanks again.

  4. Hello,

    Nice Post,

    I am totally agree with your three steps of online research.Thanks for Telling me that i am on the right track.

    Thanks Again!

  5. Aurel Wong says:

    Wow ! Thanks for sharing the tips. I will follow your steps.

  6. […] your research on Google: Here's my article on how I do research online with some actionable tips and examples: (1) start from some very specific keywords (like [shopping […]