Free Online Tools for Small Businesses
Wikipedia is a great website. While people often slight Wikipedia by talking about supposed inaccuracies on its pages, anyone with a brain understands that by checking the references attached to each article you can discover for yourself whether something is actually true. Most of the time, the real problem with Wikipedia is simply that a particular page or section hasn’t been written very well.
However, as good as Wikipedia undoubtedly is and as useful as it can be, there are ways you can conduct high quality online research without needing to resort to the site. If you are researching a particular company or industry, you might even be able to do it without using a search engine. What this tells us is that carrying out research online is easy whatever way we do it, but that we’ve become conditioned and lazy so choose the same options every time. How can you conduct Wiki – and perhaps Google – free research?
If you’re researching a notable event then you don’t need to look any further than news websites. The best approach to take here is find the “higher end” websites such as those related to broadsheet newspapers and magazines like Business Week and The Economist, as these will typically link to research and other articles on high quality websites that will help you to round off what you’re doing.
This way, you’ll get potentially dozens of additional sources and also be able to gauge public opinion by looking at some of the comments left on the forums. You can then use some of these as quotes to support or balance your own findings or arguments.
Whether you discover a company in the news or you know of them already, you’ll learn a lot if you check out their website. This is particularly true of companies like ACPI Wealth Managers who don’t get a great deal of press coverage despite being a large organisation responsible for a large number of assets.
What do you need to look for on company websites? The “About Us” section is a great place to start, but there will also likely be links to testimonials and client or portfolio websites, which themselves will lead onto you discovering further sources. Follow the trail and you’ll find a wealth of information without a Wiki in sight!
You aren’t using Wikipedia or a search engine, so use social media instead. Here, you can discover the latest news related to a company or industry or even follow a company account. It might also be worth following anyone who is linked to the company who maintains their own social profile. This also gives you another opportunity to get quotes by engaging in conversation with companies or individuals, although you will need to ensure your research remains balanced.
Even without Wikipedia or a search engine, conducting online research can be simple and straightforward. You’ll probably find better information, too, as you’ll dig deeper rather than taking whatever you find at face value.
Michael Stone is an online researcher who prides himself on finding everything without using Wikipedia; he also keeps his use of search engines to a minimum, too, having built a wide knowledge of the most reliable online sources through the years.