RESEARCH… sounds boring… and tedius, doesn’t it? But it is necessary to creating content for your website that is not only valuable to your visitor, the search engines will reward you for it.  What do I mean?  As a web content creator, your goal should be to create valuable content that drives traffic to your site. And one of the best ways to do that is to come up with original, informative (entertaining, motivating) content.  The more interesting the content, the better your chances of becoming an authority site. One that your visitors will return to, recommend to others and more importantly take action such as making a purchase. When you write on a subject, you want to make sure you have the facts straight so that your audience will find your content useful.

But coming up with this type of content can be a challenge for even the most talented writer. Here are 5 ideas you can use to research your website content.

1. Start with Wikipedia ~  a vast storehouse of knowledge on all sorts of topics.  Frequently updated with new information, Wikipedia is one of the best user generated websites you can find to do research. But don’t stop there.  Be sure you cross-check the sources on Wikipedia. Why, because the content is user generated, there can be mistakes and mis-information.  Better to have two or more sources with the same information, than several with conflicting content on the subject of your research.

2. Authority Sites ~
are sites that others rely on for the latest and best information on a subject. These are established sites that have a proven track record of reliability. Authority sites are careful about what they publish, so most of what you see there is well written and trustworthy.

3. Article Directories ~ the top article directories may already be hosting content that you are researching. By checking these you can see what’s already been written about the subject. This may help you find a “new angle” by adding your voice and expertise to the subject.

4. Social media ~ social media is an excellent resource for research. This includes blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Niche Social Networks. With Social media you can see what’s being said about any subject under the sun. You can conduct your own research by asking for feedback on a particular topic.  People who use social media love sharing information. That’s why they participate. Twitter is a treasure-trove of up to date information and facts in all sorts of niches. Be sure you follow the thought-leaders for their viewpoints. Here’s a hint: use their input in your article to drive more traffic. People who are searching for those authorities stand a better chance of finding your content when you do.

5. Yahoo! Answers ~ is another interesting place for research. You can find topics categorized according to the questions people ask. And you can see exactly what interests people by those questions and more importantly by the answers.

6. Google ~This idea is not a new one but it is the most often used for research. I have interviewed dozens of authorities on various subjects and when I ask the question “what resource would you recommend our listeners use for more information on the subject” the most frequent reply is “Google it.” Sounds trite and even flip but Google is considered the number one resource for research online.

7. Offline ~ We have talked about the online ways to do research but don’t discount offline resources. Public Libraries, book stores, magazine subscriptions are all additional sources for your article research. I love reading articles in magazines, ripping them out and saving them in topic files for later review.  Many times you can find valuable information from older resources (such as books) that is not available online. Diversifying your research makes for more interesting and original content later on.

And finally no matter how and where you gather information for your website it is important to do your own critical analysis of the material you use in your work – regardless of whether it was found online or offline. Remember that just because something has been published online or offline does not necessarily make it a reliable source.

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas or how to put your research to work for you, Check out Melissa Ingold’s Content Marketing Private Label Rights Report

And if you are in South Florida May 26th, be sure and visit us when we present: Content Is Queen… How to Leverage your Website/Blog Content