Am putting down some points that I use to do secondary research using Google and other sites.
0. Question Yourself
Before asking Google, ask yourself- “What do I Want to Know About?” Always mention places (where) and times (when). This will refine your query and easier to search for Google.
Always think- Where? It can be a place in the physical world, but in the virtual world too. Mention countries, cities, (India, Boston) or virtual places (Microsoft Website, Windows XP, Recycle Bin)
Always mention the time – 1940s, 2012, August, “six months”. Think- When?
(Note: If you don’t like to read from a screen, please start liking it.)
2. Use Magic Words
Some keywords, when added to a query, helps you find more accurate answers. Here are a few that I use for research. You can think of new ones as you search. Examples are in brackets and the magic words are in bold.
* How do the best people do a certain job? (best practices mobile learning)
* What will happen to Indian retail industry in 2 years? (trends Indian retail industry)
* I mostly use it for software issues like a computer virus (troubleshooting xp win32.dll not found)
* To find more about the landscape of a new domain (online bingo market Europe) or (online bingo industry)
* Want to compare two phones, two religions, two cities.. (Jessica Alba vs Jessica Biel). Other substitutes could be Comparison or Better Than
* For marketing/ user research data (demographic cameraphone users japan)
* To see what people are saying about a certain product or service (canon EOS 40D review)
* (video tutorial podcasting)
* Good for finding summary of events, annual briefings (McKinsey 2008 report web2.0)
* Who’s who of a certain topic (2008 top 10 pop songs US )
* To find free goodies (free blu-ray disc burner)
3. Search Other Places
Digital format makes everything sharable over the internet- photos, newspaper articles, maps, TV program snippets (news, sitcoms), documentaries, conference talks, presentations, books, magazines, music…. and all of them can be searched too! Think of how will information you are looking for is likely to be represented (in a video, image, ppt, presentation, book, map or blog). You can search directly on some sites if you know what you are looking for-
YouTube– for videos, tutorials, gadget reviews, ads..
Slideshare– for presentations
StockXChange, Creative Commons Search– for free images
SmashingMagazine– for free icons and other free graphic design resources
Google Scholar– for academic papers
Amazon– for searching books and book reviews
Twitter– for searching hottest topics (happening right Now) that you won’t find in blogs or newspaper sites (I came to know details about the SriLankan crickt team attack in Lahore through twitter before anywhere else).
If Google repeatedly throws up a site for information (wikipedia, for example), you can directly go to the site and search too.
4. Make Search Come to You
Use Google Alerts to make Google search for you and send results via email. For example- I get daily results for the term ‘usability’ to my gmail. The results are unique and sometimes insightful. And I don’t even have to search for it!