One constant problem I have, despite having extensive search engine experience, is finding the “right” information online. When I write on a topic I know well, it’s not always necessary. But as a freelancer, I tend to write about a variety of subjects when I’m working on comprehensive content and resource articles.
What Is A Resource Article?
Let’s be clear on what “resource article” means, for the purposes of this post. Linkbait is linkbait is linkbait, but linkbait that also provides much more information for readers is a resource article. These articles are beneficial for numerous reasons:
- Provide readers with what they’re really looking for.
- Evergreen for backlinks and traffic.
- Authority builders in search engine rankings.
One site that displays some of the best examples of resource articles is Smashing Magazine. Their articles go beyond list-based linkbait.
Content to Add
To build such resource articles, you need more than just text:
- Summaries, profiles, reviews.
- Links to other resources.
Organization of Content
Just slapping together this content isn’t enough. A good resource article has to be accessible. If it’s a big, dense list with lots of links but little explanation, it’s not a great resource, regardless of how good the articles linked to are. The whole package must be readable as well as be a quality reference. Information has to be organized in an easy to use manner.
How to Find Information
Finding the information you need for a good resource article can often be like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Many resource articles tend to be of the “20 Best WordPress Plugins” sort. Sometimes, the title might be provocative but the content is subjective. How do you decide what’s “best” or “top”? At some point, you have to apply your own rules. That doesn’t make finding information any easier. Here’s what I tend to do:
- Produce a list of synonyms. If I’m looking for “cars”, I’ll also check for “auto” and “vehicle”, or try more specific words such as “motorcycle” or “truck”.
- Search for “best”, “top”, “reasons”. E.g., “top reasons to buy a hatchback”, “best car makers”. So depending on what I’m trying to write, I’ll search for what others have already done. If I can incorporate their content (giving credit where necessary), I will.
- Use search operators: AND, OR, inurl:, site:, etc., depending on which search engine use. Doing “complex” searches shorten the amount of searching you need to do.
- Use blog directories: Technorati, Google Blogsearch. This increases the chances of finding recent references, compared to using a standard search engine.
- Use Google Alerts. If you write about a topic regularly, it’s worth setting up a Google Alert. Snippets of recently indexed content will be delivered to your email box. Just note that this is no guarantee that the indexed content was published on the day you received the alert, so check publication date.
- Use custom news feeds. Google News or Yahoo News. Both allow you to enter a complex search query and then use the dynamically-generated RSS feed in a feed reader. I sometimes run these feeds through a custom Yahoo Pipe.
- Use image search. Google Image Search is very handy, though make sure you respect copyrights.
- Use video search. Look for video using Google Video Search (which goes beyond YouTube and Google Video).
- Use niche databases. Of course, it depends on what you’re looking for, but there are niche databases out there that can be extremely valuable. One example is IMDB, the movie and TV database.
Using these resources and techniques makes it easier to produce quality resource articles.