[This article is originally published in programs.online.utica.edu - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

For today's students, research methods are less about libraries and more about what can be found on laptops. A Pew Internet study reveals that 94 percent of teachers find students are most likely to use Google as their primary research tool and three-quarters of teachers witness students turning to Wikipedia for information.

The wealth of Internet information available is both a blessing and curse for student researchers. For every authoritative peer-reviewed journal, there are an equal amount of poorly developed, inaccurate content farms. The same Pew study also found that teacher’s estimate only 40 percent of students can accurately judge the quality of online research information as many are unaware of the benefits of utilizing advanced research techniques to navigate search engines and databases to find the best resources.

Quality Sources Are Everything

Students can find a multitude of websites offering information that may sound good but offer little in the way of legitimacy. The source of the information can help determine its accuracy, depth, and integrity. Wikipedia can be a useful starting point to gather general knowledge on a topic but it tends to go against the research principle of finding primary resources. As a melting pot of secondary information, Wikipedia runs the risk of providing errors.

Blogs can render mixed results of information; while some offer excellent insight and original research data, others are driven by the commercial interest of their associated organizations. For students seeking the best primary resources, consider information from peer-reviewed journals, government agencies, or reputable news publications. Scientific databases offer specialized information on research topics, which can make finding information easier but may also require students to look elsewhere to expand in an unbiased manner on topics.

Quality Resources to Launch Search Efforts

At the heart of academic-worthy resources, students will find the most accurate, comprehensive information. These resources focus on peer-reviewed studies and government-funded efforts while also seeking to bring public online access to published works found in brick-and-mortar libraries.

Library of Congress

The wealth of quality information offered by the Library of Congress is unparalleled. Its collection based in the nation’s capital provides thousands of resources online for students. The online Library of Congress is an excellent starting point to find book titles for specialized topics. Use the online librarian tool for extra guidance.

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)

This digital library centers on educational research. Use the Education Resources Information Center database’s advanced search tool to narrow down keywords, publication type, and education level to find educational literature from 1966 to the present.

PubMed

PubMed is provided by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. It gives access to millions of full-text articles as well as abstracts by NIH-funded projects and other free content. Topics archived in PubMed focus on the biomedical field.

BioMed Central

Another excellent resource for peer-reviewed information on life sciences is BioMed Central. This publisher provides free access to all articles. Journals featured in BioMed Central are categorized to help researchers better determine the primary source of the information.

Scirus

Using a simplistic interface, Scirus is a research database offering advanced search options that enable resource arrangement by publication date, information type, file format, journal source, and subject matter. Scirus combs through half a billion online scientific resources to find scholarly articles and reports.

Using Google for Good

While it’s easy to find poor research at the top of Google’s search results, students can use a few techniques to weed out the bad and allow specialized, authoritative resources to rise to the top.

Employing Google search operators is like a keyboard shortcut to advanced search results:

  • ::  A tilde (~) in front of a word will render a search for common synonyms.
  • ::  An asterisk (*) enables Google to fill in the blank for an unknown, tip-of-the-tongue word.
  • ::  Quotation marks allow the search for an exact phrase, which can be convenient to find a study title.

Google Scholar operates like a database that pulls specialized literature from their main engine to provide bibliographical information and links to peer-reviewed research. The database also shows how frequently users have cited an article. The scholar does not guarantee access to articles on research topics that are subscription-based. However, Google Scholar conveniently offers advanced search options based on publication date and shows related articles to further enhance research.

Writing Resources:

Applying the APA writing style to your written assignments.

APA Style Guide Website     http://www.apastyle.org/
APA Style Tutorial http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
6th Edition Tutorial http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/whatsnew/index.htm

Useful Videos:

For students using Online Utica courses to expand their knowledge and increase their marketability in their chosen fields, effective research is a necessary building block for success. Let the credentialed instructors of Utica College’s Employer-trusted programs demonstrate how advanced research techniques can positively impact students’ futures.

Categorized in Search Techniques

[This article is originally published in eurekalert.org - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jasper Solander] 

Security researchers at UC San Diego and Stanford have discovered four new ways to expose Internet users' browsing histories. These techniques could be used by hackers to learn which websites users have visited as they surf the web.

The techniques fall into the category of "history sniffing" attacks, a concept dating back to the early 2000s. But the attacks demonstrated by the researchers at the 2018 USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT) in Baltimore can profile or 'fingerprint' a user's online activity in a matter of seconds, and work across recent versions of major web browsers.

All of the attacks the researchers developed in their WOOT 2018 paper worked on Google Chrome. Two of the attacks also worked on a range of other browsers, from Mozilla Firefox to Microsoft Edge, as well as various security-focused research browsers. The only browser which proved immune to all of the attacks is the Tor Browser, which doesn't keep a record of browsing history in the first place.

"My hope is that the severity of some of our published attacks will push browser vendors to revisit how they handle history data, and I'm happy to see folks from Mozilla, Google, and the broader World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) community already engage in this," said Deian Stefan, an assistant professor in computer science at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and the paper's senior author.

"History sniffing": smelling out your trail across the web

Most Internet users are by now familiar with "phishing;" cyber-criminals build fake websites which mimic, say, banks, to trick them into entering their login details. The more the phisher can learn about their potential victim, the more likely the con is to succeed. For example, a Chase customer is much more likely to be fooled when presented with a fake Chase login page than if the phisher pretends to be Bank of America.

After conducting an effective history sniffing attack, a criminal could carry out a smart phishing scheme, which automatically matches each victim to a faked page corresponding to their actual bank. The phisher preloads the attack code with their list of target banking websites, and conceals it in, for example, an ordinary-looking advertisement. When a victim navigates to a page containing the attack, the code runs through this list, testing or 'sniffing' the victim's browser for signs that it's been used to visit each target site. When one of these sites tests positive, the phisher could then redirect their victim to the corresponding faked version.

The faster the attack, the longer the list of target sites an attacker can 'sniff' in a reasonable amount of time. The fastest history sniffing attacks have reached rates of thousands of URLs tested per second, allowing attackers to quickly put together detailed profiles of web surfers' online activity. Criminals could put this sensitive data to work in a number of ways besides phishing: for example, by blackmailing users with embarrassing or compromising details of their browsing histories.

History sniffing can also be deployed by legitimate, yet unscrupulous, companies, for purposes like marketing and advertising. A 2010 study from UC San Diego documented widespread commercial abuse of previously known history sniffing attack techniques before these were subsequently fixed by browser vendors.

"You had internet marketing firms popping up, hawking pre-packaged, commercial history sniffing 'solutions', positioned as analytics tools," said Michael Smith, a computer science Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and the paper's lead author. The tools purported to offer insights into the activity of their clients' customers on competitors' websites, as well as detailed profiling information for ad targeting--but at the expense of those customers' privacy.

"Though we don't believe this is happening now, similar spying tools could be built today by abusing the flaws we discovered," said Smith.

New attacks

The attacks the researchers developed, in the form of JavaScript code, cause web browsers to behave differently based on whether a website had been visited or not. The code can observe these differences--for example, the time an operation takes to execute or the way a certain graphic element is handled--to collect the computer's browsing history. To design the attacks, researchers exploited features that allow programmers to customize the appearance of their web page--controlling fonts, colors, backgrounds, and so forth--using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), as well as a cache meant to improve to the performance of web code.

The researchers' four attacks target flaws in relatively new browser features. For example, one attack takes advantage of a feature added to Chrome in 2017, dubbed the "CSS Paint API", which lets web pages provide custom code for drawing parts of their visual appearance. Using this feature, the attack measures when Chrome re-renders a picture linked to a particular target website URL, in a way invisible to the user. When a re-render is detected, it indicates that the user has previously visited the target URL. "This attack would let an attacker check around 6,000 URLs a second and develop a profile of a user's browsing habits at an alarming rate," said Fraser Brown, a Ph.D. student at Stanford, who worked closely with Smith.

Though Google immediately patched this flaw--the most egregious of the attacks that the researchers developed--the computer scientists describe three other attacks in their WOOT 2018 paper that, put together, work not only on Chrome but Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer but on Brave as well. The Tor Browser is the only browser known to be totally immune to all the attacks, as it intentionally avoids storing any information about a user's browsing history.

As new browsers add new features, these kinds of attacks on privacy are bound to resurface.

A proposed defense

The researchers propose a bold fix to these issues: they believe browsers should set explicit boundaries controlling how users' browsing histories are used to display web pages from different sites. One major source of information leakage was the mechanism which colors links either blue or purple depending on whether the user has visited their destination pages, so that, for example, someone clicking down a Google search results page can keep their place. Under the researchers' model, clicking links on one website (e.g., Google) wouldn't affect the color of links appearing on another website (e.g., Facebook). Users could potentially grant exceptions to certain websites of their choosing. The researchers are prototyping this fix and evaluating the trade-offs of such a privacy-conscious browser.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Search engines are an intrinsic part of the array of commonly used “open source” research tools. Together with social media, domain name look-ups and more traditional solutions such as newspapers and telephone directories, effective web searching will help you find vital information to support your investigation.

Many people find that search engines often bring up disappointing results from dubious sources. A few tricks, however, can ensure that you corner the pages you are looking for, from sites you can trust. The same goes for searching social networks and other sources to locate people: A bit of strategy and an understanding of how to extract what you need will improve results.

This chapter focuses on three areas of online investigation:

  1. Effective web searching.
  2. Finding people online.
  3. Identifying domain ownership.

1. Effective web searching

Search engines like Google don’t actually know what web pages are about. They do, however, know the words that are on the pages. So to get a search engine to behave itself, you need to work out which words are on your target pages.

First off, choose your search terms wisely. Each word you add to the search focuses the results by eliminating results that don’t include your chosen keywords.

Some words are on every page you are after. Other words might or might not be on the target page. Try to avoid those subjective keywords, as they can eliminate useful pages from the results.

Use advanced search syntax.

Most search engines have useful so-called hidden features that are essential to helping focus your search and improve results.

Optional keywords

If you don’t have definite keywords, you can still build in other possible keywords without damaging the results. For example, pages discussing heroin use in Texas might not include the word “Texas”; they may just mention the names of different cities. You can build these into your search as optional keywords by separating them with the word OR (in capital letters).

You can use the same technique to search for different spellings of the name of an individual, company or organization.

Search by domain

You can focus your search on a particular site by using the search syntax “site:” followed by the domain name.

For example, to restrict your search to results from Twitter:

To add Facebook to the search, simply use “OR” again:

You can use this technique to focus on a particular company’s website, for example. Google will then return results only from that site.

You can also use it to focus your search on municipal and academic sources, too. This is particularly effective when researching countries that use unique domain types for government and university sites.

Note: When searching academic websites, be sure to check whether the page you find is written or maintained by the university, one of its professors or one of the students. As always, the specific source matters.

Searching for file types

Some information comes in certain types of file formats. For instance, statistics, figures and data often appear in Excel spreadsheets. Professionally produced reports can often be found in PDF documents. You can specify a format in your search by using “filetype:” followed by the desired data file extension (xls for spreadsheet, docx for Word documents, etc.).

2. Finding people

Groups can be easy to find online, but it’s often trickier to find an individual person. Start by building a dossier on the person you’re trying to locate or learn more about. This can include the following:

  • The person’s name, bearing in mind:

    • Different variations (does James call himself “James,” “Jim,” “Jimmy” or “Jamie”?).
    • The spelling of foreign names in Roman letters (is Yusef spelled “Yousef” or “Yusuf”?).
    • Did the names change when a person married?
    • Do you know a middle name or initial?
  • The town the person lives in and or was born in.

  • The person’s job and company.

  • Their friends and family members’ names, as these may appear in friends and follower lists.

  • The person’s phone number, which is now searchable in Facebook and may appear on web pages found in Google searches.

  • Any of the person’s usernames, as these are often constant across various social networks.

  • The person’s email address, as these may be entered into Facebook to reveal linked accounts. If you don’t know an email address, but have an idea of the domain the person uses, sites such as email-format can help you guess it.

  • A photograph, as this can help you find the right person, if the name is common.

Advanced social media searches: Facebook

Facebook’s newly launched search tool is amazing. Unlike previous Facebook searches, it will let you find people by different criteria including, for the first time, the pages someone has Liked. It also enables you to perform keyword searches on Facebook pages.

This keyword search, the most recent feature, sadly does not incorporate any advanced search filters (yet). It also seems to restrict its search to posts from your social circle, their favorite pages and from some high-profile accounts.

Aside from keywords in posts, the search can be directed at people, pages, photos, events, places, groups and apps. The search results for each are available in clickable tabs.

For example, a simple search for Chelsea will find bring up related pages and posts in the Posts tab:

The People tab brings up people named Chelsea. As with the other tabs, the order of results is weighted in favor of connections to your friends and favorite pages.

The Photos tab will bring up photos posted publicly, or posted by friends that are related to the word Chelsea (such as Chelsea Clinton, Chelsea Football Club or your friends on a night out in the Chelsea district of London).

The real investigative value of Facebook’s search becomes apparent when you start focusing a search on what you really want.

For example, if you are investigating links between extremist groups and football, you might want to search for people who like The English Defence League and Chelsea Football Club. To reveal the results, remember to click on the “People” tab.

This search tool is new and Facebook are still ironing out the creases, so you may need a few attempts at wording your search. That said, it is worth your patience.

Facebook also allows you to add all sorts of modifiers and filters to your search. For example, you can specify marital status, sexuality, religion, political views, pages people like, groups they have joined and areas they live or grew up in. You can specify where they studied, what job they do and which company they work for. You can even find the comments that someone has added to uploaded photos. You can find someone by name or find photos someone has been tagged in. You can list people who have participated in events and visited named locations. Moreover, you can combine all these factors into elaborate, imaginative, sophisticated searches and find results you never knew possible. That said, you may find still better results searching the site via search engines like Google (add “site:facebook.com” to the search box).

Advanced social media searches: Twitter

Many of the other social networks allow advanced searches that often go far beyond the simple “keyword on page” search offered by sites such as Google. Twitter’s advanced search, for example, allows you to trace conversations between users and add a date range to your search.

Twitter allows third-party sites to use its data and create their own exciting searches.
Followerwonk, for example, lets you search Twitter bios and compare different users. Topsy has a great archive of tweets, along with other unique functionality.

Advanced social media searches: LinkedIn

LinkedIn will let you search various fields including location, university attended, current company, past company or seniority.

You have to log in to LinkedIn in order to use the advanced search, so remember to check your privacy settings. You wouldn’t want to leave traceable footprints on the profile of someone you are investigating!

You can get into LinkedIn’s advanced search by clicking on the link next to the search box. Be sure, also, to select “3rd + Everyone Else” under relationship. Otherwise , your search will include your friends and colleagues and their friends.

LinkedIn was primarily designed for business networking. Its advanced search seems to have been designed primarily for recruiters, but it is still very useful for investigators and journalists. Personal data exists in clearly defined subject fields, so it is easy to specify each element of your search.

You can enter normal keywords, first and last names, locations, current and previous employers, universities and other factors. Subscribers to their premium service can specify company size and job role.

LinkedIn will let you search various fields including location, university attended, current company, past company and seniority.

Other options

Sites like Geofeedia and Echosec allow you to find tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Flickr and Instagram photos that were sent from defined locations. Draw a box over a region or a building and reveal the social media activity. Geosocialfootprint.com will plot a Twitter user’s activity onto a map (all assuming the users have enabled location for their accounts).

Additionally, specialist “people research” tools like Pipl and Spokeo can do a lot of the hard legwork for your investigation by searching for the subject on multiple databases, social networks and even dating websites. Just enter a name, email address or username and let the search do the rest. Another option is to use the multisearch tool from Storyful. It’s a browser plugin for Chrome that enables you to enter a single search term, such as a username, and get results from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Spokeo. Each site opens in a new browser tab with the relevant results.

Searching by profile pic

People often use the same photo as a profile picture for different social networks. This being the case, a reverse image search on sites like TinEye and Google Images, will help you identify linked accounts.

3. Identifying domain ownership

Many journalists have been fooled by malicious websites. Since it’s easy for anyone to buy an unclaimed .com, .net or .org site, we should not go on face value. A site that looks well produced and has authentic-sounding domain name may still be a political hoax, false company or satirical prank.

Some degree of quality control can be achieved by examining the domain name itself. Google it and see what other people are saying about the site. A “whois” search is also essential. DomainTools.com is one of many sites that offers the ability to perform a whois search. It will bring up the registration details given by the site owner the domain name was purchased.

For example, the World Trade Organization was preceded by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT). There are, apparently, two sites representing the WTO. There’s wto.org (genuine) and gatt.org (a hoax). A mere look at the site hosted at gatt.org should tell most researchers that something is wrong, but journalists have been fooled before.

A whois search dispels any doubt by revealing the domain name registration information. Wto.org is registered to the International Computing Centre of the United Nations. Gatt.org, however, is registered to “Andy Bichlbaum” from the notorious pranksters the Yes Men.

Whois is not a panacea for verification. People can often get away with lying on a domain registration form. Some people will use an anonymizing service like Domains by Proxy, but combining a whois search with other domain name and IP address tools forms a valuable weapon in the battle to provide useful material from authentic sources.

 Source: This article was published verificationhandbook.com By Paul Myers

Categorized in Investigative Research

Whatever research you intend doing online you do have to start somewhere. The collection and collation of data require you to be organised. You must develop your own research techniques when online and stick to them.

Are you looking for info on…

  • data collection tools in research methodology
  • what are the disadvantages of online research
  • good online research tools
  • best internet research tips

Internet Research Techniques

Before starting any research on the internet you need to know some of the Pro’s and Con’s …

What are the advantages of doing internet research?

  • Ability to obtain a large sample, which increases statistical power
  • Ability to obtain a more diverse sample than in traditional university-based research
  • Prevents experimenter demand effects (with no interaction with the experimenter, no “experimenter expectancy” effect)

What are the disadvantages of doing internet research?

  • Some subjects may try to participant in the same study more than once
    1. To overcome this problem, you can ask for the email addresses of each participant and then look for duplicates.
    2. Since nowadays it's easy for people to create multiple email addresses, you can also ask for name and/or address of each subject. Sometimes researchers will have a “lottery” as incentive to participate (e.g., $100 lottery prize for each 400 participants), so asking for name/address is necessary to award the lottery check.
    3. You can also collect the IP address of each participant and look for duplicates. One issue here is that sometimes DSL providers give the same IP address to multiple people.
  • Some subjects may drop out of the study before finishing
    1. In traditional laboratory-based research its unusual for a subject to walk out of a study, but online a subject can get distracted or simply lose interest and end the study. Sometimes researchers will have a “lottery” as incentive to have the subject participate in the study, but with any type of monetary incentive IRB’s typically require a statement in the consent form saying something to the effect of “you may discontinue participation at any time without any consequences or losing your entry in the lottery.”
    2. Since a certain number of online subjects won't finish the study, you can over-collect the number of subjects you think you need to offset the number of subjects who don't finish the study, usually around 10-20%.
  • Some subjects may stop the study and then continue minutes/hours later
    1. The problem here is that some studies involve manipulations which may lose power if there is a time lag between the manipulation and measures in the study. One advantage of online studies is that you can record how long the subject is taking part in the study, so you can identify the average length of time of your study, and also identify those subjects who take an extrordinary long amount of time to finish the study.

 

 

Categorized in Online Research

Small business market research is a tough game.

If you Google “how to do market research,” you’ll come across a long list of tactics that are hard to use on a small business budget. Market research surveys and questionnaires, focus groups, competitive intelligence, SWOT analysis, and structured interviews. The list goes on.

If you dig further into market research techniques, you could quickly find yourself reading about the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, or even statistical sampling methods.

All of those market research techniques have their place. But when you’re wondering how to do market research for small business, you aren’t thinking about complicated statistical models or big budgets.

Market research firms sometimes run massive surveys and international focus groups. You might not have a way to reach 100,000 people with a survey, or the resources to set up multiple focus groups.

But there are still small business market research tools that work. Conducting market research for a new business or a small business can require some creativity.

But with the right tactics you can do affordable or even free market research that gets you the insights you need for your business.

How can market research benefit a small business owner?

At this point you may be wondering: why do you need market research? Small businesses already have a lot of day-to-day operations to deal with.

It’s hard to make time to do market research for small business—especially if you also need to learn how to do market research in the first place.

But if you don’t periodically check in with your audience, you could be leaving business and revenue on the table without ever knowing.

There are many benefits of market research for small business, but a short list would include:

  • Helping you create more compelling marketing materials
  • Identifying more targeted niches interested in your company
  • Suggesting ideas for new products or services based on pain points
  • Minimizing the risk of bad positioning that costs you leads without you knowing
  • Giving you early updates on industry trends before they become widespread

Simply put, effective market research helps you get inside your customers’ heads.

When you need to conduct market research on a tight budget, it can be tricky to find the techniques and market research tools that give the best value for the time and cost investment.

This article covers how to do market research for small business, using eight of our favorite affordable market research techniques.

1. Quora: How to use Quora for market research

Quora is a social media platform based on questions and answers. On Quora, users can submit questions on any topic they like, as well as answer questions related to their expertise.

Getting started with Quora is easy: the platform guides you through the process and immediately prompts you to select your areas of interest.

Getting started with Quora

Setting up your Quora profile will let you get notified when questions are tagged with the topics you select. That makes it simple way to see what burning questions your audience is asking.

And because Quora orders its answers based on voting, you can also see which solutions they think are the most valuable.

For that reason, Quora market research can be a great method of collecting information on customer pain points. In market research for small business, free public questions from your audience is hard to beat.

If it fits into your marketing plan, you can also consider putting some effort into answering Quora questions. Repurposing your blog posts as part of a Quora marketing strategy can increase their reach and visibility.

2. Reddit: How to use Reddit for market research

Reddit bills itself as “the front page of the internet,” and for good reason—Alexa ranks Reddit as the eighth most trafficked website in the world and the fifth most trafficked in the United States.

Reddit contains a wide variety of communities, linked content, original content, and memes. But among cat videos and adorable gifs, there are some surprisingly insightful conversations—discussions that are a gold mine for small business market research.

Reddit is organized into “subreddits,” which are communities focused on specific topics. Finding subreddits based on your industry is a good way to mine for pain points—and discover your audience’s candid thoughts.

Anonymity means that redditors are often willing to share things they wouldn’t normally talk about in person. Reading discussion threads or even asking questions yourself can help you get insights from specific niches.

For example, if you run a fitness business and need to know how to do market research, you’ll find that are quite a few opportunities to conduct customer research on reddit. Subreddits like /r/fitness, /r/loseit, /r/gainit, /r/bodybuilding, /r/running, and /r/bodyweightfitness serve different communities, and people often share their successes and struggles.

Reddit can also be helpful for tracking down a very narrow segment of a larger population. A subreddit like /r/griptraining is the very definition of niche—but if you run a rock climbing or powerlifting gym it could have valuable insights from your target audience.
Reddit market research

Navigating Reddit can be a little tricky for new users. But once you figure it out, it’s a powerful tool to do market research for small business.

3. Book reviews: How to use Amazon book reviews for market research

This market research technique is a little bit unusual—but it’s all the more powerful because of how few people think of it.

When you need to conduct market research on a tight budget, you need to get creative. Book reviews offer a wealth of information, sometimes incredibly detailed and specific, that few people are taking advantage of.

Amazon book review

Amazon reviews are public, and you probably have some idea of the most important or popular books in your field. Even if you don’t, Amazon charts are also freely available—it’s easy to find out what people are reading.

Once you’ve tracked down some popular books, take a look at the reviews. Amazon lets you easily sort reviews by how positive they are and how helpful they are, so you can dive in at whatever point you like.

Positive reviews will be helpful because they can help you understand what people are benefiting from.

Negative or lukewarm reviews can be even more helpful because there’s a chance they call out needs or burning pains that the book didn’t answer—which may represent unmet needs your business can take advantage of.

4. Surveys: How to use a survey for market research

When most people think of using a survey to do market research for small business, they think of a massive effort that goes out to thousands and thousands of customers.

No, you probably don’t have thousands and thousands of customers that will respond to a survey. And there are some types of survey research that really do require those kinds of numbers.

But there are others that don’t. And those are the kind you can focus on as you learn how to do market research for your small business.

Setting up surveys that get sent to customers after a sale can help you get a sense of how satisfied they are and what needs led them to make a purchase.

Similarly, you can set up surveys that go out to people that didn’t make a purchase. What prevented them from buying? What might have caused them to make a different decision?

Even if you only ask those two survey questions, the answers can help you make adjustments for the next time around.

As a bonus, this type of small business market research is easy to automate.

Setting up automation that trigger based on purchase or lack of purchase is easy to do with marketing automation software. Set up survey questions once, then focus on other parts of your small business while the results come in.

5. Facebook groups: How to use Facebook for market research

Using Facebook for market research
Facebook has risen up as one of the major community building platforms for business. Type your industry into Facebook search and you’re bound to find a variety of related groups.

Some Facebook groups will be run by other business owners, others are simply people interested in the same topics. Regardless, reading through the conversations and questions asked in Facebook groups can be a valuable source of market research.

When you’re using Facebook for market research, you have a few options.

Simply reading through existing conversations is a great way to get started. Even though names on Facebook aren’t private, people are often more willing to share their goals or frustrations within a relatively private group.

Once you’ve observed for a while and understand a group’s tone and social norms, you can start to participate. Becoming a member of a group and engaging in discussions can be a great way to ask questions and go beyond surface level insights.

You wouldn’t do this on another business’s page, and you have to be careful about spamming in general, but Facebook groups can also help you get participants for a market research survey.

As you get more comfortable with how to do market research on Facebook, sharing a link to a survey can help you gather quantitative market research data.

As a free platform with over two billion monthly active users, Facebook can be a powerful way to do market research for small business.

6. Competitors: How to use competitor analysis for market research

Chances are you’re not the only business in your niche. How are the most popular websites in your industry trying to appeal to your audience?

How can you tell which content is the most popular or successful? Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find the most shared content on a particular topic.

Buzzsumo market research

A tool like SEMrush can tell you which content ranks the highest in search engines. Both are good ways to identify potentially high-value topics.

Beyond content, look at the other marketing materials your competitors put out. What kind of messaging are they using on their website? How are they creating cross-sell and upsell opportunities? What does their team look like—who’s actually doing their marketing?

As you grow your business, this kind of information becomes more useful. There’s no guarantee that your competitors are doing everything the best way—but seeing how they are managing their business can spark ideas to improve your own.

To do this kind of research, collect all of the info your competitors make publicly available. Comb through their website and about page, download flyers and brochures, and check out the events they attend.

Make absolutely sure you get on their email list, so you can see what kind of messages they like to send.

It’s worth taking competitor research with a grain of salt. Again, there’s no guarantee that competitors have done the level of customer research you’re looking for. Still, looking at competitor messaging is a useful way to infer the features and benefits that matter to your audience.

Competitor research isn’t a substitute for contacting your audience directly, but it can be a good starting point to figure out what kind of content is popular in your niche.

7. Behavior and analytics: How to use data for market research

It’s one thing to know what customers say they want. In any industry, professionals know that customers don’t always know how to solve their problems. Sometimes there’s a better question to ask for market research.

What do they actually do?

Tracking behavior on your website or engagement with your emails and messages is a great way to see which of your marketing efforts are most popular—and can help you adjust your marketing in the future.

Google Analytics is one powerful tool that can show you exactly how people engage with your website.
Google Analytics behavior tracking

What are content topics the most popular? Make more content on those topics. Which pages have the best conversion rates? Direct more traffic to those pages. Your content marketing is also a source of information about your audience.

Combining website tracking with marketing automation can take things to the next level.

Marketing automation software can track email opens, link clicks, behavior on websites, replies/forwarding—and use those insights to automatically follow up with customers on what they care about most.

Of all the affordable small business market research techniques on this list, data is the most actionable. Analytics let you go from insight to action almost instantly—and sometimes automatically.

8. Ask your audience: How to use interviews for market research

Even though people don’t always say quite what they mean, there’s no substitute for direct, one-on-one conversations with your audience.

A market research interview allows a free conversation that leads to deeper insights than a survey or written answers. If you can get people to open up, you’ll be rewarded by detailed information about their pain points, struggles, and successes.

The style of the interview is less important than getting interviews done. You can do phone interviews, in-person interviews, even email interviews—and still get actionable insights.

The lessons you learn from talking to even 10 customers can change your business strategy, marketing, or client service. The ability to speak to customers using their own language is like a marketing superpower. Customer interviews are the way to do it.

Entire businesses can be built on what your customers tell you. When you listen to your audience, you get to the heart of what they care about—and no amount of online market research or survey data can tell you that as precisely as they can.

Conclusion: Use market research to get inside your customers’ heads

If your business grows, you’ll eventually want to consider the focus group, survey, statistical analysis, and market trends approach to market research.

Those methods can reveal insights that are hard to find using more affordable market research techniques.

If you need to understand market saturation or build a picture of how your pricing compares to the competition, you’ll eventually need to use some of the more traditional forms of market research.

But there’s value to doing market research before you have the budget for standard methods. Getting in touch with your customers’ needs can give you a huge edge as a small business.

Not a lot of people do market research for a small business like this. Most prefer to wait until they can hire someone to do it for them (or just ignore it entirely).

Because of that, these types of affordable market research techniques are a huge competitive advantage—one that lets you get inside the heads of your customers and offer them exactly what they want to buy.

 Source: This article was published activecampaign.com By Benyamin Elias

Categorized in How to

The online lead generation has become a vital sales strategy for businesses, especially in the B2B sector. With the rise of the digital age, businesses are opting for advanced and efficient methods to generate online sales leads.

This process of online generated is carried out by marketers before it is passed on over to sales. With new techniques and strategies being developed rapidly, it is hard to determine the best performing strategies.

There are numerous online lead generation strategies and tips available on the web to boost sales. The following are the 10 best online lead generation strategies that have proved to be successful-

1.Email Marketing

Emailing is an extremely efficient and flexible medium that provides access to any number of prospects who are otherwise inaccessible. Direct email can be used for various purposes such as to sell products, generate sales leads, follow-ups, keep in touch with customers, referral marketing etc. You are able to consistently present every benefit or your product or service. You can contact prospects who are everywhere at any time. Reaching the right set of prospects with the right message and the right offer is the key to a successful lead generation campaign. The most important aspect of any online lead generation campaign, especially email campaign, is the number of sales inquiries it generates.

Source: MarketingWizdom.com

ImageSource: DigitalMarketingPhilippines

ImageSource: DigitalMarketingPhilippines.com

2.Website Lead Generation

A good website needs to be able to generate leads and not just attract traffic. Many websites are not designed to generate leads. They are mostly focused around propagating their products or services via brochures and banners. This makes the visitors passive. A good lead generation website needs to have a user-friendly description of your value proposition and provide information on the key problem or requirements that you can fulfill. Unless the visitor acquires this information upon visiting your page, they’ll go elsewhere. A lead generating website also needs to be easily accessible, provide valuable information, offers opportunities to sign up and provide contact information that easily accessible.

Source: Kyle-irving.co.uk

ImageSource: VTLDesign

ImageSource: VTLDesign.com

3.Automate Your Online Lead Generation

The online lead generation has given rise to various online lead generation tools and services. Using such lead generation tools and services saves a lot of time and resources and also help in acquiring qualified leads. Various web-based prospect and lead generation tools help mine qualified leads from various online sources. Such tools also provide you with lead management features where you will be able to edit, categorize and manage your leads in an organized manner. You can further automate this process by opting for advanced lead generation services. These prospect and lead generation services provide you with a processed list of qualified leads that is specifically built for you. This list contains leads with qualified contact details with email addresses and can be provided within 48 hours as per your requirements.

best lead generation tools | aeroleads

4.SEO, SEM, and PPC

Gabriel Shaoolian, the CEO & Founder of Blue Fountain Media says that generating leads through SEO and PPC is the best lead generation strategy for IT companies or B2B companies for the lowest cost per acquisition. He feels that way as whenever people require IT companies or IT services, a large majority of people search via Google. To capture these people, you need to increase the effectiveness of SEM and PPC campaigns. Brett Prince, President of Marketaire, says that his can be achieved by using long-tail keyword phrases. These keywords are highly targeted and drive targeted traffic due to their specificity, and they’re less competitive than related, shorter search terms, which tend to be higher in volume and more competitive. For SEO purposes, you need to focus on offering something informational or beneficial to the audience. You can rank faster and start generating traffic and leads once you identify your target keywords and create content around it.

Source: CIO.com

ImageSource: SearchEngineLand

ImageSource: SearchEngineLand.com

5.Online Lead Generation via Social Media

As per the report of Global Digital Statistics, Stats and Facts, social media is one of the most effective sources of lead generation. Social media is a very important channel not only in engaging or connecting with your targeted audiences, but it has evolved into a new digital marketing culture that has a strong influence on consumers’ buying behavior. Forbes indicates that up to two-thirds of the top sales experts in the world categorize social media as an important lead generation and sales channel. Another market research expert, Chadwick Martin Bailey, reported that up to 67% of twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are most likely to purchase based on recommendations from the brands they follow or their followers. This is the impact of social media on lead generation and sales. As per the report on US Social Network Ad Revenues by eMarketer, revenues are expected to go up exponentially through social media.

Source: DigitalMarketingPhilippines.com

Image Source:

Image Source: BMA Carolinas

6.Landing Pages

Landing pages which are created around the intention of online lead generation have a very specific purpose. Such pages are used to capture user data such as email addresses, names, phone numbers etc. Their only purpose is to collect such information so that it is available to you later to market your product or services to them. Acend2‘s  landing page optimization page survey reveals that 93% of respondents said increasing conversion rates is one of the most important objectives of a landing page strategy. Improving lead quality came in second at 58%. Landing page visitors are specifically directed to a page from a social media page, an email, a paid ad or similar source of traffic. These visitors are not coming to the page blind, and they expect it to be consistent with the content that brought them there. According to Marketo, you can make your landing page copy and CTAs clear and direct by going through these 4 steps: 1. Set up the problem, 2. Talk about the solution, 3. Point out the WIFM (what’s in it for me), 4. Deliver the goods.

Source: Digioh.com

ImageSource: DCDAgency

ImageSource: DCDAgency.com

7.White Papers or E-Books

This is one of the most common and successful online lead generating techniques. This lead generation technique works on the simple principle of give and take. White papers or E-Books can help in establishing credibility and generating leads. These downloadable can be offered on your website or be distributed through third party services. For the website visitor to obtain such downloadables, registering with an email id must be necessary in order to generate leads. Such downloadables also make a great PPC offering. A variation on the white paper is the e-book. Typically longer than a white paper, it serves a similar function. If you e-book goes into great depth on a subject, it can generate a great deal of buzz and establish your reputation and help boost your online lead generation campaign.

Source: HingeMarketing.com

ImageSource:

8.Online Lead generation via Blogs

Online lead generation is all about engaging your website visitor with content. Blogging is such a phenomenon that is all about sharing great content with your website visitors. Offering content that helps readers solve their business problems or provide some value will have them coming back and share your site with other people. Blogging isn’t as instant as some of the other suggestions but is very beneficial in the long run. You can have dedicated members from your team to write such valuable and insightful content that helps readers. This should be a good way to get a lot of posts written fairly quickly. Once you get the ball rolling, you can reduce to around 2-3 blogs per week.

Source: CoBloom.com

ImageSource: WrittenT

ImageSource: Writtent.com

9.Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is a revolutionary way to spread awareness of your business. Offering free trials, freemium versions and free credits are good ways to start online lead generation via growth hacking. You can make this valuable and addictive element of your website accessible to a larger audience by sharing and inviting new users which will expand your leads tremendously in a short span of time. Whether it be free credits for use of a particular plug-in or a queue jump of some kind, create a simple problem with a simple solution. The best aspect of growth hacking is that it is more so an inbound lead generation technique as you get the people to do the work for you. People will spread the word about your value offering and gradually, more and more people will come to your site, which provides an opportunity for more leads.

Source: WhoIsVisiting.com

ImageSource: StartUpNation

ImageSource: StartUpNation.com

10.Webinars for Online Lead generation

Webinars are the best ways to engage your audience and in turn, provides an opportunity for an online lead generation. When you host a webinar, you can reach a new audience of people interested in your topic. They may not know much about your brand yet, but they probably know that they’re interested in the webinar subject. Once your webinar event concludes, make sure to continue to nurture your leads with appropriate follow-up content. Thank them for attending, send them more relevant articles or downloadable resources, invite them to your next event, and survey them regarding their experience. Webinars provide information to attendees that your potential customers can actually use. You can increase your event’s draw if you partner with an industry influencer to promote or co-host your event. That way, your influencer can advertise the webinar to their audience, introducing more of them to you in the process.

Source: Business2Community.com

ImageSource: ReadyTalk

ImageSource: ReadyTalk.com

Online lead generation needs to be done consistently and always ensure you monitor your campaigns. Analyzing the progress of your various online lead generation campaigns can help you improve your campaigns.

Comment below and share your insights on online lead generation.

 Source: This article was published aeroleads.com By Vedh Jagadish

Categorized in Online Research

Lead generation is one of the most, if not most, important functions a successful business has to master in order to survive and thrive. Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and cold prospects into warning qualified leads who are potential candidates for making a purchase of your product or service offering.  For a business to survive it needs a continuous stream of new potential customers. A lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form. Whenever a cold prospect shows an interest in your business, it’s the prospect that’s initiating the relationship with you, rather than you, the business, initiating the relationship with the prospect. This makes it easier and more natural for the prospect to want to make a purchasing decision from you somewhere down the line.

This article covers 10 of easy to implement and ideal ways you can create potential customers for your business starting today.

What is a sales lead?

qualified lead with purchasing intent is a potential buyer of an item or service. A lead is generated for your business when an individual or business demonstrates an interest in your product or service and in turn for something of value provides their contact information. This value proposition is what we call a sales hook. A qualified lead is vital to your business being able to eventually generate revenue and profit and is done by matriculating the lead through your sales funnel pathways. A successful business should have a well-defined lead generation strategy in order to procure the best quality leads, at the lowest price, which has intent to make a purchasing decision at a later date. Business’s engaged in lead generation activities can generate qualified leads any number ways, such as online advertising, social media promotions, trade shows, email, as well as numerous other marketing techniques. The list of potential lead generation techniques is endless and only bound by one’s creativity.

Look at it this way, if you generate more leads, but only have an average product, you still win! This is because leads mean more revenue for your business. And revenue means there’s the potential for more profit.

How to generate leads online?

Nowadays to generate leads online has become a lot easier due to the availability and multitude of online platforms and channels. For example, social media provides an excellent communication conduit for promoting and engaging your brand with consumers by directly connecting with them anywhere in the world. It’s almost a given that your business must have an established brand presence on social media channels as well as a clean and modern website that leads can easily find and review the products or services you’re offering. Given this, it’s easy to understand that online promotional activities are one of the best lead generation techniques in modern marketing.

The following are ten lead generation techniques that you might consider incorporating into your marketing mix.

target leads with content marketing

1. Target Leads through Content Marketing

By now, it should be obvious that content marketing is one of the staples behind driving quality web traffic to your website in an effort generate consistent leads that will eventually turn into sales. The more focused your content marketing is on solving pain points of your targeted audience, the more likely those website visitors will be likely become loyal consumers of your brand’s product or service. Your content marketing efforts must focus on one thing and one thing only which is providing value to your target audience in the form of tips, tricks, how to’s, and more. If you remember to focus on solving your target audience’s pain point on every content article you carefully craft, you will eventually find success in generating well-qualified leads. High-quality content can also be a benefit for your business as it will draw more attention to your site from influencers and others within your industry in the form of backlinks. Backlinks are one of the most important aspects in getting your content and website ranked on the first page of Google’s Search Results Page (SERPs). Be sure to add relevant pictures, video, and infographics to expand the reach and engagement of the article, as well as give your target audience a more visual way to absorb your content (not everyone learns the same way so mix it up to appeal to more than one type of learning pathway). By allowing our site visitors to self-discover your interesting tips, event, how to, or news interest piece, will help to establish your authority and brand presence in your given niche.

target leads on forums for lead generation boost to your website

2. Be Active in Discussions and Forums

Potential clients are everywhere throughout the world and they’re most active on all discussion sites also better known as forums. Forum users will discuss any and all issues related to a business’s product or service. Forum users are there most of the time posting about these issues in order to interact with other skilled people who can help them. This is the place your organization can provide solutions to these problems as well as keeping your brand center stage with them. This is the one best lead generation techniques you can use that doesn’t cost money. All you have to do is search the forum discussion boards and have an active presence on them and make sure you’re timely in responding to inquiries on a consistent basis.

use quora for lead generation

3. Connect with People through Quora

Quora has been proven as one of the best lead generation techniques you can use to actively engage with consumers and answer their questions regarding your product or service. What makes Quora an excellent lead generation technique is that it connects you with your target consumers in a question and answer format. As an online advertiser, you can make a profile and answer questions and can interact with the people in need. It’s a good platform to generate sales leads and very helpful in the b2b lead generation side.

The purpose of Quora is to connect skilled individuals and company’s who have the information and skill sets with those who seek it. The focus is on uniting individuals with varying points of view in an effort to diversify one’s way of thinking and/or learning on any given subject. Quora provides everyone with a chance to share their insight and unique perspective they may have gained from practical application and experience. You can easily participate in this knowledge sharing social media platform and promote your business without spending a dime. Additionally, you will get first-hand experience and knowledge in order to know and understand your target audience’s pain points and how to provide them with a solution which will amplify your lead generation efforts many times over.

lead generation tip share videos on social media sites

4. Share Videos on Social Media Sites

Sharing videos on social sites is one of the best lead generation techniques that doesn’t require capital to begin doing. There is the number of web-based social networking platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so forth, each having a unique way to engage with your target audience. YouTube is the most popular social channel for sharing video content. YouTube isn’t only a video sharing site; it’s also the 2nd largest search engine behind Google. This social platform allows your organization to create and maintain your own channel where you can share recordings with respect to specific occasions and events, instructional based videos, and just about anything you cant think of. This will help your company stay in front of your rivals which helps in your lead generation activities to procure new and ongoing sales leads. All you have to do is create a video, add it to your channel and share the simple, concise and easy to digest product videos in order to attract new leads that will eventually land on your company’s website.

website optimization for increased lead generation

5. Optimize your Website

The leads you obtain are only as good as the website that produces them. If you look at examples from some of the top converting lead generation sites, you can learn what and why works on that site and apply the same techniques to your website. As a general rule, there are general elements that should be found on every landing page you use, which includes: company phone number, short contact forms (example: full name & email), social proof in the form of customer testimonials, videos that directly speak to your audience, the use of powerful action verbs such as “get”, “feel” and “have”, with a consideration of your end-goal (get their contact information), and always test, test, and split test again. Additionally, you must follow the best on-page SEO techniques to ensure your content gets listed by the search engines.

lead generation tips for online audience discovery

6. Discover Your Target Audience through Social Media

The one thing you should take into consideration when using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is that you can showcase your brand in front your exact intended targeted audience. With the internet and social media, everyone is online 24/7 and using social media platforms consistently, with reports showing user averaging several hours per day. Thus it’s a platform where you can find the sales leads and by sharing the quality information lead generation can be done more easily.

With Facebook and Instagram leads are created by socio-economics, for example, age, sex, occupation, single, married, area, instruction, interests, with the sky being the only limit. Putting your capital resources to work in social communities may be one of the best methods to promote online, given the present market conditions.

lead generation get attention of the press and media

7. Catch the Attention of the Press

This old-school marketing tactic is one of the most reliable lead generation techniques. There are numerous reasons for including press releases as part of your overall marketing strategy, they can play a very powerful role in making your target audience take notice of your business. Simply put, your target audience can not conduct business with you if they do not know that your brand exists. This being the case, a press release can generate awareness of your brand.

When you launch a new product or service, one of the first things that should be done is to issue a press release informing the public of it. You have to provide the context as to what the main pain point is that your product or service solves. If you remember to answer the question, “Why should I care?” for both the journalist who will be reading your press release and the target audience interested in your niche, you will be able to get it in front of a large number of eyeballs which translates into web traffic.

Press release distribution platforms such as PRNewsWire will get you traffic from various local and national media houses. However, if you self-publish your press releases on your own website it will count towards your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts in order to drive free traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing

google adwords for lead generation

8. Use Google Adwords Paid Ads for Lead Generation

Using Google Adwords pay per click (PPC) online advertising model to generate qualified leads with intent is a great way to generate more leads for your business. No matter what industry and niche you are in, you can reach your target audience who are ready to buy from you on a daily basis based on understanding their search term patterns.

One of the main things you should focus on is your quality score which Google rewards advertisers who have a high enough score with a lower cost per click (CPC) and higher ad positions.

In order to improve your Adwords Quality Score (QS), you have to stop targeting junk keywords and try to increase your bid with match keyword phrases.

Remarketing also can increase your Quality Score, because you will be targeting people who have already shown interest in your product or service from a previous ad from the initial search query they performed.

It’s important to recognize the impact of mobile devices have on your Adwords advertising activities so that you can optimize your account accordingly. My past experience shows that it’s a lot easier to convert mobile users who click your ads, on both search networks or display networks, mostly due to the intimacy a mobile device provides. Just like we touched on earlier, make sure you optimize all of your landing pages, so that web visitors can easily find the information that they came to the page for or the action that you want them to take next.

lead generation tip public speaking

9. Public speaking as Lead Generation Technique

Another low or no cost lead generation technique is to give a keynote presentation at an event like trade shows, conferences, and business events. Talking on an occasion and introducing your brand instantly gives you name recognition, popularity, and acknowledgment as an authority leader in your given industry. This will actually raise you from the several different merchants or specialist co-ops attempting to get noticeable. What’s more, by catching up with individuals you meet at the event in a convenient manner, you remain in their mind. The people remember more what they have heard rather than what they have seen, thus making it an excellent method to generate leads and sales.

lead generation use seo for best lead gen activities

10. SEO (Best for Online Sales Lead Generation)

Google is continuously improving and changing which makes the search results more relevant and useful for the end user. Given that over 90% of all search result clicks are not paid advertisements gives us reason to invest significantly more resources and thought into SEO strategies than attempting to blackhat hack Google’s algorithms in order to rank quickly on the search engine results pages (SERPs) with techniques that will eventually get your site banned and forever delisted. A safe and sound approach you should take is focusing on longtail keyword phrases that your target audience conducts searches on. For example, whenever somebody enters a particular keyword phrase, your website could be listed at the top of search engine page for that particular keyword, given the competition is low enough and that you have high-quality content with a word count of at least 1500 nowadays. It is imperative that your website has solid on-page technicals for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to occur. This means before you worry about backlinks for authority sites in your space, you must focus on each pages content and structure.

To generate leads and sales you have to have a solid knowledge base SEO practices and tactics. After strictly following the best practices, SEO will be one of the best lead generation techniques that will bring a continuous stream of website traffic for years to come. If you are unsure of these best practices you can always hire an SEO agency to conduct search engine optimization in order to ensure best long-term results.

Conclusion

Now that you’re aware of top 10 Lead Generation Techniques to Increase Your Online Sales, you should start with the first technique, learn everything you can about it, prior to implementation. Once you build up your skill level in these techniques, it will be much easier for you to get optimum results and an increase in sales. These lead generation tactics are a few of the best methods for online advertising and are used by a majority of Digital Marketing experts and business owners around the world.

Source: This article was published marketingmediawizard

Categorized in Research Methods

By William Comcowich—Boolean search queries are a powerful and easy-to-use tool to improve your search results. This article will teach you how to use them.

Public relations measurement and marketing teams may subscribe to a media monitoring service to find mentions of their brands in news and social media. But many companies miss mentions because they aren’t using the best search strategies. Even worse, they may be inundated with irrelevant mentions about companies or brands with similar names in different industries.

The use of Boolean search queries can assure more accurate media monitoring results. It’s especially useful in eliminating extraneous results. Some PR and marketing folks may cringe when they hear they should use “Boolean,” thinking it’s some sort of geeky computer solution that’s beyond their skills. It’s not. The art of constructing Boolean search queries is actually quite easy to learn and master. Mainstream search engines like Google and Bing as well as social media monitoring services such as CyberAlert permit Boolean searches.

Boolean Search Terms Explained

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Simply put, Boolean search involves words like AND, OR, and NOT, and punctuation like parenthesis and quotes. In the Google search engines, the connecting words must be in all caps.

Simply put, Boolean search involves words like AND, OR, and NOT, and punctuation like parenthesis and quotes. In the Google search engines, the connecting words must be in all caps.

AND — Write AND between search terms to require the search results to include both words in any order. If you enter the search term Dove, you’ll see results for the bird, the soap, personal hygiene products, and a nonprofit foundation, among other unrelated results. Boolean search narrows results to your desired outcome. If you input Dove AND chocolate, you’ll receive results that contain both words, leading with Dove Chocolate.

OR — OR will produce results containing any of the words connected by OR. If placed between several words or phrases, results will display pages with one, several, or all of the words. You can use OR to search for nicknames, abbreviations, and common misspellings of your company and its products, as in Wal-Mart OR Wallmart OR Wally Mart. Including OR in queries is especially useful in social media, given the preponderance of abbreviations and misspellings.

NOT— Place NOT before a word to exclude the word from results. That’s a useful technique to eliminate irrelevant results. If your company name or other search term is identical to an unrelated term, perhaps another company in an unrelated industry, use NOT to exclude undesired results. The search term Volkswagen may not require NOT terms to eliminate unrelated results, but Lincoln certainly does. Example: Lincoln AND (auto OR car OR dealer OR etc.) AND NOT (president OR penny OR emancipation OR St. OR Ave.)

If you’re researching what consumers are saying about a product online, you can use NOT to exclude the company’s own online comments, since those results would skew research results. In some search engines, the minus sign replaces the word NOT.

Quotes and Dashes  — Use double quotation marks for searches for exact phrases. When you search without putting search terms in quotes, many results will be separated by other words, sometimes many other words. That may not be what you’re seeking. Placing the words in quotes will yield that exact phrase – and it that exact order, as in “Wal-Mart sucks” or “College of the Holy Cross”. Phrases can also be expressed in many search engines with dashes between words, as in University-of-Michigan.

Parenthesis — Parentheses group terms together so operators like AND and NOT can be applied to all the terms in the brackets. For instance, Dove AND chocolate AND NOT (soap OR lotion OR beauty) will exclude mentions of the beauty products.

NEAR— A proximity operator, NEAR returns results when two or more words are close to each other. You determine the maximum number of words separating the search terms. For instance, if you seek Dove within five words of “soft skin”, you would enter something like: Dove NEAR/5 “soft skin”. The NEAR operator helps narrow results when different brands are discussed in the same post.

In some applications, the tilde, the ~ sign on the top left of your keyboard, can be used as the proximity operator. Place quotation marks around the search terms and a number after the tilde to indicate the maximum number of words between the keywords. For instance, “Dove skin”~5 will return sites with those words separated by no more than five other words. Some of the major search engines do not support proximity operators.

Additional Filters — Many search engines and media monitoring systems allow you to apply additional filters based on geographic location, social media channels, language, and other factors.

Companies with difficult-to-search keywords or acronyms may wish to investigate the power of regular expressions (REX) to purge irrelevant search results. Used in addition to Boolean queries, REX statements can add greater specificity to a search query and permit even more precise search results. For example, REX statements can specify initial caps as in Orange, the French mobile phone service, thereby ignoring all mentions of orange with a lower case. Another REX statement specifies all caps as in acronyms (which is especially useful if your acronym is also a common word). Among many other capabilities, REX statements can also stipulate the number of times a keyword must appear in an article. REX statements often solve long-standing search problems. The major search engines don’t typically support REX statements. Among media monitoring services, CyberAlert can include a full range of REX statements in its client queries.

Corporate Functions

A Boolean query is mandatory for any acronym since most every three or four-letter acronym represents multiple organizations. Boolean queries are also very useful in sorting out clips for specific divisions, departments, or geographic areas. For example, legal would have a specific set of Boolean terms plus the corporate or brand names.

A query for legal threats of a bank, then, could be constructed as:

([Name of Bank] OR [Nicknames of Bank] OR [Stock Exchange Symbol] OR [Names of Executives]) AND (litigation OR legal-action OR legal-issue OR class-action OR lawsuit OR filed-suit OR charges OR trial OR subpoena OR inquiry OR examination OR probe OR investigation OR alleged OR deceptive OR fraud OR warning-letter OR lawyer OR attorney OR lobbyist OR money-laundering OR capital-requirements OR corporate-governance OR Securities and Exchange Commission OR SEC OR Federal-Deposit-Insurance-Corporation OR FDIC OR Federal Reserve Board OR Office-of-the-Comptroller-of- the-Currency OR Dodd-Frank OR stress-test OR settlement OR pact OR hacked OR customer-data OR data-loss OR credit-agency OR tax-evasion OR off-shore-accounts)

The same principle can be applied to countries. Combine AND with the name of the country to sort and deliver relevant clips to country managers. Boolean requires using foreign language terms for generic words if searching for clips from the foreign country.

Brands can use Boolean search techniques to search for problems and risks by using problem terms or terms that denote anger such as “sucks.” Thus, a complaint query would read: ([Name of Company] OR [Nicknames of Company] OR [Stock Exchange Symbol] OR [Names of Executives]) AND (sucks OR stinks OR useless OR lousy OR stupid OR worthless OR [etc.])

Bottom Line Boolean search queries can improve your media and social media monitoring results, uncover mentions of your brand and exclude irrelevant results.

 Source: This article was published painepublishing.com By William Comcowich

Categorized in Search Techniques

FILE - CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate Intelligence hearing during his nomination process, in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.

WASHINGTON — If this week’s WikiLeaks document dump is genuine, it includes a CIA list of the many and varied ways the electronic device in your hand, in your car, and in your home can be used to hack your life.

It’s simply more proof that, “it’s not a matter of if you’ll get hacked, but when you’ll get hacked.” That may be every security expert’s favorite quote, and unfortunately, they say it’s true. The WikiLeaks releases include confidential documents the group says exposes “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

The CIA has refused to confirm the authenticity of the documents, which allege the agency has the tools to hack into smartphones and some televisions, allowing it to remotely spy on people through microphones on the devices.

Watch: New Generation of Hackable Internet Devices May Always Be Listening

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WikiLeaks also claimed the CIA managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their officers to bypass the encryption on popular services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram.

For some of the regular tech users, news of the leaks and the hacking techniques just confirms what they already knew. When we’re wired 24-7, we are vulnerable.

“The expectation for privacy has been reduced, I think,” Chris Coletta said, “... in society, with things like WikiLeaks, the Snowden revelations ... I don’t know, maybe I’m cynical and just consider it to be inevitable, but that’s really the direction things are going.”

The internet of things

The problem is becoming even more dangerous as new, wired gadgets find their way into our homes, equipped with microphones and cameras that may always be listening and watching.

One of the WikiLeaks documents suggests the microphones in Samsung smart TV’s can be hacked and used to listen in on conversations, even when the TV is turned off.

Security experts say it is important to understand that in many cases, the growing number of wired devices in your home may be listening to all the time.

“We have sensors in our phones, in our televisions, in Amazon Echo devices, in our vehicles,” said Clifford Neuman, the director of the Center for Computer Systems Security, at the University of Southern California. “And really almost all of these attacks are things that are modifying the software that has access to those sensors so that the information is directed to other locations. Security practitioners have known that this is a problem for a long time.”

Neuman says hackers are using the things that make our tech so convenient against us.

“Certain pieces of software and certain pieces of hardware have been criticized because, for example, microphones might be always on,” he said. “But it is the kind of thing that we’re demanding as consumers, and we just need to be more aware that the information that is collected for one purpose can very easily be redirected for others.”

Tools of the espionage trade

The WikiLeaks release is especially damaging because it may have laid bare a number of U.S. surveillance techniques. The New York Times says the documents it examined layout programs called “Wrecking Crew” for instance, which “explains how to crash a targeted computer, and another tells how to steal passwords using the autocomplete function on Internet Explorer.”

Steve Grobman, chief of the Intel Security Group, says that’s bad not only because it can be done, but also because so-called “bad actors” now know it can be done. Soon enough, he warns, we could find our own espionage tools being used against us.

“We also do need to recognize the precedents we set, so, as offensive cyber capabilities are used ... they do give the blueprint for how that attack took place. And bad actors can then learn from that,” he said.

So how can tech-savvy consumers remain safe? Security experts say they can’t, and to remember the “it’s not if, but when” rule of hacking.

The best bet is to always be aware that if you’re online, you’re vulnerable.

Source: This article was published voanews.com By Kevin Enochs

Categorized in Online Research

What are your most effective sources for finding talent? Do you leverage job postings? Ask for employee referrals?

These are both successful ways to fill a position. In fact, each one can play an integral role in your recruiting.

The only downside is that they’re reactive. You have to wait for the talent to come to you, in hopes that the right candidate is among them.

What you need is the ability to aggressively seek and go after ideal candidates. You need to build an active pipeline to fill today’s requisitions, make connections for hard-to-fill roles, and prepare for future needs.

You need to be proactive.

Luckily, there are several sourcing techniques you can start leveraging right now:

Boolean Sourcing for Google

Boolean sourcing allows recruiters to search for candidate information from all over the web.

You can find resumes and cover letters that are stored within personal websites, job boards and social platforms by using a unique set of search commands.

These commands tell search engines exactly what you’re looking for, and help drill down your search results to reveal the candidates who truly align with your requisition.

Getting started with boolean sourcing is as simple as learning some basic commands. The following operators work best when used within Google.

OR The command OR will return results containing at least one of your specified keywords or phrases. For example, entering programmer OR developer OR engineer would produce results containing any of these terms but not necessarily all of them.
"" Use quotations to return sites containing the exact phrase you’re searching for. For example, the senior manager would return pages containing either of these keywords, but "senior manager" would only return pages containing that exact phrase.
- Use the minus or dash command "-" before a keyword to return pages that exclude that word. For example, if you searched "marketing -manager" your results would exclude any pages that contain the word manager.
* Use the asterisk (*) within your query to identify a placeholder or wildcard terms. For example "Master's degree in *" would return pages containing the phrase "Master's degree in Marketing," "Master's degree in Computer Science, " etc.
() Brackets are for grouping Boolean phrases, and are generally used in more complex search strings. For example, if you searched for (Engineer or "Software Developer")(CISCO OR Microsoft OR HP), your results would show pages containing any of your job title keywords that also contain one of the company keywords. This is a great combination for finding talent who has worked for one of your target competitors.
site: Use the command site: to search pages within a specific website. For example, search for Facebook profiles by entering site:facebook.com. Searching for site:facebook.com "web designers" Phoenix would return Facebook profiles containing both keywords Web Designer and Phoenix.


Use these basic commands to create more elaborate search strings and effectively find candidates through Google. By adding more criteria to your search queries, you can produce more relevant results and ultimately find the best candidates who align with your job.

Job Board Sourcing

You can also leverage most online job boards to proactively source your candidates. Look for the option to search or source the job board's resume database by using common keywords your prospects would use.

Social Sourcing

Leverage the social platforms where your prospects already spend a lot of their time. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook offer unique tools to proactively find your next great hire.

In March 2013, Facebook released Graph Search. It’s a free tool that allows anyone to use specific queries to search for individuals. Find people who work for a specific industry, near a special location or for a particular company.

Here is an example of a common Facebook Graph query:
Facebook Graph

Twitter is also a great tool for sourcing candidates. Use its search engine to identify professionals by specific keywords, phrases, and locations. The best part is that Twitter is an open network, so you’re free to connect with anyone.

You can also find candidates on LinkedIn by using the Boolean logic you’ve already learned. After you replace the italicized words with your keywords, enter this powerful search string into Google to return precise LinkedIn profiles:
site:linkedin.com "web designer" "location * Greater Phoenix Area"

Go After Your Talent

Identifying qualified candidates is the most critical part of the recruiting process. It can also be the most difficult—especially if you're waiting around for the right job seekers to apply. Instead, set yourself up for success by proactively finding them yourself.

But before you get started with methods like Boolean, job board, and social sourcing, make sure you have a clear understanding of the job you’re recruiting for and the keywords your prospects may use during their job search.

Knowing how your candidates describe themselves and which terms resonate with them will give you a head start on your proactive search for talent.

Initiate Conversation

When you finally find the candidates you’re looking for, connect with them! Send them a message about your available position and ask if they would be interested in the opportunity. For more tips on reaching out to candidates, read Candidate Sourcing: Get More Replies to Your Contact Emails.

Categorized in Research Methods
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