OK, so you have a great topic ready to write about and now you need to research it out throughly. Creating an effective linkbait piece, one that actually makes people want to link to it, requires some decent researching skills. There is a ridiculous amount of information online just waiting for you, but some of that information may be just that…ridiculous.
The task then becomes figuring out which is the best to use and which needs to be ignored, when to look somewhere else and where that somewhere else is. Here are some ideas and techniques that can help facilitate your research both on and off the screen.
Subscribing to Google Alerts is similar to using a search engine, this alert system allows you to receive information on a search query of your choice as-it-happens, daily or weekly. If you are doing research that lasts more than a few days, this service will surely be an effective addition to your research. It is basically doing the work for you, all you have to do is delete it or look into it further. I use it for a number of different things and now Yahoo offers something as well.
Have a bunch of blogs or news feeds that update frequently? Don’t want to get your inbox slammed with alerts and headlines? Organize those subscriptions within a stand alone feed reader like Bloglines or Google Reader and check in once or twice a day to see what’s new. You may never get an idea from any of the feeds you subscribe to, but thats not a bad thing. Originality can be found by seeing what has already been done. Keep it Simple. Real simple…
When I discover an article, how-to or something of interest, I will always check out the comment section (if it has one). This is a valuable area that can hold lots of opinions and ideas, but like the actual articles themselves: some are helpful while others can be terribly unhelpful.
If the linkbait was a top ten whatever and several of the comments said so and so should have been on the list, then I am going to look deeper into that: so and so. Looking at comments can be a huge step in keeping current and listening to the voice of a number of people.
Books are always good sources to find information or to reference ideas from. Take a trip to the library. Pick up a magazine. Not only is it a good way to break up the online research by getting your brain thinking differently, but it also allows you to hold something and process it in a new light.
So your article is about the 72 best karate moves in the movies. Why not see if this has been done, do a search on Digg for it. This will show you how successful this was, if it was even done, and what is similar. This is a quick simple way to make sure you are keeping things fresh.
But what if it is out there? Throw a new spin on it. Think of how this information was presented and ask yourself how you would have changed it our made it better. What did they miss? Also, check those comments… you never know if the next comment down will spark and idea.
The trick with using Wikipedia is to not take it as the truth but to use it to narrow in on your research by using links, references and keywords. At the bottom of every article you can find references, these are the pages that were used to create the article. Often these links are from respected authorities so check them out. It is a starting point, not a finishing point.
Finally, I would suggest calling or emailing some people you know and asking them what they think about the topic. Sometimes you can get some valuable information or leads that can take you that much closer to where you want the piece to be. People, especially family and friends, usually like to help. Think even further than your circle of friends and family, is the piece about Hawaii? Call a travel agent that specializes in it. Or even the local chamber of commerce or visitor’s center. It is good to push things further than your comfort zone of researching.
What do you do when you are researching a linkbait or viral piece?
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