Top 10 Business Search Tips – 3rd November 2009

A group of business information researchers gathered at the London Chamber of Commerce in Queen Street, London for the TFPL workshop – facilitated by yours truly – on key web business resources. The participants were from a variety of types of organisations but they all had a mission to find out what business information was available for free or on a pay-as-you-go basis. We covered not only business information sites but also how to make better use of the advanced search features of the likes of  Google and Yahoo.

At the end of the day, the group was asked to come with a list of Top 10 Tips.

1. Biznar
A service from Deep Web Technologies that searches business databases and resources in real time. A list can be found on the Advanced Search screen. The search is not as quick as Google because Biznar has to visit each site live for each search, whereas Google searches stored copies of web pages. By default results are sorted by ‘rank’ but this can be changed to date, title or author. On the left hand side of the screen the results are automatically organised into folders on topics, authors, publishers, publications and dates, and you can narrow down your search by clicking on these options.

2. Alacrawiki Spotlights
The Alacra Spotlights section (at the top of the menu on the left hand side of the screen)  is a good starting point for evaluated sites and information on industry sectors. Note that although it is a wiki only Alacra can edit these pages.

Another good starting point for business information resources. Click on the Really Useful Links in the menu on the left hand side of the screen. The section on Cultural Issues was specifically mentioned.

4. Europages
B2B Directory covering 1.5 million pages from 35 countries. Browse by industry sector or search by keyword. You can further limit (refine) your search by countries, activity (manufacturer/producer, wholesaler, retailer) and workforce (banded number of employees).

5. Wayback Machine – The Internet Archive
For pages, sites and documents that have disappeared. Ideal for tracking down lost documents and seeing how organisations presented themselves on the Web in the past.

6. Blogpulse trends
Useful blog search tool that has a trends option, which shows how often your search terms have been mentioned in blog postings over time. This is useful for monitor competitors or industry intelligence to see what are the hot topics and when, and also to monitor what is being said about a product or company. Click on the peaks in the graph to see the postings.

7. Intute
An excellent starting point for anyone wanting to identify good starting points and quality resources on a wide range of subjects and industries.

8. Repeat your search terms
Fed up with the same old results popping up again and again? Just repeat one or more of your search terms one or more times to see different pages appearing in your results list.

9. Google ‘Show options’
A discrete link near the top of Google search results, it is not immediately obvious what it does. Click on it and a range of additional search options appear in a bar on the left hand side. See my blog posting Google new search and display options for further details.

10. D&B UK small business centre
Aimed at UK small businesses, this service provides affordable reports on the performance of companies. The competitor and supplier reports costs £7.50 and the customer and partner reports £15. Payment is by credit card. There are sample reports that show what information each report contains. You can monitor up to 50 businesses for free with the D&B tracker and be notified by email when there are significant changes. (You do have to pay for the full report, though). Personal note: I used this service a couple of years ago when refurbishing my house to check up on four double glazing companies on my short list. One of the four was immediately dropped when I saw the report. A few months later it was declared bankrupt.