How to find data and statistics to write great articles

Writing a great article is always a challenge, but the most difficult and  time consuming part is finding interesting, credible, and relevant data.

Statistics, quotes, and facts not only add credibility and weight to the article, they  also make content interesting and share-worthy.

Plus, Google are now getting cleverer with their search algorithms and position pages in their search results based on the quality of the content. Citations from authority organisations, websites, and reports are what Google look for as part of their campaign to deliver meaningful results to their customers. Matt Cutts, of Google, talks about quality content:

“They (smaller sites) do a better job of focusing on user experience; they return something that adds more value. If it’s a research report organization, the reports are often higher-quality, more insightful, or delve deeper into issues,”

So, this leaves us with the question of where to get the “golden nuggets” of data for quality article creation. Ironically, plain old Google search isn’t a very good tool to use to find useful data. Perform a search on Google for a statistic and you will have to wade your way through hundreds of pages of waffle to discover just a few useful statistics or quotes. However, there are some features you can use in Google to find data and statistics to add to your articles. 

Google Search Settings

First, we have Google’s Search Settings which you will find in a drop down menu when you click on the little cog looking icon in the top right of the search home page, ONLY ONCE you have performed your initial search.


You can set the results page to display up to 100 articles per page here which saves having to click on to the next page all the time. It also allows you to do a quick search for a word or phrase on all 100 results in the display by clicking [CTRL + F], which is the hotkey for “find”.

Where results open – Open each selected result in a new browser window”

This useful to have checked when doing research. It is much easier to open and keep open multiple tabs when you are clicking and searching so many pages and then want to find a bit of data again. Much easier than trying to go into your history and wade through all the pages again.

Further down the dropdown menu attached to the little cog you will see “Advanced Search”. This is a visual version of advanced search to help filter results and refine your search terms. You’ll see under “site or domain” there is an option to add a site name or even the extension to organisations like universities or the government use, such as .edu or .gov. You have to remember that these are specific to the country, but you will learn another way of performing searches like this straight from the main search box using quick codes that Google doesn’t seem to like to share with people that much.

One last function in advanced search that is really useful for any SMEs and webmasters who don’t have a lot of money to spend on images and graphics is the “Usage Rights” setting. You can filter results here to show images that are “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”. This normally means they are in the “Public Domain” and have very open licences for usage. Always check the licence terms and when using the image make a note somewhere of where you found it, just in case you are later pursued by a company stating you have used their image without paying them. At least then you can show them where you obtained it and the licence terms.

You can find a full list of shortcuts for Google search towards the bottom of this article. 

Search by site

One of my favourite shortcuts to use is [site:] to bring back a list of results only from a site I then include in the search. This is great if I know on which site the data is or would only trust the data from a particular, authority site and don’t want to include results from any other site that may appear in the search results for the same term.

Search by domain extension – .org,,

Just type the search term you are looking for and then if you only want to search education related pages such as universities add [] to the end of the search. Google will then only return searches from education sites. The same goes for government with [] and []. Just remember these are country specific.

If you want to add credibility to the article you are writing then citing government and education sources is always a good idea. They give instant credibility to your content.

Inside Speech Marks

Another useful term to remember to refine your results is to enclose your search term in speech marks. Normally people search for multiple keywords and the problem with this is Google can look at each of these words separately and return results based on each individual word rather than the whole term. This makes the plethora of pages usually returned even vaguer. Instead, if you put your search inside speech marks like, “how to write great articles”, you will only receive pages that have that exact term written somewhere on the webpage. A quick test in Google shows that searching for that term without the speech marks returns 405,000,000 results and with the speech marks only 1,080,000.

I really wish there were better search engines out there for searching for valuable data, statistics and quotes for article writing projects. Maybe one day there will be.

Google search has some great commands that you can use to refine your search results. This is very useful if you are looking for information, data or quotes to use in articles or content. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to want to share them any longer and instead spoonfeed us with their version of what they think we want to use to search for information. You can find their version of refined searching here on Google search tips and tricks.

For a more defined list of search commands go to Google’s Search Operators.

cache:Show the cached snapshot of a page
link:List pages which link to a page
related:List pages which Google consider to be related to another
info:Find one specific URL in the search database
define:Show Google’s glossary definition for a term
stocks:Show American stockmarket information for a given ticker symbol
site:Restrict a search to a single site
allintitle:Restrict a search so that all the keywords must appear in the title
intitle:Restrict a search so that some of the keywords must appear in the title
allintext:Restrict a search so that all of the keywords must appear in the body text
allinurl:Restrict a search so that all of the keywords must appear in the page address
inurl:Restrict a search so that some keywords must appear in the page address
ORList pages which have at least some of the keywords
+Insist that the search engine includes a given keyword in the search results
Insist that the search engine omits pages which match a given keyword in the search results
~Enhance a search to include synonyms for a given keyword
*Include a wildcard match in your search results
[#]…[#]Search a range of numbers as a keyword
daterange:Restrict a search to any timeframe
“”Restrict a search so that the keywords must appear consecutively in a phrase
date:Restrict a search to a recent timeframe
safesearch:Restrict a search to exclude adult-content
filetype:Restrict a search to a given type of file

Content curation platforms

Content curators can prove useful fora variety of reasons, not just to help research data for article or blog writing.  Marketing professionals will want to use content curators to keep ahead of trends, monitor competition, business researc,h and to build relationships through social media.

Keeping up with all content relevant to your business can be difficult and it’s easy to start to suffer with content overload and begin to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately there are many tools available to help you with all this content, allowing you to filter and view all from one place.  Here are 5 of the best.

Google Alerts

“Monitor the web for interesting new content”, is their simple to the point strapline.

Being the king of search, Google has of course a method for aggregating the content it crawls, indexes, and serves to it’s customers in its search engine.  You can use Google Alerts to search for a variety of keywords and it will send you an email whenever those keywords are hit.  The advantage of Google Alerts is its ability to pick out anything from Google Search, including forums and blogs that are maybe missed by other social media focused content aggregators. It’s also very useful to help monitor your online reputation and set up an alert for any time mentions your name or company name online.


“Social is your superpower”, they state.

Hootsuite is a social media management platform. The system’s user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.

It was one of the first, and remains one of the best ways to curate content.  You can set up streams of content to come through the system from a variety of different sources such as news and social media, and then filter it by keywords or by favourite sources.  Furthermore, Hootsuite also gives you the ability to then immediately share this information across a variety of platforms, meaning that much of your content curation and dissemination can be completed from one platform. This can be a great time saver for any businesses to research great news stories, find supporting data for new content, and then share it across their marketing  channels. have a nice positional statement for their product offering: “  is your personal marketing assistant. To build an active online presence. Content. Webpage. Social. Newsletter.” gives you the ability to bring all your favourite sources of content together in the form of an online newspaper.  Choose your topics and the website will automatically bring it all together daily or weekly depending on your preference.  An added bonus is the ability to then share the paper with followers, meaning you have created ready to share content from your curation.  Perfect if you have a need to share more content with your followers. 


Since the announcement by Google that its reader service would be discontinued, there has been a scramble among competitors to appeal to fans of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.  One RSS aggregator that has done particularly well is Feedly.  Part of their success is the simple solution they have set up to allow former Google Reader users to import their RSS feeds to Feedly.

Their marketing strapline is, “Track insights across the web without having to read everything”.

You train their AI content crawler, named Leo, to discover the content insights that are important to you, including news sites, blogs, Twitter, and newsletters, and curate them in a nice dashboard for you to then share with your team.

There are a lot of dedicated tools that crawl the websites, social media channels forums, news channels, and any other online digital medium, such as content aggregators, RSS feeds, content curators, or just .