With this particular research, I use Google. But not the standard Google. Google calls it Advanced Search, I call it "Google accelerated."
Here's how it works:
1. The first thing I do is go over to the Google Settings page and I click OFF instant search. Using instant search, in this case, will actually slow the research process down we're doing.
2. Next thing I do in Settings is set the number of entries to 100. This allows me to view 100 websites in Google at one time, instead of 10. (It's the equivalent of seeing the first 10 pages of Google SERPs.)
3. Then I check the "Open each selected result in a new browser window" box. Because I don't want to replace my search results with a new page I click on every time.
4. Now I head over to the search box and I enter:
site:facebook.com “autism” "1000..10000 People Like This"
(You may have to have the URL be http://facebook (dot) com.)
Then I hit search.
What does this search string do for me?
In this case, I'm searching FaceBook specifically for all fan pages on autism where between 1000 and 10,000 people have liked the page.
Pretty cool, uh? Try it for yourself.
This allows me to put my finger on the pulse of what's happening right now with autism inside FaceBook. I'm getting the raw data. I want to see what people are saying, along with the words and phrases they use to describe their situation. I'm also seeing how their page is structured.
This method gives me FAR MORE accurate information than just using standard Google. Because as we all know Google SERPS can be manipulated.
This kind of research can be done with also sorts of social media websites too, once you understand the URL footprint of the site you want to research.
For instance, you can go to YouTube and do the same thing, but in a different way. This next search will get us all of the top autism channels on YouTube, 100 at a crack.
5. Lastly, I'm going to give you one more tip as it relates to these searches.
To do this next trick, go ahead and download SEOQuake at seoquake.com (It's free, but they should really charge for it.)
This nifty little tool modifies Google's search pages on-the-fly, showing us all sorts of SEO attributes of the page.
The one attribute that's personally interesting related to research is the PageRank. This tool not only shows you the PageRank, but you can also SORT the SERPS by it.
That means I can see how relevant Google thinks the page is. The higher the PageRank, the more relevant Google thinks the page is.
This research combined is quite valuable. Because while it's a dream to be able to click on all 100 pages, the reality is you're looking for what other people think is most relevant and PageRank tells you this.
You can do this type of research on any website. As long as you know the footprint/format of the URL.
Once you use Googles advanced search function on your copywriting project, you'll have a keener insight into your best competition.
- Rick Duris