Did dinosaurs have feathers? How many pounds are in a kilogram? What is the current dollar-to-euro exchange rate? These questions—and so many more—can be answered in a matter of seconds thanks to rapid search engines and content digitization. While mere curiosities like the anatomy of dinosaurs or details of an important financial index might have once required visiting the library or consulting a specialized expert, research of all kinds can now be done with much less hassle and investment of time and money.
But there’s a flipside. While anyone with an internet connection can access troves of information, they can also publish misinformation—from poorly sourced content disguised as expert “research” to information deliberately designed to deceive. For business leaders, relying on popular search engines without the right guardrails can create significant exposure to risk.
The dangers of poor-quality research aren’t a hypothetical threat. Consider these examples the next time you forego high quality research.
Popular Search Engines Can Be Tricked
Black Hat SEO is one of many risks that negatively impact the quality of information found on page one search results of sites like Google and Bing. In this case, bad actors seek to manipulate page ranking by “tricking” search algorithms into ranking pages higher than they otherwise would. Often, this is done to advance sites containing propaganda or malware to the top of results.
A more infamous example of this is what’s known as a “Google Bomb.” This occurs when an individual or group makes a concerted effort to use keyword stuffing and link building to artificially associate a less-than-favorable word or phrase with a person or organization. While this is typically done for comedic or satirical purposes, it no doubt illustrates the fallibility of page ranking.
These same techniques can be used to deliberately spread misinformation. In fact, it’s believed to have played a part in controversies around topics as weighty as climate change, the Brexit referendum and U.S. presidential elections.
Sifting Through Thousands of Search Results is Inefficient
The fact that hundreds of millions of search results can be returned in seconds or less is mind boggling. Consider, however, sorting through even a fraction of those results; it would be an incredibly time-consuming process. And when search results rank an anonymous blogger at the same level as an industry-leading research firm, finding the right information manually is full of risk.
Higher quality research tools, however, can pre-select diverse sources that have already been determined to be relevant and accurate. As a result, less time is spent clicking through results. It also ensures that lower quality or malicious information never makes its way into the informational queue. This way, business decisions based on relevant, accurate and credible research can simultaneously be more efficient and of higher quality.
Popular Search Engines Lack Helpful Support
Every level of research must start with a question. Yet, sometimes it can be hard to determine where to start. Someone might know they need to better understand customer behaviors but have no idea which behaviors or search parameters are most relevant to their specific needs. Not everyone is an expert in research—and that’s okay! Unfortunately, when using popular search engines there isn’t exactly an option to chat with an expert to help guide research.
Higher quality research databases—like Nexis®—offer the real-time support of experts with backgrounds in advanced research, library sciences and investigative reporting. This added support can help move the research process along or help set search parameters that yield even better results.
This is only the beginning. When your credibility is on the line, research quality is important. To help further explain the how and why, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide,
Download the guide today to start using research as a trust- and influence-building tool.