Using statistics and data is an effective way of summarising your arguments and shows readers that your article is backed up by research. From an SEO perspective they’re useful too – if you’re linking to sources of data, that tells search engines more about your niche and industry and can help your page rank higher. But how do you go about finding reliable data sources?
People are increasingly discerning about what they read online and that means that content writers need to be more discerning about the sources of data they use too. You can Google any topic and find a statistic to back up almost any argument. However, if those data sources are questionable (i.e. a biased survey with a tiny sample), then readers are relatively likely to question the trustworthiness of what you’re saying.
It’s therefore worth searching a little harder for reliable data sources from trusted organisations. Here are seven examples of where you can get this data.
7 reliable data sources for content writers
I regularly use the following sources when searching for facts and figures to use when writing content for my clients. You may not always find the data you’re looking for on the following websites – but search for similar organisations and you might just find the numbers you’re looking for.
1. For international development, GDP and indsutry
If you’re ever looking for data about countries, economic conditions or industry, the World Bank is an excellent and reliable data source. They collate and verify statistics from government agencies in countries right across the world as well as conducting their own surveys and rankings.
The World Bank has a number of data sites. If you’re looking for the broadest data sets, head over to World Bank Open Data – it can be a bit of a fiddle to use, but does throw up some really fascinating stuff on development and GDP. Another handy World Bank data set is their Ease of Doing Business rankings, where you can compare countries along measures such as how many days it takes to set a company up or rates of taxation.
Another option is the IMF who also have datasets (and a clunky website).
2. For markets and industries
Want to know how much broadcasters pay to distribute the NFL or the number of smartphones sold worldwide last year? There’s a decent chance Statista will have the numbers. It’s worth saying that a lot of their data is behind a paywall, but many statistics are freely available and they collate an extraordinary amount of data on a huge range of topics related to businesses and markets.
3. Facts and figures about countries
Writing a piece on Botswana’s GDP or Panama’s industry? The CIA’s World Factbook is a decent place to look. You can find all sorts of information about countries, from the number of kilometres of surfaced roads in the place to the amount of electricity they generate.
4. Public opinion
What do people think of Boris Johnson? How do British people use cheese graters? Do people care about buying antique ivory?
YouGov is a major public opinion polling company who make large amounts of their own data available for free online. The surveys cover all sorts of things, and it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for more ‘fun’ statistics. Gallup, another major polling company is a good alternative.
5. National data portals
Looking for data on specific sectors of the economy, demographics, health figures or financial data? Many national governments provide large amounts of data for free through open data portals.
If you’re looking for figures from the UK, the UK Data Service is a good place to start (you can also check out the Office for National Statistics, and there are a few other websites for specific government departments where you can find facts and figures on things like health, labour, environmental protection and so on).
6. Statistics from trusted companies
We’ve all come across “remarkable survey findings” which by incredible chance promote the products of the firm that designed the survey. As a consequence, people are naturally sceptical of this kind of data. All the same, there are several companies who have a reputation for providing trustworthy statistics. These include the big consultancies (PwC, McKinsey, Deloitte, KPMG, EY) as well as analyst houses (EIU, Forrester, IDC and so on).
As far as I know, none of them have a go-to open data platform, so you have to visit the websites of each and look up their surveys and research. It can be a bit slow, but you’ll likely find some really interesting data.
Last but not least, the world’s leading search engine also offers a couple of interesting data tools. Google’s new-ish Dataset Search tool throws up some interesting results and is an attempt to compile data from a very wide range of sources online.
I also turn to Google Trends if I’m looking to see what’s popular in the world of search. Want to see which celebrities are getting attention right now, or how much people have searched for a specific term over the years? Google Trends will tell you.
Facts and figures
If you need to produce content that is supported by thorough research, I can help. I’ve worked as a researcher on academic and European Commission projects, written articles for the likes of the BBC and Reuters and have worked with some of the world’s leading brands and consultancies to produce content their readers can trust.
Contact me today about your project.