Using the Web to Find Local
Business and Market Information

By Marcy Phelps

Foreword by Mary Ellen Bates

"This book covers an area of business research that simply hasn’t been addressed before, and it fills an important gap in any researcher’s toolkit."
 - Mary Ellen Bates, Bates Information Services, Inc.

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Links to resources mentioned in Research on Main Street

Chapter Six
Local Companies

American City Business Journals (www.bizjournals.com): These weekly newspapers, published in 40 cities, cover local business news, including hard-to-find information about private companies. Find city of choice and search the site for articles and leads to additional sources.

AnyWho Yellow Pages (www.anywho.com/yp): Use this online directory to search for businesses by name, location, or distance or browse by state and city.

ASAE Gateway to Associations Directory (www.asaecenter.org/Community/Directories/associationsearch.cfm): Local organizations are a great resource when you need to fill in the blanks about local companies. Search this site to find organizations by topic and geographic location or reach.

Bing Maps (www.bing.com/maps): Use this resource to identify companies in a geographic region, read customer reviews, and learn more about a company’s physical location.

Boardreader (www.boardreader.com): This specialized search site helps you search discussions by using company names as keywords.

BoardTracker (www.boardtracker.com): Search this site, using company names as keywords, for what people are talking about in online discussion forums. This is a useful source for customer opinions and reviews.

Chamber of Commerce Directory (www.chamberofcommerce.com/chambers): Local chambers of commerce are excellent sources of information about companies located in their geographic region. Follow the links in this directory and search these sites for member directories and the names of key people to call with your questions.

Copernic Tracker (www.copernic.com): When you’re monitoring a company’s activities, it’s helpful to keep track of any changes to its website. This product is one of several that do this well.

DexKnows (www.dexknows.com): Find basic company contact information and customer reviews and view a map of the physical location in this online directory.

Economic Development Directory (www.ecodevdirectory.com): Government and nongovernment economic development organizations often provide useful information about local companies. This resource helps you quickly find and link to the sites of organizations within a particular region.

Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR; www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml): Public companies file required forms through the EDGAR system, which can be searched through this site. The site does not offer a way to search by a company’s geographic location.

Facebook (www.facebook.com): This social networking site works best when you need to find information about or make contacts in a known company. Start from your Facebook homepage (free registration required) and enter a company name into the search box.

Google Blogs Search (blogsearch.google.com): Find what people are saying about companies through blog postings and comments by using companies’ names as keywords.

Google Directory (directory.google.com): Identify and link to the websites of local news outlets through the Regional section of this directory. At these sites, look for articles, interviews, and opinion pieces about local companies.

Google Maps (maps.google.com): This is a handy resource for identifying companies in a geographic region, reading customer reviews, and—through Street View—viewing physical locations. Also, look for company Place Pages under the More Info link.

Google News (news.google.com): Through Google’s advanced search, you can find news stories from or about a particular geographic location. Look for local news about area companies.

GuideStar (www2.guidestar.org): Local organizations’ websites are an excellent place to look for information about companies based in their geographic region or to learn about local nonprofits. Search GuideStar by topic or geography.

HelloMetro (www.hellometro.com): This site offers locally focused articles, reviews, and online discussions. Visit this and other hyperlocal sites for information about local businesses.

InfoUSA.com (www.infousa.com): Use the free features on this site to identify, for example, the number of companies in a specific industry that have headquarters or offices in a particular geographic area. This source helps you drill down to the mail-carrier–route level.

Internet Archive (www.archive.org): When exploring a company website, take a look at past versions of the site through Internet Archive, a collection of archived versions of websites dating back to 1996.

Kellysearch (www.kellysearch.com): Through this site, you can look for business-to-business suppliers, leads, and other contacts. Head to the advanced search page, where you can search by company name, industry, keyword, or city or town.

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com): Run a company search directly from your homepage and filter the results by location and other variables. To include location in your initial search, go to the company search page (www.linkedin.com/companies).

Morningstar Document Research (documentresearch.morningstar.com): This fee-based product helps you search SEC filings by geography. Look for companies headquartered or doing business in a particular geographic area, and learn more about them through their filings.

NewsLink (www.newslink.org): Through this site, you can get to the websites of local news outlets, which often provide in-depth coverage of local companies.

Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com): As the name implies, this resource covers just newspapers. The advanced search page for U.S. newspapers allows you to search by title, state, city, and frequency.

Omgili (www.omgili.com): Omgili enables you to search online discussion forums to see what people are saying about local companies and their products or to find people within companies. Through the advanced search page, you can limit your search to keywords that appear in just the discussion title, topic, replies, forum name, and other options, so try using geographic or company names as keywords.

Outside.in (www.outside.in): Use Outside.in to find hyperlocal articles, online forums, blogs, and reviews. At this site, search by location first. You can then search by business name or other topic.

Placeblogger (www.placeblogger.com): Visit this site to find hyperlocal blogs that contain information about local companies and their products. (Note: Placeblogger is gone)

Superpages.com (www.superpages.com): This online directory is useful for finding contact information about specific companies or identifying companies within a particular geographic area. Use the advanced search feature to search by distance, address, phone number, city, state, ZIP code, or other geographic unit.

ThomasNet (www.thomasnet.com): This resource offers basic information about manufacturers, distributors, service companies, and manufacturers’ representatives. ThomasNet is very useful for locating vendors or finding out how many and what kind of industrial companies operate in a particular place.

Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory (www.towd.com): Try the official offices of tourism boards and agencies for information about top employers or largest companies in a region. This site includes links to U.S. and non-U.S. groups.

TweepSearch (tweepsearch.com): This specialized tool helps you search just Twitter profiles to find people connected to a particular company.

Tweepz (tweepz.com): Try this site to search Twitter profiles (not tweets). Tweepz is gone

Twitter (twitter.com): Twitter’s 140-character updates often provide insights into the latest company developments and what people have to say about those developments. To search by geography, go to the advanced search page at search.twitter.com.

WebSite-Watcher (www.aignes.com): This product helps you track any changes to a company website, helping you keep up with the latest developments.

Yahoo! Directory (dir.yahoo.com): To find the websites of local news outlets, go to the Regional section, and browse by geographic area. These sites often contain news articles, opinion, pieces, blogs, and other sources of information about local companies.

Yahoo! Maps (maps.yahoo.com): Using this resource, first find a location, using geographic names. Then enter a business category, and you can find and map businesses within a particular geographic area.

Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com): Search for local news by using geographic and company names as keywords. Find information about local businesses, including strategy, management changes, product announcements, and more.

Yelp (www.yelp.com): Select a location, and Yelp creates a page with links to businesses in the area. At this page, you can search further by keyword or browse the list of categories to find customer reviews and maps.

zapdata (www.zapdata.com): The free features of this site help you determine the number of companies located within a specified geographic area. You can limit your searching by industry, company size, and other variables. Zapdata is gone!

ZoomInfo (www.zoominfo.com): From the homepage of this people and company directory, click the Company tab and follow the link for advanced search. It offers a geography search feature by country, state, metro region, or ZIP code.
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