Back in the days before the internet, the easiest way to find company information was via the Yellow. While it was of course handy to have everything together in one place, the obvious drawback to these paper directories was their inability to keep up with the constant changes to company data, whether it was company name, contact details, or the business had simply ceased operating.
With the invention of the internet, data is more easily accessible than ever before. It holds all the company names, product information, company addresses and phone numbers, and even the names of pretty much everyone in the developed world. Thanks to Google, the majority of websites have opened access to their data, making it easily indexable by search engines. This means data can be collected by companies in a much more efficient way.
As more data is available online, we've summarized 6 ways you can collect free company information:
Google Business Directory: Google has created their own business directory based on companies that create a Google+ profile. This way, by typing a company name inside Google+, you will get basic company information such as email, phone, address, company name and company description.
Facebook Pages: As with Google, Facebook allows companies to create company pages where they share interesting news, updates, events, and also includes basic information about the company.
Yelp, Zagat, TripAdvisor, Angie's List, HomeAdvisor: If you’re looking for information on a specific company, you can try sites like Yelp, Zagat, TripAdvisor, or Angie's List. These company directories offer more detailed insights about a company, as well as its culture and credibility.
LinkedIn Network: One of the biggest positives of LinkedIn, is that they offer the most company insights. You can gain information such as company name, employee numbers, employee job titles, company products, product news updates, employee details and also company industry, address and website. With all this data, anyone can have a clear view of a company and engage further.
Google Search: Google has indexed any page at any depth of the page, which means that anything you type in Google, it can provide. With the amount of data collected by Google, any person who wants to find company information should search this way:
To compare two companies on google, type: "Company 1 vs Company 2" and google will be able to find pages or information which could be used to compare the two companies.
To search in a specific company directory type: "Website Domain: Company Name" (example: Facebook.com GoDaddy)
To search for a company, but without any unwanted items, type: "Company Name -Unwanted keyword (Example: Uberflip -blog), this way you’ll get all the pages that mention Uberflip, without pages that contain the keyword "Blog".
To search for a company’s email address in google, type: Company Name +"Email"
Data Vendors: Many vendors who specialize in collecting data legally provide company information and contact details. By buying a list, or setting up a subscription, you’ll get access to more insights and better structured information. You could get company data through two types of service:
API: Where you send a specific variable to the data vendor, and in return, they provide you with the required company information using a JSON or XML feed. Getting Data through API is expensive, however, and requires some technical knowledge.
List: Some vendors aggregate all the data in a dashboard, which you can then access by logging and viewing detailed information or downloading the data. This method is simpler to use; it requires less technological know-how and is also cheaper than API.
There are of course more ways to get data from internet, but these six ideas can be used by anyone who wants to get detailed company information. If you’re not looking for a specific company, but rather a large number of businesses to target, buying access to a reputable company directory is usually the way to go.