Today’s internet searchers are savvy: they know there’s a lot of BS out there.
So first and foremost, data is an important part of executing trustworthy content. As one of my direct response mentors used to say “it’s hype unless you can prove it.”
But, data is also a powerful asset in content marketing for another reason that many don’t immediately think of—it can also help you create more interesting (read: linkable) content too.
For example, data can be the basis for a unique story or angle that people find intriguing, like this analysis of the most charming cities which uses publicly available third-party data (like how many antique stores there are) to determine which mid-sized cities in America are great to visit.
Or, it can be the basis for a piece that helps your readers draw new insights on a topic that’s critical to their business, like this piece from GetVoIP on the worst interview processes, which has 33 unique domains linking to it, including Business Insider and Fast Company.
Data can even be a content asset all by itself, like this customer service stats post from Nextiva which has 300+ different domains linking to it.
Simply put, if you want to create content that both people and search engines like, data is an important part of it. So here are 106 trustworthy, free data sources that will help you build linkable content both search engines and people love.
Data Sources by Topic
Know what type of data you need? Here are quick links to what you’re looking for.
- Big Data Sources
- Real Estate Data Sources
- Healthcare Data Sources
- Economic Data Sources
- Financial Data Sources
- Environmental and Weather Data Sources
- Climate Change Data Sources
- Content Marketing and Social Media Data Sources
- Crime Data Sources
- Education Data Sources
- Entertainment Data Sources
- Human Rights Data Sources
- Political Data Sources
- Travel and Transportation Data Sources
Big Data Sources
Big data is any big, complex dataset that is too large and and often generated too quickly for normal data processing techniques to be effective. There is often intrinsic business value in big data sets, but the challenge is discovering that value and extracting it. Here are public sources of big data that are freely available.
AWS’s public datasets registry “exists to help people discover and share datasets that are available via AWS resources.” It includes 144 datasets from a wide variety of disciplines, including renewable energy, economics, neuroimaging, the Human Genome Project and more.
The Open Data Network pulls government-related data from a variety of sources with visualization tools built right in. Simply type in a question or query and it shows you the most relevant available data as an answer.
Gallup offers “analytics and advice on anything that matters.” They offer in depth analysis and research on a variety of topics including business, politics and more.
4. Pew Research
A well known “fact tank” that conducts data-centric social science research, content analysis and public opinion polls. They publish their datasets for secondary analysis after they’ve produced their own.
Google Scholar lets you search through and for scholarly literature from many disciplines and sources like articles, theses, books, abstracts, universities, court opinions and more.
Chartr is “data storytelling” in a nutshell. They use publicly available data to create visualizations that tell unique and insightful stories about topics ranging from how Uber and Lyft are killing NYC’s taxis or how people started investing in the wrong Zoom company once the COVID-19 quarantine started.
Data Catalogs exists as “a comprehensive list of open data portals from around the world” (currently 588 different sources) and is curated by a group of leading open-data experts from across the globe.
“A variety of statistical resources compiled by the United Nations (UN) statistical system and other international agencies.” It includes data on just about every topic related to a country’s well-being.
Gapminder exists to “dismantle misconceptions and promote a fact-based worldview.” They make their massive collection of data sources available to the public on topics ranging from employment and infrastructure to energy and health.
The World Bank compiles data on development indicators from officially-recognized sources across the world and represents “the most current and accurate global development data available.” It includes national, regional and global estimates on every country.
The UN’s ranking system for each country’s progress regarding human development. Includes data on topics such as gender equality, sustainability, poverty and more.
The Land Matrix is an independent database of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) in low- and middle-income countries across the world. It was established with the goal of understanding utilization and promoting transparency. They also offer visualization tools.
The EU Open Data Portal makes datasets from European Union institutions public for over 13 different topics, including government, health, technology, energy, agriculture and more.
All of the U.S. government’s open data on topics from agriculture and ecosystems to manufacturing and science, made available to the public for download.
OECD exists to help develop “evidence-based international standards and find solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges.” Their public datasets include visualizations and information on aid collected from governments, labor and more.
16. Canada Open Data
The Canadian equivalent of Data.gov includes geospatial data sources and a directory of data from Canadian Apps as well.
Reddit’s r/datasets includes user contributed data from anything and everything like the COVID-19 pandemic to cricket player information from all over the world.
FiveThirtyEight is an online publication run by ABC that analyzes data to tell stories about politics, sports, economics and more. They make some of their datasets and code available to the public.
19. The Upshot
Similar to FiveThirtyEight above, but published by the New York Times, they offer news, analysis and data visualization on topics ranging from politics to everyday life. They link to the datasets they use for analysis at the bottom of each article.
This data source takes a bit of development knowledge to fully utilize it. But Facebook’s Data Graph API lets you pull all kinds of information regarding engagement on their platform.
Knoema offers access to over 100 million different public time-series datasets and includes over 1,000 different visualizations to analyze it.
Quandl’s platform is followed by a quarter-million people, including analysts from the world’s top hedge funds and investment banks. They’re a public data source startup offering over five million financial, economic and social datasets for free.
Statista offers an incredibly large array of business data with visualizations and insights. It’s primarily a paid tool, but they do offer a limited amount of free access.
Employment Big Data Sources
The U.S. government’s collection of employment-related data for different regions, states and localities.
Includes the BLS’s data, as well as data on a variety of other labor and employment related topics such as wages, occupations, industries and more.
All of the data collected by the Census, including the state of the nation’s workforce, employment and unemployment levels, poverty, education and more.
Facts on every geographic entity in the world including history, population, government, military, transnational issues, economics, geography, energy, transportation and more.
Small Business Big Data Sources
All kinds of information and data for small businesses and small business planning, including market research, competitive analysis, employment and economic indicators/projections.
29. Enigma Public
Enigma Public exists to be a reliable source for small business data. They use proprietary machine learning to pull open data and curate it so that insights are easy to glean.
411 Small Business Facts is a collection of over 2000 small business poll questions from surveys by the NFIB Research Foundation which have been made available to the public.
Entrepreneurship Big Data Sources
The Kauffman Foundation open data sources provide “knowledge, data, and insights on key opportunities, challenges and trends relevant to entrepreneurship.”
The GEM Consortium exists to help entrepreneurs make better informed business decisions (and thereby encourage entrepreneurial activities) all over the globe. They make their datasets and reports available to the public for download.
The OSDC is “a one-stop shop for making scientific research faster and easier.” They give scientific researchers the ability to analyze and share massive amounts of data in ways that weren’t previously possible.
Real Estate Data Sources
Unfortunately, most real estate data sources require you to pay for them. However, a few free and publicly available sources do exist.
Realtor.com’s data is probably the most accurate and up-to-date MLS information. They offer information on multiple metrics down to the zip code level and it’s free to use as long as you give them credit for it.
Compstak is a free source of comp data for commercial real estate professionals. All of their data is analyst-reviewed and available instantly.
Healthcare Data Sources
Thanks to the fact that government organizations like the FDA require certain amounts of information on substances and research to be publicly available, there are many health and healthcare data sources on the web. Here are the ones to be aware of.
The CDC publishes public health data and statistics by topic, including everything from alcohol use to viral hepatitis.
The WHO publishes data, statistics and reports on international public health topics like body mass index (BMI), malaria and tuberculosis.
The President’s Council provides information on living a healthy lifestyle for Americans of all ages. They do not publish their own data, but rather link to helpful data sources within their analysis.
PhPartners is aims to be a trusted, peer-reviewed resource for the public health workforce. They publish a variety of data from U.S. government agencies, public health organizations and health sciences libraries.
The HSRIC is a division of the National Library of Medicine and publishes data for the health services research community.
MedlinePlus is also a service of the National Library of Medicine that provides health statistics on topics ranging from obesity to the spread of influenza.
The NCHS is a division of the CDC that exists to provide statistical information to help make the American people healthier. They provide datasets from surveys, data access tools, visualizations and more.
America’s Health Rankings has been around for 30 years and provides an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis. They evaluate both historical and new health, environmental and socioeconomic data to set national health benchmarks and rankings.
45. NHS Digital
The NHS’s (U.K.) data arm which is responsible for “standardising, collecting and publishing data and information from across the health and social care system in England.”
Medicare/Medicaid’s data lets you compare the quality of care at over 4,000 different Medicare-certified hospitals across the country.
SEER*Explorer gives you access to a wide range of cancer statistics by gender, race, calendar year, age and more. You can build custom tables and graphs as well.
The BROAD Institute is a division of MIT launched in 2004 and uses genomics to “advance our understanding of the biology and treatment of human disease and help lay the groundwork for a new generation of therapies.” They have made a number of their research datasets available to the public.
A website dedicated to “making high value health data more accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy makers in the hopes of better health outcomes for all.” It includes datasets from clinical studies, treatments and Medicare/Medicaid.
The NCBI is a subdivision of the National Library of Medicine and is a huge library of biology and medical studies. Sub-resources include PubMed, PubChem and BLAST.
Pharma Data Sources
While many of the sites above will also contain data on pharmaceuticals, here are a few specific data sources for pharma data that we’d recommend.
A site created to “provide patients, their family members, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with easy access to information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions.”
The FDA has collected information on pharmaceuticals and their applications since 1939. This database is their disclosure of all approved information to the public and includes drug approvals and therapeutic equivalence evaluations for approved multi-source prescription drug products.
The Sunshine Act Database records payments that pharma companies make to physicians (including gifts and travel) for clinical trials.
Drug Abuse Data Sources
For both domestic and international drug abuse data, we’d recommend using the sources below.
Data from multiple sources that covers a variety of drug abuse related issues like drug usage, emergency room data, prevention and treatment programs and other research findings.
A collection of global research, data and trend analysis on drug abuse and its effects across the globe. Includes data on crime and violence associated with drugs and the drug trade.
56. Drug War Facts
Economic Data Sources
Whether you need unemployment information or historical mortgage rates, here are the sources we’d recommend for both international and U.S. domestic economic data.
Google’s founding goal was to make the world’s information easily accessible. Their public data explorer makes it easy to search just about every publicly-available government-published economic data source in the world.
The International Monetary Fund provides reports on global financial stability, regional economics, international financial statistics, exchange rates, directions of trade and more. Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin were not involved in the collection of this data.
Harvard Growth Lab offers global economic data for download and amazing visualization tools to help you understand just how complex the economy really is.
The World Bank’s Doing Business Database is a ranking of global economies on a scale of 1-190 with regards to how easy it is to do or start a business within them. The rankings are calculated based on 10 different factors and the data is available for public download.
Visual presentations of U.S. economic and financial data by a graphic designer/economist. She also links to interesting and useful data sources on the same topics.
Also known as FRED, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis publishes data visualizations on a variety of financial and economic indicators including money, banking, macroeconomics, international and regional economics and more. Data is available for download as well.
The BEA is similar to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but offers statistics and data sets related to the U.S. economy instead (for example, national income and gross domestic product).
The NBER compiles macro datasets, industry datasets, productivity datasets, trade datasets, international finance datasets and more from a variety of different U.S. government sources, all available for download.
Financial Data Sources
OpenCorporates is the largest open database of companies in the world. The information available includes incorporation date, country, agent, address and more. Their system includes API access and a bulk data option.
The SEC publishes quarterly datasets of extracted information from exhibits to corporate financial reports that were filed with the Commission going back as far as 2009. They also offer aggregated data from public filings for research and analysis here.
The umbrella data source to DataBank above. Statistics and datasets on just about everything from finances to service delivery indicators plus links to additional data sub-resources like DataBank on additional topics.
Environmental and Weather Data Sources
The NOAA is the new name for the National Climatic Data Center and offers datasets for download on climate, past weather conditions and long-term averages from specific observing stations around the United States. Services like the National Weather Service rely on the NOAA for their data. API access is supported.
WU collects data from over 250,000 personal weather stations with a proprietary system known as BestForecast™. You can look up historical data (including temperature by the hour) going back over decades. They offer a visualization platform as well.
The WWR first published global weather records in 1927, including data points like monthly mean values of pressure, temperature, precipitation and measuring station metadata notes. All of that data is still available for download from the NOAA.
WeatherBase provides climate averages, forecasts, current conditions and normals for almost 42,000 cities around the planet for those who are planning a trip or vacation.
Data on all things environmental from the EPA. Includes information for chemical substances and their effects on human health, civil penalties for release and more.
Climate Change Data Sources
While most of the environmental and weather sources above will also give you information on climate change, here are a few additional sites that offer data specific to the study of climate change.
GISS is basically NASA pointing satellites at earth to study climate and weather patterns. They make their research (as well as visualizations of their data) available to the public, which provides a scientific look at how climate change is occurring.
The WGMS monitors glacial mass growth and shrinkage worldwide, with the idea that they are an indication of how the Earth’s climate is changing. They offer visualizations of glacier changes as well as the option to download their entire database.
Much like it sounds, the NSIDC studies ice and snow around the world. They have datasets available for download on a variety of related topics, such as permafrost, sea ice and more.
Marketing Data Sources
Many content marketing and social media data sources are paid tools. However, many also offer a limited version or trial you can use to make a few queries for free. Here are the sources we’d recommend (which we use everyday).
Buzzsumo is a content marketing web app that allows you to see which content is getting the most Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest engagement across the web. It’s a paid tool, but it does let you input a few queries for free to try it out.
The Moz Blog publishes all kinds of content marketing case studies and data analysis you can learn from and their SEO tool gives you pretty much everything you need in terms of content marketing data. They offer a limited free version you can use as well.
Moz’s primary competition, but they only offer a free trial instead of a free version. Their blog offers awesome content marketing insights and analysis.
CMI conducts their own research in conjunction with others like LinkedIn and Adobe. They also offer a wealth of free information on content marketing articles.
83. Google Trends
Google Trends is a free way to see what people are searching for over time and in what frequency. You can check the “topical hotness” of any keyword just like you would search for something on Google and export the data for free.
Crime Data Sources
The BJS, like the BLS and BEA, offers information on just about anything related to the U.S. Justice System. They’ve conducted a census of inmates, a national level survey of DNA crime labs and law enforcement gang units and much more.
The FBI’s publicly available crime data, all in one place. Their Crime Data Explorer makes statistical crime reports and publications detailing specific offenses easy to understand and digest.
The UCR Data Tool is another way to look at the FBI’s crime statistics. It lets you build your own tables of statistical data on violent crimes going back decades at the city, county, state and national levels.
Education Data Sources
The primary U.S. government entity like the BJS, BLS and BEA for collecting and analyzing data related to education. Includes data and studies for just about every level and aspect of education.
The World Bank’s global education data and analysis for key topics like enrollment, gender gaps and government expenditures. Their data is downloadable and their site provides visualizations to draw insights from it as well.
Unicef’s data is pulled from administrative records at local level and they have datasets on topics like sustainable development, school completion rates, net attendance rates, literacy rates and more. Their data is downloadable, but their site doesn’t include visualization tools.
Entertainment Data Sources
91. The Numbers
A site dedicated to detailed financial analysis of movie-related topics like box office numbers, DVD sales and more. They give you the ability to build your own reports and even compare the success of different movies against each other.
BFI is similar to The Numbers, but specifically for the UK film market and with a focus film industry statistics and reports for market intelligence purposes.
The IFPI represents the global recording industry to promote the value of recorded music. They have offices in London, Hong Kong, Brussels and Miami and offer statistics and data on the global recording industry as well.
Music ID is “the world’s premier aggregator of global industry music data,” pulling around 5,500 different global music charts into one place. It lets you study whose music was popular and when, as well as build custom visualizations. It’s a paid tool, but does offer a free trial.
Human Rights Data Sources
The HRDAG considers themselves “Statisticians for Human Rights” and apply rigorous data science practices to analyze human rights violations around the world. Their work is done on a project basis and you can download their reports with their data.
The Armed Conflict Database by Uppsala University has been tracking global armed conflict for almost 40 years and their definition of it is globally recognized as the standard for research purposes. Their data is available for download and independent analysis, as are their visualizations of it.
AI conducts independent research on human rights topics all around the world. Their data and reports are available for download on their website.
In addition to education data that they publish, Unicef collects data on a variety of other topics relating to the well-being of women and children all over the world.
Political Data Sources
Links to statistics and data sources on political science topics curated by UC Berkeley.
The Roper Center exists to better understand public opinion. They collect data U.S. and international polling and public opinion survey data on topics including everything from abortion to World War II and offer it for download on their site.
102. Open Secrets
The U.S.’s premier nonpartisan, nonprofit, independent research group which tracks money in politics and its effect on elections and public policy. Topics and data include presidential elections and dark money.
Travel and Transportation Data Sources
The BTS catalogs transportation industry statistical data, research and indicators much like the Bureau of Labor Statistics does for labor and employment.
The NTTO tabulates the number of U.S. citizens traveling abroad in different regions of the world every month to help better understand the market. Data is available all the way back to 1996.
Geoba.se helps you find statistics, weather, webcams, currency conversions and travel information for millions of locations all around the world by either searching by city name, latitude or longitude.
The USTA has research on a variety of travel-related topics, from the economic impacts of domestic travel to analyses of how the value of the dollar impacts the travel industry.
Learn How To Collect Original Data With ImportXML
Data is especially linkable when it’s original—after all, your site is the only place to get it! So if you’re looking for an easy way to create original data sets, our Director of Business Development Drew Page put together a step-by-step process for scraping them off the internet and into Google Sheets using ImportXML.
Analyze, Manipulate, and Display Data With ImportHTML
For a quick and easy method of scraping data from the open web, Google Sheets has another built-in function to import structured HTML data, ImportHTML.
This is a great function to use when data is publicly available but you want to analyze, manipulate, or chart the data. It’s a more user-friendly version of ImportXML but does make some data less accessible because the data must be structured as a table or list element.