National Skip Tracing Month

The Invisible Web - Part 2

  • Written by Ron Brown

mug brownIn the last issue we began a journey down a little known and seldom traveled path, the invisible web. As a brief refresher, the invisible web is a zone that contains thousands of times more content and is estimated to be 500 times the size than the much-utilized visible web. It can certainly be classified as a treasure mine for a professional tracer. In the last issue I provided two mega portal sites and received a few calls advising the sites did not work.

As is now the language of the web media LOL… you just have to understand how to reach these sites so let me be your guide.


Go to and you will bring up the UCR website. Hover the mouse over “Research Services” revealing a dropdown menu. Select “Databases” from the dropdown menu. There is a wealth of data here and I would suggest you fully navigate the site.


Go to I usually use the data from “Information and Libraries,” but again, I advise you to explore this site in depth. Now that we have that out of the way let me provide you a little more insight into the workings of the invisible web and we will look at some more ways to get inside that treasure mine of data.

Conventional search engines like Yahoo and Google have proven very efficient at locating current and visible web content but their shortcoming is their ability to locate and index the vast amount of data that isn’t hyperlinked and immediately accessible to even the best web spider. No one seems to be able to tell me if this may or may not be intentional but I have found that data located behind a paywall or in an unpublished blog post is actually hidden in the invisible web.

I have also found that the invisible web contains data that must be accessed by a specific search interface, it is password and subscription protected or the data pages that are not linked to any other page and oddly exists outside of conventional http:// or https:// protocols.

The scale and diversity of the invisible web is mind-boggling. There is one other appeal for the professional tracer. That appeal is the fact that users and activities on the invisible web are anonymous. This attribute is being mentioned because it’s been an important tool for various branches of the U.S. government.

I would like to, now, provide you with a few more confidential online resources to access on the invisible web that are utilized by professional tracers. Many of these sites cannot be found using conventional search engines. It is my hope that these sites will assist you in accessing resources that the skip guessers never even know exist. As of October 2016 these sites were operative.

• Alexa -
Once at the website, select “Features” and then “Top Sites.” A website that archives older websites that are no longer available on the Internet. For example, Alexa has about 87 million websites from the 2000 election that are, for the most part, no longer available on the Internet. Use the Alexa web services tab for information sources.

• International Program -
An unbelievable source of data maintained by the US government on an international level with information ranging from business owners to frauds and scams to news releases and much more. This is a great site for any tracer who searches on an international level.

• The Directory of Open Access Journals -
Another full-text journal searchable database which covers over 125 countries utilizing over 9000 journals and containing in excess of 2,300,000 articles.

• FindArticles -
Indexes over 10 million articles from a variety of different publications and appears to be maintained by CBS News. To access this site, I just typed in

I hope you enjoy navigating and exploring the information provided at these very advanced data sites with the clear understanding that they are not designed for the novice in our industry but rather the seasoned and skilled tracker. We will continue on our trek down the fascinating path of the “Invisible Web” in our next issue. Until then, good luck and good hunting.

Ron Brown is a member of the National Association of Fraud Investigators and the author of “MANHUNT: The Book.” Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..