ENGL 101 English Composition 1 (Bartley)

Search effectively by limiting the domain

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Source: "Searching Google Effectively" by Joshua Vossler, UWF Libraries, Educational use.

Limiting by Domain in Google

Limiting the domain of the websites you're searching in Google is one of the quickest ways to narrow your results and find more credible resources quickly! URL domains can be clues to a site's reliability and ownership.

Common URL domains:
  • .com = commercial (ads & pop-ups)
  • .gov = U.S. government (official agencies)
  • .mil = U.S. military
  • .edu = educational (colleges & universities)
  • .org = organization (could be non-profit or for-profit, can be informative but often biased)
  • .net = network (could be almost anything, including personal websites)
  • .info = information (generic domain, no criteria needed for companies or individuals to use)
  • .biz = business (an alternative to .com)
You can also limit your searches, like through a Google search, by using the "site:" search shortcut. 
"Site searching" examples:

(click on image to enlarge)

sample site search limiting the domain to educational websites

  • politics in art site:edu (would find educational resources on this topic)
  • politics in art site:gov (would find U.S. government resources on this topic)
  • Note that there are NO spaces before or after the colon after the word "site"

Why use the web?

When should you use Google? 

Google can be a great starting place, but learning how to use some of the advanced search techniques can help you to quickly find what you need.

Here are some general tips:
  • Search using keywords or short phrases, not sentences! Eliminate any words that are not needed. Think of just the main words or concepts you'd like to find on any given webpage and search those. 
  • Government agencies are responsible for collecting and presenting data. It can be useful to limit the domain of your search to .gov websites. 
  • Additionally, educational websites can be useful for finding information that may have undergone additional editing, or likewise, you may be able to local scholarly article that have been uploaded on them. Limit to the .edu domain. 
  • Use phrase searching when relevant. That is, wrap relevant phrases in quotation marks to keep the words together as a single term, rather than as individual search words. For example, Google reads the phrase search of "medical marijuana" as a term while simply, typing in medical marijuana without the quotation marks will ask Google to search those terms individually. This can be helpful to use when looking for exact titles, or names of authors. 
  • Current statistics are often best found on government websites rather than in older articles accessed through databases. Trying to search for these online, adding the word statistics to your search, can be helpful. 
  • Most importantly, evaluate your sources! Look for articles from reputable sources that cite their sources, list their authors (either corporate ones or individuals), and provide evidence that the information they present has been researched.