Google Tips and Tricks – Domain-Specific Search

Domain Specific Search

Using a domain-specific search will allow you to limit your search to a specific domain such as .gov, .edu .org and .com. Here is an example of how using this technique would come in handy: Let’s say we are researching poverty.

Focused Search

We’ll enter the term “poverty” into our search box and hit the Enter key to run our search. Notice how we’re given about 172 million results and we’re getting all sorts of different types of web sites. Poverty is a pretty broad topic, so what we want to do is add a little focus to it by adding another descriptive word or phrase to our search. Let’s say we’re interested in poverty in Milwaukee so we’ll add “Milwaukee Wisconsin” to our search box and hit “Enter” to run our search again. Now we’re given fewer results. There are still over a million results, which is a lot, but the point to remember here is the more words you add, the more focused your search will be.

A good thing to remember with Google is not to gravitate toward the first result or the first few results on the list. When I scroll down the page a little I see that one of the results on my list is from the U.S. Census, which is a government institution. Government websites are great because they provide facts, figures, and information that’s reliable, authoritative, and usually up to date. By opening this website, I see that it is a table of quick facts about Milwaukee County from the most recent U.S. Census and that it contains a figure for people who live below the poverty level in Milwaukee County. This would be a great source of information to use in your research. Now that you’ve found a helpful website, you may be interested in finding other government resources like it.

Domain-Specific Search

How can you easily do this? It can be done with a technique called a domain-specific search. Here’s how it’s done: Enter the words site:gov behind your search terms in the search box and then hit the “Enter” key to run your search. Note that there should be no space between the colon and gov. Now you’ll see that there are even fewer results. Also notice that the results on the list are from government websites and that all levels of government are represented: federal, state, county, and city. You can also use this trick to limit search to organizational websites using site:org, educational websites using site:edu, or commercial websites using site:com although site:com will probably will not give you the greatest results and won’t be as useful. Now that you’ve seen this example, try it out with your own topic.


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