The web is limitless. Anyone can publish on it. There is no review of its content.
Search engines like Google use complicated algorithms retrieving and returning results based on your previous searches, the device you’re searching from, your geographic location, what it thinks you want based on what is popular, how many other pages link to a website, and other nebulous criteria (Google’s algorithms are proprietary).
This leads us to three questions:
Search a specific domain, i.e., site:edu
Search a subset of Google
Use specific keywords (nouns preferable), leave off stop words, which are small or meaningless words such as: a, an , the, that, are
Use the same techniques recommended for searching library databases.
Look for clues: Domain Names
.com Commercial websites
.edu Institutions of higher education in the U.S., including student’s pages.
.gov Published by the U.S. Gov’t. Considered credible, good for statistics.
.net Originally intended for network technologies. Not seen often. i.e., att.net
.org Used to be solely for non-profits. Can be biased. Check about page.
.mil Published by the U.S. military. Rarely see these.
.ca, .ru, .au Country codes. Will see as co.uk (United Kingdom).
Does the site also exist in a print version? For example, magazines and newspapers often have online versions of their print sources. Also, reference sources often have websites where basic content is free, and additional content is available for a fee. An example is the Oxford English Dictionary. These sites typically end in .com.
Is the site labeled as a blog? These are personal sites and are not appropriate sources for most college research.
Avoid sites identified in the upper left corner as “ad”.
Wikipedia entry for Website lists 50+ types of websites. It is not necessary to know all of them. It is only necessary to know a site’s purpose. Conjure Sherlock Holmes and do some sleuthing.
Is the site:
All websites are probably created to do one or more of the above. If someone created a website, they had a reason to do so.