Refining Google search results according to site or domain can be a fantastic way for teachers and students to locate websites that they might not otherwise find but still contain useful information. This is because, as we know, a website can have excellent information about a topic but not rank well in Google search results.
To effectively utilize the option to refine search results according to site or domain you first need to understand what a top-level domain is. Common examples of top-level domains are .edu, .org, and .com. There are also top-level domains for countries, .ca is the top-level domain for Canada, .ch is the top-level domain for Switzerland. A list of country top-level domains is maintained on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_code_top-level_domain#Lists) Top-level country domains are sometimes subdivided by state or province. For example, in the United States you’ll find that many public schools use a domain structure of .k12.me.us (Maine public schools) or .k12.tx.us (Texas public schools). Put any state abbreviation into the aforementioned pattern and you’ll find websites from schools in that state.
There are two uses for refining search results according to site or domain that I frequently share with teachers and students. The first is to compare perspectives on literature about a topic. If you want to quickly compare reporting from China with reporting from South Korea about the same topic, conduct one search with results limited to .cn domains and conduct another with results limited to .kr domains.
The other use case for refining search results by domain that I frequently share is to refine a search to .k12.me.us (or other state abbreviation) in order to find materials that are appropriate for students. Publishing on a .k12.me.us domain typically requires that a person has to work for a public school. Knowing that, we can then have a fairly high degree of confidence that information published on that domain is going to be appropriate for students in terms of the topic itself, reading level, and depth of content. For example, if I’m looking for information about the War of 1812 and I find it on a sixth grade teacher’s resource website, I’m confident that my sixth and seventh grade students will be able to understand the material on that site.
One more interesting use of refining search results according to domain is to locate Google Documents, Slides, and Sheets that have been published online. Most Google Workspace users know that they can publish Docs, Slides, and Sheets to the web as simple stand-alone websites. If you refine your search results by domain to docs.google.com you will find all of the public Google Documents related to your search term. A short video demonstration of how that works can be seen here.
It should be noted that you can refine searches according to domain without opening Google’s Advanced Search menu. You can simply add site: .edu (or any other domain) to the end of your search term. However, I’ve found that it’s easier for students to remember to open the advanced search menu and select “narrow your results by site or domain” than it is to remember to add site: edu to the end of a query.