Colin Meek’s tip of the day on journalism.co.uk, is to use the Domain filter, which is applicable in Google, Altavista, Yahoo and other search engines. It allows you to limit your search either to a particular site, or to a particular domain. Use it like this:
…followed by the domain name (i.e. site:bbc.co.uk) or upper level domain (i.e. site:.org.uk)
I have to agree with Colin, that this is a really, really useful tip, in a number of contexts, some of which I cover here. But now seems like a good time to go through a more thorough examination of where and how it can be used.
Firstly, it can be useful where you are searching within a large or unwieldy site – say a government site. Often the search mechanisms in these sites will not be as sophisticated or as flexible as Google and other engines, so it makes sense to wield their power on these results.
I have to say I read with some ambivalence concerns that Google is hijacking revenue from the MSM by allowing users to search their sites within it’s results pages, a relatively new initiative that ruffled some feathers last month. Afterall, what is more important to online newspapers, the revenue they earn from click-throughs, or making their content as easy as possible for their readers to search?
Another way in which the site: function can be used to good effect, is in unearthing contributors.
If you are hunting down an academic, include in your search string their subject area, and a term which connects them to their institution (professor, expert and department all generally work). Then include the site function in conjunction with the .ac.uk upper level domain (i.e. UK universities):
france politics professor site:.ac.uk
If you are looking for a US academic, try site:.edu, or for any other nationality try cross-referencing with this domain directory.
If you are hunting down a local charity or action group, include in your search string the subject area, and locality, then include the site function in conjunction with the .org.uk domain (i.e. UK-based NGOs, charities and professional bodies):
alzheimer’s croydon site:.org.uk
Something to bear in mind when using the site link is to consider whether or not to use a space between the colon and your domain. I’ve found that results can vary quite a bit, and I’m not convinced one is better than the other. See here and here.
If I had a fiver for every academic I’ve found using this method, I’d be lying on a beach somewhere. Probably Margate, knowing my luck.