Skip to Main Content
Bortz Library Home
Hampden-Sydney College Home

Evaluating Websites


Remember, nothing is ever free!

Although you may not be paying money to view a website, somebody is always paying to host the content. Who are they? What is their agenda? Who are they trying to reach?

Questions to Ask

When analyzing a website, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this website contain a lot of advertisements?
  • What is being advertised?
  • What do these advertisements tell you about the website's purpose, agenda, or bias?
  • Who is paying for these advertisements? Who stands to gain from these advertisements and from visits to this website?

Recognizing Ads

Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize advertisements on a website. Look for the following buzzwords to recognize advertisements:

  • Look for brand names or easily-recognized products.
  • Look for anything that says "Sponsored By" or "Published By." These should be immediate indicators of sponsored content, or content that has been paid for by a 3rd party - in other words, an advertisement!
  • Anything with the word "AdChoices."

Always remember, you may need to do some additional research to identify advertising companies! For example, if you don't recognize the name "Hiscox" but you see it on a website, a quick google search will reveal that this is the name of an insurance company. Be proactive in your evaluation!