SIFT is a helpful acronym for initially evaluating source credibility. SIFT (from Mike Caulfield) stands for:
Modified from Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Later, when you determine that the site is worth your time, you can analyze the source's content more carefully.
When you are evaluating a web site, don't just rely on the information from the site itself. You can open new browser tabs and do a little background research on the site, creators of the site, or the claims promoted on the site. This is just meant to be a quick overview at this point. You are looking for some supporting evidence that this is a credible source--not one that has been discredited or copied from another site.
You can run a quick search in Google or Wikipedia, for example, just to get an idea of what an organization or individual stands for. You can also look at the fact checking resources to see if particular claims have been researched for you. You can use the Library's databases, particularly news databases such as US Major Dailies or US Newsstream, for more background information.
You want to think like a fact checker:
Click restraint: a regular practice of fact checkers, through which one reviews and analyzes a list of search results before deciding on which links to click
Click restraint is an important feature of lateral reading. You don't want to click on the very first links you find. First, scan the links looking for information about the sites you've found. Look at the titles and descriptions to see where the information comes from. The best site may not be the first one, or even on the first page of results. Sites can rise to the top because of design, not actual content.
The video below, from the Stanford History Education project, shows how to use this technique.
Try your skills at evaluating content on the web. The sites below have interactive videos which will help you practice using tools to spot dubious information.
Or, try your skills on Informable, an app created by the News Literacy Project