Research Tip of the Week

Each week I provide a helpful research tip. This week my tip is about getting the most out of google searches.

Google can be a genealogist dream if you know how to really unleash the power of the advanced search options.

Performing a routine google searches should be a part of your basic strategy on any research subject.

Pick any ancestor and plug the name into the google search bar.

For my example I began with “James Spence” the name of my great-grandfather who in his early life has hazy origins.

The results are overwhelming, and I am swamped with unrelated websites in the return. With most names it will be necessary to filter out some of the background noise.

A quick trick to narrow the results down to genealogy related results is to add the keyword genealogy. That takes millions of hits down to under 500,000. Still unwieldy and with this approach I risk missing important results that don’t include the “genealogy” keyword.

At this point there are 3 ways to approach this search.

  • Advanced search options.

Once you have performed a google search additional options will become available to use advanced options. These can be accessed through the “settings” tab just under the google search bar.

Select “Advanced search” on the settings pull down tab. This takes you to a new page with extra search options.

advance search screen
  • Manually use search options built into google.

All the options that are available on the advanced search page work in the search bar. At the end of each search bar it has tips on how to manually use the search trick.

Here is a great blog post from Family History Daily with 6 great search tricks that are useful for genealogist.

Randy Majors has created a great tool that uses all the advanced search tricks of google in a very user-friendly search page. His site is a good way to play with some of the search options to get more comfortable with them.

Using these different search tricks can help you discover items that you might otherwise miss using other search techniques.

What are your favorite search tricks for google?

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