Hi all: I found this on one of the Archive Lists. Thought it was very interesting and
might be helpful. Darlene
SEARCH ENGINE TIPS
by Mike Jarvis
As genealogists in today's high-tech world, the importance of using search
engines properly is ever increasing. With genealogy related web sites making
up a huge part of our World Wide Web, we would like to share some search
engine tips that perhaps a few you will find helpful. There is much that
could be written about this, but we will focus only on a few tips that we
find most helpful. We use [ and ] to indicate terms that would be written in
a search box.
First - The use of quotation marks. When using a combination of words in the
search box, the search engine results will include every web page where
these words occur anywhere on that page regardless of whether these words
are immediately next to each other. Using the search term of [family
history ] will result in 109,000,000 hits while ["family history"] within
quotations will result in 5,400,000 hits. This is because in the second
instance it is only finding pages were the words are actually next to or
immediately touching each other. Try this with a family name. For example my
grandmother is named Flora MacDonald. If I search [Flora McDonald ] in
Google it returns 251,000 hits. Putting ["Flora MacDonald"] in quotations
results in 29,600 hits. This is far too many hits and primarily relate to a
prominent woman in Scottish and American history. This is not my
grandmother. However, knowing that my grandmothers middle name was Hermosa,
it makes sense to put ["Flora Hermosa MacDonald"] in the search box and I
get two hits related specifically to my grandmother. Success!
Second - The use of the minus sign. This is my second favorite search tip.
Using any combination of words in a search box with the minus sign directly
next to a word that you DO NOT want to find is also helpful. Using the
search term ["Flora MacDonald" -Scotland -Scottish -"North Carolina"
will eliminate any pages from my search that includes the words next to the
minus sign. So I will get only those pages that have my grandmother's name
and do not have Scotland or North Carolina on the site. This effectively
reduces the number of sites by more than half, from 29,600 to 12,800 hits.
Using quotation marks and the minus sign in combination greatly improves
your search results.
Third - The use of the plus sign. The plus sign has the effect of
instructing the search engine to give special emphasis to any word where the
plus sign is against it. My grandmother's father was Alexander MacDonald.
However, not the Alexander MacDonald who was prime minister of Canada. Using
the search term [Flora MacDonald -Scotland -Scottish -"North Carolina" -NC
+"Alexander MacDonald" -Canada ] gives me 1 hit that directs me to a site
about my grandmother. Here we have combined quotation marks with the minus
sign and the plus sign
Fourth - The site search. Let's say that I would like to find Alexander
MacDonald, however, I only want to search a particular domain. I would
simply use the search phrase ["Alexander MacDonald" site:rootsweb.com
Rather than thousands of hits I get 204. Similarly, you could put a minus
sign in front of rootsweb.com
so that it searches all domains except
Fifth - The intitle search term. Suppose that you would like to find every
site on the Web with the word genealogy in the title. The search box would
need the term [intitle:genealogy ], which would result in 943,000 hits.
Similarly, use the term [intitle:genealogy -site:ancestry.com ] and you
eliminate 3000 sites related to ancestry.com
. One more: try using the term
[intitle:genealogy -site:com ] which will have the effect of eliminating all
domains with the.com
extension (commercial sites).
Sixth - The related search term: If you like to know which sites are similar
to your own then use the term as follows: [related:USGenWeb.org
will vary with Google providing 31 similar sites and Yahoo serving up 35,000
Nearly all of these terms will work in most search engines. If you'd rather
not type in the shorthand for many of these tips, the search engines will
typically have an advanced search page which will do essentially the same
thing. Try: http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en