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Hot Tips on How to Use Google for Genealogy Searches

Google is the number one search engine for genealogy searches. Most people use Google to find websites. However, Google can also be used to search through indexes for people and thus it is an ideal tool for genealogists wanting to track down their ancestors.

General Principles

If a genealogy record is on the internet then chances are that Google has indexed the information. There are two notable exceptions to this principle (and neither exception really applies to genealogy):

• The information is new (less than 3 days old). Although Google may appear to be instantaneous (through such high profile services as Google News), it usually does not do real-time information very well.

• The information is on a website that is protected behind a firewall or other blockade (in technical terms this means that Google cannot ‘crawl’ the website).

For genealogy, the fundamental principle in Google searching for an ancestor is to use methods and approaches that maximize your chances of finding the information you want while simultaneously minimizing extraneous results that are of no value.

If you cannot find the genealogy information you want by searching with Google then there are essentially only two possibilities:

• The Google search that you requested is not effective at extracting the correct result. This article will help you avoid this outcome.

• The information is not on the internet. This is a distinct possibility with genealogy records because only a fraction of all historical records have been put online. Since new records are being added daily, a useful strategy is to repeat the same search pattern six months to a year later to see if any new records are available. Alternatively, you can continue to check our New Genealogy Records to see if the record(s) that you are looking for may have become available.

The rest of this article provides various tips and ideas to help you design Google searches for genealogy as efficiently as possible to maximize your chances of finding online that elusive ancestral record.

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