I have previously mentioned gathering genealogical their ancestry into an online Family Tree but who may have a web page devoted to their ancestry. Likewise, some genealogists may have a Family Tree online but may also have a personal web site that presents more in depth information. Or maybe you just need the address for an out of state genealogical society. In any case, a general search of the internet should be made to see if more genealogical information on your family is online. To make your internet search most effective, it is best to first understand how internet search engines work.
Search Engine is a term used to describe any tool that lets you search the Internet or the Web.
1) Crawler Search Engines: A web crawler (also known as a web spider or web robot) browses the Web in an automated manner, adding content to it’s database as it goes. Google is an example of a web crawler.
2) Metasearch Engine: This is a search engine that will search a group of search engines and combine the results received from all of them. Mamma is an example of a Metasearch Engine.
3 Directories: Directories are built by human selection, not by computers or robot programs, and are usually organized into subject categories instead of offering a search bar only. Yahoo is an example of a directory
Making Your Search More Effective
1)Using Phrases: A phrase is a combination of two or more words that must be found on a web page in the order specified. To have the search engine do this, you must put the phrase in quotation marks. For example, searching for George McDonald will bring up pages that could have the words George and McDonald on them, but not necessarily right next to each other. Searching for “George McDonald” will only bring page results with those two names right next to each other, in that order. Most search engine’s will allow you to use phrases, but not all. Google accepts phrases.
2) Using Boolean Commands: The following commands, called Boolean commands, are a great way to narrow your search results. Typing the word AND tells the search engine that you only want pages that contain all of the phrases you’ve typed. For example: Typing “New York” AND “John Chester” AND “Ellis Island” would only give you pages that had ALL of those phrases on them. Typing the words AND NOT tells the search engine that you want pages that contain certain words or phrases, but only if they don’t contain certain other words or phrases. For example: The search “New York” AND “John Chester” AND NOT “Ellis Island”, would return pages that mention New York and John Chester but not those that include Ellis Island
The + and – signs can be used in the same way as the above, + meaning AND and – meaning AND NOT. A major difference though, its that the + and – signs will not work if you put a space after the sign and the word you have typed. Again, not all search engines will accept Boolean commands or the + and – sign.
3) Use Synonyms: Using different words or more common terms can sometimes improve your results. For example: “Fridge” instead or “Refrigerator” or “Tennis shoe” instead of “Sneaker.”
4) Don’t make it too specific: If you specify too many phrases or AND’s or AND NOT’s on a search, you may end up getting no results at all.
5) Play around with the search: Always switch your search commands and terms around to see what new pages each search might yield. If a certain search brings only three results, trying searching for the same thing using different commands or words. Finding what you need often takes patience as you switch up your search commands. But that takes a lot less time than searching through thousands of web pages on a search that hasn’t been narrowed down enough. Remember to change your spelling as well when it comes to certain names. There is almost always more than one way to spell a surname so try them all when looking for a specific ancestor.