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From: dan hogan <>
Subject: Fwd: Genealogy search tips
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2005 20:52:59 -0700 (PDT)


> 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" -NC ]
> 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
> Rootsweb.
>
> 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]. Results
> will vary with Google providing 31 similar sites and
> Yahoo serving up 35,000
> related sites.


Dan Hogan



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