Google search expert Lisa Louise Cooke advises a genealogist on three ways to improve Google search results. See how these little improvements can make a big difference in your own Google searches!
This Genealogist Wants to Improve Google Search Results
Gene from Phoenix recently watched a free webinar in which I talked about improving Google search results for genealogy and then sent me this follow-up email:
“Lisa, I enjoyed the free webinar, Thank you!
I tried your suggestions for searching Google but still can’t get what I want.
My ancestor was Moses Fountain (possibly from NY but can only find him in IN)
I put in “Moses Fountain” 1800-1832 -Italy -Rome -hotel
When my search comes up the first page is all of the hotel & fountain in Rome, Italy. There is no genealogy (all my inquiries) until page 2. I cannot -New York as he may have come from there, so I’ll continue to get Albany fountain (like the water fountain.) Thanks for any suggestions you might have.” -Gene in Phoenix, AZ
3 Powerful Techniques that can Improve Google Search Results
Kudos to Gene for jumping onto Google and giving it a go after the webinar. Getting started is the most important part of achieving genealogical success! In order to improve Google search results, Gene needs to make a few adjustments to tell Google more specifically what is wanted:
1. Use the Google search operators correctly
First, Gene will need to fix the numrange search. If you haven’t watched the webinar yet (what are you waiting for?) a numrange search is when you give Google two four-digit numbers and specify that you only want webpages included in your search results that have a four-digit number that falls within that range. And of course years are expressed in four-digit numbers, so this is incredibly useful for genealogists. Gene has a dash between the two numbers (a very logical approach since this is how we are used to expressing a range), but a numrange search requires two periods instead, like this:
2. Add a Google search term to narrow results.
Gene didn’t see genealogical search results until page 2 of the results. An easy way to bring pages related to genealogy to the forefront of the results is to add the word genealogy to your search query:
As you can see above, this improves things quite a bit. Isn’t it amazing what a difference one well-chosen keyword can make to improve Google search results?
3. Consider carefully which Google search terms to remove
Gene removed some irrelevant search results by placing a minus sign directly in front of the search terms Italy, Rome, and hotel. This tells Google to subtract all pages from search results that contain these words. This is a very powerful tool, particularly when it comes to ancestors who have common surnames. (For instance, if you were researching an ancestor named John Lincoln, your results would be inundated with results for President Abraham Lincoln, simply due to the volume of pages that mention him. If John was not related to this famous president, you could add -Abraham and -president to your search query, and his footprints on your results would be dramatically reduced.) By the way, notice that the minus sign touches the word it is removing. There should be no space between the minus and the word.
But Gene continues to get irrelevant search results relating to a Moses Fountain in Washington Park, Albany, New York. The concern expressed here is that removing New York may inadvertently remove good search results, since this ancestor may have been from New York. Instead of removing New York, why not subtract a more targeted search term, such as Albany or Washington Park? Since it’s also possible that Moses Fountain was from Albany, I’d start by removing Washington Park.
How can you subtract a whole phrase? Put quotation marks around it so that Google understands it is a phrase and not two separate words that are unconnected. Then put a minus sign right in front of it. In Gene’s case, it would look like this: -“Washington Park.” The resulting search results eliminate the reference to the fountain in Albany:
Improve Google search results even more dramatically
Watch this free 90-minute webinar and learn more about improving your Google searches for genealogy, along with other powerful strategies for reconstructing your family history. While you’re watching, subscribe to the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel to keep up with the many free video tutorials we publish there!
As you can imagine, I only had time to scratch the surface of how to improve your searches in the webinar. My book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox is dedicated to the topic, and I have included several in-depth Google search for genealogy video classes in Genealogy Gems Premium Membership.
Wishing you many more genealogy gems!
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Using Evernote for genealogy will make you a more efficient and effective researcher.
Genealogists all over the world are harnessing the power of Evernote to organize their family history research. This free software (and website application) can bring all your research materials (text notes, photos and images from mobile devices, video, audio interviews, web content and URLs) together in one place.
Then it goes even further by making all the text items keyword-searchable. So you can much more easily locate that one little piece of information you recall only as “that bit about the fire station he worked for.”
Better yet, Evernote goes with you. With the Evernote software and companion app, your genealogy notes will be accessible from and fully-synced across all your computing devices. Sigh! It’s wonderful!
Here’s how to get started
1. Download the free Evernote software here.
2. Create your free or premium Evernote account. (Click here to learn more about Evernote account options.)
3. Go to your Account page and make note of your unique Evernote email address. (Help>Go to My Account Page>Account Summary and scroll down to “Email Notes to.”)
4. Download the free Evernote web clipper for your web browser.
5. Download the free Evernote app from the App Store or Google Play and sign in to your account.
Now you’re ready to use Evernote to collect your research content and source citation information!
Here are 5 ways to add content to Evernote
1. The Web Clipper: Pull data from websites with the handy web clipper and Evernote will often automatically capture information about the site you got it from.
2. Drag and Drop: Images, scanned documents and other multimedia content can be dropped right into new or existing notes.
3. Smartphone and Tablet: Snap a photo of a record, tombstone or any other genealogical item. (I like to do a quick photo “Edit” cleanup to get it in the best shape possible). Tap the Share button and send it to Evernote.
4. Email Content: Use your unique Evernote email address to send content from anywhere to your account.
5. Good Old Typing: Click “New Note” and start typing. You can always add other content including merging notes together.
Resources for Success
There’s so much demand for learning to use Evernote for genealogy that I’ve created a variety of helpful resources in video, audio, print and online formats (because everyone learns differently!).
FREE YouTube Video Series: Evernote for Genealogy
I’ve posted two videos so far on my free YouTube series:
Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference Guide
My laminated reference guide is super handy for every day support! This guide includes:
- A Getting Started Checklist
- Quick Keystrokes
- Getting the Most Out of Clipping
- Maneuvering the Desktop Client
- Genealogical Organization
- Little-Known Search Strategies
- Specialized Genealogy Focused Techniques
- Comparison of Evernote Pricing Tiers
The guide is available for both Windows and Mac users, in both print and digital download format. Click below to view:
The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education
Genealogy Gems website Premium members have a full-year’s access to my popular in-depth video classes, which include The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education video series. This series includes the following full-length and mini-series classes:
Keep up on all my latest Evernote news and Q&As!
Click here to read my Evernote blog posts.
Sign up for my free email newsletter (that sign-up comes with a free bonus e-book!).
Who else do you know who would benefit from getting organized? I hope you’ll share this page with your friends, relatives, family history buddies and fellow gen society members using the share icons below. Thanks!
Our review of new genealogy records online this week includes the 1939 Register for England and Wales; church records for Illinois and Kyiv, Ukraine; New York naturalizations and Mexican vital and church records. Which of these may name your family members?
ENGLAND AND WALES POPULATION REGISTER. The 1939 Register is now online at Findmypast, as we blogged about earlier this week. Click here to learn more about this crucial record set for those researching English and Welsh families.
FLASH SALE! Receive a 10% discount off 300 credits on Findmypast now through Friday 13thNovember 2015 at 11.59pm GMT using the code 1939REG10. Click the graphic below to have the discount automatically set up for you.
(When you use our links and graphics you are helping to support the free Genealogy Gems Podcast – thank you!!)
ILLINOIS CHURCH RECORDS. Ancestry has updated its collection of United Methodist Church records for 87 counties in central and southern Illinois. The collection now spans 1824-2009, bridging record gaps like the lack of government vital records in the past and privacy restrictions for more recent records. Click here to search for baptisms, marriages, deaths, family buy worm medication for cats migrations and more. These records are for congregations that are no longer in existence.
MEXICO. For October, Ancestry announced the addition of “more than 250 million Mexican birth, marriage, death, and church records—plus U.S. census, border crossing, and naturalization records.” click here to search Mexican records on Ancestry–through Monday, October 9, access to these collections is free.
NEW YORK NATURALIZATIONS. Ancestry’s collection of naturalization records for New York (1882-1944) have been updated. click here to search for immigrant ancestors who may have naturalized in New York, which welcomed millions of immigrants who may have done this paperwork during that time.
UKRAINE CHURCH RECORDS. You can new browse a new collection of Orthodox church records for the Diocese of Kyiv, Ukraine (1734-1920) on FamilySearch. These include duplicate records of baptisms/births, marriages, and burials/deaths created by church officials for civil authorities. Click here to view these records for free (sign-in may be required).
Please help spread the great news! Thank you for sharing these new genealogy records online with your genealogy societies, fellow researchers and family.
Simply copy and paste the URL for this page:
- into an email
- on your Facebook page
- on your society Facebook page
- on Pinterest