Show Notes: How to use Google site search to search a website that doesn’t have a good search engine, or doesn’t have one at all. Google’s Site Search will help you find exactly what you need! This tip comes from the hour-long Premium Membership “Elevenses with Lisa” video called 5 Genealogy Search Hacks. Premium Members can download the exclusive cheat sheet PDF on the show notes page.
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Use Google’s Site search to dig into websites:
- that don’t have a search feature,
- that have a search feature that’s not great,
- or to double-check that you found everything at that site.
Essentially, you can use Google Site search as a custom search engine for a specific website.
For example, USGenWeb is a free genealogy website that has been around for a long time and has a vast number of pages and content. There isn’t a search box on the home page, but you can click Search & Site Map in the menu. However, you’ll notice that their search engine is powered by a third party called FreeFind which has been around since 1998. Because it’s free and a third party, the search field is definitely not secure. Since that’s the case, you might as well use the largest and most powerful search engine in the world, Google, to search to run your search instead. Google’s site search is the way to do that.
A note about websites like USGenWeb: Make sure that you are searching the correct website.
Notice the URL for the USGenWeb website: https://usgenweb.org/index.html. Click the desired state on the map on the home page. Now, look at the URL again.
Example: Indiana http://ingenweb.org/
Notice that it’s actually a different website. Each state has the two-letter state abbreviation at the beginning of the URL. Use the state address when conducting a site search.
Example Search: If I wanted to find all mentions of a surname in the state, my site search would look like this:
You can use the Google search operators listed in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox to be even more specific about what you want to find.