Hit a brick wall? Try this...
- At some point all family history research leads to a 'dead end'
where leads just seem to dry up and many of the posts to this group
relate to finding 'missing links'. I've had some great success
using the following technique and I hope it helps others.
Firstly, you need to understand how the internet works, or at least
how the search engines work, e.g. Google, Yahoo, etc, etc. For the
purposes of this example we'll focus on Google. It uses a system of
keywords to match your query (the visitor) with web pages delivering
that content (the providers). These keywords are the search terms
you (and millions of others), type on the search bar. The results
passed back are those pages, or providers, that meet the search
term. As you can imagine, competition by the large commercial
organisations to be returned in a good `list position' is fierce and
so large amounts of marketing spends are focussed on ensuring `high
ranking' within the search engines.
OK? So what does that mean for us? Last month, May 2006,
approximately 152,000 people typed in a search for `Genealogy'. I've
just typed the same search into Google. 73.6 million web pages were
returned in the results! Not surprisingly most of the top positions
are taken by either the main database vendors or resellers
(affiliates) of the major vendors.
Now the internet contains THOUSANDS of personal websites where
researchers (just like you), publish their family tree hoping to
make connections. The problem is they have almost no chance of
reaching top positions on search results and so are difficult to
So how do we find them?
1. Be More (very) Specific
What were these people typing `genealogy' actually looking for?
Genealogy Scotland, Genealogy book, genealogy Cowan? Who knows, but
they were presented with was the main commercial vendors keen to get
2. Combine keywords + phrases
Now let's try: genealogy scotland + smith (try it)
We're getting closer, about 872,000 results, quite a few but much
more specific and beginning to return some interesting `personal'
3. Search rules (syntax)
Did you notice the `+' sign in the example above? To the search
engine this means `and' so, the results returned will contain;
genealogy OR scotland AND smith.
Now try this: "genealogy scotland" + smith
Note: The quotes around "genealogy scotland"means to match the EXACT
PHRASE and this is particularly useful when looking for specific
individuals e.g. "John William Smith".
So the search above returned about 19000 results, much better, and
some very specific sites containing personal family history pages.
As you can see the best search results come from being very
specific. Of course you can vary these searches to include
placenames, dates, etc, etc. The same rules apply to most of the
major search engines. One last thing, most of the search engines
include an 'Advanced' search button, this will further allow
inclusion / exclusion of certain terms, dates, etc.
Hope the group finds this useful. It might be interesting to hear
about any other 'unconventional' tips.
- Thank you Bill, this was very helpful. I actually got
a really good return for a change on a few of my news
and web alerts with this also. On one of them I look
for a James Read...Well...it gave me alot of James'
talking about reading something or the James being an
author, ect...lol...not what I was looking for
obviously. That is now majorly changed. Still haven't
found the James Read that I am looking for...but
now...I have a better chance when something does pop
--- cwnbll <email@example.com> wrote:
> At some point all family history research leads to a
> 'dead end'
> where leads just seem to dry up and many of the
> posts to this group
> relate to finding 'missing links'. I've had some
> great success
> using the following technique and I hope it helps