Technology GOOGLE FOR

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Technology GOOGLE FOR Powered By Docstoc

                    GOOGLE FOR                                                                by Mark Howells

           oogle has won the search
               TM                           shows the website as it appeared when       prior searches you have performed.
           engine wars, for the time        Google last visited it. Faced with the      This is great for helping you keep track
           being. Its complete text         impermanence of information on the          of what you’ve already searched for.
search functionality for its database       Internet, these cached copies can be        In addition, the Highlight button will
of over 4 billion webpages has made         a great help in finding genealogical        automatically highlight the exact indi-
Google extremely popular. Last year,        information that has otherwise van-         vidual words in your search param-
the search engine processed more than       ished from the Web.                         eters anywhere they appear in your
112 million search requests per day.           A few tips and tricks for using          search results. This makes finding the
This year, Google accounts for forty        Google effectively in your genealogical     most relevant results much easier.
percent of all Internet searches per-       research are noted in this article. You        When you visit a specific website,
formed in the United States. It has an      should visit Google Help Central at         the Search Site button on the Google
even larger slice of the search engine      <>            Toolbar allows you to search specifi-
pie in other countries—performing                                              by
                                            and educate yourself on using Google        cally Howells
                                                                                       Markwithin that particular website,
sixty-five percent of all searches in the   to its full potential. Of particular        based on its domain name. This fea-
United Kingdom and eighty percent of        value are the Basics of Search and the      ture is excellent for further drill-down
all searches in Germany.                    Advanced Search Tips.                       searching once you have located a
    Even with more than 4 billion web-                                                  likely website and want to search more
pages cataloged, Google only indexes        The Google Toolbar                          deeply on that site alone.
a portion of the Internet. It isn’t a          Before the specifics of using the           While not specific to genealogy,
perfect tool, but it’s the best tool for    Google website are discussed, a digres-     another very useful feature of the
the job right now. Perhaps one reason       sion on using the Google Toolbar is         Google Toolbar is its Popup Blocker.
is because Google’s catalog of websites     in order. The Google Toolbar is a           This will close down the popup adver-
is kept very updated. Its bots do an        free download from Google available         tisements that appear when you visit
excellent job of searching throughout       at <>. It          some websites. Be aware that some
the Internet for new and updated web-       allows you to add the search func-          websites generate new windows for rea-
pages every day.                            tionality of the Google website to your     sons other than advertisements (such
    For genealogists, using Google is a     Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. By     as database search results). These new
must. Not only does the search engine       downloading and installing the toolbar,     non-advertisement windows may also
provide search capabilities for current     you are able to do Google searches of       sometimes be blocked in error by the
webpages, it also provides histori-         the Internet directly from your browser     Popup Blocker. The Google Toolbar
cal copies of old webpages that have        without having to first visit the Google    allows you to individually unblock
changed or been removed from the            website. A search box appears on your       popups on specific websites by visit-
Web.                                        browser’s toolbar in which you can          ing that site and clicking the Popup
    When you view the results of a          directly type your Google searches.         Blocker button.
Google search, you will see a link             The Google Toolbar has some addi-
labeled “Cached” under the individ-         tional features that make it a handy        Customizing Google
ual search results. Following this link     companion to Google searches. By cus-          The Google website can be custom-
will take you to a copy of that web-        tomizing the Options on the Toolbar,        ized to fit your needs. Information on
page stored at Google. This version         you can maintain a drop-down list of        how to customize the Google website

                                                                                Ancestr y  No vember / December 2004              59
     can be found at <             same search as “Smith AND geneal-         tion. If you have a John Schmidt who
     help/customize.html>. The cus-               ogy.” Google will allow up to about ten   may have also gone by the first name
     tomizations themselves are made at           individual words for search parameters.   Johannes, you can search Google using
     <>.                If you use more than ten, the remain-     “John OR Johannes AND Schmidt”
        Customization allows you to specify       ing words are ignored. Use distinct       to cover both possibilities. As with
     the language you want to have your           words for search parameters when-         non-Internet genealogical research,
     searches returned in. The Safe Search        ever possible. When searching for a       all possible combinations need to be
     Filtering blocks pornographic search         common name such as “John Smith,”         researched, including nicknames and
     results from being returned. Perhaps         adding a location and time to the         abbreviations.
     the most useful customization is for         search parameter such as “John Smith         To keep a phrase together in the
     changing the number of results dis-          Moonshine Holler Missouri 1902” will      search parameters, surround the search
     played per page. The default number          produce a more effective result. In       with quotation marks. For example, if
     of search results per page is ten, but the   Google, the Boolean operators may be      you had an ancestor who reputedly
     maximum allowed is one hundred. Set          represented by mathematical symbols       survived the Great Molasses Flood of
     your number of results per page to the       as well as by conjunctions. Thus + is     1919 and you wanted to learn more
                                                                                            about the event, you will get more rele-
                                                                                            vant results by enclosing “great molas-
     Using Google is a must, but                                                            ses flood” in quotations than by letting
                                                                                            Google search for them as individual

     you’ll need to educate your-                                                           words located somewhere on the same
                                                                                            page but not necessarily together.

     self in its various features to                                                        Advanced Search
                                                                                               The Google Advance Search page
                                                                                            at    <
     use it most effectively in                                                             search> provides a form that can be
                                                                                            used to invoke the Boolean opera-
     your family research.                                                                  tors without having to type them in
                                                                                            the search parameters yourself. “Find
                                                                                            results with all the words” corresponds
     number that best balances the number         the same as AND, | represents OR,         to using the AND operator. “Exact
     of results per page versus the time it       and – means NOT.                          phrase” is the equivalent of using quo-
     takes Google to render the results page         The NOT Boolean operator is            tation marks to keep words together in
     for you.                                     particularly useful if your genealogy     a search. “At least one of the words” is
                                                  includes a famous surname. If you         OR and “without the words” is NOT.
     Boolean Operators                            have Jefferson ancestry, Google may          Of particular use for genealogists is
        Google is not case-sensitive regard-      return a great deal of information        the Date, Occurrences, and Domain
     ing the parameters of your search. A         regarding the author of the Declaration   advance search features. The Date field
     search on the uppercase “SMITH” will         of Independence. To avoid this, you       allows you to search only for the web-
     generate the same 40 million results as      could search “Jefferson genealogy         pages Google has found to be updated
     a search on the lowercase “smith.” But       NOT Thomas” to avoid information          in the past three months, six months,
     the Boolean operators used to qualify        on the famous redhead. If you have a      or one year. If you are being consistent
     search parameters—AND, OR, and               less famous Thomas Jefferson in your      with your genealogical searches over
     NOT—must always be uppercase.                family tree, you could avoid results      time, this feature can be very handy for
     Boolean operators are used to broaden        including the third U.S. president by     repeating your standard searches on a
     or narrow a search by specifying how         searching for “Thomas Jefferson gene-     periodic basis but limiting the search
     the keywords in the search parameters        alogy NOT Virginia.” Using a loca-        to only those websites that have been
     must relate to one another.                  tion parameter is a good way to focus     updated.
        Google automatically defaults to the      a search.                                    The Occurrences field allows you to
     Boolean operator AND when you use               The OR operator allows you to          specify searches anywhere in any page,
     multiple words in search parameters.         waffle on genealogical searches when      in only the title of the pages, in only
     Thus, “Smith genealogy” is exactly the       you are not sure about your informa-      the text, in only the URL, or in only

60       A n ce s t r y  No vember / December 2004
the links on the pages. Specifying        what you have searched for through
these types of searches can be useful     Google. If you keep your word pro-
if you already know a title of a web-     cessor open at the same time you use
page and are trying to find it again or   your browser to search with Google,
if you know of a particular webpage       you can easily copy and paste your
that references some genealogical         search syntax from every search and
information in its text but does not      thus keep an exact record of past
include it in its title or URL.           searches. A research log with a listing
    The Domain field is great for         of past searches helps you resub-
searching genealogy sites with large      mit identical searches three months
amounts of content. If you remem-         or six months later when webpag-
ber that the FamilySearch site has        es have changed, new webpages
a German word list full of German         have appeared, and Google’s index
genealogical words but can’t seem to      is updated with this new informa-
find it at FamilySearch, the Domain       tion. Remember to use the Advanced
field to search for “German Word          Search Date field or the “daterange:”
List” is at <>        syntax to avoid getting results you
only. Notice that in the search box       have already seen.
on the results page for the advanced         Always try alternate word choic-
search for the German Word List           es in your searches. Use not only
appears as ‘“German Word List” site:      genealogy but also “family history” This shows          and “family tree.” Different web-
that the syntax for the Domain Only       masters will title similar webpages
search is “site:www.familysearch.         differently so try to out-think them.
org.”                                     Misspellings are also common on
    Other advance search syntax you       the Internet so don’t forget geneology
can type directly into the search box     for genealogy and cemetary for cem-
includes “daterange:” for Date, and       etery. Abbreviations need to be taken
“intitle:”, “allinurl:”, and “intext:”    into consideration in your searches as
for Occurrences. Whether you use          well. Remember CO for county and
the Advanced Search page or type          Reg. or Reg’t for regiment. Finally,
in the syntax yourself is up to you.      initials and nicknames in place of full
Either way, if you remember visiting      names are typical so try searching on
a website whose URL included the          F.X. for Francis Xavier and Tom for
phrase “smith genealogy” but you          Thomas.
can’t remember the exact URL, you            Google is an extremely powerful
can search Google with the syntax         search engine, and you’ll need to
“allinurl: smith genealogy” to find       educate yourself in its various fea-
it again.                                 tures to use it most effectively in your
                                          family research. Just as you had to
Other Considerations                      learn how to use the microfilm read-
   In the search results returned by      ers when you first visited your local
Google, you will notice that there        library or Family History Center, you
are Sponsored Links on the upper          must familiarize yourself with the ins
righthand corner of the results page.     and outs of Google’s capabilities. By
These are paid advertisements placed      just typing in a name and hoping for
there based on one or more of the         the best, you are not letting Google
keywords you searched on. Be aware        do the heavy lifting for you. 
that these sponsored links may or
may not be relevant to your search.
   As with your offline research, you       Mark Howells           Googles     at
should be keeping a research log of

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