Google Search Tips
Techniques for Online Research   

Punctuation Ignored
Google ignores most commas, semicolons, colons, periods and hyphens. Searching for Atlanta, Georgia and Atlanta Geogria produce identical results.

Case Insensitive
Google is also not sensitive to upper or lower case. Searching for Matt Dillon and matt dillon produce identical results.

Select Uncommon Keywords
Common keywords return a large number of useless search results. Example: searching for Grant return 205 million. Searching for Ulysses returns less than 16 million.

Exclude Unwanted Results
Use "AND" to exclude unwanted results. A search for Ulysses AND Grant returns results that excludes results that do not contain both the words Ulysses and Grant. The word AND must be capitalized and it is optional. A search for Ulysses Grant gives the same results.

Search for Phrases
Enclose keyword phrases inside quote marks. Example: Searching for Ulysses S. Grant returns nearly three million results. Searching for "Ulysses S. Grant" enclosed in quotes returns less than one million results. Punctuation inside the quotes is included in the search. "Ulysses S. Grant" is different than "Ulysses S Grant" (no period).

Use Wildcards
Search for an unknown word using the asterisk (*) wildcard. A search for "Ulysses * Grant" returns results for "Ulysses Grant", "Ulysses S. Grant", "Ulysses Simpson Grant", "Ulysses Fredrick Grant", etc.

Synonyms Searches
Add a tilde (~) to a word to search using synonyms. Searching for ~surname returns the same results as searching for surname, "family name" and "last name". Other useful terms are: ~born, ~died, ~marriage, ~obituary, ~genealogy, ~ancestral, ~biography and ~tombstone.

Add the Spouse's Name
Add the husband's or wife's first or last name to increase relevant results. Searching: +"George Bush" +Barbara gives more precise results than "George Bush".
  Genealogy Surname Websites
Search for genealogy surname websites. Use the "allintitle:" keyword to search for web pages that contain a surname in the web page title. Searching allintitle:"Ulysses S. Grant" president will find websites with the words Ulysses S. Grant in the title at the top and the word president anywhere on the page.

Use "OR" to Get More Results
A search for Cleveland TN OR Tennessee shows results that include the word Cleveland and either TN or Tennessee. The word OR is capitalized.

Indicate Crucial Search Terms
Use plus to indicate crucial search terms. Often Google search results do not include all of your search keywords. Add a plus sign before an important keyword to guarantee that it will be included in the search results. Searching: +Simpson +Wilson Donnelly Lopez produces results that include Simpson and Wilson although Donnelly and Lopez could be missing.

Include Genealogical Words
Add a genealogical word to your surname or search keywords. Useful words are: born, birth, died, death, buried, burial, cemetery, genealogy or family. Search Ulysses AND Grant on Johnson died instead of just Johnson.

Add a Geographic Location
Add an area when the person was born, lived or died. Searching for "Ulysses S. Grant" +"New York" returns more results of Grant's later life.

Search for Pictures of Faces
After performing a normal search click the "Images" link in the in the upper left corner of the search results page. Enter your search keywords in the images search box and click the Search button. Next click the "Face" link under the words "Any Type". Enter your search keywords in the images search box and click the Search button.

Select Range of Years
Add a beginning and ending date to exclude results that are too early or too recent. Enter the beginning and ending years separated with two periods - no spaces. Searching "Ulysses S. Grant" 1878..1885 returns results that include a year (or any number) between 1878 and 1885 (inclusive). Results without a number between 1878 and 1885 (inclusive) are not returned.
Order of Keywords
Search engines give priority to the beginning words in your search list. Searching General Grant Tomb produces different results than Tomb General Grant.

Search for Genealogy Pictures
Search for pictures of ancestors, descendants, homes, churches, schools, tombstones, deeds, landmarks, immigrant ships, wills and other documents. After performing a normal search click the "Images" link in the upper left corner of the search results page. Enter your search keywords in the images search box and click the Search button.

Search for Family Tree Files
Add the "filetype:ged" keyword to search for gedcom files that includes any surname, location or other text. These are family tree files that have not been converted to a web page format. Gedcom is short for GEnealogical Data COMmunication. This is the type of file genealogy programs use to store family information and details. Many web sites have not yet converted these files to a readable web page format. Searching: Richard Milhous Nixon filetype:ged will find files of type ged that contain the words Richard Milhous Nixon.

Search for USA Street Maps
Search for USA Street Maps to find the location houses, churches, schools and other ancestral address. After performing a normal search: click the "Maps" link in the upper left corner of the search results page. Enter your search keywords in the search box on the search results page and click the Search button.

Search for Building or Structure
This restricts your search to a particular type of structure and within a specific geographic area. Find churches, schools, cemeteries, newspapers, libraries and other structures. You get a list of results along with addresses, web sites and they are plotted on a map. Current names returned. They may not be the same as shown on older documents.

Use the Google Directory
This directory is a list of web sites with genealogical interest. To access enter: http://www.google.com/Top/Society/Genealogy/ in the Address box (leave the Search box blank). Then press the Enter key or click the Go button.

Exclude Unwanted Results
Use minus sign to exclude unwanted results. Example: searching for Cleveland -OH -Ohio returns results with most of the Cleveland, Ohio results removed.
  Search for Missing Text
Add a hyphen (-) to get results with any number of missing words. Example: Searching Elizabeth-Windsor returns Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor.

Definitions of Genealogical Words
Search for definitions of genealogical words. Use the "define:" keyword to search for the meaning for antiquated disease names, such as apoplexy and dropsy, acronyms found on old documents and obituaries. Also old-fashion names for occupations such as cordwainer. Searching: define:"filles du roi" tells that these were young Frenchwomen who immigrated to New France (now Quebec) between 1663 and 1673.

Search for Scholarly Literature
Search for scholarly literature. These are articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, universities and other web sites. After performing a normal search: click the "More" link in the upper left corner of the search results page. Next click the "Scholar" link. Enter your search keywords in the directory search box and click the Search button.

Search News Archives
Search Google news archives for obituaries, lost relatives and unknown cousins. To access enter: http://news.google.com/archivesearch in the Address box (leave the Search box blank). Then press the Enter key or click the Go button. Enter your search keywords in the directory search box and click the Search button. The larger circulation newspapers charge to read articles. Most of the smaller newspapers are free.

Search Digitized Google Books
Search the full text of books that Google has digitized. These include genealogy, history, military and other books, plus municipal reports. After performing a normal search: click the "More" link in the upper left corner of the search results page. Next click the "Books" link. Enter your search keywords in the search box on the search results page and click the Search button.

Genealogy Blog Searcher
Search for ancestors, genealogy topics and locations. A genealogy blog is a type of website with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events and other material. Readers can post questions and comments on each entry. After performing a normal search: click the "More" link in the upper left corner of the search results page. Next click the "Blogs" link. Enter your search keywords in the search box on the search results page and click the Search button.

Search Current News
Search Google current news for obituaries, stories about relatives and relatives in the armed services. After performing a normal search: click the "News" link in the upper left corner of the search results page. Enter your search keywords in the search box on the search results page and click the Search button.

Reverse Order of Names
Enclose full name in quotes. Search, then reverse order of names and search again. Example: Search for "Ulysses Grant" and "Grant Ulysses".
  Allow for Imprecise Results
Allow for abbreviations and all forms of names and locations. Search for "Grant, Ulysses S." OR "Ulysses Grant" OR "Ulysses S Grant" OR "Ulysses S. Grant" OR "Ulysses Simpson Grant" AND "New York" OR "N.Y." OR NY to find all possible search results.

Search For Videos
Search Google videos for short videos made by family members. After performing a normal search: click the "Videos" link in the upper left corner of the search results page.