Google Commands: How to Search More Effectively

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Google is a great way to search for genealogical information.  The following are ways to improve finding family information:

eGoogle Helps

From Google Your Family Tree, by Daniel M. Lynch 2008


AND   Combines words. When no commands are in the search, Google will assume that AND is the command. AND must be capitalized.

              Example John AND Mary Englebert

OR     To search for one word/phrase or another. OR must be capitalized. Example, lynch OR linch

“ “     To search for an exact phrase Example, "John Smith"

*        A wildcard used inside quotes. One asterisk for one set of characters; two asterisks for two sets; etc.)

              Example, "John * Smith"

-        To exclude a word or phrase. No space between the hyphen and the next word.  Example, John Kennedy -president 

+       To include exactly this word, excluding variants. No space between the plus sign and the next word.  Example, +foreset.

~       To find the keyword or similar words. No space between the tilde and the next word.  Example, Smith ~genealogy

..       To search for a range of numbers, like a date range. No spaces between the numbers and the periods. 

              Example, 1800..1900

Google advanced searches

The goal of any Google family-history search is to include everyone you want to find and exclude everyone you don't want to find. Of course we can never be that surgical in our searches, but Google (and other search engines) have set up special tools to allow us to get closer to the target without excluding any good matches. Here are some advanced tools for that purpose. The sources include several online sites that can be found by searching 'Google search tools'.

Operator: related:
Purpose: Find similar sites to a site containing information you are searching for
Example: related:A genealogy of Runnels and Reynolds families in America
Explanation: returns other sites pertaining to all the keywords in this title. Note: if you use " " around the title, you will not get any results. The computer can't determine what might be related to a specific title.

Operator: site:
Purpose: Find content within a site
Example: Adams
Explanation: Allows searches within a site.

Operator: cache:
Purpose: Find the most recent published page for a site; also find keywords (search terms) on the page
Example: cache:A genealogy of Runnels and Reynolds family in America
Explanation:Returns a page even if the site is not longer online. May highlight search terms.

Operator: intext:
Purpose: Find text with keywords in it
Example: intext:Peter Stuyvesant England
Explanation: Returns a page when all words are present in the text of a site

Operator: intext: with site:
Purpose: Find text with keywords in it on a particular site
Example: intext:birthday
Explanation: Returns a page when all words are present in the text of a particular site

Operator: intitle:
Purpose: Find documents or books by title: can include other search elements
Example: intitle:Peter Stuyvesant England
Explanation: 'Peter' must be in the title, while the other keywords must be somewhere in the document

Operator: allintitle:
Purpose: Find documents or books by title
Example: allintitle:Peter Stuyvesant England
Explanation: all words (Peter, Stuyvesant, England) must appear in the title

Operator: inurl:
Purpose: Find sites by address and other search elements
Example: inurl:Peter Stuyvesant England
Explanation: This search allows multiple operators to be used, since only the first term 'Peter' must appear in the url

Operator: allinurl:
Purpose: find sites by address only (other search terms not allowed)
Example: allinurl:Peter Stuyvesant England
Explanation: all search elements must be in the URL (web address)