Google as a search engine on the Internet has become an invaluable tool for family history researchers. This powerful search engine produces accurate and relevant search results, plus being particularly flexible.
The key is the search keywords that are placed in the search box. You want the words that are most likely to appear on the web page you want to find since this is the way Google selects relevant search results. You do not have to worry if the name or location or topic is capitalized. All Google search are not case sensitive. Most important is to never make the search lengthy. The Google search will try to find all the words to match. If extra words you added that are not in the web site there will be fewer matches.
The best is to be searching for a name and / or location of an ancestor. Use the specific keywords you think will be on the website you want. In doing a certain location place in the search box; Orlando, Orange County, Florida. However, that is too wide-ranging. Instead, use Orlando genealogy, which will narrow the results more to what you are researching. If there is a certain topic, use the precise words which are most likely appear on the page you want to find such as Florida census.
In the Google search box use a plus sign [ + ] before words that you want to appear in your search results exactly. An example such as Joseph Groff + Frederick, Maryland narrows the search to site with the name and exact location. There is no space between words and the plus sign.
There is the technique with Google called ‘stemming.’ In Google searches it will search for your keywords, but also for words that are based on the keyword stem. At times stemming can be very useful because it will give singular and plural results in a single query.
If you are searching for a surname that is also a noun, such as Lane, Bridge, Wood, House or Wolf, you probably have found that most of your searches bring up unwanted web pages about bridges, houses, woods, wolves and lanes which do not help with finding your ancestor.
With a common noun surname you have to add what you're looking for, such as family, genealogy or surname. Next place quote marks at the beginning and the end of the phrase. So it would be “Lane surname” or “Bridge genealogy” for improved results.
Use the quote marks also for full names like “Robert Franklin Jones” so the Google does not try to find word ‘Robert’ solely on all the web pages. If you do not know the middle name use the ‘*’ star as a wildcard. This will find all the Robert Jones with middle names and initials. It would be written in the Google search with quotes as “Robert * Jones”. Also, try placing the surname first and then the given name such as “Jones, Robert” which will provide another method the name might have been placed in the web site.
When looking for a place or person during a certain time frame use three periods. Place the topic like Frederick Maryland 1880...1895. This way anything related to Frederick for any of the years between 1880 and 1895 will come up in the search.