WE live in a miraculous day when billions (if not trillions or more) of web pages of information about every topic under the sun is available to us at a few clicks of a button. 
BUT how do we find the “needle in the haystack” we are looking for??

GOOGLE, and other search engines, have made it easier and more intuitive to locate and access  very specific information in the sea of data that is the Internet. 
Below are some tips to help make your experience with Google and other search engines more helpful  

Consider making GOOGLE your “internet home page”  (the page that comes up when you first open google) or at least make it a “favorites”.  
See this pages – which has different instructions based on what browser you use.

Key Words

Realize that MORE keywords in your search are not usually better than “less key words”.  If you are searching for a book that has a large number of words in the title – DON’T think you have to type in the full title – doing so will not generally be more efficient or helpful.

Also leave off words like “the”, a”, “and”, “of” and similar words that most browsers will ignore anyway.  Rather – pick a few of the most unique or meaningful  words from the title and search on those – you may also consider adding a keyword that represent the subject of your search.  So for example if you are looking for information about the movie “Gone With the Wind” consider doing a key word search of      GONE WIND MOVIE  or even just   GONE WIND

 Using Quotes

Also at times the sequence of the words is very important – especially when you find that you are getting a lot of results that are not what you want – but do contain the search keys – but not together in one single phrase.

You can search by word to word phrases by encapsulating the phrase within double quotes.

For example compare the query results from   YANCEY FAMILY OF AMERICA

Versus the same query but with this phrase within double quotes

“Yancey Family of America”.

Google Categories

Take advantage of the categories that Google uses.

If you are looking for images of a Yancey Family Bible – click on the image tab.

If you are looking for BOOKS about Yancey genealogy – click on the BOOK category.

If you are looking for video interview of persons by name Yancey – click on the video section. Other sectons include NEWS, MAPS and SHOPPING.

Some Google databases may not be obviously accessible via the home page.

This is the case with the newspaper archive section.


Search Exclusion

Sometimes you will do a  Google search and find that the vast majority of the results are all of a subject that is not what you are searching or.

For example if you search on Yancey Bible – you will note a large amount of query results concerning the author Philip Yancey.  If none of these similar results are what you are looking for -  you can tell the browser to exclude any result that has the word “PHILIP” in it.   Exclusion keyword criteria  should be prefixed with a “minus sign”  ( - )

So for example one could do a search for   YANCEY BIBLE -PHILIP  and get this result with the results concerning Philip Yancey greatly reduced.   Be sure NOT to include a space between the minus sign and the next word.


URL / Web Site / Web Page

Understand the terms URL, domain, website, and web page.

A URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the entity we usually refer to as a “web address”

This tells your computer where to go look for a specific item, file, image etc.

A sample URL would be


A URL typically has at least three sub components.

1) the http://  prefix which simply tells the computer the format of communication that your browser must use to communicate with the computer that contains the desired page or data.   (Note that type the “http” prefix is usually optional and assumed by the browser when not typed in.

2) The string of characters that represents the web site  (or “domain” ) that is being accessed – which has a very specific location identifier on the Internet

In this case “”

In some cases the “web address will be complete with just these first two items, in which case browser will display a “home page” or “index page” to the user.

3) If however, what the user wants to see is a very specific page or file on a  specific web site the specific file name will be added to the url with a forward slash seperating the two.

In our case  “”  is the web site  and the specific file on that web site we want to look at happens to be a image file with the name “vacoun1.jpg” – with the two entities divided by a forward slash

 Thus in the above link we see the three separate entities discussed.

 Why is this important to know??  Because it is very helpful to understand how file and information are logically organized into web sites and web pages on the Internet.


Website Search Restriction

After you understand the prior bullet - - you may do a google search and find that a particular web page on a particular web site was very helpful – and you wonder if there are additional pages or additional images about the same thing on the same site – but you don’t see an easy way to pull them all together into one listing.

GOOGLE allows you to restrict a search to ONE specific web site.  This can be very helpful in specific cases.

Lets say you wanted to see various Yancey obituaries just from one particular site.

After you type in your Google search – you can add a suffix that tells it to restrict the search to a specific site

Example:    YANCEY


More Information

For even more Google tips – visit this page


You may be surprised that google can even do complex math

 Try typing in   ( x + 3y) (2x - y)  in your google brower



OR watch this video about  the Google Genealogist