Google Searches

Without a doubt, Google search is one of my go-to genealogical tools. Google is always changing its tools to increase their effectiveness. The addition of tools and features is exciting. The elimination of tools can be frustrating. Google search is not immune from such changes. Over time, Google has removed some of the search operators.

Since “A Weekend of Genealogy” was published, Google has dropped one of its operators. The tilde (~) operator was described on pages 54-55 of the book. The tilde operator was used to return web pages that contained words similar to the specified term. Google manually built the list of similar words to include in the search. There was never a listing of what those similar words were, but by looking at the search results some of the words were obvious. According to Google, not enough people were using the operator to justify the cost of building those lists.

For a power Google user, it means that you can no longer use the search on these terms:

mcmahon ~genealogy

and expect to receive web pages that contain “family history” as well as “genealogy” in the results.

It means that you have to explicitly include the words that you want Google to search for in the search terms. One way you could do this is:

mcmahon (“genealogy” OR “family history”)

One way to make sure you know the current Google search terms is to use Google and search for:

google operators

By investigating the google operators, you may find advanced operators that might help you in your genealogical searches.