Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Google and Abbreviations

When using Google for genealogy searches, watch your abbreviations! Google searches for the *exact* word entered into the search box. It does not convert an abbreviation to the whole word.

If in your search query you use the abbreviation for a location, Google searches only for web pages that use the location abbreviation.

For example, Google does not consider Pennsylvania and its abbreviation PA to be the same even though we may we may use them interchangeably. If you type PA into Google, it will search for those pages that contain the word PA, and your search will miss all the web pages that only use the word Pennsylvania.

To see for yourself, try searching Google for PA genealogy, then search for Pennsylvania genealogy , (or substitute your own location), and compare the different results for each search. The results are not the same!

On the other hand, when searching for transcriptions of old data, you can widen your genealogy search by using the old-fashioned location abbreviation. Here's a list of the old style U.S. state abbreviations.

If you abbreviate a search keyword, you won't get complete and accurate search results. Just something else to keep in mind as we search for our ancestors on the Internet.

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