Saturday, August 23, 2008

Customizing Google Preferences for Better Genealogy Searches

You can get better Google search results if you first configure the options in your Google Preferences. To customize your Google Preferences, click on the Preferences link which is to the right of Google’s search box.

To me, the most important Google Preference is:

  • Number of Results.
    This preference determines how many search results are displayed on one page. Google will normally return just 10 search results per page. I always increase my default to 100. (Note: If on dial up, you will probably have to test to see if increase the number works for you) What are the advantages?

    • More Thorough Searching. When I have the preferences set to 10 results per page, I usually give up looking after 2 pages or so, which means I have only examined the first 20 results. But when genealogy searching, you may not be looking for the biggest or most popular genealogy sites which is what Google tends to put at the top of the search results. You may be trying to find a little unknown genealogy site where a cousin has put all of her 25 years of research. The site may only be of interest to a limited number of people and would probably not be at the top of the results in any search engine. If you only check 10 results or so, you may miss this website. When genealogy searching, be sure to dig past the first 10 results by setting preferences to 100. You never know what genealogy gem is waiting past the first 10 search results.

    • Saves Time. Getting 100 results per page saves time when searching because it is much faster to scroll through one long result page than to manually click through 10 pages of results.

Here are the other Google Preferences and how they can help in your genealogy search:

  • Interface Language - The language in which Google will display tips and messages. Your native language.

  • Search Language - The language of the pages Google will search. A Google Search includes all pages in all languages on the Web unless you choose to restrict your searches to one language. Restricting language is especially useful when genealogy searching for webpages in the countries of your ancestors. For example, if I am looking for webpages about my German grandfather's home town, I would set the preference to search only German webpages. Don't forget to search in this language.

  • SafeSearch - Blocks web pages with explicit sexual content. Just makes for a more targeted and more pleasant genealogy search to have SafeSearch turned on when genealogy searching.

  • Results window - When enabled, clicking on the result link will open the page in a new browser window. This allows you to keep the original search page open while exploring the results links in another browser window.

  • Subscribed Links - Google will search additional subscribed search providers if your query relates to them. An online dictionary subscribed link may be helpful if searching for unusual or old-fashioned words related to genealogy.

After selecting your preferences, remember to save them.

Other Google Genealogy Search Techniques:

Try the Easy Google Genealogy Searcher which puts advanced Google features on one page with suggested keywords and advice about how each feature is useful for genealogy searches.

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