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Search Engine Tips & Techniques





Search Engine And Research
Tips & Techniques


I enjoy research and thought I would share some random thoughts, tips & techniques with you. It can be difficult to use the amount of information a search engine such as Google can provide. After entering in a name or tem you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of results, often several million.  Narrow down your results by selectively using key words, and you can often drill down and find exactly what you were searching for. In my examples, I will use my last name, "Pendleton", since that is what I am usually searching for, so remember to substitute your name while searching. These tips can apply to genealogy, hobbies, travel & vacations, or almost anything else you are researching.



  • "Pendleton" in a Google search yields over 2,500,000 results, while "Pendleton Family History" drops to only 236,000 results. "Pendleton Genealogy Research" returns 20,900 results. "Pendleton Genealogy Research WV" drops to 5,980 results. "Pendleton Genealogy Research WV Fayette County" only returns 1070 results.

  • When planning your vacation use different keywords. For example,  "Las Vegas" followed by "vacation, hotels, lodging, trips, shows, casinos, information, schedules" (use only one keyword at a time) will help narrow down your results.

  • Many libraries, colleges, government agencies and genealogy societies have a great deal of information which is indexed on the internet.  By using the word, "Archive" you will often find these types of information. When searching for "Pendleton papers archive" you can choose from over 70,000 results. "Pendleton Archive" gives over 230,000 results. "Pendleton Family Papers WV Archive" drops to only about 900 results.

  • After receiving your initial results from a search, read the descriptions and using keywords you see there, try another search to narrow down your results.

  • Before you purchase an item, search for the brand name but also use the word, "reviews". There are several websites where people can review almost anything and you will often find several useful reviews. For example, I recently purchased a new scanner. By searching the reviews I knew most of the strengths & weaknesses before I even ordered it.

  • Before I purchased a used car, by doing a search using the model name of the particular car and the word, "Problems" I was able to see how dependable that model tended to be.

  • There is a research resource which has been around since long before the internet was invented (I have been using this option for almost 30 years). It is the reference desk at your local library. It is staffed by women & men (actual live people you can talk to!) who are knowledgeable about what resources are available on almost any subject. They are helpful, friendly and just waiting for you to ask them a question. *Note for those who have forgotten- Libraries are buildings full of books, magazines, maps, microfilm, microfiche, documents, etc... which contain millions of megabytes of information, most of which is stored on something called, "shelves" not on hard drives. (if you are under 25 years old, you may be amazed to learn that not everything is on the internet).

  • When using your browser on the internet, you can hold the "CTRL" or Control key, the letter "F" and it will launch the Find Window. Use this to find the word you are searching for on a page.

  • Google provides tips on advanced search at Advanced Search Made Easy and they also use what they call. "Advanced Operators".

  • When Google gives you results, under the description you will often see a link, "Cached". When you click on that, you will get a page with your search terms highlighted. On extremely large pages, this will simplify your search.



Google is a trademark of Google, Inc, Mountain View, CA.

These tips Bruce Pendleton.











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