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Google Limitations on Genealogy Searches

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• Why doesn’t Google show more results from GenealogyInTime Magazine? After all, there is no shortage of content on the website and wouldn't it make more sense to link to GenealogyInTime content than to link to other websites talking about GenealogyInTime content?

• The answer is you will never see more than two listings on the same Google results page from the same website. This applies even if you do a targeted search, as in this example.

• This is Google's way of ‘democratizing’ the internet and making sure that no website dominates any given search. Google does not advertise this fact but it can have a profound impact on your search results if you are not aware of it.

• This causes a problem in genealogy because for ancestral searches we want the websites with the best genealogy records to dominate our search listings. Google's hidden limit can prevent this from happening.

• Basically, Google’s internal hidden limit can easily restrict your ability to see the best and most relevant genealogy records.

Now that we at have told you about this hidden Google limit, it can seem somewhat self-evident. However, if you are unaware of it, it can have profound implications that will limit your online genealogy search capability. And, as far as we know, most standard genealogy references for Google searches never mention this fact. We just happened to stumble across it ourselves by accident.

• Potentially, how big is this problem? To begin with, genealogy records are archived records. As discussed in the article A Country Guide to Google Search Engines, historic records associated with a specific individual are likely to be clustered at just one or two archives. However, when searching with Google, this might not be evident due to the two-listings-per-page limit. Thus, you may never see all the records you want from a particular website.

• The problem is further compounded due to the risk of Google throwing up false positive results (a false positive is a record similar to the one you are looking for, but not the record you want). Two false positives on a Google results page from the same website will block any more results being shown from that website (including the results you may really want to see).

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Every year, more ancestral records come online. Effective online searching is as much about knowing what is not shown in a Google search as knowing what is shown as well as where and how to search.

How to Overcome this Google Limitation

There are two possible ways to work around this issue:

1. Look through several pages of results from Google to see if the best results are coming from just one or two websites. Then rerun the search except this time specify the website in the search query using the site command, as discussed in the article A Guide to Performing Online Genealogy Searches and as shown in the example below.

The advantage of this approach is that it will override the two-listing website limit that Google quietly imposes. The disadvantage is that presupposes that all the good records that you want are on just one website.

2. Use the dedicated Genealogy Search Engine. It does not have a two-listings-per-website limit like Google. It is also specifically designed for genealogy searches (as an added bonus, it also handles the site command).

Further Reading

A Guide to Performing Online Genealogy Searches

50 Best Genealogy Brick Wall Solutions

Ten Innovations in Online Genealogy Search

The Key to Understanding Family Relationships

Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2016

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