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Google Search Change for Family HistoriansLisa Louise Cooke - November 21, 2011 at 10:46AM
Salt Lake is home to the world’s largest genealogical database at the Family History Library. Get started on researching your family's history! Click here to get more info. When it comes to researching online, the only thing that is constant is change! Just when you get all the search operators committed to memory Google goes and changes things.Not long ago I noticed that the Boolean operator no longer seemed to be returning the expected results. However, the minus sign can be used to remove unwanted words from your search results. (Example: LINCOLN -ABRAHAM results in web pages that include the name Lincoln but NOT the name Abraham.)The latest change is that the plus sign (+) no longer functions as a search operator that ensures a keyword is included in all search results. Now if you want to ensure a keyword is included, the keyword must be encased in quotations marks. For example: LINCOLN -ABRAHAM "OHIO"Interestingly Google has been fairly silent on the change. Some in the Tech community suspected that the move is in response to their growing focus on Google+ and the possibility of a new use for the "plus" sign.We didn't have to wait long to find out why the change was made. Last week Google announced on the Official Google Blog a use for that plus sign: Direct Connect from Google Search.Direct Connect from Google SearchIt's no surprise that the plus sign's new role has something to do with connecting users to Google+, the (fairly) new social networking platform. The + sign is now all about quickly connecting you directly to business Google+ Pages.Many have wondered why Google+ didn't allow for business and organization profiles since that is a big part of the Facebook offering. It appears now that the delay was in order to re-purpose the plus sign.Google explained it this way: "Maybe you're watching a movie trailer, or you just heard that your favorite band is coming to town. In both cases you want to connect with them right now, and Direct Connect makes it easy - even automatic. Just go to Google and search for , followed by the page you're interested in (like +Angry Birds). We'll take you to their Google+ page, and if you want, we'll add them to your circles."So the plus sign can now get us connected to Angry Birds quicker? Whoo hoo?! Gosh, I was perfectly happy with the way the plus sign got me to web pages that shared information about my ancestor (+Jehu Burkhart I miss you!)Direct Connect is up and running for a couple of the big boy brands like +Google, +Pepsi, and +Toyota, so you can try those searches to see how they work. Eventually the rest of the world will be allowed in and you can learn more about how Direct Connect for your organization in the Google Help Center.So remember, if you want to connect with Pepsi you can plus. But, if you're looking for a specific ancestor, word, or phrase you need to surround them in quotation marks. And you can quote me on that!You can learn more about improving your Google searches for family history information from my book The Genealogist's Google Toolbox available here.Read more from Lisa Louise Cooke at http://www.genealogygems.tv/.