New Google Search Features Boost Genealogy

Salt Lake is home to the Family Search Center, the largest genealogical database in the world. For more on researching Genealogy in Salt Lake, click here.

It’s a subtle change, but if you’ve conducted a Google search in the last week your results have looked just a bit different.  And for the genealogist those differences might just result in getting you one step closer to your elusive ancestors.   Head over to with me and let’s take a look at what’s new... 

Let’s say that you’re interested in learning more about Ellis Island, immigration and passenger lists.   Rather than type in the address for the Ellis Island Foundation website at which you’re probably familiar with, type into the search box.

Sure enough the Ellis website is the first result.  But there’s more here if you look a little further.  You’ll notice a variety of search results that either have the words ellis island and end in org, as well as sites like Stephen Morse’s site that works directly with the ellis island site.  However, if you scroll down further toward the bottom and you’ll find a few cool things you haven’t seen before.

First, Google provides results for your search words that come directly from your Social Circle.  But what exactly does that mean?

To create the My Social Circle of connections Google uses:

  • Direct connections from your Google chat buddies and contacts

  • Direct connections from links listed on your Google profile such as Twitter and FriendFeed

  • Secondary Connections that are publicly associated with your direct connections

Pretty interesting how much they can know about a person, isn’t it?!

In addition to web pages from your Social Circle, posts from your Google Reader subscriptions may also appear in your social search results.

Another new feature is Pages Similar To just below the results from your Social Circle.  Here Google gives you a handy list of websites very similar to the one you searched for.  This is really convenient particularly for researching topics you are unfamiliar with.  Or try typing in a favorite website that focuses on a particular family you are researching and then scroll down to the bottom of the results page to see the other sites that Google recommends that may be similar to the site.  This could really expand your search in a very results oriented way.

Pages Similar To is also another reason why blogging about your family history can be such a great strategy for connecting with others who may have information about your family.  All the other researchers out there are doing Google searches too and you may just pop up in their Similar To list!  (To learn more about how to set up a free family history blog watch my four part video series How to Blog Your Family History at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.)

In addition to searching a particular URL address like you can also search for terms such as Ellis Island immigration. Scroll to the bottom of the results page and though you may not find the Pages Similar To results list, chances are you will see a Searches Related To list.  Here Google is giving you some suggested searches that might also retrieve the results you are looking for.  Again, this is pretty handy, particularly for those topics you’re not that familiar with.  Just click one of the searches and it takes you directly to those results.

Also, right above the Searches Related To list you’ll find Timeline Results for your search criteria.  The Timeline is a powerful tool you should definitely check out.  Watch my video Using Google News Timeline for Genealogy to see Google's Timeline feature in action.

Even though these new features could prove very useful, scrolling to the bottom of the page to access them can be a bit cumbersome. Google has thought of that too!  Also new to the Google results page is the left hand navigation column.  Here you’ll currently find two major categories: Everything and All Results.  Each has a handy down arrow button.   Under All Results click the down arrow for More Search Tools and Google reveals a wealth of options including quick links to Related Searches and the results of your Social Circle.

And finally if you’re impatient like I can be when I’m researching, here’s a quick way to find other websites related to the one you are interested in.

  1. Go to

  2. In the search box type

  3. Click Search

And there you go – lots of great results that are closely related to the content found on the Ellis Island website.

If you would like to see these new features in action watch my video Google For Genealogy Upddate: It's All Related.

And if you enjoy Googling, check out where you’ll find my new DVD Google Earth for Genealogy that shows you step-by-step how to use the free Google Earth program in exciting ways for your family history research.

Happy Googling!

Read more from Lisa Louise Cooke- click here.