17 November 2013

Google search terms survey results

On Wednesday I posted a survey "Which of the following Google search terms do you use for genealogy/family history." There were 125 responses.

97% use Google for genealogy.
90% use quotation marks to search phrases

People may not use a search protocol because they don't know about it, or they do and don't find it useful or necessary. Google is so good a simple search, with or without quotation marks, may be all that's needed to discover the information sought.

Slightly under half the respondents use the negative symbol and site: protocols.

49% use a negative symbol, -, to exclude a search term
42% use site: to search within a specific website

About a quarter (26%) of respondents use two periods between two numbers to search within a range, especially years. 20% use tilde, ~, to find synonyms. Protocols link: and related: are used by 17% and 13% respectively.

A comment post by Jill Ball is that the tilde search is no longer available. I'd read that, but it's something I haven't used lately.

That set me looking at other protocols. A search for digby gave 5.2 million results, digby -scotia 14.4 million, digby -nova 14.3 million, digby -"nova scotia" 15.9 million.  

I can't find any documentation but one simple way to drastically reduce the number of hits returned is to add a plus sign immediately before the search term. Searching +digby gave 230 results. Please leave a comment if you use the plus sign, or find any documentation for it. 


Alona Tester said...

I'm always using the + and - signs in searches, along the with "quote marks". I'd be lost wthout them.

Anonymous said...

I have frequently used ~genealogy to narrow my searches. I will miss it (unless I use it anyway because I forget). I also often use quotes and minus, although sometimes it looks like the quotes are not working.