Over the last ten years or so Google has become the most popular web search engine — to much so that “to google” has become synonymous with searching the web. It’s become a generic term.
When Jackie Seaman announced her Growden reunion, I thought I’d do a web search for Growden, and started with Google because Firefox puts it so conveniently in the toolbar. Growden (or Growdon) is one of the less common surnames I’m researching, and we have a web page just for Growdon family researchers. But Google didn’t find it — at least not in the first 17 mages of results.
I tried another search engine, Altavista, and our Growdon page came up on the first page of results.
I tried another search engine, Dogpile, which is an aggregator of results from several different search engines, and our Growdon page was also on the first page of results, but further down.
It seems that Google is definitely not the best search engine for genealogical and family history research. Altavista (www.altavista.com) was better by a long way, and its first page of results was far more relevant to genealogy researchers.
The first page of results on Google produced a bunch of generic surname search sites, many of them commercial. This means that they show up on search results for anyone looking for any surname at all. If you try some of them you might find they have no information at all on Growdon (or whatever surname you are looking for), but then invite you to look for other surnames. And quite often, if they do have information, they ask you to pay upfront before you can see it.
Dogpile also came up with quite few of those generic surname sites, but did have more relevant sites on the first page of search results as well.
But Altavista came up with “real” Growdon/Growden sites first — people who were actually interested in Growden family history, and had information or were looking for information, rather than generic surname search sites.
So if you are looking for family history information on the web, don’t just “google” for it — try other search engines as well. You may be pleasantly surprised.
(Originally posted in my family history blog, but copied here as it may be of wider interest).