How Does a Search Engine Search?
Search engines work by taking your input (you have to do your part and
have a specific item, name, or phrase in mind) and running a complex set
of algorithms on your keywords to return a list of items which the
engine believes is what you are looking for.
Unfortunately, even if you give specific details about the type of item
you are looking for, you may be faced with hundreds of documents to weed
through. On the positive side, you'll generally find what you are
looking for in the first fifty items.
Different search engines have different specialities, and it takes time
to get to know each one, how to conduct an in depth search, and what
limitations each has. Every site has a help section giving you details
about searching, so if you don't come up with a result the first time,
check out the help and see if you are conducting the search the way the
engine wants it.
In addition to the main search engines, family researchers
can use two specific genealogy search engines not mailing list
search engines, or newsgroup search engines, but real, honest-to-goodness
search engines which only cover genealogy-related sites! They are Genealogy.com's
Family Finder, and the I
Found It! search engine. There are also multi-engine search engines
which allow you to plug in your keywords, and search through more than
one search engine at a time. Dogpile is my favorite multi-search engine,
and it is discussed below, along with other useful engines.