Google Genealogy: site Operator

Google GenealogyBy Barry J. Ewell

The “site:” operator will allow you to confine/restrict your search to a specific domain. Often time’s genealogy websites have their own search engines that will only search their domain. Rather than going to each individual website, you can use the “site:” operator to freely move and search and/or exclude domains from your search. The Google search query can be written as follows:

  • site:<URL>

Note: Do not include a space between “site:” and the domain. The following are examples of how the site: operator works by itself and with other search operators.

site: :<URL> text goes here will search for the text query in the specific domain. Google will try to match all terms, however, the terms may be separated on the page or you may have pages that only include some of the terms. Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site:familysearch.org Martin Oberman
  • site:amazon.com free Kindle Books
  • site:freebmd.org.uk Robert Harrison

site:<URL> “text goes here” will search for exact words or phrases in a specific domain when quotations are put around your search query text.
Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site:familysearch.org “Martin Oberman”
  • site:amazon.com “free Kindle Books”
  • site:freebmd.org.uk “Robert Harrison”
  • site:twitter.com “Paul Andrews”
  • site:rootsweb.ancestry.com “Maxcey Ewell”
  • site:genealogybybarry.com “Google”

site:<URL> this OR that when using the OR operator, Google will search for any pages in the domain that contains the words individually or together. For example, if you are looking for a person who lived in multiple states you could use the OR operator which tells Google to look for the person in relation to the states. Either use “OR” in all-caps or the pipe “|” symbol. If you use lower-case “or”, Google could interpret it as part of a phrase. Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site:ancestry.com “Riley Tate” Missouri OR Oregon
  • site:jewishgen.org “Anthony” Rosenblatt OR Shinkel

site:<URL> “text * text” when using the asterisk (*) wildcard, Google will search to replace the unknown text in a specific domain. The (*) asterisk will match one or multiple words. For example, “henry * green” could return “Henry Thomas Green” or “Henry Thomas, Alexander Green” Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site: dar.org “Henry * Taggert”
  • site:amazon.com “top * books”

site:example.com “X..Y” will search for a range of numbers in a specific domain and will return anything in the range that you specify. You can use ranges from dates to product prices. Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site:myheritage.com “Elisabeth Graves” 1890..1910
  • site:lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/”Mississippi” 1860..1890

site:<URL> intitle:“text goes here” will search for text in a title in a specific domain. Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site:genealogybybarry.com intitle:”1940 U.S. Federal Census tutorial”
  • site: rootsweb.ancestry.com intitle:”beginning genealogy”

site:<URL> intitle:“text * here” will search in titles the words in the phrase in a specific domain. Notice the use of the wildcard (*) asterisk which tells Google to look for unknown text. For example: “Timothy * Hansen” will return “Timothy G. Hansen”, Timothy Garret Hansen” and so forth. If you don’t put quotation marks around your search, Google will view the query as a one-word title search plus text. For example, “intitle:Timothy Hansen” will look for “Timothy” in the title plus “Hansen” anywhere on the page.

Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site:genealogybybarry.com intitle:”female * birth name”
  • site:ogs.org intitle:”how * history”
  • site:amazon.com intitle:”Family Treasures * tricks”

intitle:“text goes here” will search only titles of content pages. Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • intitle:”World-War I”
  • intitle:”westward migration”
  • intitle:”color-coded genealogy”
  • intitle:”150 questions to ask family members”

“text goes here” -site:<URL> will not look for a search query in a specific site domain. Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • “Windows security” -site:microsoft.com
  • “Civil War” -site: en.wikipedia.org
  • “Marsha Everett” -site:ancestry.com

site:<URL> intext:“text goes here” will look for key words in the body of the document and not the title in a specific domain.  Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site:ellisisland.org intext:”Mary Landy”
  • site:usgenweb.org intext:”Jeffery * Mosher”

site:<URL>“text goes here” -intitle:”text goes here” will specifically remove title mentions from your results when you use “-intitle:” from a specific domain. Examples of search queries are as follows:

  • site: rootsweb.ancestry.com “Renee * Anderson” -intitle:”Georgia”
  • site:findagrave.com “Randy Mason” -intitle:”Payson”

site:<URL> filetype:pdf will search for a specific file extension in a specific domain. There are hundreds of file extensions. Some of the more common file extensions you will search for are

  • doc, docx (Microsoft Word)
  • xls, xlsx and .csv (Excel)
  • pdf (Adobe Portable document format)
  • ppt, pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint)
  • tiff, jpeg, png (Image formats)
  • wmv, mpeg, mp4, flv, avi, mj2 (video formats)
  • mp3, aac, wav, aif, aiff (audio)
  • odt, ods, odp (Open Office)
  • txt (plain text)

Examples of search queries follow:

  • site:rootsweb.ancestry.com “Maxcey Ewell” filetype:.doc
  • site:familysearch.org “German genealogy” filetype:.ppt
  • site:genealogybybarry.com “Google” filetype:pdf

site:.edu “text goes here” will only search in the top level domain you specify. Example of top level domains are .com (commercial enterprise), .org (non-profit organizations), .gov (U.S. Military), .gov (U.S. government-federal), .edu (education).

  • Search: site:.org “Vermont census”
  • Search: site:.org “Clark county” census
  • Search: site:.edu “Florida genealogy”