Use Google country-specific search engines to expand genealogy research

Google Country-Specific Search EnginesBy Barry J. Ewell

Consider using one of Google’s country-specific  search engines to search for your ancestor.  Google has over 160+ different country specific search engines.  For example, Google’s search engine for

  • (United States)
  • (Canada)
  • (United Kingdom)
  • (Australia)
  • (Ireland)

For example if you are conducting search for ancestor who immigrated to the United States from England in the 1800’s.  Try doing a Google search on the United States search engine and then the same search on the United Kingdom search engine.  You will be amazed at differences in the search results.

Google attempts to automatically detect your location and provide customized results for that location.  The factor for auto-detect a location is based your IP address and Google Toolbar’s My Location feature (if you use it).  Ever wonder why when you are searching for a restaurant or movies, you will most always get Google returns on the establishments that are near your home.

Google provides personalized results based on previous searches. For example, if you often click on Amazon links in your search results, Google will start to see that as a preference and show you more Amazon links more often and higher in you placements in your search results.

As a genealogist, don’t assume your Google search will search all countries and return results from websites around the world.

If you are in the United States and you are using the US “” search engine and you are looking for an ancestor’s records who lived 150 years ago in the United Kingdom, just plan on your search results to be from US websites and entirely skipping over UK databases/websites.

A better strategy would be to use the Google United Kingdom search engine “” to conduct the same search and most of you search results will be based on UK websites.

Many genealogists have resolved genealogical brickwalls by using country-specific search engines.  There are two ways to search for in country databases/websites.

Use the Google country search engine. If you don’t know the Google search engine URL, simply type your Google search engine you are looking for as your search query and you will be presented with the country specific URL at the top of your Google search results.   A sample query would look as follows:

  • Google Australia search engine
  • Google Canada search engine
  • Germany search engine
  • Google United Kingdom search engine

Another option would be to copy and paste the country-specific search engine URL in the your browser and you will be taken directly to desired search engine.  Examples of country-specific search engine URLs are as follows:

  • or (Australia)
  • or (Canada)
  • or (German)
  • or (United Kingdom)

Force Google to show pages originating from any country-specific search engine.  You can use your current Google country-specific search engine or search engine of preference and force Google to search and display only pages from a specific country.  You will use the following URL parameter:

  • CR=country…

You will replace the dots with the country code as follows:

  • CR=countryuk (United Kingdom)
  • CR=countryca (Canada)
  • CR=countryde (Germany)

Here is how it works. In my example I am going to search for Maxcey Ewell and require Google to search only website in the United Kingdom.

  1. Use  your Google country-specific search engine.  In my case it would be the United States “”
  2. In the search box enter your search query.  In my case I will use as my search query “Maxcey Ewell.”
  3. Google then created the following search URL that appears in the browser:
  4. Look closely at that URL and see where the ampersand  “&”  is right after “=maxcey+ewell&.”
  5. Replace everything after that ampersand “=maxcey+ewell&” with “cr=countryuk.”  It will like this:
  • 1. Before:
  • 2. After:  I deleted: “ie-utf-8&oe-utf-8” and replaced it with cr=countryuk

Google country-specific codes, URLs, and force codes
The following list provides country-specific  codes, search engines and code to force Google to search county-specific websites when using your search engine of preference.

CountryCountry codeGoogle country-specific search engineCode to force Google to search county-specific websites
Antigua &
Bosnia &
British Virgin
Congo, Democratic
Côte d’
Isle of
St Vincent &
Trinidad &
United Arab
Virgin Islands (US)