Google has long been my favorite search engine but now has even more reasons for it to be the best search tool for any genealogist. The company has added new search options. At least one of the new options is very useful for many genealogists.
To use the new options, first perform a search on Google in the same manner as always. However, when the search results page is displayed you might notice a new line just below the search box and above the search results. The newly-added line says "Show options..." Click on that line to see all the new available options.
You will see links to narrow your search to videos, forums, reviews, and more. The one that I believe I will use most is the option for "Recent results," "Past 24 hours," "Past week" or "Past year." I suspect I will use those options for searches that I perform often.
For instance, I have been looking for information about my great-great-grandfather for years. I often search for "Washington Harvey Eastman" or "Washington H. Eastman" (with the quotes) and I know there are already many references on the web to that name. After all, I wrote quite a few of those references! What I really want to see is anything NEW about him. The new Google search options allow just that.
I will now search for his name once a week and will click on the "Past week" option. That will filter out the many "hits" that I have already seen time and time again but will display any new occurrences that Google has found in the past week.
Google also has an option for Timelines that seems quite good at displaying events throughout history. It didn't display anything when I entered my great-great-grandfather's name but when I entered "Maine" it displayed a rather good timeline of significant events in the state's history.
Another new option confused me for a bit: "Wonder Wheel." Perhaps the folks at Google couldn't come up with a better name? The Wonder Wheel is a Flash-based interactive mini application which starts with your keyword in the center, and related terms around it. Clicking on a related term creates a new, connected circle with more related terms. And whenever you click on a term, to the very right, the web results change to reflect your current topic of focus.
The Wonder Wheel's a bit tough to explain but if you try it a couple of times you will quickly see how it works. First search on this word: genealogy.
You will note that the Wonder Wheel displays "spokes" that point out to Irish genealogy, RootsWeb, Surnames, US Census, genealogy charts, and more. The words shown are related terms. Click on any of the new words shown and you will then see a new search with the word you clicked on now moved to be the focus of the new search. In short, the Wonder Wheel maps related search terms together in a method that allows you to move from one related search to another. You may be able to uncover information that you didn't know about previously.
The new Google Search Options add a few new tools to the genealogist's toolbox. Google says that the company will be adding more options in future months.
You can experiment with all this at http://www.google.com.