The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo and Bing are great inventions for genealogists. We can go to a search engine and enter a name of an ancestor or other relative. The search engine will then provide us with a “hit” list—a list of web pages that contain that name. If the name is an uncommon one, we often can find the information we seek within seconds. The more common names may be a bit more difficult as the search engines return too many “hits” for us to read quickly. In these cases we can narrow the search by entering the person’s place of residence, occupation, family members’ names, and other facts from the person’s life, hoping to find web pages that contain those facts in addition to the person’s name.
However, search engines never return information about certain records, even though we know that those records are already available online. In fact, the search engines typically cannot find information contained in some of the largest genealogy web sites: MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and others. Perhaps you saw information about your ancestor online last week in one of the larger genealogy sites. Today, you want to look at that information again for further research, but you don’t remember which site had the info. Most genealogists will go to Google.com to search for the person and then click on Google’s link to the web site where the information is stored. However, Google and the other search engines typically will not find information stored on the larger genealogy web sites. The question arises, “Why not?” The answer is easy, but it does require a bit of explanation.
The problem is that Google and other search engines do a great job of indexing static web pages, but they are not very good at indexing dynamic web pages. I thought I would explain the differences between the two and describe the method by which search engines find data on those pages.
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