Using the Right Google Search Engine for Best Results!

(Genealogy In Time Magazine – June 12, 2016)

To get the most out of any Google search for your ancestors, it is necessary to understand how Google works. An important consideration is to realize that Google runs different search engines in different parts of the world. For example, Google.com is the search engine for the United States, Google.ca is used for Canada, while Google.co.uk is the search engine for the United Kingdom. In total, there are close to 200 different Google search engines.

Most people don’t realize that the choice of Google search engine has a profound impact on the search results that are delivered to you. Choose the right Google search engine when searching for your ancestors and you will get good results. Choose the wrong one and you will almost certainly come up empty handed. In this article, we show you how to choose the right Google search engine.

One of the most powerful (yet often overlooked) features of Google search is to make sure you use the correct Google search engine. Not only is this suggestion an excellent genealogy brick wall solution, it is often the major success factor for online genealogy searches.
map Hungary 1910
Focusing on the right geographic region with the right Google search engine will significantly increase your chances of success.

The following simple example demonstrates the power of using the right Google search engine. Suppose you are looking for John Smith. Most people assume Google.com and Google.co.uk will give you the same search results for the same query. This is simply not true. Sometimes, the search results are not even close, as shown below.

John Smith search from Google.com
Search results for John Smith from Google.com

 

John Smith search from Google.co.uk
Search results for John Smith from Google.co.uk

Notice the difference between the two search results for the exact same search query? Now imagine what would happen if you were to perform a more complicated ancestral search on different Google search engines. The results are likely to be very different from each other.

Google runs many different search engines. Most of the search engines are organized by country for the following reasons:

  • Most Search is Local: Over 80% of all Google searches are for local search results. Google knows that someone searching for pizza in Sydney, Australia does not want to see results for local pizza restaurants in (say) New York city.
  • Distributed Computing: Google runs essentially the largest supercomputer in the world. It is so large that it can’t be run in one place. Google’s computer system is distributed over many server farms in various countries all over the world.
  • Speed of Response: To minimize traffic flow over the global Google network, Google tries to match search queries to the nearest Google search engine.
  • Language Issues: Different countries use different languages. When people enter a search query, they want to see the results in their own language.
  • Regulation: Google has a need to meet many different government rules and regulations regarding content, access and privacy. This is best served by using local country search engines.

The first point (on the fact most Google search is local) is worth highlighting because it introduces a significant bias into ancestral search results. It works as follows: even though we live in a global world, most traffic across the internet still remains within the boundaries of a single country. For example, most emails are sent to people who live in the same country and most website visits are to websites in the same country.

A total of 41 new Google search engines have appeared since we last revised this article. Many island groups now have their own search engine. This includes such places as Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Micronesia, Norfolk, Pitcairn, St. Helena and several Caribbean countries. Many African countries now also have their own search engine. In addition, some regions (such as Catalan) have search engines. All the updates are all listed on page 3.

It is possible to actually see the localization of global internet traffic in the diagram below. It visually shows traffic from Facebook, the most popular social networking website. A single line in the diagram represents the social link between thousands of people. The diagram is the cumulation of many of these lines showing the social interaction of hundreds of millions of people.

Facebook global traffic
Global traffic on the Facebook network. Notice that for almost every country in the world, the vast majority of linkage is within the same country.

The localization effect is also evident in the genealogy world. For example, the popular genealogy service Ancestry runs separate websites for the US (Ancestry.com), Canada (Ancestry.ca), United Kingdom (Ancestry.co.uk) and Australia (Ancestry.com.au).

Another important consideration when searching for ancestral records is to recognize that Google is a general search engine designed to handle a variety of search requests. It is not optimized for specific genealogy searches. For that, use the free Genealogy Search Engine.

Before Google checks a search request, it fundamentally does not know whether the request is a record search for an ancestor, a search for a local restaurant, or a place to get the automobile fixed. Google does know, however, that a significant portion of search requests are for local results. This knowledge can be used to a genealogist’s advantage.

Genealogy records of ancestors are by definition archived records. Archived records have two important attributes:

  • Archived records are usually found in the dusty back corners of the internet. It takes a powerful search engine like Google to find archived records. This is the reason why Google is the preferred search engine for genealogy (see How to Use Google Advanced Search for Genealogy).
map
This is a map of the internet. Archived records of ancestors tend to cluster on the far outer regions of the internet.
  • Archived records, even internet-based archived records, are also usually located within the country that created the record. For example, a birth record for someone born in France two hundred years ago is most likely to be found on a French website.

Thus, you should always use the Google search engine for the country where you expect to find your ancestral record. This is probably the single most important factor in determining your success in finding your ancestors with a Google search.

GenealogyInTime Magazine maintains the most complete list on the internet of Google search engines. In total, there are 192 Google search engines listed by country and region.

We suggest you bookmark this guide. As Google evolves, so does the list of Google country search engines. We will update this list periodically to reflect the latest changes from Google.

How to Use this Table: the Google country search engines are in the language of the country. Not everyone is familiar with the local language. To help facilitate genealogy searches from the table below, we have listed where an English version of the local search engine is available (n/a means the search engine is already in English).

 

List of Google Search Engines by Country/Region

 
Country/Region
Local Search Engine
English Version Available
 
 
Afghanistan
yes
Albania
yes
Algeria
yes
American Samoa
n/a
Andorra
yes
Angola
yes
Anguila
n/a
Antigua & Barbuda
n/a
Argentina
yes
Armenia
yes
Ascension Island
n/a
Australia
n/a
Austria
yes
Azerbaijan
yes
Bahamas
n/a
Bahrain
yes
Bangladesh
yes
Belarus
yes
Belgium
yes
Belize
n/a
Benin
yes
Bhutan
n/a
Bolivia
yes
Bosnia & Herzegovinia
yes
Botswana
n/a
Brazil
yes
British Virgin Islands
n/a
Brunei
yes
Bulgaria
yes
Burkina Faso
yes
Burundi
yes
Cambodia
yes
Cameroon
yes
Canada
n/a
Cape Verde
yes
Catalan Countries
yes
Central African Republic
yes
Chad
yes
Chile
yes
China
yes
Columbia
yes
Congo, Democratic Republic
yes
Congo
yes
Cook Islands
n/a
Costa Rica
yes
Côte d’Ivoire
yes
Croatia
yes
Cuba
yes
Cyprus
n/a
Czech Republic
yes
Denmark
yes
Djibouti
n/a
Dominica
n/a
Dominican Republic
yes
Ecuador
yes
Egypt
yes
El Salvador
yes
Estonia
yes
Ethiopia
yes
Fiji
n/a
Finland
yes
France
yes
Gabon
yes
Gambia
n/a
Georgia
yes
Germany
yes
Ghana
n/a
Gibraltar
n/a
Greece
yes
Greenland
yes
Guadeloupe
yes
Guatemala
yes
Guernsey
n/a
Guyana
n/a
Haiti
yes
Honduras
yes
Hong Kong
yes
Hungary
yes
Iceland
yes
India
n/a
Indonesia
yes
Iraq
yes
Ireland
n/a
Isle of Man
n/a
Israel
yes
Italy
yes
Ivory Coast
yes
Jamaica
n/a
Japan
yes
Jersey
n/a
Jordon
yes
Kazakhstan
yes
Kenya
n/a
Kiribati
n/a
Kuwait
yes
Kyrgyzstan
yes
Laos
yes
Latvia
yes
Lebanon
yes
Lesotho
n/a
Libya
yes
Liechtenstein
yes
Lithuania
yes
Luxembourg
yes
 
Country/Region
Local Search Engine
English Version Available
Macedonia
yes
Madagascar
yes
Malawi
n/a
Malaysia
n/a
Maldives
n/a
Mali
yes
Malta
yes
Mauritius
n/a
Mexico
yes
Micronesia
n/a
Moldavia
yes
Mongolia
yes
Montenegro
yes
Montserrat
yes
Morocco
yes
Mozambique
yes
Namibia
n/a
Nauru
yes
Nepal
yes
Netherlands
yes
New Zealand
n/a
Nicaragua
yes
Niger
yes
Nigeria
n/a
Niue
n/a
Norfolk Island
n/a
Norway
yes
Oman
yes
Pakistan
n/a
Palestine
yes
Panama
yes
Papua New Guina
n/a
Paraguay
yes
Peru
yes
Philippines
yes
Pitcairn
n/a
Poland
yes
Portugal
yes
Puerto Rico
yes
Quatar
yes
Romania
yes
Russia
yes
Rwanda
n/a
Saint Helena
n/a
Samoa
n/a
San Marino
yes
Sao Tome and Principe
yes
Saudia Arabia
yes
Senegal
yes
Serbia
yes
Seychelles
n/a
Sierra Leone
n/a
Singapore
n/a
Slovakia
yes
Slovenia
yes
Solomon Islands
n/a
Somalia
yes
South Africa
n/a
South Korea
yes
Spain
yes
Sri Lanka
unavailable
St Vincent & Grenadines
n/a
Suriname
yes
Sweden
yes
Switzerland
yes
Taiwan
yes
Tajikistan
yes
Tanzania
yes
Thailand
yes
Timor-Leste
yes
Togo
yes
Tokelau
n/a
Tonga
n/a
Trinidad & Tobago
n/a
Tunisia
yes
Turkey
yes
Turkmenistan
yes
Uganda
n/a
Ukraine
yes
United Arab Emirates
yes
United Kingdom
n/a
United States
n/a
Uruguay
yes
Uzbekistan
yes
Vanuatu
yes
Venezuela
yes
Vietnam
yes
Virgin Islands (US)
n/a
Zambia
n/a
Zimbabwe
n/a

 

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