Google is a Geneologist’s Best Search Friend
In my ongoing name research, the Internet has been an invaluable tool. I’ve Googled my way through Jose Miers from California to Cuba and everywhere in between. There’s (for good or bad) so much information out there on every one of us that it’s not hard to find someone if you really want to.
While I’m not looking for any specific Jose Mier, a search for that generic name turns up thousands of results. If I did want to find a specific Mier, I’d add a place name to the search term to eliminate other results that I don’t want.
The way Google works is that it uses my location information (where I’m physically located) to return the most relevant results to me. At least it thinks they’re the most relevant results. As you can see from this screen shot below, my search for Jose Mier brought up beenverified.com’s listing of Jose Miers in my area. I’m in Southern California so even without specifying a location, the results I got are specific to where I am.
How Google Knows Where Jose Mier Is
Whatever computer or mobile device we’re using, there’s something called an IP address associated with it. This address is a series of numbers, punctuated by periods or dots (for example (123.456.789.0). As Google itself states on one of its policy pages, these numbers are roughly tied to a physical location. If I log into my computer in Burbank, CA, it may show I’m located in Sun Valley or Sunland or some other close by neighborhood, but it’s close. Because I’ve been associated with this location, the results I get when I search for a term are often going to be relevant to that location. Again, I’m in SoCal so the top results in my query are also Southern California results. If I work my way down the list (to pages lower than the first page of Google) then I start getting listings from other states or outside the country.
This isn’t a problem for me. I’m doing general searches first and if I need to narrow things down, I’ll add a place name like a city, state or country.
Since my search is pretty much for pure interest, I was pleasantly surprised to find so many others who share my name in close proximity to me. The screen shot I took of the beenverified site shows 18 other Joses in California, most of them in the Los Angeles area. It’s actually great since beenverified beaks down the demographics at the top of the page, so if I wanted to I could list each Mier by location, age, etc. Trust me, I’m not going that far. It’s just interesting to know.
So it’s not just Google that assists me in my search. Sites like beenverified and ancestry.com have a ton of information that I can cull if I want to dig deeper into my genealogical search. There are other site out there too. Google is just the tool I use to find them.