Miryelle Resek | Aug 4, 2017

7 Tips for Refining Google Alerts as a Genealogist

This is the second of a two-part series exploring how to use Google alerts for genealogy. Read part one.

Now that you know how to set up effective Google Alerts, how do you fine-tune them so you get alerts specific to your needs? In her 2017 RootsTech presentation, Katherine R. Willson gave us a few tips on how to create efficient Google alerts.

Tip Number One

Put your name in quotation marks for exact phrases.


Some names (Baker, Chamber, and so on) may end up sending you alerts that have nothing to do with your ancestor but everything to do with the last name as a word. To combat this, put your ancestor’s name in quotation marks.

Tip Number Two

As you look at the alert preview, you can help Google immediately remove results you know you wouldn’t want by inserting the minus (-) sign before the words you aren’t interested in.

Tip Number Three

Use the tilde sign (~) to bring results that include the synonym of the keyword you associate with it.

Tip Number Four

Use site:domainname to search through a specific website.

Tip Number Five

Type in OR for any variations that the name might have.

Tip Number Six

Use two periods (..) to search through a time range.

Tip Number Seven

After finding the combinations that help you get the best results, don’t forget to update your alerts!


If you aren’t receiving Google alerts, Willson recommends that you “check your spam folder. You might need to actually [the] email address googlealerts-noreply@google.com … to your address book.”

Do you have any tips on how to use Google Alerts efficiently? Tweet us @RootsTechConf with your suggestions!

Miryelle Resek

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