Normally, I'm positive and upbeat by nature, but here's a touchy subject that makes my blood boil…The old "Bait and Switch" tactics on so called "genealogy search sites."

Grrr! This is so deceptive and takes advantage of many, many people. I'd like to share some things with you that will keep you from either being fooled - or at the very least - be more aware of this annoying "scam," so you don't waste your time and get frustrated.

Here's How it Works…

The bottom line is: You think you are doing a "real" search and type in you ancestor's first name and surname, the results look promising, then when you click on the result, it takes you to a "pay for" site. Usually it's Ancestry.com.

This means that someone went to a lot of trouble, probably paid a computer programmer, and set up their Web site's search feature to tie in with the Ancestry "affiliate" program. This means that you DID indeed do a search - it's just that your search was in the Ancestry database - and you have to pay to get the information.

It's what you would call "bait and switch." The bait is: The promise of a free search for your ancestors. The switch is: Oh, look - there are some results, but you have to sign up and pay to get them.

IMPORTANT: The problem is NOT with advertising. I understand. Dr. Stephen Covey said: "No monetization, no mission." There is no way that I could fulfill my personal "mission" of being a genealogy teacher and publisher without "monetization" (selling my genealogy courses, etc.). For heaven's sake - something has to pay the bills.

In fact, I am an "affiliate" for Ancestry, myself. If you look in the left-column on the Treasure Maps site, you will see a vertical banner for Ancestry.com. Many genealogy site publishers do this.

The problem is the deception! This is when a site acts like a valuable "genealogy search engine" or a resource. There are unsuspecting people who fall for this every day. Whenever you hear the term "free genealogy search engine," you should immediately put up a mental red flag.

TRY THIS: Do a Google search with these keywords: free genealogy search

A large majority of the sites (in the results you see from the above Google search) are the kind only lead to results where you have to sign up. Take a look at some of them. Do some searches of your own and see for yourself.

Often, just using the search features on these kinds of sites are very cumbersome. This will give you a better idea of what to look for. Maybe you've seen this kind of thing before, maybe not. Be aware.

Here's What Really Set Me Off…
 

I'm reading a genealogy blog that speaks highly of a new "genealogy search engine." with promises galore. Okay, my red flag is up, but I will give it a try.

The site I go to (name withheld) looks very nice, but wait…I recognize the name of the publisher. This person has other reputable genealogy sites - so it is now even more promising. Lots of programming went into this site's "search engine," press releases were sent, other genealogy blogs are saying good things, oh, happy day.

BUZZZZZZZ! Wrong! The whole elaborate genealogy search site was only a doorway into Ancestry's "pay for" records. There was nothing of value on the whole site. I was so disappointed with the person who did this.

The whole genealogy "false search" to pay for sites racket must be profitable because there are so many of them. I couldn't do it, because I wouldn't be able to look at myself at the mirror. Anyway, that's what really got to me.

 The War on Genealogy "Bait and Switch" Sites…

The way to win this war is to be informed, and know where to really find the free information. I'm going to suggest three resources:

  • RESOURCE #1: Google: The good old Google search engine is still the best way to find free genealogy information. You should know how to use Google - I mean REALLY use it.

I've taught this for years in this newsletter, on the Treasure Maps site, in videos on YouTube, and in my genealogy courses. Google gets better and better - you should be comfortable doing in-depth searches and know how to use the different search operators.

RESOURCE #2: FamilySearch: You've heard about it, and hopefully have searched their "real" online genealogy databases. Make sure that you see my recent free online tutorial: "How to Use the New FamilySearch "Record Search - Pilot Site" and Get Free Copies of Original Records."

You can even watch a video that I did for "Record Search - Pilot Site" that walks you through the whole search process.

IMPORTANT: Before I go in-depth with you on the third resource, I want to say this: Again, Ancestry is a wonderful company. If you can afford it, I think that you should sign up with them. Go for it! It is "questionable" genealogy Web site publishers that do the damage, not Ancestry.

In fact, here's a link to Ancestry (that you do not see very often) to the "Ancestry Store." They've got all kinds of great genealogy books, items, and software available. Ancestry is not just about signing up for membership.

Since I am an affiliate, they tell me about their current promotions and when the sales are:

RESOURCE #3: RootsWeb WorldConnect Project: (More than 480 million names on file: Names: 572,468,964 Surnames: 5,054,902 Databases: 420,822)

This gets a little tricky because there is an astonishing amount of honest-to-goodness valuable information on RootsWeb WorldConnect, but Ancestry is now a part of RootsWeb, so there is advertising woven in.

You have to know what to click on, and be aware of what not to click on. Here's screen shots of Rootsweb WorldConnect that will help you…

When you go to the RootsWeb WorldConnect site, there is a large horizontal advertising banner across the top of the screen. Often, this genealogy banner is one with "search boxes" that lead to "pay for" stuff. That's forgivable, because the content is so valuable.

Under that, on the left side of the page is the area that says: "Search Family Trees at WorldConnect."

There is also a link that says "Advanced Search." I like the advanced search feature.

 

However, when you go to "Advanced Search" there is another horizontal banner across the top, that is often one of the same "search box to pay for ads." Just be aware.

Type in one of your ancestor's names and do a search. Then, examine the results.

 

Depending on how much information is in each result, you will see either no "icons" or as many as five different icons.

Here's What the Icons Mean…
 

Magnifying Glass icon: This is the one that is tricky (but forgivable), but I can't help but wonder how many people have done a search, clicked on this icon, been discouraged, and went away.

 

This is because the magnifying glass is the "Search Ancestry icon." This link takes you to the kind of search Ancestry subscription databases "pay for stuff" that we've been talking about. They say it also leads to free matches, but I've never seen any.

Bottom line, don't worry about the magnifying glass icon. However, it gets good from here.

Pedigree icon (pedigree chart - CLICKABLE): This icon will show up if there is pedigree information for the individual in that specific WorldConnect result/database.

Notes icon (paper and pencil): If there are notes in this result/database, this icon will show up.

Sources icon (an open book): If there are sources listed in the result/database then you will see this icon.

Descendants icon (blue head silhouette - CLICKABLE): This icon will take you to a "descendant outline" of the person in the "Name" column in the results.

TRY THIS: Do searches in the RootsWeb WorldConnect databases and see what you can find. You see that this is a wonderful resource with real information. You just have to know where NOT to click.

RootsWeb WorldConnect is one of my favorite online databases. Of course, with ANY information you find on the Internet, you need to validate the information. What you find could be right, or it could be wrong. Either way, it is an exciting adventure, and this is a fantastic resource.

 Here's 3 More Resources to Help You…

Hear me out on this: It is hard to say anything about any of my Internet genealogy home-study courses that I've created without it sounding like a bunch of "hype."

- Every now and then, someone tells me that promotions for my different courses sound like one of those late-night "infomercials." The main reason, I believe, is because the comments ("testimonials" from people who've used my courses) are so positive, and the students are so excited, that they sound too good to be true. But…their comments are 100 percent real. It is true.

- Then, you've got me, on the other side, saying how the courses (especially the ones about online research) can dramatically change the way you do your online genealogy research forever, and even help you with your non-genealogy interests. Well, that also sounds too good to be true. But, it really is true.

- Now, because I need your help to keep my genealogy mission alive ("No monetization, no mission," remember?), I'm going to make you an offer that sounds too good to be true - and yet again, it is true, and you want to jump on this chance…

Get 3 Courses for Only $33 - Till Mother's Day…

This is the biggest discount I've ever offered, and you should bookmark this special, private link:See: http://amberskyline.com/mothersday/

I chose these three courses because they all have lessons on finding free genealogy information on the Internet. From how to use Google, to how to use the "real" free online genealogy databases, all three of these courses show you how to find valuable, free genealogy information online, step-by-step. Here are the three courses:

"Guide to the Best FREE Internet Genealogy Databases and How to Use Them Step-by-Step" (normally sells for $37)

"Search Engine Secrets Made Easy for Genealogy Researchers" (normally goes for $25 - by donation)

"5 Minute Internet Genealogy Lessons" (Includes 17 - five minute lessons - normally sells for $24)

- GET ALL 3 COURSES: You can get ALL THREE of these popular genealogy courses for only $33 (plus $3.75  shipping/handling) That's a grand total of $36.75.

- GET 2 COURSES:
Let's say you already have one of these courses. Then, you can get ANY TWO of these courses for $24 (plus $3.75 shipping/handling). Just let me know which two you want. That's a grand total of $27.75.

- GET 1 COURSE: Or, you can get ANY ONE of these courses for $15 (plus $3.75  shipping/handling) That's a grand total of $18.75.

"But wait, there's more." (Get it? That's what they always say on the infomercial.

If you order ANY course(s) I will ALSO include…10 Years of Back Issues (from 1995 to 2005) of Treasure Maps Genealogy Newsletter.

NOTE: This expires on May 10, 2009 (Mother's Day)

You can read all about these three courses, and see what other's are saying about them, from the private link (for Treasure Maps Genealogy readers and Facebook friends).

So, don't be a victim of the growing bait and switch sites online, and continue to educate yourself.