as Cousin Bait

by Scott Jangro on June 6, 2010

Catching up on my blog-reading, I came across Randy Seaver’s post about “cousin bait”.

Here’s his overview…

Greta Koehl used the term “Cousin Bait” last month in her post Online Trees about the purpose of posting online family tree data. At least, that was the first use of the term I’ve seen published – an excellent term! Her point was that putting a family tree online in a database or on a web page may help induce distant cousins, who share your ancestry, into contacting you and perhaps provide more information about the common ancestral families.

While I’ve also never thought of it as “cousin bait”, this is exactly what I had in mind when I created

I’ve always described the concept as “casting a net” for other family tree researchers to find your posts, and then connect via

And it’s true that you can set some very effective bait with some simple posts on

I wish Randy’s example produced a result, but alas. Let’s take a look at some recent posts and how they rank on Google.

Starting with the most recent journal, William SPINLEY + Emily WILHAM – Auckland 1800s, posted about an hour prior to writing this blog post.

A Google search for [William Spinley] produces a number one search result on Google just an hour after it was posted…

William SPINLEY - Google Search.png

Here’s another example of a more popular search result, [white family dna], 17MM results.

The author of this entry about a White family DNA project posted it here on FamilyTreeCircles as well as on Genforum at about the same time.

white family dna - Google Search-1.png

Her FamilyTreeCircles post is #3 on The Genforum post is at #6. While not all posts make it to the first page of Google’s results, both are a very effective way of getting some search engine exposure of your genealogy work.

If you’re not doing so already, you should consider adding to your toolbox for getting your “cousin bait” out there on the search engine result pages.

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We’re on a roll on FamilyTreeCircles, adding new features.  We’re really trying to round out the types of information that are available on FTC and I’m happy to say that there are now three types of postings available for everyone from new family researchers to experienced genealogists.

Look on the homepage and you’ll see the following explanation of the options.

Find Family Tree Researchers and Information for your Surnames | Family Tree Circles.png

The last thing I want to do is introduce any confusion or uncertainty with more options and I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible.  All three types of entries end up in the same places in the list on the homepage and in the active posts page, color coded so you can tell the difference at a glance.


There is still the same, old, tried and true Journal entries.  Nothing has changed there.  Use a journal entry for posting all your great family research.  As a general rule, anything family or surname related should go in a journal.  For the time being, only journals can be associated specifically with surnames and therefore show up on the surname page for any given surname.


If you’ve got a question about any genealogy topic, this is the place to ask.  Maybe you’re wondering about what sort of resources are available in Cork County Ireland.  Or maybe you’re stuck with a problem in Personal Ancestral File software.  Ask about any genealogy topic, technique, method, or technology.  Keep an eye on the open questions to see if you can answer a question for someone else.  You can read more about this on our announcement of Answers from a few days ago.


Everybody is an expert about something.  Maybe your experience has made you an expert on genealogy research in the state of Vermont, or researching slave ancestry in Virginia.  Maybe you’re an expert user of certain software or websites.  Write an article and you’ll not only provide the community with some great information, but you can establish yourself as an expert and direct people to your own blog for more information.

I’ve got some exciting ideas of where the Articles feature can go…more on that soon.

So there you have it.  Something for everyone.  It’ll take some time for people to get used to the new features on FamilyTreeCircles.  If you’re one of our more experienced users, please give them a try and show folks how it’s done!


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