Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cousin Bait Strategy Needed

I use this blog for a couple of reasons. Mostly it's to hear myself "talk" -- and see the error of my ways, of which there are plenty -- and get feedback from you, dear generous reader. The other way I use it is to catch a cousin. I get about one every couple of months and I've been happy with that rate of return. But I think it can be better.

When lost or unknown to me cousins contact me it's a trip! We furiously compare trees, exchange packets of info in the mail, and email a bunch of photos to share. It's some serious genealogy fun! Being a fun junkie I want more: that's what junkies do;) So I want to build better bait so as to attract more cousins.

My Grandpa Williams, Mom's dad, was a fisherman who made his own hand-tied flies. You have to think like a fish, he said. So let me try to think like a cousin and see what I come up with.

How can I increase searchability so that when my cousin googles grandpa Camey Williams, the fisherman, they are going to find me? Right now I'm using those labels Blogger provides and includes below the blog post... and I have to remember to use as many as appropriate and Blogger allows so that they get picked up by the search engines.
I wonder if google will pick up grandpa if I just put his info here in the text: Cambria Williams (1897 - 1960)? And then what happens if I add a hyperlink in a new window to Mom's Ancestry page for him? Does that help catch a cousin? Do more links out get me higher on the search results page? Gosh if you know please won't you post a comment?
And do I remember something about Alt tags being useful if you know how to use them? I just for the first time used the Alt tag on the photos below. Maybe I should have been doing that all along.
Anything else I'm missing here to improve searchability?

Maybe it's just me, but I love photos. Could have jumped right through the screen and hugged that distant cousin who posted a photo of my great great grandmother, Mary Myers (1837 - 1909) on facebook. Here it is below. She was the granddaughter of my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newans (1740 - 1820) whom you can find on Mom's Big Tree on Ancestry at:

Mary Myers (1837 - 1909)
Mary Myers 1837-1909

Place names.
My ancestors came from such specific places that I think maybe I could be using those too to catch a cousin. Places like Frostburg, Maryland, a town of just 8,000 people in 2000, and Magnolia, West Virginia, now gone entirely. You wouldn't be searching Magnolia unless you have an ancestor who lived there, and if so there's maybe a one out of two chance we're related.
Here's a link to those two places on Wikipedia, and I'm going to use a hyperlink as well as a regular link in the text:
Frostburg :,_Maryland
Magnolia :,_West_Virginia
Do you think this will help with the cousins?

Lists of names and dates... ?
I see Randy Seaver's beautiful blog, Genea-Musings and his posts, Surname Saturday. Here's a sample:
Now, my first take on it is that it looks like a whole lotta work! And the second thought is that it looks like perfect cousin bait;) Maybe I need more of that, useful to myself and others and cousin bait crafted to attract.

Trees online.
I do get a couple of messages a week in response to Mom's Big Tree on Ancestry. But that has nothing to do with the blog and I'm wondering if it need be connected in some way or other or does it matter? Maybe they are two different vehicles entirely.

Prominent contact information at the top of the blog.
So if I catch a cousin on a search then it needs to be easy for them to contact me, right? I'm gonna go check my blog right now.... Yup, it's there, but I could repeat it a couple of more times in the page layout so it's easier to find.

OK, that's all I can think of. You have any ideas? I just love it when cousins email!

Photo of the day from the Archive:

Cambria Williams (1897 - 1960),
My Grandfather, Cambria Williams (1897 - 1960)
The best fisherman I ever knew.
Look at the size of that rainbow trout!
After I wrote this post I thought, hey, maybe I should google "cousin bait" and see what pops up... after I wrote this, d'uh. Here's what sharper tacks than I had to say.
Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings:
Amy Coffin at The We Tree:
There are more so if you're interested go run the search for yourself. I likes these, above.


  1. Diane,

    What I do for Surname Saturday is actually pretty easy.

    1) Create an ahnentafel (ancestor list) report for my ancestors. Only do this once. You will go from #2 to #3 to #5 to #7 to #9 to #11 to #13, etc. in successive weeks. The even numbers after #2 are covered by #3, #5, #7, #9, etc.

    2) Start at #2 surname on the list and make an ancestor report for that person. Edit out all of the families not on the direct line for your target ancestor surname.

    3) You can leave the facts for all the family members in if you want...I take them out to make thep ost shorter.

    4) Edit the resulting to highlight the surname being treated (I use blue) and other ancestors (I use red).

    An alternative:

    1) Pick a surname and make a report of descendants from the first of that surname. Edit as necessary.

    The key is to put enough details into the post (full names, birth and death years, spouses name, childrens names, etc.) so that searchers can find you.

    Try it!

  2. Hi Randy- Thanks for the nuts and bolts of Surname Saturday! Always wondered how you did it and knowing that engineer's mind of yours trusted that you'd have a slick way to compile a list:) Think I actually might have a shot at doing it next Saturday.

  3. Congratulations Diane! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. For the rules and my 11 questions for you, please visit my blog post at

  4. Thank you so much Jenny! I'll be answering those Leibster Blog Award questions in a blog post real soon:) Sounds like fun!! Diane

  5. Thanks for your post, Diane. I've been wanting to start up the Surname Saturday theme for awhile now and just can't seem to get around to it. With motivation from your post and Randy's enginuity, I may get around to implementing it sooner rather than later :)

  6. Good luck, Julie! Using Randy's instructions, hope tyo run a report today and craft a plog post. Randy is so good to share what he knows.

  7. Diane, I just wanted to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

  8. Hi Jana:) Cool that!! Thanks for letting me know. What fun! Cheers, Diane

  9. I'm hoping to start up Surname Saturday today. And I've always loved how Barbara Poole does her posts so I thought I'd share a link with you:

    But, while I was thinking about Surname Saturday and your blog post, something else occurred to me. About two months after I started blogging back in 2008, I started to do "Family Events" for each week. You can see my first post here: I did this for an entire year and did find some cousins along the way. To do this weekly post, I'd run a report in Legacy and pick the people I wanted to highlight (I usually left out those very distant cousins). I even posted about how I ran my reports here:

    Oddly enough, Ancestry just posted a video on YouTube about this very topic. Haven't watched it, but it might be helpful.

  10. Oh Julie, thanks for this! Checked out how you did what you did and how Barbara does Surname Saturday. All very helpful:) Gives me ideas. Think that I'll be better prepared to do it next time around... this week's effort was really rough and at first and I've been back at it this morning... so it's kinda a "Surname Saturday into Sunday"! Want to check out the YouTube vid too.
    Cheers, Diane