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People Search Semantics: (People Search Wars)

By: Tony Cohn

Perhaps it is just a matter of semantics, but the issue has caused quite a stir here at People Search News. Below, the editor attempts to make sense of it all.

On a recent visit to my mother's house, she asked me if I knew of a Web site that had bread machine recipes. I told her to Google the term "bread machine recipes." The search returned about 8,060,000 results for "bread machine recipes," of which we chose breadworld.com as the one most worthy of a visit.

Much to my surprise, instead of clicking the link, my mother typed www.breadworld.com into the Google Search box.

"Mom, why don't you just type the url in the address bar?" I said.

"This is how I always do it," she said.

Then it dawned on me, there is a whole generation of people navigating the Web using only search results.

My mother does not have favorite. She regularly goes back and forth between Yahoo, MSN and Google. The quality of her search results is directly associated with the specificity of her keyword choices. Hence, I began wondering about the different search results returned for three of the most popular "people search" keyword strings.

First, my pick for the three most-popular "people search" terms are: people search, people finder and locate people. Arguably you could include all the variants of each term, locate people, find people and search people, but I opted not to, for brevity's sake.

Below, you will find each search term defined.

1. People Search: an exploratory search where thorough examination of all possible search results is necessary. This is usually a search performed on people the searcher has lost contact with or people that have concealed their whereabouts from the searcher. It is also most-likely that the person searching has never met or had any contact or second hand information about the subject for many years, but the searcher has at least one piece of accurate contact information from the past. The subject being searched has possibly married and/or changed residences since last being in contact with the searcher.

The most common type of people searches being lost loves, lost friends, ex-spouses, genealogy related searches and potential parents.

2. People Finder: to discover through experience, study or observation. This search would most likely be used by private investigators, skip tracers, or potential employers to "find out" all they can about the search subject. For instance, a potential employer could study the data provided in a background report and find the employee is either the ideal candidate or not qualified for the position. Also, an attorney, loan officer, landlord, volunteer organization or a homeowner looking for a contractor could use the information to determine the character of the subject.

Also, it is quite possible to find people by accident. Such is the case when doing genealogy searches. People often find relatives they never knew they had when doing genealogical research.

The most common searches being potential renters/tenants, job seekers, day care workers, home health care aids, business partners, nannies, long-lost relatives and contractors.

3. Locate People: to determine the location of people or persons by searching. After performing one or more of the searches above, the need may arise to find the current location of the individual searched for. The people locator search would most likely be used by private investigators, skip tracers, adopted children, ex-spouses, old classmates, family members, unclaimed property services and repossession services in order to attempt or make contact with the search subject.

This is probably the most important type of search considering once you have searched then found your subject you would most likely want to locate them.

Now, you should have a clear understanding of which search terms to use for your type of people search. Use them wisely to get the best results and best service for your people search needs.

Just as you should be specific with your search terms, you should be specific with the data you provide to the people search people finder service you choose. Never assume that any information you have is out-dated or obsolete. An address from 20 years ago may just lead you to the current location of your search subject.

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