Why a blog is more attractive than a website

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you are better off publishing parts of your tree as separate articles in a blog than as a full family tree website as produced by most family tree programs. My reasoning will be demonstrated by searching for a name and a place that I am interested in for my own family history:

Google search

The very first result in this list is a blog post: 

Riley blog post

Compare that page with this one: 

Riley family tree website

Which one looks more interesting? Which one would look more interesting to someone who wasn’t all that interested in genealogy?

If I’d put a picture or two in the blog post it would be even more interesting.

So that’s two good reasons:

  1. A blog post about a specific person or family line will be higher in a Google search
  2. A blog post will be more likely to hold the attention of a casual reader

A third reason is this: I have my full family tree as a separate website as produced by Second Site, a program to turn my The Master Genealogist project into a website. Most of the enquiries I get from it are for people on the edges of my tree, people who have married cousins of my ancestors. I have no more information about these people than what is on the tree, but the researchers who find them get excited when they find the name and email me for more. Really it’s a waste of  my time and theirs.

Anyone who finds the names in my blog posts is really looking for my family, and we are usually related. Over the years I would say that as many real relatives have found me through my blog posts as through my tree, although of course I can’t count the people who find my tree, grab the information, and leave without contacting me.

Blogs make it easier for them to contact me, as there’s a form for comments at the bottom of the page.

So there it is. Write stories about your ancestors in a blog. Don’t just put your tree up and wait for people to find you.

Note: in case you’re wondering about the Google logo in the first image – it was the 46th anniversary of the first Star Trek episode, and Google was celebrating. And why wouldn’t it?


  1. Interesting! I too have used TMG and SecondSIte to put a ‘family tree’ on my Web site, and I have had had many, many people contact me via the email link there. Most of my blogs are ‘educational’ (sharing tips about sources and techniques for research), but you have reminded me that I need to write more blog posts about my own family.

  2. More than interesting for this ‘initial duffer’ in family tree construction. So how do I ‘post a blog’ in the first place?

  3. Carole Riley says

    There are a few free blog sites. The best known are Blogger and WordPress. Just sign up (Blogger is owned by Google so you can use your Google or Gmail ID), give your blog a name, and away you go!

  4. Thank you for your information on this topic – I was wondering which would be better and I guess you just answered my question.

  5. I agree that blog posts yield better quality responses. In my experience, enquiries through family tree websites were often from people who were not related to me and who had little to offer in return. I can also produce a much higher quality account of my family history in a blog post where I explain how I reached my conclusions.

  6. Loved your family story about the Riley’s and also the information comparing a blog
    with a website. I was considering the website route, but will now do a blog instead!
    Not sure how I found you, probably had something to do with your book on social networking.
    Have things changed very much since 2012? Was considering buying it.
    Also, my grandmother was Priscilla Jordan who married a Frank Riley from Leicester, Leicestershire, (also the family goes back to Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England,
    so you might want check there. I think any Riley’s from Ireland would be O’Reilly, for
    what it is worth.