New filtering options coming to new search
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You've been asking for better ways to control your results. Over the next couple of months, we will be launching two new sets of filters in new search. One will be a name filter, with specific options for first and last names, and the other will be a place filter. Here's a quick preview:

  • Name filters: In new search, when you search for a name, you currently have two basic options: our default search or exact search, and you can manipulate either one with some clever use of wildcards. We are going to introduce options for soundex on last names, initials on first names, and other phonetic searches on both.
  • Place filters: Also we've been working to give you more control over how you search places. Let's say you choose Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA', but you want to search Rockbridge County and all the surrounding counties, but nothing else. You'll be able to do that. Or maybe you want to search Virginia and adjacent states. Well, you'll be able to do that too. I've been doing some testing on it, and it's very convenient, to say the least.
To get ready for these two new filters, which will give you a lot more control over your searches, we had to make some changes to the way the search form sends queries to the actual search engine. We added in the structure for these filters and while we were at it, we ran it through a large volume of tests for relevancy, and made some improvements there as well. You won't see much difference, but on some of your queries you may see some changes in the order of results. These changes will be seen in new search and old search without the exact option. Old exact search will not change. The changes to the interface will launch sometime on Friday and none of this will change how you use search. But the filter changes are coming, so stay tuned. :-D