back to resources

3 Tips for Choosing and Using Genealogy Sites

To help you decide whether or not they’re right for your genealogy needs, we’ve come up with these 3 tips for picking and using genealogy sites.



November 28, 2020

Your memories, digitized.

Preserve your most treasured photographs, films, videos and related items to keep telling your favorite stories for generations to come with the Memories by Matt Paxton media digitization box.



Genealogy is a field that’s grown a lot in recent years. As a result, genealogy sites have become wildly popular. However, that popularity has led to an overwhelming amount of online services and databases. 

These sites are incredibly powerful, but figuring out where and how to start can be difficult. Additionally, because genealogy is thought of as such a broad field, it’s grown to include many different concepts, including DNA testing.

To help you decide whether or not they’re right for your genealogy needs, we’ve come up with these 3 tips for picking and using genealogy sites. 

  1. Think about what kinds of information you’d like to access

Genealogical research has come to mean a lot of different things. The first question to ask yourself before using a genealogy site should be: What do I need? The answer will largely depend on what information you already have or how far you already are in your genealogical research. 

A lot of genealogy sites offer similar tools as far as organizing a family tree. However, there are two questions you should ask yourself before signing up for a website, based on what you’re interested in finding:

  • Are you looking for increased access to historical documents and records?
  • Are you interested in taking a DNA test to explore your ethnic background?
  •  Sites like 23AndMe perform millions of tests, meaning they’re becoming increasingly good at finding genetic connections within the population. 

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better determine which websites are worth your time.

  1. Consider whether or not you’re willing to pay for a subscription

While there are genealogy sites capable of addressing both of these needs described above (and some, like and MyHeritage, can do both!), many of these require you to pay one-time, yearly, or monthly fees to use them and their resources. 

However, there is a good, free option available in The website is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but its services are available for everyone, regardless of your religious background.

While it lacks any kind of DNA testing feature and doesn’t include as many documents as its subscription-based competitors, it’s a great place to start mapping out your family tree and figuring out the basics of using a genealogy site. 

  1. How much guidance would you like in your research? 

A subscription to a website or a one-time fee will get you access to these resources, but you may still find the information there somewhat overwhelming.

FamilySearch provides a number of articles and guides about how to make the most of their resources. They also recently started offering online consultations with representatives who will help get you started with the site. provides similar resources, including Ancestry Academy, a library of videos about different genealogy topics and resources. This library is entirely free and available to anyone, regardless of whether or not you have an account or pay a subscription.

Finally, after you complete your DNA test, 23andMe offers to connect you directly to a professional genealogist from LegacyTree. They’ll take you through a free consultation to determine whether or not hiring their services is necessary for completing your family history. 

Once you begin using a genealogy site, you’ll likely come up with more questions.

Because of this, it’s essential to know that signing up for any of the websites described here is the easy part of your genealogical research! Completing your family history will take time - and possibly money. Additionally, as useful as some of these websites are, there are always concerns about whether or not historical records are free from errors, as databases aren’t likely to include corrections. When in doubt, it’s best to hire a professional.

mll approved service