The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the leading genealogy and family history show. Launched in 2007, the show is hosted by genealogy author, keynote presenter, and video producer Lisa Louise Cooke. The podcast features genealogy news, interviews, stories and how-to instruction. It can be found in all major podcasting directories, or download the exclusive Genealogy Gems Podcast app to listen to all the episodes and receive bonus content.
In this episode we’re going to delve into how DNA testing has changed our world with award-winning journalist Libby Copeland, author of the new book The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are.
Lisa Louise Cooke presenting her new class “3 Cool Cases Solved: How to Identify Your Photos” at RootsTech 2020. Video coming soon to Genealogy Gems Premium Membership!
Genealogy Gems Mailbox
Jenn shares her journey into genealogy and her brand new family history blog.
You even inspired me to start my own blog! This is something I thought I would never do, but with your helpful tutorials and encouragement I got started last month and I already have 7 posts!
My question is about getting my blog to show up in Google Search. I am using Blogspot. I have used Google’s Search Console to request indexing for my url’s (they are all indexed). I have included labels and pictures. I use the key words often that I think folks will search for. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Can you help me?
I have tried the following searches in Google to no avail:
Jenn has crafted some great Google search queries to see if her blog will come up in the search results. However, the query does need a few adjustments.
Numrange Search: 1788…1856
Use two periods – not three.
Synonym Search: The tilde (~genealogy)
This search is no longer supported by Google, and in reality really isn’t necessary due to the updates and improvements it has made to its search algorithm.
Simply include the word genealogy at the end of your query and it should provide search results for words like ancestry, familytree, and family history.
It can take Google up to around a month to index your site so that it will appear in search results. Give it a little more time. In the meantime, I would recommend setting up Google Analytics and Google Console for additional traffic data.
Run this search to verify your family history blog has been indexed:
This blog post by Neil Patel is a great source of additional information about how to get your site found and showing up in search results.
Lisa’s Recommended Strategy:
Keep Consistently Blogging
Use free tools like Google Analytics and Google Console.
Genealogy Gems Book Club: Libby Copeland, author of The Lost Family
From the book: “In The Lost Family, journalist Libby Copeland investigates what happens when we embark on a vast social experiment with little understanding of the ramifications. Copeland explores the culture of genealogy buffs, the science of DNA, and the business of companies like Ancestry and 23andMe, and delves into the many lives that have been irrevocably changed by home DNA tests.”
You’re listening to episode 239.
Get your copy of the book here. Thank you for using our affiliate link. We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, and that makes it possible for us to be bring more interviews to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast.
Click image to order “The Lost Family”
Libby Copeland is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Washington Post, New York magazine, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and many other publications. Copeland was a reporter and editor at the Post for eleven years, has been a media fellow and guest lecturer, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.
Libby Copeland author of The Lost Family
Quotes from Libby Copeland:
‘I think that America in many ways because of commercial genetic testing is becoming a nation of seekers, and we’re all sort of seeking out our origins.”
“It’s hard to tell your story when you don’t have a beginning.”
“So, we’re sort of operating in the dark in a way. It’s like we have a flashlight and it only illuminates what’s directly in front of us.”
“We have all this information that’s available with the intention for it to be used for one thing, and we cannot anticipate the ways in which it might be used in coming years.”
“So, DNA is…really causing in many ways, the past to collide with the present. And that’s what I find so fascinating.”
Quotes from Lisa Louise Cooke:
“When you say, ‘what’s coming in the future?’ and he (Yaniv Erlich) says ‘oh, I don’t have a crystal ball, but you don’t need one because you look to the past.’ This is what we as genealogists do all the time!”
Featuring Lisa Louise Cooke’s Google Search Methodology for 2020
A lot has changed and it’s time to update your search strategy for genealogy!
Click to order your copy of “The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Third edition” by Lisa Louise Cooke
Discover the answers to your family history mysteries using the newest cutting-edge Google search strategies. A comprehensive resource for the best Google tools, this easy-to-follow book provides the how-to information you need in plain English.
This book features:
Step-by-step clear instructions
quick reference pages.
Strategies for searching faster and achieving better results.
How to use exciting new tools like Google Photos and Google Earth.
Here’s the latest DNA update quoted from Ancestry®:
Ancestry® Expands Reference Panel to Deliver More Precise Results and New Regions
“Today, Ancestry® announced their latest update to AncestryDNA® ethnicity estimates.
This update was made possible thanks to an increase in the AncestryDNA reference panel.
The reference panel is now more than double its previous size with samples from more places around the world, allowing Ancestry to determine ethnic breakdowns with a higher degree of precision.
New ethnicity estimates will roll out to new and existing customers over several months, resulting in these potential developments for customers.”
New Ethnicity Regions
From their blog post:
“For example, previously we had North and South America as two large regions: Native American–Andean and Native American–North, Central, South.
With this new update, we are able to refine the areas into 11 smaller ones.
If you received one of the older regions before, your new report will most likely have one of the newer, more precise regions instead like Indigenous Eastern South America, Indigenous Cuba, and Indigenous Americas–Mexico, among others.”
More Global Regions
“This advancement will enable AncestryDNA to deliver even more regions globally to enhance the experience across diverse populations including improvements and region realignment in West Africa, northwestern Europe, the Americas, Oceania, and South Asia.”
When You Will See the Update
“It’s important to note that we are phasing the update over time to ensure individual attention is given to delivering each result; therefore, some may see results earlier or later than others.”
“More than 1,000 global regions make up the ethnicities displayed in our DNA test. As DNA science improves, the number of regions we test for (and the countries covered in each region) may change.
This article lists each region, butto see which areas of the globe are included in the regions, you’ll need to view the list from your DNA Story page (which will highlight an area of the map when you click a region).
To see all the regions, click See other regions tested at the bottom of your ethnicity estimate and click on a region on the next page.
If you’ve taken a DNA test, you may have received different ethnicity results than you expected and different from your family members. DNA expert Diahan Southard explains why this happens in the Genealogy Gems article “Results May Vary:” One Family’s DNA Ethnicity Percentages. Click here to start reading now.
MyHeritage Expands to Health
From the MyHeritage press release: Tel Aviv, Israel & Lehi, Utah — MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today a major expansion of its DNA product line with the launch of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test. The test provides a new dimension of genetic insight with comprehensive health reports that can empower future health and lifestyle choices. It is a superset of the current MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only test, and includes its pillar features: a percentage breakdown of ethnic origins and matching to relatives through shared DNA. MyHeritage is now the only global consumer DNA company to offer an extensive health and ancestry product in over 40 languages.
The launch of the Health + Ancestry product distinguishes MyHeritage as the only major service that bridges consumers’ past, present, and future: MyHeritage’s integrated suite of products enable users to discover their family history and ethnic origins, find new relatives, and receive valuable insights to help manage choices regarding their health that may impact their future well-being.
“Our Health + Ancestry test is the next step in the evolution of MyHeritage. After 16 years of changing lives for the better through family history research and genetic genealogy, we are excited to expand our mission and try to improve and save lives as well. Our vision is to integrate our successful family history technologies with the new health product in innovative ways that bridge heritage and heredity to deliver deeper insights for our users,” said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “We are proud to be part of a movement to democratize healthcare globally and make genetic testing accessible to millions of people, and allow them to discover what makes them unique.”
What Health Data is Included?
According to the company, The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides health reports that show users their risk of developing or carrying genetic conditions. Reports include conditions where specific genes contribute to the risk, such as hereditary breast cancer, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and late-onset Parkinson’s disease; conditions associated with multiple genes, such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes; and carrier status reports on conditions that can be passed down from a couple to their children, such as Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis.
In total, MyHeritage’s Health + Ancestry test covers one of the most extensive ranges of conditions offered by an at-home DNA test: 11 Genetic Risk Reports, including a hereditary breast cancer (BRCA) report that tests 10 pathogenic variants; 3 Polygenic Risk Reports; and 15 Carrier Status Reports.
Taking the Test
MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is a Laboratory Developed Test, processed in a CLIA certified and CAP accredited DNA lab in Texas. The at-home DNA test is an easy and painless cheek swab, and does not require spitting as some other tests do, which makes it more suitable and convenient for all populations, including older people.
Health reports only determine users’ genetic risk for the supported conditions. However, all users are required to complete a personal and family health history questionnaire, to ensure that each user receives the reports appropriate for them. MyHeritage works with PWNHealth, an independent physician network and genetic counseling service, to provide end-to-end physician oversight of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test for all U.S. customers, which includes genetic counseling, if appropriate. PWNHealth’s physician oversight and genetic counseling fee is included in the total price.
Your Health Data is Private
Privacy is strictly enforced. All health data is protected by state-of-the-art encryption. Health report data is secured using additional password protection and is so secure that even MyHeritage employees cannot access it. MyHeritage has never licensed or sold user data, and has committed to never do so without obtaining explicit user consent. MyHeritage is the only consumer DNA company that has pledged to never sell data to insurance companies. It also applies a strict policy to prohibit use of its DNA services by law enforcement agencies.
Pricing & Ordering
The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry kit is available at the price of $199 + shipping. Users who have already purchased a MyHeritage DNA test for ethnicity and genealogy matching can upgrade to receive health reports for $120. To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. An annual Health subscription is available as an optional add-on to the new DNA kit, which grants users access to new health reports as they are released. As a special benefit for the launch, the Health subscription is currently offered for free for the first twelve months and users can cancel it anytime.
The new health product is not intended to independently diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease or condition or tell users anything about their current state of health in the absence of medical and clinical information.
The product is also not intended for making medical decisions, including prescription or dosing of medications. Users may need to obtain further services from their physician, a genetic counselor, or other healthcare provider, in order to obtain diagnostic results regarding the conditions or diseases indicated within the MyHeritage DNA health reports.
The health reports provide genetic risk information based on assessment of specific genetic variants but do not report on users’ entire genetic profile. The health reports do not detect all genetic variants related to a given disease, and the absence of a variant tested does not rule out the presence of other genetic variants that may be related to the disease.
For most diseases, currently known genes are only responsible for a portion of the overall risk. Other factors such as environment and lifestyle may affect the risk of developing a given disease and, depending on the condition, may be more relevant predictors.
If a user’s data indicate that the user is not at elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, this should not be interpreted as meaning that the user is safe from developing the disease or condition. The opposite is also true; if a user’s data indicates that the user is at an elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, it does not mean that the user will definitively develop the disease or condition. Any findings within the health reports should be confirmed and supplemented by additional medical and clinical testing as recommended by the user’s healthcare provider.
MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is available globally except in a few countries that do not allow health-related consumer genetic testing. In the USA, it is available in all states except New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, where separate laboratory certifications are required and are currently being pursued. Altogether, MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is now the genetic test for health available in the greatest number of languages and with the widest global reach.
P.O.Box 50, 3 Ariel Sharon St.,
Or Yehuda, Israel
Disclosure: This article is a press release provided by MyHeritage. It is intended for informational purposes, and not intended as a promotion of DNA health tests. This article does contain affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you).
Combining DNA test types can give you a better picture of your overall genealogical relationship to someone else. DNA expert Diahan Southard shares an example from her family about how she used different DNA tests to solve an adoption mystery.
Combine your autosomal test results with the results of your mitochondrial DNA or YDNA test to make some amazing connections today!
My family recently visited the Jelly Belly Factory in northern California. Of course, at the end of the tour, they funneled us into their gift shop where we felt compelled to buy jelly beans and other sundry treats.
My favorite part of the big box we bought were the recipes on the side. We could turn the already delicious variety of flavors into even more pallet-pleasing options by eating specific combinations of jelly beans at the same time. Like 2 green apply jelly beans + 1 cinnamon jelly bean = apple pie. Who knew!
Naturally, this got me thinking about DNA.
Combining DNA Test Types
Specifically, I was thinking about the power of combining multiple test types to get a better picture of our overall genealogical relationship to someone else.
If you recall, there are three kinds of DNA tests available for genealogists:
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
Y chromosome DNA (YDNA)
Much of the focus these days is on how to use the autosomal DNA in our family history research. This may be because the autosomal DNA covers both sides of your family tree, so it is seen as a catchall for our family history. While it is a very powerful tool for our research, it can also be a bit overwhelming to try to determine how you are related to someone else.
Let’s look at an example from my own family history.
My mom took an autosomal DNA test at 23andMe and matched with Tom. Their predicted genealogical relationship, based on how much DNA they shared, was second cousins.
To begin to understand how they are related, we need to understand which ancestor could be shared by people who are genetic second cousins. To figure it out, you can count backward like this: people who share parents are siblings, sharing grandparents makes you first cousins, and sharing great-grandparents makes you second cousins.
So, if my mom and Tom are true second cousins (meaning there aren’t any of those once-removed situations going on, but that’s a subject for another time), then we should be able to find their common ancestor among their great-grandparents.
Each of us has eight great-grandparents. Because we can’t usually narrow down shared DNA to a single person, but rather to an ancestral couple, we are really just looking at four possible ancestral couple connections between my mom and Tom.
My mom doesn’t have any known ancestors, as she was adopted, so we can only evaluate Tom’s line. Tom was kind enough to share his pedigree chart with us, and he had all four of his couples listed. But how do we know which one is the shared couple with my mom?
Narrowing Down the Results
Now, for those of you without an adoption, you will have some other clues to help you figure out which of the four (or eight, if you are looking at a third cousin, or 16 if you are looking at a fourth cousin) ancestral couples is shared between you and your match. Start by looking for shared surnames.
If that comes up short, evaluate each couple by location. If you see an ancestral couple who is in a similar location to your line, then that couple becomes your most likely connecting point.
What then? Do genealogy! Find out everything you can about that couple and their descendants to see if you can connect that line to your own.
However, in my mom’s case, we didn’t have any surnames or locations to narrow down which ancestral couple was the connection point between our line and Tom’s. But even if we had locations, that may not have helped as Tom is very homogenous. All of his ancestors were from the same place!
But, we did have one very important clue: the mitochondrial DNA. Remember mtDNA traces a direct maternal line. So my mom’s mtDNA is the same as her mom’s, which is the same as her mom’s etc.
At 23andMe they don’t test the full mitochondrial DNA sequence (FMS) like they do at Family Tree DNA. For family history purposes, you really want the FMS to help you narrow down your maternal line connection to others. But 23andMe does provide your haplogroup, otherwise known as your deep ancestral group. These groups are named with a letter/number combination. My mom is W1 and we noticed that Tom is also W1.
This meant that my mom and Tom share a direct maternal line – or put another way, Tom’s mother’s mother’s mother was the same as my mom’s mother’s mother’s mother. That means there is only one couple out of the four possible couples that could connect my mom to Tom: his direct maternal line ancestor Marianna Huck, and her husband Michael Wetzstien.
Now you can only perform this wondrous feat if you and your match have both tested at 23andMe, or have both taken the mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA.
Just as a Popcorn Jelly Belly plus two Blueberry Jelly Bellies makes a blueberry muffin, combining your autosomal DNA test results with your mtDNA test results (or YDNA for that matter) can yield some interesting connections that just might break down that family history brick wall.
Get your mtDNA and YDNA tested at Family Tree DNA
If you are considering testing your YDNA and/or your mtDNA, then Family Tree DNA is the place for you!
Even if you aren’t trying to solve an adoption mystery, you can utilize these additional tests to break down other brick walls in your genealogical research and learn more about your heritage. You can take their Family Finder autosomal test, YDNA, or Mitochondrial (mtDNA) full sequence test. Click here to shop now!
About the Author: Diahan Southard has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of a full series ofDNA guides for genealogists.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!
This article was originally published on April 17, 2017 and updated on April 5, 2019.
MyHeritage made some exciting DNA announcements at RootsTech 2019! We’ve got the recap here about all of the new tools that will help genealogists find their ancestors and living relatives: The Theory of Family Relativity™ and AutoClusters. These groundbreaking new premium features will provide solid leads on your genetic matches and their relationships to you, with clear and intuitive displays to help you visualize your data like never before.
The Theory of Family Relativity™
“MyHeritage has recently announced and launched what they’re calling the “holy grail” of genetic genealogy – and I’m inclined to agree! The Theory of Family Relativity™ finally bridges the gap between DNA matches and historical records by providing you with leads that explain the relationship between your matches based on both their DNA database AND their entire collection of family trees and historical records. MyHeritage replicates both the Geni and FamilySearch trees into their “Big Tree,” so the amount of time you’ll save on guesswork and cross-referencing is incalculable. You’ll still want to examine the theories that are presented and practice good genealogical methods to verify the correctness. But for the first time, historical records are now being factored into your match results automatically. Time for the genealogy happy dance!”
“Through this new feature, we provide you with leads explaining the relationship between your matches based on our entire collection of family trees and historical records, removing the guesswork, and saving you hours of research time. You can then examine the theories and the information associated with them and verify their correctness.
The Theory of Family Relativity™ is based on a big data graph that connects billions of data points drawn from thousands of databases on MyHeritage, in real time. We call it internally the “Big Tree”. Every node on this graph represents a person, and every edge depicts a blood relationship between two individuals that is described in a family tree or a historical record; or a match between two tree profiles that are likely to be the same person; or two records that are likely to be about the same person.”
Here are the key takeaways from this new feature:
The family trees and records used to develop the theory are fully integrated and accessible. From their blog: “Click “View full theory” to see a more detailed view that shows which family trees and historical records were used to establish the theory.”
You may receive multiple theories about one match, and multiple paths showing how the algorithm came to that theory. Or you may receive none. The bigger your tree is, the better, and as more data is uploaded over time, the more information is available for the algorithm to find these theories.
These are just theories, similar to hints. You still need to view and verify the sources yourself.
Theory of Family Relativity™ is a premium feature that requires a site subscription on MyHeritage (Premium or PremiumPlus or Complete). Users without a subscription will still see all theories that we found for them, but when they click to see the full theory details, some of the information will be hidden. For full details and explanations of how to access and use this feature, visit the MyHeritage blog.
From the blog: “We’re excited to introduce AutoClusters — a new genetic genealogy tool that groups together DNA Matches that likely descend from common ancestors in a compelling visual chart. This easy-to-use tool helps you explore your DNA Matches more efficiently in groups rather than as numerous individuals, and gain insights about branches in your family tree.”
One of the limitations of DNA testing for genealogy is that testing companies can often only predict your match’s relationship to you, and genetically speaking, there are a lot of possibilities. For a family historian, estimated relationships can be a good lead, but often cause more frustration than assistance in their research. MyHeritage’s new AutoClusters tool aims to alleviate that frustration and provide helpful insights when a concrete relationship cannot be confirmed.
“AutoClusters organizes your MyHeritage DNA Matches into shared match clusters that likely descended from common ancestors. By grouping together DNA Matches who likely belong to the same branch and have a common ancestor, AutoClusters can be very helpful in shedding light on the relationship paths that connect you and your matches. By reviewing family trees of clustered matches, users can piece together the entire branch. Clusters are color-coded for convenience and are presented in a powerful visual chart, as well as in list format.”
AutoClusters is a premium feature that requires a website subscription on MyHeritage (Premium, PremiumPlus or Complete). Learn more about accessing and using the new AutoClusters tool on the MyHeritage Blog.
Get started with MyHeritage DNA today!
You can order a MyHeritage DNA kit right now for just $59 during their St. Patrick’s Day sale! As a bonus, get free shipping when you order 2 or more kits. This sale price is valid through March 18, 2019. If you’ve already tested with another testing company, you can also upload your results to MyHeritage for FREE! You’ll get unlimited free matching as well as the ability to contact your matches. To access these new features and other tools like the ethnicity estimate, shared ancestral places, chromosome browser, etc., it’s a simple one-time charge of $29. Click here to get started with MyHeritage DNA today!
Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 227
Featuring the full length interview with Ran Snir, MyHeritage DNA Product Manager (Click player on the right to unmute sound)