So you start out with the obvious, Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org or WorldVitalRecords.com or findmypast.com and then what do you do? Is that the end of the genealogical research? If I don't find what I am looking for on one of these huge websites, does that mean the records don't exist? Well, let's think about that for a minute with an example from FamilySearch.org.
FamilySearch.org and its predecessor the Genealogical Society of Utah, have been gathering microfilmed records since 1938 and have more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilm stored away in the Granite Vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. According to reports, only about a third of these rolls of microfilm have been digitized. So two thirds are still locked up in microfilm, which can be rented from the Family History Library. I would guess that the vast majority of all of these remaining records are not stuff that is already online. So searching for records online in the large databases will not reach these records.
So where would I go next after the online stuff and Google searches? How about looking for pertinent records in the FamilySearch.org Family History Library Catalog? This is accessible from the link on FamilySearch.org's home page appropriately called "Catalog." Looking at the catalog does two things immediately; it tells you if there are records related to the area or subject you are researching and it teaches you what kinds of records might be available around the world. This second function is extremely important. Where and how you search for records depends entirely on your awareness that records could exist. Think about it. Learning about record types and where those records are located is as or even more important than almost any other activity related to genealogy.