Years ago, I had a terrible finding an ancestor in the 1830 US census. After nearly giving up, I decided to locate his 1840 neighbors in 1830 and search on that same page for the missing ancestor. I started with the name before his, then searched for the name after his, then I searched for the name before the name before his, and the name after the name after his, and so on. Ten names later, I had found my ancestor in 1830 by using his 1840 neighbors.
His name was written so sloppily that I never would have found it in the index.