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May 8, 2007

It’s Never Too Early for Optimization

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Hi! Did you find this post in the SearchCap? Some recent technical updates to WordPress pushed this older post to some feeds. If you want to stay and read this blast from the past by Lisa Barone, by all means! Otherwise, we have some great content from this week you can check out, too. Like “3 Ways to Align Your Blog Content with Your Target Audience” and “Your Brand, Your Audience and Design Thinking.”

Sadly, I’m not talking about optimizing your Web site.

Just when you think people can’t get any more ridiculous you go and read Page A1 of the Wall Street Journal and discover people are googling their unborn babies.

In a fine piece of journalist achievement, the Wall Street Journal reports that “in the age of Google” soon-to-be parents are entering in prospective baby names into the search engine to make sure they’re not “un-Googleable”, meaning that there is still a chance for their not-yet-born child to dominate the search results when they grow up.

I know. I feel dumber too.

But wait, there’s even more dumb! Here’s one couple who put the search engine optimization test in action to name their baby:

“Before their son arrived, Abigail Wilson (nee Garvey, with which she had much higher online visibility) and her husband ran all their name options through Google to find the least common combinations. From those names that passed, Wilson first picked Kohler, but was steered away by husband Justin, who apparently noted all the nearby plumbing supply links. Eventually, they settled on Benjamin.”

After all that I hope they had the foresight to buy the matching domain name to go with it. Think of how much authority it will have earned by the time the child’s 18. Little Benjamin can sell it to pay for his college tuition. Huzzah!

Fine, I’ll stop.

The baby example is stupid. You should not name your child based on search results. (You should name your baby based on your favorite sports star, car or celebrity.) However, it is an important branding issue to keep in mind when naming a new company or product. You don’t want to spend all that time developing something great to later find out that trying to rank for it is going to take some serious search engine optimization efforts. What I’m saying is that if you’re opening a Massachusetts-based cowboy yard don’t call it MA-CY. You’re not going to easily rank for it. And no, I don’t know what a cowboy yard is but I’m sure it means something to someone.

Come up with some that creative (but not crazy) that quickly sums up your product or what you’re trying to do.

It’s a visibility issue. You want to make sure that when a potential customer searches for you, that you’re where you’re supposed to be so they’ll associate you with the product. If I’m looking for a cowboy yard in Massachusetts (as I often do), I don’t want to have to go 5 pages deep to find you. In fact, I won’t go that deep. I’ll just assume there are none and do a search for Connecticut cowboy yards instead.

The WSJ article also went on to discuss the importance of ranking for your name, noting that users are increasingly relying on search engines to find what they’re looking for. Ask.com told the WSJ that about 7 percent of all searches are for a person’s name and ExecuNet reported that more than 80 percent of recruiters use search engines to get info about prospective job candidates.

If you haven’t gotten the memo yet that reputation management is important and you should be monitoring the search results, you should just change your name to John Smith. You’ve earned it.





One response to “It’s Never Too Early for Optimization”

  1. Todd Mintz writes:

    True, but if your last name is Holmes, you might want to rule out “John” as a first name:.)

    A “safety name check” would be a wise move for prospective parents.



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