Thursday, November 29, 2007


The May 8 2007 issue of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL has the following on the front page:

You're a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well

The article told the story of a women who got married and took her husbands name, hence going from an uncommon, first-page--google-name, to a common 85th-page-google-name. This hurt her career. When considering what to name her children she used Google to make sure that her kids would have names that pop up on the first page of a Google search.

When considering naming your child how do the following rank in importance?
  1. Honoring a family member.
  2. Carrying on a tradition.
  3. If you are religous, using a name from your faith (e.g., I know a Christian who uses only biblical names for his four kids- alternating Old Testament and New Testament).
  4. First Page on a Google Search.
I predict that in the future item 4 will be the most important and the other ones will not even be understood. My great niece will one day tell me
Uncle Bill, did people really name their children after themselves? Thats just google-stupid.


  1. There is a paper on a related topic: How to measure how important you are by counting the answers to a search with your name on Google that really refer to you. The paper is "Measuring Celebrity" and was published by Leslie Lamport on the "Annals of Improbable Results" in 2006.


  2. I wonder: for how many fields is it relevant (now or in the future) what your name's google rank is? I can't think of any, especially since one can always search for NAME+FIELD.

    What was the example in the article?

  3. I named my child to honor a family member, but I did google her name before giving it to her.

    Whether for optimal google-ability I should have given her my last name instead of her father's is a tricky one. The English first-page of hits her first name and my last name are all references to me. This may be bad if she goes into computer science, but is good otherwise.

  4. Yeah, obviously her career could not have been affected by getting married (possibly having kids -- I haven't read the article), including a name change, so it's got to be google-ability.

    Google does find me, but it doesn't find much, either. I think my career is safe.

  5. In the interest of getting unbiased responses from your readers, have you considered adding an .html widget that randomly reorders your 4 list items on each page view?

    By widget I mean doodad, thingamajig, not actually some "widget" yet defined in a technical sense...

  6. I've tried to convince my wife of this, but she's more worried about the kid being made fun of on the playground for having a weird name.

  7. I think we should run a controlled experiment. Twins, anybody?

  8. Having an easily googleable name raises privacy concerns. From my first name and the city where I live it's easy to find my home page, and from there my last name, my blog, my facebook page, and probably also my home address, those unfortunate sex tapes, and so on. So every time I am introduced to a stranger I am giving away all this information.

    It doesn't bother me too much, but I know at least one person who considers his easily googleable first name to be a serious annoyance.

  9. And now, the context of the article:

    ...Abigail Garvey, [...] when she adopted the married name of Wilson, began to be questioned on publications she listed on her CV because they weren’t finding the publications in online searches.

    Now this makes sense. On the other hand, she probably should have listed her publications using the name under which they were published.

  10. Why should a woman change her name when she gets married anyway?

  11. Bah. I love my anonymity. I have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that any future stupid act perpetrated by me will be drowned out by all the other stupid acts perpetrated by the legions of Brian Taylors all over the world.

  12. The photographer Ken Regan created before I ever thought of that. But he's also helped knock the Wiltshire murderer Kenneth Regan well off the top page (when I first Googled my name it was #7). So I'm not complaining...