Back on November 23rd, I put up a post asking people for their best holistic SEO tips, and this led to a very interesting side discussion about the online fate of women who change their names when they get married. My basic reaction to all this is “C’mon Google, this is something you’ve gotta fix!” Note that this change happens to men too!
It started with a question from Lisa Heffernan who asked the following question:
Any tips for women on changing their names and then disappearing from SEO? I have two identities from an SEO perspective, though I do try to only have one in real life!
I saw this and had no idea what to say, but Paul Gailey Albuquerque offered up this helpful comment:
Rae Hoffman then joined in with her thoughts, including a link to her excellent blog post on name changes from October 2012:
Lisa Heffernan commented on this comment:
as did Christine DeGraff:
The two statements in this discourse that were the most telling were:
- (Rae Hoffman): “I faced the same problem – I attempted the name change and then decided to flip back”
- (Christine DeGraff): “I am getting married in May and have come to the conclusion that I cannot change my name online because it turns out that I am more worried about what Google thinks than anyone else”
OK Google, What’s up With That?
Last I checked women were approximately 50% of the world’s population. It is also a very common practice culturally for women to change their names at the point of marriage, and in some countries it is common for men to change their names too. The reality is that it is good for a nuclear family to share a common identity, and while I have not researched the history of how it came about, I strongly suspect that this sense of common identity is a major reason for this practice.
With the recent changes that Google has made, they purportedly have a much stronger ability to recognize entities and properties associated with those entities (was that a Hummingbird that just flew by?). So here is the kicker:
People are entities whose name (which is just a label) might change.
In other words, the name (or label) a person has, is not the entity. It is just a property of the entity:
So, the question of the day: Is Google up to the task?. I guess we will just have to wait and see.