May 12, 2007

Names That Anticipate Your Kid's Google Search Results

This Wall Street Journal article about naming your kid so she rises to the top of her vanity search results is quaint, and even though the strategy strikes me now as a bit limited, that doesn't mean we didn't do it. [Google knocked one of my favorite names off the kid's shortlist. Anyone not reading at work familiar with the work of India Allen?]

Here's the Wilson's take on things:

"Any time you can distinguish yourself with a distinctive name or a distinctive characteristic that sticks out in people's minds, that's going to be the best solution," says Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer.

That's advice parents like Ms. Wilson have already taken to heart. Her husband rejected her original choice for their son, "Kohler," on the grounds that it would subject him to playground ridicule. The couple eventually chose "Benjamin." "I gave up trying to find a one-of-a-kind name and decided that as long as he did not share the name with a serial killer, I would settle," Ms. Wilson explains.

Too bad, I liked Kohler, but it's also the name of a toilet, which would probably be the source of that teasing.

Interestingly, there's no mention of the flipside. One of the prime motives for not using the kid's name on the site is to not lift her to the top of her Google results. Or more precisely, to not fill them with discussions of her tantrums and poo. I'm hoping that strategy'll pay off later, otherwise this dadblogging thing is really gonng come back and bite me on the ass.

You're a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well [ via fimoculous]
Not that having your name Google well is all that helpful, either


From my own experience, having a fairly rare last name and a first name that didn't become popular until 10 years after you were born works pretty well too... a little too well, actually, as some day a family historian will probably find evidence of great-great-grand-uncle Cameron arguing on some anime nerd newsgroup at the dawn of the Great Internet Age.

With a fairly rare first name and a hyphenated last name, I'm pretty sure our daughter is not going to get lost in a hundred pages of Google results. In fact, I think it's safe to say she is the only person in the world with her name. Which is kind of strange now that I think about it, and not really something we considered at the time.

I admit this was a factor in choosing the names for our daughters. My parents inexplicably thought "Matthew" sounded unique when I was born, and I didn't want to make the same mistake. It's not just the google thing (a common name is just a handicap to a good search engine, after all), but I didn't want them to run the risk of experiences like the time my wife called the dentist to schedule a cleaning and was told "oh, ms. miller, you already have six appointments scheduled this month". Hope none of those were for root canals....

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