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On the 25th September 2012 the legendary American singer Andy Williams passed away. Sad news indeed – well it was for me. This had been a day I had been dreading for a while.
No I’m not a relative, I’m not even a fan, I could only name you around three of his songs at the most; no it’s just that I’m also Andy Williams.
I know what you are thinking “poor guy, he has probably been the subject of endless Andy Williams jokes”; well, to be honest, no more than before. Yes I have been asked to sing on a number of occasions and if I had a pound for every time I have heard someone say “what THE Andy Williams” I’d have £238.
But no, these aren’t the reasons why his passing has been sad news for me.
You see on the morning of the 25th September my personal site was respectably sat on page one for “Andy Williams”. Within hours of the news coming out of the crooner’s passing I had dropped like a stone. At the time of writing this I am now back up to page five but I had dropped as far as page 10 – within a couple of hours.
Traffic coming into my site for my name has always been minimal, I don’t try to rank for it to bring people into the site and it’s just one of those things, ranking for your own name. We all like it when you search in Google for you and you actually find… well you.
Now at this point I feel I should quickly point out a couple of things:
Ever since the jokes started when I was younger, I had always wondered why my parents had been so cruel as to name me after such a famous 60’s crooner. They aren’t even fans.
Of course, back then it wasn’t that big a deal.
But actually is this now something people should be thinking about?
Just how vital will it become to be to not only rank for you own name but dominate for your name?
What IS in a name these days?
Well, possibly everything.
Everything is online these days and if you want to look for someone – you look online. This isn’t something that is now going to change. Our everyday lives are increasingly heading online.
People don’t think twice anymore about looking for someone on search engines, Twitter, Facebook and (if you are reading this in maybe a years’ time) Google+.
When I was named there was no such thing as a search engine. The importance of an online presence wouldn’t have made sense to anyone. But as it conspires if I now want to rank for my name I have to take on one of the most famous male singers, certainly in America, if not the world in the battle for ranking space – even after his death, especially after his death.
I am now faced with taking on an insane amount of new content from sites as powerful as the BBC, Daily Mail, Guardian, YouTube videos are now all over the place, Biography.com, even New York Times, The Huffington Post, CNN, the bloke is even in the IMDB database because of his TV series and so it goes on.
Content is still being created even a month on, articles about “remembering Andy Williams” written by people who have worked with him.
Sure I could (and should) be creating my own content and attacking back, but I personally don’t have time. The feeble amount of content and links I could create in the evenings won’t even touch the side.
I’ve not even got to semantic search – “people also search for”. Give me a break, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, never mind them; they don’t even have the same name – what about ME?
So if you can’t be found online will this be an issue in the future? Is it already an issue? If you aren’t in the digital industry does it even matter / are you really expected to have a presence?
If it is going to be an issue, if having an online presence is going to be so important – do we all now need to put more thought into how we name our children? Could a lack of research leave your child fighting a losing battle for online visibility in the future?
Extreme or sensible?
Thankfully my personal site has no connection to my professional job, so from that point of view it’s not the end of the world for me. But it could have been a lot worse.
So should you brand your child?
*This is very much an online thing and has nothing to do with any medieval tortures.
None of us can truly predict the future but let’s face reality, if you go for a job these days you can guarantee your potential employer has had a look online to see what they can find out about you.
This isn’t going to change, in fact the more “online” we become the more information there is going to be about you. So wouldn’t “branding” your child early on give them a competitive edge?
In sixteen years’ time when your first born wants their own website, how important is it going to be for them to have their own domain?
We talk about companies now needing to “brand” themselves online and how important this now is; but is it now the same for individuals?
I never had the choice; my name was long gone on all available TLDs at the time, so I ended up using my nickname as the domain.
Had my Dad had his way then I would have complete Page One domination. I would have had a lot of emotional scars but man alive I would have complete brand protection. What was that name? Let’s just say that Andy Williams was the better option, more competitive but definitely the better option.
I am however fully aware that an exact name domain isn’t even close to being the be all and end all when ranking for a term, let alone a name – but it would certainly help.
It’s time to treat your new born child like a new brand:
The Drawing Board
It’s one of the happiest days of your life, you and your other half are expecting. Friends and family have been informed, the excitement of becoming parents builds with every passing day and the subject of potential names finally comes up in conversation.
Name books have been brought; you have gone through conversation after conversation. Lists have been drawn up. Shortlists have been created and finally after weeks of arguments you have chosen a name.
STOP RIGHT THERE PARENTS TO-BE.
I know you are excited and agreeing on a name is a very big moment but – Is the domain available?
Right, start again.
Get the laptop out and start being creative.
Being so clinical in the choosing of your unborn babies name will definitely anger your partner, but this is your child’s future we are talking about here. Do you really want them turning to you in 16 years’ time asking you why you hadn’t chosen a name with a free domain?
Stand your ground.
Remember it is not cool to name your child after yourself (if they become a whizz they will be out ranking you the second you give them free reign), don’t name them after your favourite actor or footballer.
However, it is cool to follow their leads. These celebrities are already a step ahead of us in this whole “branding your child” scenario. They are the experts. Look at the evidence:
Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow – Daughter called Apple and a Son called Moses
Pink – Daughter called Willow Sage
And my favourite during this bit of research:
Shannyn Sossamon and Dallas Clayton have a Son called Audio Science (however where they messed up, audioscience.com is already taken).
Say what you want about these celebs but they have this nailed.
As for naming them after a geographic location that would be a disaster.
Think outside the box. Treat it like a GoogleWhack. There are a million John Smith’s; move on.
If the domain name is available – Google the potential name and make sure there isn’t someone with the same name who is receiving undesired press. Not everyone is an accurate link builder you know…read more about this serial killer here.
So Bingo – breathe – you have finally found a name and an available domain – buy it, BUY IT NOW.
Now obviously there are those who don’t want to know the sex of their child before it is born. In this case (carrying out the above for both) buy both the boys and girls names and cover your bases.
So you have the site, Kipper Juggle Williams is born, kipperjugglewilliams.com is live.
In all seriousness
So OK, actually branding your child may be a bit farfetched – but the sentiment may be spot on.
Getting found online will become more and more important. Your online presence will become your modern day ID.
Owning your own named domain provides a number of benefits beyond just owning it:
Buying your child’s domain name may be a bit geeky but in all seriousness it could become one of the best gifts you could buy your child. We all know how important domain strength is. Hand them a named domain with 16 years behind it they will have one hell of a start.
But this also brings another important question: Should women carry out an online check before they agree to change their name in marriage? What if you have spent years building up a strong online presence only to end up changing your name to something far more competitive?
There is no romance in any of this of course but is this a serious issue?
Since starting this post I have brought all three of my kids named domains.
My personal thoughts are that the there is no avoiding how important this will end up being. Google is pushing personal presence more and more. The introduction of authorship suggests that ownership is going to play a huge part.
Semantic search means Google are trying to provide a more rounded set of results based on your search. So again safeguarding your personal brand is so important.
It may be that online will evolve into something totally different to what it is now but domains have always remained constant.
So get buying.
Hello Name Badge via BigStock
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.