Like most women, I took my husband’s last name when I got married. We never really discussed it.
I could have kept my name or even asked him to take my name of Osborne, but I wasn’t particularly attached to it. I could have done what my sister and her husband had done and just picked an entirely new last name that we both would switch to. (I was really pushing for them to change it to “Surname” because it made me giggle but they didn’t go for it.)
The point is, I had options and still took the traditional path. It was easier, it was expected and for a decision I never gave much thought to, it has greatly impacted my social media experience. You see, it all has to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and name recognition.
Name changes due to marriage or divorce are a fairly unique concern for female professionals. This is especially true when it comes to SEO.
Thanks to social media, everyone has a “brand” these days and, like it or not, your name is a big part of it. Think about how people find others; they Goggle their names. Your position in search results and the information that comes up related to you all has to do with SEO.
If you are looking to stand out as a recognized leader in your field and/or build your social media brand, having great SEO counts for a lot. Colleagues, head hunters, hiring managers, your mom . . . everyone can use (and does use) the internet to find information on you. Whether you think that is good or bad, it’s true.
Women can’t afford to dismiss the impact a name change can have on them professionally.
Now, I’m not implying that changing your name is a bad idea and will set your career back. That’s silly. But take me for example; changing my name was the best thing I could have done for my SEO.
For one, I changed my name early in my career and before I got involved in social media. That helped because I didn’t have to worry about an established brand already out there related to a different name. But the biggest reason I’m glad I changed my name to Moerke, besides it meaning “darkness,” is that it is unique. I am literally the ONLY Shauna Moerke on the Internet. If you Google “Shauna Moerke,” I am the only person that comes up. You can’t buy that kind of SEO. Sure people have a hard time pronouncing it (pronounced “more-key” for those curious) but there is no way I would change it now.
Need I add that you should be Goggling yourself to see what information is out there?
I would love to hear from our readers, both women and men, on how changing their name impacted, or didn’t impact, their career. Whether your SEO is good or bad you want to make sure that whatever comes up is positive. If it isn’t, maybe you would benefit from a name change.
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