Love, Marriage and SEO

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.

Photo credit Google Images

About the Author

Shauna Moerke

Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master's degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show, and blogs at her own site as the HR Minion.


Shana Bull (formally known as Shana Ray)

As someone whose personal brand is VERY tied to my name – I just did a Google Search looking for info on this topic and found your blog!

I decided to hyphenate my name, or use the line… “formally known as Shana Ray” to keep some SEO juice! 🙂

Tammy Colson

As any one of us who have been married knows, its a pain in the rear to go through a name change. I did it legally at 18 for personal reasons (last name only) and then did a trip around the marriage track in my early 20s, changing it because it was the “traditional” thing to do. Though, even back then, I was thinking about branding – and when the divorce was final, I took Colson back permanently. I remarried 10 years later – and struggled with the idea that I was going to change my name again after spending all those years building my professional identity as Tammy Colson. I compromised. I told my new husband I’d answer to his last name, but wouldn’t change it legally. It caused a bit of confusion sometimes (he hated being referred to as Mr. Colson) – but in the end, when that marriage came to a screeching halt, I was glad I didn’t have to redo all that paperwork and explain to so many people exactly WHY I was changing my name again. My lesson in all this. My name is about me – who I am, not who I am in regard to a relationship. Every person gets to make that choice for themselves as adults, and I happily support each and every choice – for love, marriage or SEO. (great conversation, Shauna!)

Tola Famakinwa

Yeah, this was a tricky one for me as well! My maiden name’s a bit of a mouth full but like you said, its unique and I’ve already got some decent branding. When I got married I changed my name to Omoniyi but still go around with my maiden name in some places… and sometimes I put them all together which is quite crazy, but oh well!! Guess I still haven’t quite decided which I’ll stick with…

Shauna Moerke

Jojo – Nice, I approve of thinking in comics.

Debbie – I can see the benefit of moving up in the alphabet 🙂

Debbie Brown

Ha , and I chose Brown to move up in the alphabet when we were married 🙂 (went from T to B)

Jojo the HR Pro

I tend to think in “comics” and I can imagine one where the tech smart lady turns down an engagement ring saying, “I’m sorry, Dan, but “Williams” just doesn’t have enough cachet on the Internet…”

Shauna Moerke

Krista – “Ms Princess”, geez, they were totally messing with you on purpose. 🙂

Tamkara – I like the meanings to your last name, that’s very cool! And yeah, I think changing your name early in your career vs. later does make a lot of difference. The impact isn’t the same.

Tamkara Adun

Hmm “More-key”, i had thought it was pronounced “Mwerk” Thanks for the Clarification!

I loved my new surname. Much as I cherished my maiden name, my new surname was a welcome change.
I love the meanings, (sweet in Yoruba language and Black In Edo language). It is simple to spell and i like that it starts with an A and then a D. This means that whenever there is a list to be made with the names in alphabetical order, my name will be somewhere around the top.
Going forward me and my offspring would be first in line to receive goodies and be attended to…….that to me is a plus!!
Patience is a virtue that I aspire to fully achieve one day, but for now anything that cuts my waiting times in half is indeed very welcome.
As to how my name change has impacted my career? I wouldn’t say it did much. I got married quite early in my career.
It would be interesting though to know why some folks choose to take both their husbands first and last names and then create a some what complex compound name ie Mrs Angelina Frank – Spencer.

Krista Francis

When I got married, I took my husband’s name even though he thought I should keep my family name. I was frankly tired of spelling O-G-B-U-R-N every time I ordered a pizza or made a hotel registration. And I was tired of having my name constantly misspelled–everything from Osborne to Oglourne to Acorn to (this was the worst) OBGYN. I wanted something simple and easy, like Francis.

Right after my honeymoon I dropped off some dry cleaning. “What’s the name?” the clerk asked. “Francis,” I answered. “Okay, Ms. Princess, they’ll be ready on Tuesday,” she replied.

So much for the easy name!

But at any rate, I certainly get your point about having a unique name like Ogburn or Moerke when it comes to SEO!


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