Does Changing Your Name After Marriage Affect SEO?
Should You Change Your Maiden Name If You Work Online?
Before the internet and social media, a bride chose to change her name (or not) based on her personal desire. Traditionally, a woman took her husband's name.
If she was already a professional and recognized by her name, she might keep her maiden name, or she might add a hyphen.
Today, women are faced with more than the question of whether or not they want to be modern or traditional. Many women have already established an online identity long before they establish a long-term relationship.
For writers who market their services online, their name is associated with their reputation, their voice, and their social footprint. What are the pros and cons of not keeping your maiden name today?
Giving Up Your Name Could Mean Giving Up Your Ranking
Ideally, someone who earns a living online wants to be the top result when their name is searched. IF your name is already unique, or has no competition in your field, then it would pretty much be self-defeating to change it to a more common name that might bring up tons of people that aren't you.
Although a more uncommon last name could help you stick out and be more memorable, there are definitely times when keeping or changing your name could be worth losing those coveted first spots for a short time.
For example, a last name that is difficult to pronounce or spell can cause issues at times.
A combination of names that are "giggle-worthy" might make you seem less professional. For example, one of my acquaintances confessed she kept her maiden name because she didn't want the grammatical agony of being known forever more as Hope Fuller.
Why I Chose to Keep My Maiden Name
From the beginning of our relationship, I already knew I would maintain my maiden name. My reasons were mostly personal.
My husband's previous wife had the same first name (spelled differently). That in itself is awkward enough. Another reason is that my husband's nephew (same surname) is married to someone whose first name is spelled the same as mine.
Not only we would both have exactly the same first and last name, we live on the same road. not a mile apart. We already get our physical mail mixed up, I would rather not have our online profile identities confused as well.
My final reason for choosing to retain my maiden name is SEO related. A quick search of my name brings up all of my articles. It also brings up my online art galleries. After having worked hard, with the intention to work even harder, at building my name as a freelance writer, blogger, and artist, I don't want to backtrack by having to re-train Google to recognize me.
Would I have gained more from changing my last name? Perhaps, but not without some risks, according to the "experts".
Playing the Name Game, What Does Google Say?
There aren't really any experts who specialize in this particular issue, but some top bloggers, marketers and freelancers across the internet have spoken up about their choices and experiences.
One of the biggest concerns regarding a name change and SEO was the fear of plagiarism violations if they published under two names. We all know that Google and other search engines can be touchy about duplicate content. Disappearing briefly from search results is another big problem. (especially if that plays a major part in your income.)
The easiest option is for a woman to keep her maiden name if her identity is already strongly established. This is both to maintain the reputation of the name already being used, and to prevent the possibility of violations against a new name.
Those who did choose to to make the change agree that it was a lengthy process, and many of them reported seeing substantial drops in their traffic (temporarily). For those whose new name became completely different (no hyphen or addition of familiar maiden name) it took longer to re-establish themselves
On the bright side, those who left behind a very common name, and subsequently adopted a unique name, saw a boost in traffic. This was especially true if the maiden name was retained in some form.
Things To Consider if You Do Want to Change Your Name
Plenty of professionals are still changing their name, but they say depending on which route you take, it isn't always easy. As well as all the standard legal paperwork that a woman has to fill out after marriage so that her credit cards, driver's license and so forth are all up-to-date, she has to spend a lot of time and energy updating all of her social sites to.
Plus, she will have to contact clients and let them know about the name change, rework her personal website, and sometimes register for a new domain name if she used her maiden name as her site name.
Some advice from those who have changed their name includes:
- Opting for a hyphenated name (at least in the beginning)
- Using either the married name or the maiden name as a middle name, sans hyphen
- Setting up your online identity from the beginning without the use of any surname
- Keeping your maiden name if it is more unique than the married name (especially if you are well known)
- Taking or adding the married name if it is more unique than the maiden name (especially if many others in your field have the same name)
- Legally taking your married name, and retaining the maiden name for professional purposes. (
- Announcing well before its official that there will be a name change
- Notifying clients, social media followers, fans, etc.
- Using the new name as soon as possible to acclimate followers and search engines.
When a Name Change Would NOT Have a Negative Impact
There are certain cases where changing your name would have little, if any, impact on your online presence. This includes:
- When you primarily use pen names
- When you ghost write (except clients should be notified if the name change will appear suddenly on their invoices)
- If you mostly use social media for entertainment rather than business
- If you work under an established business or website name
- If you've rarely used your surname as part of your online networking or advertising (i.e. bloggers known mainly by their first name)
- You don't depend on search engine rankings for your name
- You are recognized more for a style than your name (many artists, photographers and designers)
Marriage and SEO
Where do you stand on name changes after marriage?
New Traditions for the Digital Age
More and more women are choosing to not change their names after marriage. Some feel that it masks their identity behind that of their spouse. Or that it reflects back on a time when women were little more than property with no rights or voice of their own.
On the other hand, some women enjoy the concept of a name change, seeing it as part of the commitment of marriage. It is can also be symbolic of their transition from being a child to being an adult.
There really is no right or wrong when the time comes for this decision to be made. Rather, it depends on a woman's personal wish. Still, as social networking and SEO continues to grow both as a source of pleasure and income, the future may very well see married name changes becoming obsolete.
As we progress into the age where more people own digital businesses, sell digital products, and run entire empires from the internet, online profiles are where we sell our skills and market our expertise. Your name, unique or common, is attached to your online presence and spans the globe.
With that much publicity attached, the question of whether or not to change names may soon be more important than which wedding dress to wear.
How do you feel about name changes?