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Does Changing Your Name After Marriage Affect SEO?

Updated on May 31, 2016
In the age of digital business, SEO  is an important part of deciding to maintain your maiden name.
In the age of digital business, SEO is an important part of deciding to maintain your maiden name.

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.

How much does your online business depend on your name?
How much does your online business depend on your name?

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.

In the end, the decision should be what works best for you.
In the end, the decision should be what works best for you.

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?

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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?

Comments

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 11 months ago

      You've brought out some really good points. After years of experience in the media, I am a firm believer in keeping your maiden name. It is too confusing to your audience, readers, customers, whatever form they are in. No matter how much in love you are in, things beyond your control ma happen, and you don’t want to establish yourself with a name that could come back to embarrass you. I hope you enjoy my little anecdote.

      On my last on-air job (1980s) I was forced to use my real name which had been my married name. In those days a woman’s maiden name was not usually restored if she divorced and had children. I became a anchor-reporter for a statewide broadcast network, and my ex husband was working for a small-town radio station in the boonies. It was reported back to me by another affiliate station that one night he introduced my newscast: Now here with the news is my ex-wife.

      The reason I write behind a pen name is because of my real job. I just hope that when I can use my real name, it won’t be a detriment. However, I have remarried, and from the collection calls I get, there must be a plethora of fiscally irresponsible women with the same dull boring name I now have. So, I may go back to my maiden name.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 11 months ago from USA

      I've never considered the question you pose because I've been married about 20 years but I would opt to retain my maiden name. I know too many people whose names changed more than once.

    • Sharkye11 profile image
      Author

      Jayme Kinsey 11 months ago from Oklahoma

      Oh my goodness, @MizBejabbers! That was enjoyable...but I only laugh because that sounds like something my husband would do if we ever separated. Being the second wife with the same first name is pretty weird--He rarely uses my name. Instead, he calls me a pet name (so often that the kids learned to say that instead of "mama"!)

      I absolutely understand you on the collection calls. As soon as people started assuming I had his last name, I got tons of calls to pay up on his exes old debts. I also got a threatening phone call once from the state because they thought I was his nephew's wife! So you are absolutely right...sometimes the name you choose could have bad consequences that are way out of your control!

      I hope whichever name you decide to use when you are ready to drop the pen name brings you good fortune!

    • Sharkye11 profile image
      Author

      Jayme Kinsey 11 months ago from Oklahoma

      @FlourishAnyway Congrats on a long relationship! I agree, if you've used a married name for a long time, then it shouldn't be an issue.

      And its true, people change names pretty often, so it seems like a hassle to even bother changing it legally. You can always use it in daily interactions if desired. And I think people will slowly grow accustomed.

      Another good reason to keep a maiden name (or not) is family association. I have friend who made the mistake of marrying someone whose family had a bad reputation. It might not mean much in bigger cities, but it can shut the door of opportunity in small towns to have a name with a stigma attached.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 11 months ago

      I found it interesting that you have focused on a professional life after marriage and didn't mention that something to think about is whether or not it might pose difficulties for children to have a different name than their mother. Or if their mother is a professional, should they have her last name to facilitate their future business or for business reasons should a husband take his wife's maiden name if he would gain in business relationships? What about tracing family relationships in future years if family names are changed at will. Lots to think about.

    • Sharkye11 profile image
      Author

      Jayme Kinsey 11 months ago from Oklahoma

      Hi, @mactavers! Thanks for reading and adding some more to consider. I do think the subject of children's names should be discussed and agreed on by BOTH people before any decisions are made about paperwork. I didn't go into it that in this article because I was focusing on the internet business side of the issue. However there are lots of offline things to consider as well.

      That said, when my parents divorced my mother restored her maiden name and kept it even when she remarried. I grew up with a different name than both my mother and stepfather. Except for the occasional question from a curious neighbor or friend, it never caused a problem. I would urge parents to think about all possible outcomes and the "value" (or reputation) of each name.

      We chose to be a little traditional and give our children their father's name. I don't really feel that a man should take his wife's name either unless he just wants to (for the same reasons).

      Genealogy poses a unique problem. But I do think that in future generations, thanks to the extensive records we all have to carry with us these days, it won't be as big of a problem as tracing previous histories.

      Thanks for weighing in!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 10 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I never stopped think about it until now, but your name really is your BRAND. What you indicated in your article makes so much sense.

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