Google A Curse To Those With Common Names

from the time-to-get-some-SEO dept

For people with embarrassing incidents in their past, Google can be a nightmare, as it’s become the closest thing there is to an individual’s “permanent record”. But people whose pasts are fairly clean can have the opposite problem: their Google permanent record gets lost among everyone else who shares their name. This is particularly hard on the John Smiths of the world, who have to compete with thousands of others to receive a prominent listing on the search engine. This also effects people who change their name due to marriage, as a lifetime of electronic references aren’t attached to their new name. Parents have even begun using Google before they name their baby, to make sure that the name they choose doesn’t have too much online competition. If that practice were to become more widespread, it may force the Freakonomics guys to revisit their theories on baby naming, and the idea that parents intentionally latch onto popular names associated with elite classes. Instead, the moment a name starts to get even remotely popular (or crowded), parents will start searching for something new.

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Comments on “Google A Curse To Those With Common Names”

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TheDock22 says:

Re: Re:

Actually, no. An employer does not legally have to give you a reason why they chose not to hire you. If you did find out, so what? Employers may not be able to discriminate on age, gender, race, or religion, but they can sure discriminate on everything else including addictions (like smoking), drugs, political views, and even your looks if they wanted to.

I think most employers are not that dumb to think everything on google under “John Smith” is you.

DMM says:

Re: Re:

I wholeheartedly agree! I share the same first and last name with an actor who has had a long career. Even though the actor is not one of the more prominent ones in the business, unless you include with the name search my field of employment, you will never find me amongst all the references to the actor.

Ben says:


Perhaps if people considered their ‘permanent’ record when posting stuff on the ‘net, then they might behave a little less obnoxiously! … result, no scars to defend.

From someone with a name shared by only two people in the world, one of whom is probably still pre-school age! So if you Google me, it’s all me.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m sorry but I must be really dense today because I just don’t understand this whole google = permanent record.

Are you seriously telling me employers will look through my CV, references, and interview me face to face. Decide to give me a job, because they all check out.

But just before they offer the job they google my name and find something belonging to god knows who with the same name as me. Assume it’s me then not give me the job?


What am I missing, because it seems only a serisouly retarded employer would do this. And then as someone pointed out I’m sure there would be lots of mistaken identities and subsequent lawsuits.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Googling names

I just googled my real name and the alias I use here. I found more links with my fake name and they all point to Techdirt (Except one it points to a site called feedster that seems to have puled an article and all comments from this site.)

My real last name is also a commonly used word that could mean small, so I get vary general search results.

But this is why I use a fake name online, so I can’t be tracked by an idiot that thinks “If I saw it on the Internet it must be true.”

When I’m asked “Have you been known by any other names?” douse Chronno count?

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m the only person with my first and last name (using the same spelling) in the entire world, and I’ve researched this. Every single thing on Google that a name search for me brings up IS me. Fortunately I recognized this early on, and generally only “nice” things show up. When I feel like being an asshole, I use a pseudonym. Which brings us to the lesson: if you’re going to be an asshole, be smart about it.

OKVol says:

In San Antonio

I’m a lawyer. In Queensland, I’m a rugby player. In Ohio, I’m a doctor.

My surname dates way back in American history, and is dated back to the 600’s in Scotland.

But, as someone else pointed out, some names are newer and very unique – but this is the exception, not the rule. As a rule, and name is not a unique identifier. But this would require intelligence.

Remember the rule that a cobbler’s children have no shoes? Apply that to HR and you get a typical mess.

Matt Bennett says:

No, Joe, it doesn’t work the way you say. I have one of those very common names (Matthew Michael Bennett) No, I don’t get blamed for other peoples histories. You’ll simply never find me. –I– haven’t found me. It’s quite apparent when you search my name there’s 10,000 different people there. It does NOT look there’s some guy who’d me, but isn’t.

The End ain't as far as you think....... says:

It could be worse

I just Google’d my name which I do bout every 3 months or so, and the first 4 results are me, but It didn’t bring up my Myspace then I Google’d my aliases, yeah nothing, my best friend however is responsible for the creation of an early 1900 gas engine, too bad he’s 19, what’s worse is that another of my good friends has the same name as an adult movie star….here I thought it was actually bad when they find you,

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Googling myself

I have not managed to find myself, unless I search using very specific terms, like using the site: option. Even my screen name cannot be searched by when using google, although that was not why I started spelling it this way. (THat was simply becuase other people at school were suing Beelzebub, so I 1333+3|) it up. In fact, using real name, as opposed to screen names, I have only found one person whom I know comes up on the first page of results for her name (in fact she is in the first five results at least). OTOH, many of my friends ahve distinctive screen names, espceially those further identified by their clan, since a gameing screen name with thier caln name is intended to be a unique identifier.

Guy Incognito (user link) says:

You Didn't See Me Here...

To be perfectly honest, many people still go by callsigns/ handles and have their web identity through that. I can’t actually find anything associated to my name online. However, I can find plenty associated to my various net names…

So unless you’re handing out your handle to people, and aren’t using your real name, things shouldn’t pop up on google 🙂

Bryan Price (user link) says:

Googling till you drop.

I’m still the #1 Google hit for my name. Most of it isn’t about me, but the Mariner’s pitching coach.

Does that make me more famous than him? I don’t think so. At least I haven’t found anything derogatory about any Bryan Prices so far. 😎

Ask has my Blogger profile as the first hit. Hmmm.

MSN finally lists my blog as the fifth Bryan Price.

And the guy who owns (which has gone in my experience from his home PC (no website, just using it for dynamic DNS it appeared), forwarding to his Myspace profile, and now currently points to an actual web site that may eventually have real content on it.

Pat Smith O'Bama says:

Correction: Google A Curse To Those With UNCOMMON

In the age of Google it is far better to have a common name then an uncommon one if you want to stay anonymous (i.e. make sure no one finds out about any “embarrassing incidents”).

If your name is John Smith your identity is lost in the masses. But if your name is Barack Obama, Dweezil Zappa, or Joe Weisenthal you can be pretty sure a Google for your name will bring up only things about you and by you.

Maybe I’m misinterpreting the post. Because it starts out worrying about hiding things you’ve done in the past and ends about making sure your name is unique so nothing is hidden and misidentified. Two different problems with two different solutions.

carey says:

people look up by only first name and school

I need help I’m looking for a young lady who is attending bristol Central High School in Bristol,Ct can you help me ? She is 18 years old and I met her at Iop in Waterbury. Her first name is Dena but thats all the information I have . I know she is a senior and she is on The varsity soccer team.

lana says:

Goolgles name

I’m sorry that people took the name of your website ,but I think they have a right to name their children that because that is their chidren.So I think that you should leave them alone and don’t worry about them naming their chidren.’Cause I don’t think that is your children,is it?All I think is that you should leave them alone.I was just on the website searching and I saw this title and started to read it.And I saw that you didn’t like the way they took your name.

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