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September 27, 2006

Findable Company Names: Is A-1 Losing Its Appeal?

google-logo.gifThe thick layer of dust on the phone book on my shelf is a sign of the times. Why look in the White Pages when we have Google and InfoSpace?

AAAAA.gifThis change has enormous implications for company naming. Back when we depended on paper directories, there was a real advantage in having a name that started with “A.” Open the Yellow Pages under “Storage” and what’s the first thing you see? AAAAA Rent-a-Space. Everything from taxis to mortgage companies has been tagged with the name “A-1,” and not just to indicate good quality.

But search engines, unlike directories, don’t rely on alphabetical order. Unless your company's name is also a keyword or phrase that people search when looking for a company that does what you do, having it start with “A” won’t help much.

What search engines like best are descriptive names. Computers are boringly literal creatures. They won’t know you’re a bank or a car dealer unless you put “bank” or “car dealer” in your company name.

yellow_pages.gifThat doesn’t mean you can’t have a fanciful name and appeal to humans as well as search engines, but if you choose a name which isn’t one of the keywords people search when looking for products like yours, you need to take steps to make sure you put those keywords elsewhere on your company's website, like in the title and the body of the text.

For more perspectives on naming for search engines, check out the forum at Search Engine Roundtable.

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Posted by Diane Prange at September 27, 2006 9:23 AM
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1 Comment

That is an interesting issue. Online, it's certainly helps to have a name that's somewhat descriptive of what you do, and also important to be easy to spell. A-1 _____ may be tough to bring to the web cause people won't know for sure whether they should include the dash in the domain or how many AAAA's to use.

Sticking with a name that isn't JUST descriptive of your service may be valuable from a trademark perspective.

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