Video: Personal Brands, Marriage and SEO

by Eloqua on March 14, 2011 in Digital Marketing

Would you take someone’s last name? Forget all the sociological considerations. How would that impact your Google ranking?

There was a lot of great discussion at yesterday’s “Message is the Messenger” panel at South By Southwest Interactive. Moderated by Eloqua’s Joe Chernov, the discussion was centered on the intersection and divergence of personal and corporate brands. With big thinkers like Jeremiah Owyang, Sarah Evans and Jennifer Van Grove, the subject was well dissected.

But one aside from panelist Leslie Bradshaw got the crowd crowing. When considering marriage, women often struggle with the decision of whether to take their husband’s surname or keep their own. Obvious issues around personal identity abound, not to mention obvious practical considerations that come with changing your name.

Leslie, however, brought up a rarely discussed consideration: SEO value. A lot time and effort have gone into establishing her own brand. Adopting another person’s last name could negatively affect the search engine optimization of her brand. Hear it in her own words below.

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As President and Chief Operating Officer of the hot data visualization firm JESS3, Leslie has created – pardon the expression – a name for herself. Want an example? Just type her name in Google and hit the search button.

In a day and age when inbound links, social media clout – or Klout – and page one ranking on Google control much of commerce, Leslie has created real value out of her personal brand. A simple change of last name can cause a sudden decline in that value.

What’s interesting is that her comment highlights a long-running debate about branding. When corporate brands merge, there’s usually a lot of back and forth over the merging of brands. Sometimes companies will maintain separate public identities. Sometimes the brand equity of one is so vast that it makes sense to absorb the other.

As the authority of corporate brands erodes, and the rise of social media shifts consumer trust to personal brands, this same debate is now becoming a factor in a very personal and public institution: Marriage.

Would you give up the SEO value of your personal brand to take your partner’s last name? Would it change on your LinkedIn profile? Weigh in below. And be sure to check out some other highlights from the panel here.

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