What’s in a name?
When dealing with the online world, your name is everything. Having a unique name for your product, service or yourself will help you to be found easily in search engines and on social networks.
I was surprised last January, when on Friday the 13th, I was followed on Twitter by someone with the same name as my sister. It being not all that uncommon a name, there was some momentary confusion on my part that ended with a great DM chat and a new friend made.
Things got even stranger that Friday the 13th when I was followed by “Adele McAlear.” What!?!
My last name has an unusual spelling, the result of a spelling error by immigration officials in the 1840′s when an ancestor from Ireland named McAleer came ashore. My first name is also not common (that is until that other Adele started sweeping Grammy awards, netting me a slew of followers on Twitter who are clearly chasing the wrong Adele.)
Only once before in my life had I encountered another person with my name: A woman with the first name Adele who married a distant cousin, lived in a town a few hours away, and had a low profile online. When I first discovered her 10-years-ago, the concept of another person having my name was so bizarre to me that I briefly thought I was a victim of identity theft.
The Adele McAlear (@Adeley90) who followed me on Twitter back on that odd Friday the 13th, lives in Glasgow and was given this name at birth 20-odd years ago. She is friendly and doesn’t appear to have a large digital footprint. What’s more important, from a search point of view, she is not in the same line of work.
But what do you do when you are neck and neck in Google results with someone who has the same name and they are in a similar business? Well, if you’re my buddy Mark Goren, you discover that the other Mark Goren and you have so many uncanny similarities that you befriend them and work together.
5 Name Search Tools for Social Networks
What if you are launching a new startup or business service? Clearly, you’ll be checking trademarks in the US and Canada. But, almost more importantly, you’ll be checking for domain names. So many domain names are taken that companies turn to alternate spellings of common words, made up words, and unusual TLDs, like .ly (Libya). One of my favourite tools for alternate domain name suggestions is the NameBoy.com search tool, which not only gives alternate spellings, but pairs your chosen words with others that you many not have considered.
NameChk.com searches 159 of the most popular social sites. They also have an iPhone app. A test run on my own name showed about a 20% error rate. Free.
KnowEm.com searches 590 social sites, 150 domain name registries and the USPTO registry. Thy have a USPTO search app for Android and an automated service to secure your name and add your profile on up to 300 social networks. Paid and free levels.
PeekYou.com is heavily supported by advertising. The ability to search by country, province/state makes narrowing your search for common names a bit more effective. It plugs into other services offering public records and background checks, phone book, email addresses, LinkedIn profiles, photo albums, online documents and other tidbits. I found lots of obscure references to my name here with many yielding false and incorrect results. Paid and free levels.
Spokeo.com searches social, blogs, dating, photo, music, video, review and shopping sites. You can also reverse email search and reverse phone search. I remember seeing this service back in 2007 and how uncomfortable it made me feel then. Although it has many of the elements that other online name search sites does, the inclusion of dating, review and shopping sites makes it a little too much like personal stalking for my comfort level. Paid service.
DuckDuckGo.com is a simple, uncluttered search engine that does not use a recommendation algorithm when serving results. When you search on Google or Bing, your previous searching history is used to determine which results should be served to you. This ends up (un)naturally skewing any searches you make with information that Google or Bing thinks you might want, not necessarily what you should see. DuckDuckGo does not track or bubble what you search for, which yielded me some very interesting results that I’d not seen previously. Free.
So, when you are looking to secure a new name for a business or service, or are doing vanity searches for your own monitoring and reputation management, what tools do you use?