Women, Their “Personal” Brands, and Google

By Janet Driscoll Miller | May 9, 2007
More Articles by Janet


Yesterday, there was an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal regarding your prominence as a person being measured by your personal search ranking in organic listings in Google:

“In the age of Google, being special increasingly requires standing out from the crowd online. Many people aspire for themselves — or their offspring — to command prominent placement in the top few links on search engines or social networking sites’ member lookup functions. But, as more people flood the Web, that’s becoming an especially tall order for those with common names. Type “John Smith” into Google’s search engine and it estimates it has 158 million results.”


I think many women, especially, face this issue when they get married. My maiden name, for instance, was Janet Driscoll. While it’s not an overly uncommon name, it was unique enough that I could easily be searched on Google or other engines. And then, I fell in love, and that created a personal SEO crisis!

My new married name would be Janet Miller. Now at first I wasn’t sure exactly how common that name might be in society, but very soon I found that there was another Janet Miller in my own neighborhood!

An additional problem many engaged women face is that their name, like a product name, is their BRAND. For many years, I’d built a personal brand reputation and established myself as a subject matter expert as “Janet Driscoll” — only to consider changing that brand to “Janet Miller”.

My solution was one that many women take on — the three name approach (also can be the hyphenated name approach). It’s common with many well known politicians, actresses, etc., so why not go for it? And so, the brand “Janet Driscoll” became “Janet Driscoll Miller”, thus preserving the SEO I’d personally built for myself in Google over the years, since “Janet Driscoll” is contained in “Janet Driscoll Miller”, and parlaying that into the rebirth of my personal brand.

Yes, people complain. Yes, it makes my name long. But so what? As a business professional, I had to protect my personal brand and personal Google rankings. This approach accomplishes that. However, I have to constantly be sure to refer to myself as my full name — it’s easy to slip and just call myself “Janet Miller”. And like any brand, you have to always make sure that you refer to the brand correctly so that others absorb the brand name and reuse it properly (or for that matter search for it properly).

So if I am insistent on folks calling me “Janet Driscoll Miller”, please understand — it’s just branding!

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