Dammit I don't want to change my name
December 20, 2011 12:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a unique name that, when my first and middle names are transposed, becomes a more common name that is now the moniker of a rather unattractive porn star. How do I fix Google results that turn my unique name into this porn-yielding other version?

I discovered recently that if you search for my name in google images, google thinks you really want the transposed version of my name and that name is apparently the name held by a not so cute pornstar. I have nothing against porn for a variety of reasons, but this is not something I can really let go of given that I am job hunting right now and I work with children's media. (and the lady is not as cute as I am.) Is there any way at all to tell google to accept my unique name as, well, the valid, gospel truth so that the redirect-to-porn situation does not occur as potential employers google my name?
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Are you putting quotation marks around your name? If you just put words in with spaces between them Google (and any other search engine) won't care what order they're in or whether they're even next to each other on the page.
posted by XMLicious at 1:07 AM on December 20, 2011


Is there any way at all to tell google to accept my unique name as, well, the valid, gospel truth so that the redirect-to-porn situation does not occur as potential employers google my name?

You want to tell potential employers how to Google your name? You could tell them to use quotes or verbatim, but when? In your CV? During an interview?

You can't say, "Oh, be sure to use quotes around my name when you Google it or you'll get pictures of some leathery anal queen, and I swear that's not me!" Just assume that they know how to use Google and that they know Google can return all sorts of results that are not your fault.
posted by pracowity at 1:16 AM on December 20, 2011 [20 favorites]


What XMLicious said. Either you want to search for both of the words, in any order, or you want to search for the words in a particular order - a "phrase search".
posted by gorcha at 1:16 AM on December 20, 2011


Google probably offers up the porn lady first because it has some pretty good statistics showing that people are a lot more likely to be searching for porn lady than they are for you. Especially on an image search.

It's possible that improving search performance on your own name would help - by making a lot of really great and well linked content with your name on it.

Alternatively, you could start using your middle initial or some contraction of your first name, both on your CV and on relevant web content, so that people are more likely to Google this combination and therefore less likely to find Mrs Porno Queen.
posted by emilyw at 1:28 AM on December 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Does searching for first last rather than middle first last reduce the number of porn lady images? If so, do you need to use your middle name on applications? A lot of people don't even have a middle name so its not like it can be 'required'.
Also do you have lots of images with your real name on the? Google wants to give you results, even if that means searching for something different than you actually searched for. Even if more people are searching for porn lady than you, if it can find a decent number of relevant results under what you searched for it will usually give you them. If there aren't any results under your name and loads under a slight variation then thats what you're going to get.
posted by missmagenta at 1:39 AM on December 20, 2011


Tweak your professional name until it doesn't collide or do some serious astroturfing. Sucks. My sympathies.
posted by Leon at 1:49 AM on December 20, 2011


Remove your middle name from your resume, or make it an initial? Or, as emilyw said, make a professional website or blog for yourself.
posted by redlines at 3:10 AM on December 20, 2011


Be happy your name isn't Santorum. Yeah, there isn't much you can do about this other than the advice you already received.

Alternatively, you could start using your middle initial or some contraction of your first name, both on your CV and on relevant web content

I wouldn't be uptight about it. If it comes up, it'll make for a funny anecdote in the job interview which is more likely to cause people to remember you in a positive way than to associate you with anything negative.
posted by three blind mice at 3:11 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, most people can tell that it's probably not you. I had a colleague whose exact namesake is a famous underwear model. No nasty porn, but still, this guy is a serious academic, so... Apparently, our employer did wonder if they were the same person when he applied and they googled him, but dismissed it as improbable and irrelevant.
posted by redlines at 3:31 AM on December 20, 2011


It might be worth creating a Google Profile page. I imagine that Google ranks those pages quite highly.
posted by alby at 4:07 AM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's likely that any employer working in children's anything has the adult results turned off. What do you get when you do the same?
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 AM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you contact me with your name, I can report this to the search quality folks internally.
posted by Jerub at 5:10 AM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


The greater your online presence, the more you can "fix" this. More website, more blogging, more linkedin and facebook.

Google is probably correct that people who Google your name (with no other terms/context) are looking for the pornstar more often than not. You could either start using a pseudonym or assume that people understand the results enough to figure out which are and are not you.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:35 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jerub: "If you contact me with your name, I can report this to the search quality folks internally."

To what end? The OP's porn-star namesake has every bit as much a right to her search ranking.
posted by mkultra at 5:39 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


To what end? The OP's porn-star namesake has every bit as much a right to her search ranking.

But it's not the porn star's name, it's a transposing of the OP's name.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:09 AM on December 20, 2011


It's good that a Googler wants to help you out. Hopefully that will make a difference. But if I were you, I would still work on creating your own strong online presence so you can compete with this other person. Not just a Google profile, but also a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook page (if you can stand Facebook), and a personal website that displays, if nothing else, your resume.

Make sure all of these places link to one another. Wherever possible, use your name as the link anchor text (that's the highlighted text people click on in a link).

There are also specific things you can do to compete on image search -- if you are comfortable with having photos of yourself on the web, put some up -- on Flickr or a similar service, on other websites you control. Make sure the file names of these images contain your name. If you can control the image alt text, put your name in there too. Google can't actually "see" pictures like a person does (yet) -- when it's ranking them for image search it's primarily looking at the image file name, the alt text, the anchor text of incoming links to the picture and other contextual clues.

If you want more specific advice MeFi mail me. (Disclaimer: I actually do this sort of thing for pay. But I'd be happy to give you a few pointers for free.)
posted by BlueJae at 6:40 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: Be happy your name isn't Santorum.

... or Hitler. (This problem isn't new; just more common now.)

Since the results aren't as bad as that example*, assume the employer can figure out that Elizabeth Dana Smith is not the same as Dana Elizabeth Smith, star of "Dirty Dana Does Dozens".

* I bring the example up because most people with that name apparently changed their names during or immediately after WWII. The variant spelling "Heidler" is still prevalent, and of course there's some supremacists who have taken the opposite course...

Then's there's the Iowa farmer Adolph Hitler who, when asked by a reporter during WWII if he planned on changing his name, replied, "Why should I? I had it first. Let the other guy change his." (Possibly apocryphal; I can't find specific references)
posted by IAmBroom at 6:42 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes what works best in these situations is just to have a sense of humor about it and warn the person who might be googling you in a somewhat humorous way. As in: "I have to apologize in advance if you do a google search for my name. Turns out that if you reverse the order of my names you get the name of a well-known, er, performer... if you know what I mean. You probably want to put my name inside of quotes in the search field if you want to get results for me and not, yanno, get a phone call from IT."
posted by slkinsey at 7:57 AM on December 20, 2011


My first and last name were used by a porn actress, and she shows up in almost any google search of my name. I have taken great care to update my linked in on a regular basis, and make sure that anything that's actually me has a picture (as this particular actress could in no way shape or form be mistaken for the actual me). I made just enough of my profiles public to identify that I exist, and am an accountant, and not a BBW porn star. After actively trying to push my own name up on searches, google now also suggests that you might look try looking for me by name and location- and suggests my location. I really recommend that you work more on making sure you also show up in the search than trying to train other people how to look for you.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 8:33 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is such a big deal as most people are aware of Google's foibles. If I search for and get a lot of results pointing to , I'm likely to feel a bit sorry for you, not assume that you're a porn star. And I'd do the search again, with quotes this time. Unless you're working with extremely non tech-savvy folks, I doubt you have much to worry about -- it should be clear from the pictures that the porn star is not you!
posted by peacheater at 10:44 AM on December 20, 2011


Damn, a lot of my response was within angled brackets above and didn't show up. There should be
name1 name2 name3 after If I search for and name2 name1 name3 after pointing to. My kingdom for an edit button.
posted by peacheater at 10:46 AM on December 20, 2011


My case is even more fun, my porn star namesake has exactly the same name as me (firstname surname, and no, the name in my Mefi profile is not my real name).

Setting up social media profiles definitely helps. I used to have next to no online presence under my real name, so Google only spat up porn star. Now, the top results are
- Pornstar's IMDB
- my LinkedIn profile
- my G+ profile
- my Facebook profile
... and then more porn star again. Tho admittedly GIS with safesearch off still has exclusively porn star.

Also, for a laugh I put in a recent cover letter "should you choose to google me, please be aware that the lady involved in dubious films is not me". I actually got a call back, so it didn't put them off apparently! Though it definitely depends on the audience...
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2011


You are not a special snowflake! If I search for my name with adult results turned on (hello!) I get some pretty oddball results. There is even a few aspiring porn stars with some risque photos. It's okay. That's how search works. Anyone who thinks from doing a Google search that that is me is not the kind of idiot I want to work for. I have an attractive profile photo on my LinkedIn page and a Google profile that uses the same. If they are really curious they can compare the two and see that I am not that girl.

Your best bet is to create a professional profile or two and ignore that other stuff. Everyone else will, too.
posted by amanda at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2011


My husband has the exact same name as a man who plays bass for a fairly colorful Finnish death metal band. When he was looking for work for the first time in a decade, all the top hits for his name went to that guy. We registered HusbandsName.com (with his actual name of course) and put a copy of his resume and other related documents up there, he created a LinkedIn profile and linked it to his personal domain, and a bunch of other low-grade SEO stuff. Now if you search for him in the US, the first two pages of hits are all for my husband, not the musical Finn.
posted by KathrynT at 11:52 AM on December 20, 2011


It's possible that improving search performance on your own name would help - by making a lot of really great and well linked content with your name on it.

Managing your online identity is just part of modern life and is very easy to do. Good thoughts on this here.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:31 PM on December 20, 2011


FWIW, my middle name is now my last name, and I can't change my professional name to anything other than, well, my name. I also just discovered that Google yields porn images not only for my name transposed, but also my regular full name minus one letter of my middle/last name. (IE, let's say my name is Maria Bella. The porn stars' names now appear to be Bella Maria and Maria Bell.)

However, DarlingBri's right. SafeSearch renders the situation moot, though the reason I even made this inquiry in the first place is because a recruiter I've been talking to discovered this scenario before I did. I am going to be extra on top of my online presence just in case. Thanks all.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:20 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think (hope) most people understand that this is just something that happens. I share my name with a gay prom king, a mixed martial arts fighter, a pagan preacher, a makeup artist, about a hundred high school football players, a motocross racer, and who knows who else.
posted by mskyle at 1:27 PM on December 20, 2011


> It might be worth creating a Google Profile page. I imagine that Google ranks those pages quite highly.

My profile comes fifth in an Incognito-mode search for my unquoted name after LinkedIn (which I notice is also high for ClarissaWAM), facebook, facebook for a different person with the same name and myspace (!) for the other myName.
posted by morganw at 5:50 PM on December 20, 2011


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