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Why Changing Your Company Name Isn't Easy

It’s frustrating to hear that your plans to change your company name aren’t as feasible as you thought. We get it. But online advertisers aren’t just being uncooperative or lazy when they tell you that a company name change isn’t as easy as just switching the header on your website. “Why,” you ask, “in the age of high-speed everything, does it take so much time and effort to make a simple change? Isn’t the Internet supposed to make life easier?” The hard truth is that the Internet’s blessing is also its curse. The unlimited spread of data makes it that much harder to revise an established piece of information—in this case, your company name. Essentially, all of the work that your SEO company initially did when they launched your campaign will have to be redone with your new company name. That’s why we usually advise against name changes.

The Name-Change Process Is Neither Simple nor Quick

The name-change process is extensive, complicated, and unpredictable. Let’s say the owner of Tony’s HVAC wants to change his business name to “Tony’s Heating and Air Conditioning.” The process doesn’t begin and end with editing their website. If Prospect Genius were their online advertiser, we would have to do the following in this exact order (and keep in mind, every Internet marketing team has its own unique way of dealing with a name change):

  1. Revise their website from top to bottom
  2. Edit their listings on all of the major search engines, like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing (which often requires re-verification via postcard or phone)
  3. Log in to client accounts on all of the popular business directories (such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Citysearch) and update the company’s info
  4. Log on to all of their social media accounts and edit their name
  5. Write and publish a press release announcing their name change
  6. Wait for Google and other search engines to register the changes

Meanwhile, the owner of Tony’s HVAC would still have to update state licenses, signage, flyers, and so on. It’s an arduous process, to say the least.

Machines and Humans Think Differently

Online advertisers do all of that work because machines and humans see things very differently. Twenty years ago, if a new flyer read, “Tony’s Heating and Air Conditioning,” while their old phone book listing still said, “Tony’s HVAC,” locals would assume that these referred to the same company, especially if the same phone number were attached. Sadly, machines aren’t equipped with human intuition. On search engines, the two names would register as two very distinct entities and ruin all of the SEO work completed so far. That’s why all accounts must match and all changes must occur simultaneously. In fact, Google has strict rules about mismatching information, down to spacing, capitalization, and punctuation, so you’ll need to be sure that your name is identical everywhere it appears. That takes a lot of time and an even greater amount of scrutiny, which is why it’s best left to a savvy expert. That’s also why you’ll need to disclose whether you’re working with more than one SEO company or online advertiser at the same time. Since every instance of your name must be identical across the board, it’s imperative that all of your advertisers are on the same page.

Talk to Your SEO Company First

As you can see, changing your business name isn’t a decision you should make lightly. If you’re considering it, we advise you to discuss it with your web marketing professional first. They’ll be able to go over your advertising campaign’s performance, why you want to change your name, how extensive their name-change process will be, and how much it will cost. Changing your name may temporarily encumber your site’s performance while Google deciphers the changes, so they’ll generally help you decide whether the potential pros outweigh the cons.