The name game

I guess I’m a little late to the party on this Search Engine Optimization thing. SEO, for those of you who don’t know, is the process of getting your name more visible to Google so more folks can locate you. If people are looking for you, your company, your book, your band, etc., you probably want to make it easy for them to find you (unless you’re a Guantanamo escapee, a dog fondler, or a telemarketer). I did a search for John O’Leary and couldn’t find me on the first two pages of Google! And it didn't bring up The Running Game, the title of my 1980s book and music video. (Yeah, I KNOW I have a common name, but I haven’t exactly been a wallflower for the last 40 years.)

So to climb out of obscurity I’m prepared to do what I have to do. Desperate times call for desperate measure. I’m going to resuscitate my middle initial “G”—which I had mercifully buried decades ago when I left school. From now on, my professional name is John G. O’Leary. There aren't as many of those guys. Just don't ask me what the G stands for.

This name duplication has been a problem for bands too, who usually have had to resolve it in court: Badfinger, Animals, Jefferson Starship, Nirvana, Squeeze, Charlatans, Incubus, and many more.

By the way, if you google simply "John O’Leary" you will get, among others, a serial killer, a blues musician, a motivational speaker, an Irish politician, and a golfer. That's all the more confusing because I actually fit those descriptors! (Except for one, of course. You can rest assured I’m not a golfer.)

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  1. John,
    Nothing much about me on Google when I type my name (common name at that)but when I type Billy O'Connor Blondie, everything I've ever done in music becomes available. My point is maybe you could type your name followed by a word like Canaligators.

  2. Gary: Brilliant! I'll get my legal staff right on it.
    Bill: I didn't even know you played with Blondie! I just looked it up. Very cool. That must have been a year or two after we were hanging at Mark's place on E. 11th (1974?). Yeah, when I include my name with the name of one of my bands, it usually comes right up. But I need stand-alone recognition for my consulting and writing career. But Gary's got the right idea. I'll just force every other John O'Leary to change his name.

  3. Please pardon my disrespectful sniggering, but "Badfinder" is pretty funny in a Freudian sort of way.

    Google Joel D Canfield, with or without quotes, and it's all me, all the time. When I introduce myself at networking events or my workshops I say "If it doesn't have the 'D' it isn't really me."

    You could just change it to John Goleary and then nobody'd ask if it stood for Gus or Garland or Godfrey.

    Or, just tell 'em it stands for Gandalf, and then glare ominously.

  4. Joel, I intentionally display the occasional solecism to see if anyone is paying attention. Hey, you don't use a period after the D, do you? Nice touch. I suppose you considered going the JD route.

  5. Hi John - Trevor Gay … I’m sure you can use your most creative imagination to understand that my name brings up a whole variety of options. I guess I’m just happy that the people who NEED to know me, do know me :-)

  6. John,
    I remember when I met you back in late 1973 at the loft on 11th st. I asked you how to get a gig in nyc. You said I should buy a copy of the Village Voice and told me a story about a drummer named Denny who answered an ad for "drummer wtd for newly formed rock band" and ended up playing on Wings early albums. That was good enough for me so I went to the corner and bot a copy. I actually met Debbie and Chris from calling an ad in the VV.

  7. Gary, I could smite you for that.
    Bill, I can't say I remember the conversation, but I'm glad it worked out. BTW, a few years ago I met a New Yorker at a local party and was telling her where I lived on E. 11th St in 1973. It turns out she was living at that exact address on E.11th, on the 4th or 5th floor! I had a hard time believing that (a 1 in 10,000 shot?) but when I visited the neighborhood last year her name was on the buzzer!

  8. So, come on then, what does the G stand for?

    BTW, I understand that John Goleary is pretty hacked off at your highjacking his name...

  9. JUST between you and me, Mark, it's Geoffrey (named after my great-grandfather, Geoffrey Keating, who presumably was named after the 17th century Irish poet).

  10. Karen: either you missed my comment above or — (gasp) — I have ANOTHER middle name that nobody told me about! (Kinda defeats the purpose of a name, one would think. But we've always been an unusual family.)

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