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googleable also googlable

adjective

producing a number of search results if entered into the Google® Internet search engine

googleability or googlability

noun [uncountable]

a measure of how easy it is to find information about a person using an Internet search engine, especially Google®

'Are you Googleable? … If the world's favourite search engine can't find you, neither can your clients.'

RealBusiness 5th September 2007

'The difference in Googleability between a person with the name "Mary Smith" and a person with my name [Donna Steinbraker] makes me wonder whether Googleability might one day affect how parents name their children. If Mary Smith had been named, instead, Upanishad Smith, she'd be more Googleable.'

International Herald Tribune 4th December 2006

John Smith or Zephaniah Calshari? Jane Green or Jacinda Merryweather? How unusual is your name? A decade or so ago, the relevance of this question didn't go much beyond considering how difficult it would be to find you in the telephone directory, but in the 21st century, its significance takes on a whole new dimension. How might a repository of information as vast as the World Wide Web affect your anonymity? Are you instantly identifiable, or sharing the virtual world with countless namesakes? In other words – how googleable are you?

for those individuals who want to preserve their anonymity but happen to have a particularly unusual name, googleability is a nightmare scenario

The adjective googleable describes words which deliver a number of results when entered as search terms in an Internet search engine such as Google. Of course, search terms are often proper nouns, names of both organizations and individuals, so the adjective googleable, and its related noun googleability, are more often associated with people. A person's or organization's googleability, or how googleable they are, is therefore a measure of how easily identifiable they are in the virtual universe, based on the number of results their name returns when entered in an Internet search.

Googleability can be a positive or negative trait depending on your point of view. For those individuals who want to preserve their anonymity but happen to have a particularly unusual name, googleability is a nightmare scenario. For people or organizations who want to be recognized across the globe, googleability is very good news, a quality to be sought after.

Recent research suggests that googleability is something that will influence 21st-century children from the day they are born, since a growing number of parents are considering it when choosing their child's name. Parents concerned with keeping their child's anonymity are increasingly choosing more common names, whilst those who want their child to be instantly recognizable in a Google search are opting for something very unusual.

Background – googleable and googlable

The adjective googleable and related noun googleability are recent derivatives of the new verb to google. Google entered the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb in 2006, and it's defined in the new edition of the Macmillan English Dictionary as 'to search for something on the Internet using the Google® search engine'.

Other common derivatives are the uncountable noun Googling, which refers to the activity of using Google, and the countable noun Googler, describing a person who googles. On the theme of googleability, another term which has recently popped up is ungoogleable, used as both an adjective and a countable noun to describe a person or thing which produces no results when googled.

Google is a registered trademark of Google Inc.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 28th April 2008.

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