How It Is

A Name is Not A Description

“Hello, I’m female developer.”

One day, you found a app or plugin or add-on for something. It was a feature you always wanted, did exactly what you needed, was well written and supported. It was that panacea of perfection. You loved it. Then you had a computer crash, or a house fire, or moved, and you forgot what the name was. All you could remember was the name was something about what it did. So you decided to Google for it, and quickly found a billion things that fit the bill.

SEO vs Generic SEO vs Generic

When you’re naming your product or company, you work very hard to think of a name that encapsulates what you are, what you do, and what makes you unique. For example, you don’t name yourself “Shoe Company” and expect people to be able to find you. With very few exceptions (and really only No Name comes to mind), if you want to stand out, you pick a good name where you are prominent.

This directly relates to SEO, and people’s ability to find you. Ever used Apple Pages or Sheets and tried to Google something? Like “How do I make Pages Templates” perhaps. You often feel damn lucky when you get the right result immediately:

A google search that has useful results!

But you’re not Apple, are you? So if you named your product “Foods,” you’d probably have a devil of a time getting ranked so people could find you in search!

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Unique vs Memorable Unique vs Memorable

Take a look at WordPress. Pretend you’re looking for a slider plugin. Hush, just come with me here. Now. You remember a really cool slider plugin, but all you remember is it was named something like “Best Slider Plugin.” Yeah. You ain’t gonna find it. Probably ever. But what if you were looking for a lightbox plugin, and you remembered the name as “Foobox Lightbox” … Hang on a second. That’s one you’re going to be able to find. It has a unique name, but better than that, it has a memorable name!

The only reason Apple Pages actually works is that Apple is huge and also the fact that most of us Google “Apple Pages whatever” and not just “Pages.” It’s the same with the Apple Watch. It’s nice they call it “Watch.” We call it the “iWatch” because we have to be able to find it, and they picked stupid generic names. Being Apple, they can get away with it.

To their credit, the name is memorable. It’s not unique, but you will remember it. Even if you remember it as “That stupid Pages app Apple made.” You remember Microsoft Word, but you also will remember WordPerfect, and possibly WordStar. But if you listed four Twitter apps, could you remember what differentiates each one without looking? Definitely unique names, like Tweetbot and Twitterific, and certainly memorable, but in the wrong way.

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Names vs Descriptions Names vs Descriptions

Many people make a common mistake. They remember the tools they use on their computers, like “TextEdit” and “Notepad” and they think that in order to be found, the name must be short and descriptive. That’s why we get Notepad++ and iTerm. To an extent, this works. LastPass and OnePassword are going to be memorable and unique and descriptive names. But the longer a product, or suite exists, the more likely they are to corner a market and make it harder for the little people.

Let’s go back to WordPress. You’ve made a great popup plugin and you want everyone to know it. There are roughly 500 plugins that use ‘popup’ or ‘popups’ as a tag. There are 2500 or so plugins that show up for a search on ‘popup’ in the directory. Besides the fact that you really should use the ‘popup’ tag in your plugin, there’s no way in the world you’re going to get your new popup plugin to the top of the list in a day.

But … users don’t look for ‘popup’ or even ‘best popup plugin.’ They look for something else. “WordPress popup plugin with call to action on page exit.” They may simply that to “wordpress popup plugin call to action page exit” but they’re going to look for what they need. And they’re going to remember the plugin named “Wait Don’t Go! Popups” that has a nice plugin description of “Grab your visitors’ attention one more time before they leave your page forever.”

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Humans vs Robots Humans vs Robots

Putting a million buzzwords in your product’s name, the description, and the URL aren’t ever going to make you popular. The only thing that does is bring people in the yard. If they see your website is fill with upsell and hyperbole, they’re going to walk right out again. If they see features and explanations and proof that you are, indeed, the bees knees, they’ll stay. If you have a catchy or unique name, they’ll remember and recommend you to their friends.

And then, then you will be a success.