Google v. Geography: French Town Ponders Name Change to Increase Web Searchability

By Rachel Cernansky | February 25, 2009 12:44 pm

norm.jpgSure, Google can map just about anything. But who knew it could actually influence geography from the ground up?

The French coastal town of Eu is getting no Internet love, and its mayor is about to do something about it. Marie-Françoise Gaouyer believes that the decline in tourism—down by as much as a third—is the result of the town’s poor standing in “Eu” Google searches. So, she’s advocating to change the name of the town on the belief that additional syllables will increase its Internet visibility. Her decision to act was triggered when even the French national railway’s computer system did not recognize Eu’s existence.

Instead of tourist accommodations, Google currently yields sites related to the European Union or, for French searches, to the past participle of the verb “avoir.” Gaouyer thinks that to increase awareness of Eu among potential tourists, she can either pay search engines like Google to place the town at the top of “Eu” searches, or simply change the town’s name.

She believes the latter option to be the most sensible, despite the lengthy process (up to five years before it’s legal) and likely opposition from traditionalists who want to preserve the history of the town, which hosted visitors such as Joan of Arc and William the Conqueror. The town’s 8,000 residents plan to vote in a referendum, and choose between options including Eu-le-Château, Eu-en-Normandie, and the mayor’s personal favorite, Ville d’Eu.

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Image: Flickr / caspermoller

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: France, google, the internet
  • Alex

    The mayor does know that Google doesn’t accept money for ranking right?

  • jpt

    Fadism – what will they call it next year?

  • Tonya

    I’m surprised it’s taken this long to consider a name change…Eu? Sounds incomplete, is not particularly attractive and could quite easily be confused with the EU acronym, as in European Union. No?

  • Jef

    I don’t see why they have to wait or make it official or even change the town name at all. Just call it Ville d’Eu or whatever on all the web pages. It’s a village and it’s Eu, so what’s the problem? Most countries have several cities with the same name and they find ways to distinguish themselves on their sites.

  • Pingback: SEO Tough? Spare a Thought for These Towns | Gary Reid()

  • Dave

    Give it a month or 2, get people who write about in on blogs to post a link to the towns webstie and that will see the natural ranking in Google increase. Or, as mentioned, just set up a PPC campaign and bid for keywords related to EU (although due to the European Union this could be a little expensive to start)

  • Parker

    I wanted to comment and thank the author, good stuff

  • Robyn

    Great post about Google. Keep up the good work.

  • Hernandez Foster

    St. Louis, jazz city, very hot weather, but sounds bit boring.


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