We messed up picking a name

I created Ralley, but it turns out that was a terrible name. I wrote a blog so others can avoid the same fate!


TLDR; Don't pick a misspelling of a word as your product name, unless the real word is very uncommon (e.g. Google) or the pronunciation and spelling is significantly different. And make sure Google is not correcting for your name.

(we're now called Zeplo)

  1. 3

    I made a similar mistake. I thought I was doing pretty good by holding to three rules:

    1. If you see it, you should be able to pronounce it
    2. If you hear it, you should be able to spell it
    3. It doesn't need to have any deeper meaning or embody any core values

    So I picked "Overmind" because it sounded like a fun evil corporation name, and I really enjoyed Starcraft when I was younger.

    Only after did I realize that making any kind of wiki is gonna be a struggle for SEO. Searching "Overmind" pulls up exclusively Starcraft info since it has decades of backlinks. Even worse, "Overmind Wiki" (or any word + wiki) will always pull up the Wikipedia page for that word.

    So now I have a 4th rule:

    1. For smaller players, it shouldn't already have millions of search results

    It's not impossible to break this rule gracefully (Notion managed just fine after many years), but definitely adds a bit of a handicap.

    1. 1

      Good tips. Just shows how pivitol Google is that you need to choose your company name based on how it ranks on Google!

  2. 1

    My favorite names are word combinations that describe the product and yet they have a unique identifier. It's hard enough to get single word domain names, so 2 words is the next best thing.

    Some examples:

  3. 1

    Curious as to whether anyone told you it was a bad name up front, and you ignored them?

    When asked, I've given feedback on 'bad names' - citing spelling issues, pronounceability issues, etc, and sometimes been ignored ("no no, it'll be fine, you just don't get the name!") and cringe when they go ahead with a bad name.

    Yeah... 'Zeplo' may be 'weird', but I have little doubt how to try to spell it. Had you gone with 'zeploah' or 'Zeplow' or similar, that may have been problematic (but maybe you should get those as alias .com names?) (oh, I see you're .io already).

    1. 1

      I have a feeling I asked some people, and don't remember anyone complaining too much - but then you never know if people are just being polite. I thought Ralley would be easy to rank for (looking at ahrefs), and completely didn't think about the problem of spelling it for some reason 🤦‍♂️.

      1. 1

        You've learned a lesson, and shared, so that's progress. Hopefully more people will learn. One thing to try is to test names out with people who aren't friends or family. Not saying you only did friends/family, but it's a comfortable default for folks, so not surprising.

  4. 1

    We had same issue initially, with a different domain, but after a few months, Google started indexing it correctly.

    1. 1

      I think if it had just been the ranking issue, I might have waited longer to see how it played on Google - but with the spelling/audial issue tipped me to change it.

      That said, it was effortless to rank for Zeplo, so why not save yourself some work and pick an easy ranking word!

      1. 1

        Glad you fixed it up. Although ours wasn't a typo, it had a very powerful similar domain.

        So with time, Google stopped suggesting the other domain and equally stopped treating the domain keyword as an error.

  5. 1

    That's a very good pointer, mind if I add that with the link to your blog to my blog on How to name our startup?

    Btw, google can choose to correct(suggest) even grammar even if not necessarily wrong.

    e.g. My blog content titled Startup ideas vs Problems was the featured snippet when the search term is 'Startup ideas vs Problems' until recently as the current featured snippet features another website with a featured image within the blog post(mine is text only).

    Although my blog is still the first result, but google now suggests 'Did you mean: Startup ideas and Problems' which buries my blog post effectively killing my traffic.

    1. 1

      Gosh, Google is fickle. You lost the featured snippet over an image. Why not just add a basic image with the title of the blog on a plain background, just so Google can see an image?

      1. 1

        My essay posts are text only, it has a og:image but it's not featured on the post. Guess I have to add one if I have to please Google.

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