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French town Eu considers changing name for Web search visibility

February 25, 2009 |  2:20 pm

Eu, a thousand-year-old coastal town in France, is discussing changing its name. The reason: "Eu" is too hard for Web searchers to find.

A Google search for "Eu" shows no sign of the coastal French town by that name.

If you've ever worked on a website, you know the importance of search. Many companies hire experts to make their websites more visible. There's a whole field devoted to this sort of thing: search engine optimization.

SEO apparently means a lot to tourism too. Google has become a major means for tracking down vacation spots. If tourists can't find information about your town, odds are they're not going to go there.

Therein lies the problem for Eu, which shares its name with the past participle of the French verb avoir, or "to have." It's one of the most common verbs in the language. There's a different problem in English: You'll find search results relating to the European Union (EU) before you ever stumble on one referencing the French town.

The Times Online reports that Eu Mayor Marie-Fraçoise Gaouyer is pushing to change the town's name by expanding it, to Mairie de la Ville d'Eu. She says it must "adapt to modernity." Not surprisingly, she's getting push-back from some of its 8,000 citizens, who are hesitant to throw out the town's long history to cater to Internet-savvy tourists.

We should note that a more specific search, such as for "Eu french town," yields plenty of pages about the place, so adding "Mairie de la Ville" may be overkill. I mean, you don't see any U.S. towns called Springfield tacking on fancy words to stand out.

-- Mark Milian