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

By Rachel Cernansky
Feb 25, 2009 11:44 PMNov 5, 2019 8:46 AM


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Sure, 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. Related Content: 80beats: Did Google Earth Find Atlantis? Well, No.

Image: Flickr / caspermoller

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