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A user on a stock exchange website and has just searched for a company name (e.g. abc industries) that in the last week has changed its name to something else (e.g. def industries), should the search engine results reflect this change?

The options that I can see are:

  • should the search result indicate that the search query was part of a recent name change and provide a link to the search results using the new name, or
  • should the search result page have a generic message such as, "the company you are searching for may have changed names recently" with a hyperlink to a list of recently changed company names, or
  • should the search result not indicate that a name change has occurred?

What is the standard here?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, this is the same principal as should happen for maiden names. You shouldn't expect that people searching for a person / company would automatically know that they are now using a different name, so you should allow search to use both the current and any alternate name.

For example Facebook provides an option in the account details section for 'Alternate Name' which is used when searching for people and displays people results including both the first name and surname as well as the 'alternate name'.

Depending on how common this situation is in your case would determine just how bespoke the search results would be. If an alternate name is very uncommon then there probably isn't a need to overtly split out the results between Current and Previous names, just displaying the alternate name in parenthesis or within the result snippet should suffice, but you can go into more detail with more bespoke functionality if this situation is more common than this.

Search Results:

Lorem Products (Acme Corp)

Ipsum Ware

Dolor Systems (Dev-ware)


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Depending on the Search type. If it's a search for finding companies and it operates on some Company entity which is tracked and stored in DB, then supporting this functionality might be easy and it makes sense.

If it's a more generic content search then I don't think this is necessary. Typical indexed text search over website content is an example. Supporting tracking here would require significant effort.

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If the search is specifically for a company, show a message like "company X" is now named "company Y", searching for "company Y" instead. And provide an option to "search for company X anyway" (sort of like Google's search correction.

If the search is not specific for a company, then you are searching all fields of your data, in this case, you should have fields for previous names which should be included in your search. (Search should include companies that used to be called "company X").

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