Eva Bradley: My soul belongs to Google

By Eva Bradley

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Eva Bradley contemplates an online life.
Eva Bradley contemplates an online life.

I think you have to acknowledge you've reached a tipping point in life when in the pursuit of digital representation you start becoming your own biggest competition on Google.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Consider yourself lucky. And among a shrinking group of individuals who are still living their lives in the here-and-now not the click-and-send.

As a small-business owner, for many years I never thought much about advertising and "the brand" beyond the size of my Yellow Pages ad and the occasional spread in a bridal magazine.

Work found its way to my door via word of mouth and just being good at what I did. Today? Forget it.

"Good as Gold" has been replaced by "Good as Google" and to get into their lofty rankings it is often gold in the form of cold hard cash that gets you there.

Being "good" has become a relative term, in much the same way you might say Oracle are "good" at sailing when in reality what they are really good at is making lots of money from selling software, and by default rich enough to be good at whatever else they throw their money at.

But my Google rankings rant is a sidebar of today's epistle. What really started me thinking this way was when a web consultant pointed out just how many "me's" there are online. And how hard it then becomes to make the most important "me" take top spot on Google.

In the course of asking him to redirect one of my website URLs to another, he pointed out just how many domain names, sub-domain names and associated pages and sites I had acquired over my years in business as a photographer and writer.

While all of them made perfect sense to me, anyone else could be forgiven for wondering why a small business needed a main website, a client gallery website, a new-client gallery website, a blog site, a Facebook business page, a Facebook personal page, a Pinterest Page, a LinkedIn site, a Vimeo site, a YouTube account and then various links to online pages for the newspapers that publish my column online and those that publish my photography.

Keeping track of myself online and ensuring that everything that should be there is and with the correct alt text is, quite frankly, an occupation in itself.

When I started in business (about the same time Google did, although there end all comparisons) I remember being quite peeved to discover an Eva Bradley selling real estate somewhere in California had already pinched the top ranking.

Such is the power of people wanting to perv at other people's wedding photos online that poor old Eva Bradley from California is now buried on page 4 of our collective online identity, ranked number 32 behind me in my myriad digital disguises in spots 1 to 31.

The irony of this significant public presence is that despite (because of?) featuring in papers across the country every week talking about my personal life, I am actually quite a private person. But this becomes a trifling technicality when you consider just how long Google will index content for, and a matter I have long since come to terms with.

While I still like to think my mind and body belongs to me, I have to concede that in some significant but hard to describe way, a slice of my soul belongs to Google. That sort of sacrifice has gotta get me shunted up the rankings, surely?

Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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