Article by OC
The Internet is still very much in its infancy and could be considered as being in the "Wild West" stage of its evolution. With no lawmakers, or no effective way of policing the internet, anyone with access to the web can simply put whatever they like there and at this moment there is very little way of keeping track of malicious content, or regulating the growing number of sites, more than one billion at the time of writing.
One of the effects is the situation where there are sites supplying free access to copywright material, which they have no right to. In turn this is having a huge impact on the music, software, film and television industry. While this is a negative aspect and ideally should be policed in some form, there is no way of doing this at the moment. This also leads us to the tricky question of who would be the judge of what is a "genuine" website and what websites are malicious, in turn bringing us to the issues of censorship and propaganda.
While we are still some way away from an effective "Internet Police", we could still see some websites being censored to an certain extent, at least in The United States. With the recent election of Donald Trump and the people he has surrounded himself with, specifically Ajit Pai. Pai, an avid opposer of consumer protection is now the chairman of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), greatly increasing the chance of Internet Neutrality becoming less secure in the coming months and years but to fully understand how this might impact online traffic, SEO and Digital Marketing, lets first look at what exactly Internet Neutrality is.
We have all experienced the dreaded blank white page at a site that we have visited at one point or another and the panic that sets in if we do not see a fully working webpage within a matter of seconds. For the most part this can be attributed to bad website design/optimisation, or a poor internet connection but is very rarely, if ever the fault of the ISP (Internet Service Provider). One area which is constant across the web is the amount of bandwidth all websites are given, which has made the playing field quite level until this point and this is the essence of Internet Neutrality, that all websites are given an equal opportunity to be found and accessed.
It is the concept that all websites are treated equally by the ISP. The idea that Uncle Joes Pork & Strawberry Jam Pies website is given the same chance as the Tesco website is really something that we have largely taken for granted until now but insures that everyone has an equal voice online.
Now imagine one day, after clicking through the responsive and quick Tesco website, we go to Uncle Joes website for one of his delicious pies but there are no pies there, not even pictures of his pies, nothing. Even though his site will eventually load, all be it much slower, because of the throttling which the ISP will induce, this could have a devastating effect on Joe's business, not just from a sales point of view but the poor responsiveness of his site would in fact have a domino effect, leading any Digital Marketing he has invested in to also be negatively effected.
The high bounce rate that Joes website will inevitably incur because of the throttling, will lead to substantially less return traffic and although it is not fully known how Googles algorithms function, both of these factors alone would have an impact on the ranking of the site on the search engine.
With the site constantly falling in rank, the number of people finding the site will also drop, creating a loop which the website will find next to impossible to escape. While large companies who can afford to pay the ISPs will go unaffected, leaving them will all the top ranking positions on the search engine and the majority of the potential customers.
This is a disastrous situation to contemplate for any small business, bloggers, or anyone who simply does not have the "ransom" money for these ISPs. Further more if we consider that the sites which will be hit the hardest will be the ones featuring rich media, this could turn current SEO trends on their head.
With video being the number one form of content people are consuming and the figures constantly on the rise, this would effectively leave larger companies with all the most in demand content, as smaller operations would not be able to take the cost that would be added for hosting video content. This is not just bad for marketers though, as it will leave a lot of great quality content hidden from the general public and the sole factor in being found online will be, who has enough money to be found found.