We stand for net neutrality.
Let us repeat that.
WE STAND FOR NET NEUTRALITY.
Access to information on the internet in its entirety (even the Dark Web) is a basic American right under the First Amendment. No entity should be allowed to take that away. The Founding Fathers, particularly those who wrote and contributed to the Bill of Rights, were adamant about having an informed population. In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Of course, you also have the right to not be informed. But there’s the caveat: You have the RIGHT to be informed as much as you want. It’s not a decision that should be left up to three or four massive corporations.
Yet, if Congress and lobbyists get their way, you could potentially be constrained to a few websites, at best, for free. And that has massive implications in our society that proclaims to be the shining beacon of freedom for the world.
Let’s put it this way: When was the last time you picked up a book to learn true knowledge about our world? Sure, books like It Starts With Why and Outliers are great for business acumen and wisdom, they aren’t true knowledge sources. In the Information Age, we rely on the Internet to tell us what the government is up to nowadays, as well as more innocuous knowledge like how many pounds are in a kilogram and how to make your website run faster.
If the current administration has its way, that information will be throttled at best (or possibly killed) for those who don’t have the money to pay their way to learn it.
And that is a direct, serious and deadly threat to democracy as we know it.
While there are countless reasons why maintaining net neutrality is the morally superior decision, and endless reasons why its elimination could destroy our society as we know it, this blog will focus on one aspect we know better than any other: Search engine optimization.
Your business — and your very livelihood — could be torn down if net neutrality is eliminated, as Ajit Pai (Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission) and the current Congress seem inclined to do.
The Worst Case Scenario
There was a recent Whiteboard Friday post from Moz that broke down the effects of the elimination of net neutrality:
In this video, Moz founder Rand Fishkin laid out what would likely be the worst-case scenario in the death of net neutrality. In essence, you may get a few major websites, such as Facebook, Google and Wikipedia, in your basic package, either free or for a small sum each month. These would be first-tier websites. It may be possible for businesses to pay their way into being considered a first-tier site.
For a greater price, you may get second-tier websites, such as Netflix, Ebay and Tumblr. Under the premium package, you would get full access to the the Internet. Yet, even under these plans, some sites (such as pornography or Dark Web) may be altogether inaccessible from certain internet service providers (ISPs) unless you pay an exorbitant fee, and even then, some access may be denied regardless.
For the Dark Web, that means downloading browsers like Onion may be prohibited.
But for you, the small business owner, that may mean accessing your site isn’t possible except for ISP customers who pay for top-level service. It may also mean your big competitors who have the money for it can pay their way into the basic package, leaving you behind in the third tier while trying to grow your business.
In essence, it would be the death of SEO and digital marketing as we know it. After all, if your website does well enough that it ends up on the first page of Google, but is inaccessible to the majority of Internet users, does it really matter?
The Not-As-Bad Scenario
In this writer’s opinion, the death of net neutrality creates a different landscape for the internet.
There would still be tiers of websites, but they would be assigned different speeds. So, your big websites like Facebook and Etsy would still open quickly, but smaller sites like your own personal site for your shop would be throttled. For instance, a first tier website would open as quickly as your internet speed allows; think Facebook at its current speed on your computer.
A second-tier website would load a bit slower, while a third-tier website may take up to five to 10 seconds to open. While this may seem insignificant, under current Google algorithms, it can mean smaller sites simply won’t show up on search results.
Page speed is a significant factor in SEO under current Google algorithms. If your site takes too long to load, it will be penalized via search result rankings. With net neutrality intact, this is fair. After all, why would a user wait five seconds to load a site when a competitor site loads in one?
But with no net neutrality in place, sites that can’t afford to pay to play with ISPs can suffer greatly. One solution is for search engines like Google to take these factors into consideration and alter their algorithms, depending on the ISP being used to conduct the query. But with enough money being sent their way by first-tier sites, this may not be a realistic expectation for search engines.
So What IS the Solution?
The obvious solution is for net neutrality laws to remain intact. Otherwise, there is no knowing what could possibly happen if they are repealed. It is an issue we take seriously. We are constantly monitoring updates to net neutrality, and are ready to react with new tactics if they are repealed.
At EverSpark Interactive, we do our best to not take political stances. After all, this is America and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But contrary to how net neutrality is portrayed in the media, this is not a political issue.
It’s a matter of right and wrong.
When access to information is hindered, the very foundation of democracy is destroyed. Regardless of the consequences, we will fight to preserve the pillars of democracy until our very lives are taken from us. Because we are Americans, and we will not be bullied into giving up our freedoms so a few corporations can make more money.
Though net neutrality has been threatened in the past, the current administration presents the greatest threat to neutrality we have ever seen. You can fight back. Organizations like Battle for the Net are encouraging internet users to sign petitions and call their Congresspeople to fight for net neutrality.
The main argument made against net neutrality is that it hinders the free market. After all, shouldn’t those who are most successful be able to pay enough to be the top contenders in the market? But net neutrality ensures even small startups can have a leg to stand on and fight against the biggest players in their market.
Without net neutrality, the internet becomes an oligarchy. And that benefits no one besides those who are able to pay for a seat at the table.
Whether net neutrality is repealed or not, trust EverSpark Interactive to be by your side, no matter what. We constantly stay up to date with the newest algorithms and SEO strategies to push for a top search engine result spot for your website. Contact us today to make sure you are in the loop on the latest updates and to learn how we can help your business thrive.