How Online Marketers Can Handle the End of Net Neutrality
On June 11, net neutrality as we once knew it ended. Those who fought tirelessly against the repeal of the legislation hung their heads in defeat as the Internet changed on that day. If you haven’t been paying attention to what has been going on since the New Year, it’s time to start.
Especially for online marketing, the end of net neutrality is a serious matter. Although we haven’t noticed a difference yet — and it will probably take a bit of time if the Internet starts to shift — it's best to be prepared.
What Was Net Neutrality?
The net neutrality regulations basically leveled the Internet playing field for all users, and prevented big broadband companies (like AT&T and Verizon) from charging users to access online services. It also kept companies from slowing down customers' services if they cannot afford to pay, or choose not to pay, to access everything online. Online services like Google, Facebook, Instagram and many others that are currently free could end up costing money if the company chose to start charging. Service providers could favor customers with “fast lanes” (giving content priority over others), who are willing to pay more for the Internet without net neutrality.
It comes down to making sure all online traffic is treated equally.
At the end of 2017, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) first announced the proposal of repealing net neutrality, a study by University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy suggested 83% of consumers supported net neutrality and were against the repeal. Even online giants like Amazon and Netflix were opposed to the move.
What Does This Mean for Online Marketers?
All of the SEO tricks online marketers have up their sleeves could become useless. Instead of working with search engine rules from companies like Google, all the attention will go to those who can pay the most. How many people you can get to view your content now comes down to money.
There’s a good chance you could see content standards start to drop as the quality of the content is no longer what will get you in the spotlight. Even the most well-written article that has all the correct keywords could lose out to someone who paid to be at the top.
When it comes to SEO tactics, if users can only access what they can afford to pay, then what online markets know will eventually be useless. Start-up online companies and websites could have a difficult time gaining the attention they need to succeed. If customers cannot afford to buy the packages that would give the higher internet speeds and access to a more variety of content, there will be no online traffic to attract.
How Will Online Marketers Manage the Repeal?
Online marketers will have to get more creative with the type of content they create and where they distribute it. Allowing for guest content on your website, or guest posting on other websites, will help increase site traffic. The more you can get your content across different media and publications, the more traffic you can gain. This may also mean you are likely going to need to spend extra money to keep your audience levels high.
Although the repeal of net neutrality seems like the end of the Internet and online marketing as you've known it for years, it doesn’t have to be. However, it will require you to go back to the drawing board and come up with new, creative strategies to succeed.
Jordan Choo is a content creator and digital marketing specialist working with Hotspot Shield, one of the highest ranked VPN services worldwide. He is a prolific producer of blogs and other digital content, which have supported Hotspot Shield’s commitment to maintaining a free and secure Internet for all users.