Today, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality.
This is bad news for internet marketers of all stripes — especially SEOs.
Our whole industry is founded on the promise that any business can get equal access to the internet, the promise that the only thing separating different businesses on the internet is the amount of effort they put into creating a clean, optimized site.
The FCC ruling changes that, which is scary.
This might seem like a shaky proposition. After all, net neutrality was only enacted in 2015, so we’ll just revert back to that reality, right?
Unfortunately, the truth is a little more complicated.
Net neutrality was first enacted because the game had been changing. Video streaming services like Netflix were putting a strain on ISPs, and as a result ISPs were deliberately slowing down traffic on those sites. Netflix became practically unusable.
This led Netflix to pay Comcast, so that it could get higher speeds.
Before things went any further, net neutrality was enacted, ensuring that ISPs couldn’t choose to privilege certain sites over others. It essentially made the government treat the internet like a public utility.
Now that net neutrality has been repealed, ISPs are going to go back to privileging certain sites over others.
Users will pay a certain amount to get basic sites at good speeds (Facebook, major news sites, etc.) They’ll then have to pay extra to get on sites that don’t have as strong a relationship with ISPs.
The game is changing, but businesses still want the same thing: to get their website seen by people, who will turn into customers.
How do you as an SEO help businesses achieve their old goal in the new reality?
Here are four tips.
1) Check The Size of Your Pages
Luckily, most business web pages don’t put a strain on ISPs. Unlike streaming services or file sharing sites, most sites will likely only have text and images. This means most businesses will have small web pages, which in turn means the pages will be easy and quick to load.
That said, there is some variation. To determine how you’re doing, go to a site speed test and see how big your most popular pages are.
Run the test on a few competitors. If your pages are smaller or of equal size to theirs, I wouldn’t worry too much.
If any of them are larger, though, you could run into trouble. The larger the pages on your site, the more likely you’re going to have to pay an ISP to make sure the content loads quickly.
So determine what might be causing larger page size: images are a frequent culprit, though you may have to dig into your site’s code and see if there’s any trouble there.
Video can increase a page’s size significantly, which leads us to our next point.
2) Keep Video On Youtube
Video is one of the quickest ways to increase a web page’s size: that’s the whole reason Comcast started limiting Netflix’s bandwidth in the first place.
So, while video marketing is the hot new thing right now, there are reasons to evaluate this strategy carefully. If the FCC starts charging to faster internet speeds, you might have to pay extra for the video that’s on your site. Or suffer the excruciatingly slow site speeds.
At this point, it’s probably better to keep your video marketing efforts on Youtube: make hosting their problem, not yours.
3) Barnacle SEO
Barnacle SEO is the art of using someone else’s site to rank well in search engines. This is helpful because highewebsites like Yelp and Thumbtack have an easier time ranking for keywords.
If you optimize a page on this site and it links back to your own, this can be a great way to generate business.
It’ll grown even more important with the repeal of net neutrality, since bigger sites will have an easier time dealing with the large numbers of ISPs spread across the country.
4) Prepare to Pay ISPs for Faster Speeds
The repeal of net neutrality means you’re going to have to develop relationships with the ISPs who affect you.
Big businesses have a lot of advantages here: they can afford to pay ISPs a significant sum for fast site speed, just as they can afford to hire someone to keep track of their relationships with various ISPs.
Small, local businesses do have one great advantage, though: they have to deal with less ISPs. If you’re a local business, check which ISPs service the zip codes in your area.
You’ll still have several ISPs to deal with and it’s sad to see this happen to the internet.
But, for the sake of optimism, we can at least take comfort in the fact that big businesses have to deal with more ISPs than the little guys.
How Are You Going to Prepare Your Websites for Net Neutrality Repeal?
Net neutrality repeal is incredibly new, which means SEOs haven’t come up with many strategies to deal with it.
How are you going to prepare for net neutrality repeal? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!