Very recently, the future of net neutrality became a hot topic. The assumption in many circles is that the governing powers in Washington are doing away with the rules that prevent Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to one internet entity or another.
The real-world effect of removing our beloved net neutrality means becoming a system in which many businesses will pay to have their content delivered more quickly and consistently than others. And by that, I mean big business. And by pay, I mean you and I.
Basically, the web would move closer to a cable television model the on the existing free-for-all structure we have today.
Rather than debating the merits or drawbacks of deregulation, today we want to address an immediate implication: would the death of net neutrality kill your blog, or by extension, the livelihood you make from your owned online properties?
This isn’t an abstract concern. If only the biggest companies can pay for faster Internet speeds and delivery, traffic to small business websites could drop off, regardless of how good their content might be.
It’s no wonder a lot of business owners are trying to figure out whether this eventuality should be a major concern. In order to help you figure out how big of a threat the loss of net neutrality might be to your blog and content, here are a few things you should know…
Online Traffic is Already Consolidating
Contrary to what you may be reading and hearing, the worry about a loss of net neutrality might actually be overblown. That’s because online traffic is already consolidating into a few major channels.
Rather than visit dozens of individual websites, lots of searchers and shoppers already funnel their interest through social portals like Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, or TripAdvisor.
Thus, many will only visit the company’s website after they’ve already made a decision to convert. As the Internet gets more and more crowded, I expect this trend to continue, simply because it’s convenient for buyers.
It's the realization of a push towards Apps, where companies gain control of the full user experience. Given the size and clout of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and others, it's going to be interesting to see if new players can break through their walled app-gardens.
Smart Marketers Will Follow Their Buyers
If we do see a situation where web traffic starts to coalesce around a few dozen major websites, then smart marketers will adjust accordingly. Instead of adding to their on-site blogs, for instance, they’ll start creating more content for their Facebook page, which is already happening.
Or, they’ll find ways to translate social interest into email subscriptions or mobile e-commerce. The point is that your website doesn’t have to be the focal point of your marketing plan. If your customers are taking their attention elsewhere, you may simply want to move in the same direction.
Marketing is About Branding and Return on Investment
One thing we have seen again and again on the web is that buyers pay attention to credibility and unique points of view. That’s true whether they’re searching through videos on YouTube, Searchng with Google, or checking out profiles on LinkedIn.
If you can create high-quality content and get in front of the men and women who need to see it, there will always be room for success. In some ways, whether that happens on your blog or a platform that’s owned by someone else is kind of irrelevant. It’s all about the strength of your messages.
Make no mistake: your blog is crucial to your search engine optimization and content marketing efforts. However, it’s worth keeping a close eye on both the government and the flow of traffic through the web as a whole. It's not really about visitors. It's about buyers.
Sooner or later, we may find ourselves in a system where it makes even more sense to brand yourself through existing channels (like Facebook and YouTube, for example) than it does to promote your own website, but I hope not.
If your current web marketing team isn’t doing a good enough job of keeping you informed of the risks and possibilities on the horizon, now is the perfect time to reach out and schedule a consult.