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Sioux Falls, SEO, Net Neutrality, and the Value of Commerce

All three of the people who represent Sioux Falls in Congress are trying their hardest to undo the Net Neutrality ruling that the FCC passed at the end of February, and while this isn’t a political site or a political article, purely from the perspective of a Sioux Falls SEO provider, I’m a little confused. That’s because all three of these folks claim to be in support of small businesses around South Dakota, and the FCC ruling is the best support an Internet entrepreneur could possibly ask for. Undoing it would risk the livelihoods of thousands of people.

What Is the Difference Between a Duck?
When you deal with Internet traffic, you have two parts that many people confuse. ‘One leg is both the same,’ they say. But it’s not — the information that travels along the Internet isn’t the same as the backbone it travels along. Many people are acting like the Net Neutrality ruling has some effect on the way that companies are allowed to treat their information. It doesn’t.

Instead, what it does is prevent the companies that create, own, and ‘rent out’ the backbone from using that backbone to manipulate the information. Imagine, for example, that you owned a highway running from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis. You could, as a private company doing whatever you wanted with your private highway, decide to charge electric cars a toll and let everyone else go free.

Then, if your highway was quite popular, you could turn to, say, SUV manufacturers and say “Hey, we’re going to start charging SUVs a toll — or, you could pay us directly and we’ll create an ‘SUV Only’ lane with a higher speed limit.” The people who are impacted by your backroom deal are the drivers (in the Net Neutrality debate, that would be the surfers who are using the Net), but they don’t get the ability to choose whether their manufacturer pays or not. They’re essentially helpless pawns of the machinations of big companies meeting in smoke-filled rooms.

Why Internet Entrepreneurs Care
But there are cars out there that are family cars, and there are cars out there that are business cars. If you’re a startup entrepreneur in the grocery delivery business, and you want to use the aforementioned highway, you could find yourself unable to simply because you happened to purchase the kind of car that didn’t pay for the rights. And if you’re an Internet entrepreneur and you happen to get in on the ground floor of a new industry that the backbone provider decides they’d rather squelch with large ‘tolls,’ you’re equally screwed — through no fault of your own.

That kind of barrier to entry is exactly the kind of thing that crushes innovation, reduces competition, and generally completely fails the ‘free market’ test…and it’s exactly the kind of behavior that the Net Neutrality rules prevent. As an SEO guy helping Sioux Falls ‘Interpreneurs’ get a solid start by getting them ranked on the front pages of Google’s search results, I don’t want to see my clients suddenly go belly-up because Comcast, Verizon, or some other giant multinational corporation decided that they didn’t like that particular kind of data.

SEO is all about helping the little guy stand up on his own two feet — heck, in a meaningful way, the entire Internet is about giving people power they don’t usually have. The power to learn, the power to organize, the power to buy, and yes — the power to go into business are all available for a pretty reasonable monthly fee if you have a modest computer and some dedication. This Sioux Falls self-made Internet entrepreneur doesn’t want to see that go away — which is why Net Neutrality is important to me.

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