British Telecom has been on the receiving end of a broadside from supporters of net neutrality after the company unveiled plans that could have a huge impact on the search engine optimisation industry.
The company lifted the lid on ‘Content Connect’, which critics say is the first step to a so-called ‘two-tier’ web experience. Content Connect means that providers of content, such as BBC.co.uk and YouTube, can pay extra to ensure that the service they offer is speedier and has greater reliability. However, this means that anyone not willing to pay extra will be left behind in the slow lane.
BT has been quick to defend itself, and has said that Content Connect is not a blow to a neutral Internet. It has also claimed that it is only fair to strike deals with content providers and, contrary to users putting up with slow connection speeds, it will prevent resource-hogging sites from slowing down the Internet for everybody.
BT’s plans will no doubt have an impact within the SEO industry. Google has intimated that the loading time of a website is a ranking factor, albeit a minor one. This would automatically put websites that aren’t in BT’s fast lane at a disadvantage. Companies taking on SEO jobs for such sites would have to factor this in to any strategy, as it is not yet known if any of the leading search engines, such as Google and Bing, will adjust their algorithms to level the playing field in respect to Content Connect.