How do are two things that seem so entirely related to one another connected in ways that you might have never considered? That’s a question you could ask about blockchain and SEO. After all, how does earning top rankings on search engine results pages tie in with the creation of decentralized and secure transaction ledger?
The simplest answer is that there is no direct tie. In spite of this, SEO professionals should be paying close attention to blockchain. There are many indirect ways that this technology will begin impacting SEO in the near future.
Blockchain: A Brief Introduction
Blockchain is most known as the technology behind bitcoin. Essentially, it is a decentralized ledger systemwhere transactions and other records can be conducted, verified, and stored. It can and has been used in a variety of scenarios where the ability to trace and maintain records without risk of fraud is imperative.
Using Blockchain Can Reduce PPC Advertising Fraud
PPC remains the standard for most businesses when it comes to online advertising. PPC is by and large managed by a relatively small number of central authorities. As expected, these include Google and Facebook. Google manages on site PPCs via their Google Display Network, a part of Google Adwords. Just for reference, the ads you see on your search results screens are managed by the Google Search Network. Essentially the Google Display Network matches advertisers and websites. One of the most important parts of this process is verifying the websites in order to help stave off fraud. That’s key because the amount of money advertisers lose due to fraud is in the billions of dollars.
Now, consider the possibility of using blockchain in this process. Google and other major players would no longer need to act as central authorities. Instead, advertisers and websites could communicate with one another directly. This would include the use of smart contracts, verification and secure storage of those contracts, user verification, fraud reduction and elimination, and insurance that the business is only paying for true click-throughs completed by humans and not bots.
When this happens, consumers can also feel more confident in clicking through ads to landing pages. This will lead to more traffic, time on page, conversions, along with an increase on other metrics that are used to boost SEO.
Search Engines Can Use Blockchain Ledgers to Verify Product Integrity
Shoes, pharmaceutical products, designer tags, DVDs and Blu Rays, handbags, and other items have one thing in common. They are among the most counterfeited items sold in the United States. Unfortunately, the internet provides those who sell this fake merchandise a means to operate globally. Even when caught, it’s a relatively quick and easy process to simply set up another ecommerce store.
All of this also impacts legitimate sellers. Sometimes, the fraud isn’t perpetrated by them, but by suppliers who provide them with counterfeit goods. There’s also the manner of perception. Even these trustworthy merchants must contend with suspicions from buyers if they sell items that are known to be at high risk for counterfeiting.
Of course, it isn’t just products that are subject to fraud. This is also an issue with services as well. In fact, it can be significantly easier to become a seller of shoddy or illegitimate services as there is no need to provide a physical product, maintain inventory, or deal with logistics. For example, a translation firm working hard to earn trusted translations reviews may be frustrated to find themselves lagging behind fraudulent service providers in search engine results.
Blockchain can disrupt all of this. Because it uses an immutable ledger system, customers will be able to verify the legitimacy of a product back through the retailer or auction house to the manufacturer and supplier.
In addition to this, as part of their efforts to maintain ‘clean’ and reliable search records, search engines would also be able to access this blockchain data in order to identify which sellers are legitimate and which are not. This could then be incorporated into their algorithms.
The result of this will be that legitimate sellers will find it easy to earn prime SERP positions while fraudsters are (ideally) delisted. This means improved SEO for legitimate companies as well as increased trust among users. Both of which can positively impact SEO.
Blockchain Ledgers Force Honesty and Build Trust
Today, when a consumer wishes to purchase a product or service, they have a few options if they want to conduct any research before they spend their money. They can visit product review sites and user forums. They can visit company websites to read about products, or even watch video demonstrations. They can search social media for opinions. They can even use consumer agency websites to conduct research.
The problem is that so much of this information can easily be, falsified, out of date, or just inaccurate. There’s no real way to know if a reviewer is an actual customer, someone hired by a company to post reviews, or even a bot. Posts on user forums and complaints to agencies can be faked as well.
Recent revelations about the sheer volume of faked accounts and content on the internet has seriously impacted consumer trust. This lack of trust can impact website traffic, time on page, and other metrics.
To be clear, there are ways to detect fraudulent reviews. Unfortunately, not all consumers are aware of these methods. These are also time consuming. Neither businesses or consumers can be sure that these efforts are really effective in helping reduce the impact of fraudulent reviews in any meaningful way.
Applied correctly, blockchain can help. For example, imagine researching a product online and finding a glowing review. Now, imagine that you could also acces blockchain ledger records indicating that the review came from someone at a valid IP address, other reviews they had published, and an indication that the reviewers identity had been verified.
You would be much more likely to trust the validity of that review. As a result, you would be more likely to visit the website or landing pages featuring that product.
While customers and businesses may not be completely familiar with blockchain and its potential, that will likely change in the future. Blockchain offers a means of adding trust and transparency to the online interactions between consumers, search engines, advertisers, and websites. Just as it as served as a disruptive force in other industries, blockchain stands to have a deep and changing impact on SEO.
Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools and valuable university experiences — she has got you covered;)