If there are heroes, there are villains – yin and yang.
The battle between the good and the bad is not solitary in the real world but in the online cosmos as well. Now that more people are on the internet, the battle grows exponentially, casting victories and defeats among the users. The battle may not involve guns and shells, but the results are nothing short of depressing consequences.
From Simple to a World of Revolution
If we take a ride on a time machine to the early days of search engine optimization (SEO), it is not difficult to conclude that the marriage between online marketing and user experience is straight-forward. However, those days are far gone and done. Over the past several years, SEO professionals have come up with countless of tricks to forward their goals, whether it is for the benefit of the internet or for the bad. While SEO etiquette and the strict implementations of search engine policies are in place, there will always be ways for the flawed guys to forward their agenda.
Gathering and dissemination of important news stories are much easier these days, thanks to the wonders of the internet. It is so easy that literally anyone who knows how to use the computer can do it. The monopoly of news publication is no longer at the hands of mainstream media companies – it is a double-edged sword. Because of this, news stories are multi-dimensional, allowing consumers to see different sides of the information. However, this causes problems when the people doing it are backed by corrupt agenda.
Fake News, Real Agenda
According to a report by an American fact tank, Pew Research Center, in 2016 about 62% of Americans get their news from social media. This says a lot. It goes to show that when unverified, misleading, and straight fake news articles are posted on the internet, there is a good chance that large number of readers will tend to believe in it. The problem on misinformation is real – and it is here.
When the ethics and principles of journalism are thrown out of the window, disinformation lingers on, waiting to corrupt the minds of unsuspecting and untrained online media-consumers. There are hundreds of fake news sites these days, and they are growing by number simply because they are gaining more traffic. These sites that mask themselves as professionally done news sites, make its visitors consider them as legitimate source of news stories but in reality they are an avenue of disinformation. There is a variety of motives why these sites are up and running, and it can be for agenda-setting, politicking, smearing certain individuals or system of beliefs, or simply entertainment. The reason why these sites do not cease? Using the basics of online marketing, the answer is plain: it generates money. The more traffic a website gets, the more chances it get to generate money.
Fake news sites have no regard for the main principles of journalism which include accuracy and reliability. The abundance of these fake news sources has already taken the attention of the thinking public. Allegedly, some of these sites have played a role in the recent U.S. Presidential Elections by promoting unverifiable information about the candidates, which may have influenced the decision-making process of the voters. The problem is very much real that even the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, already voiced out his concern as reported by The Guardian, saying that “The means of communication have their own temptations, they can be tempted by slander, and therefore used to slander people, to smear them, this above all in the world of politics. They can be used as means of defamation. No one has a right to do this. It is a sin and it is hurtful.”
In relation to the proliferation of fake news stories, it is safe to say that SEO villains have taken a new form. SEO practitioners who partake in promotion of disinformation have dirt on their hands, corrupting the main core of legitimate journalism. When the public is misinformed, knowledge and wisdom of the society becomes corrupted. When the truth is hidden behind the scandalous, extravagant, and unverified news stories, consequences arise, and the public is the one in danger.
The Work of Heroes: Truth amidst the Rise of the Fakes
Winston Churchill once said that “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,” true, but this does not stop legitimate and uncorrupted media professionals from promoting unbiased news stories. Championing the principles and ethics of journalism, these professionals are there to make sure that the public receive news stories that underwent series of fact-checking and do not have shade of bias in them. It is hard work since news publication in time of the internet is much faster and more social, but these “heroes” are up to the challenge. They are embraced by the blanket of good reporting and are hungry for true information and dissemination of it.
Responsible news websites are not only composed of legitimate journalists but also “SEO Hero” or practitioners who partake in a revolution against fakery and disinformation. Working side by side with their editorial board, these SEO professionals ensure that their companies get a good fight on the rankings against fake news websites. It is no easy job, but the stakes are so high that it becomes an obsession for these SEO heroes. When responsible news gathering, fact-checking, and dissemination of articles by way of SEO and other online marketing schemes are combined, a relevant and sensible news story is delivered.
Rewarding the Hard Work
SEO practitioners are often overlooked because they do their job outside of the limelight, but this does not mean their efforts are not accounted for. From time to time, certain marketing companies reward the valiant efforts of these “heroes”. Wix, a cloud-based web development company has launched the “Wix SEO Hero Contest” that aims both to challenge SEO practitioners and to highlight the works and efforts of SEO heroes. This contest will not only put the comprehensive skillset of SEO professionals on a pedestal, but will also promote the core ethics of online marketing in today’s world. Contests like this will certainly inspire and confirm the works of responsible online marketers in a world that is slowly being intoxicated by fake news stories.
There will be no SEO villains if they don’t have massive following. Irresponsible journalism will die when consumers start to disengage themselves from it. In order to kill a snake, you have to get right to its head, and in this type of scenario, the head is online traffic. When these fake websites start to lose traffic, their motivation to operate meets its end. In perspective: the duty of taking everything on the web with a grain of salt lies on the shoulders of readers. Yes, there are champions of true journalism and SEO we can rely on, but they cannot win the battle by themselves, readers and consumers must also take part in the revolution against fake news.
There will always be villains in a world of heroes, it is yin and yang; however, an online cosmos that is filled with fact-checking consumers, the works of these villains become a minority – a speck in the sea of verified information.