Article | 24 Nov 2023

Web3: What Will Marketing & SEO Look Like In a Decentralised Future?

Posted in Marketing, Digital, Learning,

Any significant change to the digital landscape brings its share of questions. Think back to the turn of the new millennium, and Y2K was feared to be a potentially near-apocalyptic internet event. Or, more recently, with greater regulations around the use of cookies, many brand leaders are concerned it could be the beginning of the end for data-led marketing.

Over the past several years, Web3 has been having its moment of what ifs and what nows. The term was coined by computer scientist Gavin Wood nearly a decade ago, but has been steadily gaining momentum. Now, more tech leaders - and users - believe the evolution could be just around the corner.

Here's what you need to understand about Web3, and how it might impact your marketing and SEO.

What is Web3?

Web3 is the term used to describe the next iteration of the internet. In theory, Web3 will present greater user control powered by blockchain technology. One way to think of this new version of the internet is as being governed by a community, rather than corporations, through a means of open-source and decentralised applications.

Web3 is still very much a concept with complexities. Making it particularly challenging to predict how it will impact businesses, and how leaders must navigate this new structure.

That being said, understanding Web3 means understanding Web2. Arguably the most formative era of the internet, Web2 refers to the mid-2000s when giants like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon drastically altered online plains. The relationship between brands and consumers became more interactive, ecommerce skyrocketed, and social media made it possible for everyone to have their own corner of digital land.

But it wasn't a de-commercialised environment. Companies bridged the gap by monetising activity, and harvested data to sell to other corporations. In Web3, decentralisation will theoretically present users with greater control over their data, over content, and over transactions, potentially transitioning power from corporations to individuals. And yes, this will change how brands market, and achieve great SEO.

Greater User Control = Tougher Marketing and SEO?

Greater user control is already emerging in digital marketing and SEO.

Influencer PR, user-generated content, and community engagement have been steadily increasing in practice and impact over the past years. And as brands took a more connective marketing approach to speak with their audience - directly and indirectly - consumers themselves became a marketing channel.

Organic search rankings and user interaction is a fundamental principle of growing your brand's digital presence. And for all the importance of keywords for ranking, the intent behind the search became more imperative, as it can determine how the algorithm interacts with the user, and how the user interacts with brands.

So will the internet's new dawn make marketing and SEO efforts even tougher? If user control is already emerging, it's not a stretch to say it could.

In many ways, the backlash over big tech's data handling pushed the rise of Web3, and as consumers become more selective with the brands they interact with, obtaining data control is a big attraction for users. The idea that the internet will be free of a single point of control or failure through blockchain will almost certainly change algorithms. How far, it’s hard to say with any certainty.

Looking at social media is a good place to start. With decentralisation, marketing will need greater emphasis on community-first strategies, and organic reach tactics, superseding traditional paid ad activity.

Simultaneously, the ecommerce landscape may rely more on cryptocurrencies and NFTs. This could establish a baseline where 'trust' in a transaction is determined by all parties meeting certain criteria, and the verification of data. Rather than a calculated assumption that the information exchanged is true and accurate, as most transactions are based on now.

Marketing and SEO are demanding and competitive corners of business function, and decentralisation could increase that. With a more community-minded, community-run system, consumers may transition away from big corps' content over time in favour of interpersonal connection. With less need for regulated content, it could also make sharing misinformation simpler, and brand reputation management will be more crucial.

This could also change how search engines perceive and qualify "reliable" and "accurate" information, which are intrinsic to building good SEO right now. Plus, with the potential of an ever-growing blockchain comes an ever-evolving state of the internet, making it more difficult for brands to maintain online performance.

Ahead of the curve

At time of writing, a lot of what we know about Web3 is conceptual. But it's evolving quickly and likely to be a recurring theme in 2024 and beyond. And it will be particularly pertinent for brands' marketing and online presence.

So how do you get ahead of the curve on the impact of a new era when it's [currently] mostly coulds and maybes? Staying up to date with all the latest thoughts surrounding Web3 is one thing, and there's a wealth of reliable information out there.

It's just as valuable to look closely at how Web2 changed how brands cultivate market impact. The likes of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter (now X), and Amazon drastically altered the world of marketing and SEO with powerful algorithms, heightened visuals, interpersonal connectivity, and of course, data harvesting.

As much could be theorised about Web3, and the potential of AI, cryptocurrency, NFTs, and blockchain. Even now, we're beginning to see the impact of these new technologies, and how different a decentralised internet with greater user control would be.

Crystal ball aside, the next best move you can take for your business is to find the best talent who live and breathe functions like marketing and SEO.

Hiring a Fractional CMO or SEO Strategist will give you practical means to adapt to potential changes - but it will also mean access to advice from people who already follow trends, patterns and changes religiously. And who specialise in bringing brands and organisations like yours to the forefront with those evolutions.

If you'd like to speak with a member of our team about finding the right talent to support you through vast digital changes, get in touch today.