The worldwide web is one of the greatest achievements of mankind. It has revolutionized communication and allowed for a stunning amount of innovation to happen. As a place without regulation, the web was allowed to grow tremendously. But today, we cope with the side-effects of that unregulated growth: misuse hurts people and even democracies. Now, there is talk of regulating the web — but some are also talking about bringing trust back to the web. One of the tools that can help bring back trust is timestamping content.
Table of contents
The web has a trust issue
Over the years, huge companies have been allowed to grow their reach into every nook and cranny of the web. Of course, many of these companies provide us with valuable tools and insights that we can use to improve our knowledge, work, or even happiness. But today, many of us are concerned about our security, privacy, and loss of self. We see fake news thrive on social media, and regular newspapers struggle to keep their heads above water. We see corruption, foreign interference, and massive disinformation campaigns. This all leads to an important question: Who can you trust?
Helping create trust: the trusted web
The Trusted Web Foundation is an initiative to give consumers, governments, and companies a way to verify that they can trust what they read. It’s an idea to help the web become transparent about where something came from and accountable for who published what. It should no longer be about machines making their choices for you, but you should be in control of what you do, what you read. You should be in control of how you use what you learn.
The talk for regulating the web is picking up and in Europe, we already have something called the GDPR. This gives European citizens ownership over their digital data. This is not a way to censor things, as that would hurt the web, but a way to enable people to decide for themselves what they want to do with their data.
Part of the solution: content timestamps
There are several initiatives that are working on parts of a future trusted web. One of the most interesting solutions is timestamping content in the blockchain. A timestamp lets readers know they can trust this piece of content as it has been verified and added to the blockchain. In the blockchain, the ownership and status of this content lives on in eternity — for all to see. It gives undeniable proof that this content exists, when it first appeared, who wrote it, and when it was last edited, if so.
Timestamping content provides a sense of trust for your readers. You show that you take your content seriously. Not only that, by adding it to the blockchain, you can prove without a doubt that you are the owner of this content. Timestamping is a relatively easy solution that helps improve trust and paves the way towards a trusted web.
WordProof: using the blockchain to prove ownership
There’s a Dutch company called WordProof trying to restore trust on the web. WordProof has built a solution that uses the blockchain to place and verify timestamps on content. It uses badges or links to show people that the content has been protected. If you want, you can even check the changes made in previously saved versions of the content. This allows publishers to be as transparent and trustworthy as possible. WordProof even lets you view the timestamp transaction on the blockchain.
Here’s how WordProof sees that route toward a trusted web:
And here’s how readers can verify the validity of the content thanks to timestamps. Now, you can simply click on the link and see the WordProof popup appear. Getting your content verified is easy as well, it has a WordPress plugin to get that done for you. Check it out! If you like what you see, try it with a special discount we have for readers of our SEO blog. More on that at the end of this article.
WordProof has won several awards, like the Dutch Blockchain Awards 2020, and the EIC Horizon Prize for the best blockchain solution for social good. This last one consisted of a prize of 1,000,000 euros awarded by the European Commission. Our CPO and CMO, Joost de Valk and Marieke van de Rakt have a private stake in this company.
Speaking of Joost, he recently sat down WordProof founder and CEO Sebastiaan van der Lans to talk about his view of the trusted web and how he sees the future of the web.
Content timestamps and SEO
Trust is a big factor for search engines as well. Over the years, we saw search engines put an ever greater emphasis on trustworthy websites and high-quality content. Especially for the so-called Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sites, trust and expertise are very important. These are the sites that can impact your life depending on what you do, so stuff like medical and financial information. In these industries, you need to know you can trust the content these sites offer. Plus, is that writer really an expert in the business? Of course, the same goes for news publishers. Trust is essential.
Timestamping can help enhance the sense of trust for readers and publishers alike. But it’s not just the timestamp itself that helps build trust for readers. WordProof is also working on a solution to output the blockchain timestamps as Schema.org structured data. Search engines can read this structured data and verify the validity of your content. In the end, this might lead search engines to trust your content more. This is another way of proving who you say you are, where you are from, and what you have written.
Towards a trusted web
The web is such a schizophrenic place — it has so many pros and cons. It can drive revolutionary developments, but it can also drive revolutions. And one of the biggest issues right now is that of trust. In the age of fake news and disinformation, it is getting harder and harder to find sources to trust — and to prove you can be trusted. Luckily, companies like WordProof are working to roll out technologies and policies that will hopefully lead to a trusted web. If you want to add timestamps to your pages, you can opt for a paid WordProof plan from €7.99/month.
Coming up next!
- Event March 16 - 17, 2022 Team Yoast is Attending, Speaking SMX Munich, 2022, click through to see if we'll be there, who will be there and more! See where you can find us next »
- SEO webinar 29 March 2022 Our SEO experts Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson will keep you up-to-date about everything that happens in the world of SEO and WordPress. All Yoast SEO webinars »