If we learned anything from Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress, it’s that politicians don’t know tech. President Donald Trump is no exception…

This fact was highlighted by a tweet posted by the President, and then followed by a public statement by his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who said the White House is now “taking a look” at whether, and how, the government should regulate search engines like Google.

Trump's tweet about Google

Who is influencing who?

While some in the government seek varying degrees of influence over tech companies, Google has spent $18 million in lobbying throughout 2017 in attempts to influence the government decisions. In fact, they’ve outspent all other technology firms last year by millions of dollars.

Considering the average person’s limited understanding of this topic, Trump’s response isn’t surprising. But it is concerning because we are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. That means it’s essential for business leaders, entrepreneurs, and officials at all levels of our government to have a better understanding due to its influence on all of us.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of improving how highly a particular web page ranks for specific topics. The higher a page ranks for specific search terms, the more traffic search engines will send to that page.

SEO is an essential part of business today. It’s also one that’s widely misunderstood by people who don’t spend their days elbow deep in Google’s algorithm. In other words, most people.

Evolution of an industry

As this industry has evolved over the last two decades, a lot has changed, and a lot of myths and misconceptions have emerged. At its core, SEO is about honestly and ethically providing visitors with the best answer to their query. Unfortunate, since everyone thinks their own website provides the best answer, many have resorted to deceptive tactics focused on tricking the search engines. This might include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and manipulative linking practices.

Google’s algorithm has quickly evolved into an incredibly complex creation, leveraging big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and personalization to formulate the search results as we see the today.

This increased complexity has fostered a gross misunderstanding of how search engines like Google operate, leading to the kind of statements recently put out by this administration.

How does this impact us?

This is problematic for because of the huge role search plays in all of our lives, and the proliferation of ways to utilize it. Today, it goes far beyond a text field and search button on Google’s home page. That’s just the first and most obviously channel. Today, we also have access to personal assistant devices, like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, search within various apps, and highly-targeted advertising based on big data—the list goes on.

Leaders in the SEO industry understand the importance of understanding this type of technology, and have invested significant effort education both the general public, as well as others in the industry.

They’ve worked to educate the general public. This is both to heal the not entirely undeserved negative image of the SEO industry, and to help the business leaders, entrepreneurs, and government officials better understand the intricacies of a technology that is deeply entwined with our daily life. And they’ve worked to educate others in the industry to help ensure that ethical business practices are the standard, as opposed to the early days, when the industry was more like the Wild West.

What’s the solution?

Technology is here to stay, and it will continue to grow at an exponential pace. That’s why it’s important for each of us to not only have a decent understanding of it ourselves and nurture younger generations to enter into the STEM fields. It equally important to elect representatives who understand and support technology.

Jeremy Knauff is a contributor at Grit Daily and several other publications, a Marine Corps veteran, and the founder of Spartan Media, a digital marketing agency that serves the construction industry.