Marketers have more data available to us than ever before – and it’s never been more challenging to get to the heart of it.
There was a short time ago when the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of a company would focus almost exclusively on technology infrastructure and engineering.
As the role – and the world in which it exists – has evolved, so has the response to the CTO’s mantra of “How can we use technology to meet our organizational goals?” it has become increasingly dependent on the creation of exceptional customer experiences.
And now, more often than not, that customer experience begins with a search query.
We talked to industry leaders in this series about how emerging technologies, evolving consumer behaviors, and ever-changing search algorithms shape the future of SEO.
In this interview, we’re with Lemuel Park, co-founder and CTO of BrightEdge and one of our expert contributors to the Search Engine Journal, talking about data science and SEO.
What does it take to succeed and lead a data-driven organization in today’s environment?
The Fusion Of SEO & Data Science
You told our audience recently that “2021 has been a year of accelerated research.”
Like this year – what trends do you expect to be great for the SEO business in 2022?
Lemuel Park: “First of all, I think this acceleration will continue.
Major roll-outs, such as the Page Experience Update and Core Web Vitals, continue to fuel the need for technical SEO.
This year, I see the most significant trend and opportunity happening around the fusion of data science in SEO.
Using our platform as an example, we know that in the last 18 months alone, we have generated 11x more in the volume of site transformation data only.
In addition, according to IDC, data worldwide will reach 175 zettabytes by 2025.
With this exponential growth of data, man cannot process without being proficient in machine learning and data science.
I think data science will be pivotal in helping to provide SEOs with insights driven by more innovative, faster, and actionable data.
This, I believe, represents the future of SEO.
If you look at SEO jobs like search, on-site analysis, and user intent modeling, they all generate massive amounts of data.
At the same time, if you look at how many SEO activities now overlap with that as a data scientist, you see even more common ones like:
As the demands of website functionality increase, the needs of SEO have become more advanced.
At the same time, search engines are becoming more sophisticated as they interact with websites.
The result is a need to be able to obtain, analyze and extract insights from large datasets.
This is especially true in a business environment, where SEOs rely heavily on data science methods and tools to process search data in order to drive insights.
This can be through statistical analysis, complete API access to datasets, big data transformation algorithms designed for Big Data, or the freedom to experiment with how to collect research data.
Tomorrow’s SEO platforms need the capabilities of the data science infrastructure at the heart of their tech stack.
As a CTO, I believe it is my responsibility to make SEO even more effective in driving performance using data science without becoming a true data scientist. ”
What’s A Typical Day As CTO Like For You?
Lemuel Park: “Instead of just one day, consider the week. And, the principles that organize my week are based on what the business needs from me.
Now, at our stage, the company needs to spend 1/3 on innovation and experimentation, 1/3 on customers and products, and 1/3 on management.
As a result, Tuesdays and Saturdays are days of innovation and experimentation. I focus on understanding where we are going for the next year, two years and three years.
It is a mixture of industry innovation, market research and the importance of hands on current technology. My current jam is Google Colab and GPT-3.
Wednesdays and Thursdays are product and customer days. I focus on product reviews in 12 categories, meet with a handful of customers each week, and really focus on running the product roadmap for the next three to six months.
Mondays and Fridays are management days. The goal is to perform at a daily and weekly pace. Are we on our way from zero to three months?
Mapping Out Your Career In SEO
What led you to a career in SEO and what did you tell your younger self to unleash any speedbump you experienced?
Lemuel Park: “That’s a good question. My father was a computer scientist and from an early age, he knew he wanted to do something similar and something that made a difference.
However, while deciding how I could do that, I put “engineering” instead of “undecided” into my rush on my admissions documentation at the University of California, Berkeley.
A decade later, he spent an internship at Siemens and seven years at Ernst & amp; Young in his Attack and Penetration division, ensuring that Fortune 500 companies had the right security policies and software in place.
In 2007, I met my co-founder, Jim Yu, through a mutual friend.
We already have a common interest in engineering, and together we’ve seen companies go through the biggest change in decades.
While traditional media left writers, the search was explosive, and brands needed a way to produce and optimize content.
Those early years were challenging, but also one of the most memorable times in my life.
Lemuel Park with Co-founder & amp; CEO Jim Yu
Jim had a new baby, and I lived with him and slept on the couch.
Then, operating from a kitchen table with 10 servers underneath, we started building the BrightEdge Data Cube.
We built everything – our technology and our initial customer base – from the ground up. We are happy that success has followed!
As for what I would say to my youngest, I would say, “Always be humble” and “It’s okay to take risks.”
Humility means that we will always learn; never say we have all the answers.
In SEO, we have to keep adapting to changes and keeping them fundamentally on our feet.
The same goes for building a company – always knowing that you will have to adapt to change and humility will give you the openness to feel new input and challenge yourself to improve. ”
Exploring The Worlds Of Blockchain And Decentralized Technology
What do you think marketers need to know now about crypto, Web 3.0 and NFT?
Lemuel Park: “The trends that support Web 3.0 are decentralization, blockchain and digital tokens.
Instead of walled gardens and centralized power by a few players, users are given the ability to own their own data.
This will lead to increased customization not only for a single site but on the Internet for the consumer.
Marketers need to connect in customization in a bigger way.
Since we are talking about a decentralized website, it is no longer the highest ad offer that takes the consumer.
Instead, the power is returned to the user, and the websites need to gain the customer with better structured data about their business and offer the best content.
Whether it’s Schema or your local feeds, how you optimize these data sets will be really important for Web 3.0. You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people.
The future has many possibilities, but we are seeing a beta version of blockchain, crypto and NFT now.
It will mature in the next five to 10 years, and we will see major disruptions coming.
It’s like the beginning of the mobile web with WAP or online powering with Webvan in the late 90’s. The ideas were visionary but a little earlier. These trends are here to stay, but they need to mature.
The core principles and spirit of SEO continue.
Every business needs to optimize its digital presence to win the customer.
The competition will be fiercer as the playing field becomes flatter.
But principles like E-A-T and authority will be magnified as the web continues to optimize. ”
Lemuel Park: “There are so many aspects of SEO that have been underestimated in the past.
If you asked a CMO about SEO and its importance a few years ago, you might have looked a little puzzled. But, ask yourself today, and you know what SEO is and how important it is.
In particular, SERP analysis and technical SEO (especially its importance for digital marketers) were underestimated.
Now, especially as the pandemic has highlighted the importance and demand of SEO, we are seeing a shift to the mainstream. ”
Featured Image & amp; In-post Image: Courtesy of BrightEdge