Marketers have more data available to us than ever before—and it’s never been harder to get to the bottom of it.
There was a time not so long ago when the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of a company focused almost exclusively on technical infrastructure and engineering.
As the role — and the world in which it exists — evolves, the answer to the CTO’s mantra “How can we use technology to achieve our organizational goals?” It has become increasingly dependent on creating exceptional customer experiences.
Today, more often than not, that customer experience begins with a search query.
We’ve spoken with industry executives in this series about how emerging technologies, evolving consumer behaviors, and ever-changing search algorithms are shaping the future of SEO.
For this interview, we sit down with Lemuel Park, co-founder and CTO of Microsoft Bright Edge And one of our expert contributors to Search Engine Journal, to talk about data science and SEO.
What does it take to succeed and lead a data-driven organization in the current environment?
The fusion of search engine optimization and data science
You recently told our audience that “2021 has been the year of the quick search.”
How about this year – what trends do you expect to be big for enterprise SEO in 2022?
Lemuel ParkFirst, I think this acceleration will continue.
Large deployments such as the Page Experience update and Core Web Vitals will continue to drive the need for technical SEO.
This year, I see the most significant trend and opportunity occurring around the fusion of data science into SEO.
Using our platform as an example, we know that in the last 18 months alone, we have generated 11 times the amount of site processing data alone.
Moreover, according to the International Data Center, global data will arrive 175 zettabytes By 2025.
With this exponential growth of data, it is not possible for humans to process it without being proficient in machine learning and data science.
I believe data science will be pivotal in further helping provide SEOs with more creative, faster, and actionable data-driven insights.
I think this represents the future of SEO.
If you look at SEO tasks like onsite research and analysis and user intent modeling, they all generate huge amounts of data.
At the same time, if you look at the number of SEO tasks that now overlap with being a data scientist, you’ll see more in common such as:
- Forecasting and predicting future trends along with business insights.
- Research to identify new market opportunities and discover patterns and shifts.
- Understand, extract and automate insights from complex datasets.
- Build visualizations and dashboards based on different data streams.
As the requirements for website functionality increase, the search engine optimization (SEO) needs become more advanced.
At the same time, search engines are becoming more sophisticated in how they interact with websites.
The result is the need to be able to capture, analyze and extract insights from large datasets.
This is true, especially in an enterprise environment, where SEO relies heavily on data science methods and tools to process search data in a way to drive insights.
This could be through statistical analysis, full API access to datasets, data processing algorithms designed for big data, or freedom to experiment with how research data is collected.
The SEO platforms of the future require data science infrastructure capabilities at the core of their technology stack.
As CTO, I believe it is my responsibility to make SEOs more effective at driving performance using data science without becoming actual data scientists.”
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What’s a typical day like for you CTO?
Lemuel Park: “Instead of a day, I consider it a week. And the principles that organize my week are based on what the work needs of me.
Right now, at this point, the company needs me to spend 1/3 on innovation and experimentation, 1/3 on customers and products, and 1/3 on management.
As a result, Tuesday and Saturday are the days for innovation and experimentation. I focus on understanding where we have to go in a year, two years, three years.
Wednesday and Thursday are product and customer days. I focus on product reviews across 12 categories, meet with a few customers each week, and really focus on executing the product roadmap for the next three to six months.
Mondays and Fridays are administration days. The goal is to implement daily and weekly rhythms. Are we on track for a zero-to-three-month roadmap? “
Map out your career in search engine optimization
What motivated you to get a job in SEO and what would you tell your younger self to get over any speed bumps you came across?
Lemuel Park: “That’s a good question. My dad was a computer scientist, and from an early age, I knew I wanted to do something similar and make a difference.
Yet while I decided how I might go about it, I put “engineering” rather than “reluctant” in my haste on my admissions papers to the University of California, Berkeley.
A decade later, I spent an internship at Siemens and seven years at Ernst & Young in the Attack and Penetration Department, ensuring that Fortune 500 companies had the right security policies and programs in place.
In 2007, I met my co-founder, Jim Yu, through a mutual friend.
We already had a common interest in engineering, and together we saw that companies were going through the biggest change in decades.
While traditional media was abandoning writers, search was exploding, and brands needed a way to produce and improve content.
Together, we set up BrightEdge.
Those first few years were tough but also one of the most memorable times of my life.
Jim had a newborn baby, and I lived with him and slept on the couch.
Then, by running from a kitchen table with 10 servers under it, we set out to create a BrightEdge data cube.
We built everything – our technology and our early customer base – from the ground up. We are glad that success follows!
As for what I would say to my younger self, I would say, “Always be humble” And “It’s okay to take risks.”
Humility means that we are always learning; Never say we have all the answers.
In SEO, you have to keep adapting to changes and that basically keeps us on our toes.
The same goes for building a company – always know that you have to adapt to changes and humility will give you the openness to hear new input and challenge yourself to improve.”
Explore the worlds of blockchain and decentralized technology
What do you think marketers need to know right now about crypto, web 3.0, and NFTs?
Lemuel Park: “The trends supporting Web 3.0 are decentralization, blockchain, and digital tokens.
Instead of walled gardens and power stationed by a few players, users are given the ability to own their own data.
This will increase personalization not just for one website but online for the consumer.
Marketers will need to personalize in a greater way.
Since we are talking about a decentralized web, it is no longer the one with the highest ad view who takes the consumer.
Instead, the power goes back to the user, and websites will need to win over the customer with better structured data about their business and offering the best content.
Whether it’s a chart or your local feeds, how you improve these datasets is really going to matter for Web 3.0. You have to reduce your brand to statements.
The future has many possibilities, but we are now seeing beta release of blockchain, crypto and NFTs.
It’s going to mature over the next five to 10 years, and we’re going to see big disruptions coming.
It’s like the early mobile web with WAP or online groceries with Webvan in the late 90’s. The ideas were visionary but a little early. These trends are here to stay, but they will need to mature.
The basic principles and ethos of SEO will continue.
Every company must improve its digital presence to win the customer.
The competition will become more fierce because the field will become more spacious.
But principles like EAT and authority will be amplified because the web will continue to improve. “
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Lemuel Park: “There are many aspects of SEO that have been underestimated in the past.
If you asked your CMO about SEO and its importance a few years ago, he might have looked back in confusion. But, ask them today, and they will know what SEO is and how important it is.
Specifically, SERP analysis and technical SEO (especially their importance to digital marketers) are underrated.
Now, especially as the pandemic has highlighted the importance and demand for search engine optimization, we are seeing a shift to the mainstream.”
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featured image & Image in the mail: Courtesy of BrightEdge