Taylor Richardson Interview Part 2 - The Future of Search

In June we had the pleasure of interviewing Taylor Richardson, marketing manager at TurboSquid in New Orleans, Louisiana.

During the first part of that interview we discussed the value of search marketing to businesses such as eCommerce and Financial Services.

In the second part of our interview we discussed voice search and search across devices. If you have any questions about Taylor’s opinions drop them in as comments and we’ll pass them along!


Mike: In the first part of this interview, we talked about your SEO expertise over the years.

It’s probably time to begin looking at the future. Talk to me about two things that I think are really interesting right now in search marketing. The first one is voice search. How do I optimize something for voice search?

Taylor R: I think the challenges that we’re trying to solve for right now are very much “SEO present”. How cool it would be to be in the position where we’ve got the present figured out and we can start anticipating the future?

From a business owner’s perspective, or the consumer’s perspective, look around. You can see the rise of the digital assistants. Cortana, Alexa, and Siri are getting smarter and smarter all the time. We know that AI is really behind all of that.

An effort to create an algorithm or respond to problems, analyze, and them and output real human natural language answers in an ideal scenario.

Google is [delivering] what we could expect of a functional machine learning organism. Even Google has flaws though. That’s why they have to keep doing algorithm updates all the time because there’s no way that you could possibly build something that intelligent and not have to refine it and measure it along the way.

I think when it comes to the next level of optimization we won’t just be optimizing for a search algorithm. We’ll have to be optimizing for natural language search. It’s coming back in full circle. Originally Google came about to solve real human questions. Now we’ve gotten so far into the weeds that I think a lot of SEOs and digital marketers think that they’re optimizing for an algorithm of code and so they stop thinking like humans.

Now with voice search being on the rise and with AI becoming more intelligent I feel like maybe we’re coming back around to optimizing for humans again. Some of that is going to be optimizing for things like Quick Answers. Simple answers to questions, “What is the weather going to be like tonight?” “What concerts are coming up this weekend?” “What movies are playing this weekend?” Those are very simple black and white answers.

What I find fascinating is optimizing for very debatable answers. The various subjective types of answers. How are the digital assistants or any AI machine going to handle those? I think in an ideal scenario, let’s say it’s a controversial question that has to do with politics or world issues, and right now there’s a heavy bias on the words that somebody would type in and how Google is going to give them the results.

We tend to see that people get the results that they initially set out to look for because that’s how the algorithm is built. Maybe in an AI situation it could be smarter to understand, “Okay, this person just asked the question from this perspective. Let’s find a way to show them all the perspectives.” That could be an amazing way of combating this fake news issue that we have going on these days and just the general division of society.

Mike: I love that. You went to politics immediately and I was already picturing a Libertarian Siri!

Another question about the future that I’d love to ask you about is connected devices. Mobile devices, smart home devices, do you see a difference in voice search and those devices in terms of how your webpages or content would be ranked? Or do you think in the future those might be merged in a way?

Taylor R: Right. I think it depends on the technology for each of those devices. I know if it were me doing the designing I think I would immediately start to understand the types of searches someone is going to do in their car and the type of answers that they’re going to need are probably going to be very different from the type of questions they might ask their smart refrigerator, for instance.

Or the questions that they would need that’s hooked up to their phone while they’re out of town and away from home, for instance.

That’s a really tough one because we’re just so in the middle of the beginning. Everybody is developing all these devices, throwing them out to the public, seeing what sticks, and then somebody else is going to fix all those problems, come along, and release something better.

I think eventually there’s going to have to be some sort of some player that comes in and streamlines it all so that it’s all pulling from not a centralized location, maybe, but at least that they’re all speaking the same language. I know with mobile devices when those started getting developed and they had all these different browsers, specifications, etc. That’s where the response of code and language came from as a result of streamlining all of that together.

I imagine that there will have to be some either new language or new platform or new algorithm, new way of centralizing all of that information, and streamlining it so that SEOs or digital marketers aren’t having to optimize for the web, home devices, etc.

Mike: I had never thought about that but this subject reminds me about aggregators. It’s like what Hootsuite and Buffer did a while ago. “Look at all these social media networks and if I’m a brand I have a Pinterest account and a Twitter account and a Facebook page, a Google Plus page.” I could see a unifying force being a huge marketing opportunity there.

Taylor: Definitely. I would want to be able to ask my car or my refrigerator, technically the same question, and get roughly the same answer. They’re pulling from a bunch of different places and optimizing from a bunch of different answers I think whoever is the first to really nail that I think is going to set the tone for the next 10 or 20 years.

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