In this episode of The SaaS SEO Show, we’ve interviewed Jason Barnard, Brand SERP Guy at Kalicube, and discussed brand SERP optimization.
[00:00:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s important because the people who are searching your brand name, the people with whom you’ve already had some kind of contact, they know who you are. So, you’ve done these marketing efforts on social media, newsletter, speaking at conferences, whatever it might be. And the reason they’re searching your brand name is because they want to navigate to your site or find out more about you.
[00:00:30] Georgios Chasiotis: Before we jump into today’s episode, I’d like to give a quick shoutout to the sponsor for this episode, Ahrefs. Ahrefs provides you with an all-in-one SEO tool set that does everything from rank tracking to backlink analysis, keyword research, and technical audits. The best part, you can now use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools for free to identify and prioritise optimisation opportunities for your website, see all the keywords that your webpages are ranking for, take a close look at the websites that link back to and refer you in their content, and analyse other websites to find out what drives their rankings. Visit ahrefs.com/awt and sign up for free. And now, back to today’s episode.
A Brief Life Journey of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:01:17] Georgios Chasiotis: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the SaaS SEO Show. I’m your host, Georgios Chasiotis. And today I’m very happy to be joined by Jason Barnard. Jason, aka The Brand SERP Guy, is an author and digital marketing consultant. He specialises in Brand SERP optimisation and Knowledge Panel management. Jason has over two decades of experience in digital marketing starting in the year Google was incorporated with a website for kids based on the characters Boowa and Kwala that he built up to become one of the 10,000 most visited sites in the world. Before that, he was a professional musician with a punk folk group, The Barking Dogs. That’s interesting. And before that, he studied Economics and Statistical Analysis at Liverpool John Moores University. Jason, welcome to the show.
[00:02:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you very much, George. Absolutely delighted to be here.
[00:02:08] Georgios Chasiotis: So, I guess that you count over two decades of experience when it comes to organic search at this point. And even though we said a couple of things in the introduction, could you share a few more things about your journey so that people can understand why you’re doing what you’re doing today?
[00:02:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. Absolutely. One thing is you ended with the Liverpool John Moores University. Liverpool John Moores University is it’s not the best university in the world. But what it did mean, and I didn’t realise it at the time was that I went to the same university as John Lennon. And one of the games I’ve been playing with Google is trying to influence where it shows me in different entity panels and carousels. And one of the nice ones is I’ve managed to get it to show me next to John Lennon in the alumni of John Moores Liverpool University in the carousel.
[00:03:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, that entire life story is now represented in Google’s understanding of me and my relationships with, for example, Liverpool John Moores University and therefore John Lennon by extension and also the blue dog and yellow koala, Boowa and Kwala, as the voice of the blue dog and my role in the group, The Barking Dogs. If you look at The Barking Dogs’ Knowledge Panel, it says members Jason Barnard. All of that is me educating Google as opposed to Google figuring it out for itself.
[00:03:42] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. I guess we went deep even though it’s still in the beginning.
[00:03:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, sorry. I dove right in off the deep end as it were.
The Start of How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Helped Google Associate His Name With The Use of SEO
[00:03:52] Georgios Chasiotis: So, okay, let’s do it, I guess. So, I guess my question would be, can you make these associations deliberately? Can you help Google associate you with a music group or a certain university? Can you do that?
[00:04:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, well, you can. And obviously, I started really looking into this in 2013 because the blue dog and yellow koala last until about 2008. We did a TV series then that fell apart for various reasons. And in 2013, I was pitching for jobs as a digital marketer to try to make a living, and I wouldn’t get the job. And what I realised is that people were googling my name. And it said right at the top, Jason Barnard is a cartoon blue dog. And they would think I’m not going to give my digital marketing strategy over to a cartoon blue dog.
[00:04:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What they didn’t realise is what you were saying is that as the cartoon blue dog, I had been working on SEO since 1998. So, I started in SEO when you had Google, AltaVista, what was it called, Magdalene, HotBot, all of these search engines where we were building one page per search engine per variance including plurals. And so, we would have, for example, for a thousand basic keywords, we would have 50,000 pages to manage. And we would be managing them.
[00:05:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I ended up learning to do it on the server directly on a Unix server using the command line to just change chunks of text, and it worked wonderfully. But I realised after a while that it wasn’t going to be manageable at scale because obviously there’s so many keywords. This was around kids games. And so, I decided to focus on Google. And I don’t know if it was good judgment or pure luck, but I thought Google was the most fun one to work on so I focused on Google and worked out beautifully. And I can’t remember what the question was now.
Google As Your Homepage and Your Business Card
[00:06:12] Georgios Chasiotis: I have another question now that you brought up Google. It’s a rather philosophical question I would say, but I would like to hear your thoughts on whether Google is our new homepage?
[00:06:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Ooh. Yes. Now, I turned up to this kind of whole Brand SERP thing, what your audience sees when they google your brand name. Bing, I think a little bit, what’s the word, unambitious. And I was saying Google’s your business card because that was my experience. If people would search my name, see the blue dog, and then not sign on the dotted line. And that was the initial question is what I then did was set about ensuring that Google showed what I wanted to show to my audience today as opposed to my audience as a blue dog of 10 years before. And the problem was that Google had such a good grip on me as a cartoon blue dog. It was showing that because it knew that, and I had to teach it that it now needed to show digital marketer. The blue dog’s still there, but it’s relegated to a small part of my Knowledge Panel.
[00:07:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, I was saying, but it’s your business card because I was just thinking people look you up on Google and in the Zoom world of the last few years. We’re all doing it as we talk to each other, looking each other up on Google to figure out how we talking to somebody who’s credible or not. And that Brand SERP, that result when I look you up, George, is incredibly important because it might change my entire attitude to the meeting as we go through the meeting. But in fact, the idea of a homepage is something that the local SEO crowd talk about. And somebody like Mike Blumenthal will be talking about homepage or Joy Hawkins. And I was thinking, well, in local SEO, yes. In general business, in bigger business or for people, not so much.
Filter Pills and Its Effect To The Future of Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels
[00:08:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if you’ve seen in America now you have the filter pills at the top for people, films, and books and so on and so forth, that’s a mini website. You get the overview which is the basic Brand SERP, and then you get videos, education for me, songs written. And you click on those, and you need to control those different verticals. And those little filter pills are basically just a menu within a mini website that is on Google. And it’s only a matter of time now before Google applies those filter pills to all of the Knowledge Panels, to all businesses who have Knowledge Panels. So, we’re going to have to learn to manage our mini Google website.
[00:08:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And from my perspective as the Brand SERP expert and the Knowledge Panel expert, that is perfect because it makes my job both much more important, much more interesting and hopefully will lead to some amazing new discoveries because that’s why I’m here. I’m here because I want to learn about how we can manage these aspects of how Google represents us as entities to our audience who are a subset of its users.
[00:09:23] Georgios Chasiotis: Yeah. Obviously, we are here to learn as well. And for the record, I really hope that you didn’t check my name in Google because I think that it’s a bit all over the place. It’s not something specific and concrete about me, but I guess that I have to optimise for that. We’ll see.
The Importance of Brand SERP Optimisation Especially For Prospects and Clients
[00:09:40] Georgios Chasiotis: Now, let’s take a SaaS company for example, and let’s see its gears a bit and discuss or dive a bit deeper into Brand SERP, brand optimisation. On a very practical level, why is it important for a SaaS company that their Brand SERP is as optimised as possible? And on a very practical level, what can they do to achieve that?
[00:10:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. It’s important because the people who are searching your brand name, the people with whom you’ve already had some kind of contact, they know who you are. So, you’ve done these marketing efforts on social media, newsletter, speaking at conferences, whatever it might be. And the reason they’re searching your brand name is because they want to navigate to your site or find out more about you.
[00:10:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And from that perspective, that’s the group we would call prospects. And even if they’re just navigating to your site, at the top, if you’ve got the site and then the Rich Sitelinks underneath, that gives them the opportunity to go straight to the right part of your site. So it seems like a small detail, but it’s actually very important. It saves a click. Google wants to put those Rich Sitelinks. If it doesn’t, you’ve got some problem with your site, and that’s a really immediate sign that your site isn’t well organised.
[00:11:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But then below that, people would also look at whatever comes below it. It might be Twitter Boxes. It might be LinkedIn. It might be Videos. These are all ways that Google perceives your audience might want to interact with your brand. And that means that you want to be sure that the ways that Google is offering them to interact with you when they search your brand name are the ways that you are happy or most confident when they do interact with you. So, you need that Brand SERP to be positive, accurate, and convincing but also representative of how you wish to interact with your audience so that you can better convince them to come on board with you and work with you.
[00:11:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then, the second group of people are going to be clients. Now, they’re not going to be looking down the Brand SERPs. They’re not going to be looking at your Knowledge Panel trying to find out more about you, but they do see that Brand SERP very often because they tend to google your name to come to the site. In which case, anything that isn’t convincing and positive is going to have a slightly negative effect, and by repetition, that’s going to obviously damage their opinion of your brand over time. But the more positive it is, the more that positive impression is reiterated to them, and the more confident they are that they did make the right decision to work with you. So from my perspective: prospect conversions, clients retention.
What Is The Difference Between Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels
[00:12:33] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. That’s interesting. And I like the fact that you split it into two based on the audience, let’s say, the search audience that’s using the search engine in order to get to your website or any other assets that you own. Would you say that Knowledge Panels are part of this whole thing of Brand SERP optimisation or would you separate the two?
[00:13:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. That’s a great question because I see Knowledge Panels as a subset of Brand SERPs, but obviously, Knowledge Panels also function in the wider world of SEO in terms of entity understanding. So from my perspective, the Knowledge Panel is one aspect of the Brand SERP that you need to optimise. And if we look at it in a really simplistic manner, the Knowledge Panel is there as Google’s summary of its understanding of what is important about your brand factually that your audience might need to see. And the idea of the Knowledge Panel is to save the user multiple clicks to multiple sites to find that information and compile it themselves. So, it’s this kind of presentation of Google’s understanding of the important facts.
[00:13:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to manage that because what’s important Google might have got it wrong, and you need to educate it so that it puts the correct important facts up there or it might have got the facts wrong full stop in which case you need to correct them. You need to obviously trigger the Knowledge Panel in the first place to get that factual summary from Google. And that factual summary from Google is something that because we use Google by extension, we trust Google and we trust Google’s fact whether we like it or not, I think. And so getting the facts right and getting the facts straight and getting that description to be the description you choose and not a description from somewhere that you didn’t necessarily or doesn’t necessarily represent you is incredibly important.
[00:14:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then if you look at the left-hand side, and this is true of all SERPs, right-hand side fact, left-hand side recommendation. And so, what Google’s doing on the left-hand side is recommending where you might want to engage with this brand through its understanding of that brand’s digital ecosystem and the engagement that each part of that digital ecosystem gets from that brand’s audience according to Google’s understanding.
Tracking Data From Companies That Had Gone Public
[00:14:59] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. That’s all very interesting. Since we are talking about SaaS companies, in many cases, I will not say in most cases, but in many cases, the ultimate goal for a SaaS company is either an exit or to go public. And I read a blog post by the team at Ahrefs which was published a couple of weeks ago. The topic was the article was discussing the benefits of going public for, I assume, for a SaaS company or for any other company for that matter. And I would like to hear your thoughts from Google’s understanding perspective on whether or not there are actual benefits or maybe even drawbacks from going public.
[00:15:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Michal who wrote the article and he came to me asking for data because at Kalicube Pro we’ve got data on 70,000 brands that goes back five years. We’ve been tracking both Brand SERPs and the Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Panels obviously. And he was hoping that I would have some of the companies that had gone public in the last year. And luckily, we had some data. We didn’t have as much as I had hoped, but in terms of the means, we have to actually track all of this data, Kalicube or a small company. We can’t track a vast amount of data. And also, I don’t want to fill up my database with data that I’m not confident in.
[00:16:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it’s 70,000 brands that we’ve hand-picked basically and tried to get a spread. And the interesting thing was we both assumed that the Knowledge Graph confidence score for the companies that went public would go up because of the press releases, because of the press interest, because of the noise around it. Because what happens with Google is once it’s understood, you’ve got that understanding, you need to build up the confidence that Google has in that understanding. And press is one very good way to do it. The more something is repeated to Google, and I use the analogy, Google as a child. The more times the child hears the same information, the more confident it will become that information is true.
[00:17:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And both of us made that mistaken assumption. And what I loved was that I looked at that data and I thought no, no, no, no. It has to go up. And I looked at it and resorted it to see where I’d gone wrong with my data analysis. Turns out I hadn’t gone wrong with the analysis. In many cases or in some of the cases, it went down. And that was because from our reading of it, the name of the company changed instead of being whatever it was, Beekeeper, I can’t remember what the name of the company was, it would become Beekeeper Incorporated.
[00:17:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And for the child, it could potentially be two different entities. There is no guarantee that Beekeeper LLC and Beekeeper Incorporated is just a new iteration of the first. So, the child gets slightly confused thinking it might be two different things. Then, what appears to happen is it makes sense of it as the information spreads out, as it all starts to corroborate, as different sites start to correct, then that confidence goes back up. Obviously, it’s not a hard and fast rule. It depends also how the PR is done and how cleanly it’s done.
An Example When Facebook Switched To Meta
[00:18:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): One really interesting example is Facebook when they switch to Meta is that that switch in the Brand SERP Facebook, we were tracking it, happened literally in three or four hours of the announcement. And Meta, Facebook, had planned the name change. They had planned it down as far as I can see to the last detail because at Kalicube we had the tracking of it all and the sources that talked about Facebook that Google saw is important including obviously Wikipedia. But also when you look at the Brand SERP and around the Brand SERP, you can see which sources Google treats as incredibly important.
[00:19:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Now as we went through it, we saw that within hours of changing or making the announcement of the change, some people, a team at Facebook had gone through everything and changed it. Obviously, not everything. They had gone through an awful lot of different sites and changed it. So, what Google got was a very solid consistent change in one snap, in a couple of hours. And that’s the way to treat this child who is Google, is if you can change all of the information in one go, the switch is actually quite easy. It’s a bit like I would imagine it or we could say it’s like a site migration. If you do it really neatly, really quickly and the 301’s are all perfect, the site migration is fine. But if you spread it over multiple days or you make lots of mistakes, you just throw it out of confusion.
Another Example When Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Changed His Subtitle From Musician To Author In His Knowledge Panel
[00:19:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I did the same thing with my subtitle. I was a musician in my Knowledge Panel. And I used Kalicube Pro to push my SaaS platform a little bit there which basically just lists out, prioritised list of all the knowledge sources Google was looking at for me as an entity, and we do it for any Entity. And I went through the entire lists and it’s about 70 references to me on profile pages, articles about me, so on and so forth. I went through them. It took me three hours to change every single description of me from Jason Barnard is a digital marketer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, to Jason Barnard is an author and digital marketer, blah, blah, blah. And in two weeks, Google switched from musician to author.
[00:20:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): My reading of that was that when I changed it on my website, it then saw the same information on every single other site it went to over the next couple of days. And that is the instantaneous and total consistent changing of my description, Jason Barnard is an author, which allowed it then to say, okay, fair enough, I understand that and just switch it across. And if I had spent a couple of weeks which would be usual for that kind of name change in the case of Facebook or subtitle change in my case, if you spend a couple of weeks, the Google child is going to remain confused for a long time.
Facebook’s Change To Meta Was Prepared Using An Entity Home
[00:21:22] Georgios Chasiotis: That’s all very fascinating. And I guess I also didn’t know or at least didn’t search so much about Facebook’s change to Meta. And I guess that we could say that it’s a very successful case study, right? Of changing the name and making sure that you are consistent across different websites.
[00:21:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And they had prepared what I would call the Entity Home. The Entity Home is basically the place that Google looks to for information about an entity from the entity on a site owned by the entity itself. So, it sounds contradictory in the idea that Google’s actively looking for us to provide it with the information in our words. And then, it can just go around the web and corroborate our, is what we are saying true, and is it consistent. And if it is, Google is happy to believe us.
[00:22:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what Facebook Meta did was they actually had the website prepared and you could see it on the Facebook. We have Facebook/Meta with this whole announcement. And as far as I can see, that page didn’t exist until the moment they announced it.
Managing Your Knowledge Panel Without The Use of Schema Markup
[00:22:34] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. That’s great execution then. I was under the impression that Schema Markup is one of the most critical elements for Brand SERP and Knowledge Panel optimisation. However on your website, I saw that you have a case study on how you can manage your Knowledge Panel without Schema Markup. Can you please explain how that works?
[00:22:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Schema Markup is an incredibly powerful, supportive format. It’s not necessary, but it is very helpful. I would basically say what Schema Markup does is give Google the information in its native language, in the language that it can natively digest because it gets the name value pairs. So, it’s incredibly easy for Google to understand without doing NLP analysis, without trying to sort through your rubbish HTML on your webpage and figure out where you’ve used tables for design and where you’ve used them for beta and so on and so forth.
[00:23:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But it isn’t strictly necessary. And the case study that you saw was somebody who simply isn’t geeky enough for Schema Markup. And they didn’t want to get into Schema Markup. And what we did is basically leverage what I’m calling the Entity Home. And I said to him, you have the Entity Home so Google’s looking here for information. The trick is then to link out to the corroborative information which in Schema Markup you would be using sameAs or subjectOf. There’s no reason on earth you can’t just put a link in the page to your Twitter account, to your Crunchbase profile, to your Wikidata page, or whatever it might be.
The Analogy of A Broken Plate and The Point of Reconciliation
[00:24:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing is the Entity Home is phenomenally important. I use an analogy of a broken plate, a fragmented broken plate of pieces of puzzle all over the web. Google collects them all, and it tries to put them together as the complete plate. And then, it says, well, I’m not sure if this is actually correct. And John Mueller calls it reconciliation. That’s the putting the plate together as reconciliation, and it needs a point of reconciliation. And that point of reconciliation is the whole plate presented to it on one page on your website which is the Entity Home. So, Google is actively looking for that reconciled, defragmented whole pieced plate to compare its iteration with its kind of puzzley fingery hands badly put together plate and actually figure out where the missing pieces are and has it done it correctly.
[00:25:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, the Entity Home, if it has Schema is going to be very helpful, but the Schema isn’t strictly necessary. The Entity Home is the key. And then, if you take that a step further, the description of your own entity to Google is incredibly important. It’s obviously using NLP to analyse it. And people fail to realise that that description being clear and precise and understandable and containing the necessary facts that would be in the Schema anyway for the most part, not all of them, of course, and making sure Google can understand that without the necessity of Schema Markup is actually the best starting point.
Using NLP Analysis on Kalicube Pro To Recognise Entities
[00:26:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And on Kalicube Pro, we have an NLP analysis that takes the text, your description, analyses it using Google’s NLP and will tell you what it thinks the text is about, which entities it’s recognised. And the first thing I always see is Google almost never recognises the entity. Then, you rewrite it, and it will recognise the entity because you’ve rewritten it in a clearer manner.
[00:26:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And once you’ve got that, you can then spread that same description around the web and be confident that once, first of all, on your Entity Home, it’s in the context of a website. If it can understand it as a standalone piece of text using Google’s NLP API, then it will certainly understand it much better once it’s on your Entity Home and much better still when it’s on the Facebook Page, when it’s on the Twitter, when it’s on the LinkedIn, when it’s on Crunchbase.
[00:26:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that description repeated is, as I said, with the switching from musician to author is I would argue the most powerful thing after the Entity Home. So, it basically goes: Entity Home, corroboration through the description on these multiple sources, Schema Markup only comes third.
Getting Google To Understand and Then Using Idea of Digital PR
[00:27:12] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. I guess we have a framework then. You mentioned John Mueller, and I remember that like a year ago or something he tweeted and he mentioned the term Digital PR. And since then Digital PR, I don’t know, has become a thing. And con-marketers and SEO professionals are using it now heavily in some cases. What are your thoughts on Digital PR? Is what we are talking about part of this? Is it something different? I would like to hear your thoughts on that.
[00:27:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. It’s an extension for me. The pure understanding is what I’ve just been talking about in terms of Google getting to grips with understanding. It’s trying to understand who you are, what you do, who your audience is. If it understands who you are and what you do, then it’s got your offers. It’s got your EAT because it understands who you are so it can see if you’re expert, authoritative, and trustworthy. What you do, it’s got your offers so it can potentially know what you are offering to its users who are searching on Google. And then, who your audience is is how it allows you it’s to segment which audience offers your products or services to.
[00:28:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, who you are, what you do, and who your audience is are the most important thing for Google to understand for all your SEO. And that’s what Brand SERP is all about because when the Brand SERP is accurate, positive, and convincing and addresses your audience correctly, Google’s understood who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. So, you’re winning the game straight off.
What Does Digital PR Do In Terms of Building Google’s Confidence
[00:28:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Then, once it’s got that understanding, the Digital PR comes as a layer on top with the confidence. Because what Digital PR is going to do is going to get you mentions. It’s going to get you into authoritative sources that recorroborate everything you’ve already taught this child. And you’re going to build and build and build that confidence.
[00:29:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the Digital PR aspect is saying, just getting press is one thing. Making sure Google understands that the press is indeed about you is another. And there’s a huge trick to play in terms of building that confidence because people talk about linkless links being mentions. How does Google know that, for example, in my case, Jason Barnard, talks about Jason Barnard on a website. It might be the Jason Barnard who’s a podcaster. It might be the Jason Barnard who’s a hockey player. It might be the footballer. It might be the academic. It might be one of the other digital marketers because there are about five or six digital marketers called Jason Barnard apparently. So, it’s up to us to once again guide this child to point out to it that this article is indeed about me or about my company.
[00:30:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one of the massive experiments, I say massive, massive in a very small sense, micro sense of a tiny company, is we’ve been building out a section on my own website, jasonbarnard.com, that is partly aimed at exactly that. It’s optimising and maximising the Digital PR that we’re getting and seeing what effect that has. And the other is using that as well to try to build, as you said earlier on, Google is your homepage, try to build those filter pills into a real mini website on Google. So in fact, coming back to this, it just occurred to me, Google is your business card, it’s your homepage, and it’s actually a mini website for you now.
The Problem of Giving The SaaS Company and The SaaS Product The Same Name
[00:30:56] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. And as we are running out of time, I would like to hear your thoughts on Google is a child, still a child, but where do you see this child going from 5, 10, 20 years from now? How do you see the future of organic search?
[00:31:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Oh, dear. That’s a lovely question. Just before I answer that, can I just make one point about SaaS companies which is a problem that a lot of us have is that we often name our company and our SaaS product exactly the same.
[00:31:39] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay.
[00:31:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But it’s two different entities. The company is one entity and the SaaS product is another entity.
[00:31:46] Georgios Chasiotis: Can you place an example of that just so we can make it a bit more practical?
[00:31:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Wordlift is a company, and Wordlift is also a SaaS product.
[00:31:57] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay.
[00:31:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, what you have is two entities with exactly the same name, and that’s an immense cause of confusion for Google because in fact, you need two Knowledge Panels. One of which is for the company and one of which is for the SaaS product. And the SaaS product would potentially have product reviews. And the company could potentially have service reviews in the future. So, one problem I think a lot of SaaS platforms are going to need to deal with is the fact that they have this ambiguity, and they are going to need two different Knowledge Panels. And what we’ve done at Kalicube is Kalicube SAS is the French company so it’s Kalicube, and Kalicube Pro is the product. And that’s how we’ve chosen to disambiguate them.
Is It Necessary For SaaS Companies To Separate The Entity That Is Their Company and The Entity That Is Their Product?
[00:32:45] Georgios Chasiotis: But do you see this as a need for other SaaS companies as well to separate the two entities?
[00:32:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes. Not necessarily today because it’s not important right now today. But if you think about, for example, a Knowledge Panel for a product like sunglasses. It will have reviews on it. It will have pictures. It will have, in your case, screenshots. Whereas for the company, it would just say founded by, date founded, and yearly revenues.
[00:33:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it’s two very different presentations, two very different summaries of two different things, two entirely unique entities that have exactly the same name. And so, trying to get Google to understand the difference between the two of them is going to be, it’s not a massive problem, but it’s certainly something you’ve got to be very careful about.
[00:33:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one thing I do see is people fail to identify that the review platform for the SaaS product is not a knowledge source about the company. And so, they will point to it as sameAs from the organisation Schema Markup, but it’s actually about the SaaS product because it’s reviews of the SaaS product and not of the company.
[00:34:05] Georgios Chasiotis: That’s very interesting. And quite frankly, even though we are serving the SaaS industry, we are not so technical. But even though we are serving the SaaS industry, it’s the first time that I hear something like that. And I will close with this question, but would you say…
[00:34:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So you actually asked a question, I didn’t answer it, which was where is Google as a child going.
Clearing Up That Entity Home Needs To Represent Just One Entity
[00:34:26] Georgios Chasiotis: It’s okay. I have one more before that and that would be then. Okay. We will not add it to the organisation Schema Markup, but should we add it to, I don’t know, to the feature page where we will have, I don’t know, is it software Schema Markup or whatever application or whatever?
[00:34:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It would be service. It’s a service. And then you can define it using the Schema to say it’s actually Software as a Service.
[00:34:54] Georgios Chasiotis: Yeah. Software as a Service. Yeah.
[00:34:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But, yes. What Google will be looking for is an Entity Home for the company and another Entity Home for the SaaS Platform. And they should not live on the same Entity Home. An Entity Home needs to represent just one entity.
The Future of Search Engines Using The Concept of Understanding, Credibility, and Suitability
[00:35:14] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. That’s all very fascinating and very interesting. So, before we go, Jason, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of search.
[00:35:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I think that we’re in the middle of the most interesting period of search engines possible. And I’ve been there from word counting, putting the same colour text on the background to trick the machines, and keyword stuffing and all of the rest of this stuff. I remember when the keywords meta tag meant something which shows how old I am.
[00:35:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The future is all about entity understanding, Google’s understanding in the entity. And I think what people are missing, and I’ve said this before in this episode, is the confidence it has in that understanding. And for understanding, what it’s looking for is close, strong, and long relationships. The closer, the stronger. The longer, the better.
[00:36:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, we need to build up that understanding of the machine using our understanding of how Knowledge Graphs work, how our human brains work. And the better we can build up that understanding about who we are, what we do, and who we serve, the more Google is going to be able to match its perception of its users’ need to its perception or its understanding of what we actually offer. And then, once it’s understood that we offer the same thing as a competitor, the difference between the two will be the credibility which is expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. And that’s going to be basically the foundational key: understanding, credibility.
[00:36:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then the third one is actually suitability which is an interesting concept. Which is if it’s understood what I offer corresponds to the needs of its user, it’s understood that I’m the most credible solution, but is my content in the correct format to be suitable, to be used in its SERP because what it wants to do is fill its SERP with the content that’s going to best serve its users.
[00:37:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you have a triple concept that we are going to need to work towards that I’ve been talking about for a couple of years now is we need to focus on Google’s understanding of what we do, who we are, and who our audience is, it’s appreciation of our credibility as a legitimate solution, the best solution for its user, and creating content or presenting our offers in a format that is suitable for Google’s product because Google’s product is its SERP. Google is selling the SERP as a product to its users, and it’s the advertising that pays for it obviously. And if we can approach it from that perspective: understanding, credibility and suitability, that’s where we’re going to win the SEO game long term.
Offering A Book, Online Courses, and Kalicube Process Platform
[00:38:17] Georgios Chasiotis: And that’s a great to wrap things up, I guess. Can you let us know if there is anything that we can wait from you and Kalicube in the future like anything exciting that you can share with us?
[00:38:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Brilliant. Thank you. I wrote the book, the Fundamentals of Brand SERPs. That was a massive experiment. It’s been great. It doesn’t sell millions of copies but certainly helped with my credibility and certainly helped me understand a lot about how Google functions in terms of understanding.
[00:38:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And interestingly enough now, if you search Brand SERP, the Knowledge Panel for the Fundamentals of Brand SERPs comes up. And that means that I’ve written a definitive volume on Brand SERPs. The fact that it’s the only volume was a pretty easy task, but that does also mean that Google’s going to be looking to present definitive works for generic searches.
[00:39:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The second is we’ve got a set of online courses where we teach you or you teach yourself by watching the videos and taking the quizzes to manage your Brand SERP, optimise your Brand SERP. And I’m going to be, I’m in Oxford right now using the Oxford University Library to write this course for Knowledge Panel management which I’m going to do over the summer.
[00:39:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then, we have the Kalicube Process Platform basically for the geeks, for the people who really want to get into this and really want to nail that Entity Home reference corroboration. It doesn’t do anything massively complicated. It doesn’t do anything more than I’ve already explained to you, but it makes it simple, effective, efficient. So, it makes everybody’s life easy.
Just Search Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) On Google To Have The Options on How To Engage With Him
[00:39:57] Georgios Chasiotis: Yeah. We will drop all these links in the show notes. And if people want to reach out directly to you, what’s the best place to do so?
[00:40:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google my name because one of the points for Brand SERP is that it’s Google giving you the option of how you want to engage with the entity you’ve just searched for. So, you get to choose between my website which is at the top where you can learn about me, Twitter where I hang out quite a lot, LinkedIn, my company Kalicube.com where you can obviously interact with me professionally, and then articles on Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land. So, I love the idea of a Brand SERP as a representation by Google of where it thinks my audience might want to engage with me.
[00:40:44] Georgios Chasiotis: Okay. That’s all very interesting. This was a very insightful episode. And as I mentioned we heard things that we haven’t heard and discussed before at The SaaS SEO Show. So, thank you very much for that. Thank you very much for accepting my invitation to join us. And who knows, maybe we’ll have a follow up episode when things will have changed when it comes to Brand SERPs, and we will discuss these changes. Thank you very much for your time, Jason.
[00:41:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you so much, George. That was really delightful, and it was lovely questions.
[00:41:17] Georgios Chasiotis: Before you go, I’d like to give a quick shoutout to the sponsor for this episode, Ahrefs. Ahrefs provides you with an all-in-one SEO tool set that does everything from rank tracking to backlink analysis, keyword research, and technical audits. The best part, you can now use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools for free to identify and prioritise optimisation opportunities for your website, see all the keywords that your webpages are ranking for, take a close look at the websites that link back to and refer you in their content, and analyse other websites to find out what drives the rankings. Visit ahrefs.com/awt and sign up for free.