Welcome to our 1st part of our 3-part episode. Today, we’re going to talk about why only the strongest survive in the search game. Joining us is Jason Barnard, who is an author, speaker and consultant at Kalicube. Kalicube is a groundbreaking digital marketing agency that pioneered the concept of exact match brand service. We’re also going to discuss the importance and the definition of Brand SERPs.
[00:00:00] Benjamin Shapiro: Welcome to the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. And today we’re going to talk about why only the strongest survive in the search game. Joining us is Jason Barnard who is an author, speaker, and consultant at Kalicube, which is a groundbreaking digital marketing agency that pioneered the concept of exact match Brand SERPs.
[00:00:19] Benjamin Shapiro: This podcast is brought to you by Previsible. Look, I’ve been doing the Voices of Search podcast for about four years now. And if I know anything, it’s how to spot, a good SEO. Let me introduce you to the people that taught me everything I know about SEO. Now, if you’ve been listening to the Voices of Search podcast for a while, you probably already know Jordan Koene and Tyson Stockton as friends and regular guests on this podcast, but they’re also the co-founders of Previsible. Previsible’s mission is to provide SEO consulting and cutting edge SEO educational tools that help global brands to execute their online search strategies to generate meaningful traffic and results. They provide solutions and resources that enable their clients to embrace SEO at an organizational level that can empower SEO teams to expand their resources, to scale organic growth, and they always bring the expertise and credibility that will help you work with your leadership to appropriately prioritise your organic growth goals. Now whether your organisation needs support with organic growth consulting, organisational education, or just the gravitas to make SEO a priority, Jordan and Tyson from Previsible will help your company navigate the evolving search landscape and embrace SEO. They’re the best in the business. They taught me everything I need to know about this space. So, if you’re interested in stepping up your team’s SEO game, go to previsible.io.
[00:01:51] Benjamin Shapiro: But before we get to today’s interview, I want to tell you about a new show that my company is launching. It’s called The Revenue Generator podcast. As it turns out, us marketers are under attack. That’s right. The walls between marketing, sales, and customer success teams are all falling down. And unless something changes quickly, your CMO is going to be calling him or herself a CRO in no time. And that’s why we’re creating The Revenue Generator podcast.
[00:02:18] Benjamin Shapiro: The Revenue Generator podcast tells how innovators of the revenue generation orchestrate teams to deliver world-class customer experiences that integrate data, SAS, people, and processes to expedite demand and increase revenue. The show is hosted by my good buddy, Doug Bell, who was a 20-year technology veteran that has been instrumental in driving revenue growth and scaling marketing organisations across some of the world’s best known brands and nimble startups.
[00:02:45] Benjamin Shapiro: And in each episode of The Rev Gen pod, you’ll hear how industry leaders integrate sales, marketing product, and customer success into a single business unit with a common goal of optimising their revenue cycle. So, if you’re ready to join me and Doug Bell as a member of the revenue generation, search for Revenue generator in your podcast app or head over to revgenpod.com, that’s revenue generator in your podcast or head over to revgenpod.com.
Jason Barnard on the Definition and Importance of Brand SERPs
[00:03:16] Benjamin Shapiro: And today, Jason and I are gonna talk about just that. We’re going to talk about the importance and the definition of Brand SERPs. Okay, on with the show. Here’s my conversation with Jason Barnard: author, speaker, and consultant at Kalicube. Jason, welcome to the Voices of Search podcast.
[00:03:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you very much! Absolutely lovely to be here, Benjamin!
[00:03:34] Benjamin Shapiro: Honor and a privilege to have you on the show and in some ways I think of you as the godfather of the Brand SERP. So, talk to me a little bit about your history with Brand SERPs. How did you end up focusing on this specific area of search?
The Reason Jason Started Analysing, Doing, and Tracking Brand SERPs Eight Years Ago
[00:03:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, right now, 2020, it’s pretty easy to be the godfather of Brand SERPs because I’m the only person that I know of talking about it in the digital marketing industry. I suspect in 2021, there’s going to be, well, I hope there’s going to be more people talking about it. At which point it will probably be more difficult for me to be the godfather or the, I think I will always be the founder. And the reason I started it was seven or eight years ago. I realised that every time I walked out of a meeting with a client, they search my name. And I thought, what happens if when they search my name, I look really impressive. So, I spent what I thought would be three or four months getting it right. And it took me about a year. It’s a slower process than one would imagine. But after a year, what appeared when you search my name, Jason Barnard, was very positive, very digital marketing, and it impressed the clients. The point of which I went from maybe 50% to 80% conversion rate, but more importantly, nobody ever argued about my prices anymore.
Creating a Home for Your Entity is Essential in Beating Probabilistic Situation
[00:04:57] Benjamin Shapiro: That’s interesting. So, there is a value of what shows up when you search your own name. The joke that I have related to brand search is it’s the mother-in-law test. When you start dating someone, your potential mother-in-law or their mom, of course googles your name. Now, I have this problem where there is another podcast host named Ben Shapiro. I generally go by Benjamin Shapiro to try to differentiate, but he always shows up first for my branded search. So, whether it would be my consulting practice, my podcast, my personal life, whenever anybody searches me, there tends to be an extremely right leaning, Republican commentator that shows up, it drives me nuts. What do I do?
[00:05:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Well, there are a couple of things there. Number one is I’m not talking about branded search. I’m talking about exact match brand search. So, it’s your exact name. I mean, your name plus podcast isn’t something I actually deal with because I’m looking at what Google thinks the world thinks about you. Google’s reflection of the world’s opinion of you and that’s phenomenally important.
[00:06:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And as soon as you move outside the exact match, you start to lose that focus. So, I’m looking at this focus about who you are, what you do, who your audience is, and most importantly, how Google perceives that. And Google’s perception is a reflection of the world’s perception of you. So if we move away from branded search, i.e any kind of term, that includes your brand name, that’s focused on exact match. Now, I just thought for Ben Shapiro and yes, you have the American commentator on the right-hand side with his Knowledge Panel, you got top stories about him, and you are absolutely nowhere to be seen. And that’s an unfortunate problem when you have a name that you share with somebody who is very present in a digital sense.
[00:07:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And as you rightly say, if you immediately say, well, in that case, I’m going to call myself Benjamin and get people search for Benjamin, the result actually changes. You still have his Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side, but we have benshap.com, which I imagine is you, as number two and your Twitter account comes up. It doesn’t come up number one because he beats you on that one. It’s quite interesting. And if I look at Ben Shapiro, the American commentator, his official site in his Knowledge Panel is twitter.com. He has no home for his entity and that’s a phenomenal mistake on his part. Google thinks that his entity lives on Twitter. That’s an appalling thing to be taken for because Twitter then has control of his entity. Your entity, Benjamin Shapiro lives on benshap.com, that’s much better. So, you beat him on one thing.
Adding in a Middle Initial Also Helps to Disambiguate, Giving Google a More Specific Representation of You
[00:08:08] Benjamin Shapiro: All right, that’s good to hear. So, all I have to do is have Twitter remove his account. Let’s find something where he breaks terms of service and report it to Twitter and now I’m good.
[00:08:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That is one thing you could do. With a name like this, you have that question, the American commentator has made the mistake of allowing Google to think that Twitter is where he is the best representative and he should really have a site that represents him and a page on that site that represents him as an entity.
[00:08:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Now you have that and so you definitely have a lot of hope and a lot of possibilities to actually develop that and share the Ben Shapiro SERP with him and for the Benjamin Shapiro, I would imagine you could probably take it over because his reference to himself is pretty much always Ben. Another trick, if anyone is interested, is to add a middle initial. I’ve thought a lot of people who’ve done that in the past. If you had a middle initial and you convinced people search with that middle initial, that helps to disambiguate. And that’s the question, it’s how ambiguous is it, how sure is Google that you’re actually looking for that specific person?
Geolocation and Trademarking Helps Google Differentiate Entities More Specifically and Give a More Accurate Answer or Solution to Its Users
[00:09:22] Benjamin Shapiro: That’s actually why I created the website and all of my social handles are under Ben J Shap because the idea was that people would search for something different knowing that Ben Shapiro was a political commentator, and so all of my personal branding has been under Ben J Shap with my name written as Benjamin. And this is really a personal branding problem, and maybe not something that everybody runs into. Talk to me about how Brand SERPs are relevant to organisations and to businesses. This is a problem that businesses are running into other companies that have the same name as them?
[00:10:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, that’s a very interesting question because as human beings, we tend to share names. I mean, rarely the people who actually have a unique first and second line combination, so obviously we have this problem with ambiguity and then Google is looking at the probability that we’re searching for you and not the other Ben Shapiro. And that probability is why you always going to run into problems. Now, with brands because in each individual company, you will have copywriting, trademarking. There is a tendency for that overlap to exist much less. It still exists because obviously you can have the same brand name in different industries within the same country, but you have a double kind of protection.
[00:10:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): One of which is geolocation. And the other of which is that trademarking. So for example, if you’re searching for, I mean one great example would be, Paper Gecko, I saw it earlier on a guy called David Sayce, he is in the UK. He called his digital marketing agency Paper Gecko. He has the problem in the UK that there are multiple companies with name Paper Gecko. And in the US, there are several companies with the name Paper Gecko, but Google does not confuse them between the UK and the US because it can see that it’s two different entities because the location is different.
Also Be Mindful of Different Time Zones
[00:11:21] Benjamin Shapiro: And then to go back to the political sphere, but there was a funny coincidence that happened in American politics where the current president of the United States was holding a press conference thinking it was going to be at the Four Seasons and they accidentally observed the Four Seasons Landscaping Company location of the parking lot to have this press conference. Now that’s an example where you have two brands that are similar and how should Google be trying to avoid confusion between the two?
[00:11:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): This is a very good example of, I talked about geolocation and I talked about industry. But we can also talk about time because Four Seasons, if I search it today in the US, I get the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts which is the company that runs the hotels as the Knowledge Panel, which is logical because it’s the most famous, it’s the one we all think of and hence the mistake of the president. But when I look in the nephews, I see an interview with the owner of the sex shop next to the Four Seasons Landscaping. So, we have the trending aspect of this, which is that the probability, but I’m not actually looking for Donald Trump’s press conference in a landscaping company next to a sex shop is very high right now. Give it two weeks, it’s going to be very low and this Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will come back and those top stories will drop off. So, you’re immediately looking at this question of, in fact you’ve got geo, you’ve got name, you’ve got industry, and you’ve got this concept of time, which is phenomenally interesting.
You’re Going to Get More Potential Hires Signing on Because People Trust Google, What They See on Google is Something That is Imprinted on Their Minds
[00:13:02] Benjamin Shapiro: So, you mentioned that there was a value that you derived out of owning the Brand SERP for your name. Talk to me about how you think about ROI when it comes to owning the Brand SERP and controlling what Google displays about your name specifically.
[00:13:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right, well, who are the most important people to your business? The A-list people for your business. It’s your clients, it’s your prospects, it’s your investors, it’s your partners, it’s potential hires, it’s journalists who are going to write something nice about you, we hope. All of these people search your brand name at some point, your clients potentially multiple times today.
[00:13:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, your bottom line is going to be affected systematically every single day by your Brand SERP, what people see when they search your brand name and they might only be searching your brand name to navigate to your site, which is often the case of clients, but it doesn’t mean to say they don’t see and register in their minds everything else that is on that SERP. So, you really need to dominate it. If you can dominate it, if you can control it, you can make it positive, accurate, and convincing. At which point you’re going to reduce client churn. You’re going to increase your conversion rate from the prospects that are checking upon you or navigating to your site. You’re going to get more of those great articles from journalists who think, yeah, they look great. You’re going to get more of those potential hires signing on because a) what we see on Google is something that is imprinted on our minds, but b) we trust Google. Like it or not, we all trust Google.
You Need to Rank Number 1 to be Able to Have Full Control of Your Brand SERP
[00:14:40] Benjamin Shapiro: And just the last question I have for you related to Brand SERPs is, yes, we all trust Google. Yes, the Brand SERP is important. Yes, it’s going to influence your business’ ROI. What can you do to control it?
[00:14:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, if you search my brand name, my personal brand name, Jason Barnard, you can see that I actually control all of it. And that’s, despite the fact there were 300 Jason Barnards in the world, including a podcast host who does music, a footballer, an ice hockey player, a reasonably famous religious preacher person in America, a couple of criminals in that orange jumpsuit. I’m competing with a lot of people who could potentially get that, but what I’ve managed to do is control that Brand SERP. And I work with clients to make sure that they control it: i.e in terms of a brand, they control that Brand SERP.
[00:15:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Now, if you look at it from the top down, number one, you need to rank number one, everyone thinks, yeah, that’s easy. Great, yeah, fine. As long as it’s not ambiguous, you will rank number one.
[00:15:41] Benjamin Shapiro: Not as easy as you think. Trust me.
[00:15:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, if we’re talking about brands, it tends to be easy because of the lack of ambiguity between different countries and different industries. But if you look underneath that number one result, you have the Rich Sitelinks. Does Google show that big chunk of Rich Sitelinks where people could navigate past your site? Maybe not. 50% of brands don’t have that. Underneath that, do you have videos? Do you have Twitter Boxes? Do you have images? Do you have results that reflect well on your brand? Or Do you have things that you do not control or things that are negative or your competitors? You would be very surprised, in fact, you probably wouldn’t be surprised that an awful lot of brands do not control what appears when somebody Googles their brand name and that’s the phenomenally fundamental mistake from a digital marketing perspective. If you’ve made all that effort to get a client or a prospect on board, sort of point to which they are going to search your name, you want to make sure that what they see is phenomenally positive, accurate, and convincing.
[00:16:46] Benjamin Shapiro: So, having the book Porn Generation show up when somebody searches your name, not necessarily a good thing for ROI.
[00:16:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, definitely not a good thing for ROI.
[00:16:56] Benjamin Shapiro: Thanks other Ben Shapiro. Appreciate that one.
[00:17:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): From a brand perspective, if we can come back to the Four Seasons Hotels, you can also see whether or not your content strategy and your digital ecosystem are healthy. If Google isn’t showing positive things about you, it means that it deems the world’s opinion of you to be less than positive. You need to start thinking about why Google is showing that. It’s showing it because it feels that it’s relevant and valuable. If that content doesn’t match your brand message, your brand image, then you need to start thinking, why is it showing it? If it’s showing it’s because Google thinks that it’s relevant and valuable. If it thinks that it’s relevant and valuable, why? There is always a reason. Think down and figure out where you’re getting it wrong to the point to which Google is pushing up these bad results and seeing or imagining that they are representative of your brand.
Reach Out and Continue This Conversation with Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:17:58] Benjamin Shapiro: We live in a brand new age where owning your name isn’t as simple as it used to be. And we’re going to continue this conversation with Jason Barnard tomorrow. So, that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jason Barnard: author, speaker, and consultant at Kalicube. We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jason, you could find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is Jason M Barnard or you can visit his company’s website, which is kalicube.pro.
[00:18:35] Benjamin Shapiro: And a special thanks to Previsible for sponsoring this podcast. Don’t forget to reach out to our friends, Jordan Koene and Tyson Stockton for all of your SEO education, SEO consulting needs. They’re the best in the business that taught me everything I know about SEO. For more information about Previsible, you can go to previsible.io.
[00:18:58] Benjamin Shapiro: And don’t forget to check out our newest show, The Revenue Generator podcast, which tells how innovators of the revenue generation orchestrate teams that deliver world-class customer experiences through the integration of data, SAS, people, and processes to expedite demand and increase revenue. So, if you’re ready to join the revenue generation, search for Revenue Generator in your podcast app or head over to revgenpod.com, that’s search for Revenue Generator in your podcast app or head over to revgenpod.com.
[00:19:34] Benjamin Shapiro: Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, just head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. And if you haven’t subscribed and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish an episode everyday during the work week. So, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.