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Talks and Interviews with The Brand SERP Guy » Brand SERPs » Episode 78_ We Discuss Brand SERPs and ORM with Jason Barnard

Episode 78_ We Discuss Brand SERPs and ORM with Jason Barnard

Jason Barnard is a digital marketing consultant. He specialises in Brand SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and knowledge panels. He hosts a leading digital marketing podcast (intelligent, interesting, and fun). The Brand SERP Guy.

[00:00:00] Paul Warren: I am Paul Warren.

[00:00:28] Ryan Klein: And I’m Ryan Klein.

[00:00:29] Paul Warren: And this is another episode of SEO is Dead and Other Lies. Ryan, how are you doing on this wonderful day? 

[00:00:34] Ryan Klein: I’m doing fantastic. Paul, how about you? 

[00:00:37] Paul Warren: I’m doing great. This is our first episode of the new year actually. So, I’m pretty pumped about it.

[00:00:42] Ryan Klein: Oh, shoot. It is. Well, I thought they recorded some time. No, I guess not.

Introducing The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard) and His SaaS Platform, Kalicube 

[00:00:48] Paul Warren: But I’m really excited because we have a great guest today that’s going to be talking a little bit about online reputation management and the platform that he’s building out. And today we have Jason Barnard from Kalicube. It’s a SaaS platform that helps you with all of your online reputation management. We’re going to be going over that, how he’s sort of automated this process, and the things that you need to look at when you’re doing this yourself. Jason, how are you doing today? 

[00:01:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’m doing absolutely fine. Absolutely lovely to be here. Are you guys are pumped and I’m pumped, too. 

[00:01:16] Paul Warren: Very, very. So, tell us a little bit about your platform.

[00:01:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Kalicube is basically a platform. It’s a platform that’s indirectly online reputation management because Kalicube aims to provide you with a prioritised task list to take control of your Brand SERP. Your Brand SERP is what appears when somebody searches your name, which is often where online reputation management comes to the fore and where it pits brands and people in the face when they get something bad.

[00:01:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the idea is to take control of it. So that should anything bad come up, you’re already in a position a) it probably won’t rank because you’ve already controlled it. But if it does rank, you’ve got the tools and the means to actually get rid of it very quickly. So, proactive online reputation management is what I would be calling it.

[00:02:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it goes further in fighting that because it also helps you with your Knowledge Panel. And a Knowledge Panel, for people who don’t know what it is, it’s the thing on the right on desktop that shows what Google thinks or understands you to be. And it’s from Google’s point of view, factual understanding of who you are and what you do. And if you can get one of those, it means Google has understood who you are and what you’re doing. It makes it much, much easier for you to then communicate to Google what is going to be good for your Brand SERP. And what’s good for your Brand SERP from Google’s perspective is what is going to be valuable and relevant to your audience.

What Kalicube Does For Your Brand SERP and Knowledge Panel

[00:02:43] Paul Warren: Yeah. So, I think what’s really, really awesome about this topic because it’s like the opposite of what I think Ryan and I usually have to deal with when it comes to dealing with brands is where they come to you with some issue that’s already really bad, right? There’s already some terrible negative review or some website that’s trashing their brand and how do we fix this.

[00:03:02] Paul Warren: So, yeah, you’re a really smart guy. You’re doing the opposite way that we usually deal with it. And you’re just being proactive and putting the stuff out there. A little bit about that. Do you focus on maybe different web 2.0 websites and stuff like that to build out brand profiles on it? How exactly does this offer work?

[00:03:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Well, what Kalicube actually does, I’ve been doing this for seven years. And I started off with my own Brand SERP, what appears when you Google my name, Jason Barnard. And if you Google it, Google it now, not you personally, anybody who’s listening, and you will see there is only me on that page. And it’s all digital marketing on the left-hand side. All very impressive. It’s my Twitter Boxes. It’s Search Engine Journal. It’s SEMrush. It’s WordLift. It’s all of these terribly well-known or impressive or respected digital marketing resources.

[00:03:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And on the right-hand side, you’ve got the Knowledge Panel. And it contains a photo, probably a description, my homepage, and the songs that I’ve written that I was in a cartoon. So, it’s got that in there. It’s got my music group in there from the 90s. And it’s got associated entities who are other digital marketers. So, basically, you’ve got my life story in one page. And importantly, what dominates by far is what I’m currently doing today. And that’s really, really important.

[00:04:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google wants to show the actual current information about you. And the fact that all of these profiles and elements are things that I control or semi-control. People like WordLift, I know them very well so I can ask them to change things or Search Engine Journal, I control the page direct because it’s my author’s page. So, the idea here is to say, I need to control that page.

[00:04:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that basically comes down to one, what Kalicube does is it goes through this SERP. It goes through lots of related SERPs. It’s my secret sauce that I’m not going to tell anybody. And it figures out which sources are important to Google so that you can focus on the ones that really matter in terms of how Google builds its understanding of you and what it should be showing on your Brand SERP.

[00:05:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I was looking at it the other day for myself, and I was very surprised because I’ve been working on my own for seven years so I know all the profiles that are out there. And I would have guessed 90% of the priorities, but I still got 10% wrong. Because I have human bias and the machine just went, nope, you’re wrong. My machine, I built the machine, and I looked and I went that 10% is wrong. And then I looked into it, and I thought, actually that 10% is right. And the machine’s beaten me. And it’s my own stupid machine that I built on a Sunday afternoon.

How To Manage Your Own Knowledge Panel

[00:05:49] Paul Warren: So, I’ve got a quick question about these rates. So, I manage a brand. I have to manage this by myself, right? So, I know exactly where you’re coming from. That’s not important. If you, let’s say, you want to become your own brand, how would you go about getting into this? When you’re done with your own profile here with the Knowledge Panel. If I wanted to make my own, what steps would you suggest someone that’s like trying to become their own brand?

[00:06:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Your own Knowledge Panel, you mean?

[00:06:15] Paul Warren: Yeah.

[00:06:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Knowledge Panels. The thing is the theory is incredibly simple. And the theory is something I’ve been working on for years, and it’s taken me a long time. It’s one of those things that years of complexity in trying to figure things out and trying all these different things you end up with the secret sauce which is actually really simple. And it’s not a secret sauce because it’s so simple that I couldn’t keep it secret very long.

[00:06:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s basically you saying, I or my brand is an entity. It’s a thing. And it’s a named entity, a thing that Google can understand, and it needs to know which particular one we’re talking about. So, there were 250 Jason Barnards in the world. I want to be sure it understands when we’re talking about this Jason Barnard. It understands that it’s this one and not the podcaster or the football or the hockey player or the scholar in San Francisco, I think.

[00:07:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so what you need to do is make sure that you have a home for that entity. And that home is on a site on a page in fact. Notice, it’s on a page on a site that you control so your own site. If you don’t have your own personal site, you should have one because you’re, whether you like it or not, you need to control your personal brand or you need some kind of control because it’s going to get increasingly upon.

[00:07:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s not just Google, it’s Facebook, it’s Apple, it’s Bing, it’s all of these Amazon. They’re all doing the same thing. They’re building Knowledge Graphs of understanding of the world because that’s how they’re going to be able to serve their clients or their audience. So, you need a home, and you need that home to contain the factual information that’s important about you now, potentially your history. But your history really doesn’t need to be pushed forwards because that’s not what they’re interested in. They’re not interested that you, Ryan, were in a band or that I was in a band. They’re interested in what we’re doing now because what we’re doing now is what’s important to them to actually make the money.

[00:08:06] Paul Warren: Yeah.

Giving Your Entity Home a Page and Pointing Out Reliable Sources To The Corroboration 

[00:08:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s also what’s interesting is people are looking for us most of the time. And if people really want to find out about me being in a band, they’ll search for Jason Barnard, The Barking Dogs, and they’ll find it because they know I was in that particular band. So, I think that’s the first important point is we’re in the present, and a lot of us as human beings live in the past. So, that’s number one out the window.

[00:08:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Number two, give your Entity Home and its page on your website, preferably not the homepage because the homepage serves lots of other purposes, and you don’t want a boring factual home page. You want it on a page inside your site that says about me or about my brand that Google understands is the source of information from the horse’s mouth from the entity itself.

[00:08:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): From there, you then go, okay, I’ve got my home. Now, what I need to do and Google said, okay, right, I believe you, let’s say 20%. Now, what you need to do is push that confidence and its understanding i.e. this is true. You need to push it up, and you need to push it up by corroboration. And corraboration is a word that I couldn’t say a year ago, and I’ve been saying it so much I’ve not managed to say corroboration without sounding like Jonathan Ross, who’s an English show host who’s got a r thing. I can’t remember what it’s called anyway.

[00:09:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You need to point out to the corroboration that proves what you’re saying is true, which basically means a) pointing to the reliable sources that all the sources that Google sees is reliable for you. And a source that’s reliable for you isn’t going to be the same as for me. And that’s what Kalicube does. It figures out what Google sees as reliable, independent, trustworthy corroboration for you as opposed to me.

Probabilistic Decisions That Google Makes Is Geo Sensitive 

[00:09:50] Ryan Klein: Yeah. That seems like a pretty, pretty good segue because when we talk about ORM and especially Paul and I and our background, it seems like there’s a whole process for individual, whole process for an actual business entity. There’s different access to different social platforms. It could be content contributions. It can be social profiles. There are all these things that an individual has access to and is appropriate for them versus a business and all these other things. But there’s probably still plenty of crossover and even like a philosophy that goes into approaching either one.

[00:10:21] Ryan Klein: And it’s funny, actually, you mentioned the band too. The name of the band I was in was called Karrigan. I don’t know if that’s a plug for my band from 12 years ago, but if you want to listen to outdated pop rock, feel free. But when we were getting going, we were pretty popular. We were supported by things like Bandcamp and MySpace and Total Punk or whatever blocks and stuff.

[00:10:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Cool.

[00:10:45] Ryan Klein: But then, there was this really popular game called Counter-Strike back in the day. And there was a very popular player in Sweden named Karrigan spelled exactly the same way. And it started to flip in their favour as they got more and more popular and started winning tournaments. And now, if you type in Karrigan, there’s nothing but this straight player and you never see anything about the band anymore. And it’s interesting how it took over. 

[00:11:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, that’s actually really interesting. There were a couple of things there. Lovely story. But one of them is probabilistic something or other. Dawn Anderson talks about it a lot, and I never really understand a hundred percent what she says. But it’s basically the probability that somebody is looking for this other person is higher. Therefore, you’re going to see them more.

[00:11:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But probabilistic decisions that Google makes about what to show is incredibly geo sensitive, too. So, it also depends where you are in the world what it’s going to show. And another good point is the fact that they were in the news or that person was in the news much more recently and much more solidly than you were which means it’s more probable once again that somebody is actually looking for them.

Examples of When Knowledge Graph Scores Went Up and Down

[00:11:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): There was an update on the Knowledge Graph a year and a half ago that I called the Budapest update. And what happened is that the average Knowledge Graph API score, the score it returned, went up five fold. And for some, it went up like a thousand fold, and some, it went down a thousand fold. And the common denominator for those that rose was that they were in the news recently.

[00:12:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the common denominator for the ones that fell was that when Marilyn Monroe and, what was his name, Montgomery Clift was the example I use is that she’s still famous. She’s still in the news. She’s still talked about day to day. Montgomery Clift isn’t, but he was as famous as she was before at the time in the 50s. And her Knowledge Graph API score went through the roof, and his went through the floor.

[00:12:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s the same thing with Homer Simpson and Dan Castellaneta. People talk about Homer Simpson. They don’t talk much about Dan Castellaneta. Exactly the same story. So, that kind of idea of active present day usage and newsworthiness is going to, sorry, not newsworthiness, how much you’re being mentioned, how much your presence is going to have a big influence on that.

Tricking Google As PR Strategy

[00:13:05] Paul Warren: Do you think you can, let’s say, as a brand, and you wanted to artificially inflate that, right? So, you use like a PR strategy for press releases. Do you think you can sort of spoof that through those means or is this like legit actual news that’s what it’s taken into account?

[00:13:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I would say I think you can still trick Google. I think whereas I started this in the web night and night, you could trick it for years and years and years on end. I don’t think those days of being able to trick it for years on end are over. It’s a race that’s getting faster and faster and more and more difficult to keep up with. But to sell my own kind of source, I would say not spoofing it, but you can find which resources Google is looking at for your industry and your geo location in a more general sense and target those.

[00:14:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Kalicube actually gives that information for free. And you can go in and see what is Google citing, what is Google talking about, what is Google willing to stick its neck out for in that right-hand channel, right-hand rail, sorry. And so, you can say, well, I can actually target my PR efforts to the specific platforms, media sites that are important for my industry in my geo location. And then, look at my Brand SERP and the stuff that’s already coming up for me and see which ones are being prioritised or, oh, I just had the right idea, or look at your competitor and see what their sweet spots are.

[00:14:40] Paul Warren: Yeah.

[00:14:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Copy them. Bingo. You’re away. Thank you though. I’ve just found a new use for Kalicube. How lovely.

[00:14:47] Paul Warren: Well, we expect to have some royalties from that.

[00:14:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can have $5 and 25 cents next time we see.

[00:14:54] Paul Warren: Alright. Love it.

[00:14:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Alright.

How Does Negative Keywords and Associations Affect ORM and Brand SERPs 

[00:14:55] Ryan Klein: I want to talk about another aspect of ORM that’s not as transparent as just simply in a SERP, this is where a negative article or a result is positioned or a positive or whatever. When it comes to similar searches and it comes to suggested search, there’s a lot of times that brands get associated with negative keywords. So, there’ll be a situation where you’re typing in the brand and they’re like, wait a second, scam. Is it worth it or is this legit?

[00:15:23] Ryan Klein: Well, these are not things I want associated with my brand. And I’ve tried manipulating that in the past by abusing Mechanical Turk to have people like, hey, do this search and then click this result. And then Amazon’s like, nope, nope, nope. And I got a really great account that I used very much for the past six years banned for that kind of activity. But it seems that that activity is employed by other people with a degree of success.

[00:15:48] Ryan Klein: So, when it comes to ORM and staying proactive, you could technically, in some ways maybe, manipulate a result to associate your brain with positivity consistently. So, have you ever had success for taking a look at someone’s name or similar search or trying to associate it with a positivity when people are doing those kinds of searches or do you hope it happens naturally?

[00:16:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, the problem you’re having if you’re associated with a negative term is that it’s search volume that’s going to start to affect much more than anything else what Google is going to be showing around. I talked to Nathan Chalmers from Bing who’s the whole page algorithm guy. And that was phenomenally interesting because the idea basically you’ve got Gary Illyes explained to me how Google ranks all the different Rich Elements.

How Blue Links Rank And Verticals In The SERP

[00:16:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Basically, you have the blue links that have their ranking. And then, you have all these verticals like videos and images and Twitter, and they all put in a bid, what he calls a bid. It’s not a military bid. It’s a value to the use of bid to try and get into the SERP. And they get into the SERP if they can provide a better value than the blue link which is how that SERP develops into a rich SERP. And I thought, wow, brilliant, wonderful. I’ve nailed it. I’ve understood it all. And then I talked to Nathan Chalmers from Bing who’s the whole page algorithm guy. And he said, yeah, but I sit on top of all of that, and I veto anything I feel like basically. Obviously, it’s an algorithm. It’s not him personally doing it.

[00:17:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, the fact that you get a Knowledge Panel, the fact that a video should be there but isn’t there is because that algorithm has decided that the other algorithm system of Darwinism, which is what I called it, hasn’t got it right. And interesting enough, Bing, the algorithm for the whole page is called Darwin which is wonderful. That made me giggle a lot because I’ve been calling it Darwinism in Search, and it’s actually anti-Darwinism because it vetoes. Just wonderful. So, sorry, excuse me.

[00:17:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And everything on that page potentially is affected by that whole page algorithm, which steps in and overrides stuff. And an example would be that I talked to Ali Alvi from Bing. I did a series of an interview with Bing. And because it’s the same data, the same aim, and the same audience, you can assume that they’re not, and the same technology, you can assume they’re not reinventing the wheel to function reasonably in a similar manner.

Why Are Featured Snippets Called Featured Snippets

[00:18:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’m talking to John Mueller and Gary Illyes and listening to Martin Splitt. It would seem that they both work the same, more or less, the same way. Now, Ali Alvi does the Q&A which is a featured snippets for Bing. And he was saying, it’s the same algorithm that runs the descriptions under the blue links, the featured snippet. That’s why it’s called a featured snippet because it’s the snippet under the blue link that’s being featured. He gave me a sly wink and a smile when he said that because I hadn’t realised he was going, that’s really obvious. You should have thought of that.

[00:18:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then the Knowledge Panel, it fills that in. And then, what it comes down to is I actually found a really weird thing going on in Bing. And I asked Ali Alvi about it, and he said, well, that’s going to be Nathan overriding what I sent him. Obviously, it’s not the people once again.

[00:19:08] Paul Warren: Yeah.

How You Can Convince The Whole Page Algorithm That The Negative Associations Are Not Relevant

[00:19:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, potentially what you could do, and this is potentially, is convinced that whole page algorithm that that negative set of those negative associations are not relevant. And I would suspect, and this is completely throwing it out there, that the whole page algorithm has a lot of entity based stuff going on. It needs to understand the entity. And I would argue that because it puts those people also asked when it’s understood the entity. I cannot find, it can’t know what questions people ask around an entity without understanding the entity in the first place. And if you look at the questions, it’s about the entity or the topic of the entity. Sorry, excuse me. I do go on, don’t I?

The Potential of Rich Elements In Any Search and The Use of Click-Through Data 

[00:19:51] Paul Warren: No, this is a really interesting topic. So, basically, I guess if I can interpret this correctly right, the overall page algorithm is going to set what’s going to happen if the rich, whatever Rich Element isn’t meeting up to the standards.

[00:20:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Exactly.

[00:20:10] Paul Warren: It’s just overriding all of it, right? So, I guess that really means that any search has the potential for Rich Elements within it.

[00:20:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, yeah. A hundred percent. Absolutely. And it is that thing is basically he has the power of veto and he has the power of bumping something up that wasn’t quite up to scratch. And he explicitly said an awful lot of this is based on click-through data.

[00:20:38] Paul Warren: Okay.

[00:20:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So when Google is saying, basically it’s really sneaky. That Google say, no, we don’t use click data in our algorithm. And they’re saying, because people are saying the blue link algorithm, and they’re saying, no, we don’t use it. And they don’t. But it doesn’t mean to say they don’t use it in a whole page algorithm because people aren’t explicitly asking them about the whole page algorithm, which is where it would come into play its user experience on that SERP. It’s making the SERP as relevant and helpful as possible. And they do that using lots of different things including click-through data which Nathan Chalmers very clearly and explicitly said, yes, we do. And that’s a phenomenally important part of the algorithm.

Triggering A Rich Element 

[00:21:16] Paul Warren: So, you could just basically find lots of situations where there isn’t any rich data in a SERP and then influence it, right? 

[00:21:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I call it triggering. Triggering a Rich Element. And people are saying, oh, yeah, look where there’s a video box or a feature snippet and then try and do better than the competition. That’s a lot of effort. Why don’t you find the SERP that should have a video and it doesn’t or a feature snippet that doesn’t by triggering itself because that’s what they want. They want to show this information. They just don’t have a candidate that’s sufficiently good quality. 

[00:21:49] Paul Warren: So, I know from my own experience. We’ve had blog posts and we’ve created videos to go along with them. And that’s actually forced the video snippet to show up in the SERPs afterwards, but it wasn’t just mine. It actually brought in other competitors that were similar for that video because they don’t like to just show one video result in the SERPs. There’s usually a pack of three of them. And so, we created it, but we actually brought in competitors with us. 

[00:22:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, I think what’s really important to remember here is the Rich Elements come into play. And Frederic Dubut, I keep dropping names from Bing, but they actually did. They gave me a series of five interviews, and it was stunning because they’ve got nothing to lose by sharing all their secrets. So Google won’t, but Bing will. So, you just asked Bing, and bingo, you’re away. And he was saying, the fundamental foundation is the blue link algorithm because that’s where they make their money. That’s not going away. Then, what you have on top of that is all these other Rich Elements that come in. And he said, the average number of blue links, sorry, the average number of elements on a page is always going to be about 10.

[00:23:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, basically, these Rich Elements come in and they replace, they kill a blue link which is how ORM, if we come back to that. I advise my clients, you want to get rid of that bad result. Yeah. Don’t drown it. Don’t create new content. Find content below it that you can actually do SEO for somebody else and promote it and leapfrog it above the bad results. But also, look to trigger these Rich Elements because these Rich Elements kill blue links, and that gives you a more control but also potentially pushes that bad result off the bottom of the page. So, that 10 element rule is actually fairly stable. And I’ve got that in my data.

The Role of Ambiguity In How The Whole Page Algorithm Decides The Length of The SERP

[00:23:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Nathan Chalmers made a really good point is on an ambiguous query, you’re going to get 12 to 14 maybe 15. On an unambiguous query, you’re going to get 5, 6. And that’s really important. So, for example, Yellow Door, if my company is called Yellow Door. Who calls their company Yellow Door? It’s a silly idea. It’s so ambiguous. It’s a really long SERP, and it’s very confusing because there is no way for Google or Bing to know what you’re looking for. So, they give you the choice. The whole page algorithm will then say, this is ambiguous. Let’s give them a lot of choice. So, it’s going to create a longer SERP and promote more elements that would not otherwise have got that place. So, the ambiguity plays a phenomenal role in how the whole page algorithm decides on the length of the SERP. So, not only do you need to look at the Rich Elements, what you can trigger, but also how long the SERP is.

[00:24:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the last point that I’ll make then I’ll give you the microphone back is that with ambiguous queries in particular, it’s going to say we need informational, navigational, and commercial queries because we need to be sure that the person has on that page at some place, the choice they wanted. And people make the mistake of thinking I’m competing for one of 10 places, let’s say. They’re not. With that kind of query, you’re competing for 1 of the 3 informational places. So, you’re not competing for 1 of 10. You’re competing for 1 of 3.

Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) On Still Learning Every Day About Brand SERPs Seven Years Later 

[00:25:18] Paul Warren: Yeah. That’s my whole life, that location based stuff. I work for a company right now that has 700 locations. So its maps drives about like 80% of the revenue for it.

[00:25:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right.

[00:25:34] Paul Warren: So, I remember when it was like 10 back in the day, and then it went down to 7, and then it went to 3, and then everyone lost their minds. And it was just really interesting back then. Yeah. But I think you really give us a lot of great information in this podcast, and I know there’s some stuff that I’m going to do differently with my own strategies. Because it’s just, I always say we want to get everything that we can possibly get in the SERP, right? So, the Q&A markup, you want to get everything that you can. You want to dominate it. But I’ve never really thought about searching specifically for results that don’t have any of these and making it happen for them, right? 

[00:26:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And what is from my perspective really interesting and I think people don’t really grasp, when I say Brand SERP, exact match brand names, people, SEOs tend to say, that’s easy, I’m number one, job finished. They also say, it’s not very interesting. I can do that in a month, which is what I thought when I started. And seven years later, I’m still learning something new every day.

[00:26:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And all of what I’m doing, sorry, a lot of what I’m saying comes from just studying Brand SERPs because one of the things that strikes me is in order to get the video boxes on my Brand SERP or the Twitter boxes, I had to develop a proper content strategy for them. And my video strategy is not very good, and my videos are popping up all over the place. And to get the Twitter boxes, I had to have a proper Twitter strategy. I have the Twitter boxes, and now I have lots more followers. I’ve got lots of interactions. And Twitter is now a channel in inverted commas for me.

[00:27:09] Paul Warren: Yeah.

[00:27:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, in fact, what happens when you start optimising your Brand SERP in proactive ORM, you can say I’m protecting my brand. I’m making sure that the message that’s pushed out to my audience. And remember your audience is actually Google’s users. They’re not your users until they’ve visited your site. So it’s Google’s users, your audience, the subset of Google’s users, who are your audience, who are looking at this Brand SERP. I want to impress them with great content. I’ve created this content. For that content to rank on my Brand SERP, I have to prove to Google that it’s valuable and relevant for them. And to do that, I have to demonstrate or I have to make sure that it is truly valuable and relevant, and that Google can see that it is. And at that point, I’ve basically just developed a great content strategy.

Being Proactive In ORM 

[00:28:01] Ryan Klein: No, but up to this point, I have to say this has definitely been very insightful. This is something that I’ve always looked at ORM. How do we, no, I don’t want to see you use the word manipulate. Manipulate always has negative connotations, but how about this influence. Influence is not nearly as bad. And I always look at it from a negative seeing point because I’m a huge pessimist. Now, that’s typically what the situation we find ourselves in because as we said before, this is very reactive. You’re very proactive which is only a million times better. The name of the podcast should be All the Times That People Didn’t Listen to Jason and Should Have Been Proactive is basically what the podcast should be.

[00:28:39] Ryan Klein: But it’s interesting because I’ve always thought of the search and the auto-fill, autocompletes, similar searches as the way that people are continuously searching, but then you think about it and you’re like, well, all these things are on the first page of SERP, too. They’re pulling this in from the information that’s associated with the brand on the first page. So, it’s just like, oh, shoot, what opportunities do I have to really influence a positive search experience by utilising some of these results or the ones that I can create, the ones that I have access to and can edit or add to to include some other keywords associated with the brand or the individual.

[00:29:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, that’s actually inspired a couple of points in my brain. One of which is you’re asking about these negative associations. The more we get into entity based search, the more Google is associating us with specific topics. So, strengthening that association, basically by association, you can say, I can, as an entity, once I’m understood as an entity, I can start to influence, as you said earlier on, the associations that Google is making.

An Example Where Jason Is Kept On Being Associated With The Things He Talks About A Lot 

[00:29:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, a good example, and it was really interesting. Last weekend, I was building the algorithm for Kalicube, and it was all terribly boring Sunday afternoon, struggling my brain around lots of code. And I was looking at the list. Basically, Kalicube generates this list of prioritised pages related to my name, what Google is pulling out most often around my name. And it struck me. I’ve got a podcast with 159 episodes, and 3 episodes just kept cropping up, one where I talked to Anton Shulke from Semrush about webinars, one where I talked to Cindy Krum about her SERP measurement system, and one where I talked to James Mulvany about podcasts.

[00:30:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it suddenly struck me, why is it picking those 3 episodes and not any of the other ones? And it’s because I’ve done boatloads of webinars, I talk about SERPs all the time, and because I’ve got a podcast and I go on and on and on and on about it. And I’ve been doing this experiment with WordLift, which is an entity based content model. It’s basically saying we have an entity, which is a podcast within that. We have episodes, which are entities. They each have a guest, which is an entity and a topic, which is an entity. And we link all that together. And we presented it to Google as a Knowledge Graph, a mini Knowledge Graph, which is absolutely genius. And it’s working really well. It’s a mad experiment. Thanks to Andrea Volpini here at WordLift. 

[00:31:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But what struck me was that Google is associating me with these terms so those are the ones that keep popping up. And what you’re talking about, obviously negative, positive is a bit more ambiguous and difficult, but that idea is saying it’s associating me with the topics I talk absolutely loads about. So by extension, I would suspect that those links at the bottom, those associated terms can be affected by the quantity of content, quality content that you create around a specific area, and that you could influence it by focusing on these pages that Google sees as important to your entity. And once again, it goes beyond industry and geo. It goes to you personally, this entity, what’s important and placing on those sources the things that you want Google to associate with you more than the ones that it’s currently showing. And that would be a really interesting experiment to do.

Building A Tool To Manage Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels and Finding Patterns On The Pages 

[00:32:18] Ryan Klein: That’s, yeah, that’s a good point. The more that we talk about, the more that my brain is going to the next place, but we only have so much time, of course. But it makes me think that now you’re talking about the quantity, it’s so goes beyond the first page. It could be just multiple instances on multiple pages that are getting aggregated. And then, it’s almost being quantified and prioritised.

[00:32:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Another thing, I build a tool. I’m working for Yoast to work on their Brand SERP and their Knowledge Panels because they see that it’s important which is lovely. And I’ve started to build out the tool based on a testing set of about 15 entities including Yoast and WordLift and SE Ranking, who I worked with as well on this, and myself and the entities around me and so on and so forth.

[00:33:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what I’ve seen is there’s a phenomenal difference in the amount the number of pages that crop up in the system and the strength, the relative strength of some compared to others and the relative weightings. And what I’m starting to see is that types of pages, about pages, profile pages, articles about, articles by, spam, rubbish, negative, unhelpful content, the volumes for each entity are very different. And there’s going to be a pattern. I just need to find what that pattern is.

[00:33:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So you’re not looking at what is relevant, and where are the holes? Are you missing profile pages? Are you missing about me pages? Are you missing articles about you? Are you, obviously, you’re not missing spam. Are you missing mentions? All of these need to be filled up because Google’s trying to fill up its SERPs about an entity with a representative set of URLs, of content. And it’s trying to do a balanced representation. And if you think about it from that point of view, the influencing of it becomes, I think, more approachable.

The Astonishing Depth of What Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Has Been Learning For Years

[00:34:15] Paul Warren: I think you covered a lot of great stuff, and I think it’s a lot to think about and a lot to pull out from this. It sounds like you’re really on the cutting edge of doing a lot of data analysis on the surface which is great to hear from people that do that all the time. 

[00:34:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, there are a few things that struck me. The last couple of weeks have been actually, I keep having these exciting periods. All my articles in Wikipedia got deleted in the space of two weeks which deeply hurt my ego, but that taught me an awful lot because it was an experience in rebuilding which was really interesting. And I learned absolutely boatloads about how to build a Knowledge Panel without Wikipedia or Wikidata for that matter.

[00:34:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the last couple of weeks has been building out this machine that’s trying to understand what Google prioritises for each individual entity, whereas before, I only had it by industry and by geo. And it’s bringing up an awful lot of stuff that I really hadn’t thought about. Remember, I’ve been thinking about this for seven years, and thinking about pretty much only this. And it was something that most people or something I thought initially would take me two months, and I would get bored and then go and do something else. And everybody I talked to says, yeah, this is really easy. That’s a month’s work, and we’re away. Seven years later, I’m still learning loads.

[00:35:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think the depth of this is astonishing. I know I can’t get over it, but the cutting edge idea is what’s interesting is it’s so simple, so obvious, and we should have been doing this for years. So, it’s not cutting edge. It’s niche because nobody else is doing it except me or very few people. As far as I know, nobody else is doing it. And yet it’s universal. So, it’s a niche that’s universal which is ironic as well.

The Perks of Being Your Own Developer

[00:36:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And thirdly, when I was talking to Cindy Krum about, she was saying she’s got a developer. And I keep talking to people who’ve got developers, and it isn’t easy going through that stage for two reasons. One of which is the developer isn’t always on the same wavelength. Secondly, you don’t actually know what you’re looking for until you find it. And I’m my own developer. I’ve got MySQL database with 10 million lines of 10 million Brand SERPs in it. And I can search through it and look through it and keep sorting it in different ways until the cows come home.

[00:36:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s where I make all the great discoveries because I’m going through it and thinking, oh, what does that mean? Where does that go? And it’s all these rabbit holes, but because I’m developing, I’m a Sunday afternoon developer, basically, I’m rubbish. But it works. It sticks together. It doesn’t fall apart. But the great advantage is that I can do it all very fast, and I can learn phenomenon and arts. Because every time I see something new, I can realise that my initial thoughts, which if I had a developer, I would have pushed them down that because that’s where we’re going. And that’s the decision of the company or the boss or whoever you want to say is saying, actually, it’s very agile.

[00:37:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s agile development of a tool that’s moving in ways that I hadn’t expected because I’m coding it myself from this seven years of research. And I’m talking to you guys. I’m going on a little bit about it, but my brain hurts two weeks of this. And my brain is going, wow, wow, wow, wow, pretty much every minute of the day. 

[00:37:32] Ryan Klein: Just in this conversation, which has been going for only about 40 minutes, my brain has jumped two or three times so I can’t even imagine what kind of headaches you get. 

[00:37:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I’m not sleeping very well, basically.

Just Search For Jason Barnard To Get To Know More About The Brand SERP Guy

[00:37:43] Paul Warren: Alright, well, thanks so much for being on the show, Jason. Where can people get ahold of you?

[00:37:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, the best way is to search my name, Jason Barnard. You’ll find all the information you want on my Brand SERP. 

[00:37:54] Paul Warren: Definitely. That’s a great plug.

[00:37:57] Ryan Klein: I’m sorry, but do they have to associate, do they have to type in Motorhead? Do they have to type in double bass or can they type in ORM, SEO, all those kinds of things or is it just straight up your name? 

[00:38:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s straight up my name. There are 250 Jason Barnards in the world, none of them get a look in, poor chaps. So, Jason Barnard, it’s actually just me which is part of the thing is the probability that somebody is searching for Jason Barnard, the podcaster in the UK, Jason Barnard, the footballer who’s quite famous in South Africa, is actually much higher than the fact that they’re searching for me in those countries. And yet I’m still the only person on the Brand SERP. Why? Because Google is so phenomenally confident that it’s understood. So it’s going, oh, easy option. Jason Barnard, understood, this one. There you go, guys. Everybody’s happy.

[00:38:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, search my name. You should only see me, not should in inverted commas, not in the sense. That’s not all I wanted you to see. And that’s interesting from the point of view is the Brand SERP is not only what’s most relevant for the user but what also Google is the most confident in.

Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Talking With Another Jason Barnard

[00:39:02] Paul Warren: Have you ever thought about tweeting at Jason Barnard the footballer and talking shit to them because your name ranks and his doesn’t?

[00:39:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Actually, the podcast house, he does music podcasts in the UK, Jason Barnard, the Strange Brew. He’s actually a really, really nice guy. And I’ve tweeted him, and we’ve had a tweet conversation. And he’s really cool about it. And he’s really, really nice about it.

[00:39:30] Ryan Klein: Well, that’s good.

[00:39:32] Paul Warren: That’s interesting. One last note for me and I swear I won’t chime in for anything anymore. People will pay for domains and the position that domains got. I can imagine that there’d be a landscape where people would pay for the work that you’ve done, positioning a name, if that would even make sense.

[00:39:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s true. Oh, Lord. Oh, no. You started a whole new rabbit hole. 

[00:39:53] Paul Warren: I didn’t mean to. I swear. Nope. Just erase that from your memory. 

[00:39:56] Ryan Klein: Let’s start by all the name domains, and that’s what’s going to happen. You can see it.

Promoting Jason’s Twitter and LinkedIn Accounts and Ending The Podcast

[00:40:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant. Anyway, connect with me on Twitter @jasonmbarnard. I love Twitter. I think Twitter is a lot of fun. LinkedIn I like because there’s a lot of good stuff going on. LinkedIn is more informative. Twitter is more informal and fun. So, it depends on what you’re at achieve is. Come along to Kalicube.Pro and have a look at the platform. Search my name if you feel like it. And that’s it. I’m really, really happy to talk to people and discuss Brand SERPs. If you want to talk about traditional SEL, probably go and talk to somebody else.

[00:40:31] Paul Warren: Alright. Well, thank you. Jason Barnard, everyone.

[00:40:34] Ryan Klein: Thank you so much for being on. 

[00:40:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thanks a lot, guys. That was brilliant. 

[00:40:38] Paul Warren: Alright. But, anyways, thanks so much again for listening and be sure to like, share, subscribe anywhere that you listen to this podcast set. Really appreciate it. And thanks again. I’m Paul Warren.

[00:40:52] Ryan Klein: And I am Ryan Klein.

[00:40:53] Paul Warren: And this has been another episode of SEO is Dead and Other Lies. 

[00:40:56] Ryan Klein: Happy new year!

[00:40:57] Paul Warren: Bye.

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