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Everything You Need To Know About Brand SERPs

On today’s episode of the Internet Marketing Podcast, Andy is joined by Jason Barnard, The Brand SERP Guy at Kalicube to discuss everything you need to know about Brand SERPs and how you can take control of your own brand.

On the show you’ll learn:

  • Why 2020 is the year of the brand SERP.
  • Why Google is your new business card and what that means for you.
  • How you can influence your brand search engine page results and make it positive, accurate and convincing.
  • How you can shape the anatomy of the SERPs and make yours sexy!
  • Why your brand SERP is an important part of the sales funnel.
  • Plus, Jason provides his top tip when it comes to brand SERPs.

[00:00:00] Andy White: This is internet marketing. Brought to you by Site Visibility at sitevisibility.co.uk. This is internet marketing. At first thought today, Site Visibility have just released their 2020 PPC automation guide. So, this guide is completely free to download and it’s going to help you to get started with each of the new automation settings in Google ads. So, this includes smart bidding, responsive ad testing, dynamic search ads, some more. The best way to accelerate your PPC growth in 2020 is to start planning today. So, download your guide for free at Bit.ly/ppc-automation-guide.

[00:00:52] Andy White: And today I’m joined by Jason Barnard, The Brand SERP Guy. Jason, thanks for coming on. 

[00:01:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s an absolute pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. 

[00:01:07] Andy White: It’s an absolute pleasure to invite you as well. Now you’re in France aren’t you?

[00:01:12] Jason Barnard: Yeah, I left the UK 30 years ago. I’m English by birth. I’m French by adoption. I’ve now got French nationality. I’ve had it for nine months, something like that. Now I’ve been here for 30 years.

Jason Barnard on Tracking and Taking Control of His Own Personal Brand SERP 

[00:01:24] Andy White: So, tell us a little bit more about yourself and specifically The Brand SERP Guy.

[00:01:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, well, I started tracking my own personal Brand SERP, what comes up when people Google my name in 2013, so I’ve been doing it what, seven years. And I was trying to, I was wondering how much I could control what comes up and it turns out a lot. If you search my name, Jason Barnard, on Google, what comes up is me, me, and more of me. And it looks really impressive and I look really impressive because I’ve been working on it.

[00:01:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what I find interesting about it is there are 250 other Jason Barnards in the world. One of them was of a footballer and quite successful footballer in South Africa and they don’t get a look in. So, in terms of personal brand search, you can take control of your personal Brand SERP to the exclusion of all the other people who share your name. And in terms of your Brand SERP, which tends to be less ambiguous, you can take control and you can, my little kind of phrase is to make it positive, accurate, and convincing. And you can do it and you can control it and you can really control what people see when they Google your brand name.

[00:02:29] Andy White: And you’ve been living the digital nomad life haven’t you in the last few years? 

[00:02:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Actually only 14 months.

[00:02:36] Andy White: 14 months. Okay.

[00:02:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Well, now it’s in the south of France kind of wondering why am I here. Not in the kind of existential philosophical sense of my life, but why am I in the south of France. And then I kind of thought there’s no reason for me to be here. My daughter’s gone to university. I separated from my wife. I just thought I might as well travel around. So, I packed everything up, put it in storage, and got a backpack and set for around the world, which was amazing. 

[00:03:02] Andy White: And is it true that you played the role of a cartoon dog on a TV series? 

[00:03:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I did. I did. I was a blue dog in a cartoon and my ex-wife was a yellow koala. And there’s no rhyme or reason why we chose blue dog and yellow koala. And the song, I will sing it if you’d like. 

[00:03:20] Andy White: Go on then.

[00:03:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A Boowa and Kwala, we are Boowa and Kwala, we are. And that’s the kind of song that’s fun when you write it. And it gets really annoying because it’s sexing your head. Now, listen back to it and see if it doesn’t get stuck in your head. And we had parents who would complain that it just went round around in their heads and the kids loved it.

[00:03:42] Andy White: Oh my Lord. Well, to save us from getting that tune stuck in my head, I want to drill down a bit onto this whole idea of the Brand SERPs, search engine result pages. So, I’m going to ask you a bit later a specific question that I want to ask.

[00:04:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, the surprise question at the end.

The Idea of Using Google as a Business Card 

[00:04:01] Andy White: The surprise question, but it’s not really a surprise question. It’s just a bit selfish question really. But first this whole idea of, cause I know one of your ideas or philosophies or probably an idea is a better word, is that Google is your new business card, possibly even your homepage. Just expand on that a bit first. 

[00:04:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Well, kind of these days, when you talk to somebody about your company or about your products, what do they do? They immediately search either your name because you’re the person who talked about it or your brand name, the company you’re talking about to research it. And so in fact whereas we used to give these business cards in person. Now you talk to somebody online on Twitter, or perhaps on a conversational Skype or whatever it might be, and people will immediately go and google your name or your brand name to figure out who you are exactly. So, it’s the equivalent of giving them a business card.

[00:04:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And having a bad business card and rubbish business card and unconvincing business card is obviously a really bad idea. So, that’s the first idea. And the other thing as well is even in person, if you meet somebody in person, if you give them your business card, they’ll still look you up when they get home. And if what comes up is rubbish, all that conversation you’ve had, all that work you had convincing them is suddenly out the window. So, in that sense, it’s a business card. And then if you can push that further as they were, in fact, that first experience with my brand online is that Google SERP. So, it’s my homepage. And if I have a client, a lot of searches on our brand name is actually our existing clients who are simply navigating to the site. So, that SERP becomes in a way your homepage. And once again, if it’s rubbish afterwhile that rubbish message is going to get through to the client, you’ll probably lose them.

[00:05:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you end up with a situation where it’s both your business card and your home page. And if we take that idea of homepage, when I said that, and I thought we might, that might be pushing it a bit far. And then I was talking to people who were in the local SEO space, like Greg Gifford or Andy Simpson. And they said, oh, we’ve been saying this for years, but nobody listens to us. So, the idea, especially in local search, it is your homepage. People rarely go to websites anymore. They use Google to come to your business physically, simply by visiting Google. So, in local search, especially you have this idea of Google is my homepage. And it becomes phenomenally important in all of those cases.

Managing the Brand SERP of Your Name By Using Your Middle Name Or Associating It With Your Job

[00:06:25] Andy White: I love the idea of that. It’s that sort of, I love that idea of being so good that you can just completely rely on people going home, bringing up a Google search page and just doing your name or your brand name and the SERPs speaks for itself because I’ve always had this problem. I’ve just opened up an incognito window and I’ve done a search for Andy White. And as normal, all that comes up is the Irish singer songwriter, Andy White. That’s another thing about me. So, obviously, there’s something wrong.

[00:06:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And if he’s good, that’s okay. But if he’s not, that’s pretty shameful, but you have a typical problem for me. The thing about brands is that they tend to be less ambiguous, especially geographically. They tend not to be multiple brands with the same name. Obviously, there are some times when that whole fashion for naming your company, after the keywords you wanted to use suddenly looks pretty foolish or at least out of date because there’s ambiguity. And with a personal name, there’s obviously that big problem of ambiguity. And I’ve created a course where I teach people, an online course, how to manage their Brand SERPs. And I’m going to do one course about your personal Brand SERP by your name for which I’m currently researching of this exact problem. How do we deal with it?

[00:07:45] Andy White: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:07:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Part of it will be to associate your name with another word that represents your job. So, Andy White SEO or Andy White digital marketer or use your middle initial, which I’m going to imagine your middle name is Dominic.

[00:08:03] Andy White: Thomas.

[00:08:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That was pretty close.

[00:08:06] Andy White: What’s close is it’s got an O in it.

[00:08:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You could become Andy T. White in which case you would reduce the ambiguity to much less and create a place for yourself. That’s another technique. I met a journalist from the Sunday Times and he had this similar problem. And he just started communicating with his middle initial all the time. You, however, have Andrew T. White photography as competition.

[00:08:33] Andy White: Yes.

[00:08:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Anyway, so that’s something that will be coming up I think this summer. I’m talking to a lady called Mary Henderson from Australia who’s a super expert and Kate Dunne also from Australia who’s a super expert. And we’re working to figure out what it is we can do with the idea of personal branding and more specifically, my case, personal Brand SERPS. So, that’s my next stage of research and exciting future.

The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard) on Making Your Brand SERP Positive, Accurate, and Convincing 

[00:09:01] Andy White: So, we just touched there on sort of having a bit of control over your Brand SERP. I wonder if you could just go a little bit deeper into how we can control it. I’m actually particularly interested because you mentioned making it positive, accurate, and convincing. Perhaps we can start there.

[00:09:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I looked up Site Visibility which looks pretty good, actually. If we take it from the top, I’m going to analyse it very quickly live here. We have your homepage top, which is normal. If you don’t have your homepage at the top of your Brand SERP, you’ve got a problem and you should really start looking at how your site is organised or the ambiguity of your name. But then you have the Rich Sitelinks. Surprisingly, only 50% of brands have those Rich Sitelinks. That’s the little links underneath with a little title and a description that are all taken from your site. Underneath that you’ve got your Twitter account, which is great. Having social accounts is normal. Then your LinkedIn account and a Crunchbase, which is great because that’s a source of information that Google uses to understand the world and search engine results more and more about how much does Google truly understand who you are and what you do.

[00:10:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s what Brand SERPs at their real foundation do is if Google can present results that truly represent you positively, accurately, and convincingly, then it’s truly understood who you are and what you do. And if it can understand who you are and what you do, you become a potential answer on all sorts of different search queries around it. So, I’m saying build from your brand, make sure it’s understood who you are, what you do, what you offer, convince it you’re credible, and it will propose you to its users as answers for potential questions further down the line.

[00:10:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the idea of credibility next is Video Boxes. You’ve got your Video Boxes through the three videos there so I can immediately go and see a video that either you were appearing or you’ve produced. And that for a user is great for me because it’s saying, okay, here’s Site Visibility. They have these videos. They obviously have a great video content that you might want to watch as somebody researching this brand. That’s a really positive signal. It’s very helpful to me as a user.

[00:11:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you have a couple of reviews. You’ve got Facebook and Glassdoor with five stars. So, you’re looking pretty good. So on that, there are a lot there. If you think back to what I said, there’s a lot there that you can actually control or semi-control your homepage and all the site links. That’s a good third of your Brand SERP you control directly. Your Twitter account, your LinkedIn account, your Facebook account, you control partially. Your Crunchbase page, you can go and edit it so you control that. Your Video Boxes, you control the videos because you’re the person who’s produced them. And the review site that appears you can actually go and get reviews to make it look even more impressive by increasing the number of reviews and pushing that star rating up. It’s actually a 3.7, you could push it to well about four. So then you can make that SERP look much more positive. And, obviously, I don’t know your business but in this page, there is certainly some information that isn’t 100% accurate. And if you look, you will be able to probably go in and correct it, perhaps on Crunchbase, perhaps on your own site.

[00:12:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then the idea of positive once again is the star rating and the idea of convincing is those Rich Sitelinks. It’s the Video Boxes. But you could also expect to have your podcast. For example, I’ve got Podcast Boxes on mine or Twitter Boxes, which are immediate posting of whatever you post on Twitter is put onto your Brand SERP within 15 seconds. So, you get real time control over what appears on your Brand SERP through Twitter. And these Rich Elements, which people call SERP features are incredibly important. Today, if you search a brand and it’s just 10 blue links, they don’t look credible. You expect to see the Video Boxes. You expect to see Image Boxes. You expect to see a Knowledge Panel. You expect to see Twitter Boxes, Video Boxes, and so on and so forth. And if you don’t, the brand doesn’t look credible. It’s not a “sexy” business card.

How To Make Your Brand SERP Look “Sexy” 

[00:13:01] Andy White: So, how do you make you’re Brand SERP results sexy? 

[00:13:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. In the first instance, you break things down into what do I control, what don’t I control, what do I semi-control. Then you start improving those aspects with different techniques that I explained in my Brand SERP courses. And then you start thinking which Rich Elements are relevant for my audience that I don’t have. For example, in your case, I would say straight away, okay, you’ve got Twitter ranking very well, but you don’t have Twitter Boxes. That implies that your Twitter strategy isn’t as good as it could be. I would say if you work on your Twitter account, if you make it more pertinent, get more audience engagement, push that account a little bit further, you’ll get the Twitter Boxes. And that looks a little bit sexier than it does today.

Takeaway Tips on Optimising Your Brand SERP 

[00:13:49] Andy White: So just boiling this down a bit. If we were going to do a takeaway for our audience today, if they could either think about something or do something that would help in this area, what would it be? 

[00:14:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, the first thing I would say is actually search your own brand and look what comes up from your own site. And you’ll find more often than not that there are things that you can improve. However much you think your site is well-optimised, it probably isn’t. For example, Contact Us Pages, typically, they don’t look great in the sitelinks because we don’t bother optimising them in SEO traditionally, because they’re not useful for the wider SEO strategy. Here, as a sitelink, they’re incredibly important. They’re front and center, right at the top. People will see it, everybody who searches your brand.

[00:14:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, tip number one, search your brand right now. See what comes up. Is it positive? Is it accurate? Is it convincing? If not, change everything you can, improve everything you can, then look at what you can semi-control: the social accounts, Crunchbase, Wikipedia, perhaps Wikidata. And then, start thinking, how can I get these Rich Elements and that moves us nicely onto how a Brand SERP is a great insight into your brand’s digital ecosystem and your brand’s marketing strategy. If you don’t have Video Boxes, which you do, so you’re amazing, it means that you have a rubbish video strategy. Google doesn’t think your videos are sufficiently valuable, relevant, and interesting to your audience to show your audience those videos on your Brand SERP.

[00:15:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to start. Look in the mirror. Think about how you’re being presented. Think about how you can influence how you’re being presented. And think about how you appear to people who are searching your brand name, and who’s searching your brand name, its existing clients to navigate to your site and also prospects who are about, they’re bottom of funnel. And that’s what I find exciting is people forget about that. The people who are searching your brand name or researching it often just before they make the purchase to check that they’re choosing the right company to work with.

[00:15:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Journalists. As a journalist, you will have googled my name before we started this conversation. A potential partner. Somebody is thinking about partnering with you. They will google your brand name. A potential hire. If you’re in an industry where it’s quite difficult employing people or getting people on board, a potential hire or somebody who potentially might work for you will google your brand name to see if you’re worthy of their incredible skills. In a market where skills are scarce, for example, coding is a great example or machine learning. You have to look great. You have to convince these people that you are a great brand to be doing business with.

Where To Find Out More About Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)

[00:16:37] Andy White: Jason, thanks so much for coming on. So, how can our listeners find out more about you?

[00:16:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, I’m on social media. I’ve actually just standardised it all, so it’s Jason M. Barnard on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the other one, Instagram. You can go to Kalicube.Pro, which is my research platform. I created a research platform and I’m tracking 24,000 brands and people. So, it’s about 14,000 brands and 10,000 people. I track the Brand SERPs and then Knowledge Graph presence, which is Google’s understanding of that brand or that person. And I’ve been doing that for a couple of years now.

[00:17:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, if you look at Kalicube.Pro, there’s a lot of information about that tracking, lots of information at where you can read more about what I’ve written or the webinars I’ve been doing, all the presentations I’ve been doing at conferences, which is why I’m a digital nomad. I go from conference to conference, giving talks about Brand SERPs, which is what I love about it is people say that’s not going to fly very far. Is it? It’s a pretty simple subject and I’ve been doing it for seven years. And I still haven’t even started to come to the end of it. Everytime I sit down and research, I looked at your Brand SERP today and I learned something new.

[00:17:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s never ending. It’s an astonishingly deep interesting, for me at least, topic. And as I said, it gives you a great insight. It’s a window into your marketing strategy, where you’re going right, where you’re going wrong and your digital ecosystem, what people are saying about you, what perception is. And if you look at Google as a reflection of the world’s opinion of you, which it is, Google’s reflecting back what it thinks the world thinks about you. So if there’s rubbish results, Google thinks that the world thinks you’re rubbish in which case you have to start looking at your digital ecosystem. Why does it think that? What signals is it looking at that’s making it think that those signals are the most relevant, the most appropriate to be showing my audience?

[00:18:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Sorry. The initial question was where you can find me. You can find me on Kalicube.Pro, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Jason M. Barnard or you can search my name, Jason Barnard, please do so. I’m trying to boost the volume of searches on my name and you’ll see Jason Barnard in Google only I come up and very quickly, I was going to say early on, I forgot, is I didn’t get more business from having a great Brand SERP. But the people who were thinking about doing business with you didn’t argue about the price and signed on the dotted line 70% of the time instead of 50% of the time. So, I made money indirectly.

[00:19:16] Andy White: Yeah. It just shows you the power. Well, thank you so much for coming on and thank you for listening everyone. The show notes will be at sitevisibility.co.uk/impodcast. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a great review, that will be good. Questions and suggestions, the email is [email protected] You can tweet @sitevisibility. Remember we have a Site Visibility LinkedIn group. That’s all from me, Andy. And it’s all from Jason. 

[00:19:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you very much. That was really good fun, Andy. 

[00:19:46] Andy White: Thanks for coming on, Jason. And we’ll see you next time on internet marketing.

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