Hello marketers! Welcome to the 20th installment of the Marketing Microscope Podcast!
In this one, I’m joined by the one and only Taral Patel – longtime SEO Manager at E2M. We are welcoming Jason Barnard, known as “The Brand SERP Guy” in the marketing world.
Jason is a longtime marketing guru and the founder/CEO of Kalicube. Kalicube is a digital marketing agency that’s done wonders to revolutionize the concept of exact match brand SERPs.
Jason has built Kalicube Pro, a SaaS platform that helps brands and people optimize their Brand SERP and manage their knowledge panel
As you could probably guess, this episode is all about Brand SERPs.
We kick off the show by discussing Brand SERP as a whole: what your audience sees when people Google your brand name. We examine the perception that brand SERP, and whether it’s all about keywords – then we get into some of the biggest misconceptions that people have on the topic.
Jason gives us a few awesome strategies for how to track brand SERP – analyze the results, the telltale signs you’re in trouble, and how to measure the potential. We then get some excellent insight on how brand SERP and online reputation are tied together, how to prioritize channels, content, and set yourself up for success.
After a brief intermission, we get right back into it by discussing the Knowledge Graph Algorithm. We get Jason’s take on how it differs from the Google Core Algorithm – as well as the major shift we saw back in February of last year. At this point in the show, Taral takes the reins and we get to the root of the Knowledge Graph Algorithm and what it takes to appear in it. Jason gives us some excellent insight on how to do so without a Wikipedia page.
We shift gears in the show to address some real-life dilemmas many bigger brands face: negative sentiment. The three of us chat about what to do in this situation, what to prioritize, and how to take action before things spiral out of control.
As the show concludes, Jason tells us a few key tidbits on how to convince clients of the importance of a healthy brand – and how it’s achievable.
A Brief Introduction to the Life of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:00:00] Kevin Svec: Good morning, marketers. You’re listening to the 20th installment of The Marketing Microscope Podcast brought to you by E2M Solutions, a full-service digital agency specialising in website design development, SEO, e-commerce, content marketing, and copywriting. This is your host, Kevin Svec, chief content strategist at E2M. And joining me today on this podcast is SEO analyst at E2M, Taral Patel. And our guest today is Jason Barnard, The Brand SERP Guy himself. Now, Jason, I’m sure our listeners know who you are. But if you wouldn’t mind telling us a little bit more about yourself and your background in SEO.
[00:00:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Lovely to be here, Kevin. Thank you for having me on the show. I call myself The Brand SERP Guy. I gave myself that name because I wanted to bring to people’s attention the fact that Brand SERPs, that is the Google results page when somebody searches an exact match brand name, is incredibly important to your digital strategy. So, it’s just a bit of marketing on my part.
[00:00:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But my history, my story is actually I’m a double bass player. I used to be a musician in the 20th century. That was eight years. I was a professional double bass player in a punk folk band. Then I created a cartoon with my ex-wife that was produced by ITV international and screened around the world. And we built a website to be the 10,000 biggest website in the world in terms of traffic. And that’s how I segued into marketing SEO, digital marketing.
What Was Jason Barnard’s 2020 Like?
[00:01:30] Kevin Svec: Very cool. Very cool. So, yeah. I know 2020 was just a crazy year for everyone. What was it like for you?
[00:01:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I was at digital nomad when it all started back in March. I just come by. I actually went around the world the wrong way. I went, hang on, where was I. I went from Paris to Australia to Seattle to interview people at Bing. If anyone’s interested in how search engines work, that series of interview with the guys at Bing is incredibly interesting. And you can read about it on Search Engine Journal.
[00:02:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then I came back to Paris. And somebody told me that’s the wrong way around, but I always wanted to have that thing where you land before you take off. So you take off from Australia, and because of the way the time works, by the time you land in Los Angeles, it’s actually an hour before you took off. And I did it. But going around the world that way, somebody told me it’s really, really tiring, and believe me, it is.
[00:02:30] Kevin Svec: Yeah. A lot of ground to cover.
[00:02:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And anyway, I go back to Paris, and then the whole lockdown thing started so I had to cancel my kind of travelling. I was just travelling around the world, living in hotels with the red look sack, going to conferences, doing interviews for my podcast. And since then, I thought it’ll come back in a few months, like I think we all do a year ago. So I asked my daughter if I could stay in her flat in Paris, and I’ve been there for a year, and she’s getting thoroughly sick and tired of me.
[00:03:02] Kevin Svec: That’s funny. Yeah. That sounds like a pretty exciting year that was just taken to an abrupt holt as everything else was.
[00:03:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I think I was lucky because I got all of 2019 travelling around the world so I did a whole year. And then, it was locked down. Since then, I’ve been wondering, shall I get a new flat or should I just stay on sleeping on my daughter’s sofa. And it’s beginning to look like I have to get a proper flat.
The Definition of a Brand SERP
[00:03:31] Kevin Svec: It sounds like you’re in a good spot now. You got to spend a quality year with your daughter, and now you get to live in Paris. So, Jason, I want to get right down to business here. You’re The Brand SERP Guy. I’d like to get a definition. How would you define Brand SERP?
[00:03:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, a Brand SERP is what your audience sees when they Google your brand name, which is the really simple way of stating it. And there are a few things to realise there. And one of which is that the people who are googling your brand name are the people who are probably the most important to your business. They’re going to be bottom-of-funnel. They’re going to be clients. They’re going to be people who are looking for information about your brand, who either are already doing business with your brand or are going to do business with your brand. It could be a potential hire, journalist, investor, client, prospect. And these people, what they see on when they search your brand name, when they google your brand name needs to be positive, accurate, and convincing. They’re the people you really want Google to show the right information about you.
Brand SERPs Are Focused on the Exact Brand Match
[00:04:28] Taral Patel: Great. Jason, a lot of people have this perception that Brand SERP is all about branded keywords. So, is it necessarily the case or is it more than there?
[00:04:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s actually less than that. In one sense is that when I talk about Brand SERPs, search engine results page, people tend to say all sorts of branded SERPs, brand name plus reviews or brand name plus product name. And I’m saying actually, I’m just focusing on the exact match brand name. And it seems like it’s very simple and it seems like it doesn’t really mean very much, but it’s actually much more interesting and meaningful than you would imagine.
[00:05:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you take it from the point of view of Google as your new business card, the reason I started doing this is because I used to go in and pitch to clients. Clients will go, yeah, great. We’re going to have Jason Barnard. Wonderful. We’ll have him as the person, the go-to person for our digital marketing strategy. And then they would search for me. They would search for me on Google, and what would come up was the blue dog cartoon I mentioned earlier. And then, I didn’t sign the clients because they were thinking, I don’t want a blue dog, a cartoon blue dog looking after my digital strategy. So, I realised that what came up was incredibly important, and I needed to make sure that it made me look credible for the job that I was actually pitching for. So, that idea of it’s my business card is incredibly important.
The Idea of Online Reputation Management and Content Strategy
[00:05:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you take it a step further. As a brand, if you look at your Brand SERP, we’re talking here all about ORM. If you’ve got a site with bad reviews about your ranking, ask yourself why. Why does Google think that’s relevant for your brand? It means it thinks it’s probably true. So, you’ve got some serious questions to ask yourself about your own brand. Thirdly, if you look at the fact that it’s accurate and positive, if it’s not that Google’s misunderstood, and it’s representing you in a negative manner when it should in fact be representing you in an honest manner, and that honest manner should be the manner that you want it to present you.
[00:06:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And thirdly, I love this part. It’s an insight into your content strategy. If you’re investing in video but on your Brand SERP when somebody searches your brand name there are no video boxes, it means that you are investing badly. If you’re doing lots of Twitter but you don’t have Twitter boxes, it means your Twitter strategy is rubbish. Because what Google is looking for is those media, videos, images, reviews, Twitter where your audience truly engages with your brand. And if you don’t have them, but you are investing in that particular area of content, you should look at that again. And if you’re, if you don’t have video boxes, you should make you think about investing in a video strategy to try to get them because videos are a great way, especially on mobile for people, your clients, your prospects, to consume your media, your content, to convince them to come closer to you as a brand.
Investing in Video Strategy, Twitter Strategy, and Knowledge Panel
[00:07:28] Taral Patel: Yeah. Especially now that we are seeing that Google has actually started to show a lot of video research for different types of queries. At this point, Brand SERP becomes even more important, right?
[00:07:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And 25% of Brand SERPs have video boxes. If yours doesn’t but your competition does, you’re probably missing a trick there.
[00:07:54] Taral Patel: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. That’s good.
[00:07:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s another thing as well is obviously I’ve just been talking about it from my own point of view as a brand, amazing way to spy on your competitors.
[00:08:05] Taral Patel: Yeah.
[00:08:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can immediately see where they’re investing their money. If they’ve got video boxes, they’re doing a great job investing in videos. They’ve got Twitter boxes, they’ve got a great Twitter strategy. They’ve got a Knowledge Panel, they’re investing in information and educating Google. So you can look at your competitors and look at your Brand SERP and say, am I better? Am I worse? They look better. They look worse. When somebody comes to make that decision of choosing between me and my competitor, they’re going to see, search each of our brand names.
[00:08:34] Taral Patel: Yeah.
[00:08:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Which one will they choose? Which one looks like the better business card?
[00:08:38] Taral Patel: Yeah. And it looks also more professional, right? It’s a branding. So, someone searches for a brand research for two separate brands. And, let’s say, they see all sorts of results, like video and Knowledge Graph and all these for one brand. And obviously, it’s going to create a very positive impression for that brand compared to the other one.
[00:09:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Exactly. I was looking at social media publishing platforms to use, and I tried looking up, I think, what do they call it? Hootsuite was one. SocialPilot is another. ContentCal was another. Before I made the decision, I looked up each of those three brand names. And whether or not I’m conscious of it, what appeared when I searched their brand name had an effect on my opinion of them.
[00:09:27] Taral Patel: Okay.
The Biggest Mistake Made About Brand SERPs
[00:09:27] Kevin Svec: So, Jason, yeah. Thanks. That was a really good explanation of Brand SERP. I’m wondering what are some of the biggest mistakes and misconceptions made about Brand SERP?
[00:09:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The single biggest mistake I see is that, a lot of people say, I don’t care because my website ranks number one, therefore I’ve already won the game and I don’t need to do anything else, which is very short-sighted. You obviously want to control the entire Brand SERP because you want to control the entire message that Google shows about your brand when your audience searches your brand name.
[00:10:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it obviously starts with your homepage, but it also goes to the Rich Sitelinks you see underneath. Do you have them? Do you not have them? If you don’t have them, then your site is badly organised. Google’s misunderstood how your site is organised and what content within your site might be a reasonable destination for your audience without having to go through the homepage.
[00:10:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, it tends to be that people think this is a one battle because I’m number one. Because traditionally, that’s what we do in SEO. If we were rank number one, we won the battle. And in fact in Brand SERPs, it goes much deep deeper. It goes into control. And the other kind of mistake that goes along with that is to think my homepage should say blue widgets, cheap blue widgets, blue blue blue blue widgets, widgets, widgets, cheap. And it shouldn’t. It should say who you are, what you do, why are you a good solution for your audience.
Using Kalicube to Track and Monitor Brand SERPs
[00:10:52] Kevin Svec: Got you. So, what are some of the ways companies can track and monitor their Brand SERP? I’m hoping you can tell us a little bit more about Kalicube here.
[00:10:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. In fact, I’ve been tracking. First thing I’m going to guide you to do is whatever your keyword tracking platform is set up a tracking of your own exact match brand name because that’s already a great insight. I use SE Ranking. They’ve got a really great presentation of the SERP in its entirety of a time, which I can’t show you because we’re not video, but it’s a really nice tool that I use in fact to track some of the Brand SERPs that I’m dealing with.
[00:11:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But Kalicube specialises in tracking the Brand SERP and measuring it, measuring how good it is qualitatively, how good it looks, how much control you have, and control is the single most important thing. Because if you want it to look good, if you control it, that’s easy. If you don’t control it, it’s really difficult and possible. So, you’re looking at control. You’re looking at quality. You’re looking at the number of Rich Elements, and then you’re comparing it to the industry. That’s what Kalicube does. It compares your Brand SERP with your competitors.
[00:11:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And also, the part of the platform that I’m developing right now is giving you advice as to how to improve it. Obviously, you start with your homepage. That’s easy. Then you look at the Rich Sitelinks. Then you look at the social channels. Then you look at the review platforms. Then you can start looking at your video strategy and your Twitter strategy. And as you can see all I’ve just done there, they started to describe a real digital strategy. And that’s what Brand SERPs are great at, showing you where to go, what the priority points should be because you can immediately see where you’re lacking, where you’re winning.
The Importance of Having Control in Tracking Brand SERPs
[00:12:34] Taral Patel: So if, let’s say, if someone needs to ask what are the top met prices that Kalicube can help them in tracking, so what would you tell them?
[00:12:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Control. It’s all about, once again, we were talking about ORM before. It’s all about saying if I don’t control the entirety of page one. If you search Kalicube, my company, you will see that I control or semi-control social accounts like Twitter, everything on that page. Everything is produced by me. It’s not third parties. And if that wasn’t the case, I could go on to page two, and I could look at that and say, what is there, Facebook, for example, or LinkedIn, the company profile from LinkedIn, all great review or great article about the company that I could, and this is the interesting bit, do SEO for them, push them up onto page one for me, which gives me that quality on that control. So, what Kalicube does is help identify a) are you any good, b) where are the problems, and c) what are the solutions.
[00:13:40] Taral Patel: Okay. Sounds great. Yeah.
[00:13:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It is great. I love it. I think it’s wonderful. But then I would, wouldn’t I?
[00:13:46] Taral Patel: Definitely.
Some of the Signs to Look For to Know if Your Brand SERP Is in Trouble
[00:13:47] Kevin Svec: So, Jason, I’m curious, what are some of the signs to look for that your Brand SERP is in trouble?
[00:13:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): First sign is if you’ve only got 10 blue links, that’s trouble. That’s really bad. That means, I think today we all expect Google to show us Rich Elements like video boxes and Knowledge Panels, Twitter boxes, entity boxes, People Also Ask. So, first sign is if you’ve already got 10 blue links, you’ve got no decent content around the web that Google thinks is valuable and relevant for your audience. That’s sign number one.
[00:14:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Sign number two, People Also Ask. I don’t think we talk about that enough in this context. Everybody knows People Also Ask is something that’s coming up more and more in the SERP. And in Brand SERPs, 40% of Brand SERPs have People Also Ask. What happens there is that you have questions around the brand. Are you answering those questions? The answer is probably no. 10% of brands answer the questions about themselves on their own Brand SERP in People Also Ask. That’s terrible. And it simply means that you’re not answering the questions that your clients, users, audience are asking.
[00:14:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what you can do, really simple solution is you look at those questions. First question is you should answer, and then when you click on them, they open up, and you get more questions. You can answer all those questions, and that as you open them up, you will see the questions around your brand will come up. So if you take something like SE Ranking, you would have, what is SE Ranking? How much does SE Ranking cost? And then you will get questions like, what is SEO? How do I build links? So then, you can start answering these questions around the topic that you’re dealing with, and it gives you a great opportunity to discover what kind of content your audience is asking Google and that Google associates with your brand, which means that they’re probably the keywords that Google is going to favourably treat you when it’s considering the ranking.
Understanding That Your Audience Is the Most Important People to Your Brand
[00:15:44] Taral Patel: A lot of brands, they don’t actually know that whether they can harness the power of Brand SERP. So, how do you make them realise their TSPU actually have a lot of potential if you invest in Brand SERP strategies. So, is there any way or is there any checklist that you provide to your clients to convince them in for investing in this?
[00:16:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, I think if a brand doesn’t understand that their top listed audience, the most important people to their brand are the ones who are searching their brand name, then they haven’t really understood the process of what they’re trying to do in terms of client acquisition and client retention. And then, some people say to me, oh, I got a search console. I can see there are only 20 people a day searching my brand name. And there are 500,000 people searching SEO so I’m going to rank for SEO or blue widgets or whatever the super-duper keyword of the day is ranking a brand. But you’re saying, okay, but those 20 people you’re either trying to convert them or retain them. So, you really need to make sure that function is for you. The problem that you have is that there’s no immediate return on investment that you can demonstrate to your boss.
[00:17:03] Taral Patel: Yeah.
[00:17:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Which means that it’s all a bit philosophical and a bit difficult, but then you can also point out that your Brand SERP is indicating to you where you might have a problem with your audience, for example, the bad reviews you were mentioning earlier on. And it also shows you where you might have a problem with your content strategy on how you can adapt and improve your content strategy because what Google does is rank on that Brand SERP the content that it feels is most valuable, helpful, useful to your audience. And in that case, it’s an immediate reflection of what Google thinks the world thinks about you and what Google thinks your audience is looking for in you. So, that’s a great introspection tool as it were.
Optimising Your Platforms Whether You Are a Large Brand or a Small Brand
[00:17:48] Taral Patel: So, it’s like irrespective of the brand size. This is something which can be implemented for all like small brands, for medium brand, and of course, large brands are always there. They should invest in this.
[00:18:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. What’s very interesting is when one says Brand SERP, what appears when your audience googles your brand name, one thing, it must always be more or less the same. And that’s so far from being true. A big brand like Disney, you’ll have their employment site, you’ll have the parks, you’ll have the shops. It will all be Disney, but it will be different aspects of Disney. With Microsoft, it’s going to be Xbox, it’s going to be the office suite, it’s going to be their homepage, it’s going to be their employment site, it’s going to be all the different products they offer. And for a small brand, it’s just going to be around their website, their social channels, and potentially, articles about them and reviews from their audience.
[00:18:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So already there, I’ve described the two very different approaches. One of which is optimising owned platforms like Microsoft and Disney. And if you’re a smaller brand, you’re going to want to look to obviously optimise the ones you own, which are at the top, but fill the rest of this stuff that’s positive, accurate, and convincing about you. That if you can, you control.
[00:19:05] Taral Patel: Yes. That’s very true. Yes.
War Stories in Brand SERPs: ORM When Bad Content Ranks
[00:19:08] Kevin Svec: So, Jason, I’m hoping you can give us one or two of your favourite war stories that you’ve experienced with Brand SERPs over the years.
[00:19:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. War stories in Brand SERPs would tend to trigger immediately the idea of online reputation management when some bad content ranks, and the war stories that I have there are just painful. Most over on agencies will say, let’s create lots of new content, and we’ll get that content to rank, and we will drown. I hate the term drown because you can’t drown this content. It’s not a question of volume of creating so much other content that you can push this bad content down through sheer volume because volume doesn’t count in this instance.
[00:19:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The content that’s ranking is ranking because Google thinks it’s valuable to your users, your audience. And if it thinks that, you need to find some content underneath it or create a new article, but that’s much more difficult. But find content on page two that you can indicate, prove to Google is more useful, more valuable than the content that’s currently ranking. And if you do that, it will rise up the rankings, and it pushed down the bad article. And if you can do that with enough content with an article, bad reviews will go off the first page. And the honors is on you to prove that this other content, preferably owned content or semi-owned content like your social channel, is more valuable than the bad review.
An Example of Pushing up Valuable Content and Killing Blue Links Through Twitter
[00:20:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A good example of that would be Twitter. If your Twitter page is ranking at the top of page two, if you work decently on your Twitter strategy, not only would it rise up onto page one, but you might trigger the Twitter Boxes, and that can potentially kill a blue link. So instead of having ten blue links to deal with, you only have nine because that big Rich Elements, those Twitter Boxes take up two spaces.
[00:20:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you’ve got all these kind of different elements that you can say what I need to do is leverage what already exists, engage my audience with that content to indicate to Google that that content is actually important to my audience, and Google will naturally push it up the rankings and push this bad content down. And that actually has a double effect is a) you’re getting rid of the bad content, but b) you’re also engaging your audience and probably pulling them down the funnel towards purchasing or interacting with them, whatever where your business requires people to interact for you to make money.
[00:21:24] Kevin Svec: Very cool. Very cool. So, Jason, we are about out of time for the first segment of the show. We’re going to go to a quick intermission, and we’ll be back in about 45 seconds to a minute.
[00:21:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant. Thank you.
[00:21:47] Kevin Svec: Thank you for listening to the Marketing Microscope Podcast. Hopefully, you’re getting some good tidbits on Brand SERP from Jason Barnard and how to go about improving your own. So, I want to change the topic a little bit to local SEO. What does your homepage look like now in 2021? As we all know, 2020 was a huge year for both local businesses and Google algorithm updates. If you haven’t optimised your homepage in a while, you’re probably overdue for some house cleaning. Vivek Patel, local SEO expert at E2M, provides a complete 2021 local SEO checklist for your homepage and beyond. Get some key insights on title tags, meta descriptions, images, content, and everything you need to capture those local searches in 2021. E2M has been doing local SEO since the beginning, and there’s no one better at it than Vivek Patel. To read the entire checklist, visit our website at e2msolutions.com/blog. Again, that’s e2msolutions.com/blog.
[00:22:58] Kevin Svec: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the 20th installment of the Marketing Microscope Podcast brought to you by E2M Solutions, a full service digital agency specialising in content marketing, SEO, web design, e-commerce, and copywriting. This is your host, Kevin Svec, chief content strategist at E2M Solutions. And joining us on the show today, I’ve got Taral Patel, SEO specialist at E2M, and our guest today is The Brand SERP Guy, Jason Barnard.
The Difference Between Google Knowledge Graph Algorithm From the Main Google Algorithm
[00:23:23] Kevin Svec: Now, Jason, in our last segment, we got all into what Brand SERPs are, what some of the big misconceptions are, and how to really just get your Brand SERP on the right track. So to start off section two, I want to get into the Google Knowledge Graph algorithm. So I’m curious to get your take, how is this different from the main Google algorithm?
[00:23:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Well, the main algorithm is all about ranking elements on the left-hand side, what we call the left rail on desktop. And that’s basically saying what is the best content that I can recommend to my user as a solution to their problem or an answer to their question. When you look on the right-hand side on desktop, and you’ve got what Google considers to be fact. These are factual solutions to the problem. And that relies on Google having an understanding of what it is the person is looking for, and that understanding is contained in the Knowledge Graph.
[00:24:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And up until now, it’s been two very separate aspects. You have the main algorithm on one side, which is recommending, and the Google Knowledge Graph algorithm on the second, the other side, which is understanding fact, understanding fact in a manner similar to the way a human being understands and remembers facts. So, what we’ve seen is that the two are very separate up until now. But from my research, it appears that they are now merging. And that the factual information Google has in its, in inverted commas, brain are being integrated into the main algorithm increasingly, frequently and being used more and more. And Google’s understanding of the world is much, much more important than it used to be.
[00:25:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I like to say in the past when I was the blue dog in the cartoon with the website, Google simply counted words or strings of characters and counted links. And that was how it judged how to rank a site. That when Google moved to hummingbird, it said from strings to things that was in 2015. Like with a lot of things, they were announcing what they intend to do, what they’re in the process of doing. And I think 2021 is the year that that actually happens. That this idea that we’re not just counting words, we’re not just counting links, we’re understanding the world, and we’re able to represent the world in our Google SERPs to our audience.
Explaining the Major Shift in the Knowledge Graph Algorithm from November to February 2020
[00:25:52] Taral Patel: That was a pretty clear answer, and I’m sure that will help SEO the more into understanding the difference between both these other algorithms. Moving forward, I read probably in your posts that there has been a major shift that occurred in this algorithm post February 2020. So, can you explain a bit more about this?
[00:26:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I’ve actually been tracking the Knowledge Graph API, which is Google’s insight. We can look into the Knowledge Graph using the API and pull out information about entities or what entities Google associates with specific strings. Now, I’ll explain that really quick. If you type the string Jason Barnard, before, what it would do or what the main algorithm tends to do is it looks at how often that string of characters appears in a page. And it will say, okay, must be about Jason Barnard, here we go. But what problem does it have there? It has the problem that there are 250 Jason Barnards in the world. Which one are we talking about?
[00:26:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That requires understanding. That requires context. And the Knowledge Graph contains that information. So, there are in the Knowledge Graph today two Jason Barnards, and it needs to distinguish between the two. One of them is an actor, one of them is me, then there’s a podcaster, and there’s a hockey player, and there’s a football player.
[00:27:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what Google is trying to do is understand in its Knowledge Graph each of these different people, what we call entities, the things in the phrase that Google says from strings to things, who each of them is, and where they fit into the world, and therefore, who their audience might be. Which is where we get into that incredibly important aspect is this is now going to integrate into the main algorithm and matching an entity, a thing, a company, a service, a product, a person to their audience is going to be incredibly important and where SEOs today need to get Google to understand.
Educating the Knowledge Graph Like a Child
[00:27:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): When I say get Google to understand, I mean educate Google like you would educate a child. The Knowledge Graph needs to be educated, needs to be filled with information, and it learns like a child learns by you telling it something. And then, it’s seen corroborative information all over the web that proves that what you said is true.
[00:28:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the Knowledge Graph, basically the Knowledge Graph algorithm updates is basically that is that every now and then, I’ve been tracking it for two years now. Every couple of weeks with some exceptions, there was a big gap, as you noticed between November and February. But every couple of weeks, Google has a big shakeup of the Knowledge Graph. And that shakeup is I believe a big set of new data, a big set of labeled data where Google pushes back into the Knowledge Graph things that people at Google have confirmed to be true. They have a team of people who check facts and then push that back into the Knowledge Graph and thirdly, an update to the algorithms so that it actually performs better in its job, which is to look at the data from the web and try to create understanding from that data.
Kalicube Pro Can Track the Updates on the Knowledge Graph
[00:29:10] Taral Patel: Is that an exact form where you regularly publish this updates just for our audience to know so those who are interested can visit that form regularly and keep a track of it?
[00:29:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. On the Kalicube Pro website, kalicube.pro, I’ve actually created a Knowledge Graph sensor. I’m doing tracking daily. And so, you can see what day the Knowledge Graph updates.
[00:29:36] Taral Patel: Okay.
[00:29:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that means that if you’re working on entity based search in any way, manner, or form, you can actually see whether or not the work you’ve done has had any effect. Because one thing, if anybody is trying to do this, you realise that you’re explaining to the child. You’re pushing corroborative information to it through Crunchbase, LinkedIn, Wikidata, your own site, Facebook, Twitter, whatever it might be. And you’re pushing this information, and you’re saying, but it doesn’t appear to be having any effect on my Knowledge Panel or on my Knowledge Graph presence. Google doesn’t seem to be understanding me any better despite all this hard work I’ve put in. And the reason for that is that generally the information will update when Google updates the Knowledge Graph. So on that day, on the day it updates, that’s when you’ll see whether the work you have done has had any effect or not.
Confidence Affects Enormously Whether or Not Google Shows a Knowledge Panel
[00:30:31] Taral Patel: Okay. Yeah. That’s true. I have this one weird question. You just talked about how we see different results for your name, Jason Barnard, like one is an actor. You are into digital marketing industry. So, is there any way Google decides what to show based on the searches, search history, or search behavior or anything? So, let’s say, Google knows based on my search results that I am someone into SEO. And if I type Jason Barnard, they’ll have some kind of probably Google show you all your search, your name on your profile into the search results. And similarly, if there’s a guy who is a movie buff and he searches Jason Barnard, so they show him, they show the result of the actor that you talked about. Do you think there is a possibility for this?
[00:31:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Surprisingly, not really, no. You would think that it would be really simple for Google to do that, but it actually apparently isn’t. What does affect enormously whether or not Google shows a Knowledge Panel, in fact, there are multiple things, but the single most important thing is confidence. It’s understanding a fact and being incredibly confident that it’s understood. Think about the child. If the child has understood or thinks it’s understood something, it will tend not to shout about it to its friends in case he or she looks stupid because it’s wrong.
[00:32:00] Taral Patel: Yeah.
[00:32:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Once the child is really sure, absolutely certain that it’s true, they will shout about it all day long. And Google’s the same. It doesn’t want to put something on that right-hand side, say this is true, and find that it looks really stupid. So, confidence in that information. So, obviously, first it needs to understand, then it needs to be confident it’s understood. And the more confident it is, the more it will flaunt its knowledge like a child.
Geolocation Also Greatly Affects What Appears in Your Searches
[00:32:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the third one is actually not so much your search history, but much more geolocation. What it shows on that right-hand side is incredibly dependent on geolocation. For example, in San Francisco, my Knowledge Panel doesn’t appear. You just see See Results About. And the reason for that is there is a professor at Golden Gate University who is also called Jason Barnard. So, Google thinks it’s actually quite probable they’re not searching for me, Jason Barnard. They’re searching for him, Jason Barnard.
[00:32:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And yet in South Africa, where there’s a famous footballer, I still get the Knowledge Panel. And that’s because Google has absolutely no, the Knowledge Graph in itself has no real idea of who that footballer is. The information isn’t in its brain factual, and it certainly doesn’t have confidence if it has understood partially. So, you have the aspect of understanding, confidence, and geolocation, which actually truly comes down to probability.
[00:33:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s what I think what you’re saying. We’ll come in and as we move forward is the probability that you are looking for that particular person or brand or entity. So, the probabilistic element is something Dawn Anderson talks a lot about. I think that’s going to become incredibly important. At the moment, it’s very much geo based, but I would imagine it will push into also interest based.
What Does Google Discover Do?
[00:33:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But where you are really hitting the nail on the head is Google Discover. Now, what does Google Discover does do? It looks at you and your behavior on your Android, your phone, your Chrome browser, whatever it might be, and it will push information it thinks you might potentially be interested in. And that means it needs to both understand you and your taste, which is what Discover does, but that’s not part of the global algorithm yet.
[00:34:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But secondly, it needs to understand who I am and what I offer and who my audience will be. Because then what it does is simply say Taral is interested in SEO. Jason Barnard talks about SEO. I have understood that Jason talks about SEO. I’m confident that he talks about it. I’m confident he’s an expert. Therefore, he is potentially a good piece of information that I can push to Taral without Taral having asked for it specifically.
Getting a Knowledge Graph Is Not a Question of Qualification or Notability
[00:34:37] Taral Patel: Yeah. And that takes me to my next question and know that it’s going to a more specific question that is like what are the primary requirements a company should fulfill to be qualified for the Knowledge Graph?
[00:34:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Actually, what’s interesting is you don’t need to qualify for it. It’s not a question of qualification or notability. It’s a question of Google simply wants to understand. If you look at Google Maps, Google Maps is a massive Knowledge Graph. And it’s a very good example. If you start to consider how Google Maps works, you’ll start to understand how the Knowledge Graph works because Google Maps is actually just a Knowledge Graph.
[00:35:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And here’s a great phrase from a guy, who now works for Amazon whose name I’ve forgotten, that it solves geospatial queries it has never seen before in real time. I’ll let you listen back and think about that. But basically what he means is it can solve a to b problems. Like for example, I’m looking for a coffee shop, and it will know where I am, where the coffee shop is. It will know the coffee shop sells coffee. And it will also say I’m looking for tea, and it also sells tea. And it can solve the problem of finding my destination, what I’m looking for in search, the best solution, and how I can get to that solution. And it can do that in real time because if the coffee shop nearest to me is close, it won’t send me there. It will send me to the next one.
Google Maps Is Based on Entities, Understanding, and Confidence in Understanding
[00:36:12] Taral Patel: Yeah. This is something very interesting. And it’s something we never thought about this Google map thing.
[00:36:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What is stunning and what I do love about it is all the guys in in local search, Greg Gifford, Claire Carlile, Mike Blumenthal, they’ve been talking about this stuff for years. But if you look at Google Maps and local search, you can see where Google is going with the main algorithm, which sounds a bit weird and counterintuitive, but Google maps is based on entities and understanding and confidence in understanding. And it’s based on solving a problem that I give it in real time and providing me with the most appropriate solution through understanding of the world in the manner a human being would understand the world.
[00:37:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so if we come back to the idea of qualifying to be in the Knowledge Graph, it’s the same. Google just wants to understand. It doesn’t care if you’re notable. Now, Wikipedia is a great example. Is if you want a Wikipedia article, you need to be notable because Wikipedia is a human encyclopedia where people go along and look up information, look up facts. If nobody is going to do that spontaneously for your name or your brand on Wikipedia, you aren’t actually helping Wikipedia at all. Google doesn’t care about that notability. All it cares about is understanding who you are, what you do, and who your audience is.
The Simple Steps to Have a Knowledge Graph
[00:37:37] Taral Patel: So, is there any process which one needs to follow or certain guidelines that needs to be followed to be appeared into the Knowledge Graph?
[00:37:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It’s stunningly simple, idiotically simple. The first thing is you need to identify your entity. It’s your brand. It’s the service you offer, the product you offer, your CEO, yourself, your podcast. Your podcast is an entity. So, you need to identify what entity you’re talking about. Then, you need to designate an Entity Home, what Mike Blumenthal calls the canonical and is basically the place that Google will always look for information about that entity, where the entity in inverted commas lives on the internet for the machine.
[00:38:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Once you’ve done that, you need to explain on that page, and it’s a page, not a website. On that page, you need to explain exactly clearly simply factually what the entity is, what it does, and who the audience is going to be. Then, what you do is you write Schema Markup, which is really boring, but there are lots of tools out there that will do that for you. I love WordLift. I’m doing loads of experiments with WordLift, an Italian company who do semantic SEO. They’re brilliant. And they’re helping me to run a lot of the experiments, and they run part of the Kalicube platform through their APIs.
[00:39:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And you then need to place the Schema Markup that explains in Google’s native language, let’s say, basically re-explains what you said in the page using structured information that Google can digest natively. It’s like speaking Google’s native language to it. Then, you use that Schema Markup to point what we call sameAs to all the other sources online that corroborate what it is you said.
Encountering Problems in Corroborative Information; The Solution Is to Standardise It
[00:39:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one problem that you will find because that first step you control it all. You create your Entity Home or you designate your Entity Home. You add the Schema Markup that re-explains the description that you’ve carefully crafted on the page that makes sense and a machine can understand. Then, you point to the corroborative information. Now up until that pointing to the corroborative information, you control everything.
[00:39:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Once you start pointing to corroborative information, you will start to go out. And you look at your LinkedIn profile, your Crunchbase profile, Zoom info, Owler, For People, IMDb, DMB, Bloomberg, BBB.org, whatever it might be, and you will see that they don’t necessarily corroborate what it is you said. There are factual mistakes. There are emissions. There is out of date information. There is information that is not clear that a machine will not be able to understand that what they’re saying is the same thing that you’re saying. So, you need to actually go out and correct all that information and standardise it as fast as you possibly can with that same description that is clear and simple that a machine can understand.
[00:40:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, basically, it comes down to what they say in local search as NAPs, name, address, phone number. It means that the more Google sees the same information, obviously it’s not name, address, phone number, it’s date found, description, services, products, who runs the company, whatever important information there is about your company or your entity. The more it sees that same information repeated on trusted sources around the web, the more it will be confident that that information is true. And as we said earlier, that confidence is key to getting that Knowledge Panel to trigger.
How Can Kalicube Help in Getting That Knowledge Panel
[00:41:04] Taral Patel: Okay. So, let’s say, if someone is selling a service, they need to be more consistent and make sure that the consistency remains on all the possible top platforms where the audience is, and that is how you build up confidence for Google that, hey, this is the business into the service. And that is how we move forward with the Knowledge Graph.
[00:41:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Exactly. And you’ve described it beautifully much, much quicker and much more simply than I did, but as you can see is incredibly simple. And what at Kalicube we’ve done is because it’s simple, but it’s really boring. And it’s actually quite difficult to collect that list of references because you think you know who’s referring to, where your profile pages are, where are those articles that talk about you are. But actually you’ll find that you’ll probably name 15 maybe, and they’re actually going to be 80 or 100 or 150 out there that you’ve either forgotten about or never knew about.
[00:42:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So what Kalicube does is go out there, find them, figure out which ones Google is paying attention to and prioritise them for you so you can just go around, you click on the link, and then you correct it. It also guides you through the process of writing the great description. Now, what’s interesting is that description you think, yeah, my description is clear. It probably isn’t. And it’s really difficult writing an incredibly clear factual description that isn’t stunningly boring for human beings and that’s the right balance to get, and it’s very difficult to do.
Doing an Experiment With Standardisation; Consistency Is Key
[00:42:36] Taral Patel: Is there anything to do with car? A lot of people do guest posting on different sites, and they use different auto buyers. So what are we, is it something where they need to really look into and make sure that the auto buyers they use on various platforms are highly, highly consistent or at least if you tweak them a little bit, but they should be very clear about what exactly the profile is about?
[00:43:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. They should all be the same. You might want to tweak on a little bit that you might want to adapt it slightly to the audience that that platform addresses. You said the word consistency. That’s absolutely the key. And what’s surprising is I actually didn’t realise how important that consistency was until I did a couple of experiments last year. And I standardised all the descriptions about myself, all the descriptions about my company, all the descriptions about my experiment, which are the blue dog and yellow koala from the TV series that I mentioned in the previous episode.
[00:43:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the effect was stunning. Google immediately got more confident and started showing the Knowledge Panels more. It put more information in the Knowledge Panels, and it started to connect them together because what I did for the blue dog and yellow koala is they had families. So, the blue dog has a father and a mother and a sister. The yellow koala has a mother, a father, grandmother, and a grandfather. And in their descriptions, I described that family tree. And that helps Google immensely to understand where each one fits into the overall story and how they’re all interconnected. So that when it shows a Knowledge Panel, it will now say mommy koala, significant other: daddy koala.
[00:44:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So what it’s done is through the text, I’ve written also the Schema Markup and the information that I’ve placed is it’s understood that they are married. It’s understood that they are Kwala’s parents, Kwala is the yellow koala, and they’ve understood that grandpa koala is married to grandma koala and they are Kwala’s grandparents. So, it build this nice Knowledge Panel with interesting enough, the description coming from my own site. So, I’ve got control of what Google says these characters are.
[00:44:55] Taral Patel: Yeah.
[00:44:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s not Wikipedia who’s describing them. There isn’t a Wikipedia article about them anymore. That got deleted because I messed with it too much because I was experimenting. So, there’s a lesson for people. a) If you don’t deserve a Wikipedia page, don’t try and create one. And if you do have one, don’t mess with it too much because they will delete it. But I didn’t need the Wikipedia page in the end because what I then did was just built this understanding into my own site and then corroborated around the web until Google understood, really just hammering home day after day, site after site, page after page the same information until it understood. It’s brute force understanding for children. Sorry about that.
How to Get a Knowledge Panel Without the Use of a Wikipedia Page
[00:45:40] Taral Patel: Yeah. Exactly. And now that we have discussed a lot about Wikipedia and its importance for Knowledge Graph. So, I came across your post on Search Engine Journal about getting a brand into the Knowledge Graph without Wikipedia page. So, this is really exciting, and I would like you to share it in more detail for our audience.
[00:46:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Wikipedia has been used and abused by SEOs forever. And they’re thoroughly annoyed with us. They’re thoroughly not happy, and I get it a hundred percent. SEOs have used it for link building. Now, we’re using it for fact building. Wikipedia editors have got better things to do with their time than deal with us. Wikidata, similar story, but obviously slightly different.
[00:46:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, I decided six months ago to figure out, I’ve had more than six months, nine months ago now, to figure out how to create entities in the Knowledge Graph, get Google to understand without ever using Wikipedia or Wikidata. And the answer is at my 500 experiments, 200 do not use Wiki at all, and 200 are in the Knowledge Graph. So the answer is, it isn’t actually very difficult. It just takes more time.
[00:47:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The other really interesting fact that I’ve discovered over the last few months is you think, right, Wikidata, Wikipedia, I’ve managed to waggle my way in there, and I’ve got my Knowledge Panel, job done, off I go. Interestingly enough, just Wikipedia or just Wikidata will give you a very flaky, unstable Knowledge Panel that can disappear at any moment. If anybody deletes that article, your entire, the entity just disappears from the Knowledge Graph 9 times out of 10.
[00:47:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If it doesn’t have corroborative information, so we come back to that idea again, if it doesn’t have corroborative information, it will not be confident so there’s no point. So if you do go to the Wikipedia/Wikidata route, which I don’t necessarily recommend, especially Wikipedia, if you’re not notable, don’t do it. It’s a waste of your time. It will take you a year to get it published, and then it probably will get deleted immediately, which means that you’ll get a Knowledge Panel for a few days and then disappear.
Using Jason’s Sister, a Film Director, as an Example of Someone Who Has a Wikipedia Page but No Entity Home
[00:48:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But the point is, I’ll give you a really interesting example that I was thinking about the other day. My sister, Clio Barnard, is a film director. She’s pretty famous in the independent film directory world of the world in Britain. And she has a Wikipedia page, and she deserves it, absolutely no doubt at all about it. She doesn’t have an Entity Home. She doesn’t have her own website. She’s on lots of sites, but the information is sometimes contradictory. She hasn’t joined the dots together because basically Google will go to IMDb and see that information. It will go to Wikipedia and see that information. And it’s disconnected in its brain. It isn’t sure that they’re talking about the same thing all the time.
[00:48:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s where the Entity Home comes in. It becomes the hub whereby Google can just keep whipping through this hub and going to all these different places to get the corroborative information and see that there is a relationship between them, that they’re talking about the same entity. And her Knowledge Graph confidence score is 49. Mine without Wikipedia page, built without a Wikipedia page is over 1000.
Another Example of Someone Who Isn’t Notable but Has a Knowledge Panel
[00:49:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And a guy called Ray Bob Brewster, who is a wonderful chap, who just decided he wanted a Knowledge Panel. He’s a guy who lives in the whirl. And he just built up corroborative information all around the web and built and built and built and built, and there’s so much. He has a confidence score in the Knowledge Graph of well over 2000, which is a big score for somebody who actually hasn’t ever done anything, in inverted commas, notable.
[00:49:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So it’s really, we come back to the idea of saying it’s brute force. It’s proving by a plus b over and over and over and over again. And he has an Entity Home, importantly, on your Entity Home and with the corroborative sources. This is a true fact. So, I really would encourage everybody to steer clear of Wikipedia unless you truly deserve it. Steer clear of Wikidata unless you truly deserve it. Read the notability guidelines and see if you should be on there. And if you shouldn’t be on there, don’t put yourself in there because you can do it without that.
More on What Kalicube Offers in Tracking Your Presence in the Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Panel
[00:50:10] Taral Patel: So, where exactly can we see the score that you are talking about?
[00:50:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can see that in Kalicube. What Kalicube actually does, once again, is it gives you the prioritised list. You go around and you can add your information to sites where it isn’t already that other people in your industry have got information that Google is paying attention to. It allows you to correct all that information. Then, it tracks your presence in the Knowledge Graph and your Knowledge Panel to see a) if the Knowledge Graph is gaining in confidence. When the Knowledge Graph updates, does your confidence score increase or not? And if it does, that means you’ve been working well. If it doesn’t, it means you haven’t been doing what Kalicube platform has been telling you to do.
[00:50:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And thirdly, it tracks that Knowledge Panel. Is it getting bigger? Is it getting richer? Does it contain more and more information? And what sources is it citing? And that’s really important. Coming back to Wikipedia, once you create a Wikipedia page, that Wikipedia page is what Google will always cite in the Knowledge Panel. That means you’ve just handed over your brand message to Wikipedia to people you will never see, people, faceless people who know more about Star Trek than they do about your business. Why on earth would you pass your brand message to these faceless people at Wikipedia?
[00:51:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Rand Fishkin was on my show talking about it, and he said he had his Wikipedia page deleted. And I loved the way he expressed it. He said, they get the information about Moz wrong. They got the information about me wrong. And it seems to me, if you ask them what hacks with Captain Kirk were in the 15th episode of the 10th season of Star Trek, they will be able to tell you and they will be right. But if you ask them who founded Moz, they can’t. They don’t know. Why would they know? So your brand message and facts about your brand, Wikipedia is not the right home for that. Unless, as I said, you’re an incredibly famous brand or an incredibly famous person, in which case somebody will create that page for you without you even asking them to.
The Advice of The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard) For Brands Who Want to Check How Well They Are Doing in Terms of Knowledge Panel
[00:52:16] Taral Patel: Okay. So, a message for the brands here is that if you want to check how well you are doing in terms of Knowledge Panel, maybe you can just go to all the pages where you’re sharing your information, make sure that is consistent, and then after a few days, check on the Kalicube, and see what the score is, right?
[00:52:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Obviously, I would advise you to use Kalicube because it makes that process much less painful, much faster, much more efficient. And it also, as I said, tracks when the Knowledge Graph updates, it will tell you the Knowledge Graph just updated. Here’s how you performed. And what I find interesting about that is that I find the guilty clients, the ones who didn’t do the work they were supposed to be doing, and they always look and sound kind of sheepish by saying, oh, yes, I didn’t get around to it. And you say, as long as you don’t get around to it, you’re Knowledge Graph confidence score won’t improve.
What Is the Minimum Number of Sources to Have a Better Chance of Having a Knowledge Panel?
[00:53:18] Taral Patel: Yeah. So, is there any treasure value for it like, okay, this is the minimum value you require to have a better chance of appearing into the Knowledge Panel?
[00:53:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Both Microsoft and Bing and Google, sorry, have mentioned 30 sources before the Knowledge Graph will actually understand and believe. I think it’s a good number to aim for, but it obviously depends immensely on the sources. If it’s Wikipedia, it’s 1. If you don’t use Wikipedia, it might be 40. But there is a number, and somebody once said to me, how often do you succeed in triggering a Knowledge Panel? The answer is I always succeed. It’s just a question of how long it takes me. And that’s simply, once again, placing this information over and over again and making sure that it’s standardised and incredibly boring, but where it might be, it’s very, very, very effective. So, that’s number one.
[00:54:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Number two is once you do get in the Knowledge Graph, initial scores or something like, you can start with a score of 1, and you can sometimes maybe you get 12 if you’re a person who’s been understood, then 24. Then after 24, it doesn’t seem to really follow much pattern. But a score of 50 is starting to be reasonably solid. A score of 1000 is very solid, but the score of 1000 that’s based on Wikipedia or Wikidata doesn’t make any difference. It will still disappear if that page is deleted by an admin at Wikipedia or Wikidata. So even a high score that’s based on one single source or two or three sources will not be sustained if that one of those sources disappears, if that makes sense. So, you should never, whatever source you use, you should never ever, ever rely on 1, 2, 3, 4 sources. You’re looking for at least 20, probably 30, possibly 40.
An Update on the Knowledge Graph and Its Effect
[00:55:11] Taral Patel: Yeah. So, it’s more kind of investing your money, right? Not where to invest at a single source.
[00:55:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It’s taking a risk, but also what I’ve seen is that the more corroborative sources there are, the higher the score becomes. And one very interesting point that I discovered in the article you mentioned earlier on is there is a ceiling in the number of points in inverted commas. Google is basically distributing beans between all these different entities. And the scores, the average score remains absolutely static, and it has done for the last year and a half.
[00:55:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): There was a bigger update a year and a half ago where the average score went through the roof. And since then, it’s been absolutely stable for well over a year and a half. So what appears to be the case, Jono Alderson from Yoast suggested this, is that in order to avoid the major institutions like Facebook, Google, the ones that get so many mentions, we’re not talking about 40, we’re talking about 40 million, that they will crush all the rest of it, and the Knowledge Graph won’t be able to cope with it. So, what they’ve done is they’ve put this dampener. So, they said there’s a maximum number of points, and it needs to be distributed between all these different entities. So, basically, when there is an update, if you’re winning, somebody else is losing. If you’re losing, somebody else is winning. And on a competitive basis, that really, really gets people going.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) On Having a Eureka Moment in Understanding More About the Knowledge Graph
[00:56:38] Taral Patel: Yeah. Yeah. All this was amazing explanation about and a reality check for a lot of people who seem to be relying a lot on Wikipedia.
[00:56:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Sure. Yeah. No. A hundred percent. And the whole understanding the Knowledge Graph. I think a lot of people have been thinking, I can do it with Wikipedia, Wikidata, off I go, absolutely no problem, which is fine. That’s how some people do it. I want to understand how it works and how I can educate this child. And those insights from the article that you mentioned from Search Engine Journal was that I’ve got a database of 70,000 entities, 10 million Brand SERPs, 15 million Knowledge Graph entries. I basically stored it in this big database.
[00:57:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then one day, I was talking to Andrea Volpini from WordLift, and he suggested a new way that I might want to look at the data. And that’s when I discovered it. And as you can imagine, I was mulling it over my brain. And I woke up at three in the morning, and I think I know how to look at this. And at three o’clock in the morning, my daughter, I sleep at my daughter’s flat. She hates me. I wake up at three o’clock, and I’m going, ooh, and I’m on the computer digging into the database.
[00:57:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it was one of those moments where you think eureka. I’ve just understood how to track these updates, potentially what they’re starting to mean, thirdly, the fact that the two algorithms are very much separate but appeared to be merging, and fourthly, with the examples I’ve got with the Kalicube clients. I’ve got several Hollywood stars that we work with, and seeing how Google reacts, how the Knowledge Graph reacts to things that change around them because part of all of this as well is news and information, new information, fresh information. Google loves fresh information so all these obviously Hollywood stars, boat loads of that.
[00:58:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): How does that affect? How does their PR affect their Knowledge Graph presence? And the answer is quite a lot. How does the work we’re doing to standardise the information around them affect the Knowledge Graph presence? Quite a lot. How much does it affect what Google’s showing in the Knowledge Panel? Quite a lot. It’s phenomenally interesting. And I’m really, I’m getting a bit overexcited, but I’m starting to think, yeah, I’m getting a grip on this. And I’ve been working on it for seven years. It’s taken me seven years and those famous 10,000 hours working on something to start to understand it.
Leapfrogging: Finding More Relevant Content and Showing It Above the Bad Content
[00:59:10] Taral Patel: Yeah. So moving to the next question. Let’s say there’s a negative results from a very high authoritative website, let’s say BBB.org, which is a highly reputable website. And a company for there’s a negative review for a company and they are, and it’s ranking for a very important branded keyword. So, that’s a brand plus review. So, what should be the solution for this? How exactly can you move the result behind or the second page and just avoid a lot of negative branding for your company?
[00:59:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We talked about this briefly in the first segment. The concept of drowning is a really bad concept in my opinion, i.e. creating lots of content to try and drown this bad content. I use the term to leapfrog. I’ve actually created a course that you can take. You can find on Kalicube.Pro that teaches how to leapfrog. And basically, leapfrog is saying, I need to find content on page two that is more relevant or better for me than, sorry, for my audience that Google could potentially show above this bad content, the content that’s negative for me. What I need to do is prove to Google that this content that I like is more relevant, more helpful, more valuable to my audience than the bad content is currently showing. Because Google doesn’t want to show you in a bad light. It wants to show what’s relevant, helpful, and valuable to your audience.
[01:00:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what you need to do is simply prove to Google that the other content is. And if you can do that, basically it comes down to doing SEO for others. You can build links to the pages. You can ask them to update the title. You can interact with them to get them to improve the copywriting in the article. Lots of techniques you can use that surprisingly enough it’s basically what you would do for SEO on your own site but just helping somebody else, but it’s helping somebody else to help you. So, that’s all fine.
[01:01:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that my favourite trick is in fact to trigger those Rich Elements. Build a video strategy, and then if you can get the video boxes on your Brand SERP, that can potentially kill a blue link which will reduce the number of blue links on page one by one. Which means potentially if that bad link is right to the bottom, it will drop off page one and onto page two and disappear out of sight, out of mind, and your audience will no longer see it. But if it’s a bit higher up the page, you just need to find two or three great pieces of content on page two and do the SEO on those to push them up, leapfrog above, and trigger maybe the video boxes, maybe the Twitter boxes, which will reduce the number of blue links on page one. All of which will combine and push that bad content of page one. It’s quite a slow process, but it works and it’s very, very effective. And also, as you can imagine, all of that just plays into a great digital marketing strategy that you should be doing anyway.
What to Do if You Want to Rank a Review on the First Page?
[01:02:08] Taral Patel: Yeah. And a lot of that also depends upon the user search intent, right? So, for example, if someone is searching for brand’s review, I’m pretty sure that Google knows they aren’t searching for a blog post, but instead searching for exactly what the customer has to say about that brand. So when you say that pick up a few contents from the second page and try to improve the overall searchability of your authority for that using different SEO techniques, now those pages have to be dosed which has customer reviews in it, right? There’s no point of working on a very good reserve if there’s a blog post on the second page.
[01:02:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. That’s a very good point. I’m going to have to say it depends. But as a general rule, you will be right to say that if Google is ranking a review site on page one of your Brand SERP, you would tend to want to replace it with another review site because that seems to be what Google wants, but it’s not necessarily the case. An article about your product or service or brand written by a journalist with review stars could potentially replace a review platform. So, that’s immediately a trick you can try playing.
Engagement of the Audience to Your Platform Will Push the Results
[01:03:29] Taral Patel: Okay. So it’s like someone has published a news article that says something about your brand and that we use for it. And that it’s there into the page title. It’s there into the URL. And then you just give more authority for that post. So somehow, that starts appearing to the top results. And as you say earlier that it’s making a child believe that this is a result that is more really went for this particular search query.
[01:04:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Exactly. Technically, any piece of content can be any other piece of content if Google thinks it’s relevant and helpful and valuable. If your users are not leaving reviews anywhere, then a review platform is a bad target for leapfrogging above other the content. Typically in fact, the easiest results to push up are your own social media channels, things like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, because that’s where you can drive engagement that Google sees, especially Twitter because Twitter has got a fire hose directly into Google.
[01:04:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, driving engagement by the people that Google considers to be your audience on those platforms will tend to push them up the results. And potentially, that review site you were mentioning earlier on this ranking page. One, potentially you wouldn’t need another review site to replace it because you could simply outrank it with your own social media channels by driving user engagement that Google sees, understands to be valid, relevant, helpful, and that your audience is truly engaging with your social media channels because it wants to show the platforms where your users are engaging. So that review platform, potentially, if you can stop people engaging on it, Google will see it as less relevant, less helpful, less valuable to your current audience.
The Stability of Brand SERPs and Another Experiment on Changing the Content of Jason’s Brand SERP
[01:05:24] Taral Patel: Okay. And are there any warning signs to look for to make sure that we don’t go into the situation at all where we need to then clean all the stuff or bring those results into our top results and all those things?
[01:05:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. On a Brand SERP, it’s very rare for anything to rank from one day to the next. It will tend to rise through the rankings reasonably fast or reasonably solidly, but it’s very rare that Google will stick something on page one straight off the bat. So, what you can do is track right down to 100 or 200 or whatever it is you want to track and keep an eye on what’s bubbling under the surface. And if you see something down in position 90 or 80 or even 70 or 30 or 20, you could start worrying at that point and start to work on building the leapfrogger candidates on page two so that you’re ready to leap into action if that bad result or the combination of bad results that are bubbling up from the bottom if they actually do hit page one.
[01:06:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I think it is important to realise that Brand SERPs tend to be much more stable. They tend to be more stable than other SERPs, number one. And once you’ve nailed the control, they are incredibly stable. So once you’ve controlled that Brand SERP, once you’ve controlled what Google shows when your audience googles your brand name, that control is more or less complete, total, and will not change very often. It becomes very difficult for these bad results to then start ranking.
[01:07:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I did an experiment six months ago that I mentioned where I standardised the description for myself across all the platforms, and there were about 30. And using Kalicube, it took me literally 35 minutes, 40 minutes to do all of them. I just logged in, changed them, copy paste them, boom boom boom, off I ran. 35, 40 minutes, I’d done 30 or 40 platforms. So, that’s a minute a platform. And by two days later, my entire description on the Brand SERP had changed to the new ones. The description in Search Engine Journal, description in the Knowledge Panel, description from my site, the description from WordLift, who I actually had to ask to change it, the description on Semrush, all of them were changed within two days. So, basically, I could change the entire content of my Brand SERP within the space of two days, and it took me 40 minutes of work. That’s control.
[01:08:03] Taral Patel: Yeah. That sounds great. Amazing.
[01:08:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s what we should all be aiming at. And there’s no reason for Google not to represent our brand in the way we want it to represent our brand as long as that representation is truthful, honest, helpful, and valuable to our users.
[01:08:19] Taral Patel: Yeah.
A Few Key Pieces of Advice for New Companies Who Are Looking To Establish Their Brand SERP
[01:08:20] Kevin Svec: Awesome. So, Jason, we’re about out of time for the day here. I want to wrap things up here. If you could sum up a few key pieces of advice you’d like to give the new companies just really looking to establish their Brand SERP, what would they be?
[01:08:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Key piece of advice, start with things you control directly, your own site, potentially, sites within your group. If you’re somebody like Disney or Microsoft, obviously that’s a lot. Get your teams to work together. Number two, standardise the information about yourself as much as possible, standardise your brand message. That’s basic marketing. But in Brand SERPs, it’s incredibly important. Google, like your audience, appreciates a consistent brand message. It wants to see a consistent brand message, and it will represent you with your own consistent brand message if you manage to actually convince it that that is what represents you.
[01:09:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Number two, move on to social channels, what I call semi-controlled platforms, review platforms potentially. Important piece of advice is don’t stick a big stick in the wasp’s nest if you’ve got a bad review site or a site with lots of bad reviews on it. As I said earlier on, if you stop people giving reviews on it, it will eventually die. So, don’t stick a big stick in there and try and get rid of those bad reviews. Think of another strategy for that.
[01:09:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And thirdly, go to all the platforms that talk about your brand that have profile descriptions or articles about your brand and make them as consistent and use them as corroboration in order to trigger that Knowledge Panel. And if you do all that and you spend literally a year or a year and a half, perhaps two years doing it, you will end up with control, and you will be able to change the entire aspect of your Brand SERP in 40 minutes.
[01:10:10] Kevin Svec: Wow. That’s really good information. We really appreciate that.
[01:10:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But you have to really stick with it. Sorry. I’m laughing because, sorry, a lot of people think, oh, I can do this in a couple of weeks. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort. But when you’ve done it, you realise the control you have, and you realise the message you’re sending out to your audience, and you realise Google’s understanding of you. And you look at Google Discover, and you look at the results around your brand. It’s worth it. I promise.
Some Things That Still Need Work in Kalicube to Assure Clients of Good Results
[01:10:39] Taral Patel: Yeah. Before we exit, one last question. From a company’s point of view, before you sign any contract with someone and tell them that, okay, this is something which we can achieve. So, what are the key points you want to rough estimation that review them that, okay, this is how we will be able to achieve it? Or how do you convince them, how any company should convince the client in terms of like, hey, this is something which is achievable and maybe you can be a bit more patient and give us a time to do it?
[01:11:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, that’s exactly the problem I’m working on at Kalicube because a lot of people only act when there’s a problem. ORM is the whole, lots of people come to me with their ORM problems. What I’m trying to do is give us through Kalicube, the Kalicube platform has now it’s got the basic step-by-step process set out. We’ve got the basic tools that allow you to do that. We can make the job fast. We can make it easy.
[01:11:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What we are weak on at the moment is the what Jono Alderson would call the gamification of it. It’s the tracking elements that say, yes, you’ve achieved something. Yes, we’re moving forwards. So, you don’t have to wait three months or four months working without any real feedback of the results you might be getting that we can actually measure those results in a much more granular level so that when you do update in this Knowledge Graph sensor that I set up, which basically will be able to tell you when the Knowledge Graph is updated, allows us to say every, it’s every couple of weeks, every 2, 3, 4 weeks, then we can say, yes, you’ve just increased your Knowledge Graph confidence score. Well done. You’ve achieved something.
[01:12:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And as I said, because when somebody else loses, the changes are actually quite drastic. And I can actually now map those who did their work and those who didn’t do their work. So you can actually say, here you go, you did you work, now it’s updated. You can see the results of those work, which is a much better confidence score and potentially more information in your Knowledge Panel. Same thing on the Brand SERP. You did the work. And we can now see that this result which was 15th is now 7th. That result that you didn’t like that was 5th is now 6th, whatever it might be.
[01:13:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it’s that measurement aspect that I’m really working hard on at Kalicube so that there is encouragement on the line. There’s encouragement as you work so that it’s not just working in good faith in the hope that we actually can see some kind of results coming back from it.
Closing Remarks of the Episode
[01:13:36] Kevin Svec: Okay. Great. Well, that was awesome, Jason. I really appreciate you chatting with us and sharing some of your tidbits on Brand SERP. It was I think we got a really great episode here. Really appreciate you coming down.
[01:13:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It was absolutely wonderful. I was terribly happy always to talk about that. I do think I might’ve taken over the conversation a little bit too much.
[01:13:56] Kevin Svec: Oh, no. Not at all. That’s why we’re here. We want you to take over the conversation.
[01:14:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right.
[01:14:01] Kevin Svec: Unless you’re so sick of hearing from me and Taral.
[01:14:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The questions were brilliant. And I think, I hope it was helpful to everybody. So, thank you, Taral. And thank you, Kevin.
[01:14:13] Kevin Svec: All right. And thank you again, Jason. We really appreciate it. And thank you everyone for listening. This is the 20th installment of the Marketing Microscope Podcast brought to you by E2M Solutions. And we’ll see you next time.
[01:14:31] Kevin Svec: Thanks for checking out the 20th episode of the Marketing Microscope Podcast. Hopefully, you got some good information on Brand SERP and how you can start boosting your own. For more episodes of the Marketing Microscope Podcast, visit our website at e2msolutions.com/podcast. Again, that’s e2msolutions.com/podcast. You can also find episodes of the Marketing Microscope on iTunes and Stitcher.