Top 3 Takeaways From This Value-Packed Conversation:
- Google has transcended the idea of a basic search engine by expanding into other areas of multimedia, providing the most relevant information to your search within the first few results, and, most importantly, always focusing on the user experience
- “Google is a child that’s trying to learn.” It’s a machine that’s trying to learn the world and your job is to explain to Google what you do and who your audience is. The more you teach it, the more it will know to present you to your audience when they perform searches
- People will more than likely do a Google search on you versus relying on any information on your business card. This will give them a more well-rounded look at who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. Thus…Google is your new business card
Introducing Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Who Helps Businesses Polish Their SERP for When People Google Their Brand
[00:00:00] Jason Cercone: Let’s get this party started, EOB society. Welcome back to another value packed installment of Evolution of Brand. I’m Jason Cercone. And today on episode 80, I’m sharing the mic with Google Brand SERP expert, Jason Barnard. Jason helps businesses establish thorough, polished search engine result pages for when people google your brand. And today he’s here to tell us how the magic happens.
[00:00:27] Jason Cercone: As we dive into the evolution of Jason’s brand today, we’ll learn about his past adventures as a cartoon blue dog. We’re going to learn what Jason means when he says, Google is your new business card, the steps you need to take to ensure your brand’s search engine results page is delivering the goods when current and potential customers look you up, and the one thing Google focused on that put them miles ahead of every other search engine on the world wide web. All of this and much, much more away to an episode 80 of Evolution of Brand, right after a quick word from our sponsors.
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Not Listening to Other People and Just Continued Writing Songs for Children and Creating a Cartoon Series Led to an Accomplishment for Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:01:39] Jason Cercone: Jason Barnard, welcome to Evolution of Brand. Say hello to the EOB society and share a time that you listen to yourself instead of what others told you was right and it led to a major accomplishment.
[00:01:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Wow. Well, hello to the EOB audience and, wow, that’s a great starting question. I did ask you to throw some surprises at me. That’s the first surprise. Probably the first, no, not the first, the most important time in my life when I didn’t listen to other people and it brought me something wonderful was when I wrote some songs for children in 1998. And with my wife, we created a cartoon series called Boowa and Kwala. And we did that because the record companies and the book publishers rejected us. And I didn’t listen to them and we kept going and we created a massive, massive online phenomenon with 5 million visits a month. We were competing with Disney and PBS in 2008, and that was an amazing achievement. Not listening to what the professionals were saying and just going out and doing it because we believed it. I was a blue dog. She was a yellow koala. And it was so much fun.
[00:02:56] Jason Cercone: We’re definitely going to talk more about that today, because I want to hear about your experiences as the blue dog and how the yellow koala fits into the equation as well. But overall…
[00:03:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I don’t know, to be honest.
The Journey of Jason From Being a Musician to Being a Cartoon Blue Dog to Being The Brand SERP Guy
[00:03:08] Jason Cercone: Still trying to figure that one out. Well, I’m really excited to talk to you about a lot of other things as well. We’re going to be unpacking a lot of stuff about Google search and how Google presence impacts brand growth and visibility for your brand, my brand, and all brands across the globe. Before we take that deep dive, give us some background on yourself, your professional journey, some of the lessons that you’ve learned along that path, and how it all led to what you’re doing today.
[00:03:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I grew up in the countryside, absolutely in the middle of nowhere in the north of England. If you think of Hound of the Baskervilles from Sherlock Holmes, that was pretty much where I was brought up. And I was a punk on my own in the middle of the countryside, a lonely punk, to be honest. And then I moved to Liverpool and started playing music. Liverpool is the perfect place to play music. And I learned there that standing up on stage is something I enjoy, singing songs is something I do quite well, and that I’m not very good at economics, which is the degree I took in Liverpool.
[00:04:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So I then went on to Paris, joined another band. They said to me, if you want to be in the band, you have to play double bass. And I didn’t play double bass. So I bought a double bass and learned to play it so that I could play in the band. And that turned into a 10-year career touring Europe, playing music. We played on the same festival as Bob Dylan, which was a really big moment for me. I’m not that particularly listen to Bob Dylan, but he’s a legend. And you can’t really say, oh, that was a disappointment playing on the same festival as Bob Dylan.
[00:04:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then that ended and I moved into the blue dog and yellow koala. That was brilliant. What was really interesting was we were making cartoons for small children and I think that’s where I really developed into adulthood, which is ironic. Because up until then, I’ve been playing at being a punk folk or a punk person. And then making content for kids gave me some level of responsibility. And it was a really, really lovely experience. We moved to the Indian Ocean in Mauritius, which is part of Africa, just off Madagascar. Living on a tropical island, being a blue dog and a yellow koala, it was a bit nuts.
[00:05:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And now I do Brand SERPs, what your audience sees when they google your brand name, which is quite a change. So it’s digital marketing. It’s managing your digital ecosystem. It’s marketing. It’s geeky. It’s a bit SEO. It’s very into Google. So a bit of a change from the blue dog and yellow koala.
More About Jason’s Cartoon Series and Children’s Songs
[00:05:54] Jason Cercone: Well, before we get into Google, I want to know more about the blue dog and the yellow koala. Because I’ll be honest, when I was getting to know you and preparing for our conversation today, Jason, my mind immediately went to Blues Clues when I saw blue dog. And I’m sure I’m not alone, I’m sure other people have probably said that to you before. Give us a little bit of background about how that cartoon came to life. And I know you’ve touched a little bit on how those experiences have impacted you, but give us a rundown, take us back in time and tell us all about it.
[00:06:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. Blues Clues was around at the same time and it was much more famous. And that’s a really interesting point is one of the reasons we were rejected by the book publishers is they were saying, but there’s lots of pairs of characters for kids and there’s lots of blue dogs around, so it can’t work. And I was trying to say to them, but it isn’t the blue dog and yellow koala. It’s the personality, the passion, and the soul that we give these characters that’s going to matter. So two characters, yeah, there are Tom and Jerry, there are all sorts of pairs of characters out there, and there’s Blues Clues, but it’s not the fact that it’s two characters or a blue dog. It’s the fact that we are who we are and we create what we create. It’s the creative process that makes it work. And what was lovely about that is they rejected us. It wasn’t lovely at the time. It was a bit of a disaster.
[00:07:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But then over 10 years, we went from nothing to 5 million visits a month. 5 million kids in the world came to this website every month to watch this blue dog and yellow koala going through life. My aim initially was to write songs because I come from a music background. And I wanted to write a song for every situation so that the children around the world would be able to sing a little song for every situation that happened to them.
[00:07:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So we had a song, without my glasses, I can’t see, I can’t see properly. Without my glasses, I can’t see, but I can sing this song, the idea that you can’t find your glasses. Or we love snow. We love it so. We love snow, when it’s snowing. On the windy day when the wind is blowing and I got to get where I am going. Now I can walk, we skip these steps, for a windy day. So the idea was that and it really worked. And we would get emails from kids and their parents that, well, their parents and their grandparents saying, we walked out the supermarket today and it was snowing and we burst into that song. That’s the most touching thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
The Struggle of Releasing the Cartoon Blue Dog and Yellow Koala Because of Competitors and Jason’s Punk Background
[00:08:38] Jason Cercone: That’s pretty powerful. And I’m sitting here thinking, yeah, okay, so now I’ve learned about your blue dog. I’ve learned about Blues Clues. Are there other blue dogs in the world that I’m just not, because you said that they said there were too many other blue dogs. I’m drawing a blank. Are there other ones that are more famous than what you created and what we used to see on Nickelodeon?
[00:09:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I was thinking of Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry Hound, sorry, excuse me. But he wasn’t so blue, was he? But, no, I suppose you’re right. I think I just got this idea that people were saying, we’ve seen it all before. And I was trying to say, you haven’t seen this one. And it’s very difficult to say that to a company boss or a producer who wants to make loads of money. And the reason for the yellow koala was actually I know where it came from, because I actually wrote all the songs, present it to the record company. They said, oh, but you are a punk folk musician, because I’d released four albums in this punk folk band. You’re a punk folk musician. So we can’t release the children’s album written by you.
[00:09:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so I said to my wife, could you turn this into a story? So she took the album of 12 songs and turned it into Around the World in 12 songs. And one of them needed to be in Australia. So we invented the characters. My character was a blue dog and she just said, well, I can just be a yellow koala. And in France, at the time, there was a bit of a fashion. There was a film, which I can’t remember the name of, and they had a catchphrase which was Kwala, which means what there in French, and so we just ran with it. Why the koala is yellow? I don’t know. And the other thing is for kids is why not? Kids don’t ask that question. They just go, it’s a yellow koala and a blue dog and they’re best friends. Why do I need to understand more in depth?
Creating a Family for Boowa and Kwala and Also Voicing Them by Themselves
[00:10:38] Jason Cercone: Yeah. It’s how I would answer my parents. It’s just yellow, mom, god, just let it be. Can we still see this cartoon?
[00:10:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It’s on YouTube. If you search Boowa and Kwala on YouTube. And we built the site in Flash, which is now dead, but the guy who took it over has rebuilt it, part of it at least. So you can still see the songs. You can actually see the TV series. We made a TV series in the end. That’s online to search on YouTube for Boowa and Kwala. We had an amazing time. We actually created the two characters. And we updated the site every month on the first of the month for eight years without missing a single month.
[00:11:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And after two years, we realised that you can’t actually create that much content around just two characters. So we invented families for them. And so we invented a father and a mother for Boowa, the blue dog, and a sister and a mother and a father and a grandmother and a grandfather for Kwala, the koala. And then we thought, okay, here you go. And we pushed it out and we were in Mauritius and we were just thinking, we’ll find some people to do voices. And what we hadn’t realised is we were in Mauritius, which is a small island, tropical island with no voice talent. And so we created these characters. We didn’t think it through. And these characters didn’t say a word for a year. They just kept walking on screen and walking off again.
[00:12:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And after a year, we realised we wouldn’t find any people to do the voices. So I had to do in the end five of the nine voices, my daughter did one of the voices, my wife was the koala, and then a friend of ours did the other two female voices. So I’ve just got this memory of this year period of this mute family who just didn’t say anything.
[00:12:25] Jason Cercone: Well, you’re a regular Mel Blanc, busting out five different voices. I think you did well more. I think the guy behind Looney Tunes, I think, or the voice behind Looney Tunes, I believe he was over a hundred voices all said.
[00:12:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. He is my absolute hero. How on earth he does it? I don’t know. I’ve got a friend who’s actually really good at that as well, the singer from the folk punk band. If he’d been around, I would’ve got him to do it because he’s got a real talent for that. To be honest with you, if you listen to the series, I think I got away with three of the voices where you wouldn’t recognise it was me. But the other two, honestly, it’s just, really struggling to get those extra two voices out there.
Google Is Now Becoming an Assistive Engine That Gets Us the Solution to Our Problem Through the SERP
[00:13:09] Jason Cercone: I will pull a clip and put it in the show notes so EOB society can check this out. Let’s strap in and let’s tackle the wild world of Google. I know this is where you’re spending your time today. So let’s really take this down to just the absolute most basic thing. In case no one got the memo or they’re just turning on the internet for the first time, what is Google? And then tell us a little bit about how it works. And what does SERP stand for?
[00:13:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s three questions in one. Google’s a search engine is what we traditionally say, but it’s actually now becoming increasingly an answer engine where it provides answers or even an assistive engine where it assists us in our route towards finding the solution to our problem. Because when we search on Google, we’re saying, I have a problem or a question, I need a solution or an answer. So rather than search engine, if we start looking at Google as an assistive engine, it’s aim is to get us to the solution to our problem as efficiently as possible. And the way it does that is through the SERP, search engine results page.
[00:14:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So you’ll have noticed over the years that we’ve gone from 10 blue links where you click on the link and you go and look at the page and you figure out if it was the right answer, and if it’s not, you come back and you click on the next one and so on and so forth. That was 10 years ago. Now, increasingly, Google will give you videos. It will give you Twitter feeds. It will give you a knowledge information box, sorry, on the right hand side. It will give you images. It will give you news. It will give you articles. So what it’s now doing is saying, we can present these multimedia elements to our users on the search engine results page which can potentially solve their problem without them needing to click through to the site.
[00:15:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the biggest example of that is the featured snippet that you get at the top. If you ask a really simple question, it will show you the answer at the top and you just read the answer and that’s the end of your search and you can go and do something else. And so if you look at Google today, its aim is to help us solve our problem, get the answer to our question as efficiently as possible. So it’s an assistive engine.
What Did Google Do to Become the World’s Number One Search Engine?
[00:15:27] Jason Cercone: I’ve always believed that when a word reaches verb status, it’s going to be hard to take that from the world vernacular. So we don’t search engine things, we google things. We Uber from one place to the next. If you’ve reached that point which Google has, we know they’ve got it made in the shade. But let’s talk a little bit about what Google has done over the past decade and even back further than that when they were first really coming into their own. What was their big focus that made them become the world’s number one search engine, answer engine, however you want to classify them and really make all other search engines, I don’t want to say obsolete, but almost an afterthought in regards to what we’re doing for search again? We’re googling things and we’re going right to that site first, sites like Bing and I’ll pull AltaVista out there, that’s an old one, but search engines like that are, you never hear anybody Bing something. What did Google really put the emphasis on to make themselves stand out and get that type of notoriety?
[00:16:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a really interesting question because the immediate answer is that what they did first was to say, rather than just counting the words in the page, which is how all the other search engines worked back in 1998, they said, we’re going to look at the inbound links, the links coming into the page, and that will give us an idea of its authority, its importance, but it actually shows popularity. So basically, Google said, rather than just we’ll look at the number of words in the page like everybody else’s, but we’ll add to that the idea of popularity, authority, or reputation, let’s say, because inbound links are votes for your content for that webpage as a solution to the problem.
[00:17:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Because even at the beginning, all of these search engines were trying to get us to the solution to our problem as efficiently as possible. They just did it very badly. As they move forwards, the other search engines didn’t manage to catch up with that idea. But what Google did whilst the other search engines were trying to catch up with that idea was start to build multiple verticals, which is what we call universal search now, which is news channels with Google News, Google Books, Google Scholar, Google Podcasts, Google My Business, the Maps, that’s massive. That’s a massive, massive, massive advantage that they have.
Google Managed to Build the Idea of Multimedia Solution and Invested Massively in Things Like Google Maps
[00:17:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, they managed to build out the idea of the multimedia solution, I think, before the other search engines started to really realise, and they ended up with the means to do it. If you imagine, the Google cars going around the world, taking pictures for Google Maps, you imagine the massive investment that was, and it was a total, total loss, money loser at the beginning. But now look at it, Google Maps is phenomenally powerful. And the idea that somebody else could build a Google Maps that is as performant as Google Maps is I can’t really see it happening. I actually saw the Google car driving down the road in Oxford the other day and waved at it, but they blur your face, so it didn’t make any difference.
[00:18:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But what they managed to do was understand the world that was coming because they had understood that that’s where we were going to this multimedia solution with video, with mobile phones, and they got ahead of the game pretty much every stage along the way. The current catch term in SEO is MUM, which is I think multimodal something something, blahdy, blah, geeky talk. But basically what it means is it can pull from video, image, text in multiple languages and bring it all together to help. And their example is if I climb a small mountain near my house, it will start to suggest to me the next mountain or the equipment I need for the next mountain even if that mountain is in Japan and the content is written in Japanese. It can potentially give me that information. So Google’s really trying to accompany us on our journey to the solution to our problems and assist us towards it.
[00:20:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Google Maps, coming back to that, it’s assistive. I say, I want to go from A to B. It tells me how to get there. I say, I want the best coffee in town. It tells me where it, theoretically, where it is. I say, I want a coffee house with great wifi. It will show me the great wifi coffee shop. That’s maybe not the closest, but the one that actually serves my purpose of needing a great wifi. We lose sight of it because we’ve got so used to using it. And so what Google is doing is solving our problems as we express them, potentially solving our problems before we’ve even thought of them, which is their idea of the Star Trek machine that says to Captain Kirk, don’t forget your stun gun because the planet’s dangerous. He didn’t know he needed it. And then it’s recommending. So from our perspective as marketers, we need to indicate to Google that we have the solution for its user and that we are the most credible compared to our competition.
[00:20:59] Jason Cercone: I remember when I first moved to Pittsburgh back just 20 years ago at this point, Google Maps was not a thing. We did not have GPS built into our phones. We didn’t even have smartphones at that point in time. And I remember my daughter asking me how I learned my way around. And it was so funny to think back because I told her, I said, I just had to go get lost and find my way home. That was how we did it. There was MapQuest and sites like that. So if you had to get to a specific destination for work or whatever, you made sure you had at least some guide to get you from A to B. But, man, they’re never, kids are never going to understand that struggle of trying to figure out if we’ve gone 0.7 miles before turning right because that’s what the MapQuest sheet says.
The Difference in the User Experience Between Google and Bing Especially in the Brand SERP Space
[00:21:46] Jason Cercone: I will say that one of the big things that Google did well, in addition to everything that you just ran off, Jason, is the fact that they were so focused on customer experience and making sure that the user, I should say user experience in this case. What was the user going to receive from Google when they arrived on that site and continuing to hone in and make sure that the results that they were delivering to us when we did our search queries, obviously, has endeared them so strongly into our lives because they took so much time to focus on making sure we got the answers we needed as quickly and efficiently as possible. And I think that’s led to everything that they’ve been able to develop as they’ve continued to evolve.
[00:22:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. Yeah. A hundred percent. And what they have done incredibly well, as you say, is serve their user. And I think that’s what we often forget is that the people coming to us, our website from Google are Google’s users. They happen to be our audience, but our audience is simply a subset of Google’s users. And we’re asking Google to recommend us. And Google’s aim is to recommend, what you said, effectively the best solution. They’ve done it better than anybody else for a very long time. Bing have actually got much, much better. And their problem now is Bing is starting from so far back that they’re obviously very difficult to make a dent in Google’s advantage. Some Bing results you look at, you say, actually, that’s better than Google, especially in the Brand SERPs space. Bing tend to be more even-handed.
[00:23:31] Jason Cercone: Even-handed? What do you mean by that?
[00:23:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you search my name, Jason Barnard, on Google, you will only see me. If you search my name, Jason Barnard, on Bing, you’ll see me and a couple of other Jason Barnards. Bing’s result is fairer.
[00:23:45] Jason Cercone: Okay. So you’re on Google more so you can tag yourself than for everybody.
[00:23:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I focus on Google because it’s the biggest player. And it’s something as you where, as you said, we google people, I google your name, you google my name, you google my company name. So I need to focus on that because that’s what people are asking for. The fact that Bing has whatever is a 7 to 10% market share, depending on which industry and which country you’re in, that isn’t a focus for a lot of brands. And to be honest with you, I understand that because until you sorted out Google, there’s no real point in sorting out Bing. You got to sort out Google first because it is 90%.
The Meaning of Saying “Google Is Your New Business Card” Based on Jason’s Experience In Being a Cartoon Blue Dog to Being a Digital Marketer
[00:24:29] Jason Cercone: So, Jason, what do you mean when you say Google is your new business card?
[00:24:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. It actually comes from my story of going into, after the blue dog period. I started pitching to be a digital marketer, to be a consultant in digital marketing. And I’m going to meetings and I would talk to the potential client. And I’m quite good at selling and looking convincing and sounding convincing. I felt I’d sold most of the time. And then I’d walk out the room, leaving my business card behind, and then I didn’t sign as many contracts as I expected.
[00:25:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one of the people who did sign with me said, well, you know what we did as soon as you walked out the room, we threw your business card in the bin. They didn’t mean but you get the idea. And we just googled you and it said Jason Barnard is a blue dog. We thought that was funny and we wanted to work with you so much that we accepted it, but we can imagine that other people wouldn’t see that as being convincing or reassuring. Jason Barnard is a blue dog. Let him do your digital marketing, just doesn’t hack it, does it?
[00:25:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so I then set about, what I realised that day was that Google was presenting what it understood about me, which was the blue dog, because we’re in IMDb, because I’ve written the songs. It’s got all this information so it was easy for Google to understand that. And on my website, I wasn’t explaining very clearly that currently I’m a digital marketer. So I then just started on my own website and explained more clearly. Now I’m a digital marketer, I used to be a blue dog, and then I sat about pushing the information out there until Google understood.
[00:26:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Currently when people search my name, they’re looking for me as a digital marketer and not as a blue dog. And that’s basically what it comes down to is people I was trying to do business with were searching my name and what they were seeing was my Google Business Card. And my Google Business Card wasn’t well designed, wasn’t well presented. And I just set about designing my Google Business Card to ensure that it presented the aspects of me that I wanted to push forward at the current time to make sure that my business moved forward.
The Steps to Make Your Brand SERP Your Google Business Card Using the Google Is a Child Analogy
[00:26:46] Jason Cercone: And what steps did you take to make that action come to life? We know the importance of back links and getting material out there that’s going to ultimately set up your Google page to give people the information they need. So this may have been a little bit more of a primitive practice back when you had to do this. What were the steps you took and how do they compare to what a brand can do now to make sure their Google Business Card is exactly what they need their customers to find?
[00:27:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. That’s a really interesting question. Because in fact, it’s exactly the same. Nothing has changed. It’s just when I started doing it, I didn’t do it very well and it took me a few years to figure out what the technique was. The technique is really simple. And it’s so simple any anybody can do it. I come from the SEO world. People are quite scared of SEO. They’re quite scared of Google. You have to remember that Google is a child. It’s a child that’s trying to learn. Obviously, it’s not a real child, but the machine is trying to learn to understand the world. And my job as the responsible adult in my little room is to explain to this child who I am, what I do, and who my audience is. And if I can do that effectively, the child will understand, and it will present me to my audience when they search my name in the manner that I choose.
[00:28:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what the child is looking for is what I now call the Entity Home, which is one page on your own website where you explain exactly who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. Once it’s found that, then it has your representation. It doesn’t believe you necessarily, but then when it does, and you should point to these sources of corroboration from your own web page, your Entity Home, and it will then go and check on the places you point to to see if they all say the same thing on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Crunchbase, on IMDb, on MusicBrainz, on Wikipedia, on Wikidata, on all of these different sites.
[00:28:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the child analogy is really nice because I’m the parent. And so I say here are the facts to the child. And then I say to the child, go and ask grandma, go and ask grandpa, go and ask your sister, go and ask the baker, go and ask the policeman, go and ask the head teacher, go and ask the history teacher. And if they all say the same thing in more or less the same way, the child builds understanding and builds confidence in that understanding. If they all contradict each other, which is what often happens with your different social profiles, with different articles about you, then the child gets confused and it can’t understand. So the art of this entire thing is to make sure the child understands but not only that it understands, but it’s confident in the understanding that you have provided with it through corroboration, through authoritative and trusted sources, such as grandma, grandpa, sister, brother, head teacher, history teacher, baker, and policewoman.
Darwinism in Search and the Survival of the Fittest Multimedia Element for the SERP
[00:29:53] Jason Cercone: So I want to take a stab and see if I’m right on this. So as I was getting to know you, Jason, I discovered a term that you had put out there about Darwinism in Search and how it helps with SEO is this, I’m thinking that as you start to weed out some of these factors that are no longer running parallel with what you do, that’s the Darwinism and the natural selection taking effect. Am I right or is this something that’s completely different from my line of thought as we speak right now?
[00:30:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You’re on the right track. It’s another level, another layer on top of what I was just explaining, because the Darwinism in Search idea is to do with how Google decides in the search engine results page when it adds video or images or an information box or a Twitter box or a news chunk instead of a blue link. Because if you remember, 10 years ago, you had 10 blue links. Now, you start to get videos and images and Twitter boxes and news and entities and little pictures and all of that kind of thing.
[00:31:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the idea of Darwinism in Search is that Google and Bing and all the other search engines got a system whereby the blue links give it the base level. And if the videos can indicate to the main algorithm that they provide more value than a blue link, the videos will be inserted. So it’s the survival of the fittest, survival of the most appropriate. So from that perspective, and what you’ve just done really neatly is taken me from the idea of saying, let’s get Google the child to understand and then we need to provide it with the videos and the images and the Twitter feeds and the news articles that can feed into its needs to inform our audience with its understanding. So we become that multimedia communication.
[00:31:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the trick there is to know, for example, that in my industry, in SEO articles, so article boxes are appropriate, video boxes are appropriate, twitter boxes are appropriate, but Google Maps wouldn’t be appropriate. So the trick is to understand which of those Rich Elements, I call them Rich Elements, SERP features, search engine results page features, some people call them, the videos, the images, the maps, the news, the featured snippet, which one of them is likely to win that Darwinistic battle and focus on that. Because if Google Maps is never going to win the Darwinistic battle for me as an SEO consultant, there’s no point in me working on Google Maps. I might do better work on videos. If you are a local business, obviously you want to work on the ones that are going to win the Darwinistic battle, which is the Google Maps less so on videos or on Twitter. That would be fairly pointless.
[00:32:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, what we’ve just done there is brought together two very different concepts. One of which is Darwinism and the survival of the fittest multimedia element for the SERP with my personal brand search engine results page making that business card beautiful by focusing on the winning strategy, which is the strongest Darwinistic channel.
The Future of Podcasts in Google and in Brand SERPs
[00:33:19] Jason Cercone: Something that’s been becoming more prevalent with Google over the past couple years is podcasts appearing in search results. How have you seen that work for maybe for your brand, maybe for some other brands you’ve worked with? I know you’re doing more podcast interviews now, and I’m a huge proponent of podcast guesting as a strong SEO strategy. Because every time you go on a podcast, as long as you’re providing a link to your website, you’re generating a back link that’s going to raise your authority score. And the more of those you have out there, the better position you’re going to be. What has been your experience with podcasts appearing on those SERP pages?
[00:34:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I think podcasts in Google are really just starting. I know podcasters have been around for years and years and years and they’re telling me podcasting is as old as the pills, but Google’s really only just starting to get to grits with it. So I think the benefits of podcasting, of guesting, or having your own podcast are really things that are going to come. Because one thing that Google is getting incredibly good at is analysing sound. So it can now analyse what you are saying, what I’m saying. It can understand the words that we’re saying, but it can also recognise your voice and my voice. So the link you were talking about remains important, but it is now not the only signal that Google is looking at because it can recognise you and it can recognise me and potentially, it will be able to put those two together further down the line without any explicit link or mention.
[00:34:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So from a podcasting point of view, what I’m seeing is podcasts will appear in general search increasingly as Google gets more confident. And the way it’s getting more confident is Google Podcasts. It’s building Google Podcasts as a platform, and it’s doing it very, very well. And it’s using that as a feed into the search engine results pages in multiple formats, and those formats are expanding. You have the information box on the right, you have the podcast boxes, which can be either just one podcast, multiple episodes from one podcast, or different episodes from different podcasts about specific topic.
[00:35:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s where podcasts are going to really come into their own. When you have a podcast episode that’s about a specific topic that somebody searches for and Google puts it in there as potential content that will solve their problem, if they’re looking for a solution to a specific thing, for example, if somebody here is searching for whatever the title of this podcast will become, Brand SERPs with Jason Barnard, if somebody searches for Brand SERPs, this podcast could potentially appear in a podcast box.
Google Doesn’t Have the Technology Before for Analysing Audio Unlike for Videos and Images
[00:36:01] Jason Cercone: And that is the dream. I love the fact that we are headed there with podcasts. And I love that Google has finally realised the power of all of this great podcast content that is out there and how it can serve that same purpose of helping somebody solve a problem or gain a new perspective. And having that in that SERP is huge, absolutely huge.
[00:36:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Just one point on that, it isn’t so much Google didn’t understand that podcasts are important. It didn’t have the technology to analyse them sufficiently well to be able to create reliable results for its users.
[00:36:38] Jason Cercone: That’s fair, especially with the user experience comment that I said before. There’s no point rolling something out until you’re ready. So, okay, good on you, Google.
[00:36:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. That’s thing is YouTube. They’ve had YouTube for years. So videos is relatively simple. Google Podcasts is newer. And also, analysing just audio came after, surprisingly, analysing video and audio because analysing video came after analysing images. So the logical progression for Google was images, video, audio. And they’re now getting to grips with audio. And I think we’re going to see major changes in the next couple of years around that better analysis of both what we’re saying and who’s saying it.
The Importance of Organising Your Website in a Logical Manner for Your Brand
[00:37:23] Jason Cercone: Well, Jason, if a brand is just getting things started and has zero digital presence, what would be the best way for them to claim some of that important SERP real estate on Google?
[00:37:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, the most important thing for Google is always going to be your website. So you need to start with a very solid website. You need to organise your website in a way that’s logical for your business. Rather than thinking what’s going to be logical for Google, think how can I organise my website so it’s logical for my business. And that’s typically going to be obviously the homepage. Then you’re going to have perhaps a blog section with categories. You can have a product section with multiple categories and then products underneath those. And then you need a section where you talk about the company. And it’s all in that one folder on your website that contains all the information about you.
[00:38:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that last one is the thing that I think a lot of companies miss is Google likes things to be organised in chunks and it can look in this section. If you’ve got my website.com/about/ and then our team and then Jason Barnard and then our prices and then our contactors or whatever it might be or our story. Then Google knows that within that /about/ section, it will find all the information about the company. And that’s incredibly helpful for Google, but it’s also logical for human beings. So if you think about it, if I was trying to guess what the URL for Jason Barnard would be, if I knew all of the content about Kalicube was in /kalicube.com/about/, I would guess /jason-barnard and I would’ve got it right. So, we need to organise our sites in an incredibly logical manner for our users, for ourselves, for our business, and then by extension, for Google. Because Google, if it understands us and our users, the organisation of our website will make total sense to it.
Looking at Your Digital Ecosystem and Building It According to Your Industry and Your Georegion
[00:39:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And from there, you then need to look at your digital ecosystem and build it out according to your industry and your georegion. So if your industry, if you’re in real estate, for example, videos and images are going to be really important. Twitter isn’t going to be very important. How many times a day can you tweet about a new house? LinkedIn would be potentially more important to you than Twitter. So you need to look at the platforms that you need to prioritise according to your industry.
[00:40:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then the georegion comes into play. For example, Twitter is more prominent in the UK than it is in the US, on Google at least. And so one good way to do that is to look at your direct competitors. And it’s not the people or the companies who are on the Google results alongside you because that might be Wikipedia, it might be a generalist site. You need to look directly at the companies who are the same as you, equivalent to you. In Kalicube language, we call that Entity Equivalent. So it’s the same entity type, company, person, podcast, the same georegion, and the same industry. And you need to look at them and see what’s dominating. Is it video? Is it images? Is it rich content? Is it long articles? Is it short articles? Is it Twitter? Is it Facebook? Is it LinkedIn. And aim for them according to that and not just take your best guess.
You Need to Rank Number One With Your Own Website for People to Come Through
[00:41:01] Jason Cercone: Start with the website and build from there. I think that’s incredibly important to keep that front of mine because I think we sometimes get a little clouded with the fact that we need to have this social media presence. But in reality, there’s much more to be gained from starting with the website and then building outward versus trying to build inward and ultimately establishing a presence on a site that really isn’t yours and could consistently and it does consistently change with algorithms and the way that your visibility fluctuates. Having your website in place and getting that Google real estate locked in is going to be the only way to fly.
[00:41:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. A hundred percent. And if you start with your own website, obviously, you’re going to be able to rank number one when somebody searches your brand name, which means that you’re going to get the person onto your website. After you’ve communicated with them on all these social platforms, they end up searching your brand name. You need to be number one with your own owned website to make sure that you capture those people as they come through.
[00:42:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you can look at your Brand SERP, your brand search engine results page, and you can see what’s appearing and what isn’t appearing. And if you’re working very hard on LinkedIn, but LinkedIn simply doesn’t come up on the result that Google shows when your audience googles your brand name, then you might well be barking up the wrong tree and you might be focusing on the wrong thing. And you can also do that for your competitors. Look at the Brand SERP for your competitor, see what they’re, what’s appearing there, and copy or not copy, obviously, a hundred percent, but make your own version of.
[00:42:36] Jason Cercone: There’s a lot that can be gained from taking a quick look at the competitors and seeing what’s working for them and put it into effect for you as well, no doubt about it.
What Would Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Say to Himself if He Could Go Back in Time?
[00:42:46] Jason Cercone: Jason, as we get ready to wind down today, if you could go back in time and share one thing with your pre-evolved self that would completely change the game for you today, what would it be?
[00:42:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh. I’ve never thought about that. What would I go back and change? I’ve actually got no idea what I would change. No. I would remind myself that doing what you think is going to work and enjoying doing that thing is, for me at least, what’s really made my life enjoyable and my work enjoyable from the punk folk musician to the blue dog to the Brand SERP Guy today and never to lose sight of the fact that I’m doing something because I believe it’s a good thing to do. I believe it’s important and I enjoy it. And that is the crux of what I’m trying to achieve. And I think actually, literally, and you asked that question on exactly the right day, I was starting to forget the reason I’m doing this is because it’s so fun and because I love it, because I want to understand how we can learn to educate the child that is Google. And I can do that all day long, all night long for the next 10 years and I will never get bored.
Check Out Jason’s Book, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business, and Connect With Him by Searching His Name on Google
[00:44:18] Jason Cercone: Well, Jason, I want to thank you for bringing so much value to Evolution of Brand today. Where can EOB society keep this good thing going by connecting with you for even more value and even checking out your book on Brand SERP Fundamentals?
[00:44:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can buy the book, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business, which I wrote last year as an experiment. And it actually turned out to be, I think, quite good. I got some help writing it because I was speaking too geeky and a company called BrightRay Publishing, Emily Batdorf, who helped me write it in a more approachable manner. And the book is actually, honestly, I think anybody can read the book, anybody who’s in business from any distance will be able to understand or will be able to get some value from it.
[00:45:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you want to connect with me, search my name, Jason Barnard, on Google and you will see my website, you will see Twitter, you will see videos, you will see the book, you will see the Brand SERP courses that we offer at Kalicube. Basically what Google is doing there, and I love it, is it’s giving my audience, people searching my name, the choice of where they want to engage with me. So it’s now not up to me to tell you where you want to engage. It’s up to me to tell you, search my name and Google will give you the choice of the most common, the most popular ways of engaging with me.
[00:45:42] Jason Cercone: The man practices what he preaches, EOB society. I will make sure there is a link to Jason’s book in the show notes. And as you just said, make sure if you want to connect with him, just google Jason Barnard and you’re going to get a lot of great options. Jason, thanks again for joining me here on Evolution of Brand today.
[00:46:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That was absolutely brilliant. Some of those questions were unexpected and I’m so delighted. And I think you are the first interviewer who has got me to stammer and stutter and not be able to answer for multiple seconds in a row. That last question really nailed it. I loved it.
[00:46:18] Jason Cercone: Then I have done my job. I’m going to drop the mic and get out of here.
[00:46:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thanks a lot, man.
[00:46:26] Jason Cercone: We’ve talked about the importance of Google and evolution of brand before, EOB society. And today’s conversation just adds more fuel to those flames. Claiming real state on Google cannot be overlooked and positioning your brand’s search engine results page to give someone access to your world could literally make or break you acquiring a new customer. I’d like to once again thank Jason Barnard for sharing so much insight on Evolution of Brand today. To get more from this episode, visit evolutionofbrand.com and click on the link for episode 80 or head straight to jasoncercone.com/JasonBarnard for instant access to links, resources, and show notes. And I’m talking primo notes. I got an A.
[00:47:10] Jason Cercone: Want to support Evolution of Brand? Be sure you’re following and you’re subscribed so you’re the first to know when new content goes live. Leave a rating and written review on Apple Podcast and on podchaser.com as well as a five-star rating on Spotify. And as always, recommend this episode of Evolution of Brand to one person in your circle who you know will be impacted by what they hear. And with that, episode 80 of Evolution of Brand has officially reached its conclusion. It no longer is. It was. But fear not, EOB society, because another new episode will be coming your way before you know it. That’s right. I’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’re only going to need the edge of it. Until we meet again, this has been Jason Cercone on Evolution of Brand. Never stop evolving.