Fellow Savages, I’m excited to introduce you to the brain of SERP, Jason Barnard! We discuss the importance of using search engine results to take ownership of your brand. He has studied, tracked, and analyzed Brand SERPS since 2013 and now he assists other entrepreneurs to establish their online business card through this digital ecosystem. Of course, I get greedy and get him to drop some serious knowledge that helps us take our marketing game up a few notches. There is plenty to learn during this episode, fire it up and take a listen!
How To Dominate The SERPs For Your Brand Name with Jason Barnard
- “The aim of every brand and every person is that they describe themselves in their own knowledge panel.” Jason
- “Buy your domain name. Give your entity a home. Google needs to understand who you are, what you do.” Jason
- “What you want to do is be intentional with your brand. Start developing it in such a way that Google says I know what you’re looking for.” Jeff
[00:00:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What I think people fail to really realise is that when we’re searching in Google, we’re asking a question or asking for a solution to a problem. And that’s what Google’s job is. It’s to bring you the answer or the solution.
[00:00:14] Narrator: You are now listening to the Savage Marketer Podcast with Jeff J Hunter.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Living in Paris During the Lockdown
[00:00:22] Jeff J Hunter: All right, savages. Today, I have an amazing guest all the way from Paris, right?
[00:00:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yep. Paris, living in Paris. During the lockdown, I was traveling the world. I was a digital nomad. In March, the world shut down. I happened to be in Paris, so I stuck in Paris. And I’ve been here for the last seven or eight months.
The Definition of SERP and Google’s Job of Bringing the Answer or the Solution to a Problem
[00:00:45] Jeff J Hunter: He’s a transplant, ladies and gentleman, Jason Barnard. And I’m so excited to have him on the show because he’s literally The Brand SERP Guy. And for those of you who don’t know what that, what a SERPs is, that’s a, why don’t you break it down for people that might be tuning in and maybe they’re fledgling marketers.
[00:01:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. A SERP is a search engine results page. So it’s basically what Google will show you when you search for something. Now, what I think people fail to really realise is that when we’re searching in Google, we’re asking a question or asking for a solution to a problem. And that’s what Google’s job is. It’s to bring you the answer or the solution. And so in a very general sense, if I say, buy a watch, it’s going to try to find me the best buy a watch solution for me as an individual by a) tracking me, looking at the performing websites, bringing the best websites to the top, and bringing all that together. And that’s incredibly interesting. That’s where I come from.
[00:01:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And when you’re searching for a brand, it’s totally different. It’s trying to do two things. One of which is get you to the site, if that’s where you want to go. And if that’s not where you want to go, give you the information about the brand that you’re interested in. And that’s what makes it interesting. Because if you know the brand really well, you’re going to go straight to the site. You’re navigating towards the site. You’re using Google as a navigational tool. But if you don’t know the brand, you are using it as a research and informational tool where you’re looking at what Google thinks the world thinks about you. And that’s where it becomes phenomenally important.
A Beautiful Knowledge Panel Is the One in Which Google Understands Who the Person Is and What They Do
[00:02:33] Jeff J Hunter: Wow. That’s powerful. And for those of you that are listening in, it’s a very sad thing that you’re not watching the video right now, because he’s another amazingly beautiful bald man with a baby beard.
[00:02:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant.
[00:02:49] Jeff J Hunter: So, I have a Google Knowledge Panel for myself.
[00:02:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You do, and it’s beautiful.
[00:02:56] Jeff J Hunter: Well, thank you.
[00:02:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, sorry. I’m probably the only person in the entire universe who thinks that Knowledge Panels are ugly, beautiful, or anything in between. And yours is really nice because what you’ve managed to do, and I find it impressive, is you’ve got motivational speaker. Because what Google does with the Knowledge Panel, what it’s doing is it’s saying, I’ve understood who this person is and what they do. So it’s understood that Jeff J Hunter is a person who is a motivational speaker, which is a great title for you. And that really hits what you’re trying to do as far as I’ve understood it.
[00:03:38] Jeff J Hunter: You know it’s funny because I consider myself more of a demotivational speaker.
[00:03:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google doesn’t understand humor. Sorry.
Diving Into Detail About Knowledge Panels in the Context of the Entity They Represent Within Their Brand SERP
[00:03:48] Jeff J Hunter: Google doesn’t care about sarcasm, does it? You know what’s really interesting too is that a lot of people, well, first off, I want to point out something and, Jason, feel free to chime in. It used to be a lot easier to get a Knowledge Panel for you and a brand. It’s gotten a lot harder, especially with COVID-19. I know I lived out here just about an hour away from Mountain View where the headquarters for Google is. And one of my best friends is the security guard for high-value personnel at the Google campus. And he told me it’s still shut down. They have no plans on opening it until next year. So, what’s happening is support is very slow.
[00:04:35] Jeff J Hunter: And I have a client right now who is super frustrated because she’s a published author. She’s a top real estate agent. She has a YouTube channel that’s really popular. She’s got tons of followers on different social mediums. And we’ve been trying to help her establish her Google Knowledge Panel. And her Google Knowledge Panel shows up, but she hasn’t been able to claim, well, she’s claimed it, but she hasn’t been verified yet. And it’s just taken forever. So, what’s the current status? You might be the guy who has the answers.
[00:05:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, actually, to be honest with you, I think I do. I’m probably the only person in the world who’s paying attention to this in great detail, i.e. not Knowledge Panels because people aren’t talking about that, but Knowledge Panels in the context of the entity they represent within their Brand SERP. So that means when somebody searches for your brand or your personal name, that Knowledge Panel represents you. And what Google is doing with that Knowledge Panel, which is everything on the right, is saying, this is fact. Everything on the left is advice.
[00:05:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, as an entity, an entity is a thing, a person, a place, a brand, town, anything you can identify. It’s even concepts and topics such as economics, which is what I did degree in. Double bass playing is an entity because it’s a topic that we can actually identify. And that’s where Google’s going. And it’s starting with people and brands. So what it’s trying to do is get a grip on understanding people, famous people in particular, which is why you see so many famous people Knowledge Panels, music groups, the Beatles, whoever, the Stray Cats, who I happen to like because I’m a double bass player, but also people like yourself and myself and get a grip on that and then expand it out to the rest of understanding.
Google Wants to Understand Who You Are, What You Do, Who Your Audience Is, and Who You Have Relationships With
[00:06:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think that’s what we need to be thinking about in terms of Google. Google wants to understand. It wants to understand who you are, what you do, who your audience is, and who you have relationships with, i.e. you and I now have a relationship. You release this podcast, you are forever linked to me as an entity. So these two entities have a relationship forever. Jason Barnard appeared on Jeff Hunter’s podcast. And Google will remember that and you will never get that out of its brain.
[00:07:10] Jeff J Hunter: Google will remember that you were on Jeff J Hunter’s podcast.
[00:07:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Excuse me. Very good point. Yes. Very good point.
[00:07:18] Jeff J Hunter: If you go on Jeff Hunter, it knows I’m Jeff J Hunter.
[00:07:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But at a certain level, it does understand you’re Jeff Hunter. It just understands better and it’s less ambiguous when it’s with the J in the middle. So it does understand you are an iteration of a possible answer to the string or the query Jeff Hunter. But when you say Jeff J Hunter, it’s absolutely sure. And that’s the critical element. And you were talking about the fact that you added the J in a few years ago. Brilliant move.
[00:07:50] Jeff J Hunter: You know what? And I wish I hit the record button sooner so we’re going to have to re-energise this conversation. But before Jason and I hit the record button, I swear I should probably just start recording as soon as I start talking before the guest actually kicks off, because a lot of meat and potatoes happens before the call, before the podcast.
Dominating an Ambiguous Name by Adding a Middle Initial or Using Your Platform
[00:08:10] Jeff J Hunter: So for you guys to fill you in, we were talking about how my middle name, Jesse, is also my grandfather’s name, Jesse, which is my son’s name, Jesse, the very impactful name. My grandfather was very impactful in my life. And after he passed in 2016, May of 2016, I fully adopted the Jeff J Hunter. And I do not ever even say Jeff Hunter anymore because of an honor for my grandfather. So, it’s very interesting. I even bought the domain, Jeff J Hunter. And now, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because Google has a hard time differentiating me from the hundred thousand other Jeff Hunters and the famous actor, Jeff Hunter, right?
[00:08:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Jeff Hunter is incredibly ambiguous. You’ve got the actor. You’ve got the character. You’ve got the people who played the character. You’ve got the film where the character appeared. Google’s going, what do they intend to talk about? What are they asking me? When you say Jeff J Hunter, it immediately says, I know who they’re talking about. And that’s the point. Dominating an ambiguous name like your own is very, very, very, very difficult. So you need to disambiguate for Google, find your platform, and it could be, in my case, Jason Barnard SEO, but I don’t need that because I’ve been working on this for seven years. So anybody else called Jason Barnard is dead in the water.
[00:09:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google doesn’t actually recognise that you exist. It will. It will come back to that. It will realise that I’m not relevant in Australia. There’s certainly a Jason Barnard. And that’s interesting is the geo aspect of it is that in Australia, I’m not relevant. In the UK and in France and in the US, I am relevant because of where I hang out with people. So that’s point number one. Point number two is what you did incredibly. I’m going to say how incredibly intelligent you are, but I think it was all pot luck.
[00:10:14] Jeff J Hunter: I’ll take a little luck.
Giving Your Entity a Home Is the First Step; Then You Can Claim Your Knowledge Panel Through Search Console
[00:10:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But what you did when you bought the domain name, and this is what I’m saying to everybody is give your entity a home. You’re an entity. Google needs to understand who you are and what you do. And the fact that you have a domain name allows it to say, I know that that is where I can go to understand what that person or that brand says about themselves. Then what you do on that home that you’ve created is point to all the things that corroborate and to say to Google, actually, this is all true. It’s not just me saying it. So you prove your point. So giving your entity a home is point number one.
[00:10:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that brings us onto the claiming the Knowledge Panel question, which you asked about or you talked about, is saying, how do you claim a Knowledge Panel easily? The answer is really simple. It’s if Google understands what the home of that entity is, it will allow you to claim it through Search Console, which means you simply need to own the domain name that contains the page that it recognises as the home for that entity.
[00:11:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you don’t have that, you have to go through a whole thing as a human being of screenshots of social accounts where I’m logged in and I’m doing something. And that requires the people, that you mentioned earlier on that are no longer at work during COVID, to check. So that’s all slowed down. So if you want to actually move forward much quicker, you need to make sure the machine understands who you are, what you do, where the Entity Home is. Then you can climb it within seconds, literally seconds. You click on the button, you go to Search Console, you claim it, and it’s done and dusted. And it’s really, really, really, really cool.
How Can Someone Start Developing and Controlling Their Brand SERP Right Now?
[00:12:03] Jeff J Hunter: You know what? This has been so great. And here’s what I want to take away for the audience, because this is the greedy part of the podcast, Jason.
[00:12:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:12:14] Jeff J Hunter: I already warned you before the show. This is a greedy podcast. A lot of business owners, they’re establishing their personal brand. They’re probably establishing their agency. They might have businesses. A lot of the people that listen to this podcast have businesses and they’re looking for marketing strategies to grow their businesses. What is something that someone can start right now to start developing their Brand SERP, to start showing up in the search engines, to start preparing for success?
[00:12:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, the list is very long. Now I’m going to give you the two extremes. I’m going to give you the number one thing you can do right now that changes your Brand SERP immediately, literally within an hour or two. You go on, search for your brand name. If you’re ranking number one, look at the meta title, the blue link at the top, and then the description and think does that represent me? The answer is probably not. So, go into your CMS, WordPress, whatever it might be, onto the homepage, whatever page is ranking, and you change the meta title in Yoast or whatever SEO plugin you’re using, or the H1, if you’re not using an SEO plugin, and the description just underneath it, submit that to Google, and Google will update within literally minutes. Perhaps hours is the worst. A day or two is the possible worst scenario. And you will see that it will suddenly say exactly what you want it to say about you. Now, that’s the really quick one and it’s brilliant and it’s wonderful. It’s so satisfying as a human being to see that happen for yourself or for your brand.
[00:13:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The longer term one is to say, think about that right-hand panel, which you were talking about, the fact, and this is where we’re going with Google. Google is advising on the left-hand side. It’s saying, this is my best guess at the solutions and I’m giving you 10 options. Over time, it’s going to say more and more, here is the solution. The solution is on the right-hand side right now. That’s where you want to be. That’s where you want to nail it. That’s where you want to control. And you’re going to start or you’re going to be able to control it in several years time. By today, pointing out to Google that the home of that entity, the home, the place that it will be able to find the most relevant, pertinent, valuable, and accurate, and that’s really important, accurate information about that entity, yourself, myself, my company, your company, Google, whoever it might be is on their site.
[00:14:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I’ll give you a quick example. I have a group. I used to play double bass in a punk folk band. That band stopped playing in 1996. Nothing is on the web, but I have convinced Google that my site is the accurate, believable, reliable information source for that group. And it now uses that to fill the Knowledge Panel, which is fact. And I can change what it says about my group in eight minutes, because it trusts me.
The Story of How the Wikipedia Page of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Got Deleted
[00:15:20] Jeff J Hunter: I’m mind blown right now because I’m dealing with that right now with my own.
[00:15:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yes.
[00:15:26] Jeff J Hunter: This is beautiful because one of the things that happened to me and, well, I guess since it is greedy, I’m going to tell you my problem that I’ve got because you might be able to help.
[00:15:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Probably.
[00:15:39] Jeff J Hunter: So, I had a Wikipedia about me.
[00:15:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Sorry. That was my big guess because I did too. And I got mine deleted and I’ve learned how to deal with it.
[00:15:50] Jeff J Hunter: That’s what happened. My Wikipedia got deleted and now, I can’t change anything or modify it. And now, it’s still pulling from my deleted Wikipedia.
[00:15:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. I think we can close with this because it’s a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful story. Now, I had three Wikipedia articles. So I got to test three different scenarios. I had my own because I’m a musician. I played in a band. I had the band because we were famous in the 1990s. And I had the blue dog and yellow koala cartoon called Boowa and Kwala, 5 million visits a month, TV series, ITV International shown in 25 countries. And what happened is that I kept messing with Wikipedia to test and see what Google would do, because I was curious because that’s what my job is. It’s to understand what Google appreciates, understands.
[00:16:43] Jeff J Hunter: That’s what I did.
[00:16:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what they did is they came and they said, okay, you are notable, we admit that, but you’ve messed with it too much, we’re deleting your own page. And then they looked at the other things that I’d been dealing with, which is my band’s page and my cartoon character’s page. They deleted all three within the space of two weeks.
[00:17:03] Jeff J Hunter: Wow.
The Steps Jason Took in Rebuilding His Own Page, the Page of His Band, and the Page of His Cartoon Series
[00:17:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, I had this unbelievable, never to be repeated opportunity to test the three reactions depending on what I did with my entity on my own site. Now, with my own entity, myself personally, I changed the content of my page. I moved the page to a new location. I tried to change the home of my entity. And it disappeared completely. The whole thing just collapsed in a big heap. And it took me six weeks to build it back up again, which means that Google has a memory. So you don’t have to worry too much. Number two, the band stayed on the same page and they’ve gone from strength to strength.
[00:17:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Number three is the cartoon character stayed on the same page. And I added information about it, because Boowa and Kwala, the blue dog and yellow koala, both of whom have families. Boowa has a father, Dawa, and Mawa. The koala, yellow koala has a father called Daddy Koala, a mother called Mummy Koala, a grandfather called Grandpa Koala, and a grandma called Grandma Koala. And I created a family tree for them. And I managed to expand the Knowledge Graph presence from Boowa and Kwala, these two characters, to their entire families that Google is now showing.
Losing His Wikipedia Page Actually Gave Jason More Control
[00:18:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what that meant is that once the Wikipedia page disappeared, not only did Google not lose confidence in what it had understood because it had the reference that was my site, which was the trusted home of my entity, but it also now gave me control. And I didn’t have to ask the Wikipedians for anything.
[00:18:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Rand Fishkin said it very well. He said, I would trust Wikipedians with what happened in episode 16 of season 12 of Star Trek. I would not trust them with who founded Moz, who invested in it. And he actually, literally said six, seven years ago, asked Wikipedia to delete the article about him because he said it’s inaccurate and I want to control my own brand story.
[00:19:10] Jeff J Hunter: Wow.
[00:19:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): He’s a genius, seriously, very smart guy, because it took me and probably you to have my Wikipedia page deleted to understand that the control is much more important than the glory and the ego of having a Wikipedia page.
Adding Your Site as the Official Site in Wikidata Before Your Wikipedia Page Gets Deleted
[00:19:27] Jeff J Hunter: You are a hundred percent correct. And I’ve learned that the hard way myself, but now I’m excited. Now I’m excited to know there’s hope because even if you look at my Knowledge Panel, what it says about me, the bio is still taken from my Wikipedia. It’s not deleted, but it’s, what do you call it, in draft mode or whatever, where it has inaccuracies. And now knowing that, now I’m going to have to see how I can point that at it. So, here’s what I want to do.
[00:19:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, I can give you one piece of advice really quickly.
[00:19:58] Jeff J Hunter: Oh, that’d be great.
[00:19:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Before it gets deleted, go into Wikidata, add your site as the official site for yourself as your entity to Wikidata, make sure that Google has understood it before the Wikipedia page gets deleted, and it will then refer to you and you will get your own description in that Knowledge Panel. And that’s the aim of every brand and every person is that they describe themselves in their own Knowledge Panel. And Google has no reason not to allow you to do that as long as it’s honest. So, your path to success now is to go to Wikidata, which Google relies on as a reference to, secondary reference possibly to Wikipedia. Get yourself in there, get your site in there. Make sure that the home is defined before the Wikipedia page gets deleted.
[00:20:48] Jeff J Hunter: Thank you. I feel like I should be sending you over a payment now.
[00:20:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can buy me a beer one day when we meet.
Summarising How You Can Have a Knowledge Panel and How Can Google Understand Who You Are and What You Do
[00:20:57] Jeff J Hunter: Oh, for sure, Jason. So here’s the deal, guys. You guys are probably thinking right now to yourselves, okay, this is crazy, but I don’t have a Google Knowledge Panel. All right. Here’s what I want you guys to all think about. Remember what Jason was just referring to. When you go to Google and you type something in, it’s going to give suggestions on what it thinks you’re looking for.
[00:21:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant.
[00:21:21] Jeff J Hunter: Now, what you want to do is start developing your brand in such a way that Google says, I know what you’re looking for and it’s this, okay? So, think about being very intentional with your brand. He already gave some amazing tools about how to, if you’re using WordPress site, you can use like Yoast SEO plugin to make sure that you have your title very specific on what your brand is and a description for the site. That way Google can actually, when people start searching for it, for example, if people type in Jeff J Hunter, my website’s the first thing. So it would be very easy for Google to understand about who I am and what I’m doing by just changing my title and meta description to make it what I want it to be. I think that was about it, Jason.
[00:22:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a beautiful, beautiful description. I’m going to listen back to that and steal it because that’s a really nice description of what I was trying to say, but I got it all complicated. Just one last point is I’ve actually got a set of Brand SERP courses, obviously a bit of promotion, where I teach you to optimise your Brand SERP. I say optimise, but I keep getting told by my colleagues. It’s all about control. Because once you control it, you can optimise it to your heart’s content. So if you can control every result that appears when somebody searches your brand name or your personal brand name, you’re winning all the way. Then you can create that Knowledge Panel, which you said fact. What Google’s actually going to show as this is what you’re looking for, and there are no longer any suggestions. And that’s phenomenally important. And I have courses that teach even how to create a Knowledge Panel.
[00:23:00] Jeff J Hunter: Boom. Guys, I’m going to link that in the podcast. Make sure that you go to savagemarketer.com. Subscribe if you’re not already subscribed. If you’re listening on iTunes, Spotify, who knows where the heck you’re at, Stitcher, Acast, who knows all the things that’s being distributed to on these platforms today, maybe you’re listening to Google Podcast, make sure that you join the community. If you go to savagemarketer.com, type in your name and email address. It’s going to invite you to the Facebook group, where not only do you get to get insider information with all these savage marketers, just like Jason Barnard, you’re also going to get to see his beautiful face on video, which of course is worth it already, Jason. All right.
[00:23:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you. Us baldies must stick together. And what I did love about this is it says savage. I expected a bit of back and forth. It’s actually savage in the sense that it digs down and it digs down quick. And you’ve got to the essential incredibly quickly. Brilliant stuff, man.
[00:24:07] Jeff J Hunter: Well, thank you so much. And thank you for being on the show. Guys, until next time. You know what to do. Stay savage.
[00:24:18] Narrator: Thank you for listening to the Savage Marketer Podcast. Join the Savage Marketer community today to get exclusive access to Jeff J Hunter and his guests, as well as more Savage Marketer strategies. Log on to savagemarketer.com and subscribe today for more episodes.