Thumbnail: How to Optimise Your Brand's Search Results

Learn how to educate search engines like Google about your brand. Jason Barnard, The Brand SERP Guy, talks about search engine optimization, search results page, knowledge panels, & more.

He also talks about Wikipedia, YouTube, Quora, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, etc.

Jason is an SEO expert. He is a digital marketing consultant & who specializes in Brand SERPs.

[00:00:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But Google doesn’t have that aspect of notability. It just wants to understand. It’s the child that wants to understand everything. So, anybody can get a Knowledge Panel. You just have to educate the child that is Google who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, and then make it confident. And that’s all about consistency of the information about your brand across the web and then having on your own website that information clearly stated and making sure that Google understands which website is your website that represents your brand. 

[00:00:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And at that point, you can start to imagine that Google will begin to understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. Then, you can build up confidence by increasing the number of mentions, the information about your brand so that the child builds up this confidence. Once it’s built up that confidence in the understanding it has, it will give you a Knowledge Panel.

[00:01:01] Nishant Garg: Hi. I’m Nishant Garg from What Market Wants. My guest for today is a SEO Expert. He’s a digital marketing consultant. He specialises in Brand SERPs and has written a book around the same topic. He has businesses get discovered and optimise their presence on search engines. Let’s welcome The Brand SERP Guy, Jason Barnard. Hi. 

[00:01:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Hi. Thank you for having me. It’s absolutely delightful to be here.

The Evolution of Search Engines in The Last Decade 

[00:01:33] Nishant Garg: So, Jason, tell me how have search engines evolved in the last decade? 

[00:01:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ve been in the search industry for over two decades, 23 years to be exact. I started in 1998 which is ironically the year that Google was incorporated. So, I can actually tell you how it’s changed over the last 23 years. It started with really pure just word counting and then Google brought in link counting to go with word counting. And in 2013, they introduced Hummingbird which basically means what they called was from strings to things. 

[00:02:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, they’re saying when I’m going from word counting to understanding the world, understanding our user’s intent when people make a search and trying to match via our understanding of these webpages to their intent what they’re looking for. So, it’s really becoming an answer engine rather than just a search engine.

Difference Between Brand SERPs and SEO 

[00:02:27] Nishant Garg: All right. So Brand SERPs versus SEO. What is the difference? 

[00:02:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brand SERPs is a subset of SEO. So, Brand SERPs is brand search engine results page. So, it’s what your audience sees when they Google your brand name. And that’s the only thing I focus on, that one result which is when somebody types in my company name, Kalicube, or my name, Jason Barnard. What do they see? It’s my Google Business Card if you like. So, Brand SERPs is a subset of SEO where I use SEO techniques just to make the company or the person or the podcast or the music group look great when their audience searches their brand name.

The Importance of Brand SERPs To Companies 

[00:03:09] Nishant Garg: So, Jason, why should companies focus on Brand SERPs? How does this help them?

[00:03:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, there are three basic reasons. Number one is obviously your audience. When your users search your brand name, it means that they know who you are and they’re either going to do business with you, thinking about doing business with you, or are already doing business with you. So, what they see when they search your brand name is incredibly important. It’s your business card. It needs to be impressive. It needs to be positive, accurate, and convincing. So, that’s your audience. That’s people. 

[00:03:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then secondly, it’s really important to Google because it’s a reflection of Google’s opinion of the world’s opinion of you. So, Google is representing your brand as it understands that brand and the reputation of that brand as it understands the reputation, the credibility of that brand. So, it’s incredibly fun to Google because it’s a big measure of how likely they are to actually rank that company for other SEO keywords. 

[00:04:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And thirdly, it’s incredibly important to you as a brand. Because if you look at that what I just said, it’s Google’s representation of what it thinks is important to your audience. And that means it’s a critique of your digital marketing strategy. So, you can look at it and you can say, what’s wrong? What am I seeing that I don’t want to see? What am I not seeing that I wanted to see? And then you can set about making that right because it’s a really good analysis, a really good critique of how good or bad your content and your digital marketing strategies are.

Key Components of a Brand SERP

[00:04:38] Nishant Garg: So if you have to break it down, what are the key components of a Brand SERP? 

[00:04:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You’ve got the left rail and the right rail. On desktop, if you look on the left-hand side, you’ve got the blue links with video boxes sometimes, maybe Twitter boxes. On the right-hand side, you’ve got the Knowledge Panel and Google My Business. And the left rail, the left-hand side is Google’s recommendations. And the right-hand side, the right rail is Google’s perception of what facts it has understood about your company. 

[00:05:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if you separate it into that, you can say, well, I need to get the facts right on the right-hand side. And I need to get the recommendations right on the left-hand side. And those facts are things that you need to educate Google. You’re looking at Google and you’re saying, Google is a child. It wants to understand who I am, what I do, and who my audience is. I just need to explain it so the child understands, and then it can represent my company accurately in that right-hand side factually.

[00:05:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then in the left-hand side, I need to educate it what my audience wants to see, what my audience should see, and what is my brand message. That’s fundamentally important. And that consists of optimising your own website, optimising your social media accounts, optimising anybody who talks about you online, in articles, on your profiles. All of these things where your brand is present across the web can potentially be represented on your Brand SERP. So, you need to look after your global digital reputation, and that will be reflected in Google when your audience searches your name.

The Process of a Brand Getting Featured in a Search Engine’s Knowledge Panel 

[00:06:14] Nishant Garg: So, how does a brand get featured in a search engine’s Knowledge Panel? What is the process? 

[00:06:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A lot of people go for Wikipedia. It’s not necessary, and it’s actually probably not a very good strategy for most companies, most brands. The thing about Wikipedia is that it’s for notable companies. And a notable company is a company that has changed it’s industry. And it’s unlikely that your company has changed your industry fundamentally. And so in terms of will Wikipedia accept your company, accept to create the page for your company, the answer is probably no. And if you create it yourself, they will probably delete it because you don’t deserve that place. 

[00:06:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But Google doesn’t have that aspect of notability. It just wants to understand. It’s the child that wants to understand everything. So, anybody can get a Knowledge Panel. You just have to educate the child that is Google who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, and then make it confident. And that’s all about consistency of the information about your brand across the web and then having on your own website that information clearly stated and making sure that Google understands which website is your website that represents your brand.

[00:07:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And at that point, you can start to imagine that Google will begin to understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. Then, you can build up confidence by increasing the number of mentions, the information about your brand so that the child builds up this confidence. Once it’s build up that confidence in the understanding it has, it will give you a Knowledge Panel.

Google doesn’t have that aspect of Notability. It just wants to understand, it’s a child that wants to understand everything.

jason barnard (the brand serp guy)

How Do Things Change For a SERP on a Smartphone 

[00:07:48] Nishant Garg: So, how do things change for a search engine results page on a smartphone since there is no left and right-hand side over there, and it’s just a vertical scroll?

[00:07:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Very good question. The result is the same or very similar but because obviously you don’t have the left and right-hand side. And as you just said, it’s all vertical. What they do is they take the Knowledge Panel or the Google My Business for that matter, and they split it into chunks, and they put it in different places down the mobile results.

[00:08:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So what you will tend to have is on mobile, you would have the beginning of the Knowledge Panel at the top, but then your own website, then a couple of social media channels, then below that, maybe some more information about your company, the People Also Search For, maybe some more social media channels, and then some more of that left-hand side.

[00:08:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, yes, on mobile, that left and right-hand distinction is not clear. So, the facts are mixed up with the recommendations. So, the user doesn’t really distinguish between what Google thinks is fact and what it is actually just recommending. And that’s a great point is that you have to be incredibly aware that Google is presenting things to its users about your brand. And as users because they’re using Google, it implies that they trust Google. So, you need to be sure that this person using Google to search your brand name, they trust Google, they trust what Google is saying about you. So, you need to make sure that everything they say about you is positive, accurate, and convincing.

The Most Common Mistakes Brands Make While Optimising Their Presence on Search Engines 

[00:09:21] Nishant Garg: So, what are the most common mistakes you see brands make while optimising their presence on search engines?

[00:09:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The biggest mistake is not doing enough work on your own website to start with. For example, the Rich Sitelinks underneath the homepage. Those are the multiple links leading to the site. If you search Facebook or Kalicube for that matter, you will see multiple Rich Sitelinks underneath that home page. And a lot of sites don’t have them. Only about 50% of sites have these Rich Sitelinks. That’s data from Kalicube Pro which is my SaaS platform for helping agencies help their clients to optimise their Brand SERP.

[00:09:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, that’s a big miss is looking after your own house, cleaning up your own house to start with. That’s your own site. Second big miss is social media channels on a Brand SERP. You would typically see two to three social media profiles. Optimising those is incredibly important because they would tend to appear on your Brand SERP. If you only have one, then you should think about which other two you might want to have on there. 

[00:10:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then the other really big mistake is when you get something bad, something you don’t like, bad reviews or a bad article or a negative article, thinking that you can just create lots of spammy junk content to drown it out. The concept of drowning out bad content in a Brand SERP perspective simply doesn’t work because Google’s only got 10 places let’s say on that Brand SERP. If you create a hundred articles, that part can’t put those hundred articles on your Brand SERP so it says no purpose. 

[00:10:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What you need to do is improve the results below it to push them up so that that bad result is pushed down. And what you need to do for that once again is educate Google. Point out to Google this piece of content that I like represent my brand better than the bad piece of content you’ve actually got on my Brand SERP now. And as you educate, you convince it that this other piece of content is more relevant and helpful to your audience. It will push that up and that bad result will go down so you, what I call leapfrog, with better content.

Process of Optimising a Brand’s Presence on Their SERP 

[00:11:24] Nishant Garg: So, what is your process of optimising a brand’s presence on the search engine results page? 

[00:11:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, I’ve just gone through that with the weak spots. I immediately look at the Brand SERP and say, what are the quick wins? And that’s typically the company site and their social profiles. Then, I look at what don’t I like. Let’s try and get rid of it by the leapfrogging technique and not the drowning technique. And then, what I do is start to analyse what is their digital strategy? Where are they going wrong?

[00:11:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And a really good example of that is if the company is investing in video, and they have a video strategy but they don’t get those videos on their Brand SERP. They’re either investing very badly or they’re investing it well and their audience is happy but Google can’t see that the audience is engaging, the audience is happy with these videos. So, the technique there is to go out once again and educate Google. I keep coming back to Google is a child. It wants to show you in a great light assuming you have a good company with a good reputation. You’re credible. You just need to educate it so that it can show your brand message to your audience when they google your brand name.

Example of Brands That Have Done a Great Job At Educating Google 

[00:12:32] Nishant Garg: Educating Google, I love that approach. So, tell me, do you have any examples of brands that have done a great job at educating Google about their business?

[00:12:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a very difficult question because Brand SERP, the ideal Brand SERP will vary by industry but also individual companies. And I’ll give you a couple of quick examples. Kalicube’s Brand SERP is incredibly good, but I’ve been working on it so it would be. We have videos. We have Rich Sitelinks. We have the Twitter boxes. We have review sites, and they’ve got positive reviews. So, that looks very good to our audience. So when they search our brand name, Kalicube, they see these positive results, they see our brand message, and they see what we want them to see, our brand message. 

[00:13:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Now, for Kalicube because we’re not a famous company, most people are searching Kalicube to figure out who we are until they really want to start delving into what we do. So, let’s say that’s 50% informational and 50% just navigational to get to our site. So, that’s a great Brand SERP for us.

[00:13:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then, you look at Facebook. That’s 96% of people who search Facebook on Google, click on the Facebook link at the top of the page, and go to the Facebook site because it’s navigational because you only search Facebook if you want to go to the site because you know who they are. So, you don’t need to research them.

[00:13:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if you’re a famous company, you’re looking at a navigational search where you just need to make sure it’s clean and representative. That your homepage is incredibly well optimised so that the people who are searching your brand name get to the site and are satisfied with that navigational intent. And if you’re a less known company like probably most of us, you need to make sure that the people understand who you are, what you do, and if you can serve them from that top result. And then as they scroll down researching you, that represents you in a positive, accurate, and convincing light.

Does The SEO Strategy and Approach Change For a Company That’s Well-Known Versus a Company That’s Less-Known? 

[00:14:27] Nishant Garg: So, does your SEO strategy and approach change for the company that’s well known versus a company that’s less known?

[00:14:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s actually very similar, but the focus is different. And I would argue that a company like Facebook would need to worry more about how well Google’s understood them and make sure the Google doesn’t make any mistakes and make sure the Google is representing them accurately from their perspective. So, that’s much more about the brand message, and it’s the brand message that Google has understood. So, it’s more about branding than it is about informational communication with your audience. But, yes, different perspectives but very similar tactics.

Other Search Engines Brands Should Care About 

[00:15:09] Nishant Garg: So other than Google and Bing, what other search engines should brands care about?

[00:15:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It depends what country you’re in. I think you said Bing and I haven’t talked about Bing. It’s still 10% in most countries. And I really like Bing. Bing have got a really good grip. For example, Kalicube. If you search Kalicube on Bing, you will see a really good result. It’s really helpful. I would suggest probably better than Google’s results.

[00:15:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I think people forget about Bing a little bit. Depending on your industry, depending on your country, Bing can be quite important. And then for other search engines, obviously if you’re in China, Google and Bing really don’t matter very much. Baidu is going to be the one. If you’re in Russia, Yandex is going to be really important. If you’re in the Czech Republic, I think it’s called Seznam. If you were in France, you’d like to be looking at Qwant. And intriguingly, Yandex is very popular in Turkey as well for some reason. 

[00:16:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then, so obviously, that depends on your country. There isn’t a vast difference, but some countries jump out as being exceptions. And then I would also pay attention to DuckDuckGo and other kind of privacy friendly search engines because they’re growing. And if your audience, especially if your audience is geeky or an audience who were into privacy or interested in privacy or careful about privacy, then DuckDuckGo is going to have quite a big chunk of your audience. So obviously, that becomes more important. So once again, your strategies and your tactics are going to depend on your industry, your audience type, and your country.

YouTube and Quora As A Search Engine 

[00:16:48] Nishant Garg: How do you look at YouTube and Quora as a search engine? 

[00:16:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I haven’t really looked much at Quora. That’s something I intend to do this year because they do appear quite a lot on Google Branded SERPs as opposed to Brand SERPs. Any question around the brand, how does UBG function, for example, what can Kalicube explain to our Brand SERPs, I don’t know, questions around my brand that might be interesting. 

[00:17:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And for YouTube, I focused on that last year because I wanted to see how well I could push videos onto the Brand SERPs, Kalicube, and for myself, and that worked very well. And the algorithm for YouTube and the algorithm for Google are different. They have different priorities. They have different weightings. But in fact, when you do a great job on YouTube, you will generally do a great job on the ranking of those YouTube videos in Google.

The Future of Search Engines 

[00:17:44] Nishant Garg: So, what does the future of search engine is according to you? Where do you see this headed? 

[00:17:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Great question. I’m absolutely convinced that today the concept of how does Google understand my brand, how well does it understand it, and how credible does Google think my brand is isn’t top of everybody’s list. But I think two years down the line from today, it’s going to become a priority in SEO because the fundamental foundation of everything you do in SEO is going to be does Google understand who you are, does it understand what you offer, and does it understand who your audience is so that it can make that match between audience intent, it’s user’s intent, and your offers.

[00:18:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, that concept of understanding once again, educating this child so it understands correctly is going to become phenomenally important. So for me, that’s the absolute key. It hasn’t really started yet, but I’m in with the Brand SERP concept and educating Google and getting Google to understand your company as an entity, as a thing and making sure that it understands correctly. I’m getting in right at the ground. So, give me five years and I think a lot of people will be singing the same song that I am.

People in the Industry Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Look Up To

[00:19:03] Nishant Garg: So, who do you look up to in your industry? Who are the people you follow? 

[00:19:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Ooh, lots and lots and lots of them. There are some brilliant people in the industry and a lot of people who share very generously what they learn. And that’s encouraged me to share what I learn which is why I do shows like this and I share on Twitter and on LinkedIn and on my own site for that matter. Somebody like Bill Slawski. He’s absolutely brilliant. He reads patents. He explains patents to everybody else who can’t focus their mind on a patent because the writing is quite complicated.

[00:19:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Somebody like Dawn Anderson. She’s brilliant. Cindy Krum, incredibly smart lady. Andrea Volpini from a company called Wordlift who build internal Knowledge Graphs for SEO. They’re an incredibly good company and incredibly smart guy. Dave Davis who’s a Canadian brilliant guy, incredibly good writer. If you want to read some of the most enjoyable and understandable SEO articles out there, read his stuff on Search Engine Journal.

The Favourite Business Book of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)

[00:20:08] Nishant Garg: So, what are your favourite business branding and marketing books? 

[00:20:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ve just written a book. So, my favourite number one top favourite one is my own of course. I’ve just finished it. It’s going to be out next week. So, middle of January 2022. It’s The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business. And it explains over 30,000 words, pretty much what I’ve just said today, but in much, much more detail with more pragmatic, practical advice of things you can actually do, things you can implement.

[00:20:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, that’s my favourite branding book, my favourite business book. And it’s about brand and about branding. And I hate to say this, but I actually don’t read very much. So in terms of books, I literally haven’t read a proper book for probably 10 years.

Finding a quick answer to a simple question to keep them moving forward with their learning process is something incredibly important to people. On-SERP solutions is Google’s solution.

jason barnard (the brand serp guy)

[00:20:59] Nishant Garg: So, what is your go-to method of learning and up-skilling yourself?

[00:21:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I search a lot on Google to find answers to simple questions quickly, and I think that’s something that a lot of SEOs forget. Finding a quick answer to a question to keep me moving forward with my learning process is something incredibly important to me. And I think a lot of people out there are working that way. So, I tend to look at FAQ’s and threads on sites like Quora to find the answers to my questions.

[00:21:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Other than that, I experiment a great deal. I’ve got a database of 70,000 brands with 200 million data points. So, I look into there and I test and I see how Google’s reacting to different things. So, I learn from doing an experience and then move forwards.

[00:21:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ve built a platform called Kalicube Pro. Building that platform, it’s a lot about searching out there for solutions to JavaScript, PHP, MySQL problems. I had a problem with the MySQL tables becoming too big. So, I had to figure out how to segment them, partition them. So, I was looking up on mysql.com to figure out how to partition a mice for your database. So, mine is very much fragmented learning that I then bring together in my own mind.

Do You Need Deep Pockets If Your Company Wants To Invest in Optimising Your Brand’s Presence on Search Engines? 

[00:22:16] Nishant Garg: So, what is the kind of investment a company is looking at if they want to optimise their brand’s presence on the search engine? Do you need deep pockets to do so?

[00:22:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I don’t think you need big pockets. If you don’t have deep, deep pockets, you need to prioritise what it is you’re doing. And prioritising, I was talking to Lidia Infante the other day, and she was saying, do some gap analysis, look at your competition, look at where they’re strong and your weak, and try to fill that gap, but don’t obsess about what your competitors are doing. Just look at the gap and then look at your resources and see what do I have within my workforce, within the people I know, within the freelancers I can take on temporarily to reduce that gap. So, it’s really looking at what the gap is with your competition and then finding which resources you can use to fill that gap. Prioritising intelligently with the budget and the resources that you have. 

[00:23:16] Nishant Garg: Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time and insights, Jason. You’re absolutely brilliant. 

[00:23:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you. It was absolutely delightful. I really enjoyed having a chat and those questions were great. Some of them unexpected, but I love the unexpected questions. 

[00:23:30] Nishant Garg: If you found this interesting, you must check out Jason’s book. You will find a link in the description. To get more such great insights from the world of business, branding, and marketing, subscribe to What Market Wants, share this with someone you want to help, and join me in this remarkable journey where I help you unlock your market potential. Cheers!

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