My guest on this week’s episode of Suds & Search is Jason Barnard, also known as the Brand SERP Guy.
You might be asking… What is a brand SERP? How would someone go about optimizing for a brand SERP? No one has spent more time thinking about these questions than Jason Barnard.
He is a frequent presenter at major conferences all over the world. You may have heard Jason present at BrightonSEO, PubCon, YoastCon, and many of the different SMX events.
He is also one of the most popular and most listened to podcasters in the industry. His show, “With Jason Bernard…” is extremely well done. I’m going to ask him about the show and some of the extraordinary guests he’s been able to have on.
Jason is also a regular contributor to major industry publications including Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and at the SEMrush blog.
Brand SERPs are a really interesting topic to me because they involve just about every hot topic in SEO at the moment. Jason is well-versed discussing topics like Entities, the knowledge graph, knowledge panels, schema, and all the different ways AI could play into brand SERPs. I’m going to start our conversation breaking it all down with the master of brand SERPs.
Grab something cold to drink and join me for a conversation with Jason Barnard. We’ll talk about what people might be doing wrong with branded SERPs, we’ll talk about his online training courses over at Kalicube, and we’ll see if we can get Jason to sing a little song called SEO is AEO.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) as the Owner of Kalicube, a Presenter in Major Conferences, and a Podcaster
[00:00:00] Mark Bealin: My guest in this week’s episode of Suds and Search is Jason Barnard, also known as The Brand SERP Guy. Jason is the owner of Kalicube, an online SaaS product offering all sorts of tools, guides, training to optimise for a Brand SERP. You might be asking, what is a Brand SERP? How would someone go about optimising for a Brand SERP?
[00:00:27] Mark Bealin: No one has spent more time thinking about these questions than Jason Barnard. He is a frequent presenter in major conferences all over the world. You may have heard Jason present at BrightonSEO, Pubcon, YoastCon, and many of the different SMX events. Jason is also a regular contributor to major industry publications, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and the Semrush blog.
[00:00:48] Mark Bealin: He’s also one of the most popular and most listened to podcasters in the industry. His show, With Jason Barnard, is extremely well done. I’m going to ask him about the show and some of the extraordinary guests he’s been able to have on. Jason is well-versed, discussing topics like entities, the Knowledge Graph, Knowledge Panels, Schema, and all the different ways AI could play into Brand SERPs.
[00:01:11] Mark Bealin: Brand SERPs are a really interesting topic to me because they involve just about every hot topic in SEO at the moment. We’re going to start our conversation, breaking it all down with the master. Grab something cold to drink and join me for a conversation with Jason Barnard. We’ll talk about what people might be doing wrong with branded SERPs, talk about his online training courses over at Kalicube, and we’ll see if I can get Jason to sing a little song called SEO is AEO.
[00:01:36] Mark Bealin: Jason Barnard, welcome to Suds and Search. How you doing?
[00:01:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’m doing great. Thanks for having me. Delightful to be here. When I first heard Suds and Search, I thought we would be in a bathroom, but we’re not.
A Typical Day in the Life of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:01:46] Mark Bealin: Yeah. I thought maybe we could switch it up one of these times and be in a bathtub bubble bath. The beard sounds good. I have so many things to ask you about. You’re this SEO vagabond. You travel around to different conferences. You’ve got a superb podcast. You’re a consultant. Kalicube is this big undertaking. What is a typical day in your life? Is there a typical day in your life?
[00:02:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, very interesting question. Now, there isn’t a typical day. Today was completely bonkers. And I spent the whole day like when you’re peddling and desperately thinking, I’m not ever catching up. It just seems to be getting further and further away from me. That was today.
[00:02:22] Mark Bealin: Okay.
[00:02:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then Sunday, I spent the day coding for Kalicube and that was much more zen and easygoing. And tomorrow, I just realised that three clients would book meetings. So all of a sudden, tomorrow is a big client day. Yeah. One day, I’ll be developing Kalicube. Another day, I’ll be, today, was all about social media and getting the content out there, and tomorrow’s going to be about clients. Then Friday’s all about my team and we sit down and discuss what we’ve done all week. Wow. I hadn’t thought of it like that.
[00:02:53] Mark Bealin: You manage all the craziness very well. I must admit.
[00:02:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I look same, but maybe I’m not.
The Definition of a Brand SERP and How Did Jason Began to Study Them
[00:03:00] Mark Bealin: Keep fooling them. Okay. You describe yourself as The Brand SERP Guy. I want to just make sure sometimes I blow past definitions for our audience and they ask me for stuff. It’s really interesting niche, but I want to get some definitions out of the way first. What is a Brand SERP and how did you even begin to study them?
[00:03:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A SERP is a search engine results page. A Brand SERP is the search engine results page for exact match brand searches. Now, I try to be really explicit about this because I’m not talking about branded searches. It’s not brand plus product or brand plus review or brand plus town or whatever it might be. It’s what appears when your audience googles your exact match brand name. And as you say, it’s niche and yet it’s not niche. Everybody should be looking at this. So it’s niche in the sense that it’s only a small part of SEO and digital marketing, but it’s not niche in the sense that everybody is desperately concerned by this or should be desperately concerned by this.
[00:04:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And as far as I know, I’m the only person who’s really focusing on this. People tell me, oh, I can do that in 10 minutes or a day or a month or whatever it might be. I’ve been doing this for 7 or 8 years, and I’ve only been focusing on this. And after 7 or 8 years, I’m still waking up every morning and learning something new. So, I think this is deeper than we perhaps imagine. And it’s more important than perhaps people realise. And the reason I started doing it is actually quite a good story, if you’ve got a little bit of patience.
[00:04:36] Mark Bealin: I sure do. Yeah, please. I’ll take a sip of beer.
Starting a Cartoon Series, Pursuing SEO, and Optimising His Own Brand SERP to Be a Presentable Digital Marketer
[00:04:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s got a blue dog in it. I was in a cartoon. My wife and I created a cartoon series called Boowa and Kwala. I was a blue dog. She was a yellow koala. It was reasonably successful. We had a TV series on ITV International. We had a website with a hundred million page views a month. It was going great. And then it all collapsed in a big heap and I had to find a job. And the job I found was SEO. Because out of the 5 million visits a month, we got 1 million were from Google. And I figured if I, it’s the only possible job I can get is say to people, if I can do that for a blue dog and yellow koala, think what I can do for your brand, which is actually quite serious.
[00:05:19] Mark Bealin: Yeah.
[00:05:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I would get these meetings and I would pitch up to the meeting. I would go, woo, Jason Barnard, yeah, we’re going to do this, going to do that. And they would think or I would convince them that I could drive their digital marketing SEO strategy forwards. And then I would walk out the room and I would convert maybe 50%. And I was thinking, that’s not very good. I thought I was really convincing. I thought I nailed it.
[00:05:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one of my clients one day said, you know what we did as soon as you walked out the room? We googled your brand name, your name, sorry. Oh, I said brand name. Oh, dear, that’s terribly embarrassing. We googled your name and we just saw a blue dog. We thought it was funny. We thought it was fun. We have the intelligence to understand that you were a blue dog, but you are now a digital marketer. But the other people who didn’t sign saw a blue dog and thought I’m not giving my SEO digital marketing strategy to a blue dog.
[00:06:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s when I realised I had to relegate the blue dog to a smaller part of what appeared when somebody search my brand name. I said it again. I’m not getting very good at this, my own name. It is my brand name in the sense that I was an independent consultant. So it was a brand and a name. And what I then did was say, how can I make it so that when they search my name when I leave that meeting, they see the digital marketer first and the blue dog second.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Would Have Loved to Continue His Job Doing the Cartoon TV Series
[00:06:53] Mark Bealin: Yeah. Fascinating. Did you consider at all continuing to do a TV series or did you, your SEO was clearly the next move you had enough?
[00:07:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, I would’ve loved to have continued doing a TV series, but that’s a whole bag of fish that you don’t want to open up.
[00:07:08] Mark Bealin: There’s a different bag, yes.
[00:07:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Who can imagine a better job than being a blue dog in a TV series for kids?
[00:07:12] Mark Bealin: That’s why I asked. Yeah.
[00:07:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Unfortunately, for multiple reasons, it fell apart. SEO was the fall back solution. I’m now not actually that disappointed about it in the sense that for a few years it was a big struggle. And now, I’m actually just really enjoying looking into Knowledge Graphs, Knowledge Panels, Brand SERPs.
[00:07:36] Mark Bealin: Yeah.
[00:07:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Because I love the fact that, and actually now I think about it, I just said it is we’re educating a child. I was in a TV series for preschool children. And it was all about showing the world to children that they simply hadn’t understood. And I think a lot of kids shows make the mistake of thinking that children are stupid, and they’re not. They just haven’t yet understood or seen or experienced or had enough corroborative information, which is how I now look at it.
[00:08:05] Mark Bealin: Yeah.
Google Is a Child Who Wants to Understand and Be Confident That It Has Understood
[00:08:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Because Google is a child. Google is a child who wants to understand. And we need to explain it to Google and then Google says, okay, I’ve understood, but now I want to be confident that I’ve understood. And I use this analogy more and more is a child will not go into the playground and shout a piece of information that one person told them.
[00:08:30] Mark Bealin: Yes.
[00:08:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They will wait until they’re sure. Why? Because they don’t want to look foolish. But once they do know, they shout it from the rooftops. And that’s exactly what Google’s doing. It’s saying, I’m not going to put a Knowledge Panel. I’m not going to put this information there until I’m sure. And when I am sure, I’m going to put it in your face.
Where Do You Start in Understanding Your Brand SERP?
[00:08:49] Mark Bealin: That’s awesome. I think you said, you started to answer what I find really interesting. This focus of yours is you have all of these really important topics that all come to an intersection at branded SERPs. So you’re going to be talking about the Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Panels and entities. You’re going to probably be talking about Schema. You’ve got to know about SERP features like featured snippets and People Also Ask. One of the things that I’m curious, if we could take this one step at a time, as you’re educating people about branded SERPs, where do you start? What’s 101 in terms of understanding your branded SERP?
[00:09:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant summary. And it is true and I hadn’t thought of it quite in that sense. But, yeah, it’s the crossroads of all of these different things that we all need to be looking into. And they all come together except the featured snippet. That’s the only thing that doesn’t pitch up on a branded SERP or a Brand SERP. And it’s the only thing I know absolutely nothing about. Oh, sorry. It’s the only thing to do with Brand SERPs that I know nothing about because they very rarely appear. Because if Google’s showing a featured snippet, it’s showing what it thinks the best answer it has found. But in fact, the Brand SERP is what Google thinks the answer is. So the featured snippet is contradictory in the Brand SERP sphere.
[00:10:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But yes, you’re right. Video boxes, Twitter boxes, People Also Ask, Knowledge Panels, entity boxes, carousels, sometimes all of these play into the Brand SERP. And they’re things that I look at day in, day out. And they do apply to the wider world. And for me, it’s a big struggle not to get distracted to say, I don’t care about video boxes in a search for blue shoes. I’m interested in video boxes for the person or the company who sells the blue shoes. And that focus is really surprisingly difficult to keep. So it’s a fight, but with myself rather than anybody else.
Brand SERPs Are a Reflection of Google’s Opinion of the World’s Opinion of You
[00:10:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But those Brand SERPs are phenomenally interesting from every perspective, simply because, I do love this, they are a reflection of Google’s opinion of the world’s opinion of you.
[00:11:02] Mark Bealin: That’s such a good point.
[00:11:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And when you think of it that way, you think, oh, what am I doing wrong? Or what does Google think I’m doing wrong?
[00:11:10] Mark Bealin: Yeah.
[00:11:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Google, I’m going to go into multiple spheres here, but your audience is a subset of Google’s users. Google shows the audience, your audience that is a subset of its users, what it thinks is most relevant and valuable, which is the machine in the world that crawls and understands the web the most. It’s going to be Bing or Google or both. What they show their users or the subset of their users, who are your audience who search your brand name, is a great reflection of your overall digital ecosystem strategy, content strategy, and your reputation. So immediately there, you’ve got this incredible insight that you don’t need to do market research to find.
[00:11:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But in fact, the initial question, I now remember, wasn’t that. It was what’s the 101. It’s Google is your business card.
Some of the Things That Could Go Wrong in Your Brand SERP and What You Can Do to Solve It
[00:12:03] Mark Bealin: Yeah. I love that. I’ve seen you use that a number of times. I guess some people listening might wonder, Google, people will do the search. Google will return the result. The ecosystem works pretty well. And what could possibly go wrong. In reality, what’s happening? What could go wrong?
[00:12:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): There are multiple things that, there are multiple things, something can go wrong is that something negative can rank. And then you’ve got an ORM problem. You’ve got a reputation problem. And most brands leave it until they’ve got a problem before they actually start looking at that, which in my opinion is a big mistake.
[00:12:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You should be proactive. You should be controlling that Brand SERP. Because if you control what appears when somebody googles your name, you have a less chance that something negative will rank because you’ve already proved to Google that things that you control, that you like are relevant to your audience. And Brand SERPs tend to be very stable. Google won’t change them at the flick of a button once it’s decided that this is the content your audience is looking for. So it will be much more difficult for that bad content to rank.
[00:13:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But secondly, if it does rank, you have control of the things on page 1 and page 2 and page 3 and page 4, which means that you can push those up and push that bad result down. So you have the tools and the means to manage any reputation problem quickly, easily, painlessly, but you have to prepare it by doing that proactive work.
What Does an Ideal Brand SERP Look Like?
[00:13:40] Mark Bealin: Yeah. It’s a more of a proactive approach. I think I would’ve asked that question differently if I had thought it through more. Yeah. I think that’s exactly right. One of, here’s a simple question that I think has a hard answer. You wrote a post. I want to give credit. I think it was on WordLift that asked a really simple question. What should a branded SERP look like? Now to put that into perspective, Kalicube, you have this humongous database of all the branded SERPs. It’s hilariously big. It’s 5 million Brand SERPs or something like that.
[00:14:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:14:09] Mark Bealin: I suspect the answer to that seemingly simple question, what should a Brand SERP look like is actually pretty complex, but I’ll give it a shot. What should an ideal branded SERP look like?
[00:14:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): In fact, that’s an interesting way of phrasing the question, because that article you mentioned, I actually, like everybody in the industry says, oh, it depends. But in fact, the ideal Brand SERP and I should have said this in the article is one that you control. If you control everything on that Brand SERP, you can make sure that it’s positive, accurate, and convincing.
[00:14:43] Mark Bealin: That’s great. Yeah.
[00:14:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you don’t control it, you have no hope of actually making it that way. Oh, sorry. Actually, that’s not true. You have to trust Google. And I think all of us now trust Google less and less from our perspective as marketers. Whereas as users, we tend to trust Google pretty much day to day implicitly on everything we do, especially with local search, Google Maps and all that.
[00:15:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But the idea of control, it’s Andrea Volpini from WordLift who really drove this home for me. If you control it, you can start to influence it and design, if we come back to the Google Business Card idea. It’s your business card, design it. You can control it. Google doesn’t want to show you in a bad light. It wants to show you in an honest light.
[00:15:34] Mark Bealin: Yeah.
[00:15:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if it isn’t showing the stuff you think it should be showing, it’s that it hasn’t understood that that stuff, that content, sorry, I’m saying stuff, which is a rubbish word, that content is representative of you and valuable and helpful to your audience. And if that isn’t the case, it’s up to you to demonstrate to Google that it is representative, it is helpful, and it is valuable to your audience that, I will remind you, is a subset of its users.
What Could a Brand Do Better to Have a Knowledge Panel?
[00:16:04] Mark Bealin: That’s amazing. I loved the analogy at the beginning of trying to educate a child and Google is that person you’re trying to educate. I think I just have one more question about branded search, and then I want to talk to you about your podcast. And I mentioned you got so many things going on, but this is a great topic. One of the things, I pulled this stat out of your article that just under 45% of brands have a Knowledge Panel when their brand is searched. But I would imagine, closer to 100% of brands would like one. The Knowledge Panel is a big deal when your brand comes up. What are the 45% doing that the 55% aren’t? What could we be doing better?
[00:16:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Riding their luck, I think is probably the right answer. Google’s understood, but it hasn’t understood because anybody’s helped it. Google’s understood because it’s sorted through the absolute boatloads of unstructured, rubbish data and contradictory information about these brands. It’s managed to sift all that through and find some kind of truth. So not only are we not helping it, but we’re probably actively giving it problems.
[00:17:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I give the example and it’s multiple clients that I’ve had is that they will say, oh, we want a standard message and here it is. And they will write the description, they’ll put it on their homepage, and they’ll put it on their About Us page. And you say, okay, that’s your standard message. How many places on the web have got a message, a text about you? And they say, oh, yeah, 20.
[00:17:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And we with Kalicube Pro, which is the platform I’ve now built, and I built it, not because I wanted to make loads of money, but because I wanted to save time for myself from doing all this manually.
[00:17:49] Mark Bealin: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:17:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I’ve seen Greg Gifford’s big sheets of information of finding links and all that stuff. My life was Google sheets with cross referencing and trying to sort it all out. And I’ve just built a database that does it for me. And say, you’ve actually got 200 references and I go, we’d never seen that one before. And the reason is because they hired an intern five years ago who opened an account who created the account, the profile page, add a description. It was a description from that time or a description that the intern wrote themselves.
You Have to Make the Message Clear and Consistent for Google to Make Sense of the Truth
[00:18:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So you will find that there is a historical information that both reflects what you were saying about yourself at the time, which is not necessarily true today, but also what somebody you temporarily took on, employee or intern, who was left completely to their own devices and said whatever they felt they wanted to say.
[00:18:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so the message becomes very blurred and very unclear, very quickly. And when you compile it all into a big list, which is what Kalicube does, you say, this just doesn’t make sense. It’s contradictory. It’s confusing. And you really want to make it clear and consistent. And so from that perspective, Google’s made sense of the truth about you despite yourself rather than thanks to you.
[00:19:12] Mark Bealin: Fascinating.
[00:19:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Kalicube is all about saying, let’s give it the truth and let’s give it the truth and make it understand thanks to the effort I have made it, help it to understand and educate, which is the word you just said that I said earlier on. Let’s educate it. It isn’t stupid. It just can’t make sense of the junk that has developed around your brand over the last 20 years.
[00:19:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if we look at local search, NAPs, the idea of name, address, phone number, Google is still trying to, in Google Maps, it’s more or less figured it out. So we think that’s in the past, but it’s not. In the context of local search, Google’s pretty much nailed that. But Bill Slawski said, Google Maps, just to prove concept for the Knowledge Graph. I love that phrase.
Talking About the Memory of Hamlet Batista in the World of SEO
[00:20:01] Mark Bealin: Yeah. It’s I love this topic, Jason. I look forward to hearing you present at conferences, but I have to shift gears because there’s so much in your, so much content that you’re putting out that I want to highlight. And you said a name that is going to come up. Your podcast is extremely good. Many of the guests you’ve had on are friends of this show and have come on here. And I was wondering, two guests who I really wanted to ask you about. One of them is Bill. But the first one, one of my deepest regrets is that I didn’t have Hamlet Batista on before he passed. And his death is such a momentous loss for SEOs, especially technical SEOs. But you got to talk to him.
[00:20:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:20:40] Mark Bealin: Tell us about Hamlet and tell us about that conversation.
[00:20:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It was really interesting. What I was doing at the time, when we could travel around to conferences, I would just pitch up at conferences and somebody would start talking about something that I found interesting. And I would just say, oh, can we do an interview about it? Can you just talk to me about it on camera? In fact, it was microphone a lot of the time.
[00:21:02] Mark Bealin: I’ve seen you do it. Yeah.
[00:21:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh.
[00:21:04] Mark Bealin: Yeah. I’ve seen you do it. Yeah. It’s great. I love your system.
[00:21:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It was really enjoyable. And I got into trouble with, I think it was Brad Geddes because he started talking about Amazon and Bing and he was saying why Microsoft will never drop Bing. And I said, oh, shut up. And he got really annoyed. And I said, because I want to hear about it live in front of everybody else because this is really interesting. And that’s how I started talking to Hamlet.
[00:21:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But the problem with Hamlet is he was talking about something relatively low level. And so I said Hamlet, please, can we just go and talk about this on record and have a conversation about it? We developed the conversation. And unfortunately, I think he thought that my understanding of his topic was much, much better than it truly is. And that’s the one episode I remember I was just going, I’ve got no idea what he’s talking about.
[00:21:58] Mark Bealin: I’ve been there with you. He’s a genius and he’s such a sweet man. Yeah.
[00:22:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. He was delightful and all I had to do was prompt him from time to time. And even now, listening back, I don’t really understand what he was talking about. And it’s possibly the only episode that I really think I jumped into the deep end and I was well out of my depth.
The Story of How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) and Bill Slawski First Interacted on Twitter
[00:22:20] Mark Bealin: Wow. Wow. The other episode was Bill’s. That was the other episode I wanted to ask you about. And I thought you were like uniquely perfect for interviewing him. I don’t know that I could have come close to the level of depth because you really, he is amazing at talking about entities and Knowledge Panels. You guys were both. It was like iron sharpening, iron steel sharpening steel because both of you guys know so much. I wonder you study this stuff so closely. What did you learn from talking to Bill that might help you and Kalicube? He is sharp and that podcast I’ll link to is really good, one of the better SEO podcasts I have listened to.
[00:22:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. All quote to Bill, I’ll tell you really quickly the story of how I met Bill or I started talking to Bill is that I tweeted something 3 years ago maybe, and I thought I was smart as a dishwasher or whatever is smart in this world. Oh, they are smart in this world with eSIMs and connectivity and stuff, so smart as a dishwasher. And Bill said, that’s not true. He just tweeted the reply and I thought, ooh. And it’s one of those ego things where you think, how very rude, he doesn’t even stop to consider, blahdy, blahdy, blahdy, blah.
[00:23:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I almost tweeted back something very rude. And I sat on it for literally a whole night thinking, why did he say that? Why would he say it? He’s obviously respected in the industry. I have to hold onto my own ego, hold onto my own pride. I think it’s pride actually more than ego, excuse me. And then the next day I tweeted to him, please, can you explain what I said that you think isn’t true? And he said, let’s go onto private Twitter chat thingy. And he spent an hour and a half, he was waiting for a plane, watching a football game, and he spent literally explaining to me point by point why I had got it completely wrong.
[00:24:19] Mark Bealin: Oh my gosh.
[00:24:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s a brilliant demonstration of how generous he is, how intelligent he is. But also that, Bill, if you’re wrong, there isn’t the nuance between the two. And once you’ve understood that, he is the kindest, most delightful, most intelligent human being you possibly imagine. I love him very dearly. And that, basically, since that one day where I’m very glad I didn’t let my pride and my ego get the better of me. Although it was incredibly tempting, I have to say.
Learning a Lot From Jason’s Podcast Episode With Bill Slawski
[00:24:57] Mark Bealin: Yeah. There’s a lesson there for all of us about, I know the feeling in social media when you have one of those things, you want to fire back and it’s just very good. And our vice president of search, Greg Gifford’s been on. You’ve had just about everybody, anybody you could think of in SEO has been on your podcast. Keep up the good work. And I hope that Bill, I think, he had to relearn how to walk, he said. He’d had all’s care. We need you.
[00:25:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:25:19] Mark Bealin: I hope he gets better as well.
[00:25:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): From Bill’s story, I think we were all incredibly relieved that it didn’t affect his mind and that he’s got back because we all rely on you Bill to read those patents and to make some sense.
[00:25:33] Mark Bealin: I don’t want to read them.
[00:25:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, exactly. And I read his articles and they make sense. But after a while, it washes over me. But when he explains to me, face to face, it just all makes sense. And I think the podcast episode you’re talking about, you can see me going, oh. All this stuff I’d already read, but it all just went and fell into place. Absolutely brilliant.
[00:25:55] Mark Bealin: And you could see that. Yeah. You could see it all connecting. Yeah.
[00:25:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. In my brain, you can see my eyes just going up and down going, oh. And then talking to people like Greg, the reason that I started doing the podcast was simply because I wanted to go to conferences. But the reason I continued to do the podcast was because I realised very quickly that talking to people who know one specific topic so incredibly well to a point at which I will never know it is just such an amazing learning experience. You just go, all I have to do is shut up and listen, which obviously I’m being interviewed so I’m allowed to talk, but shutting up and listening is very difficult for most of us because we all think we know all.
[00:26:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that was an interesting thing. I did a series. Anton Shulke from Semrush gave me my opportunity doing a series of webinars. And I thought I can nail 15 episodes in a row and I can talk 15 episodes. And all these guests are just going to be these add-ons. And after 3 episodes, Dawn Anderson came on and said, not live, but before and said, you’re not going to make it. And she didn’t say it nastily. She just said, there’s an awful lot out there that you haven’t yet seen. And that’s the thing that we learn about people who think they know about the topic will tend to overestimate their knowledge, which is what I was doing. And once an awful lot, you underestimate how much because you can see how much there is yet to learn.
Listening to Podcasts Is Just Like Listening in on Somebody Else’s Conversation
[00:27:30] Mark Bealin: It’s amazing. This is, of all the things I do, this is my favourite thing that I do professionally is to talk to people like, branded SERPs is, oh, that’s important. Let me talk to the world’s expert on branded SERPs. That sounds great. And then you said it exactly right. And I think it’s a lot of fun. I think it’s, I prefer it to, I like to listen to podcasts. I have to commute to work and so I prefer, I started out and it was all blogs. You read blogs all the time. I like the medium better. I like it as a medium better than reading blog posts too. I think, I’ve made friends, Mordy’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a big podcaster and it’s, I like it. Sometimes a blog post is great. Sometimes a conference presentation is great, but I do, I just love this medium because you can, things can come off the top of your head. You can have a real conversation. It just, it allows for you to be a little bit more, I don’t know, extemporaneous.
[00:28:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I love the conversation idea. A podcast is listening in on somebody else’s conversation.
[00:28:25] Mark Bealin: Yes.
[00:28:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the example you gave with Bill, it really was, I was just having a conversation with him and it happened to be recorded. And it’s incredibly positive if other people can listen to that and get something out of it. And the other thing of course is when you record it, you get to go back and listen again and realise how much you actually didn’t get the first time.
[00:28:51] Mark Bealin: Right. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. There have been a few where it’s this will humble you. If you don’t, you really don’t know. I tried to do a good amount of prep before I got on here, but you get on with some of these people, especially in areas, I don’t know, paid as well or something like that. If I got on with Brett, I used to work for Brett years ago, if I got on with Brett, I could probably get lost in a hurry.
[00:29:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
The Target Audience of Kalicube and How It Came About
[00:29:13] Mark Bealin: Listen, I want to make sure I plug Kalicube real quick. I mentioned this as a huge undertaking. I really like the courses on there. I like you’ve got links to all your podcasts and the writing you’re doing. Who did you design Kalicube for? Who is the, is it an SEO like me? Is it somebody who just wants to learn more? Who is the target audience?
[00:29:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Actually right now, I’m winging it, making it up as I go along. What it comes down to is that I was doing all this work manually, doing spreadsheets and linking things together and trying to figure it all out for people. And I had relatively few clients. I was making reasonably good living. I specialised in that. And that’s wonderful.
[00:29:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then in fact, Yoast came on board. Joost de Valk said, I want you to help us with our, they don’t have a problem with it, but he’s being intelligent. He’s saying, I want to be proactive, I want to start nailing this now because this is where it’s all going, and I need a) when people search anyone of the people, all the brand names within my organisation, that it comes up positive, accurate, and convincing, but b) Google’s nailed the entities of myself, my partners, my employees, and my company and my plugins.
[00:30:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what I realised, I looked in and I thought, I’m actually now working for somebody who knows what they’re talking about. And I have to be really, I have to up my game. And that was the point at which I thought these spreadsheets just aren’t hacking it, because I did a spreadsheet and Joost said, oh, you’ve missed 4 profiles. I was going, crumbs, I made so much effort. And I thought I have to find a better way to do this.
[00:30:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So I actually built the machine so that I didn’t look like a fool in front of Joost de Valk, which is nice start to a company. And then I built it and I run my own name through it and my company name. And I’ve been doing this for seven years. It might seem like I’m self-obsessed, but actually I’m just experimenting. I’m trying to follow it and trying to figure out how it all fits together, all this puzzle.
[00:31:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Kalicube came up with 10%, 10% of what Kalicube came up with, I had not seen, and another 10%, I had not understood that it was quite so important because Kalicube prioritises. And it’s opened my own eyes to what’s important, what’s out there about me. And now, I’ve developed Kalicube to look at industries. So it’s categorised me as business services. And it can now pull up within business services what is important, which sites are important, and what sources are important, what type of content is going to dominate. And the surprises never stop coming.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Playing Double Bass in a Folk Punk Band in the 1990s
[00:31:59] Mark Bealin: Amazing. We’re running short on time, but I could keep talking to you about all this stuff for a very long time. Jason, this has been a lot of fun, but I have to get to everyone’s favourite part of the show, which is where Greg Gifford gives me a question for the guests and gives me no context for the question. So you and I both don’t really know what’s going on here. It’s a little bit of a high wire act for both of us. And so for you, he had three questions, but I think you covered one of them so I’m going to go. The first one is punk bass. Does that mean anything to you?
[00:32:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yep, it does. Folk punk bass would be more accurate. I used to play double bass in a folk punk band in the 1990s. That was last century. So if you are listening and not watching, you’ll see that I’ve got a big gray beard. And we played folk punk music toward Europe for 10 years, making a living, playing in bars, playing in pubs, playing in clubs, playing in venues, playing festivals, and basically living the life of a rock musician, believing in the deepest depths of our souls that we were going to be playing stadiums and we were going to be the next U2.
[00:33:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And when you look back on it and it really makes me smile, we were so absolutely convinced that it was true. And it’s so naive and so completely unlikely. But if you didn’t believe it, you wouldn’t do it. But then I did have the great pleasure. I played festivals with the Pogues, Mano Negra, Bob Dylan, Captain Sensible from the Damned, all my heroes. So, yeah, didn’t work out. We didn’t become a stadium rock band. We didn’t emulate U2. But, wow, that’s a great way to live.
[00:33:44] Mark Bealin: Heck, yeah.
[00:33:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Sorry, I’m a punk. When I was a kid, I was a punk in the countryside and the Damned is one of my favourite groups. And 20 years later, you meet Captain Sensible in some sad club in a German suburb. Isn’t it cool? Oh, and he had chicken pox.
[00:34:06] Mark Bealin: Is that right?
[00:34:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Yeah. He played, he had chicken pox and you think, that’s, in the context of COVID, that’s how we’re responsible.
[00:34:14] Mark Bealin: Oh, I know. Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. This is the last question I’ll ask you from Greg. He said SEO is AEO intro song. See if you can get him to sing it.
[00:34:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): SEO is AEO. Welcome to the show, Mark Bealin. Yeah. I can, I sing songs. Give me, Brand SERPs are wonderful. I love Knowledge Panels too. If you want a Knowledge Panel, come and see Kalicube.
Get in Touch With Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Kalicube
[00:34:50] Mark Bealin: Multi-talented, I love this. This is, man, this has been amazing. I really have enjoyed the conversation. Jason, how do people get in touch with you if they’d like to learn more?
[00:35:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I like Twitter. I think Twitter’s fun. LinkedIn, a lot. But most of the time, you’ll find me on Kalicube doing the database thing, which you mentioned earlier on. I’ve got 70,000 brands, 50 million lines of the Knowledge Graph in there, and 50 million Brand SERPs. I’m actually trying to sort it all out and make it all clean, I don’t know, usable. I’ve got 150 million lines of data in my database. And every time I look in it, I see something I just go, oh, wow. And my daughter, I’m living at my daughter’s house at the moment, absolutely, absolutely never comes anywhere near me if she hears me say, ooh, because she knows that I’m just going to bore here senses about something to do with Knowledge Graphs, Knowledge Panels, or Brand SERPs, and she’s right.
[00:35:55] Mark Bealin: Unbelievable. Jason, this has been a great conversation and you’re a heck of a lot of fun to have a beer with too.
[00:36:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:36:01] Mark Bealin: I hope I’ll see you somewhere. Hopefully, this thing’s winding down a little bit. And maybe later this year, early next year, we’ll be back to traveling around. So, I hope we can do this in person at some point. But for now, I’m going to give you a virtual cheers. And we’ll sign off for now. Jason, thanks again for coming in.
[00:36:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Virtual cheers.