Your Brand SERP is Your Business Card with The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard)
The science of search marketing is knowing the techniques… The art is making the right choices. My guest on today’s show, Jason Barnard refers to himself as The Brand SERP Guy. He’s an author, speaker, and consultant on all things digital marketing, previously a punk-folk musician and cartoon blue dog in the wildly popular web series Boowa & Kwala. He’s been studying, tracking, and analyzing Brand SERPs (search engine results pages—meaning, what appears when someone Googles your name) since 2014 through his company Kalicube.
Who is worthy of a knowledge panel on Google? Everyone, according to Jason! Knowledge Panels on a Brand SERP are becoming the new normal, but the problem is, we have no direct control over what Google shows. In Jason’s coaching and his courses he helps clients manage what’s in theirs, and how they can make sure it’s accurate. Everyone needs to manage what appears when someone Googles their name—people, brands, local businesses, music groups, products, music albums, films. So, if you want insight into all the ninja stuff that Jason has figured out through all his years in the trenches, stay tuned for a knowledge-packed episode right now!
A Brief Introduction About Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), Brand SERPs, and Knowledge Panels
[00:00:00] Stephan Spencer: Hello, and welcome to Marketing Speak. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer. And today, we have Jason Barnard with us. Jason is an author, speaker, and consultant on all things digital marketing with a specialisation on Brand SERPs search engine results pages. That is for those of us who are not geeky like me and Jason. We might refer to SERPs and then you might wonder what the heck we’re talking about.
[00:00:25] Stephan Spencer: Okay. So, SERPs are search engine results pages. Brand SERPs are where someone searches, googles your brand name, and you want to control the narrative. And Jason is an expert on that. Also in particular, there’s an aspect to Brand SERPs that Jason loves and that is Knowledge Panels where you have on the right-hand side a box of information, perhaps photos, perhaps company information, a description, social chiclets, and so forth. That’s a Knowledge Panel. And he is also an expert on that. Previously, Jason was a punk folk musician, and he ran a website about a cartoon blue dog and a yellow koala. Is that right?
[00:01:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It is right. Yeah.
[00:01:16] Stephan Spencer: And the site got 5 million visits a month which is really impressive. So, Jason, welcome to the show.
[00:01:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you very much. Lovely to be here, Stefan. Thank you for inviting me. You’ve invited me to talk about my favourite topics so I’m definitely happy.
Being in a Folk Punk Band, Writing Children Songs, and Making Games
[00:01:34] Stephan Spencer: And that is Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels. We’re definitely going to spend a lot of time on that. Before we do, I’m dying to know where did this blue dog and yellow koala come from and how the heck did you get it up to 5 million visits a month? That’s really impressive.
[00:01:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, well, I was in the folk punk band. And we toured for six years, made the living playing double bass, singing folk punk songs. And we used to joke that our nightmare audience will be children because we were punk and we were terribly aggressive. And then after that, when that ended, I thought, oh, I’d quite like to write kids songs. So, I actually went against everything we’ve been talking about before and wrote some songs for kids. And the thing is that record companies when I went to see them, I had a record deal as a folk punk musician. When I said I want to release kids songs, they just didn’t want to know. They said no, no, no, you’re a folk punk musician. You can’t do kid songs.
[00:02:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I then asked my ex wife to help me write a story. She created the characters blue dog and yellow koala. And we wrote a story around the songs that I’d written around the world in 12 songs with Boowa and Kwala and then pitched it to book companies. And they didn’t want them either. And so, I bought a copy of flash, Macromedia flash, and learn it from the ground up in the space of about six months, I guess. I started in the summer of ’98 and by Christmas I’d released the first games because I’m stubborn and I was convinced that this was genius characters, these two characters. But people kept saying to me, oh, it’s just another two characters like Tom and Jerry. It’s like Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. There were so many pairs of best friend characters.
[00:03:21] Stephan Spencer: And it’s funny that they’re saying those like those are society changing examples. Okay. Yeah.
Having a Soul Is What Makes The Characters Special
[00:03:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And they were just saying another pair of characters, oh no, how boring. The question isn’t is it another pair of characters. It’s what makes this pair of characters special. And it turns out, it’s soul. I’m not a religious person, but I do believe greatly in what we have within our inner being that we express when we talk and when we create and when we interact with other people. And it’s incredibly important. And these characters for me were a complete life-changer for that point of view because I could no longer show people what I was thinking. I had to express it through acting through this blue dog and my wife was the yellow koala.
[00:04:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And because we were independent, because nobody was helping us, because another big companies wanted to join in and promote these, I had to do the not only the flash development and the animations but also the promotion. And luckily, I picked Google as my horse to bet on when there were multiple search engines and you could feed them each a different page because they each had different algorithms that were quite in the game.
[00:04:37] Stephan Spencer: Web Position Gold.
The Process They Went Through To Gain Success For Their Site
[00:04:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Oh, I remember that when I think I probably bought it as well. But one day I just said I don’t have the time to do all of them. I’m going to bet on Google and just focus on Google. And it turned out to be a really good bet. And by 2006-7, we had a million visits a month from Google, organically, 5 million visits a month and 100 million page views a month, 20 minutes per visit on a site for kids with songs and games.
[00:05:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I used to write a song, a kid song every month. And we would have an animation, a song, three games. And on the first of every month, I would spend all the night before finishing off the games, releasing them with this song, and I wrote a hundred songs for kids over that period of time. And it’s a really, really, really nice body of work that I’m very, very proud of.
[00:05:32] Stephan Spencer: That is so cool. What happened to it? Did you sell the company or what?
[00:05:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s a sad story. I’m a bit of a naive. I was the blue dog. So, I got into a business relationship because it was my company with somebody who was a businessman and not a nice blue dog, a person. And he basically put the company and the characters which is very, very sad and it absolutely broke my heart and it makes me want to choke up and cry to be honest when I say it. But that’s life. I got over it. That’s coming back to the soul thing to tell you something very private felt like somebody had ripped out my soul and I had to rebuild it step-by-step over the period of five to six years. And what makes up your inner self is absolutely essential to everything you are, everything you do, and how you function if you have that kind of empathetic character. And good news is you can rebuild it. I can rebuild. It sounds like Steve, what’s his face, the $10 million man. Isn’t it?
[00:06:43] Stephan Spencer: Yes, it does. The bionic man. Yes. I loved that show when I was a kid.
[00:06:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. My rebuilding was free. It just took a lot of time.
[00:06:53] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. Wow.
[00:06:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, yeah, anyway, big success. We also did a TV series for ITV international which was screened all over the world. So, the whole thing was a big success and the kids loved it. The sites still online. It’s called Boowa and Kwala. And in fact, they come back. If we keep talking about Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels and they will come back into the conversation because I’ve been experimenting on them.
Doing Everything With Soul Poured Into The Work
[00:07:16] Stephan Spencer: Okay, cool. And just to round out this conversation here about your previous life and your soul having to piece that back together again, how do you inject soul and consciousness into your work these days like on Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels? How are you revealing light, I guess, is another way of putting it?
[00:07:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a really interesting question because I think you’ve nailed me in that sense is that I can’t do something if there isn’t some soul to be poured into it. And truth be told, some of the work I do is just to make the money to pay the bills at the end of the month, and I find that kind of a little bit soul destroying, a little bit difficult. But that’s, yeah, I can’t complain because everybody in the world does stuff they don’t really want to do.
[00:08:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But I save time for myself to do experiments on what I can control in a Brand SERP, what I can control in the Knowledge Panel. And that’s where I’m finding some soul these days is pushing things into the Knowledge Panel. The characters I’ve played around with those a little bit with my family, my daughter, my ex-wife, fit in my sisters, pushing them into the Knowledge Panel, seeing how I can do that, people I care about, and seeing how I can inform and educate Google about who these people are, how they want to be presented to the world when people search their names. And I find that very, very rewarding, especially, obviously, especially when it works. So, yeah, a bit of soul in there.
Talking About Some Digital Advances For The Future and Leaving Something Behind
[00:09:04] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. And I think that in the future we’re going to have life streams for each of us. I have a one-year-old, and I’m already thinking about how do we capture his life streams so that every minute of his life is stored somewhere. And also, how do I prepare some kind of time capsule for when I’ve passed and all of our loved ones have passed. How do we keep our memories alive for those who we leave behind. And that’s a whole other thing. You can have a digital twin of yourself that you can train an AI to answer questions as if it’s you and stuff. So, I think it’s going to be an interesting decade where we’re going to see a lot of advances in AI and what’s possible and even the possibility in the future of a digital substrate for our consciousness or something.
[00:10:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Wow. Yeah. That’s freaky though. But I did hear about that the other day on a comedy show in fact where they were saying you can actually train an AI machine to carry on your social accounts, but then you have to name somebody who then decides when they close it in. It can’t be kept going forever or the idea is you don’t keep it going forever. You keep it going to gently bring people down after your death which is a slightly freaky notion.
[00:10:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’m traditional in the sense that I maybe one of the reasons I was in the folk punk band was because I wanted to be a rock star and fill up stadiums and sell millions of albums, but it was also to leave something behind. And the blue dog and the koala is similar as saying I want to have affected the world. My main motivation for the blue dog and yellow koala was to know that children, there are people todady who are 20, let’s say 25 years old, who grew up with these characters. These characters are an important part of their childhood. And that was for me something that their memory of that blue dog and yellow koala is the way I live on as it were which sounds incredibly pretentious now I say it.
A Story on Jason and His Ex-Wife’s Singing In Their Cartoon Show
[00:11:30] Stephan Spencer: It doesn’t. It doesn’t. That’s really cool. This is a real thing. You can have a big impact on people’s lives more than you ever know just by creating some likable personable conscious characters or an environment online.
[00:11:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): There are a couple of stories there. One of which is I’m a genuinely nice guy. I’m empathetic and kind. And my role as the blue dog was to be the empathetic kind older brother of the yellow koala who was a little bit annoying. And what happened over the years was that I became more like the character I was playing. And it didn’t turn me into the character, but it exaggerated that side of my character which was an interesting aspect of the whole thing. I think I’m a fundamentally nicer person than I was 20 years ago when I started that. Which is not to say that my wife who played the annoying koala is more annoying now than she was before. She’s absolutely lovely.
[00:12:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But she was great because she started off. I’ve got a nice singing voice. I can sing very much in tune, and she couldn’t. And so, the idea was she would sing a little bit out of tune, a little bit out of time. And the kid, the child would feel reassured by the fact that this yellow koala was a little bit like them. And over the years she learned to sing. She ended up singing really well. And I used to do these takes for the songs and have to stop her and say, can you just sing it less well, more out of tune, less well-timed please? Which has to be one of the only times in the universe when people have actually been stopping and saying, no, that’s too well sung, please do it again.
Starting Small and Using Google Ads to Keep The Site Going
[00:13:14] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. I know for my oldest daughter, Neopets was her thing. If you’re familiar with that site, tens of millions of users as well. And they ended getting acquired by Nickelodeon, the TV network. She had a fan site that she had created at 14 years old, and that launched her internet marketing career. She ended up speaking at conferences. At 16, she spoke at her first conference at BlogHer. And then the following year, YPulse. And then she just kept saying yes to more and more speaking engagements. She did dozen different speaking engagements. SMX West, for example. And she was on panels with ShoeMoney, Jeremy Schoemaker, and so forth. Pretty cool stuff. And it all started because she had a passion for Neopets. And she knew that I had a couple of money-making websites that generated revenue from Google AdSense. And she’s like, I want to do that too. Can you teach me?
[00:14:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Brilliant.
[00:14:16] Stephan Spencer: Yeah.
[00:14:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s amazing. Absolutely awesome. Google AdSense, like it or hate it. It did start a lot of as offering. 2003, I think, is when we signed up for it. And part of the reason the kids site kept going for so long and did so well was thanks to Google Ads. We actually had a model where we would say, you have ads. If you don’t want ads, you pay a monthly subscription, and we’ll make it full window and no ads.
[00:14:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, we actually managed to get this really nice business model which was saying, we’re not forcing you to subscribe. If you don’t mind having ads for your kids, that’s fine by us. That’s how we make our money. But if you don’t want the ads, then you can pay and we’ll take them away which turned out to be a really nice business model. They kept my sense of self-worth in place. And unfortunately, as I said, the business side of it took over. And the guy I was working with was talking about how many euros per head of child are we making per month. And that’s when it all went rather spectacularly, horribly wrong very, very quickly.
[00:15:20] Stephan Spencer: Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.
[00:15:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s alright.
The Gift That Jason Learned Through His Experience
[00:15:24] Stephan Spencer: What was the gift that came out of that? My wife says that sometimes there’s a gift, but the bow is on the bottom so we don’t recognise that it’s a gift. In retrospect, where do you see the gifts? It could be just a lesson that you learned from that experience.
[00:15:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, there is several. Right now, I’m in a really good place because I’m talking to incredibly intelligent people like yourself and being very charming about it. But I have a podcast and I had 150 guests and I’m learning so much and realising how, I suppose actually you were talking about the soul earlier on, but the really important soul’s nourishing part of what I’m doing today is how much I learned from talking to other people about what they know absolutely about loads about.
[00:16:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, that’s a gift is that I’ve learned so much. And I’m in a very intellectual place where I’m pushing my mind, and I think I’m pushing the industry as well and to places it didn’t really necessarily think it was going to go. And another thing is it’s made me more empathetic and more understanding about other people. I understand what it is to go right down and have to build it back up again. And so when people say, I’ve got a problem. I need to talk. I think I’m a much better listener than I used to be. Although, so far on this, I haven’t done any listening. I’ve just done the talking.
[00:16:47] Stephan Spencer: I know. You’re doing a great job.
How Did Brand SERPs Started To Fascinate The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard) And Kept Him Engaged
[00:16:50] Stephan Spencer: All right. Let’s move on to a Brand SERPs. I appreciate you delving into that previous chapter and unearthing some of those lessons and yeah. It’s just really fascinating stuff. So, Brand SERPs. Why Brand SERPs? Why not other aspects of SEO? What is it about the Brand SERP that fascinates you so much and keeps you engaged?
[00:17:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Well, in fact, I started because I was in Mauritius, basically on a desert island, making these cartoons for kids. Mauritius is just off the coast of Madagascar in the south of Africa. And when it all went wrong, I had to move back to France which is where I live now. So, I’d start again from zero in a new country. And I was pitching for work, and the only work I could get was SEO because I could say to people, look, I’ve got a million visits a month for this kids site. I can do the same for your company. So, I was pitching for work in something I wasn’t actually qualified for just on the fact that I had done this one website that happened to work really, really well.
[00:17:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And actually, the reason we got so much traffic is a) the quality of the content, the pure quality of the content, and how well-targeted that content was for a specific market. We didn’t aim other markets. We aimed at the market we market and the kids. And the fact that I actually analysed Google in a great deal of detail at the time when you could do word counting to rank.
[00:18:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it was that thing of being very, very focused on the very specific things that would make it work. And then what I realised is that when I went to pitch to people, they would then look me up online, and they would see whatever results it was. At that time, it was some guy who had been driving down the motorway 157 miles an hour in the UK. So it said Jason Barnard, 157 miles an hour down the motorway.
The Effect of Improving Your Own Personal Brand SERP
[00:18:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I thought, actually, if I improve that, when I pitched to the client, when I walk out, they immediately look me up. If what they see when they look me up is incredibly impressive, they’ll sign on the dotted line more easily. Turns out to be true. Turns out from that day on, nobody negotiates my prices anymore. I went from 50% conversion rate to 80% conversion rate. And it made my professional life much, much easy because that big, hard sell that I was making when I was sitting in front of them, that was really going well with my personality which really does help was losing a great deal of its impact when somebody looked me up and didn’t see me as a digital marketer. They saw me as whatever, musician and a blue dog.
[00:19:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And now if you look me up, you see the blue dog, you see the musician, you see my life story. You were talking about that earlier on. You see my life story on my Brand SERP, but you see the dominant factor is digital marketing. You’ll see Search Engine Journal. You’ll see Semrush. You’ll see the videos. It’s very SEO focused. So people say, actually, yes, this guy is a funny blue dog and from a folk punk musician, but he is a very serious and very impressive digital marketer associated with these big brands.
[00:20:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And in fact when I started doing it, I thought that took me a few months to sort out, and then I can forget about it, and I won’t ever think about Brand SERPs ever again. It turns out seven years later, I’m still learning every day. Every day, I look at Brand SERPs. I learned something here. I think, oh, wow, wow. I didn’t think of that. And it’s turned out to be the deepest rabbit hole you could possibly think of. Obviously, not. But for me, every day is a new adventure and thinking, what am I going to find out today.
Working On An Experiment On Knowledge Graphs Using The Blue Dog, The Yellow Koala, And Their Families
[00:20:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And an example last week is that I’ve been trying to push things into the Knowledge Graph as fast as I can because the Knowledge Graph is Google’s understanding of the world. And it’s like a human memory. It’s like an encyclopedia but readable buying machines. And the idea is pushing information into it is very difficult because like a child, you have to educate it and convince it that what you’re saying is true and get it to hook into the memory so that it sticks. And traditionally, that’s taken a month or two months or three months. A year or two ago, it would take four or five months to actually get something in there.
[00:21:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I started really working on lots of experiments about three months ago using the blue dog, the yellow koala, and their families. The yellow koala by the way is called Kwala. And her mother is called Mummy Koala. Her father is called Daddy Koala. Her grandfather is called Grandpa Koala. And her grandmother is called Grandma Koala. Currently in the Knowledge Graph, if you look up Daddy Koala, his significant other is named as Mummy Koala. So, you have this whole family tree in the Knowledge Graph that I fed the Knowledge Graph. I educated Google as you would a child about these characters and their families and the relationships between them and how it all fits together. And at the top of all that is Boowa and Kwala which is the name of a fictional universe which Google has understood that this is a fictional universe that contains a blue dog, a yellow koala, and their families.
The Surprising Little Amount of Time You Could Push Information Into The Knowledge Graph
[00:22:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the new adventure from a week ago is I had a webinar and I was trying to see how fast I could push something into Knowledge Graph, and the answer is now two minutes.
[00:22:15] Stephan Spencer: What?
[00:22:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s exactly. I can feed certain things into the Knowledge Graph in two minutes which shows a) that Google trusts me on certain topics, and that’s the whole thing. It’s authority and trust. Google trusts me, and I am authoritative on specific topics. And so, I can feed Google information, and it will believe me on my own good word which is an astonishing thought. And one of the reasons that that needs to be the case is that Google needs to keep the Knowledge Graph up to date in real time. If you think about football scores, baseball scores, latest hit rates in baseball, whatever that might be called, if you look on Google what’s the latest, what would its strike rate, home run rate of Dave Bruce. No, he’s not with us anymore. A more recent one. It changes every week. They need to have it up to date.
[00:23:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, they have this old problem that they have Knowledge Graph that needs to be full of facts that they can show on that right rail you were saying on the right-hand side. What’s on the left-hand side is Google saying, this is what we consider to be the best list of answers, and you choose the one you want. On the right hand side, they’re saying, this is fact, and we’re standing by this. So, they have a dilemma where they’re saying, we need to make sure it’s fact, but we also need to make sure it’s up to date. And that dilemma is something they’re trying to deal with now. And it does mean that some things can be pushed into the Knowledge Graph very quickly. That might have been a little bit advanced for some people. I do apologise.
An Example of How You Could Put Something In The Knowledge Graph In Just Minutes
[00:23:40] Stephan Spencer: Oh, no. No apologies necessary. In fact, we want more. Give me an example if you could of how you put something into the Knowledge Graph in two minutes.
[00:23:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The actual example is an event. What I did was organise a series of events over a period of three months. And the first events when I created them would push into the Knowledge Graph in either not at all or after two or three weeks. Then, it got shorter and shorter. And bit by bit, I managed to pull it down to a day. And what it turns out is that Google, because it was every single Tuesday, it still is. Every Tuesday, I have a podcast episode on YouTube that streams live. Google expects me to be posting them. So, it’s waiting for me to post them. The example I had was I had an idea for a new episode. Thought of it, wrote it on a piece of paper, pushed it into YouTube, push it onto my site. Two minutes later, it was in the Knowledge Graph. So, that’s the specific example of my series of events. And I actually did, what would you call it, a counter test by posting another one onto my other site and onto another YouTube channel. And it didn’t get anywhere near the Knowledge Graph.
[00:24:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it’s a question of that specific channel, that specific site, and that combination is trusted for this particular event or series of events. An example of updating a Knowledge Panel in eight minutes which was an interesting one is the folk punk band. I do experiments on them as well is that I’ve got control of the Knowledge Panel by indicating to Google that my site, a page on my site is the official homepage. Not the official homepage in the sense that people go to it as the homepage, but the official source of information that Google should trust about that band because I’m the only person writing about them because nobody cares because it’s from the nineties. And so what I then managed to do was get Google to cite me and the Knowledge Panel which then meant I could then change the text on my page. And eight minutes later, the text in the Knowledge Panel about my band changed as well.
Some Percentages On Who Brands Cite On Their Knowledge Panel
[00:25:47] Stephan Spencer: Right. Yeah. Because it’s not just Wikipedia or even Wikidata that Google uses as the definitive source for description copy for the Knowledge Panel. It can be, for example, I saw that Hamlet Batista. I don’t know if you know Hamlet. He’s in the SEO space. So, he has a Knowledge Panel. And the copy comes from either, no, it’s from Search Engine Land. Yeah. I was thinking Search Engine Journal which he writes for now. But, yeah. It was from Search Engine Land. So if he wanted to change that copy, he would go to Search Engine Land and say, hey, can you change my bio on the author page?
[00:26:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Exactly. And that brings up a couple of really interesting questions. First of all is I can actually give you some numbers for that because I’ve got a collection of 75,000 brands that I track, brands and people and events and products. Basically, I track entities, and I track the SERP that comes up, the presence in the Knowledge Graph and the Knowledge Panel. And of all the Knowledge Panels for companies for brands, 60%, it’s about 57% cite Wikipedia, 30% cite nobody, and the rest which is about 12% cite a different source, another source. So, I’ve got 3,500 different sources that have been cited at one point in the last six months in different Knowledge Panels around the world. And of that 10%, 10% are self-citations i.e. the brand describing itself on its own site.
[00:27:24] Stephan Spencer: Right.
How Wikipedia Takes Away Control of Your Brand Message and Rebuilding Google’s Understanding Through Schema Markup
[00:27:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s what we’re aiming on. Google has got no reason not to show how we describe ourselves. It just has to trust us enough to do it. And I think that’s the ultimate aim for brands is you say, we want this Wikipedia page. Why? Because it gets us the Knowledge Panel quickly, but it removes control. I was talking to Rand Fishkin on my podcast. And he actually got his Wikipedia pages removed because he was saying, it takes away the control of my brand message by people who don’t actually know anything about my brand, myself, or my company.
[00:27:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Mine were removed because I messed with them too much because I was experimenting. And it was a very interesting experience because what it then meant is that I had to rebuild how Google understood me. And it turns out that the Schema Markup of my own sites was what allowed me to do that. It’s what sustained me despite the deletion of the Wikipedia pages.
[00:28:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it means that I like to say now, you need to give every entity a home. You find one page on a site you control that you identify as the home of that entity where Google can go and get reliable, trusted, authoritative information that you feed. And if you can do that and you can convince Google that’s where it should be looking, what you do is you say, this is my Entity. This is its home. And here’s all the corroboration. It point outs the corroboration. Then Google will end up trusting you, and it will end up citing you about yourself. And that has to be the ultimate control of your presence in Google’s mind if we can call the Knowledge Graph it’s mind.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) On Having Musician Said On His Knowledge Panel and On Changing It
[00:28:58] Stephan Spencer: Right. Right. And I noticed in your Knowledge Panel, it says musician. Is that by design? Do you love that? Or do you not like that and you want to change it?
[00:29:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well in fact, the thing is by trade I’m a musician. I was a musician first for The Barking Dogs which was the folk punk band. That was six years. I made four albums. Then, I was a musician with the blue dog and the yellow koala. I wrote a hundred songs. So, the overwhelming part of my career has been a musician. That’s where I’m actually have been most active. But the reason that sticks so hard is because there are so many sites like your daughter had her fan site for Neopets is there are fan sites and there are database sites. Like IMDb or MusicBrainz or Discogs where this information is actually in databases that Google can read. So, it’s much easier to feed that information to Google, much easier for Google to find that information, much easier for Google to corroborate that information.
[00:30:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So when it says musician, what it means is this is the one I’m most sure about. Because if you actually search Jason Barnard professions, it gives a range of professions. It understands I’ve had multiple jobs, but it’s showing the one that’s the most sure about. My proudest moment was just before the Wikipedia page got deleted, I managed to convince Google to have Jason Barnard author. I thought that was cool because I’ve written like 20 articles in my life. So, being considered to be an author is a bit of ego brushing the right way, thinking I’m an author. Obviously, I’m not. So, it says musician because that’s the one that’s the most sure about. It’s the full back option.
[00:30:51] Stephan Spencer: And are you going to try and change that to something else? Or did you give up on unchanging that after author was reverted back to musician?
[00:31:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I think I should just in the sense that I sell Brand SERP courses which is how to control what appears when somebody googles your brand name and how to control the Knowledge Panels. So, I actually teach people to do all this stuff so I think I should because everything about me should be represented perfectly. But the fact is I learned how to do it. Now, I can teach other people. I don’t need to do it again to learn again how to do it. I would do better to go and learn something new.
[00:31:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I’m torn about that. The other thing is I don’t like redoing the same thing twice so I would tend to think, okay, I don’t mind them. That’s actually fine. But now, what I want to do is get the People Also Search For associations change. I managed to get them all to become SEOs at one point, and they’ve now switched back to musicians again. This is one I haven’t figured out yet is how to switch them all back to being associated with SEO experts.
Triggering Twitter Boxes and What To Do With Video Boxes
[00:32:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s the same with the Twitter boxes. I triggered the Twitter boxes. I spent six months tweeting like mad. And Twitter is nice. I enjoy it, but it’s not something I want to do every day, all day. And to maintain the Twitter boxes, you have to maintain that kind of rhythm. So now, the choice to say do I do that or do I focus now on what my new favourite thing to do is see what I can do with video boxes. I saw Gary Illyes on International Search Summit the other day.
[00:32:33] Stephan Spencer: He would give you an earful for mispronouncing his last name.
[00:32:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, yeah. I’m sure he doesn’t notice anyway.
[00:32:39] Stephan Spencer: Illyes. Illyes.
[00:32:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Illyes. Yeah, well. He keeps everybody in there from his miserable. So, I have no pity for him on that at all. But what was interesting is he was saying that he, John Mueller, and Martin Splitt have been making videos. And part of the reason they’d been making videos during the lockdown is to try and understand how videos rank which I found really interesting because they’re trying to figure it out by making videos themselves and putting on Google’s own YouTube channel.
Darwinism In Search: How The Ranking System At Google Works
[00:33:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, actually, the mechanism, I heard him explain how Google explain to engineers who arrive at Google how ranking system works which I call Darwinism in Search which is if you have the blue links as the foundation and then the Rich Elements, what I call candidate sets which would be image boxes, video carousels, featured snippets, podcast boxes, all those things competing for place. And in order to get a place, they have to prove that they bring more value than the best ranking blue link. And that’s how they build the Rich SERPs.
[00:33:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Then I went to Bing. And I talked to Nathan Chalmers at Bing who’s the whole page algorithm boss guy who builds the algorithm for the whole page algorithm, which is another one that sits on top does actually know that Darwinistic should have won. But we’re not going to have it because it actually doesn’t work. And that’s where the click-through and the user behavior is all integrated into an algorithm. It’s not integrated into the founding algorithm of the blue links or even the video boxes or the image boxes. It’s obviously or probably integrated into the whole page algorithm which will actually sits on top of everything else.
[00:34:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what was really nice about the conversation with Nathan Chalmers was that part of their algorithm is actually called Darwin. So, there is Darwinism in Search, but it’s actually anti-Darwinism where they override what Darwinism would have brought as through the algorithm themselves.
[00:34:50] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. A misquote often of Darwin’s law, I guess, is survival of the fittest. It’s not survival of the fittest, survival of the most adaptable.
[00:35:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Okay. Lovely. Jolly good.
[00:35:06] Stephan Spencer: Yeah.
Blue Links and Rich Elements
[00:35:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What’s interesting, coming back to Brand SERP which I always will, is that Brand SERPs are very specific in the sense that with an ambiguous brand names such as Microsoft, for example. The only question they need to answer is what will bring most value to the user who is searching that name which is why you get so many Rich Elements, so many news boxes, video boxes, the Knowledge Panel. And what’s incredibly interesting there is how rich they are, how useful they are, and how far away they are from the initial blue links.
[00:35:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I discovered the other day with startpage.com, you actually get the naked blue link ranking algorithm. And if you look up Microsoft on startpage.com, you get 3 awful ads and then 7 microsoft.com links and then 3 other ones from other Microsoft’s companies. And on the Brand SERP that Google actually shows after the whole page algorithm and the Darwinism in Search with the Rich Elements has come into play, only one blue link survives, and it’s the homepage.
[00:36:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s an astonishing insight into how weak the blue links can be. That’s an extreme example. Obviously, it’s not like that all the time. And for me, that’s just absolutely mind blowing. And if anyone’s still thinking, I want to rank in the blue links and that’s all I care about and that’s where I’m going with my digital marketing strategy, stop because that’s not where it’s at these days. And that’s a really good indication of that.
What To Do With Your Brand SERP When You Have A “Hater” In Your Video Boxes
[00:36:53] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. So, I have a client who has a hater in the video box. So, this particular hater likes to create controversial videos and taking a company to task. Oftentimes, the Kickstarter and Indiegogo launches and it’s tearing apart their product and making fun of them and that sort of thing. And this hater has a lot of followers, a lot of subscribers on YouTube. And so, that video is very hard to get out of the box. So, maybe there’s an alternative to actually not have the box at all. Maybe trigger a different box instead and have the video box go onto page two or disappear altogether.
[00:37:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. That is a brilliant point. The question is, are those videos valuable and useful and relevant to people searching the brand name? And if you can prove to Google that something else is more relevant and more valuable, it could be image box, it could be Twitter boxes, it could be People Also Ask, it could be, what else would you have, podcast boxes, for example. Those were all opportunities, and they’re what I call the Rich Elements. And Google has a limit. Once you get to 3 or 4 Rich Elements, it will tend to replace them rather than add to them. So, yeah.
[00:38:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s the interesting thing about the Brand SERP is you need to approach it from saying, what content can I create that will clearly indicate to Google that it is more valuable and useful and relevant to people who are searching for my brand name than what is already there. And that is the fundamental basis of managing and controlling your Brand SERP. Glad you summarised it. Beautiful. I love that. Thank you.
Process of Prioritising On What Ranks On Your Brand SERP Using Examples
[00:38:55] Stephan Spencer: Nicely done. So, how do you determine what your order of priorities are for cleaning up the Brand SERPs? If you’re my client, I’m not going to name who it is, but if you’re that particular client and there are a couple of negative listings or they’re calling the company and their product like just snake oil, essentially. It’s not. There is a lot of legitimacy to what they do. It’s unfortunate but they’re having to try and push that stuff off page one.
[00:39:39] Stephan Spencer: So, they need to prioritise what they’re going to do and I’m helping them to do that prioritisation. I’m curious what your process is for prioritising. Do you try and get social accounts to rank higher, to push the negative stuff off of page one? Do you tend to go towards things like Crunchbase and other high authority websites that are not social sites or do you try and get them to create subdomains or launch sites on separate domains or to get blog posts like reviews written on other sites? What’s the priority and what’s the major focus?
[00:40:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What’s interesting about Brand SERPs is every case is very different. Somehow, it’s easy to say. But a company like Disney, you will get Disney properties ranking on every single place. Microsoft, it’s the same because they’ve got all these different companies, these different brands, and potentially, people are looking. If you search for Microsoft, you might be looking for Xbox or Microsoft Office. If you’re searching for Disney, you might be looking for Disney parks or you might be looking for Disney holidays. You might be looking for Disney shops or Disney films. So, Disney, actually, and Microsoft just take up all of their whole first page and nobody can get a look in and nobody will get a look in. So, creating subdomains just for creating subdomains wouldn’t help unless you had a real reason and people were actually looking for them explicitly or would be expecting to see them.
Dominating Video Carousels By Making Your Channel Strong Enough
[00:41:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): With this specific video example, replacing video boxes tends to be quite difficult because video is terribly popular, and Google’s terribly keen on video. But one thing I have found is that brands will tend to dominate their own video carousels with their own channel if that channel is strong enough. So, one option, I don’t guarantee it would work, but would be to build and build and build the channel and get their audience engaging on their channel an awful lot because then Google would tend to think this is the kind of content that people are searching, the brand are looking for. As opposed to this negative content which would push it, push it either just down the carousel so it’s not visible immediately or even potentially right off the carousel.
[00:42:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Actually getting rid of the carousel. If it was images, I could say, yeah, trigger the video boxes and no problem. Trigger the Twitter boxes, no problem. Twitter boxes could potentially get rid of the video boxes. But the thing about it is that is video boxes is the one case where I would say that’s unlikely ever to completely disappear. So, my honest and truthful reply would be, you need to build your own channels so it’s so strong Google has no choice but to put you because you are what is the most relevant, useful, helpful to the person searching your brand.
[00:42:46] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. Yeah. I get that. Yeah.
[00:42:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you search for Kalicube, I’ve got my video channel which is actually quite weak, but I dominate because the channel is very well managed and very focused on my audience, small audience though it is. So, I’m confident that would work in a larger environment, in a more aggressive environment. And that’s the thing is people contact me a lot about these bad results. Aggressive environments are very difficult to predict because of the way things are perceived. A lot of it as well is news. When it’s new, it will tend to rise to the top. If it doesn’t perform, it will sink in a Darwinistic fashion if we like. And if this negative video is performing on a regular basis, you’ve got to prove that something else can perform better. Sorry, go ahead.
How Do You Know If You’re Worthy of a Knowledge Panel and How Do You Trigger It To Show Up
[00:43:43] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. Got it. Okay. So, how do you know if you’re worthy of a Knowledge Panel? And then how do you trigger a Knowledge Panel to show up if you’ve never had one for your name or your brand whether it’s personal brand or your company brand? How do you get one?
[00:44:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, everybody is worthy of a Knowledge Panel. There is the simple answer. Wikipedia has this concept of notability. It’s saying, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia for people. It’s supposed to be useful for people. So, filling it with lots of second rate companies that nobody cares about, lots of people that haven’t actually done anything particularly interesting, the information about them.
[00:44:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I had somebody who asked me, oh, do you think this is a good Wikipedia page? He’d written it for himself. And you’re saying the only person who’s interested in that is your mother, and even then she probably isn’t that interested. He performed well at primary school, and it was very appreciated by his teacher, Mr. Benton. Who cares? And the mistake people make with Wikipedia is to think that what they appreciate about themselves or their friends or their family appreciate about them is interesting to the wider world. It isn’t. And Wikipedia right there is saying this is for human beings to read. It needs to be useful. We’re not going to waste our resources on lots of junk.
[00:45:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google doesn’t see it that way. Google’s Knowledge Graph is simply trying to understand as much as it possibly can. So, it doesn’t matter if only your mother is interested. Google and your mother basically are the only entities that would be interested in what you’ve got to say. But if you can feed that information Google is confident, then potentially you can have a Knowledge Panel.
Understanding, Credibility, and Deliverability
[00:45:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Now, once you’re in the knot, so you go again into the Knowledge Graph, Google will understand who you are and what you do, and that’s the fundamental basis. And if you think about entity-based search which is where we’re all going, Google needs to understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. If it can do that, then it can start working for you to present you to the right audience to answer their question and solve their problems which is the basis of Google’s entire functioning. It wants to provide the best solution or answer to its user query.
[00:45:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you are that, all it needs to do is understand that you’re the best answer, needs to understand who you are, what you do, who your audience is. You’re the most credible and have the content on hand to deliver to that user that preferably that you control that content. So, I say understanding, credibility, and deliverability. It’s the only three things you need to worry about in SEO. If you can cover those three, basically everything you do needs to cover one of those three. You need to be explaining to Google, educating Google. That’s the understanding. You need to be building yourself up, proving how great you are. Credibility. All you need to be making sure that Google can deliver your content on the SERP or that it believes you can deliver the content in the right format to its user on your site or on your YouTube channel or on your Facebook.
The Understanding Part: Google Wants To Understand Everything and You Need To Explain It
[00:46:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, understanding, credibility, and deliverability. But we were on the understanding part. The understanding part is Google wants to understand absolutely everything, and all you need to do is explain it. And if you can explain it, once again, every entity needs its home. That home should be on your site. It’s one page. It’s not the whole site. It’s one page per entity. That page deals with that one entity in detail and points to corroboration in third-party trusted authoritative sources, independent sources. Once it’s got a grip on that truth, whether or not the Knowledge Panel triggers depends on the probability that Google feels that the Knowledge Panel will be useful to its user.
[00:47:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if it’s a brand name, as long as there’s no ambiguity, that Knowledge Panel will certainly appear. If it’s a personal Brand SERP like Jason Barnard, for example, my Knowledge Panel appears because it thinks the most probable person they’re searching for is me and not one of the other 250 Jason Barnards there are in the world.
Dealing With Geolocation and Other Geo Differences
[00:47:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And obviously, that’s going to change over time because it will understand there’s a footballer in South Africa. There’s a podcaster in the UK who does music. There’s a clergyman in America somewhere. There’s all sorts of Jason Barnards in the world. And then once that happens, once Google has understood more and more of the world, we’re going to come into a situation of dealing with geolocation. The set in South Africa, the footballer will probably come up more than I will. And if I want to appear in South Africa, I would need to become famous in South Africa.
[00:48:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But already the geo differences in these Knowledge Panels is actually quite big. It’s bigger than you would think even for brands, especially for people. And so, it’s looking at the probability that that result will be useful. A very good example of that was Mary Moore. And if you search Mary Moore in America, UK, Australia, New Zealand, I did the test. There are 4 in America, 5 in the UK, all on the right-hand side listed, and 3 or 4 in Australia. In Australia, it’s an Australian judge and an author and the English actress. In America, it’s all American actresses, and the Australian judge doesn’t get a look in.
[00:49:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you start thinking, okay, so it depends on where you are on what kind of person is searching for you. So, you’re going to get these results and the Knowledge Panel is being triggered in more and more specific situations for particular circumstances where they are useful.
[00:49:18] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. So, I can imagine also if your search history shows that you’re into football, for example, and you do a search for dolphins that you’d see the football team, Knowledge Panel versus the mammal.
[00:49:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A hundred percent. Exactly. Yeah. We’re at the beginning of all this. It tends to be fairly, I was going to say it tends to be fairly universal, it tends to be fairly standardised at the moment. But I did a talk last week at International Search Summit where I do talk about how different that your individual brand Knowledge Panels are across different countries. And I gave them the title before I’d actually done the research. And I suddenly thought what happens if they aren’t different? Luckily for me, they are very different, and they’re surprisingly different.
[00:50:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And when you think about it as logical, the social accounts they show in those Knowledge Panels for IKEA, for example, would be different for IKEA Twitter UK, IKEA Facebook UK to IKEA Facebook America. So, it needs to be different from country to country. And that’s exciting. Right now, Knowledge Panels seem relatively simple concept. They seem relatively simple to control. But when you look into the rabbit hole, you see how complex this is going to get, and it’s going to get very, very complex very, very quickly. And we’re only just at the beginning.
Finding The Source of Ambiguity and Mistakes, and Correcting Them
[00:50:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And you add to that the ambiguity, confusion, duplicates, mistakes, and all that stuff you need to correct. Once Google says, I don’t know, Jason Barnard’s shoe size is size 10, and it’s actually a size nine. I have to go and correct. I can’t just say, oh, can you correct that please, Google. There are people at Google who can correct what’s written in the Knowledge Panel. But when they do that and this is what the representatives at Google tell you to do is say just ask us to change it. We’ll change it. It’s all right. But what then happens is within a week, the machine will change it back if the machine thinks the humans got it wrong.
[00:51:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the control is gone. And I’ve had this example with several clients. But you need to find where the machine is getting that information from. Why is the machine making that mistake? Why is that machine so convinced that that piece of false information is true? And once you’ve corrected the source of the issue, the machine will put up into the Knowledge Panel you’re fine. But you can’t now expect a human being to be able to correct that. The human being will only correct it temporarily. The machine will always win.
Do You Need Schema Markup On A Page You Created As An Entity For Your Knowledge Panel?
[00:52:01] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. Got it. Okay. So if you don’t have a Knowledge Panel currently, a good starting point is to create a page all about yourself as an entity. Do you need Schema Markup or do you not need Schema Markup on that page?
[00:52:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Theoretically, you don’t need it, but I wouldn’t even bother trying without it simply because my experience has been that Schema Markup just makes it. Schema Markup does a couple of things actually which is quite interesting. Not only does it give Google the information that’s in the page in a language it can digest natively which is the way I like to put it, it gives Google that information in a format that it has no doubt if it’s understood what’s in the page which it probably has. It’s got 50% confidence level that it’s understood. If you add Schema Markup, you’re pushing that up to 70 or 80%. You’re confirming what it’s already understood, and that’s phenomenally important. It also allows you to point to all the corroborative sources that say, it’s not just me saying it. All these other people, authoritative, trustworthy, third-party, independent sources are saying the same thing.
The Story of How Jason’s Wikipedia Page Got Deleted
[00:53:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the Wikipedia example was really interesting because what happened is I had my Wikipedia article, The Barking Dogs, the folk punk group Wikipedia article and the Boowa and Kwala Wikipedia article, all three of them. They deleted mine. They deleted The Barking Dogs the next day or two days later. And then they deleted Boowa and Kwala three days later. Now, pity is all of these are notable in terms of what Wikipedia sets out in its guidelines is needing to be notable. My punishment, this was my punishment for messing with them too much. And I was messing with them because I wanted to figure out how Google’s Knowledge Graph functioned. So, I say fair game. They say not fair game. Yeah. We’re not going to argue about it anymore because I lost.
[00:54:08] Stephan Spencer: And that’s because of the conflict of interest guidelines of Wikipedia.
[00:54:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Yeah. And I’m saying actually, it’s factual or I’m backing it all with evidence. And they’re saying, but you’re not allowed to do it. It’s against the rules. So, that’s it. You’re out. My personal feelings about the people who did that aren’t actually very positive because I don’t think they were very nice people because their attitude stank basically. But that’s a personal question.
How Jason Rebuilt His Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Panel After The Deletion of His Wikipedia Page
[00:54:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But what it did do is taught me an awful lot because I then decided in a moment of, how would you put it, I got overexcited and thought I would be really clever. And I moved all my Schema Markup from my homepage on my site to an About Me page at the same time as the deletion of the Wikipedia page. I also at the same time kept The Barking Dogs and Boowa and Kwala Schema Markup in the same places it had already been.
[00:55:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What happened? My Knowledge Graph presence, my Knowledge Panel disappeared like that literally overnight, completely gone. And the other two went from strength to strength. Once Wikipedia had gone, the other two entities actually went from strength to strength both in the Knowledge Graph and in terms of Knowledge Panels. And mine disappeared because I moved it’s home because Google didn’t have the crutch. And it took me six weeks then to rebuild it. I rebuilt the whole thing, got a new Knowledge Graph ID, rebuilt it to what you now see today. And it’s actually now stronger than it was before.
[00:55:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s an interesting point about Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a crutch. And if you can do without that crutch, you’re going to be much better off because your presence will be solider, more controllable by you, and you will get to control what you said earlier on is you get to control your message. So, I would actually say if there’s a Wikipedia page, great use it. You’re going to get your Knowledge Panel in no time at all. It’s a really easy way in, but it isn’t necessarily where you want to go if you want to work for the long-term and control.
Looking For Your Knowledge Graph ID
[00:56:26] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. And do you have to apply somewhere to get that Knowledge Graph ID or identifier?
[00:56:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. If you go to Kalicube.Pro, I’ve actually got a tool where you can look in the it’s called the Knowledge Graph Explorer, and you can look up your Knowledge Graph ID. So, you can look up your name or your company name, and it will show you if there’s something in the Knowledge Graph for it.
[00:56:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you have a Knowledge Panel already, if you look in the source code of the page, you can find the Knowledge Graph ID. It’s either /g/ and then lots of letters or /m/ then lots of letters. And if you look in the source code, it’s pretty obvious which one it is. It’s 6 or 7 letters after the g or the m slash. And it’s usually, if it’s on the Claim This Knowledge Panel, you will see it’s on that button Claim This Knowledge Panel.
Claiming Your Knowledge Panel and Its Importance
[00:57:18] Stephan Spencer: Yep. And if you haven’t claimed your Knowledge Panel? You have one, but you haven’t claimed it. You should claim it, right?
[00:57:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes, because that does give you that limited amount of control where you can ask a human being at Google to change information or add information to your Knowledge Panel, but it also prevents anybody else from controlling it.
[00:57:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you’re a music group or even a person, some people, not all people, you can post in a social kind of manner. You can post information. I got control of the folk punk groups’ Knowledge Panel. I posted a picture of the pizza I was eating, and it came up on the Knowledge Panel in two minutes. And it was quite good fun. Obviously, the group is no longer functioning so it’s not useful. But if you’re an active music group or an active theatre group or any kind of entertainment based entity, then you get control of that, and you can actually post social information. So, it becomes incredibly interesting and important. And as a brand, you obviously don’t, you don’t get that. That’s much more Google My Business would be doing that for you.
Getting Google Books Triggered To Promote Your Book On Your Knowledge Panel
[00:58:25] Stephan Spencer: Right. Now, what if you’re Knowledge Panel has a book title? Let’s say you wrote a book or multiple books, but it doesn’t have the book covers. Can you trigger the book covers instead of just the title?
[00:58:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You should be able to, but that’s all Google Books actually. It’s not even in the Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph itself is this one big chunk of information. Everything that’s authors and books, not everything, a lot of what is authors and books, especially the lesser known ones are actually only being pulled from Google Books. So, you need to just make sure your Google Books is updated correctly, and then that will correct itself.
[00:59:08] Stephan Spencer: So, I’ve seen some Knowledge Panels that get triggered by Google Books or at least they get the descriptions pulled from Google Books.
[00:59:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A hundred percent. If you look up Duane Forrester who’s SEO chum of both of us who was on my podcast last week, he’s not in the Knowledge Graph, but he’s got a beautiful Knowledge Panel and it’s all based on his presence in Google Books. But it isn’t pulling the description from Google Books because there is no description of Duane Forrester himself. It’s putting the description from Search Engine Land.
[00:59:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So what I mean is, in fact, there are several Knowledge Graphs knocking around, and depending on what area you’re coming from, why you might be triggering a Knowledge Panel, the source might be different, and the actions that you need to take will be different.
[01:00:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But Google is bringing it more and more together. And that example of Duane Forrester is interesting because it isn’t very often that I see a description for an author where Google Books has triggered the Knowledge Panel, but the description comes from somewhere other than Google Books. So, Duane is special.
Putting An About The Author Part In The Book To Get A Listing Inside of Google Books
[01:00:24] Stephan Spencer: So, how does he get a listing inside of Google Books that’s about him as the author so that that replaces a Search Engine Land listing?
[01:00:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s whoever submitted or however the publisher submitted the books to Google Books because you should put a blurb with the book itself with about the authors.
[01:00:48] Stephan Spencer: Yeah.
[01:00:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you look at somebody like Rand Fishkin, the book he wrote, it’s got about the authors, it’s got two authors, but I can’t remember who the other guy is. And the two are next to each other and it’s just pulled his description out and put it into the Knowledge Panel.
[01:01:01] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. You’re talking about The Art of SEO, right?
[01:01:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, yes. She’s right behind you. Yeah.
[01:01:06] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. One of those two blokes is me.
[01:01:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What a terrible fopaux. Oh, I’m so sorry, Stephan.
[01:01:16] Stephan Spencer: That’s okay. That’s funny. I thought you knew.
[01:01:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, sorry. Can I be really honest? I hadn’t actually prepared for this because I’ve had the COVID the last couple of weeks.
[01:01:26] Stephan Spencer: Oh, no.
[01:01:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I’m still at the end of this. Luckily we’re not in the same room, but I’m pulling out of it. I didn’t really have time to prepare. So, I didn’t look you up.
IMDb As One of The Pivotal Sources of Information of Google
[01:01:41] Stephan Spencer: That’s fine. Okay. So, I know we’re getting close to time here. IMDb for those people who are in the Hollywood industry versus an author who would be in Google Books probably or if not, they would go to their publisher. Or if they’ve self-published, they would investigate how to get into Google Books with their book. But somebody who is, let’s say, a screenwriter or an actor, they might create a listing for themselves in IMDb or request that it get created or whatever that process is. Is that one of the pivotal sources like Wikipedia and Google Books?
[01:02:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. If you’re not or you’ve been involved in any kind of film, IMDb is a really good way in. And if you happen to have been in a film or have a namesake who’s in a film, Trond, what’s his name, SEO guy. He’s got a namesake who was in some awful army film. And so, he gets a Knowledge Panel but as though he were an actor, but he isn’t. So, IMDb is a very powerful trigger for the Knowledge Panel.
[01:02:59] Stephan Spencer: You’re talking about Trond Lyngbo, right?
[01:03:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes. You’re very good at this. Thank you. You’re much better at names than I am. I plea tiredness and fatigue in a sweaty brow from.
[01:03:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, he has the problem that there is an actor with the same name as him. So, there is confusion there. And one of the very important things that we need to start doing now, all of us is disambiguating is to say that isn’t me which comes back again. I keep saying it. Create a home for your entity. Get yourself a site, a one page site. It only has to be one page. Explain who you are, what you do, and point to all the corroboration to make sure that Google understands that you aren’t the guy in that awful army film.
Aiming To Point At 30 Pieces of Corroboration
[01:03:41] Stephan Spencer: When you say point to it, do you mean sameAs Schema?
[01:03:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, sameAs in URL. Yeah. Yeah. And Schema, sameAs, it’s supposed to point to data sources that Google can pass natively and URL is supposed to point to a web page that talks about that entity or mainly about that entity. So, people misuse it, but it seems not to matter anymore. So, that geeky argument about whether you should use sameAs or URL seems to be out the window. But, yes. Using Schema Markup, sameAs, URL pointing to Crunchbase, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, IMDb if you’re in IMDb but not if you’re not in IMDb, incredibly important.
[01:04:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one nice number to aim at is 30. 30 pieces of corroboration. Obviously, it could be depending on the kind of corroboration. If it’s IMDb, you maybe only need 2. If it’s Crunchbase and LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, maybe you need 50. But 30 is a good number to aim at. You need 30 pieces of corroboration for Google and Bing for that matter to believe what you’re saying to more or to believe that what you have said has been proven to be true.
[01:04:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I didn’t pull that number out of the sky. Andrea Volpini from a company called WordLift who do great, great semantic SEO tool who do schema markup, they’re pushing this really to that idea. I work with them with all my experiments. They help me with the experiments. They’re supporting me in my experiments. And they’re incredibly intelligent bunch of Italian mad scientific geeky people who are delightful human beings at the same time. And he was talking to somebody at Bing and I think it was Dawn Anderson who mentioned somebody from Google who mentioned the number 30 and both of them separately mentioned that same number. So, let’s say 30 because whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter. It gives us something to aim at that is probably fair and just.
Comparing The Level of Notability of Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Google
[01:05:48] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. That’s very cool. And you don’t even need to go into Wikidata.org and edit or add any data points in there, right, in order to trigger.
[01:06:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You don’t have to. You don’t have to, but Wikidata is actually more powerful than Wikipedia for informing Google. So if you can do it because it is incredibly powerful, but Wikidata is somewhere between Google and Wikipedia. Wikipedia has this very high level of notability it requires. Wikidata has a level of notability that’s much lower. So, you just need to support with evidence what it is you’re saying. And then, Google has no concept of notability. It just wants to understand. So, it’s Wikidata somewhere in between.
[01:06:36] Stephan Spencer: But doesn’t Wikidata also have the conflict of interest guidelines that Wikipedia has?
[01:06:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, I don’t believe it does. It has guideline deal with notability. The conflict of interest doesn’t appear. I might be wrong. But I’ve messed with Wikidata as much as I’ve messed with Wikipedia and it doesn’t seem to have triggered any problems as yet. Although, when the Wikipedia pages did get deleted, somebody went into Wikidata and actually changed some things about me which is annoying because you’re like what do you know. But that’s another story. But I don’t believe Wikidata has that same guideline. But I now have to go and check.
[01:07:31] Stephan Spencer: Yeah. We should probably put a link into the show notes too. If there is a conflict of interest statement one way or the other for Wikidata, we should add that to the show notes for this episode.
Where To Go To Enroll In Courses Offered By Kalicube and Where To Follow The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard)
[01:07:43] Stephan Spencer: But anyways, we’re out of time. If we could send our listener to your courses on this so that they could learn all the ninja stuff that you figured out through all the experimenting and everything, where should we send them to?
[01:08:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can go to courses.kalicube.pro.
[01:08:09] Stephan Spencer: Perfect. And if they want to follow you on social and all that where should they go?
[01:08:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): On YouTube, it’s Kalicube. I’ve got my podcast which streams live every week, every Tuesday. On Twitter, it’s @jasonmbarnard. On LinkedIn, it’s Jason M. Barnard. And on Facebook, I don’t like it.
[01:08:31] Stephan Spencer: Okay. Got it. And jasonbarnard.com is your personal website.
[01:08:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I talk about the blue dog and the yellow koala and all the rest of that stuff.
Some Last Tips and Feedback From A Listener
[01:08:41] Stephan Spencer: And you’ve made the homepage, your Schema Markup page, that’s all about you instead of your about page. You switched that back.
[01:08:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The homepage is now back to being the home for my entity. But that experience and that’s one very last, very quick point is I do advise you to set it up on an About Us Page because it allows you to be more flexible than if you set it up on your homepage.
[01:09:07] Stephan Spencer: Good tip. Okay. Jason, this was a lot of fun and very insightful, inspiring, informative.
[01:09:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Super. Yeah.
[01:09:17] Stephan Spencer: It was great. And I hope our listener now will take some positive action from this and not just learn from it because I say this every week. Like now, take some action. And I just got a feedback from one of my listeners and a good friend of mine who said, you know what? I have to admit I never take action. I just listen to it, and they’re just so damn good. I just listen to these episodes, and I don’t do anything with them. I don’t even take notes. And I’m like, oh, you know what? Maybe I should just give up and say, you know what? Nevermind. Don’t take any action. Just sit back, relax, enjoy it, and do absolutely nothing. And we’ll catch you in the next week’s episode.
[01:09:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant. I think that sounds like a really good plan.
[01:09:59] Stephan Spencer: Thank you, Jason. Thank you, listener. We’ll catch you in the next episode. Have a great week.
[01:10:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thanks a million, Stephan.