When you’re not sure how to spell a word or need instructions on baking a cake, what’s the first thing that you do? In all likelihood, Google it. Google is so widely used around the world, that it’s an official word and commonplace in our language. It’s the Kleenex of search engines.
Google isn’t just for finding a solution to a problem or answering a question, though. Many businesses and marketers are missing an opportunity to use Google as their digital business card, as it’s often the first place people visit — even before their website.
One person who understands how Google processes information is Jason Barnard ‘The Brand SERP Guy’, author and digital marketing consultant, specializing in Brand SERPs and knowledge panels. On this episode of the podcast he shares his knowledge and insights in part 1 of a special two-part episode.
Paul and Jason discuss how Google works, where the knowledge panel is and why it’s important, and how a little “spring cleaning” can help you dominate the search engine results page.
Tune in to learn how you build your credibility online and utilize Google for your business!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- How does Google work?
- Google ads
- Jason on Brand SERPs
- The importance of Google’s knowledge panel
- Websites Google uses for information
- How real estate investors can get into Google’s knowledge panel
- What if you have a really common name or business name?
- Google Business Profile
- Jason shares his favorite brand and why
- Jason’s favorite business podcasts and book
- Short description of Jason’s book, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business
- Jason shares his current favorite tool and how it works
- What’s the best place for your entity page?
- 3 steps to start your “spring cleaning”
- Two of Jason’s favorite quotes
Google Jason or go to https://kalicube.com/about/newsletter/ to sign up for his newsletter!
For more information on managing your online presence, check out his book, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business.
A Preview of the Conversation With the Topic About Google by the Podcast Guest, Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:00:00] Paul Copcutt: I will guarantee you that you are doing this every day, and the chances are your clients and almost certainly any of your prospects are doing exactly the same thing.
[00:00:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): People trust Google. We use Google because we trust Google. So, that Google business card is the stamp of approval, the stamp of credibility by Google, and you really need to look after it.
[00:00:25] Paul Copcutt: But perhaps what you don’t know is there’s another element to the whole Google search that you may be completely unaware of.
[00:00:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The Knowledge Panel, I keep forgetting that people don’t know what one is. And it’s the thing on the right hand side of the search results on desktop when you search on Google. We call that the right rail. The left rail is basically Google’s recommendations. That’s the blue links and the videos that you see. The left rail is recommendation. The right rail is fact. So, when Google shows a Knowledge Panel, it means it thinks it has understood facts about you or your business that it is willing to push out there.
Introducing Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), Who Is an Expert in Google and Brand SERPs
[00:01:03] Paul Copcutt: That’s my guest this week, Jason Barnard. Jason is an expert in not just Google SEO, but SERP, which is the search engine results page. And in our conversation, Jason provides a wealth of information, insights, and actions that you can take to increase the likelihood that people are going to find not just you on Google, but the right information about you on Google. And in fact, we have so much information from Jason that we split this up into two episodes. And the part two will be coming in a few weeks, which would be episode 86.
A Welcome to the Personally Brandtastic Podcast, Its Host, Paul Copcutt, and Their Clients
[00:01:46] Paul Copcutt: Welcome to the Personally Brandtastic Podcast, where we help you build your personal brand and business so that people can find you easily, want to work with you, and can’t wait to refer you. If you are looking for the REI Branded Podcast, you are actually in the right place. We recently renamed it. The content is the same, helping you to build your brand and business, reach more people, and stand out from the competition.
[00:02:08] Paul Copcutt: My name is Paul Copcutt, and every day I work with real estate investors, professionals, and business owners who want to stand out from the crowd and attract more of the right opportunities without feeling inauthentic or spending all day doing it. It’s all about communicating how personally brandtastic you are, because marketing is how to get their attention, but personal branding is why they choose you.
Paul Copcutt’s Audience and Clients Are Mostly Real Estate Investors, Which He Helps with Their Personal Branding
[00:02:31] Paul Copcutt: For the audience, predominantly real estate investors.
[00:02:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Now we have started.
[00:02:36] Paul Copcutt: Right. I guess. And you know what? Sometimes I find you end up meeting a guest, and you almost feel like you know them. There’s enough their commonality, interest that you think it becomes a conversation. It’s not a top star interview. It’s more of a conversation because there’s so many fascinating points.
[00:02:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Let’s go down the rabbit hole then. You were saying real estate agents, which is your core audience.
[00:03:06] Paul Copcutt: Investors, real estate investors. So, it’s a little bit different. Their focus is still consumer. Because a lot of real estate investors struggle with if they’re going to grow their portfolio beyond half a dozen houses, how do they find the money to do that? Because the banks won’t lend to them beyond half a dozen houses, typically.
[00:03:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, right.
Helping Real Estate Investors in Managing Their Money and Deal With the Three T’s of Real Estate
[00:03:26] Paul Copcutt: Because they’ve maxed out their mortgages or they’ve maxed out the A lenders, so then they go for B lenders, which are maybe the credit unions or quite often private money. So then, they’re trying to attract Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow, who both work in a nice corporate environment or maybe one is a teacher, one works for corporate. They’ve got two great pensions, and they’re not maxing out the pension as well as they could. And part of it in their mind is maybe real estate, but they don’t want to deal with the toilets, tenants, and trash, so real estate.
[00:04:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You’ve got the three T’s of real estate.
[00:04:03] Paul Copcutt: Three T’s of real estate. So, a real estate investor would go, okay, I can find the property for you. We’ll renovate it. We’ll find the tenants. We’ll manage it. And for 50% of the upside, I’ll take 50%, you take 50%.
Building Trust in a Market Where Real Estate Investors Are the Ones Who Typically Look for the People
[00:04:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Is it more a market where the investors are looking for the people or the people are looking for the investors to deal with this?
[00:04:27] Paul Copcutt: The investors are looking for the people, typically.
[00:04:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Okay. Ooh, that’s tough.
[00:04:31] Paul Copcutt: Yeah. Because there’s a whole trust thing, trust that you’ve got to build. So, yeah, that’s where investors are focused if they’re trying to scale up beyond. You can build a really great retirement portfolio with 3 or 4 houses. That’s easy enough to do. If you hold onto them for the long term, find good tenants, that’s a model for a nice portfolio and a nice retirement. There’s people that really want to scale it up and go to 20, 30, 40, 50 properties, or they want to get invested in different areas. So, for example, at the moment here in Canada, our property market has really peaked a little bit too much, and it’s starting to fall back down.
[00:05:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
Real Estate Investors Consider the Limits of the Location for Their Investment in Cost and Effort
[00:05:25] Paul Copcutt: But they could take a real estate investor here in Ontario, where they’ve got limits on what they can raise the rents by each year. They can’t get a tenant out. They can’t evict a tenant for 10 or 11 months, even if they don’t pay rent. It’s a bit of a nightmare. So, a number of investors are pulling their money out and going south of the border and buying houses in Detroit or Ohio for half the cost and less of a hassle.
[00:05:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Okay. Are you not currently saying things to your audience that they already know?
[00:05:59] Paul Copcutt: Some of that, yeah. So, that is what’s in their mind. Yes, they would know that. It’s a good question.
[00:06:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, what we need to do is move this conversation towards where Google can come in and where they can work with Google to help them, yeah?
A Simple Explanation of How Google Works According to Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:06:15] Paul Copcutt: Yeah. Maybe a big general question from 10,000 feet is how does Google work? Let’s help the audience understand. I realised that’s a loaded question.
[00:06:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s actually a really simple question to answer, and it’s taken me years and years to actually boil it all down. But basically, Google’s role is to solve people’s problems. Every time you search on Google, you’re expressing a problem, which could also be a question. And you’re looking for the solution to the problem or the answer to the question. So, let’s just talk about problems and solutions.
[00:06:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what Google aims to do is say every time its user searches for something, it needs to understand what the intent is, what is the problem they’re trying to express. And then it wants to take them to the solution to that problem as efficiently as possible. And the idea is to use content from around the web to provide the solution, and it wants to provide the solution that will be the most efficient and credible for the user on Google.
[00:07:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And from our perspective as marketers or real estate investors, we want to be present on Google’s first page, preferably right at the top when we have the appropriate solution for the problem Google’s user is expressing. So, we need to look at Google and say, our audience is a very specific subset of Google’s users. And we need to make sure we educate Google, so it understands when I will be that efficient, credible solution for its user.
Organic Results Versus Paid Results: Google Always Considers the Credibility and Efficiency of Their Search Results
[00:07:49] Paul Copcutt: And you are looking for an organic result versus the paid.
[00:07:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:07:55] Paul Copcutt: Because that’s obviously where Google makes its money is the paid piece, but what you are ideally looking for is you come up in the top 10.
[00:08:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. That’s what search engine optimisation experts do is they say, I will get you into the top 10 without having to pay. It’s called organic. And then there’s also Google Ads, obviously, as you say, where you can pay to be at the top. And if you use Google a lot, you’ll have seen that some searches will generate loads of ads and some generate none. And the percentage of searches that have ads is depending on your geo region, depending on the industry, and depending on the keyword type. Between 4 and 12% will have an ad on it. It’s much low than we think.
[00:08:40] Paul Copcutt: Wow. That is incredibly low. That would never have occurred to me.
Google Will Not Put You on the SERP if It Doesn’t Feel That What You Are Offering Solves the Problem of Its Users
[00:08:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A lot of the stuff we’re doing is just hanging around, looking at stuff, and wandering around the web pretty aimlessly. And there’s an awful lot of top-of-funnel information searches going on, where people won’t advertise or Google doesn’t want adverts. Sometimes you can bid on Google Ads, and the ad simply won’t appear, even though there are no ads. And the reason for that is Google Ads functions like Google organic search in that if it doesn’t feel that the solution being offered through the ad is credible and efficient, it won’t show the ad.
[00:09:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The bar is obviously much, much lower there because they want to make money. But the idea of ads being the thing you pay, and if you’re willing to pay enough, Google will put you on there, that’s not true. Google will not put you on the search engine results page if it doesn’t feel that what you are offering makes sense to its user in terms of solving the problem they have.
Google Makes Sure That Its Users Are Satisfied With the Paid Results in the Same Way They Are Satisfied With Organic Results
[00:09:45] Paul Copcutt: So, Google is, to a degree, worried about its credibility.
[00:09:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes. A hundred percent. Google’s credibility and the fact that it now dominates 90% of the market is simply because it has those amazing organic results. We all know when we click on a paid result, or most of us know when we click on a paid result. And it has to be sure that when we do that, we are satisfied in the same way we would’ve been satisfied if we clicked on a non-organic result.
What Does the Acronym SERP Mean and What Is a Brand SERP?
[00:10:10] Paul Copcutt: Explain Brand SERP. And that’s SERP for people that are trying to guess what. And what does that acronym mean? And then tell us a little bit about what that is.
[00:10:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. SERP is search engine results page. So, it would apply to Microsoft Bing, it would apply to DuckDuckGo, it would apply to Google. I focus on Google because obviously it’s the biggest player on the market. And basically, if you can do a good job on Google, you will tend to do a decent job on the other search engines too. And a Brand SERP is the search engine results page for your brand name or your personal name. So, it’s what your audience sees when they google your name.
[00:10:49] Paul Copcutt: Okay.
[00:10:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I was talking to somebody who worked in the startup space. And they were saying, but we don’t care about that, there’s only five people a month searching our name. And I said, but what if one of those five people is the investor about to give you a million bucks, and what they see is absolute rubbish? That’s your Google business card. Whether it’s 30,000 people, 3 million people, or 5 people, that Google business card needs to be positive, accurate, and convincing. It needs to make you look credible.
[00:11:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And in your particular case, I would imagine, if you’ve reached out to the old retired couple, they will google your name to find out more about you. And if when they google your name, it’s got video, it’s got images, it’s got a Knowledge Panel, it’s got yellow stars, five yellow stars everywhere, you are going to look credible. And people trust Google. We use Google because we trust Google. So, that Google business card is the stamp of approval, the stamp of credibility by Google, and you really need to look after it.
Google Is Your New Business Card, Your Homepage, and in the Future, It’s Going to Be Your Website
[00:11:52] Paul Copcutt: And you say that on your website. I’ve seen it around where you’re explaining things. Google is the new business card.
[00:12:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:12:00] Paul Copcutt: Because our default is to, oh, I’ll just google them.
[00:12:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, a hundred percent. You could take it a step further and say, Google is your homepage, because it’s the first thing they see before they come to the website. And in the future, Google’s going to be your website. We’re moving towards a world where if you’re in America, you’ll see little filter pills at the top. And if you search my name in America and probably in Canada as well, you will see overview, videos, education, listen, films, TV shows, music groups.
[00:12:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you click on them, it gives you a different set of results each time. And if you think about it, those filter pills across the top are just a navigational tool, and it looks like a website. It’s my mini-Google website. And that’s where we’re going. We’re not there yet. I wouldn’t freak out just yet, but we’re definitely on our way.
What Is a Knowledge Panel and What Can People or Companies Do to Make Sure It Contains What They Want to Be Known For?
[00:12:51] Paul Copcutt: And so, you mentioned the Knowledge Panel. So, tell us a little bit about what that is and how it’s formulated. And then maybe a follow up question would be what can we do to make sure that Knowledge Panel is containing what we want to be known for or found for?
[00:13:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. The Knowledge Panel, lovely question, because I keep forgetting that people don’t know what one is. And it’s the thing on the right hand side of the search results on desktop when you search on Google. We call that the right rail. The left rail is basically Google’s recommendations. That’s the blue links and the videos that you see. The left rail is recommendation. The right rail is fact. So, when Google shows a Knowledge Panel, it means it thinks it has understood facts about you or your business that it is willing to push out there.
Correctly Educating the Child That Is Google for It to Understand and Be Confident in That Understanding About the Person or Company
[00:13:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you imagine a child, I treat Google like a child. I’m educating it. When I’ve educated that child correctly and that child is confident in the information I’ve given it, it will be the equivalent of go down to the playground and shout it out to all its friends. That’s the Knowledge Panel. It’s Google shouting out, I know this, look at this, I know all this information about this person or this company. And if it doesn’t understand or isn’t sure, it certainly isn’t going to shout it out in the playground. It’s going to keep quiet.
[00:14:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to build up Google the child’s understanding and its confidence in that understanding in order for it to show the facts in that right rail on the search results. And the idea for Google is that Knowledge Panel is a summary of you as a business or you as a person, depending on if it’s a brand name or a personal name, that it can provide to its users so that they don’t need to research you. Google just gives them the basic facts that are going to interest them in the Knowledge Panel. So, obviously, it’s not an enormous leap of the imagination to think that is phenomenally important.
Google’s Source of Knowledge for the Information on Knowledge Panels Is Not Just Wikipedia, But Also Other Sites
[00:14:53] Paul Copcutt: And the kind of things that would turn up would be, is it things like a reliable source? Reliable, we’ll put that in quote marks.
[00:15:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Which if this is an audio podcast, people can’t see you doing the air quotes.
[00:15:08] Paul Copcutt: Things like Wikipedia, IMDb, would that be the kind of thing?
[00:15:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. There’s a common misconception that Wikipedia is the source of knowledge for Google. It was, but it isn’t anymore in the sense that Google used Wikipedia to train its machine. It said, here is a massive information to the child that you can, for the most part, believe. And the child went, okay, great. Digested it all and it started showing it in Knowledge Panels. And then now Google’s engineers have said to it, right, now let’s give you a seed set of other information you can use.
[00:15:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, they gave it more sites, and now they’ve just let it go. They said, off you go. You now have understood what a fact looks like. So, you can now evaluate what a fact is and decide whether or not something is true, build your confidence in that understanding, and then show it in a Knowledge Panel. And you’ll find that the information in Knowledge Panels is now down to about 50% maybe from Wikipedia.
What Other Resources or Websites Google Is Typically Going for Information?
[00:16:08] Paul Copcutt: And so, what other resources or websites is Google typically going to?
[00:16:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Wikipedia is still number one. If you’re in the film industry, IMDb, but IMDb wouldn’t help you in real estate investment. Music Brainz is for a musician. If you’re a punk like me, Music Brainz is great. Muck Rack, if you’re an author. Google Books, if you’re an author too. So, as you can see, it depends on what kind of job you’re doing, what kind of industry you’re in.
[00:16:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And with the Kalicube Pro SaaS Platform, which is basically a platform that’s built to educate Google. I’ve built this entire platform with my own two little hands that figures out where Google is looking for information, which sources it trusts for each industry, in each country, for each entity type. And an entity is a thing, so person, company, music, group, film.
Google’s Sources of Knowledge Vary According to Geo Region, Industry, and Entity Type
[00:17:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s surprising. We were talking earlier on about social media platforms. Which social media platforms dominate in which countries, in which industries, for which entity types? It varies enormously. LinkedIn will dominate for companies. Twitter will dominate for people. Twitter might dominate more in the UK than it does in France, for example. And in this case, which sources of knowledge is the child trusting will vary enormously. And it’s very much geo based, very much industry based, and changes according to entity type, person, company, music group, film, whatever.
[00:17:45] Paul Copcutt: So, a real estate investor could do searches on Google for other real estate investors and have a look at the Knowledge Panel and then say, okay, it looks like it’s pulling from here.
[00:17:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
What Are the Steps to Getting a Knowledge Panel and Be a Recognised Expert?
[00:17:57] Paul Copcutt: And then what are the steps that they need to think about? How do I get into that Knowledge Panel? So, is that about submitting articles, being a recognised expert?
[00:18:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The first thing that people fail to do is spring cleaning.
[00:18:13] Paul Copcutt: Okay.
[00:18:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s really important for this child that the information it sees is consistent. If you imagine the child, I’m the parent. And I’m saying to the child, here’s who I am, here’s what I do, and here’s who my audience is. And the child goes, okay, great, got that. That was a nice, clear explanation. And the first thing, of course, is most people explain it very unclearly. The explanation on their own website is our mission is bloody blah. And it doesn’t make sense to the machine, probably doesn’t make sense to their clients either, but that’s a whole different story.
[00:18:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you explain it to the child in a way that it understands. And then you say, go and ask grandma. Child aks. Grandma repeats it the same way. Child is a bit more confident. And then you say, go and ask the baker, if we’re talking about how to bake a cake, let’s say. The baker is a trustworthy source. But then if you said, go and ask the tailor how to bake a cake, the child is going to go, no, it doesn’t make sense. The tailor isn’t the person I should be asking for this.
The Steps Are: Spring Cleaning, Establishing an Entity Home, Corroborating Consistent Information Across Trusted Sources, and Linking Everything
[00:19:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then if they ask the teacher, and the teacher says something completely different, obviously the confidence in the understanding goes totally out the window. So, you need that consistency, and you need that consistency across the sources that makes sense for the child in terms of what it is it’s trying to learn.
[00:19:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the first thing is that spring clean of what exists online. What is your digital ecosystem, does it make sense, and is it consistent? Then the next step is what I call the Entity Home. It’s the place on the internet, the page on the internet where your entity lives, where you live, and it’s a page. And that page is where Google is looking for that explanation from you, the parent.
[00:19:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And once it’s figured out where the Entity Home is, you can point it to all of the corroborative information you’ve actually corrected. And hopefully, if you’re smart, you will point using a link from the corroborative information back to the Entity Home. So, the child keeps going backwards and forwards and seeing the same information over and over again. And by repetition on trusted sources, it will end up understanding and being confident in that understanding.
The Story of How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Started in the World of SEO and Brand SERPs
[00:20:15] Paul Copcutt: So, that’s the spring clean. I could see the spring clean. Because as you were explaining that, I’m thinking, okay, what happens if you used to be a corporate employee, ran a fitness gym, and were a fitness trainer for three years, but now you’re doing X? Google the child, to use your analogy, is confused. Correct?
[00:20:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes. Now the reason I started in this, you’ve asked the question that a lot of people ask me, but you’ve asked it in a roundabout way, is that because I was a blue dog in a cartoon…
[00:20:49] Paul Copcutt: Are you a real estate investor or related business professional owner looking to build your personal brand and business and stand out from the crowd? The first step is to understand where you stand right now. You can do that with the business optimiser assessment. It’s something that we’ve created that’s already helped real estate investors and other business owners to define and develop their personal brands and grow their revenues. Take the free assessment and complimentary report and follow up strategy call by going to paulcopcutt.com/boa. That’s paulcopcutt.com/boa.
To Help His Career as a Digital Marketer, Jason Barnard Started Educating Google to Show What’s Currently Important for His Prospective Clients
[00:21:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I was a cartoon blue dog, singing songs for small children on TV and on the web. And I am still in IMDb, on all these movie databases. And when you search my name seven years ago, the top said Jason Barnard is a cartoon blue dog. And as a digital marketer, that really didn’t help my career. So, I set about saying, yeah, I was a cartoon blue dog. That’s fine, but I want Google to show today what’s important to my audience searching my name now, which is my prospective clients.
[00:22:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I set about relegating the blue dog to a part of the Knowledge Panel. And the entire rest of it is Jason Barnard, digital marketer, author, expert in Brand SERPs, Knowledge Panels, SEO, and Google in general. And so, basically, that’s it. Google’s looking for you to explain. And that’s the irony of it. Google’s actually looking for the Entity Home. It’s looking for the place where you explain to it, this is what I want to show my audience. And it wants to believe you, but it won’t believe you on your own good word. It needs that corroboration, and that corroboration needs to be consistent.
It’s Important to Show at the Top What You Are Currently Doing Today, Like Building Your Bio Upside Down
[00:22:36] Paul Copcutt: Okay. So, that explains when I googled you, top of the list was jasonbarnard.com.
[00:22:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yep.
[00:22:45] Paul Copcutt: And that page I went to is your, what was it? You called it a knowledge…
[00:22:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Entity Home.
[00:22:52] Paul Copcutt: Entity Home. So, that was your Entity Home. So, it had all the bits and it had the punk folk, but they were lower down, but the main on the top.
[00:23:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And that’s a really important point. It seems really obvious when somebody says it to you, but most people start with, I was born in 1966 in Denton in North Yorkshire and hung out with cows and sheep, which was the initial conversation about being a punk in the countryside. But my audience today don’t care about that. Google doesn’t care about that. It cares about what I’m doing today. And that should be at the top. So, it’s basically your CV or your bio upside down. And Google takes as most important what’s written at the top compared to what’s written at the bottom.
You Can Use Kalicube Pro, a SaaS Platform That Has Natural Language Processing Analysis, to Know What Google Thinks
[00:23:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And on Kalicube Pro, the SaaS platform, we have natural language processing analysis, where we actually ping descriptions into Google. And we ask Google what it thinks, what entities it has recognised, what category it puts it in. And we see very clearly that whatever you put at the top is given much more priority than what you’re putting at the bottom. So, you start with what do I want my audience to see and understand now? And if they really want to know where I was born and where I was brought up and the cows and sheep and the punk, they can read that to the bottom.
The Problem of Ambiguity in Google When You Have a Very Common Name
[00:24:07] Paul Copcutt: What happens if you have something like a very common name?
[00:24:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a huge problem for a lot of people with common names. But in fact, my name, there’s 300 Jason Barnards in the world. It’s not as uncommon as you would think. And so, there are multiple things going on here, and it’s going to be more and more complicated. And I’m looking forward to it because I’m not a masochist, but I love the idea that things are evolving. And we need to try to keep up with this child as it learns, as it gets better.
Among the 300 Jason Barnards in the World, Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Dominates, But It Won’t Last Forever
[00:24:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Now, today, 300 Jason Barnards in the world. There’s a footballer in South Africa, an ice hockey player in Canada, a professor in San Francisco, and a podcaster in the UK, and he is pretty good. He does music, Jason Barnard, and he’s great. So if you want to listen to a UK podcaster talking to old musicians about their 60s, 70s, 80s careers, he’s your man.
[00:24:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): None of them get a look in. And it’s not because Google doesn’t understand them. It’s because it’s so confident in its understanding about me that I dominate. I’ve become what we call the dominant entity. So, I can dominate all around the world, even though I’m not necessarily the most famous Jason Barnard in the UK, in Canada, in Australia, or wherever it might be.
[00:25:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But that isn’t going to last. These are my glory years. Because over time, Google will build up confidence in these other Jason Barnards. And when you are geo localised, it will start to show the podcaster in the UK and the ice hockey player in Canada. So, I’m going to have to start thinking about what strategy I’ll use there. Let’s say in five years time. So, I’m starting that strategy now. I won’t share it because I don’t quite know what I’m going to do.
If You Have a Really Common Name, You Probably Need Rebranding to Dominate, Like Adding a Middle Initial, Middle Name, or Job Title
[00:25:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if you have a really common name, you probably need a rebranding. You need to, for example, John E. Smith immediately narrows down the field. Using a full middle, John Euan Smith, even smaller field, John Smith SEO, John Smith estate investment, whatever. You need to get something added onto your name that people will associate with it, and they will naturally search it. And that’s a branding exercise, because you have to get people to use that term, use your middle name, use your middle initial. Because otherwise, you’re going to get mixed up with all those other people with the same name.
[00:26:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it’s not so much a Google problem, because Google’s problem is it’s ambiguous. It doesn’t know which John Smith you mean. So, it’s going to show you 5 or 6 John Smiths because it doesn’t know. If it’s John E. Smith, then it’s going to show you 2 or 3. If it’s John Euan Smith, it’s going to show you one because there’s only one, let’s say. So from that perspective, you are not going to, unless you are really good, you’re not going to become the dominant entity. And even if you do, it’s not going to last forever.
[00:26:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I’m working on that strategy. Come back to me in four or five years time, and I’ll tell you what that strategy is. In the meantime, it’s rebranding yourself and making sure that people are searching with a name that’s more explicit and less ambiguous.
Using Kalicube Pro to Check Every Reference to a Person’s Name Around the Entire Web
[00:27:07] Paul Copcutt: To your point, it’s also important for that individual to be using that. Because I know some people have, they call themselves Johnny Smith in some places, but then they call themselves John Smith or John E. Smith.
[00:27:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s a terrible problem. And you’ve got a big sigh out of me there, because I have clients who come to me and they say, I don’t understand. And in Kalicube Pro, basically what we do is we click a button. And in five minutes, it comes up with every reference to you. And you go, here it’s Johnny, over there it’s John, over here it’s Jacko, over here you’ve put John E. Smith, and over here you’ve put John Euan Smith. For Google, that’s five or six different people.
[00:27:52] Paul Copcutt: Okay. That makes total sense.
Google Doesn’t Only Struggle With Duplicates, But Also With Multiple Knowledge Panels for a Single Person
[00:27:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): John Smith, it’s already got a lot. You get these multipliers, I don’t know what you call it, duplicated people. And Google struggles enormously with it. I’ve got a client who came to me the other day, and he hasn’t done that, but there are still three Knowledge Panels for the same person. Google thinks he is three different people because he’s written a book, he’s the boss of an agency, and what was the other one, he owns another business somewhere. And so, Google has triggered three Knowledge Panels for him.
[00:28:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what we are now trying to do, what we’re going to do is merge those Knowledge Panels and indicate to Google it’s the same person. So, you can see the kind of problem Google has. It’s not only that there are multiple people with the same name, but there’s the same person with multiple careers, who Google will naturally perceive to be different people.
[00:28:48] Paul Copcutt: Right. That makes total sense.
[00:28:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Massive problem. That’s such a huge problem.
The Struggle of Brands and Companies in Having a Unique Brand Name to Avoid Ambiguity
[00:28:53] Paul Copcutt: And equally, I’m thinking brands have that same, so I’m thinking again, the real estate industry. If I looked up, I’m just going to be at home property management company. There’s probably more than one. The common names that people come up with, companies, they think it’s clever or they think, oh, I’m the only one in town.
[00:29:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yep.
[00:29:19] Paul Copcutt: But their challenge is, yeah, everybody in every other town has thought the same thing.
[00:29:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. Yeah. A unique brand name is really helpful for that because there isn’t ambiguity. With ambiguity, I was talking to Nathan Chalmers, who works at Bing, not at Google. But he was saying, when we have ambiguity, we try to cover all the bases, but we always have something that dominates, and there’s going to be something dominating. And in this case, for me, it’s my dominant entity, but they need to cover the ambiguity.
It’s Slightly Less Problematic for Companies to Have the Same Name Than for People, But It Soon Won’t Be an Advantage at All
[00:29:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): For companies, it’s slightly less problematic than for people, because you won’t tend to have multiple companies in the same geo region with the same name. Although technically, you can have multiple companies with the same name in different industries, which does create ambiguity. But back in the day in SEO, it was clever to call your company Best Cars in Toronto. Right now, that’s a real big problem if you want to actually get that Brand SERP to look good.
[00:30:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the advantage you get with that keyword filled company name is actually not that much of an advantage anymore. And it soon won’t be an advantage at all, because Google is basing pretty much everything now on credibility. Are you credible? It’s credibility, and do I understand what solution you’re offering, and does it match the problem? Right. Sorry.
A Type of Knowledge Panel for Enterprises: Google My Business, Which Is Now Called Google Business Profile
[00:30:39] Paul Copcutt: No, that’s okay. And does the Knowledge Panel also rely on something like Google for business?
[00:30:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Google My Business, Google Business Profile now called, is a type of Knowledge Panel. So, you will get the Google My Business, Google Business Profile over there on the right, considered factual. But if you think about that, I don’t know if you manage one, but some of the information you put in, but some of the information Google’s figuring out for itself. For example, the social profiles, if it adds those in.
[00:31:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if you look at a Google Business Profile, it’s 60% stuff you control, 40% stuff that Google’s just added in. So, it is knowledge and it is a kind of Knowledge Panel, but it’s semi-controlled Knowledge Panel. Whereas the Knowledge Panel, which is just the facts without the map, the difference is when you don’t see the map, it is Google’s facts in its Knowledge Graph.
The Concept of a Knowledge Graph, Notability, and Google’s Aim to Build the Ultimate Encyclopedia
[00:31:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And its Knowledge Graph is its foundation of understanding. It is the child’s understanding of the world and Google is trying to build the ultimate encyclopedia, as it were. This child will have every fact in its brain. And to give you an idea of the size, Wikipedia has I think it was 50 million articles, and Google has 1,500 billion facts in its brain. And that’s growing exponentially.
[00:32:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you think about from that perspective, Wikipedia has an idea of notability. You can only get in Wikipedia if somebody would spontaneously search for you to find out more about you. Google doesn’t have that idea of notability. It just wants to be able to show you the facts when somebody searches for you.
Is There a Competition in Google’s Mind Between the Founder or Boss of a Company Against His/Her Company?
[00:32:23] Paul Copcutt: And what happens if you have a charismatic CEO of a company, and then they run a really successful company? The challenge of those two, competing against each other again for the knowledge.
[00:32:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The founder or the boss of the company wouldn’t compete with the company directly. They would actually help each other, in the sense that once Google’s understood the charismatic boss, you can then say to it, oh, and he runs this company. And the child that is Google can make the association, and it’s really easy for it.
Google the Child Tends to Easily Understand a Whole Group of Entities Through Their Relationship With Each Other
[00:32:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): In fact, I was speaking at a conference with Chester, International Memory Man, and he was great. And he was explaining how we remember things and why our memory, the idea that when you put something new in your memory, something else disappears out the other side. It’s like that in-one-ear-and-out-the-other idea. And in fact, he’s saying that’s not the case, because what we do is we hook new information onto old information we already know through the relationship.
[00:33:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if I tell you something about French petanque players, you have nothing to hook that onto. So, you would struggle to remember the names of the petanque players and the schools and the places they played in these tiny French towns. But if I talk to you about Liverpool Football Club and the players for Liverpool Football Club, you’ve got loads of things you can hook that piece of information.
[00:33:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if I told you a new player from Liverpool Football Club that you never heard of, much easier for you to remember. So, the child works the same way, and entities work in groups like that. So, it will tend to understand a whole family, once it gets to grips with the first member of that family.
Google Is a Child That’s Struggling to Learn and Has Been Given a Massive Task of Understanding the Whole World
[00:34:12] Paul Copcutt: Got you. I love this analogy where you’re treating Google like a child, because it makes total sense.
[00:34:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It does. And it is a child. It’s a child that’s really struggling to learn and has been given a massive task of learning the whole world in one go.
[00:34:28] Paul Copcutt: But it’s incredibly curious, because they’re trying to find out all the time more information and the right information.
[00:34:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Google have thrown at this child a massive information, which is the web, which is totally disorganised. We have the impression that the web is pretty well organised, but one of the reasons we think it’s organised is because we search on Google, and Google organises it for us. But actually, everybody’s logic is different. Everybody is setting up their websites differently. Most people are doing it very badly. And so, it’s looking at this total chaos and trying to bring it all together and put the pieces of this puzzle together.
The Analogy of a Broken Plate Wherein Google the Child Is Trying to Put the Fragmented Puzzle Together in Exactly the Right Way
[00:35:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I use that as an analogy as well. It’s got these pieces of a broken plate about you, and it’s trying to put them together. And what it’s looking for with the Entity Home we were talking about earlier on is the full puzzle put together by the person who owns the plate, yourself. So, they can go, okay, I got that bit wrong and that bit is right. And then it can fit its puzzle together in exactly the right way with all these pieces it has found, fragmented information around the web about you.
[00:35:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s stunning how fragmented the information is. And when the pieces of the puzzle don’t actually fit together because one of the pieces of information is incorrect, of course, a child can’t put it together. You need to reshape the piece of puzzle so that it actually fits into the plate.
Who Is Jason Barnard’s Favourite Personal Brand and Why Is It His Favourite?
[00:35:55] Paul Copcutt: Couple of questions I like to ask guests. Do you have a favourite personal brand? Who is it and why?
[00:36:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I really like Brian Setzer. His personal brand is that he is a genius musician and yet just seems to take it so naturally. For him, it’s just something he has. And he doesn’t seem to make a big deal of it. And he’s my hero, so I think it’s probably biased. So, it’s not so much his personal brand but who he is. And I don’t think he’s built a personal brand. It’s just who he is. So, that’s cheeky, but I do love it.
A Little Background on the Musical Career of Brian Setzer, Who Jason Barnard Considers His Hero
[00:36:35] Paul Copcutt: And if people aren’t familiar, Brian Setzer was the lead singer, is the Stray Cats still around?
[00:36:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I don’t think they played together anymore. They had a big fight, and then they got back together again. And Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom went off and created a group, and it was awful. Brian Setzer did a solo album, and it was awful. Then they played together again. And then Brian Setzer did the Brian Setzer Orchestra, doing swing music in the late 90s, and that was so brilliant.
[00:37:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s interesting because I didn’t really realise it is that wasn’t a thing until he did it. And his record company wouldn’t let him. So, he spent all of his own money from the Stray Cats to put out this orchestra, a 50-piece orchestra, and start touring when nobody cared. And then it became a thing. And you were saying earlier on, I do things because I really want to. Brian Setzer is the same.
What Are Jason Barnard’s Favourite Books and Favourite Podcasts?
[00:37:30] Paul Copcutt: Interesting. Do you have a favourite business book or podcast?
[00:37:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I don’t read business books. I really like MarTech, which is Ben Shapiro as a podcast. That’s absolutely brilliant. Joost has a good podcast as well, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last. He did it for a year or so, but I think they might have stopped again. And from a book perspective, I read a really great book by Eli Schwartz called Product-Led SEO, which I really like because it’s really saying, what’s your product? You need to build your SEO around what it is you are actually selling. And it is that thing. What is the solution? You need to build your SEO around the solution that you’re offering.
Jason Barnard Wrote a Book Called The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business, Which Is Accessible to Any Brand Manager or Business Owner
[00:38:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And my other favourite book is my own, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business. It was interesting because I wrote the book thinking that it wouldn’t interest expert SEOs, because I wrote it so that it was accessible to any brand manager, any business owner. And it explains my approach, which is saying it’s all about branding and it’s all about being understood by Google.
[00:38:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I was terribly touched and humbled, let’s say, because some really great SEOs like Marie Haynes, David Amerland said, I read the book and I wish you’d written this five years ago, because this is stuff if I’d known it five years ago, it would have been really helpful. And they appreciate a book that’s actually written for brand managers and business owner.
What Are Some of the Tools and Resources That Jason Barnard Enjoys Using at the Moment?
[00:39:06] Paul Copcutt: Wonderful. Apart from your own tool, is there any new tools or resources that you’re enjoying using at the moment?
[00:39:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I really like WordLift. And you said not my own tool because I just cheated by putting my own book in it.
[00:39:21] Paul Copcutt: No, that’s fine.
[00:39:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): WordLift have got a really, really, really neat concept, which is that your website is a Knowledge Graph. And it sounds really complicated, but all it means is that you need to organise your website in a way that makes sense. And we tend to just throw things onto the website, not really pay attention, but you need to build it as though you were building an information and encyclopedia about yourself or your business. And they do that within your website incredibly smartly.
The Idea of Using WordLift to Add Schema Markup, Which Is Google’s Native Language
[00:39:57] Paul Copcutt: So, this is completely contrary to a lot of marketing gurus, who talk about website building and what you need to have on page one and the look and the feel and everything. It’s way more important for us to have that entity page versus having a lovely looking website that doesn’t get you anything.
[00:40:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, a hundred percent. And what WordLift do is that they will add Schema Markup, and it’s terribly geeky. But Schema Markup is basically, you reiterate what is already in the page in Google’s native language. And so, with WordLift, what you would do is go through your website and say, this page is the Contact Us page, this page is talking about this topic, it’s aimed at this audience.
[00:40:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what you then do is iterate in an explicit manner, in Google’s native language exactly what’s in the page, who it’s for, what it has to offer, so that Google can much more easily make that match between the need of its user, the problem that its user is expressing, and the solution that specific page contains.
Some Tips on Building Your Entity Home, Homepage, and About Page
[00:41:11] Paul Copcutt: And does the entity page need to be the homepage or could it be any page you create?
[00:41:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It can be any page on the website. Google tends to default to the homepage.
[00:41:22] Paul Copcutt: Makes sense.
[00:41:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so if it has defaulted to the homepage, one trick that I’ve learned is don’t go against the flow of the child, keep the child happy. And a few years down the line, maybe we’ll be able to change its mind. I’ve done it a couple of times, but it’s quite difficult. Because the child, once it’s understood, you don’t want to rock the boat too much. But obviously, the homepage, if you have your Entity Home on the homepage and you are being a little bit factual about who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, then that’s not ideal, because the homepage should really be presenting your products to your audience.
The Importance of Having a Dedicated About Page That Explains Who You Are, What You Do, and Who Your Audience Is
[00:41:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it’s better you should really have a dedicated About Us page. And if you don’t have one, create one today that explains who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. And this is in a factual manner. It can still be pleasant to read and it can still be salesy and convincing, but it needs to be understandable by a machine. And that machine understands good grammar. It doesn’t understand poetry. It doesn’t understand humor. It doesn’t have very much culture. It doesn’t know what irony is.
[00:42:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Stick to the facts, but you can still make it interesting. You can still make it palatable and exciting for your users. So, start with that and hopefully, Google will grab hold of that page, especially if you build it as an Entity Home that points out to these corroborative sources and they point back to it. If Google’s already defaulted to your homepage, create the About page anyway, because Google may well move over there of its own accord once it understands.
The 3 Things People Should Focus On: Sort Your Website, Sort Your Social Accounts, and Correct Information on All Sources
[00:42:54] Paul Copcutt: Okay. You talked about spring cleaning earlier. If you were to give the audience, okay, if you agree this is the direction you want to go, what are the first 1, 2, 3 things that people should really focus on doing?
[00:43:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Number one, your own website, sort that out. Sort it out so that it makes sense, it’s well organised. You explain things clearly, and you don’t use that poetic, sardonic, ironic, humorous language that you like so much. Obviously you can, but don’t overdo it. Make sure that the facts are there. Especially look at your homepage, because that’s what ranks right at the top of your Brand SERP.
[00:43:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Number two, sort out your social accounts. Number three, go around all the other sources that talk about you and correct all the information, so that the broken pieces of plate actually fit together when the child gets its hands on them.
[00:43:49] Paul Copcutt: I like that analogy as well, the broken plate, which would happen if you upset the child because they’ll throw the plate into the floor.
[00:43:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I’ve got a child running around the world with pieces of broken plate, which sounds very dangerous all of a sudden.
Some of Jason Barnard’s Favourite Quotes by Mark Twain and Confucius
[00:44:04] Paul Copcutt: And do you have a favourite quote?
[00:44:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If I had more time, I would have written less, which is supposedly what Mark Twain said. The other one, and I had a few problems back in the day, was look at what you can change and do your best to change it. Look at what you can’t change and learn to accept it.
[00:44:24] Paul Copcutt: I like it.
[00:44:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s Confucius. It makes me sound terribly intelligent.
How Can People Find Out More About Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), His Company, and His Products?
[00:44:30] Paul Copcutt: How can people find out more about you, Jason, more about your company, and the products?
[00:44:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ll bet most people can guess what I’m going to say right at this moment. You search my name on Google, and then the Google business card gives you the choice of how you want to interact with me. That’s what I like about the Google business card. So, you search my name, and you think I’m interested in Jason Barnard as a human being. Click on the first link, my website. I want to do business with this guy. Click on the second link, kalicube.com. I want to interact with him on Twitter. Go to my Twitter account, which is third.
[00:45:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I want to take Jason Barnard’s courses. Kalicube.academy, that will be up there. I want to buy his book. That will be up there as well. I want to read his articles for free. Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land are there. I want to listen to his podcast. The podcast boxes are there. It’s up to you to decide how you want to interact with me.
Thanking Jason Barnard, as the Podcast Guest, for Imparting His Wisdom and Insights
[00:45:20] Paul Copcutt: I love that. We could talk for forever when I think about it. That’s fantastic, Jason. Thank you for imparting your wisdom and insights and giving people a flavour for the importance. And you’ve given me a completely new appreciation of what I should be doing online and with Google. I think it’s phenomenal. Thank you and have a brandtastic day.
[00:45:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, thank you so much. That was absolutely delightful. I enjoyed it a great deal, and I’m really happy you enjoyed it too.
[00:45:56] Paul Copcutt: Wonderful. That was great. Gosh, you’re a wealth of information.