Jason joins Keira in episode 5 of the Technical SEO Podcast, bringing season 4 to a close. In this episode, Jason talks about what knowledge graphs are, how they form and how to optimise them. Brought to you by SALT.agency.
[00:00:00] Narrator: You are listening to the Technical SEO podcast.
Welcoming Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), a Digital Marketing Consultant Specialising in Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels
[00:00:23] Keira Davidson: Hello and welcome to the TechSEO podcast, where we explore technical SEO and everything that comes with it. My name is Keira Davidson, and I’m an SEO consultant at SALT. Today I’m joined by Jason Barnard, aka The Brand SERP Guy, a digital marketing consultant specialising in Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels at Kalicube. Welcome to the podcast today. And how are you?
[00:00:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you, Keira. Delightful to be here. I’m feeling absolutely fine and cheerful and chirpy. I’m in Paris right now and talking to you, I think, in the north of England.
[00:00:55] Keira Davidson: Yes. Oh, I’d love to be in Paris right now. I’m very envious of you.
Jason’s Experience of Living in Paris and Getting a French Nationality Just in Time for Brexit
[00:01:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, brilliant. Paris is great. It’s romantic. It’s delightful. You get great food, you get great wine, and you get lots of French people complaining all the time but being incredibly French and waving their arms around. And I am now French. I got French nationality a couple years ago.
[00:01:17] Keira Davidson: Oh, that’s amazing, just in time for Brexit.
[00:01:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I actually applied on the day after the Brexit vote and got my French birth certificate. You get a birth certificate when you become French, which is cool. So, I’ve now got two birthdays, which is amazing. And my daughter hates me because she now has to give two presents a year but like the queen. I got the birth certificate at 2:00 PM on Brexit day. So at 2:00 PM, I became French. And at 11:00 PM, Britain left.
[00:01:50] Keira Davidson: Wow. That is amazing.
[00:01:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It’s a good story. And I was lucky, I think, to get the French nationality.
[00:01:59] Keira Davidson: Definitely. I imagine there’s many people who are envious of you.
[00:02:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
The Story of How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Came Into the World of SEO From Being a Musician and a Cartoon Voice Actor
[00:02:06] Keira Davidson: So before we dig into the finer details of Knowledge Panels, I think it’d be great to kickstart today with getting an understanding of how you’ve managed to get to where you are today and how SEO originally started for you.
[00:02:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, right. Great stuff. I’ve been in France for years and years and years. I moved here 35 years ago. And I moved here and became a punk folk musician and played double bass in a punk folk band. We were a bit like The Pogues but more punky than even then The Pogues were. And we toured Europe for 10 years playing 660 gigs. And it was really good fun. Unlike many SEOs, I come from a music background. So, my background is very much music. And that was really, really, really good fun. It’s exactly what you want to do when you’re 23 years old or whatever I was.
[00:02:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then I segued into cartoons and made a cartoon with my ex-wife. I was a blue dog. She was a yellow koala. And we made, that was 10 years as well, made a TV series for ITV International. I voiced the dog. I sang the songs. I wrote the songs. We wrote the scripts together. And I was the blue dog in a cartoon for 10 years, which was super fun. And then I went into SEO because we actually built a website. It ended up being the 10,000th biggest website in the world in terms of traffic in 2007.
[00:03:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then when that fell apart, I was looking for work. And I thought if I can get a million visits a month from Google for the blue dog and yellow koala, what can I do for your e-commerce company? And people lapped it up. It was brilliant. And I got work in SEO on the back of the blue dog and the yellow koala.
[00:03:50] Keira Davidson: That is crazy, as if it all started from a cartoon.
Segueing Into Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels After Realising the Importance of It Being His Google Business Card
[00:03:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It’s cool, isn’t it? It’s a really delightful segue. And then I segued into Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels. That’s an interesting segue from my perspective as well, because what would happen is I would say, I can drive a million visits month through a blue dog and a yellow koala. And they go, great, wonderful. And then they would google my name, and it just had Jason Barnard is a blue dog in a cartoon. And it would have a big picture of the blue dog. And they would think, I’m not going to give my digital marketing strategy for my precious company to a cartoon blue dog.
[00:04:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I realised that I had to build up my Google business card, my Brand SERP, what appeared when you search my name, to be more convincing, more digital marketing, and less blue dog. And I just started doing that. And that’s how I specialised in this is to say, how can I make sure that Google represents me in the way I need it to represent me today and not by the fact that I was a blue dog in a cartoon. And that’s the information it happens to have got hold of at this time.
[00:04:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I thought, honestly, take me a month or be done. 10 years later, I’m still down the rabbit hole and I’m still learning something new every day. And the Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels is a rabbit hole that never ends. It’s astonishing, and I love it.
A Brand SERP Should Tell Your Life Story With Your Current Situation Pushed at the Fore
[00:05:10] Keira Davidson: So, the first question I have for you on that is when you google your name now, are you still associated with the cartoon?
[00:05:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes, I am, but it’s a small part of the Brand SERP, and that’s the point of a Brand SERP. A Brand SERP should tell, from my personal perspective, my life story. And it should tell my life story but push to the fore the current situation. Because if you are looking me up today or a brand for that matter, you’re interested in what I’m doing today with potentially an interest in researching what I did yesterday or the day before or 10 years ago. So, what I did 10 years ago should have a place, but it should be a small place.
[00:05:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, now when you search my name, you’ve got my site and it tells you about The Barking Dogs, which was the punk folk group. Then you’ve got LinkedIn, you’ve got my Twitter boxes, you’ve got Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, the author boxes, video boxes potentially, the podcast. That’s telling my story today as a digital marketer, but then you also have Boowa and Kwala, which is the blue dog and yellow koala.
[00:06:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And in the Knowledge Panel, which is a topic for today, you see my description, which is all about me now, but then you get the information, songs I’ve written. You’ve got a picture of the blue dog. You’ve got a TV series, Boowa and Kwala. You’ve got my ex-wife is in there as a partner. And then you’ve got the story of my life, a summary of who I am in that Knowledge Panel. That is as a person and as a brand, you’ve got the same thing. The Knowledge Panel is summarising who the brand is, what they do, and they’re representing that summary to that brand’s audience when they search the brand’s name.
Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels Will Give You Much More Information Than You Intended to Find
[00:06:55] Keira Davidson: Ah, okay. So, that thing is never going to disappear. It’s always going to be there because Google sees the association now, but it’s going to be the less prominent result when you do a look.
[00:07:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes, exactly. And the point being from Google’s perspective, it thinks somebody’s just searched for Jason Barnard. They are probably interested in what he’s doing today. So if it can get a grip on that, it’s going to show majoritarily what I’m doing today. But it’s thinking also potentially they’re going to be interested in what he did as a blue dog. They might be looking him up to see about his career as a blue dog or as a punk folk musician. So, it always needs to show that because it needs to give you that option.
[00:07:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s the point of Brand SERPs is Google is summarising and then giving you, the audience of the brand or the person, the choice of what you want to interact with on that SERP. Is it the blue dog? Is it my Twitter account? Is it my articles? Is it my book? Is it my podcast? Is it to research me more and find out more about Veronique, who I was married to for 20 years?
[00:08:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And there’s an interesting thing about Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels. If you click on one aspect of the Brand SERP and the Knowledge Panel, for example Veronique, you’ll go to her Brand SERP and it will show you more information on her Brand SERP and Knowledge Panel than if you just search for her name. And if you then click on my name from hers back to my Brand SERP, you get even more information about me.
[00:08:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what it would do, what Google is doing is it’s looking at your session and saying this person is researching. And it will then throw all the information it has out to you. And it has so much more information hidden that you don’t see because it really is just showing the most valuable and helpful summary it thinks it can in that first instance.
Going Through the People Also Search For and Finding Relationships Through Knowledge Panel Hopping
[00:08:50] Keira Davidson: I did not know that at all. I’ve just seen the stuff on the right hand side and I’ve seen you’ll get the people related searches.
[00:09:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): People Also Search For.
[00:09:02] Keira Davidson: Yeah. But I’ve never done like a deep dive into them and seeing how the search results change and the amount of information you retrieve.
[00:09:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s amazing. A couple of things there. If you click on the People Also Search For, you’ll then see a carousel at the top.
[00:09:17] Keira Davidson: Yes.
[00:09:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it shows other related people. And if you just keep doing it, there are a couple of things. One is you can play the six steps of Kevin Bacon and you can relate yourself. That’s the idea that if you name any actor or film person in the world from the past or now, there are six steps between Kevin Bacon and that person by relationships within the roles he’s had in different films.
[00:09:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think he gave the example. Rudolph Valentino played in a film with a lady, whose name I can’t remember, who was in a film in 1953 with Laurence Olivier, who was in a film with someone, who was directed by somebody else, who directed a film with Kevin Bacon. And so, there are four steps you can get from Rudolph Valentino to Kevin Bacon.
[00:10:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I’ve played this game. I’m two steps away from John Lennon, which is delightful. And I played the game. Who was it? I can’t remember. Somebody else was three steps away from some absolutely bonkers jazz musician, Thelonious Monk, somebody in the SEO industry. And you get these delightful relationships. I call it Knowledge Panel hopping, and that’s a rabbit hole. Once you start, you go, oh, wow, isn’t this cool. And you just keep hopping and you waste your whole day.
Google Is a Child That We Need to Educate for It to Understand and Be Confident in Its Understanding
[00:10:38] Keira Davidson: I’ve done a similar thing to you on Wikipedia though using all like the internal links to either find a specific country having started off at a person. And yes, I’ve wasted a lot of time on it.
[00:10:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. But if you look at it from an SEO standpoint, Wikipedia is really good fun from that perspective. But if you look at it from an SEO standpoint and you’re playing this Knowledge Panel hopping game, as you do it, think, why is Google seeing this relationship? What’s Google’s logic? What’s its understanding? And then you start to get into Google’s brain.
[00:11:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I talk about Google as a child that we are trying to educate. Your role in terms of entity optimisation, which is the future of SEO in my opinion, is to educate this child that is Google about who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. And you can actively educate it. It wants to understand. It just doesn’t isn’t necessarily sure of what it should be understanding to be the truth and certainly isn’t confident.
[00:11:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And there are two aspects there. One is, does it understand? And the second is, is it confident it’s understood? And it’s phenomenally important and totally overlooked most of the time. Confidence, as with a child who is learning, confidence is absolutely key.
The Information Received by the Child That Is Google Needs to Be Confirmed by Other Multiple Trusted Sources
[00:11:55] Keira Davidson: And in terms of confidence, is that relating to it being able to return the same search results each time or being able to provide more information on that specific entity or anything else, what else it might be?
[00:12:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It’s confidence in its own understanding as opposed to confidence in what it’s showing people.
[00:12:20] Keira Davidson: Okay.
[00:12:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if you think about the child, it’s saying I’m the responsible adult in the room with the child. And I’m explaining to the child this is me, this is who I am, this is what I’ve done. These are the relationships I have with, for example, the People Also Search For with Joost de Valk or Rand Fishkin. So, I demonstrate those relationships to get the child to understand that the relationships are there, but the child won’t shout about it in the playground as it were by putting it on the SERP until it’s confident that it’s true. Because me saying it is great, but it needs to be confirmed by multiple trusted other sources.
[00:12:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if I can get grandma to say it and the head teacher to say it and the baker and the policewoman and the sister and the brother, then the child builds confidence because there is repetition of the same piece of information in the same manner or much the same manner by trusted authoritative sources. Then the child builds confidence, then the child shouts about it in the playground. And in this context, that’s putting it in the Knowledge Panel.
Google Is Training the Child on Wikipedia and Letting It Go and Figure the Rest Out for Itself
[00:13:25] Keira Davidson: That’s very interesting. What it’s made me think of is do you know really notorious criminals? Do you know when news publishing outlets, Netflix might do a series on it, that obviously helps to develop this levels of trust in these levels of confidence, which helps to my understanding, is feed into these Knowledge Panels?
[00:13:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes.
[00:13:50] Keira Davidson: So, it’s going to be a lot harder for the individual to not be associated with those, I don’t know, previous behaviours or things like that. So, it’s always going to be attached to your name.
[00:14:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. You made a couple of points there, which are really interesting. Wikipedia is obviously incredibly important. Google is training the child on Wikipedia. It’s basically sat the child in a library, which is Wikipedia, and said, read all of that, remember it. And the child’s going, okay. And they said to the child, that is for the most part true. So, that’s your basis of how you learn, how you understand, and the basis fact that you’re now going to go out into the world and figure the rest out for yourself.
[00:14:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And they are now, the last couple of years, they’ve just opened the doors of the library, let the child out. The child has all this knowledge and it’s got perfect memory, which is astonishing. Obviously, Google’s the machine so it does. And they set the child out into the world and they said, now just go and ask everybody everything. And the child is getting all this information, loads and loads of noise. It’s all fragmented. It’s all confused. People are telling slightly different stories, and it’s learning. And it’s learning to understand what is true, hopefully, what is not true and building confidence.
It’s up to Us to Make Sure That the Child Gets a Balanced and Honest View of What It Is You Want to Say
[00:15:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s why I’m saying the education of this child is in our hands. Because if you just sit back and let it listen to the noise that we have around our brand or our person, and you mentioned Netflix, that’s lots of noise that might not necessarily be true because it’s obviously slightly fictionalised to make it more digestible in the format of Netflix, whatever the format of Netflix might be. I don’t want to comment on that.
[00:15:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it’s up to you to go out there and make sure that you place that corroborative information in interested places, so that the child gets a balanced view, an honest view of what it is you want to say, the truth that you want to communicate. And that involves not only placing information in trusted sources beyond Wikipedia, Wikidata, Crunchbase, LinkedIn, IMDb, local associations. People underestimate that the child is looking for topical authority, not just authority.
The Child Is Looking in a Detailed Manner Who Is Saying the Information and if It Trusts the Source in That Particular Context, Both Category and Geo
[00:16:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if you are a poodle parlor in Paris, which is my favourite example because it’s got that delightful pa pa pa that microphones hate. So, a poodle parlor in Paris makes for terrible podcasts. Then the poodle parlor of Paris association would be the authoritative source about whether I am in fact a reliable poodle parlor in Paris. And Wikipedia is actually not that helpful because it isn’t topically or geographically relevant to me.
[00:16:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the child is actually looking in a very detailed, granular manner who is saying it, do they trust that source of information in that particular context, both category and country and geo rather because it can be down to town level even. And the child is learning little by little and it’s up to us to ensure that not only do we place that information, but the information that’s already out there we go out and correct it. We call that corroboration. And I would say defragmenting the information. And Google, John Mueller calls it reconciliation.
[00:17:13] Keira Davidson: Okay. So, from what I understand in what you just said there is that businesses can help provide confidence to search engines to improve their Knowledge Panels. That could be by using the governing bodies, associations, the establishments within industries that are well thought of that have strict rules thing that you have to abide by. So for example, schools, they have Ofsted. And that can be used to help determine if something’s true, if it’s false. And that gives confidence, which then feeds into the Knowledge Panel.
[00:17:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Exactly. That’s exactly it.
The Implications of Google My Business on Knowledge Panels and the Concept of Entity Homes
[00:18:03] Keira Davidson: One thing that came to my mind when I was piecing all that together is Google My Business. Does that have any implications on Knowledge Panels? Because technically, it’s the individual business or establishment themselves providing that information, which could be true, it could be false. And obviously, people can put recommendations in place or suggestions. So, does that help? Does that support or doesn’t support on Knowledge Panels?
[00:18:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You’ve just taken a massive boulder off a big rabbit hole that is one of the deeper rabbit holes in the whole story. So, you’ve just opened up an entire conversation that could go on on its own for literally hours. Google My Business or Google Business Profile is obviously owned and controlled by the business. That doesn’t necessarily make it less valuable in the sense that Google is looking for information from the horse’s mouth, from the business itself.
[00:19:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I’ll come back to Google My Business in just a moment, but I talk about Entity Homes. And John Mueller from Google has said, Jason Barnard’s concept of Entity Homes is totally underrated and is incredibly important. Because the Entity Home is the place on your website where your entity lives. It’s one page dedicated to explain to Google and your audience who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. And that Entity Home is what Google is actively looking for that Entity Home. It’s looking for you to explain it. It’s looking for the parent to explain it to them clearly. Then it goes out and corroborates and confirms the parent is telling the truth. And that’s where this corroboration comes in, where you have to make sure you correct it.
[00:19:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And coming back to Google My Business, that’s your, what are they called, the NAPs, name, address, phone number. In local SEO, it’s classic. And in Knowledge Panel, building it’s phenomenally important. Now it’s not just name, address, phone number. It’s any attribute, any piece of information that you can get corroborated around the web as consistently as possible. Because if the child hears me saying something, grandma says something else, the head teacher says something else, the baker says something else, obviously it’s never going to be confident it’s understood. It won’t know what to believe. So, the NAPs concept is phenomenally important, very, very powerful.
Google My Business Is a Type of Knowledge Panel in the Way That It’s Taking What You’ve Told It and It Adds Information
[00:20:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Moving back to Google My Business, technically it’s not a Knowledge Panel. But what Google now does increasingly is it takes the information you’ve given. It uses that fed straight into its heart or its brain. It doesn’t have a heart, does it? It’s got a brain. And it says, okay. That’s what they say, but I’m going to go and corroborate it around the web.
[00:20:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But then if you look at the Google My Business profile, there is an awful lot in there that’s showing in that panel that you do not control. The description of a restaurant is not controlled by the restaurant itself. They push that to the bottom that there is now a description there. The social media profiles, Google figures that out for itself and it adds them if it wants to.
[00:21:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I talked to Julia Hawkins about this, who’s a bit of a deacon local SEO, and she walked me through Google My Business panels. And some businesses you control quite a lot, and some industries you control very, very little. So, what Google is doing is it’s taking what you’ve told it through your Google My Business profile page. And then it adds information, knowledge much in the same way as it does with the Knowledge Panel. So, the Google My Business in conclusion is a type of Knowledge Panel. It is not the Knowledge Panel that we understand from the Knowledge Graph. I’m sorry. I’m really going on here.
The Knowledge Graph Is That Universal Understanding for the Machine in One Place Where It Can Reference It Like an Encyclopedia
[00:21:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the same thing is true for podcasts. You’re going to have a podcast Knowledge Panel, which isn’t part of the main Knowledge Graph. It’s all driven by Google Podcasts. Google Books Knowledge Panel will be driven by Google Books. And you can see where I’m going here.
[00:22:14] Keira Davidson: Yeah.
[00:22:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We’ve got multiple vertical Knowledge Graphs, all of which trigger Knowledge Panels in their own little manner. And obviously, Google right now it’s got these different verticals. And one of the problems it has that Microsoft doesn’t is that it’s trying to bring them all together. And that is the Knowledge Graph itself. It’s that universal understanding for the machine in one place where it can reference that like an encyclopedia for a machine, like Wikipedia for the machine. Whereas, right now it’s got different Knowledge Graphs and keeps having to hop between them. Eventually, it’s going to have just one brain with all of this in it.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Publishing a Book to Experiment With Google’s Knowledge Graph
[00:22:56] Keira Davidson: So, that’s when then, for example, taking you as the example, is that you have individual Google Knowledge Panels. You have one for your podcast, one for your book, one for the cartoon, one for you probably as a consultant. And then Google is then trying to, at some point, communicate all of these and draw lines back to this one overarching Knowledge Graph, which sees you as all those identities. It’s basically the 360 of you.
[00:23:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, no, a hundred percent. That’s a really good way of explaining it. And one of the big problems it has is exactly that is it will trigger multiple Knowledge Panels. The podcast is one thing. The books is another. Books is an interesting example because I actually wrote my book, which nobody can see because this is audio only, but it’s behind me and it’s red like my shirt.
[00:23:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I published the book. And one of the reasons I even wrote the book is because I wanted to experiment on Google and see what it did. And what it did was it had my Knowledge Panel, which I had built over the years, in the Knowledge Graph with the blue dog and my digital marketing career and my songs. And all of this is joined up together in the main Knowledge Graph. And then I published a book. And that’s the Books’ Knowledge Graph.
Using the Entity Home to Communicate to Google That the One It Found in Google Books Is the Same Person With a New Facet to the Entity
[00:24:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I wanted to see if it could reconcile the two and bring them together. And the answer is it didn’t. And what I then had to do is exactly what I was explaining earlier is manage it. And I needed to use my Entity Home to communicate to Google that the one it had just found in the Books is the same as the other guy that it already understood and indicate that it’s the same person just happens to have written a book new facet to this personality, this entity.
[00:24:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it took, this is really cool, it took two weeks for me to get it to merge the two together. I call it deduplicating. You dedupe an entity in this Knowledge Panel world, brings the two together, and goes right. And it just integrated the books, the Google Books references into my existing Knowledge Panel. And two weeks sounds like quite a long time. If you didn’t have an Entity Home, you would either not be able to do it at all or it would take you two years.
Google’s Immense Problem With the Concept of Multifacetedness
[00:25:12] Keira Davidson: That makes a lot of sense. It’s all clicking in my head. I was just thinking about it because I googled myself the other week because I was having a conversation with someone around how I used to do cooking competitions. When I googled my name, I used to return in the search results for that. And I went to check if that was still the case, and it isn’t. I now return for the podcast as an ex-athlete and for SEO. So, it’s interesting to see that because I reference each of those three things on my website that this is what Google is associated me as now and not a cook. So, that’s very interesting.
[00:25:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. And Andrea Volpini from WordLift, if you haven’t heard about him or read his work, he’s a really smart guy. WordLift is an Italian company. They build internal Knowledge Graphs with the idea that if you build an internal Knowledge Graph of your website or your business, you can then communicate that using Schema Markup to Google. So, it’s the same idea as what I’m doing but on a bigger scale. I’m saying focus on the individual entities, and they’re saying let’s just build the entire thing. Absolutely brilliant guy, brilliant company as well.
[00:26:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And he talks a lot about multifacetedness. And like most of us, Google has an immense problem with the concept of multifacetedness. It can’t really understand very well that Jason Barnard is an author, Jason Barnard is a digital marketer, Jason Barnard is a musician. And explaining that to the child, because the child says, yeah. When I say Jason Barnard is a musician, he says, yeah, but you just said he was an author.
[00:26:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And we’re all a little bit like that as human beings. And educating this child that is Google to the fact that I have these multifacets is difficult, but it’s tricky to play. And that’s how you get a balanced Brand SERP. That’s how you get Google to show a balanced view of who you are, what you do to your audience when they search your brand name.
The First Step in Educating Google Is to Have an Incredibly Clear Explanation on Your Entity Home
[00:27:15] Keira Davidson: And so, in order to help educate Google that you are all these different types of individuals or that you have all these different entities, you previously mentioned around how people use their about page to explain all of this. Is there other ways that you can signal this to Google?
[00:27:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The crux is always going to be the Entity Home. On the Entity Home, you explain here is facet one. And I tend to do it using headings and paragraphs. Jason Barnard is an author. Jason Barnard is a musician. Jason Barnard is a digital marketer. Jason Barnard is a company boss, CEO, and founder of Kalicube. Those are all different facets to me that the child is saying, well, which one is true? And the answer is all of them, of course. And getting that into the child’s brain is quite difficult.
[00:28:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And first step is that incredibly clear explanation where you break it down into chunks so that you’re not mixing it up. If I say Jason Barnard is the CEO of Kalicube and he used to be in a group called The Barking Dogs, you’re giving it two different, very different aspects in one sentence that aren’t related. And honestly speaking, you really shouldn’t be doing that even for your audience. It doesn’t make sense.
The Next Step Is to Then Go and Find Corroborative Sources for Each Aspect
[00:28:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But then once you’ve done that, the trick is then to go to find corroborative sources for each aspect. So for the musician, I would go on to MusicBrainz. And I would duplicate the music part of my description on the MusicBrainz site. And I would point Google from my Entity Home to the MusicBrainz site to say, this is me. And I would do the same for the books, I would do the same for the author, for the articles, I would do the same for Kalicube, and so on and so forth.
[00:29:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s the trick. And I’m giving you all the secrets of this, but it’s actually, what’s interesting is it’s every tiny detail is incredibly important. So, it’s a really boring job of making sure that it all corroborates and it all maps. But when you do it right, you’ve got this, it’s like I’m a parent and I have a child. And I remember the moment the child says right is the moment you feel so proud as a parent that you’ve been such a good educator.
If You Can Get Third Parties to Repeat Information About You, Then You Are Winning
[00:29:32] Keira Davidson: It’s making a lot of sense in my head, and I’ve never thought about it like this. But I think as an SEO, you do these kind of things without even realising in some regard. So for example, you might have one brand, two sites. And you might be doing cross-linking between the two sites but also getting the brand featured, I don’t know, in different publications to help build up the wider picture of who the company is and what Google should then associate it with and showing the relationship between the two sites. So, I think that’s trying to show these entities almost.
[00:30:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, no, it is. It’s exactly that. And as SEOs, we do tend to do that work very well, but I would argue that SEOs tend to focus too much on your own website.
[00:30:21] Keira Davidson: Yeah.
[00:30:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And there’s a limit to how much the child is going to get beneficial corroboration from the same source. So if you look at it from that perspective, every time you repeat a piece of information about yourself on a site that you obviously own, all you’re doing is repeating the same message from the same person or the same entity. And that has a very, very fast declining half life. The value of the fifth mentioned by yourself about the same information is going to have almost no effect on Google’s confidence in the corroboration that you’re providing. Third parties are the key. If you can get third parties to repeat it, then you’re winning. So, that’s more of a PR job.
[00:31:06] Keira Davidson: Yeah.
SEOs and PR Should Work Together Efficiently and Effectively and Make Sure That the Message Is Standardised Without Becoming Repetitive
[00:31:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, SEOs are going to have to get on board with PR. And PR are going to have to get on board with the idea of that brand message, the factual message that you’re pushing out needs to be consistent. And one of the challenges I see is a) those teams working together efficiently and effectively, and b) making sure that that message is standardised and common without becoming boring and repetitive.
[00:31:34] Keira Davidson: Yeah.
[00:31:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, there’s a whole trick to be played there. And once again, I keep coming back to the child and it does get a bit boring, but the child is such a good analogy for this because it needs the same information repeated over and over and over and over again. And it needs it repeated by different authoritative sources, and it will see the information in different context. So, the emphasis of that information will change with the context. And that’s helpful and it’s natural, especially for the multifacetedness.
The Importance of Quoting and Linking a Piece of Information About You on Your Own Website
[00:32:06] Keira Davidson: Yes, I can see what you’re saying here though. So, those external parties, they’re the key. They’re what really helped corroborate what you are saying. So, you mentioned before around using headers and paragraphs and pulling in information from the other sources and referencing it. Would you do that in a quote format and then use it like a link from that piece of content to the original where it was originally referenced?
[00:32:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yep. That’s a brilliant question. And it’s exactly what you do. On your own website, nothing stops you from saying, right, here’s a piece of information I found out there that is helpful and relevant to me. I quote it. I link to it. And that’s a very clear sign to Google that a) that article that it found is about you, and b) you approve of the message.
[00:33:04] Keira Davidson: Okay.
[00:33:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Because it does want to represent you the way you want to be represented, as long as you’re honest about the way you want to be represented. Because it is trying to feed and satisfy your audience at the end of the day, because they’re Google users, but the people searching your brand name are your audience. So, it’s looking for you to say, what should I be saying here? It won’t necessarily repeat stupidly what you’ve told it to say. It has its own decision making process.
Google Wants to Show on Your Brand SERP What Is Helpful, Valuable, and Relevant to Your Audience
[00:33:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if you are trying to get it to say something that is truthful, honest about you, and that is truly helpful, valuable, and relevant to your audience. And I’ll say that again because it is. Google wants to show on your Brand SERP what’s helpful, valuable, and relevant to your audience. It’s up to you to indicate what that is.
[00:33:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one of the great tricks to play is that me saying, I think this video is incredibly helpful and valuable and relevant to my audience. I need to demonstrate to Google that that is the case. I need engagement on that video. I need Google to see that my audience are engaging. And once it hits the Brand SERP and I’ve done my brilliant job of getting it there, if nobody interacts with it, it will disappear.
[00:34:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, there isn’t any long term point in getting rubbish on to your Brand SERP because it hides the cracks or whatever you would say, sweeping things under the carpet, I don’t know what it’s called, papering over the cracks. That’s what it is. Because Google looks at user behaviour on the SERP, and it will relegate it if it isn’t helpful and valuable. Because once again, it’s trying to best serve its users. And those users in this specific case happen to be your audience.
Your Brand SERP Is Google’s Opinion of Your Audience’s Opinion of You
[00:34:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I just thought of something. That also means that when you look at the Brand SERP, you can see what Google’s opinion of your audience’s opinion of you is.
[00:34:53] Keira Davidson: Oh, okay.
[00:34:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, what you’re looking at is a reflection of how Google perceives the world’s perception of you.
[00:35:01] Keira Davidson: Right. Okay. That makes sense.
[00:35:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s an incredible insight into your strategy. Sorry.
Google Shows the Knowledge Panel as a Summary of Its Understanding of the Entity and What It Thinks the Audience Needs to Know
[00:35:08] Keira Davidson: So, that essentially means that anyone can have a Knowledge Panel. It’s telling the child, Google, relevant, helpful information, which can be corroborated externally, and essentially what other people perceive you or the business as, which can build this picture, which then helps to formulate a Knowledge Graph.
[00:35:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Exactly. The Knowledge Panel appears. You actually had the question written down. I’m now reading it. Why does Google show a Knowledge Panel? And this is the perfect place to answer that question. Google shows the Knowledge Panel as the summary of its understanding of the entity, but most importantly, what it thinks the audience of that entity wants or needs to know.
[00:35:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the idea of the Knowledge Panel, it says we have gone through all of the results, the top results for this company or person, and through all the different sources. And rather than have the user click through to every single result, find the little piece of information, remember it, come back, click on another result, it just says we’re going to bring all of that, stick it in this panel that saves you the effort of all that research. So, it saves you 15 or 20 clicks, because we just present this summary from those results to save you the effort of going through those results, which is so obvious when you say it.
[00:36:35] Keira Davidson: Yeah.
[00:36:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But wasn’t obvious until I just said it. And once you look at it that way, then you say, why, okay. Then you enter into the question, what is likely to be helpful and valuable so it templates the Knowledge Panels themselves?
An Example Where Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Used His Platform (Kalicube Pro) to Control Google’s Understanding of the Information
[00:36:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what we’ve done at Kalicube Pro, which is the SaaS Platform I’ve built, which helps people build Knowledge Panels, is we template according to your, basically, it’s according to your category, your entity type, and your geo-region. And so, what we can do is actually pull out and say, this is the kind of information Google is showing within your industry and your geo-region for your entity type, person, company, podcast, whatever it is. Here’s what you need to feed it in order to get that control, and that’s incredibly important, control of the information it’s showing.
[00:37:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I’ll give you an example. One of our clients, I can’t name them, American footballer. We just analysed all the American footballers. We pulled up the template for what Google likes to show in the Knowledge Panel for an American footballer. And it’s spouse, salary, number.
[00:37:38] Keira Davidson: Okay.
[00:37:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): There are about 15 different pieces of information that it will show, but those are the big three. So if you want to make sure that you control it, those are the three pieces of information. If you can control Google’s understanding of that information, you control the primary attributes within your Knowledge Panel.
Kalicube Pro Gives a Prioritised List of What You Need to Correct That Could Save You a Lot of Time
[00:37:57] Keira Davidson: Right. Okay. So in a sense, that’s a bit like competitor research and doing it for your SERP. Panels can help you understand what you need to essentially get them or improve yours.
[00:38:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, exactly. Kalicube Pro is built for that. It’s built to say here’s what you’ve got, here’s what everyone else has got, here’s what you need to correct of what you’ve already achieved. You just go through it or you correct it or you do your NAPs. We give you the list of all the NAPs that you need to correct, which is surprisingly powerful.
[00:38:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ve got 75 profile pages and articles about me because of all the work I’ve done on my Brand SERP. And for the author trick I played a couple of months ago that I explained earlier on, it took me three hours to correct every single one because I had a prioritised list through Kalicube. And if I hadn’t had that list, it would take me weeks.
[00:38:53] Keira Davidson: Yeah.
[00:38:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Because I would’ve had to find them, click on them, correct them. And I would’ve got so bored. It’s really boring as a job. But in three hours, it was done. And I knew in three hours it was done. So, I just got through it. And it was painful, but it was easy.
[00:39:06] Keira Davidson: Yeah.
Entity Equivalent: Templating Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels in the Same Manner With the Same Entity Type, Georegion, and Industry
[00:39:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, that’s point number one. And then point number two is saying, what’s it saying about everybody else in my industry for my entity type in my geo-region? And that’s important. It’s not just your industry or even your entity type. The geo-region plays a role too. So, you need to look deep down that way and then say, what can I potentially provide for the Knowledge Panel and indeed the Brand SERP? We can template Brand SERPs in the same manner. I call them Entity Equivalent, same entity type, geo-region, and industry or category.
[00:39:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then we template the Brand SERP and the Knowledge Panel. And we say, this is what you’re looking at. These are the social media platforms you should be looking at. These are the video platforms you should be looking at. These are the types of video. These are the types of images. These are places you need to put your information because that’s where Google’s looking, both for the Knowledge Panel and to feed the Brand SERP within your industry in your geo-region for your entity type. Your Entity Equivalent template looks like this, gives you a target.
The Best Place People Can Find Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Is Through His Brand SERP
[00:40:09] Keira Davidson: Yes, definitely. We’ll take time to get there. So, I have one final question for you. Where’s the best place people can find you on social media?
[00:40:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a really relevant question, because in fact, what Google’s trying to do with the Brand SERP is show you how you can interact with me. And it gives the choice. So, the best way is to search Jason Barnard. At the top, you’ll see my site, then Twitter, then LinkedIn, and then my company website, then articles I published on Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and so on and so forth, then IMDb for the blue dog.
[00:40:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And basically, it’s saying which is the aspect of Jason Barnard you want to look into. And it’s giving you, the audience, who is searching my name, who theoretically is slightly interested in what I’m doing, the choice of what you want to know and how you want to interact with me.
[00:41:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if I had to give a choice, if any of this interests you, if any of this is hitting home, you’re thinking I need to learn to do this, buy the book. It explains the whole thing. Or take the courses. We’ve got a set of courses. And what I’m finding is people, once they get into the courses, they start writing and say, oh, what about this, what about this, what about this. And it is this massive rabbit hole. And the book gets you to the entrance of the rabbit hole, and you look in. And then if you start taking the courses, you fall straight into it like Alice in Wonderland.
[00:41:35] Keira Davidson: Yeah, I’m sure that would be me.
[00:41:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Don’t take the courses then.
[00:41:42] Keira Davidson: So, I’ve really appreciated you joining the podcast today. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks for your next installment of Technical SEO. That’s all for this episode. And we’re always looking for other experts to join us and give us a fresh perspective. So if this is of interest to you, reach out to myself, keirafdavidson on Twitter, to drop me a message. Thanks again for speaking with me today, Jason.
[00:42:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant, Keira. Thank you so much. They were great questions. And I really thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope everybody else did too.