Thumbnail: #168: A Beginner's Guide to SEO for Business with Jason Barnard

If you’re like me, the thought of jumping into the vast and confusing world of Google can feel overwhelming! Let’s face it, all the jargon, algorithms, and ever-changing trends can be seriously intimidating.

But here’s the thing – SEO is not some mystical art that only a chosen few can master. It’s a skill that anyone can learn with the right resources and guidance. Enter my guest today on the podcast, SEO wizard Jason Barnard. 

Jason is an author and digital marketing consultant who specializes in Brand SERPs (what appears when your audience Googles your Brand name) and knowledge panels (what Google understands about who you are and what you do).

In today’s episode, Jason guides you (and me!) through understanding how to use SEO & SERP for business as a beginner.

He’s covering everything from the basics of SEO to the latest trends and strategies that you can use to boost your online visibility and grow your business. 

If you’re looking to expand your online presence, SEO is about to become your BFF for driving traffic to your website and boosting your visibility. 

So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and let’s tackle SEO together. With a little bit of patience, perseverance, a willingness to learn, and some expert advice from Jason you can become an SEO pro in no time!

Let’s do this! 

About Jason Barnard:

Jason Barnard is an author and digital marketing consultant. He specializes in Brand SERPs (what appears when your audience Googles your Brand name) and knowledge panels (what Google understands about who you are and what you do).

Follow him on the web: kalicube.com
Like him on Facebook: facebook.com/kalicube

[00:00:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you look at Google from the perspective of saying it’s a child, and it wants to learn about you. And the reason it’s not representing you correctly when somebody searches your brand name or your personal name is because it doesn’t understand. So, you need to educate this child.

Welcome to No BS Business School With Jan Ditchfield, an Award-Winning Business Strategist

[00:00:15] Jan Ditchfield: Hey, you. My name is Jan Ditchfield, and I’m an award-winning business strategist who’s turned a 20 plus year career in the real world into a six figure online business helping women just like you to do the same. I love talking all things marketing, sales, and online strategies. But without the fluff and the cookie cutter advice that’s filling your feed on the gram, I teach you the step-by-step tips on how to turn your real world expertise into a profitable online business without losing your money or your mind in the process.

[00:00:46] Jan Ditchfield: There’s no shying away from the straight talk. Money struggles, business hacks, online marketing, and social media strategies are all topics we talk about. Think of this as your webinar and trend free cocktail hour convo with a good friend who understands the depth of your expertise and exactly how to translate that into a profitable online business without the BS. If you’re a real world business owner or a subject matter expert trying to navigate online marketing and digital sales for the first time, this is a show for you. Welcome to No BS Business School. 

[00:01:20] Jan Ditchfield: If you’re like me, the thought of jumping into the vast and confusing world of SEO can feel intimidating. Let’s face it, all the jargon, algorithms, and ever-changing trends can be seriously overwhelming. But here’s the thing, SEO is not some mystical art that only a chosen few can master. It’s a skill that anyone can learn with the right resources and guidance. Enter my guest today on the podcast, SEO wizard, Jason Barnard.

Introducing the Guest on Today’s Podcast Episode, Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)

[00:01:50] Jan Ditchfield: Jason is an author and a digital marketing consultant who specialises in Brand SERPs, which is what appears when your audience googles your brand name. And he is also the master of Knowledge Panels, which is what Google understands about who you are and what you do. 

[00:02:05] Jan Ditchfield: In today’s episode, Jason guides you and me through understanding how to use SEO for business as a beginner. He is covering everything from the basics of SEO to the latest trends and strategies that you can use to boost your online visibility and grow your business. If you’re looking to expand your online presence, SEO is about to become your BFF for driving traffic to your website and boosting your visibility.

[00:02:32] Jan Ditchfield: So, sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s tackle SEO together. With a little bit of patience, perseverance, a willingness to learn, and some expert advice from Jason, you can become an SEO pro in no time. Let’s do this. 

[00:02:50] Jan Ditchfield: Jason, welcome to my show. It is so lovely to have you here. 

[00:02:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Absolutely delighted. Thank you for having me.

The Story of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) as a Musician Who Got a Chance to Play the Cavern Club

[00:02:56] Jan Ditchfield: I’m quite thrilled. I always loved having the opportunities to talk to people a bit about their background and where they came from or where they are now, because I think all of us have backstories that led into what we currently do. But yours fascinates me, because I really want to know how it is that you came from being a punk rocker playing the Cavern Club to now being known as The Brand SERP Guy. What a journey. 

[00:03:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I moved to Liverpool from Leeds when I was 18 to go to the university there and joined a blues band or created a blues band with a guy from Tewkesbury. And he was a mad guitarist with long hair. I was 19 and he was 25, and I thought he was incredibly old. And at that time, 25 seems really old and now you feel it wasn’t quite there.

[00:03:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it was called Stanley the Counting Horse. And that’s the worst name for a blues band ever, but we thought it was funny. An Irish friend of mine convinced me that it was the best name in the world for a band, and it wasn’t. And the drummer was the guitarist from the Sisters of Mercy, who were a famous gothic eighties band, who you might have heard. He wrote the riff for Alice, which is one of the greatest guitar riffs ever in the entire universe. And he played drums in our band, which was delightful. 

[00:04:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I was very, very, very thin and I had a big, deep voice, and I was the singer. And people would come and see the band just because they couldn’t believe that somebody that thin had such a deep voice. And we set played blues and rhythm and blues. 

[00:04:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And we eventually got to play the Cavern Club, which was a hugely exciting moment. They rebuilt the Cavern Club because it was actually knocked down in the seventies or eighties. I don’t know when. And they took some of the bricks and put them at the front, so it looks like the old Cavern Club but the rest of it is just rebuilt, but it still has that aura. And they rebuilt it inside the same way it was when the Beatles were playing there. And it’s one of those things in life, done that, really happy to have done that, and how many people get that opportunity?

Jason Barnard’s Journey From Music to Cartoons to Digital Marketing

[00:05:06] Jan Ditchfield: Yeah. And I don’t know if that was something that would inspire you to say it’s what you do for a living now, or is it the jump into the world of marketing and digital marketing and everything that you do with branding? Was there a crossover inspiration? 

[00:05:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, absolutely not. I actually moved away from Liverpool to Paris and joined a punk folk group, who said, you can’t be the singer in our band, we’ve got a singer. But if you want to be in the band, you have to play double bass, which is the bull fiddle, the big double bass. So, I learned to play that to play in the band. We toured for 10 years, 660 concerts, 40,000 albums sold, 4 albums made. We played on the same festival as Bob Dylan, which is rather cool. Obviously he was top of the bill and we were right at the bottom, but still. 

[00:05:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then that fell apart, and I’m still not at the digital marketing part. Because then my wife and I created cartoon characters called Boowa and Kwala, a blue dog, I was the blue dog, and yellow koala, she was the yellow koala. And that was a huge success online. We ended up being the 10,000th most visited site in the world, competing with Disney and PBS and the BBC in 2008. And that was a huge success, largely because I managed to master the algorithms of Google between 1998, when it started, and 2008, when the cartoon website stopped or I stopped working on it rather.

[00:06:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, when that stopped, I thought, how can I make a living? Because my experience is a punk folk musician, a blues musician, and a blue dog. And the answer is to tell people, if I get a million visits a month to this site for kids from Google, think what I can do for your business. And that’s how I started in digital marketing proper, although I’ve been doing SEO and Google beforehand from 1998 onwards.

The Definition of Brand SERP According to The Brand SERP Guy Himself

[00:07:03] Jan Ditchfield: That’s a really great story. That’s a great pitch too because I think you’re right off the hook, right off of that. It is like, I want to know more about this, so let’s lean. It’s fabulous. Can we start off first by defining Brand SERP? Can we just go down that rabbit hole about what is it? Because I think it’s not something everyone understands. 

[00:07:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. Brand is something that everybody understands, I think, in marketing. I would hope so. And SERP is search engine results page. So, a Brand SERP is the search engine results page for your brand name or your personal name. So, I come from a world where I was mastering Google for things like kids games and coloring pages and children’s songs. And we were top ranking for all of these terms, and it brought in enormous numbers of people. And that is what traditional SEO is all about.

Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what Google says it is.

Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)

[00:07:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But I only focus on the results for your brand name, because I’ve realised that your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what Google says it is. And what I do is allow people and companies to take control back so that you say what your brand is, and Google simply repeats it. So, you take back control of your brand message from Google. 

[00:08:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the reason I got into this particular part of SEO or managing Google is because if you search for me in 2011, it said Jason Barnard is a cartoon blue dog. And I was pitching for digital marketing work, and people wouldn’t sign. They said, I’m not giving my strategy, my digital strategy to a cartoon blue dog. So, I set about changing Google’s perception of me so that it would change the message that it projected to people who were searching my name before doing business with me. And it changed my life.

You Need to Educate Google Like a Child Because Your Brand SERP Is Your Business Card

[00:08:52] Jan Ditchfield: I think this is fascinating. I once heard you talk about the fact that you really feel that Google is your business card, that it’s your calling card and your business card, and I think a lot of the time that when my audience coming from the real world into the online space trying to get their business going, we tend to listen to a lot of advice that has to do with Instagram and reels and doing all things like that. 

[00:09:13] Jan Ditchfield: And we ignore the other side, which is Google. This is the first place we go, isn’t it, to look up anything, is Google. But we forget to put our efforts and our energy into that. Have you encountered that quite a bit with people, that there is maybe a misunderstanding or a fear about it?

[00:09:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I think, generally speaking, people perceive SEO, search engine optimisation, which is making content for Google so that you get to the top, so that it sends visits to your website instead of your competitors, they think that search engine optimisation is geeky and technical. And so, it’s scary. 

[00:09:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And 10 years ago, it was 80% technical, 80% all the geeky stuff, and 20% marketing. Now, it’s completely the other way around. It’s 80% marketing and branding and 20% a little bit geeky, and you can avoid the geekiness completely if you really want to. So, the fear of SEO is something I’m trying to now break down. I’m trying to reduce that fear by multiple things.

Jason Barnard is Reducing the Fear of SEO by Saying That Google Is a Child and You Need to Educate It

[00:10:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’m always saying, look at the Google result for your brand name and that is your business card. That’s relatively easy for you to control. Once you can feel what it’s like to start controlling Google’s representation of you, you start to understand how you can address Google in a wider sense. And also, if you look at Google from the perspective of saying it’s a child and it wants to learn about you. And the reason it’s not representing you correctly when somebody searches your brand name or your personal name is because it doesn’t understand.

[00:10:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to educate this child. And once you get that perspective, number one, that relatively simple work of making that Google Business Card perfect, representing you to your audience the way you want it, then you realise what I’ve just done is taught Google. And from there, it’s a really easy step into SEO, as we’ll talk about in a moment, where SEO is branding, marketing, SEO in that order.

[00:11:20] Jan Ditchfield: Okay. I think this is interesting. 

[00:11:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Me too. I’ve been doing it for years.

Where Should You Begin in Optimising Your Brand SERP as a Business Owner and as an Individual? 

[00:11:26] Jan Ditchfield: I know. I have to admit this is something that, for me, I’m probably going to fall into that world of I know I need to do this better. I know I’m not. I know you come from the world of you better search your name because you want to know what people are out there looking at. But knowing how to control what it is that people find when my name is entered, what would be the first step to look at? How do we take this on? Where should we begin or think about this as a business owner?

[00:11:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Great question. You focus on your website. Your website is your representation of yourself online, and Google is looking for that website that represents you actively. So, if you can get Google to understand that this is your website, that it represents you, you can start educating, teaching, feeding the child that is Google. So, focus on your website first.

[00:12:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you’re an individual and you don’t have a website, you really need one. And if you’re a company and you don’t have a website, I’m very surprised. But definitely look at your website and say, okay, this is my representation of myself online, both to my audience and to machines like Google or Bing, Microsoft Bing, so that they better understand me.

Moving From What You See to What You Want to See on Your Brand SERP and Improving Your Overall Digital Strategy 

[00:12:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Why would I want them to better understand me? Because Bing and Google are recommendation engines. If I search for something on Google or Bing, I’m asking a question or presenting a problem and looking for a solution or an answer. And their job is to recommend the best answer or solution, and I want to be that best solution or answer. 

[00:13:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that all starts, whatever else you do, it starts with do they understand who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve. And the first thing you should do right now is google your name or your company name, look at the results, and think what did I expect to see, what do I see, and what do I want to see. And start moving from what you see to what you want to see and think about the things that you expected to see along the way. Did you expect to see videos? Maybe, if you’ve got a video strategy. If you don’t see them, your video strategy probably isn’t very good.

[00:13:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, what we’ve done there is move from the Google Business Card to controlling your brand narrative in Google’s mind on your website, to looking at what that result and thinking where can I improve my overall digital strategy? It sounds huge because you’re going from the simplest thing to the biggest possible job in the world, which is the entire digital strategy, but you’re doing it step by step and you’re doing it with Google’s recommended priorities.

Managing Social Media Platforms and Bringing the Offline Online

[00:14:18] Jan Ditchfield: Okay. I think I’m fascinated by this. Because one of the things I feel a lot of the time, as a subject matter expert coming from the real world into the online space, there’s a lot of friction in trying to bring our authority with us. And so, my audience or almost everyone has come from the real world, did something for a career or education, trying to step online.

[00:14:39] Jan Ditchfield: And what happens is that authority doesn’t follow with us because we’re relying on things like follower counts on Instagram. I’m competing with people probably who are just better at influence than we are. But this sounds to me a much more effective strategy for saying, how do I want to show up, and I can control how that’s going to happen versus allowing the algorithm or somebody else’s perception to take control of my own business.

Google Is Looking at Social Media Platforms and Media Sites in Your Niche and It Understands Who Is Your Niche

[00:15:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A hundred percent. And the nice thing about Google is that it’s looking at Instagram, it’s looking at Facebook, it’s looking at Twitter, it’s looking at LinkedIn, it’s looking at Medium, it’s looking at YouTube. It’s looking at all the media sites in your niche, and it understands who is your niche. So, it won’t be looking at the newspaper in Paris for you, it’ll be looking at a newspaper in Canada for you. 

[00:15:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to understand that Google is looking over the shoulder of the entire world, including you, me, and your audience. So, it knows what they’re looking for. It knows what you should be producing. And from that perspective, you can understand very easily what it is you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. And that’s the what did you expect to see and what do you see. 

[00:15:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then working from what you expect, what you see, to what you want to see. And you can do that. I’ve done it on my Brand SERP. If you search Jason Barnard, you’ll see a presentation that is pretty much exactly what I want. And that’s absolutely huge.

Making Your Little Portion of the Internet a Complete Representation of the Offline World You Want to Show

[00:16:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And you talked a really interesting question about bringing the offline online. And I once asked a question in a conference and I said, what do the panel think about bringing the offline online? And the host said, oh no, you mean taking the online offline, and didn’t listen to me when I said, no, actually, I meant bringing the offline online.

[00:16:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s a slightly weird idea when people are obsessed by the internet, like I am and my community is, to think actually all of that stuff offline isn’t seen by Google. And the online simply represents the offline world, but it’s incomplete. And it’s up to me to make my little portion of the internet complete, a complete representation of what I want of the offline world to be shown.

[00:17:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, we’ve got a client at the moment. And he has hung out with Muhammad Ali. He hung out with Bill Clinton. And he’s got the photos and he’s got the press clippings, but it’s not online. It’s up to him to bring that online and then start figuring out communicating it to Google. And from there, you can immediately see if you have a website and you can communicate this and you can build Google’s trust in what you’re saying, you can get closer and closer to having your offline authority and credibility reflected online, but it’s up to you to bring it in because nobody else is going to do it for you.

Where Should You Focus and Put Your Efforts According to Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?

[00:17:39] Jan Ditchfield: Okay. Is this something that would start with SEO or is this content creation? Where are we? What’s going to help us be able to do this maybe faster than trying to figure it out on our own? Where should our efforts be best put? 

[00:17:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You need to focus on the branding, the marketing, your audience, and create the content that they’re looking for, and post it or place it in the places they’re already hanging out. So, if your audience tend to hang out on Facebook, let’s say, you would want to create content that makes sense on Facebook that resonates with your audience, with which your audience is going to interact, engage. 

[00:18:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Then you take that content and you say, how can I then repurpose that for my website so that it makes sense as a presentation message more in depth to the person who wants to learn more? And that’s actually completely the reverse of what most search engine optimisation experts will tell you.

Creating What’s Working for Different Platforms, Bringing It Onto Your Own Website, and Repackaging It for Google

[00:18:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They will say, create a chunk of content for Google then repurpose it for social media and other websites. But I say, create what’s working for the different platforms and then bring it onto your website and create the destination page where they’ll find out more. 

[00:18:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then what you simply do is repackage whatever it is you’ve written for Google, and repackaging sounds incredibly complicated. But if you’ve got a WordPress site or a Duda site or a Wix site, the SEO is pretty much baked in. Which means all you need to then do is make sure you’ve got a featured image that Google can use in the search results to make you look better, because it has little thumbnail images all over the place these days. 

[00:19:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A great title, and the title describes the content of the page, the answer to the question, or the fact that you’re going to answer the question, or the fact that you’re going to provide a solution to the problem. So, ask yourself, when somebody is searching on Google, what’s the problem there? Expressing my header, my heading needs to say this is the answer. Then you give the answer as quickly as you possibly can, and then you explain in more detail.

The Importance of Breaking the Content of Your Website Into Chunks and Using Headings for Google

[00:19:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And you need to think about your page being broken down into chunks. So, you have the H1 describes the topic of the page, the solution the page contains, then you have the short solution, then you have a secondary heading that describes the next part of the topic, then a paragraph that explains that, and another little header that explains the next part of the topic, and a paragraph that explains that. It really is as simple as that. 

[00:20:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you can do that, then what Google does is chunks the content down and understands it in its individual chunks. So, each chunk needs to be able to stand alone. So, it’s really actually very good for humans as well. If you read your headings, you should be able to understand exactly which part of the article you want to read for the answer that you’re looking for. 

[00:20:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then additionally, I would say that Google is incredibly keen on images, video, and sound. So, if you can include a video, that’s going to give you an advantage, but it obviously isn’t within the means of everybody, but certainly hugely helpful.

The General Opinion of the SEO Community on Google’s Neglect of the Meta Title and Meta Description

[00:21:05] Jan Ditchfield: I feel like everyone listening, myself included, just went, oh, at this collective moment of being like, I understand this in such a way now that I never did before.

[00:21:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ll add one thing that should reassure everybody, is that the SEO community has got a little bit annoyed with Google. And the reason they got annoyed is because you’ve got what you call a meta title, which is the title of the page that you need. For example, on WordPress, you would use Yoast to do it, but it’s in SEO settings in a platform like Duda. And Google has started to ignore that when they feel like it.

[00:21:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you have another thing called the meta description. Google ignores that most of the time already. And the SEO community was saying, that’s not fair, we’ve optimised that super duper title and it’s showing something different. And what they haven’t realised, I think, is that 99% of people who run websites don’t fill in the meta title correctly.

[00:22:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So ,Google is fighting with that problem and saying, well, you guys, 1% of the world have optimised this perfectly, but 99% of the world haven’t. And we are leaving out 99% of the world who can’t afford an SEO or don’t know enough of about SEO. So, what they’ve done is they said, well, we’re going to look in the page and we’re going to pull out whatever we think the title of the page is.

Microsoft Bing’s Whole Page Algorithm and How You Should Structure Your Page for Google and Bing to Understand It

[00:22:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Ali Alvi from Microsoft Bing, he’s one of the product managers there, explained to me as they take the whole page, analyse it. They try to figure out what question it answers. And then the search query, they then match whatever the search query is, the question, the implicit question or the explicit question that’s being asked to the answer they think the page answers.

[00:22:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the title will then be pulled from the page that corresponds to the question they think the person is asking, either explicitly or implicitly. Which is huge for us all because it takes a lot of the weight off our shoulders and says, well, you don’t need to worry about the meta title so much. It does still help. But if you write clearly and you structure your page in a way that Google and Bing can chunk it down, you are already hugely, hugely on the right path.

Creating Content That Answers a Question and Aiming at Your Audience 

[00:23:23] Jan Ditchfield: It’s interesting to me because I did a lot of work when I was on my podcast, with my SEO for my podcast, because I know there’s a different algorithm with with Google, but it was the same idea of being told, stuff it, keyword stuffing, put as many questions in, what people are googling. Is it the same concept? Do we want to be looking for the question or should we be addressing the answer? Just assuming, and then that’s really where the magic is if we keep that as our content answer specific instead of question specific, Google will like that better? 

[00:23:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Your content needs to answer a question. So, if your content starts with how to bake a cake in three easy steps, the question that corresponds to is how do I bake a cake or give me a recipe for a cake. Both of which would potentially apply to that. So, you need to focus on providing answers and solutions to Google’s users.

[00:24:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And don’t forget that Google has these users, it has billions of users. And number one is that they are Google’s users, and Google is sending them to your website because Google is recommending you. So, you need to prove to Google that you are credible and that you have the correct answer.

After Having the Correct Answer, You Need to Make Sure That You Aim at a Subset of Google’s Users Who Are Truly Your Audience 

[00:24:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But secondly, there’s only a very small subset of Google’s users who are truly your audience. Make sure you only aim at people in that subset of Google’s users who are your audience, who are truly your audience. Because that will mean the people who come to your website are actually interested in what you do. You want higher quality traffic that will convert people who are truly interested, people you can truly help, and not aim for the big keywords. 

[00:25:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): What people do in SEO a great deal is say, well, there’s 25,000 searches a month on bake a red cake. But if you can’t help them bake a red cake, that’s pointless. And you’re also putting yourself in a position where you are competing with potentially some of the big hitters.

[00:25:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if you did an article about bake a red and orange and green cake, that’s incredibly specific. And if you can actually help somebody with that, you only get five people a month, but those five people a month are going to be truly interested in your specific cake recipe. That was a terrible example. I should have made it better at start.

The Long Game of Helping Google’s Users Until Your Audience Reach the Bottom of the Funnel

[00:25:38] Jan Ditchfield: No, it wasn’t. It wasn’t at all. I think it was a great example. Because again, I think it’s that true line. A lot of the time, I think we’re hearing again that in order for us to be successful in business, that we need as much good traffic as possible, fill our funnels up instead of focusing again on. If we’re very targeted with speaking to the right people from the start, we could get 5 closed sales versus 50 people who might come in and not a single one of them is the right one for us.

If you help Google bring somebody to the solution, the ultimate solution to their problem, it will reward you at the end of the day.

Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)

[00:26:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right, yeah, a hundred percent. I agree a hundred percent on that. And the other thing here is you might be thinking, some people might be thinking, well, if I just answer all these questions, where am I going to get a sale from? And the answer is if you help Google bring somebody to the solution, the ultimate solution to their problem, it will reward you at the end of the day.

[00:26:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, there are two things that are going to happen. Number one is you’ll get people coming to your website for the answer to how to bake a red, green, and orange cake. And you put on the side, here’s who we are, here’s what we do, here’s how we can potentially help you. 

[00:26:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They don’t click on the banner, it doesn’t matter. They seen your name and they understand who you are, what you do, and what you can potentially do for them. Then the next time they see your name, they remember it and they’ll trust you more, but also Google will see that you’ve helped them. And it will promote you in other results that it thinks you will be relevant to that person for.

[00:27:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to play the long game of saying, I need to help Google help its users. And in exchange, when that person gets to the bottom of the funnel, it will send them to me, as long as I have a page on my website that clearly offers them the solution to that end of funnel moment, bottom of funnel moment rather. So, the moment they need to buy your product, you need to have the page that sells that product, and that page needs to be super clear about exactly what you’re offering and to whom.

The Concept of E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness

[00:27:32] Jan Ditchfield: Would I be correct to assume that a blog might be something that all of us should be considering hosting on our website or having some form of a landing page that, again, where we can repurpose that content that we’re creating already in a way that’s actually going to help us?

[00:27:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Exactly. And you were talking about authority, and Google talks about experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. They call it E-E-A-T or Double E-A-T. And you need to prove to Google that you have experience, that you’re an expert, that you are authoritative, and that you’re trustworthy.

[00:28:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you can do that, Google is going to promote you more than the others. And I like the word credibility. Because out of two options with the same solution, it’s going to choose the most credible. So, you need to work on that experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. 

[00:28:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): How do you do that? Proving experience would be, for example, having a how to video where you show yourself exactly how something is done that demonstrates it both to your users and to Google each of these times. All Google is doing is saying you need to prove to us that you can actually provide this expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, and experience.

More About E-E-A-T, Engaging With Your Audience on Different Platforms, and Finally Satisfying Them

[00:28:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you’ve got expertise and experience, then you have authoritativeness. And that’s by the fact that your peers talk about you. So, you need to get peer interaction in your social media channels, link your social media channels back to your website. You can put quotes from your peers on your website. If they talk about you on their website, you link to that. They hopefully link back to you so that Google can see that they do indeed agree that you are an authority, that your peers respect you. 

[00:29:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then trustworthiness is all about your clients trusting you. So, that’s reviews, that’s user comments on your website, social engagement, the fact that your social channels are incredibly engaged and popular and full of people sharing stuff and liking, and so on and so forth. Which is why we come right back to the Brand SERP once again, you can see when Google understands that your Facebook page is actually valuable to your users because it will rank it when somebody googles your name.

[00:29:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, all of this is coming back to say, how can I demonstrate to Google that I can serve the subset of its users who are my audience? And the answer is by demonstrating that I engage with my audience and satisfy my audience on all the different platforms, and ultimately for the bottom of funnel on my website where I’m going to sell.

Some Advice From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Creating Content and Titles for a Blog

[00:30:05] Jan Ditchfield: Yeah. It’s interesting to hear you say. My brain thinks in the terms of funnels. I’ve always been, where is someone at, where am I moving them to? And that’s what this is. This is just such a very clear idea of this is where they’re at, this is where I want them to end up with me, these are the steps they need to take in that awareness journey.

[00:30:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Absolutely. And you mentioned a blog, and I forgot to answer that part of the question. Yes, have a blog. But I was looking at a client’s blog earlier on, and they had titles like, I can’t remember what it was, three tactics for writing a book or something like that.

[00:30:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If your target is getting traffic from Google, that is absolute rubbish because nobody’s going to search for that. So, if you write a title like that, you need to make sure that it’s your social media channels that are driving the traffic to that webpage. But if you write a blog post that says something along the lines of how to publish a book on Amazon or how you can publish a book on Amazon, that’s going to be much more effective because people actually search for that term.

Differentiating Between the Kind of Titles You Need to Use for Social Media and for Google

[00:31:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the biggest sin, I would say, in blogs that I see is people writing titles that work on social media and thinking Google is going to get it. Google doesn’t. So, you would have one title on social media that affects people with empathy and fun and silly things that just don’t work for Google.

[00:31:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I think one of the classic examples was a news story about an airplane accident. And one of them made a play on words and the other one was very much, plane crashes into the Hudson. And the plane crashes in the Hudson is the one that got all of the traffic from Google because it was pragmatic, because it was simple, because it explained exactly what it talked about.

[00:31:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, differentiate between social media where you need to be on and zany and a little bit different and attract people with empathy and humour and poetry, and Google where you need to be more pragmatic.

Google Is a Machine, So You Need to Be Pragmatic and Clear With Your Content for the Machine to Understand You 

[00:32:11] Jan Ditchfield: That’s interesting again. Because I think for my audience as well, we probably spent a lot of our time thinking that very pragmatic terms. Because again, coming from offline and day-to-day business and having maybe a bit more of that analytical side of things and being trained to think in the terms of hooks all the time, that we’re constantly searching for the hook and what’s the hook and what’s the hook because it’s social media based. But I’ve never thought about the fact that that doesn’t work for Google. I had no idea that that was not necessarily the right tactic to be doing. 

[00:32:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, right, a hundred percent. And turning a hook into something pragmatic that somebody would actually search for is relatively simple. It’s simply a question of changing the title. The content can be more or less the same. I would advise you to write it more pragmatically, once again, than you would on social media, but that doesn’t mean to say it has to be boring. It just needs to be clear. 

[00:33:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google is a machine, and it analyses the words, and it tries to understand. You were talking about keywords earlier on. It doesn’t count words in pages anymore. It takes the whole lot, and it tries to understand what’s being said, what’s the answer contained in this page. That’s what the guy from Bing told me. 

[00:33:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, think more of how can I express a) what the question is and b) that the answer is actually correct. Because it’s looking for the correct answer, not just any answer. So from that perspective, you’ve got a more pragmatic title, simpler, more pragmatic, clearer explanation of what the answer is. And you’re going to be more explicit about the fact that it is an answer to a question or a solution to the problem.

Google Discover, Google’s Recommendation Engine Which Is Becoming an Assistive Engine

[00:33:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you can look at the new opportunities, which is Google Discover. And if you don’t know Google Discover, it’s on your phone, an Android phone. If you swipe right, it shows you articles that it thinks you might be interested in. If you open up Chrome, underneath the search bar in Chrome, you’ll see some articles.

[00:34:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): This is Google’s recommendation engine, where it’s becoming an assistive engine. Where it doesn’t wait for you to ask for things, it suggests things that you might be interested in. So, it’s like social media. So, what it’s doing with me as a user, it’s saying, I understand what you’re interested in and here are some articles or some videos that I found that might interest you this morning. It’s my assistant, and it’s pushing things towards me that it thinks I might be interested in. 

[00:34:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, from your perspective as a publisher, you need to make sure that you are front and centre for Google for the topic that you deal with when it finds a user who would be interested in that topic naturally. That’s huge.

More Advice on How to Be a Credible Solution by Adding Reviews on Your Website as Third Party Corroboration 

[00:35:00] Jan Ditchfield: It is huge. Again, I feel like my entire world has just opened up to me listening to this. I’m like, guess what I’m going to be doing after this conversation? Going to my website and fixing things. 

[00:35:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Brilliant. And the really nice thing about it is it’s all branding and marketing, and I haven’t talked about anything geeky at all in this entire conversation. But yes, definitely, and I think that’s a really good point is I’ve gone off on all sorts of different angles.

The foundation is your website. Fix that, make it clear, make it clean, make it incredibly explicit about who you are, what you do, which audience you serve.

Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) 

[00:35:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The foundation is your website. Fix that, make it clear, make it clean, make it incredibly explicit about who you are, what you do, which audience you serve. And add to that, if possible, why you are the most credible solution. Don’t be ashamed to put a page of reviews that say, we are amazing, we are great. Google looks at it. Obviously, it’s looking for third party corroboration. It just doesn’t just believe you because you say it. 

[00:35:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if you’ve got reviews on Trustpilot or even Facebook or any other platform that it can verify, put them on your website. You’ll look credible. Google wants the best answer from the best provider of that answer for its users when they’re seeking to solve a problem or answer a question. Which is what we all do when we’re searching, is look for an answer to a question or a solution to a problem. And if you look at it that way around, everything becomes much easier.

What Are Some of the Common Mistakes That People Make When Trying to Optimise Their Google Results?

[00:36:24] Jan Ditchfield: Yeah. Well, it does, doesn’t it? What are some of the other common mistakes that you can see people making when they’re trying to optimise themselves on Google and trying to get higher up in the ranks? Beyond maybe not having a blog or beyond not necessarily having a website, which I also agree. I always talk about that. And if you don’t have a website, you don’t have a business, you need to have a website, no matter what you do. But do you see some common things that people do over and over again? 

[00:36:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Well, the number one is getting bogged down in technical stuff, don’t. You don’t need the geeky tech person to install the latest Schema Markup or the latest, fastest possible plugin for WordPress that makes your site 0.2 seconds faster.

[00:37:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You need a website reasonably fast. You need a website that’s accessible to users who have vision issues because Google is blind. But also because legally, you are now obliged to do that. You need accessibility. So, you would use something like Wix or Duda, which will make your website accessible right off the bat and it will be fast enough and the basic SEO is all done.

The Common Problem of Obsessing About the Technical Details That Don’t Matter at the End of the Day

[00:37:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, WordPress, I was talking to a friend of mine, Olesia Korobka, who was saying, well, WordPress looks like it’s going to die over the next few years because it’s so complicated to manage. And something like Duda or Wix is incredibly simple for us to manage. So, one thing I see is people obsessing about the technical details that don’t matter at the end of the day.

[00:37:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Another is people obsessing about the exact design of their website to the nearest pixel. Nobody cares. And what happens when you obsess about that tiny pixel or your busters is that you obsess about it, you change things, and you change the structure of the website that you are building. And it then becomes increasingly complicated over the years, because the person who’s developed it has had to change something inside, that then breaks two years down the line.

[00:38:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Whereas if you use something like Wix or Duda, I’m not advertising them in particular, it’s just two examples that I know of, you can’t do that. So, you end up with something that’s stable over time, but the downside for you is that you won’t have exactly what you want. 

[00:38:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I remember when I was a musician, we did five takes of the song. And I was obsessed by a note that I played in one of the versions of the songs that wasn’t quite right, absolutely obsessed. And the song editor said, you leave the room, we’re going to choose it, and you come back tomorrow. And he played it back and I couldn’t tell him which one, where the bomb note was. Today, I can’t remember which song I was so upset about. 

[00:39:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, always remember that those tiny details a) though only matter to you, nobody else in the band could hear it. And b) in a few years or a few days or few hours even, you probably won’t even notice it anymore when you haven’t got your base right up to it.

Another Problem Is Forgetting That Google Cares About Your Entire Digital Ecosystem Reflected on Your Brand SERP

[00:39:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the third problem that I see, and it’s ironic because we just said focus on your website because your website is the representation of your brand to Google, to Bing, to Apple, and to your audience. But the big mistake I then see is that people think, well, I’ll just focus on that because that’s all Google cares about. That’s not true. Google cares about your entire digital ecosystem, and that’s reflected in your Brand SERP. 

[00:39:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, once you’ve figured out your website, which should be number one, go through those results in the Google search result for your brand and improve them one by one. And it’s a really simple strategy, incredibly well organised and prioritised by Google.

Last Few Words From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) About Google’s Understanding and Educating These Machines 

[00:40:13] Jan Ditchfield: Yeah. Oh my goodness. This is amazing. I know it’s interesting because I’ve listened to you talk on a few of the shows, and I know before we started rolling here as well, you were like, I don’t want to be too technical of things. But again, I think, for me, I’ve always felt that if we don’t master the back end of our business, we’ll never actually be the masters at the front end of a business. 

[00:40:34] Jan Ditchfield: And we tend to forget about doing things that are deemed to be maybe a little bit not as much fun or as exciting as systems and process and SEO and all of the things that really truly matter. But when we see them and the way that you’ve explained it, it’s so systematic and really easy to understand.

Jason Barnard on Learning How to Explain Optimising Brand SERPs to People Without Obsessing Over the Geeky Parts 

[00:40:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s taken me a long time to figure this out, and I’ve come from the geeky world of SEO, and I’ve explained it very badly for many years because I was explaining it to other geeks. And talking to people like you, Jan, is I then learn to explain it in the way that I just have. 

[00:41:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And in fact, the content of what I’m saying is exactly the same. It’s just, I’m not using the same vocabulary. And I’m leaving out the geeky parts that people obsess about, that actually at the end of the day, for the most part, are not important. And you can, generally speaking, get together a plan where you don’t even need them, that they’re not part of your strategy. 

[00:41:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if we look at it, it’s truly saying, if I’m producing content that truly serves my audience, that truly engages my audience, that solves a problem or answers a question for my audience, and then I can present it to Google in a pragmatic, simple, and clear manner, then I’m doing my job. And all I’m doing is getting Google’s users to the solution to their problem, helping Google. And when you help Google, Google will then help you.

The Importance of Consistency for Google’s Understanding and Confidence in That Understanding 

[00:42:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one thing that I think most people underestimate is consistency. And it’s not just consistency of content production. It’s consistency of how you write, it’s consistency of what you’re saying, it’s consistency of sticking to your niche, and it’s consistency of the information about you all around the web. 

[00:42:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s what we do at Kalicube. We work for our clients to ensure that their website is incredibly well optimised for Google to explain who they are, what they do, which audience they serve, and why they’re credible. And then we work to make sure their entire digital footprint is consistent with that same message. That’s the key. 

[00:42:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s lots of tiny, tiny, tiny details. It’s a lot of work. But once you get that consistency, Google understands, it’s confident in its understanding, and you have a huge competitive advantage. Because you bet your bottom dollar that your competition aren’t doing that, your competition aren’t being consistent across the board.

[00:43:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I love to say Google’s confidence in its understanding about who you are, what you offer to whom, and that you are credible is the foundation of absolutely everything that’s about to come. And I would argue, for Kalicube at least, it already is. We’re seeing immense success without SEO, just by being consistent, being on message, working towards helping our audience with their problems, and Google is pushing us to the front.

The Future of These Engines and How Kalicube Educates Them Like Children

[00:43:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And you’ve heard about ChatGPT, I’m sure. Google had just given me access to Bard as well. So, I’ve got access to GPT on Bing and on Bard. Bing say they’re better. It’s true. But Bing, when I use ChatGPT on Bing, represent my brand the way I want. And when you ask a question on Bing about my brand, it explains in four or five paragraphs. You ask about another brand, it’s a couple of small paragraphs. 

[00:44:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Because it’s understood, and it’s confident in that understanding, and it’s willing to share more with its user. So, that’s another huge win for the future. Not huge today, but certainly if Bing and Bard can’t represent your brand correctly, it’s because they don’t understand. If they don’t understand, they won’t be able to discuss and exchange with their users to bring them to the solution to the problem, which is what this chat technology is all about. 

[00:44:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s saying, we’re going to bring the user from the initial question right down the funnel. And ultimately, Fabrice Canel, who’s the program manager for Bingbot, said, ultimately we hope to get people to that last click, which is, I want to buy. So, you need to educate these machines.

[00:44:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And we talk about it all the time at Kalicube. Educate the machines like they’re children. You only need to educate them about your tiny little corner of the internet about who you are, but also what you offer, who your audience is, and educate them about your niche, and stick to your niche because you can’t serve outside that niche. There’s no point. 

[00:45:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And back here, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business is the book I wrote, which explains this as a global strategy with lots of handy hints of specific things you can do along the way.

How Can People Connect With Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)? 

[00:45:17] Jan Ditchfield: Amazing. If someone wanted to work with you or to get deeper into your world, how can people connect with you, Jason? 

[00:45:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, our website is Kalicube.com. You can also just search Kalicube, and it will show you our site, where we’ve got loads of free resources. And this is the thing, none of this is secret. I’m sharing everything we learn with everybody because this is useful to absolutely every person, absolutely every business, every music group, every film, every product.

[00:45:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We can’t possibly serve everybody. So, if I share this with everybody, the people who have particularly difficult, thorny problems will come to us. All the rest of you, do it yourself, absolutely fine. Buy the book. You can do it yourself. Come onto the Kalicube.com website. You’ll get all the resources there, so you can understand and you can do it yourself. We’ve got courses, the Kalicube Academy where you pay us, unfortunately for you, but fortunately for us, to learn to do it yourself. 

[00:46:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you’re interested in my life as a blue dog, see behind me here, or a punk folk musician, you can search Jason Barnard and find lots of stuff, me singing children’s songs and playing punk folk with the double bass on my head.

[00:46:41] Jan Ditchfield: Thank you so much for being here today. I think you just made me fall in love with Google. This was a wonderful conversation. 

[00:46:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a lovely quote, Jan. Thanks. 

[00:46:48] Jan Ditchfield: Thank you. 

[00:46:51] Jan Ditchfield: Thanks for joining me on this episode of No BS Business School. If you’ve enjoyed the show and you’d like to help support the podcast, please subscribe on your player of choice and leave a rating and a review. To catch all the latest from me, you can follow me on Instagram @janditchfield.co. Until next time, keep it real.

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