Jason Barnard explains that to prosper with SEO in 2023, you should treat Google like a child and make sure that you are educating that child about who you are and what you do.
[00:00:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Hi, I’m Jason Barnard, and this is SEO in 2023.
SEO Tip From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) for 2023: Treat Google Like a Child and Learn to Educate It
[00:00:11] David Bain: Jason, what is your number one SEO tip for 2023?
[00:00:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): My number one SEO tip for 2023 is to treat Google like a child. It’s a child that wants to learn, and we need to learn to educate the child that is Google.
[00:00:27] David Bain: And what kind of child is Google?
[00:00:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google has the Knowledge Graph. And the Knowledge Graph is basically a massive encyclopedia of knowledge that the machine Google can use. And if we look at it from a child’s perspective, the child is trying to learn everything about everything in the world. And our jobs as SEOs is to teach this child about the small corner of the internet that we are interested in. We need to teach it who we are, what we do, and who our audience is.
In Terms of Brands, What Kind of Education and Nourishment Does Google Need to Effectively Learn?
[00:00:57] David Bain: So, what kind of education and nourishment does Google the child need to learn as effectively as possible about our brands?
[00:01:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): In terms of brands, the thing that Google needs to understand the best is the entity. So, it’s entity understanding. Koray Gubur talks about Entity Identity. And Google’s understanding and its confidence in that understanding is the foundation stone of absolutely everything you do in SEO from A to Z. And E-A-T is terribly, terribly fashionable at the moment.
[00:01:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if you think about E-A-T, expertise, authoritative, and trustworthiness, there are signals for that. If Google understands who you are, then it can apply the signals fully. If it has to guess who you are, then it can only apply them in a dampened manner, let’s say. So, being in Google’s Knowledge Graph, it means that Google is fully and explicitly understood who you are. And any E-A-T signals that you are working on will be applied fully.
[00:02:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I would suggest that entity understanding and your Entity Identity in Google’s mind is the single most important thing in SEO, not only in 2023, but for the 10, 20 years to come.
What Are Some of the Initial Things You Could Do to Increase Google’s Understanding and Confidence of Your Brand?
[00:02:14] David Bain: So if you were launching a new brand next week, what would be some of the initial things that you would do to increase Google’s confidence and understanding of who you are as a brand, as an entity, as quickly as possible?
[00:02:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s exactly what we do at Kalicube. And we have the Kalicube Pro platform that I built with my own little hands, which is basically a way of analysing how Google learns and where it gets its knowledge from. And what’s interesting is it gets its knowledge for each entity from different sources. So, you can’t just say this specific source is always going to be a source that works. You need to look at each entity.
[00:02:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, from that perspective, if you have a need or we all have a need for Google to understand who we are, what we do, and who our audience is, the place to start is your own website. I call it the Entity Home. It’s a page on your website that represents your entity.
[00:03:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Google calls it the point of reconciliation. John Mueller talks about reconciliation a great deal. And the idea that Google needs your version of the facts on a page, on a site that you own, so that when it goes around the web and finds all of the fragmented information about you, it can understand how all that information fits together from your own explanation.
Identify the Entity Home, Write a Clear Description, Corroborate Across the Web, Then Use Schema Markup to Communicate to Google
[00:03:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the first thing to do is to identify the Entity Home. The second thing to do is to write a clear description that Google can understand. And we at Kalicube Pro use Google’s own NLP to analyse the text, to understand. Does it explicitly understand the entities in your text? You then place that on the Entity Home. And Google will then have your description of who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. And then you spread that description across the web as confirmation, corroboration. And then from the Entity Home, you point to that corroboration using either links or Schema Markup.
[00:04:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s an interesting point. Schema Markup is the thing. It’s fashionable, like E-A-T, but the most important thing is the Entity Home. The second most important thing is the description. The third most important thing is the corroboration around the web on relevant, authoritative sources. Schema Markup is simply supporting all of that. It’s a way to communicate those three things to Google in its native language, let’s say, so that Google can fully understand and explicitly understand where the Entity Home is, who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, and where to find the correct corroboration.
All About Establishing the Entity Home: A Specific Single Page That Represents the Entity
[00:04:43] David Bain: Great summary there. So, when you talk about Entity Home, are you talking about a specific page, such as an About Us page on your website? Are you talking about your domain name, your site in general?
[00:04:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s a specific page, one single page that represents the entity. So, yes, ideally it would be an About Us page for a company. Unfortunately, as you would expect, Google tends to default to the homepage. But if you start working on Google’s understanding of your entity early enough, you can actually get it to use the About page as the Entity Home, which is preferable.
[00:05:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Because your homepage already plays the role of being the representation of the website, a web page in and of itself. And it’s also that incredibly important landing page for your audience when they come to your website. So if you can get the Entity Home to be an About page, that’s much, much better. But if Google has already chosen the homepage, you really have to go with Google.
The Effect on Your Brand SERP of Using Your About Page as Your Entity Home
[00:05:36] David Bain: But if you’ve focused on the About Us page as your Entity Home, does that mean that there’s a chance that your About Us page may be the number one result in the organic SERP as well for your brand or are those not linked at all?
[00:05:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, they’re not linked at all, in the sense that Google will always understand that the homepage is the correct one to put at the top of the SERP for a search on your brand name. However, what will happen is the About page will appear in the Rich Sitelinks just underneath.
[00:06:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you don’t run any danger of the About page dominating the homepage in terms of Google search results, but you do want it to dominate in terms of where Google looks for the information from the horse’s mouth, as it were, your explanation of who you are, what you do, and who your audience is.
[00:06:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I would argue that most brands tend to sit back and say, Google gets it, Google understands, I’ll just leave it to Google. And that’s so foolish. Google obviously understands a great deal. At best, it will understand reasonably well. At worst, it will get it all wrong, and we see many instances of that. But the other important thing is confidence, and that’s vastly underrated. You have Google’s understanding is one thing, very, very important. But it’s confidence in that understanding is the single biggest insurance that you have, that any future Google update isn’t going to hit you in a negative manner.
Effective Writing Tips for Your Brand Description From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:07:01] David Bain: You talk about Google getting it all wrong, and you also mentioned that you have to write in a way that makes it easy for Google to understand what you’re about. So, what’s an example, maybe some phraseology of the most effective way to write? And perhaps, what’s an example of a way that many brands write about who they are and what they do in a way that just doesn’t work well for Google?
[00:07:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The way that brands and people tend to write about themselves that makes it difficult for Google is that they talk about where they started. I was born in 1966, or my company was formed in 2015, and then move forwards. And the problem with that is that what’s at the top is the most important. And what you want Google to do is start with what’s most important, i.e. what’s happening today, why are your audience looking for you today.
[00:07:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): In terms of writing tips, semantic triples are incredibly powerful. It sounds complicated. Dawn Anderson explained this to me years ago. And it’s basically just subject-verb-object. Keeping those semantic triples as close as you can so that Google can easily get a grip on what you are saying. So, “Jason Barnard founded Kalicube” is a semantic triple, where Jason Barnard and Kalicube are two entities, and founded gives them that relationship. So, making sure that you’re writing in that clear manner is incredibly important to Google.
Being Clear and Concise, Mentioning Related Entities, and Considering the Perspective of Google and Clients
[00:08:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing is to name related entities within your text, but it has to be incredibly relevant related entities. And as long as you are doing that and you are being clear and you’re being concise and you’re writing in a way that a machine can understand, you’re going to be fine.
[00:08:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think when I say writing in a way that a machine can understand, it’s just remembering that the machine doesn’t have a sense of humour, it doesn’t have a sense of irony, it doesn’t have a sense of poetry, and it doesn’t have a real understanding of culture. So, something like our mission statement is typically something that brands do that isn’t helpful to Google.
[00:09:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I would actually say for a lot of users and a lot of people who are using or wanting to do business with these companies, it doesn’t really make sense. I think as a customer or a potential customer, I want to know what you can do for me. I want to know what problems you can solve for me. And that’s what Google is looking for too. So, I would argue that being clear to Google is actually helpful as well for users.
How Do You Measure If You Have a Great Description and Google Better Understands You?
[00:09:29] David Bain: Okay. So, you’ve formatted your About Us texts, your description of what you do as a brand to be more friendly to Google. How do you actually measure if you’ve been successful with that and Google actually better understands what you do now?
[00:09:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a really great question. There are a couple of ways of looking at this, and one is the Brand SERP, the search engine results page for your exact match brand. And what you will see is that the better it understands you, the more that Brand SERP will represent the brand message that you have been projecting to your users, both on your site and around the web.
[00:10:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the second is the Knowledge Panel. If a Knowledge Panel triggers when somebody searches your brand name, that indicates that not only is Google understood who you are and what you do, but it’s also incredibly confident in that information, because it only shows the Knowledge Panel if it’s confident in its understanding.
Kalicube Can Help You Track Your Brand SERP and Knowledge Panel as a Form of Measurement for Google’s Understanding and Confidence
[00:10:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, what we do at Kalicube Pro is we track both the Brand SERP and the Knowledge Panel. And we have a measurement system to see how stable they both are, how rich they both are, how representative they both are. And also, we’re developing now a measurement that we’re going to release at the end of the year to measure how Google’s confidence in its understanding is progressing.
[00:10:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s going to be really exciting to be able to look at, not only has it understood, but is it 40% confident? Is it 50% confident? Is it 70% confident? Because that confidence in that understanding, as I said earlier on, is your insurance. It’s your safety harness for every single Google update that we’ll be seeing in the next few years.
The Different Scenarios and Factors to Consider for the Knowledge Panel’s Existence and Appearance
[00:11:06] David Bain: So, how contextual are Knowledge Panels and when they appear? Because obviously, if you start a search for certain brands, it can mean different things in different places at different times, depending on who’s searching, depending on your own search history and desires, as well as locations. So, are there many different scenarios when Knowledge Panels wouldn’t appear?
[00:11:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. There are loads and loads of different aspects to this. It’s a really great question because you’ve got the ambiguity. Will it show a Knowledge Panel or not? If your brand name is ambiguous or your personal name is ambiguous, that becomes a huge problem.
[00:11:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Another one is geo, as you said. I use Mary Moore as an example. In Australia, it’s a judge. In America, it’s Mary Tyler Moore. And in the UK, it’s Mary Moore, who is Henry Moore’s daughter. So, the geo makes a massive difference.
Besides Ambiguity and Geo, Another Factor in Triggering Knowledge Panels is Google’s Confidence in Its Understanding
[00:11:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then Google’s confidence in its understanding makes a big difference. A lot of brands and a lot of people have Knowledge Panels. They simply don’t know it because they’ve never seen it. But the reason they haven’t seen it is simply because Google isn’t confident enough to show it or hasn’t got enough information in order to show it.
[00:12:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the Knowledge Panel in and of itself is based on Google’s understanding, its confidence in the understanding, and the probability that the user who is searching for that term, that entity is actually looking for that specific entity. For example, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business, which is my book, which I have here.
[00:12:43] David Bain: It’s great, for podcast listeners.
[00:12:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It is great, isn’t it? It’s the video though. Now appears for the term Brand SERP. So, the book now represents the concept of Brand SERPs. And what we are now seeing is that Google is starting to push Knowledge Panels into search results that represent the topic itself, which is very interesting from a marketing point of view.
Lastly, Your Search History Affects What You See in the Knowledge Panel Because Google Is Session-Based
[00:13:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the last point I was thinking about, in fact you mentioned it and I didn’t want to forget it, was search history. And what’s really, really interesting about Knowledge Panels, if you’re in that geeky Knowledge Panel space like I am, is that the search history within a search session or within a session is going to have a massive effect on what you see in the Knowledge Panel. But with a new session, you’re going to revert to whatever it was to start with. So, it’s very much session based.
[00:13:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one thing I think we often forget, and I only really thought about this the other day, is that I’ve got a laptop computer. I just close it and then open it the next day. And in effect for Google, if I’ve left the Google search result open, that’s still the same session the next day. So, we get this idea we’re getting this incredible personalised experience, but it’s actually still session based.
[00:13:59] David Bain: And I just want to say to the audio listeners, Jason’s book is The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business. You can get it in any good bookseller, but I’ve just seen it on a big popular website with 29 very positive reviews. So, good job.
[00:14:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, great stuff. And this is also going to be a book, if I understand correctly.
What Is Something That SEOs Should Not Do in 2023 According to Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?
[00:14:20] David Bain: It is indeed. Last year, it was called SEO in 2022. This year, funny enough, SEO in 2023. Jason, you have shared what SEOs should be doing in 2023. So, now let’s talk about what SEOs shouldn’t be doing. What’s something that’s seductive in terms of time, but ultimately hinder productive? What’s something that SEOs shouldn’t be doing in 2023?
[00:14:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Still on the same subject, I’m not going to change topic. In terms of getting into Google’s Knowledge Graph, getting that understanding of who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, don’t go the Wiki road. If you use Wikipedia, Wikidata, or one of the pseudo Wikis who are out there, you have multiple problems. One of which is you’re handing control of your brand message to anonymous Wiki admins.
[00:15:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But the other huge problem is that if the article is deleted, recreating a Knowledge Panel is 10 times more difficult than it is to create one without a Wiki in the first place. So, my tip is avoid Wikis as much as you possibly can, build your Knowledge Panel through your own capacity to educate this child that is Google, and keep control of your own brand message.
[00:15:31] David Bain: Very interesting indeed. Jason Barnard is the founder at Kalicube.com. Jason, thanks so much for being part of SEO in 2023.
[00:15:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s an absolute pleasure, David. Thank you so much.
[00:15:43] David Bain: Get your copy of SEO in 2023 the book over at seoin2023.com.