Jason Barnard – How to dominate in Google with Branded SEO
In this episode of the Inbound4Cast Jason Barnard from Kalicube talks about how and why to dominate Google with your branded SEO results.
– Why is branded SEO important if you are already ranking #1?
– Why is branded SEO so important for B2B companies?
– What is the role of entities in branded SEO?
– How do you create strong entities for SEO?
– What are KPI’s for branded SEO?
– Why should you get a knowledge panel?
– How do you get a knowledge panel?
– Where to start with branded SEO?
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[00:00:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): How clear, clean, and obvious is my digital ecosystem? Is it a mess, yes or no? And that’s for people or for companies or even for products. And if you think that it’s perfect, think again, check it, start cleaning it up. Because that messy digital ecosystem that you are presenting to Google and indeed to your audience is a huge, huge problem for Google’s understanding, your SEO. But also, what does your audience think as they go around the web, seeing all of these different messy messages that don’t fit together? And then they come to your website and you say something completely different. Huge problem from every perspective.
[00:00:42] Narrator: This is the Inbound4Cast, a podcast series about inbound marketing and organic growth for B2B companies. Here’s your host, Jerrel Arkes.
A Short Introduction About the Past and Current Life of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:01:04] Jerrel Arkes: Hi, Jason. Welcome to my show. We are talking today about branded SEO. But before we start, maybe you can give a short introduction of yourself.
[00:01:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Hi, Jerrel. Lovely to see you. Thank you for having me on the show. Very brief history of Jason Barnard, born in North Yorkshire in the Yorkshire Dales in the middle of the countryside, went to Liverpool University, the bad one, not the good one, went to Paris, learned to play double bass, joined a punk folk band, moved to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, created a cartoon for kids with my ex-wife, created a TV series that my daughter acted in. Me, my wife, my daughter, and a friend of ours did all the voices. Then moved back to France, became a digital marketer specialising in Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels.
Jason Barnard’s Journey in Changing How Google Presented Him From His Previous Career to Being in the SEO Industry
[00:01:55] Jerrel Arkes: And when I google you, I see a lot of different things, not only SEO.
[00:02:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And it’s been a huge advantage in my career, my latest career, that I specialise in what Google shows when your audience googles your name or your brand name. And it all started because when you googled my name, it came up with the punk folk musician, the blue dog. And I wanted it to come up with Jason Barnard as a professional digital marketer that you want to work with.
[00:02:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, I set about changing the way that Google presented me. And it took me about 3 months. And 10 years later, I’m still working on it, I’m still enjoying it. And that’s the astonishing thing. As an experienced SEO, I thought 3 months, job done. And it was. It was pretty good. But after 3 months, I suddenly realised how much deeper this rabbit hole is, how much more you can do, and how incredibly influential the Brand SERP is on the rest of the digital ecosystem. And now with Entity SEO, the Knowledge Panel becomes incredibly important as well.
[00:02:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I’ve now come to the conclusion. Focusing on your Brand SERP, what Google shows when your audience googles your name or your brand name, and your Knowledge Panel basically mean you build up an astonishingly good digital marketing strategy and an astonishing SEO strategy by default.
In the SEO World, Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Is the Only One Focusing on the Niche of Brand SERPs
[00:03:13] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. And it’s a very interesting niche. I think you are one of the only ones who’s doing this.
[00:03:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I think I’m the only one actually.
[00:03:19] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. I don’t know another person who’s doing this.
[00:03:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I think a lot of people do it from a perspective of online reputation management. And that’s when you get a problem, something bad on your Brand SERP. You freak out, and you try and get rid of it, and you pay $10,000 a month to get rid of it for a year, and it still doesn’t disappear. Because the people who are doing that come from PR and legal, and I’m coming in from SEO. So, basically, I’m communicating with Google, educating Google.
[00:03:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, we, at Kalicube, can do it much more effectively and make sure that Google represents your brand narrative. So, it’s proactive ORM. When you don’t actually have a reputation problem, but you want to make yourself look more credible to your audience when they google your brand name or your personal name, but also make sure Google thinks you’re great. If Google is showing bad results or imperfect results even on your Brand SERP, it’s misunderstood you. It doesn’t think you’re as credible as you think you are. You have to convince it.
The Importance of Optimising Brand SERPs and Managing Knowledge Panels for B2B Companies and Other Businesses
[00:04:18] Jerrel Arkes: This podcast is for B2B companies, and it’s about organic growth. And I think for a lot of B2B companies, SEO is very important. But for a lot of them, it’s mainly branded. So, I think for my audience, this is very interesting because they all see maybe SEO is responsible for, let’s say, 50% or 60% of all the leads. But I think in a lot of cases, 90% of debt is branded.
[00:04:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Especially in B2B, people won’t do business with you until they trust you. And they don’t trust you until they’ve researched you. And to research you, they’re more than likely going to google your brand name and probably the name of the founder or the CEO or other people within the company. So, building up that trust, building up that confidence is incredibly important.
[00:05:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one thing that strikes me is we use Google as users because we trust it. So if Google gives its stamp of approval by giving you a Knowledge Panel, giving you a great Brand SERP, your users, your audience are going to be really impressed. Somebody said this to me the other day, tighten up the bottom-of-the-funnel with a great Brand SERP.
Google as an Independent Source of Confirmation About a Brand’s Credibility and Message Around the Web
[00:05:34] Jerrel Arkes: I think in a lot of cases for B2B, there’s a lot of demand generation and building a brand. And then after 1 year or 2 years, people start googling for the brand name. And then I think they want the confirmation of what they already think of the company. And if the result is very bad and they see things they don’t want to see, maybe they don’t want to do business with the company.
[00:05:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But even if it isn’t necessarily bad, you said they want confirmation of what they’ve already learned from the brand. But they want confirmation from an independent source, and that independent source is Google. So, you need to make sure that whatever shows when somebody googles your brand name to research you at the end, to check on your credibility, the message that’s being projected to that audience is the same as the message you’ve been projecting all around the web.
[00:06:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that’s what we do at Kalicube. We take everything you’re already saying. And we package it for Google, so Google understands and Google can represent you the way that you represent yourself already across all those other channels.
Optimising Brand SERPs and Managing Knowledge Panels Goes Much Deeper Than Ranking Number One in Google
[00:06:34] Jerrel Arkes: But I think something you must hear a lot is that people think, well, I’m ranking number one for my brand name, so why should I do it? What is your response?
[00:06:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, no, I hear that all the time, especially from SEOs. A lot of people don’t understand that it goes much deeper than that. For example, if I’ve been interacting with you on LinkedIn and I see LinkedIn just under your result, that reassures me. If I see Twitter and I’ve been interacting with you on Twitter, that reassures me. If I see some great reviews further down the page, that reassures me. Most important of all, if I see a Knowledge Panel on the right hand side, that reassures me.
[00:07:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If I see a Google Business Profile, I think you’re a tiny company. If I don’t see anything, it seems like, let’s say, a naked Brand SERP, you need a Knowledge Panel. And if you have a Knowledge Panel and it’s small, you look small. And if it’s big with lots of information in it and it looks equivalent to IBM, you look as big as IBM. That’s huge.
The Idea of Entity Equivalents for the Associations Google Is Making About You or Your Brand
[00:07:38] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. And what I hear you saying is that it’s not just your website and a Knowledge Panel, but also your social profiles, maybe some websites that you contribute to with content. So, guest logs, things like that, or profiles on our websites.
[00:07:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then who does Google associate you with? If you look at the Knowledge Panel again or even Entity Boxes on the left hand side, if I’m a person, which I am, and it puts Cindy Krum, Joost de Valk, Kevin Indig, then I’m immediately associated with other well known SEOs. If it puts my mother or my sister, I look like a family person with no professional ties. Google will try to put what it finds most relevant there.
[00:08:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you have two things. Number one is what company does Google think you keep as a company, as a person, i.e. who does it associate you with? Who are the best equivalents? We call them at Kalicube Entity Equivalents. And we work super hard to figure out who are your Entity Equivalents, i.e. same industry, same entity type, same geo region.
Entities, Relationship Between Entities, and Winning the Google Game
[00:08:52] Jerrel Arkes: Maybe we should do one step back and start with what is an entity? What do you mean with entity?
[00:08:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. An entity is a thing. It’s a named thing. So, I am an entity, Jason Barnard. There are multiple Jason Barnards around the world. Each one is a named entity, and each one is specific. You are an entity. This show is an entity. My company Kalicube is an entity. Google is looking to understand the world like humans do by looking at things and saying, I recognise that thing, I recognise that specific thing, and I can associate it with other specific things. So, the fact that I’ve been on this show means there’s a relationship between Jason Barnard and Jerrel Arkes. Is that right, the name?
[00:09:36] Jerrel Arkes: That’s right.
[00:09:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And there is therefore an indirect relationship between Kalicube and Jerrel Arkes. And Google is understanding the world that way. It’s called a Knowledge Graph. And if we want to win the Google game today, we need to approach Google from that perspective, educating it about who we are, what we do, and which audience we serve. But getting it to understand like a human would, rather than getting it to count words in a page.
Some Examples of B2B Entities and Associations According to Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:10:05] Jerrel Arkes: Indeed. Yeah. I have a SEO background myself, but I think a lot of the listeners of this podcast are more broad B2B marketers. If you have to give them examples of B2B entities that you can think of, so you mentioned a few, people, companies, podcasts, maybe a service or a product that you sell.
[00:10:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. An interesting thing is Kalicube is an entity. It’s a company. Google associates Kalicube with Jason Barnard because I’m the owner and founder and CEO. It associates us with WordLift, who are an Italian company that we work with. We have a partnership with them. They build Knowledge Graphs for companies. It associates us with Authoritas because we have a partnership with them. It associates us with Yoast because we’ve worked with them in the past. It associates me with Rand Fishkin.
What Tools Can You Use to Check and Analyse Associations Between Entities?
[00:11:03] Jerrel Arkes: What do you do to check the associations?
[00:11:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We have a tool in Kalicube, where we use our algorithms to understand how Google’s algorithms map the world, as it were. So, Google has multiple ways we can do this. One of which is just looking at the Google results and analysing the ones that we know represent knowledge against those that represent keyword counting.
[00:11:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other is using Google’s Knowledge Graph API, which we record every day. We record about 700,000 entities every day from Google’s Knowledge Graph, and we have that data going back 7 years. So, we know how Google’s Knowledge Graph has evolved, how its understanding of the world has evolved.
Link Building, Getting a Stronger Entity, and Machine Learning
[00:11:46] Jerrel Arkes: And I can imagine that Google wants as many sources as they can get to get maybe confirmation that an entity is really the entity they think that it is. So, can you compare it a bit maybe with link building, that you can always get more and be a stronger entity?
[00:12:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes, in the sense that you can build more and be a stronger entity. There are many similarities. There are many parallels between them. One thing, coming back a very small step, is Google wants a maximum number of sources, but it started with Wikipedia, Wikidata, Freebase. But it goes beyond that, IMDb, Music Brainz, Spotify, Rotten Tomatoes, all of these sites that are human curated. And it used that data to train the machine to learn to learn. So, the machine now understands how key is learning to learn, which I love as a concept.
[00:12:43] Jerrel Arkes: Oh, sorry, the connection was gone for a second, but I hear you again.
[00:12:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the machine is learning to learn using Wikipedia, Wikidata, Crunchbase, IMDb, Spotify, Music Brainz as the foundation, but now it’s learning from incredibly niche, authoritative, trustworthy sources on a per entity basis. So, the sources for me would be different to the sources to you, even though we are more or less in the same industry. That’s huge.
Measuring the Strength of Relationships between Entities by Checking Their KPIs
[00:13:15] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. I think you are, for example, a much stronger entity than I am because you do a lot of activities to become a strong entity. But can you measure that? Do you have a KPI to check how strong of an entity I am and how strong you are?
[00:13:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. We’ve got a couple of measurements. We started off with Google’s own Knowledge Graph API measurement, but that’s very limited from multiple perspectives. It isn’t because you aren’t in the main Knowledge Graph, that it hasn’t understood you. It understands you to a certain level, but you have to be at a particular level to get in there. So, you can’t, using that system, measure the entities that aren’t quite there yet, but not quite being there yet doesn’t mean to say you are not in the game.
[00:14:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, we have another KPI internal to Kalicube that we measure using all of the different data points that we’ve got to measure how strong you are. And we can build you up step by step from being not understood at all or a little bit understood to being incredibly well understood, and as you said, incredibly confident in that understanding in Google’s mind.
[00:14:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think one thing that most people in Entity SEO, most people dealing with entities in Google underestimate is that understanding is one thing. Getting the Knowledge Panel, easy. Getting the Knowledge Panel to stick, filling it with information, very difficult, because it all depends on confidence. It can understand me, but how confident is it in that understanding? And it’s the confidence that will drive your control over what appears in the Knowledge Panel and what appears on the left hand side in your Brand SERP.
SEO on Becoming More Topic Focused: Google Needs to Confidently Understand Who You Are, What You Do, and Which Audience You Serve
[00:14:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it also heavily influences how well you’re going to perform in SEO over the next few years, because SEO is more and more topic focused. So when I say Google needs to understand confidently who you are, what you do, which audience you serve, that which audience you serve is topicality. What you offer is what you can offer them, what you can propose to them. And who you are, are you a credible solution as a company or a person? That’s fundamentally important.
[00:15:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what we’ve seen at Kalicube is we’ve built up an FAQ section about our core topic, which is Brand SERPs, Knowledge Panels, Google’s algorithms. And we can outrank Neil Patel, we can outrank Search Engine Journal, and we have no links.
Google’s Understanding of Relationships: Mentions, Links, and Associations
[00:15:44] Jerrel Arkes: That’s very interesting, the no link part.
[00:15:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. So, it comes back to what you were saying earlier on. Relationships between entities becomes a pseudo link.
[00:15:57] Jerrel Arkes: So, what you’re also saying is that becoming a strong entity, it’s like link building. It’s a way to get to become an authority, to get more authority without getting links.
[00:16:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And the thing about a link is you can point to it and say, that’s a link. The thing with understanding and confidence in Google’s understanding of relationships is sometimes it will be a mention, sometimes it will be a link, sometimes it will be an association that it makes. So, it becomes much more philosophical and very difficult to measure and track.
Kalicube Can Track Mentions and Links and Measure Associations That Google Is Making
[00:16:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And at Kalicube, we actually have a tool that tracks all of this, of course. We can’t track it perfectly because you can’t track what’s inside Google’s, let’s say, brain, which is its Knowledge Graph or multiple Knowledge Graphs in an actual fact. But you can measure the associations it’s making and to what point they are sticking. And that’s an important point.
[00:16:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): An association it makes today can die very quickly. Some associations start, stick, and grow. And some start, fade, and die. And you’ve got to be really careful to focus on the ones that are going to grow or that have grown. And our system of Entity Equivalents is to say, who are your competitors? Same entity type, same geo region, same industry. We’ll track them, and we’ll figure out which of their relationships are growing, which ones are fading. And we’ll focus on those that are growing for you.
Jason Barnard’s Advice to SEO Specialists About Link Building and Getting More ROI
[00:17:24] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. So, let’s say that I work for a very big brand, and they have a lot of authority from the link perspective, but you can compare it to their competitors. It’s about the same. When you already have a big authority, it can be very hard to keep increasing it. So, what would you say to SEO specialists who are thinking of that? But they can also spend their time on this part, because I think most companies haven’t done this part yet. Where can they get more ROI?
[00:18:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): In fact, what you can do is not transpose directly, but you can use that link building authority or the link authority that you already got and pick out the good ones and work them into Google’s brain, because the links are being counted by one algorithm. And the knowledge is something else. The knowledge will use the links, but it’s only going to select the ones that it’s really interested in.
[00:18:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the trick there will be to say, we’ve got this massive backlink profile. Which ones are important? Which ones can we leverage for the knowledge aspect? And once again, at Kalicube, I’ve built this mad machine. It’s really cool. And we click a button, in 10 minutes, we’re going to have all of the important knowledge links for you.
How Can You Start Using Kalicube Pro as a Platform, How Does It Work, and What Is Its Price?
[00:18:43] Jerrel Arkes: How does it work, the software? Because I think this is interesting for a lot of SEO or marketing teams, and I don’t think a lot of them are already using it. So, how can I start? How does it work? What is the pricing?
[00:18:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): In order to use Kalicube Pro, you need to be an agency. We don’t do one-on-ones. So, Kalicube, we use it as our own agency, as it were, for a done-for-service. So if a founder or a company comes to us and says, I want you to build me a Knowledge Panel or manage my Brand SERP, then we will do it with our Kalicube Pro team led by Allyssa. And she’s absolutely brilliant with it because she knows how to use it. I built it. She knows how to use it better than I do, which is wonderful.
[00:19:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And we then say, if you’re an agency and you want to do this for your clients, come on board. And we charge $2,400 a year for the subscription, and then $60 per entity per month. And that includes tracking, analysis, mention tracking on a weekly basis, active mention tracking, i.e. those that Google are paying attention to. It provides you with the Schema Markup needed to build the Knowledge Panel. It provides you with Brand SERP analysis.
Besides Kalicube’s Other Offers, They Can Also Provide Training and Consultancy Based on Jason Barnard’s Experiences
[00:19:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And we provide you with training. We’ve got 12 hours of training videos that you get access to, and then you get 3 hours of consultancy with me for free. And the reason I offer 3 hours of consultancy is because many cases are very simple. And it’s a question of following our simple Kalicube process. It’s three simple steps that any SEO would be able to do. And every now and then, you hit something…
[00:20:22] Jerrel Arkes: Oh, no, sorry, continue.
[00:20:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Every now and then, we all hit something unusual or difficult. I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I’ve seen it all. And so, that consultancy allows me to help our agencies help their clients. The more they help their clients, the more they get on board with Kalicube, the more monthly subscriptions we get.
[00:20:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I’m saying, I know this is complicated. I know that the edge cases are really difficult and that you don’t have experience. And I know that every single case is unique and has caveats. I’ve seen so much. I can either tell you what I’ve done wrong, that you can avoid doing wrong, or I can make a very, very, very, very good educated guess. Most of the time, I’ll get it right.
Brand SERP Optimisation as a Knowledge Game Which Uses SEO Techniques and Strategies
[00:21:04] Jerrel Arkes: Wow. Sounds very interesting. On your website, you talk about two parts of this, the Brand SERP and the Knowledge Panel. So, the Brand SERP is the more traditional SEO part, right?
[00:21:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:21:15] Jerrel Arkes: But does it still have to do a lot with entities or is it just a normal SEO game that a lot of people know?
[00:21:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. 10 years ago, it was a total SEO game, and Knowledge Panels were a knowledge game. And the Brand SERP is becoming more and more of a knowledge game, but it’s still the SEO techniques and strategies we all know and love, but the importance of each one is much different. So, for example, link building isn’t very important in terms of Brand SERP optimisation. Site speed isn’t very important. Your meta titles, meta descriptions are phenomenally important. Your HTML5 is important. Your heading use is important.
[00:21:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you get different aspects that you need to focus on. Images are incredibly important. Making sure your featured image or the image that you’re pushing on a page is then reflected in the SERP, silly things like the fab icon. Lots and lots of tiny things that you need to pay attention to. So, the Brand SERP for me is the left hand side. And the left hand side of the SERP on desktop is Google’s recommendations for a brand.
[00:22:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): On the right hand side, which is the Knowledge Panel, it’s Google’s understanding of the facts. So, you’re dealing with two different things, but they both work together now. So, the facts that Google understands will vastly affect the recommendations it gives. So, you need to work on the facts, then you need to optimise the recommendations.
Marketing, Branding, SEO, and Their Relation to Jason Barnard’s Brand SERP Process
[00:22:48] Jerrel Arkes: On your website, you talk about three different categories: marketing, branding, and SEO. Can you explain the three? How are they related to your process?
[00:22:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. I come from the SEO world. And I’m terribly, terribly geeky. And I’ve been doing SEO for 25 years. And I’ve got a database with, I think something between 500 million and a billion data points. I like to say a billion, but I’m not quite sure that’s true. And I geek out all the time. But I sit down and I talk to brand managers and marketers, and I realise I’ve actually got more in common with them now than I do with the SEO community or SEO world.
[00:23:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it isn’t that I’ve left it behind, and I’ve forgotten it. I can still remember all that stuff, and I still work, and I still keep up to date. But the most important thing in your Brand SERP is the content marketing you’re doing. The second most important thing is the brand message you’re projecting through that marketing. And the third most important is how do you package that for Google in the form of SEO techniques. And all SEO is packaging the content that you’re already doing, that you’re already branding, so that Google can digest it, understand it, and represent it to your audience in the way that you intend it.
On-SERP SEO, Zero Click Content, Knowledge Panel Cards, and Filter Pills
[00:24:05] Jerrel Arkes: And I can also imagine that a lot of SEO people are focused on website traffic. And that’s the zero click content trend. It’s more important for this part. Because in a lot of cases, you find the information about the brand that you want to see in the SERP. You don’t have to go to the website. Is that also a reason why, for example, the brand manager is sometimes more interesting? Because the KPI is more like reads instead of visitors.
[00:24:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. That’s a really good way of putting it. The concept of On-SERP SEO, which has been freaking people out a lot, where you’ve now got zero click searches. A brand search can be zero click and still be hugely valuable. I said a few years ago, Google is your new business. What Google shows your audience when they google your name is your business card. They see that before they click through to your website.
Your Mini Website on Google Made Up of Knowledge Panel Cards and Filter Pills
[00:25:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But if you search for my name, Jason Barnard, you’ll see what I call Knowledge Panel cards and filter pills. And the Knowledge Panel cards are big cards of information about me with images, with text, with my age, with my partner, with a huge photo of me, even a video of me. And then just above that, you’ve got filter pills where it says overview, songs, education, music groups, music albums, TV shows.
[00:25:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you click on them and it gives you a different set of Google results about my TV shows, for example, that’s navigation. That’s your mini website on Google. Google is moving to become the website for the brand or the personal brand, and we are moving there very, very, very, very quickly. So, we’ve gone from Google is a transistor of traffic to your website, to Google is your business card that pushes the traffic to your website, the people to your website, to Google is actually now your website.
Comparing the Significance of Google My Business Versus Knowledge Panels
[00:26:02] Jerrel Arkes: So, things like Google My Business are then very important as well for this.
[00:26:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. If you’re a serious B2B company, Google My Business isn’t what you want to be showing. Because Google My Business has a little map, and it shows you as this tiny company. That isn’t impressive. It has that local feel. It has that brick and mortar feel, mom-and-pop store.
[00:26:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You want a Knowledge Panel. You want a Knowledge Panel that says Google has understood that I’m an important authoritative resource within my industry. Google My Business doesn’t say that. It just says Google has got me in its business listing. A Knowledge Panel says, I’m a serious, authoritative, credible source recognised by Google. You get the Knowledge Panel. You make it rich. You look like IBM.
Some Business Cases That Kalicube Helped Solve by Optimising Brand SERPs and Managing Knowledge Panels
[00:26:46] Jerrel Arkes: But how do you sell this? We talked about it in the beginning of this episode. Do people ask for a business case or do they just believe in this? Because I think a business case is very hard.
[00:27:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We’ve got actually quite a lot of different cases. We’ve got a PR agency in New York who use it to basically do our ORM, but they also use it to do press relations. They wanted to get articles for an American footballer. So, we built up a template of what an American footballer Brand SERP looks like and what their Knowledge Panel looks like. Then we built up a template of which news sources are talking about American footballers. Then they got the article. They built the Brand SERP. They got the Knowledge Panel. It was absolutely delightful.
[00:27:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We then have ORM agencies who were using it for problematic results in Google. And rather than trying to create lots of articles to drown the content, they’re using my concept of leapfrogging, which is take the great content underneath and push it up. And when you push it up, obviously it pushes the other stuff down. That’s a much better technique. It’s a much better strategy and it improves your digital ecosystem generally, as well as getting rid of the bad results.
[00:28:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Then you have Entity SEO people who want to build entities because they want to build the entity. And on that entity, they can then build their SEO strategy. We have WordLift who use it, and WordLift builds internal Knowledge Graphs. And the idea there is they build a cornerstone entity, the company and the founder. And then we push that into the Knowledge Graph. And then we can take the entire Knowledge Graph over the entire site and push that into the Knowledge Graph on the back, piggyback on the founder and the company, the cornerstone entities.
Integrating the Costs or Conversions Made by Kalicube Into the Overall Expenses of the Agency
[00:28:30] Jerrel Arkes: But I think then you measure for the company if they become an entity or not or how strong the entity is, but you can’t attach it to revenue or to conversions. I think that part is not possible.
[00:28:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. That’s a hugely difficult part. In terms of online reputation management, you can show results. In terms of entity management in SEO and cleaning up digital ecosystems, which we do all the time, there is no direct relationships. So, what agencies tend to do is they integrate the cost of Kalicube, which is actually quite small, into the overall cost the agency is charging the customer. Rather than saying to the customer, we’re going to charge you extra for this service, they integrate it into the existing service and use the additional reports and the additional information to present to the client.
[00:29:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But also, what you’ll see is we have a company called 516 Marketing, who’s built his entire agency on the Kalicube process. And he just comes in and says, look at your Brand SERP. That’s rubbish. That represents a really bad digital marketing strategy. We’re going to put it right, and we’re going to start right here. Look at this, look at that, look at that. We’ll change that. And your digital marketing strategy will immediately start to feel more comfortable. So, some agencies are using it to drive the digital marketing strategy, as I say, from the Brand SERP outwards. And he’s been hugely successful.
The Interconnected Web of Knowledge Graphs Within the Entities of a Company
[00:29:54] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. And I also understand that you need different people. Because in a lot of cases, SEO is maybe part of performance marketing, or maybe they talk to the e-commerce manager. And I think those people find this is less interesting, but the brand manager people who are building the brand think it’s very interesting, I think.
[00:30:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. What we found is that the huge corporations come to see us and talk to us about, we’ve got a Knowledge Panel that isn’t correctly filled in by Google. And we sit down with them and say, you don’t have one, you’ve got 30. And they don’t realise that each of the divisions and each of the companies within the overall company has its own Knowledge Panel.
[00:30:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They’re all interconnected, and it’s this web. It’s a Knowledge Graph, of course, mini Knowledge Graph of all their different companies with the founders, with the CEOs, with all of the different relationships they’ve got. They need to manage them all because they all affect each other. It’s all of these moving parts. So, they come in saying, we need to manage one entity, and they end up at managing 20 or 30.
The Mess of B2B Marketing: The One Thing That Clients Do at Some Point Is Google Your Name
[00:30:58] Jerrel Arkes: And I think something that can be interesting is that I think 5 years ago, we thought that we had to measure everything and attach it to revenue or conversions. And I think it’s getting harder and harder to measure everything. And a lot of B2B companies have stopped trying to measure everything and just try to do good marketing and try to create value for their audience or their target customers.
[00:31:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. That just reminds me of one thing Koray Gubur, who’s a Turkish SEO, who’s terribly, terribly geeky, and he did an article about the B2B marketing funnel. And he said, we’ve got this lovely funnel, but B2B marketing is incredibly messy. People coming at the top disappear, come back later right at the bottom, and convert.
[00:31:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Other people come in at the top, the boss of the company, for example, see something, forget about it for six months, remembers it six months later for another reason, tell somebody in the company to research it, who then hits the middle of the funnel straightaway, goes to the bottom, then they convert.
[00:32:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the first person who saw it isn’t the one who converted. Somebody comes right into the bottom and goes to the top and then comes in the middle, so on and so forth. And he’s right. The one thing they all do at some point is google your name.
Because of Jason Barnard’s Efforts for Years, Clients Are Now Coming Ready to Pay the Right Price
[00:32:15] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. I totally agree with that. So, the dark social or the dark funnel, terms like that, I think that part is becoming bigger and bigger. I think definitely this should be a part of your approach as a B2B company.
[00:32:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And we’ve been testing out this year because I’m new to the idea of being a businessman. I’ve always just been having fun digging into data. And I’ve spent two years building up a marketing strategy. And the whole marketing strategy has been outreached indirectly, rather through social media, posting, building up content, building up my podcast, building up my events, getting my presence out there, getting Kalicube out there, getting the message out there, educating people about what we’re doing.
[00:33:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s now starting to pay. And a lot of the people that come and see me now say, I’ve been following you for a couple of years. I started reading your stuff a year ago and I know it. I had a client who came in and said, I know exactly what you do. I know exactly what I need. I just want to know how much it costs. That’s really lovely sell for me.
How Can You Start With Branded SEO, With Entities, and With a Knowledge Panel?
[00:33:23] Jerrel Arkes: The longer I think about this, it’s so very strange that we have thousands and thousands of SEO specialists and only one who’s doing this. Yeah. So, for people who are listening to this, how can they start with branded SEO, with entities, with a Knowledge Panel?
[00:33:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You start with your own website. It’s really, really, really idiotically simple. Google is looking for what we call the Entity Home. And that’s the place on the web with a clear version of who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve from the entity itself, you. And it sounds strange, but Google is actively looking to find that place where it can compare all the other information it finds in a fragmented format all over the web.
[00:34:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It brings it all together and it says, here’s what I think this company looks like. Here’s what I think they do. Here’s what I think their audience is. Then it compares it to what you say and think about your website. Do you state that clearly? The answer is almost certainly no.
How Important Is Structured Data for Branded SEO, Brand SERPs, and Knowledge Panels?
[00:34:27] Jerrel Arkes: A question about that part. How important is structured data for that?
[00:34:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s very important, but it isn’t strictly necessary. What happens is that the structured data will present that message to Google in its native language. We’ll call it the native language because Google can digest it natively. It can also understand your web page. So if you’ve got an About page with an incredibly clear description that says who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve, Google will understand it because it’s smart.
[00:34:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If you then add structured data that confirms it, it will be increasingly confident about that understanding. So, that About page, rather than saying our mission statement is to make the world a lovely, flowery place with beautiful rainbows and butterflies. You’ve got to say, we are a company who book, we serve this set of clients with this credibility, with these are the partners. So, you state it all factually. That’s your About page. It’s not your homepage, it’s your About page.
[00:35:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if Google has that solid understanding from you about you, it can then start to build that understanding and build its confidence in that understanding. And that not only triggers a Knowledge Panel, but it also builds up your Brand SERP. Because the more it understands about who you are, what you offer, and which audience you serve, the better it can present those offers, that description of yourself to the audience who are googling your name.
The Important Concept of E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness
[00:35:54] Jerrel Arkes: And I think also… Oh, sorry.
[00:35:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No, it’s okay. I wasn’t going to say anything interesting.
[00:35:58] Jerrel Arkes: Also for E-E-A-T, this might be very important.
[00:36:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Absolutely huge. I think people are missing the point, and it’s a real pity. Because E-E-A-T, experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, is absolutely huge in the industry. And people are saying, how can I build my E-E-A-T? How can I get double E-E-A-T up to three times, four times? But they don’t stop to consider if Google doesn’t understand who you are, it can’t apply the signals.
[00:36:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you can build up all the E-E-A-T you want in the world. If it doesn’t understand explicitly who you are, it cannot apply them at full force. Your best hope is that it can guess who you are, and it will apply them in a dampened manner. So if you are building up E-E-A-T, which is your credibility, let’s say, you have to make sure that Google understands explicitly who you are, so that you don’t waste all of those efforts.
Using Structured Data, Like Schema Markup, to Communicate to Google in Its Native Language
[00:36:56] Jerrel Arkes: Yeah. And back to the structured data part. I can remember when I started using structured data. I was looking at Schema.org website. And I saw a lot of Schema that Google isn’t using, but that you can use. You can mark up every sentence in your text. Is there something you would advise for, let’s say, just your About us page to give a very, very, very strong signal of what you are doing, or just the basic ones? So, the organisation and maybe your reviews and products and things like that, videos.
[00:37:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. That’s a great question because we all get the shiny new toy, and we want to do everything possible with it immediately. And you’re right. Google doesn’t use all of it. But in fact, nobody really knows which parts Google understands now because the algorithms are machine learning. So, what they’ve learned over the last three or four years, who knows? Not even the engineers truly know what it’s learned.
[00:37:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, which parts it’s using and which parts it isn’t is hugely debatable, hugely difficult to know. Because there’s also the distinction between what is it using for Rich Features in the SERP, which is explicit use that they’ve programmed in by human beings, and which does it recognise algorithmically? And that’s two very different things. So, you can look at Google’s documentation all you want. What it says in the documentation is about what they’re using explicitly for SERP features as opposed to what the algorithms are understanding.
[00:38:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the second thing is if you go too far, you confuse the machine. If it hasn’t understood, if you are using Google’s native language that it can digest natively, if you use words in that language it doesn’t understand, you’re effectively speaking another language. So, you want to stick to the stuff that’s relatively simple and you want to stick to the stuff, at least for your About page, that disambiguate.
Quality Content and Recognised Entities You Put Out Make a Remarkable Difference in Google’s Mind
[00:38:53] Jerrel Arkes: But I think they should understand everything that is on the Schema.org website.
[00:38:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They might. It would be able to digest it, but would it be able to use it and understand it or would it just create additional confusion? For me, if we come back, all of that we don’t really know. All we can do at Kalicube is say our data shows that these aspects really help and these ones don’t make much difference.
[00:39:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what it knows doesn’t make any remarkable difference that we’ve ever seen. Date of birth, that makes a huge difference. Place of birth, huge difference. Nationality, huge difference. So, you want to look at the ones that disambiguate you as a person or you as a company from everybody else. You also need to use things like, knows about is actually much more powerful than knows because it’s suggesting a topicality.
[00:39:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you want to go through and look at it and say, which ones make sense for me? Awards make sense if you’ve won recognised awards. It doesn’t make sense if it was your primary school golden slipper for the best dancer in the 10 year old show.
A Few Tips and Tactics About Branded SEO for People Who Want to Start Their Own Brand
[00:40:04] Jerrel Arkes: Indeed. Can you share a few tactics for people who want to start?
[00:40:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I would start with my homepage, not the About page. Not because I think it’s more important, but because it’s the thing that appears right at the top. And I’ll give you two huge examples. Number one is Coca-Cola. Search for Coca-Cola. It says, the Coca-Cola bottle is a trademark of the Coca-Cola company, because their homepage just has a big image with that at the bottom as a copyright. That’s awful branding. I searched for Coca-Cola. It just says, that’s appalling. It doesn’t make me feel closer to Coca-Cola. It makes me feel further away.
[00:40:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other one is Amazon, who for years and years and years and years, their meta title on their homepage was Cheap Books, Hi-Fi, Bicycles, Audio, and More. And literally a year and a half ago, they changed it to Amazon: Pay Less, Smile More. That’s a good brand message. That’s what the homepage is for. It’s not for ranking for cheap books. It’s there for ranking for your brand name to make sure that your audience, be they existing clients or prospects, think, yes, I really want to stick with this company, or I really want to do business with this company. Smile More, Pay Less. Boom. Took Amazon over 20 years to figure that out.
[00:41:31] Jerrel Arkes: I think a lot of SEO people like the homepage because, of course, it has the most authority, so it’s easy to rank for some very important keywords, but maybe it should be always secondary to your brand name.
[00:41:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I would argue in almost all circumstances, there are obviously exceptions. But if you are sacrificing your bottom-of-funnel prospects and your clients for the top-of-funnel searching for red paint, generally speaking, you are making a huge mistake.
One Last Takeaway Message From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:42:02] Jerrel Arkes: Yes, indeed. Do you have one last takeaway for people who are listening before we end this podcast?
[00:42:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. As you go away from listening to this podcast, think how clear, clean, and obvious is my digital ecosystem? Is it a mess, yes or no? And that’s for people or for companies, or even for products. And if you think that it’s perfect, think again, check it, start cleaning it up. Because that messy digital ecosystem that you are presenting to Google and indeed to your audience is a huge, huge problem for Google’s understanding, your SEO. But also, what does your audience think as they go around the web, seeing all of these different messy messages that don’t fit together? And then they come to your website, and you say something completely different. Huge problem from every perspective. Clean it up.
Where Can People Find or Follow Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?
[00:42:58] Jerrel Arkes: Great. Where can people find or follow you?
[00:43:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can find me by searching my name, Jason Barnard. Lovely thing about the personal Brand SERP is it’s my business card. You get to choose how you interact with me through my own website, through my LinkedIn, through my Twitter, through my company, through my articles on Search Engine Journal. Or just investigate me, research me through my Knowledge Panel.
[00:43:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And for my company, Kalicube, search it, and you will see all of the offers we have, the reviews, the great client feedback we’ve got, the different aspects of our company, Kalicube Pro, the consulting, the book, the courses. We’ve got a whole academy. All of that is present on our Brand SERP, and it’s up to you to choose which one you delve into.
For Dutch Agencies, How Can They Avail the Services and Offers of Kalicube?
[00:43:43] Jerrel Arkes: Do you have Dutch agencies who use it? Because I think a lot of the listeners of this podcast are Dutch, and they work at a B2B company, so they have to find an agency, of course. I don’t think they can directly contact you to use the software.
[00:44:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They can contact us, and we can put them in contact. We have one Dutch agency, and we can put them in contact with them. We have also done-for-you services, although we don’t speak Dutch. The Kalicube Pro platform functions on any Latin lettered language, so Dutch is fine for us.
[00:44:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But always remember that Google functions primarily in English. However much it says it’s language agnostic, it isn’t. But if you are purely Dutch, you can work purely in Dutch. I’ve done it for French companies purely in French. But if you can work on both, it’s great. We can help you or we can put you in contact with an agency who can help you.
[00:44:41] Jerrel Arkes: Great. Thanks a lot.
[00:44:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you so much, Jerrel. Have fun. Bye bye.
[00:44:45] Jerrel Arkes: Yes, bye.
[00:44:46] Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Inbound4Cast. And don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube or your favourite podcast app.