It used to be that SEO was the antithesis of brand. Brand is the thing that you couldn’t measure and SEO brought the free traffic. But nowadays, both can do so much more if they work together.
In this episode Jason Barnard discusses:
👉🏻 How social media can amplify your brand image
👉🏻 How is social media used for SEO
[00:00:00] David Bain: What is the role of social media in brand strategy and how does this impact SEO, with Jason Barnard.
[00:00:07] David Bain: In Search SEO Podcast is brought to you by Rank Ranger, the all-in-one SEO platform that helps skill your business through data and analytics.
Why Is Brand and SEO More Intertwined Nowadays?
[00:00:21] David Bain: Hey, it’s David. It used to be that SEO was the antithesis of brand. Brand are the things you couldn’t measure, and SEO brought the free traffic. But nowadays, both can do so much more if they work together. And today we’re going to be taking a look at the role of social media and brand strategy and how that impacts SEO. Joining me to discuss that is Jason Barnard. Jason, why is everything so intertwined nowadays?
[00:00:46] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thanks for having me on, David. Well, I think it always was. And Google was always crawling all of these different resources, be they social media, media sites, YouTube, video sites, and your own site, obviously, and your competitors’ sites. But it wasn’t really capable of bringing it all together into one single block that it could understand and exploit in terms of how it represents your brand and how it represents your brand in SEO more widely. And the recent technology advances they’ve made have made that much simpler and much more effective for them.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Specialises in Brand SERPs, an Interesting Niche in SEO
[00:01:25] David Bain: So, Jason, you’re certainly involved in many different areas of SEO and digital marketing. How would you describe your specialisation nowadays?
[00:01:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I’m specialised in a really interesting niche in SEO, which is Brand SERPs. And that’s basically how Google represents your brand to your audience when they search your brand name. And as far as I know, I’m the only person in the world specialising in that.
Social Media Platforms Tend to Rank Incredibly Well in Brand SERPs
[00:01:50] David Bain: Okay, Brand SERP, SEO. So, that certainly makes sense from an SEO background. So, why are you so focused on social media at the moment?
[00:02:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Great question. I was never really interested in social media before as an SEO, because it doesn’t really have that much impact on SEO. But in Brand SERPs, the social media platforms tend to rank incredibly well. Google is representing you to your audience. And so, it’s going to show your social media platforms that are the most active, the most engaging for your audience. So, I had to start investigating social media in the context of a Brand SERP, which meant that I started to investigate it pretty much from every aspect.
Different Industries and Different Entity Types Have Different Priorities in Terms of How Google Will Represent Those Social Media Platforms
[00:02:32] David Bain: Okay. Are there certain social media networks, if you can call them all under that umbrella, that play nicest? Are there certain social media networks that play nicest with the Brand SERP in terms of the information that Google can get and display from them?
[00:02:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. Different industries and different entity types, entity type being a person, a company, a film, a podcast, whatever that might be, have different priorities in terms of how Google will represent those social media platforms, which is logical because those different industries and the way that the audience engage with them and the different types of entities, such as products or brands or podcasts or people, will be different. And so, you can’t actually say one particular social platform will dominate. So, you need to look at an industry level.
[00:03:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But what is very interesting is that Twitter has a fire hose feed right into Google. And so, Twitter is incredibly interesting. If your audience is potentially on Twitter, Twitter is a great place to focus because Google gets Twitter and tweets in real time. And they’re incredibly present on the Brand SERPs.
Through Looking at an Industry Overview, You Can Figure Out Which Platforms Are Dominating, Which Then Allows You to Prioritise Your Social Media Strategy
[00:03:49] David Bain: Okay. And just to clarify what you’re saying beforehand, were you saying that what you have to do is look at your industry, look at your competitors, and see what social networks Google are using in order to augment their SERP? And that’s probably an inkling into the social networks that Google is more likely to pay attention for you.
[00:04:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Exactly. If you can get an industry overview, and we do that at Kalicube. We’ve got a platform called Kalicube Pro. And we look into your industry. We take perhaps a thousand competitors, if we can find them, or a hundred, if we can only find a hundred. And we put that information together to figure out which social platforms are dominating. And that then allows you to prioritise your social media strategy.
[00:04:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you want to do it by hand, you can just look at all your competitors manually and see which social platforms rank on the first page of their Brand SERP. So, when you search their exact match brand name, what appears. Take notes, figure it out, do a Google spreadsheet. And then you can say, we would need to focus more on Twitter or more on LinkedIn or more on Facebook, depending on which one you’re seeing.
The Significance of Writing Your Twitter Bio and Triggering Twitter Boxes Using Media and Tweeting Original Content
[00:04:59] David Bain: Understood. And you obviously mentioned that Google have got a fire hose from Twitter of everything directly into it. So, it can take all that data and do something with it. In terms of the strategy itself, what are the most important aspects of what you do on a social platform like Twitter? Is, for instance, how you display, how you write your bio absolutely key? Or is it more about what you include in your tweets or how often you tweet or who you follow? What are the key metrics to really get a handle on?
[00:05:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Well, so far of what you’ve mentioned, I would have to say all of it, because you’ve mentioned the most important part, which is the bio you put at the top is what will appear in your Brand SERP. So, when your audience searches your brand name, they will see that. So, it’s obviously incredibly important that the brand message is clear and it resonates with your audience.
[00:05:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But then the fire hose into Google from Twitter is actually really, really important, because what it can then do is show your most recent tweet if it’s a result in the blue links, but it can also trigger what we see as Twitter boxes, which is the latest tweets. And at that point, there are two things. Number one is in those Twitter boxes. If you use media, images and video, it will show them. And that’s really attractive to your audience, and it makes your Brand SERP look, let’s say, sexier.
[00:06:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing is that you can only trigger those Twitter boxes by tweeting original tweets, i.e. not replies or retweet, but original tweets that you create to start the thread and that your audience truly engages in. Because there’s a fire hose, Google gets all of that information right from the horse’s mouth. So, it can tell if you’re cheating. So, really it is that bio, original tweeting, with media, get your audience engaged, and you’ve won the Twitter game at least.
For Google to Understand Who You Are, You Need to Link From Your Website to Your Social Media Platforms and Back
[00:06:56] David Bain: So, how do you deliver confidence to Google that you on Twitter is definitely the same as you on your website? Is it as simple as linking to your very social networks from your website?
[00:07:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. You need to find the way, sorry, you need to link from your website to the social media platforms and then back to the same page where you have the link going out, coming back, so that Google gets that two way confirmation. But then you can also go to all your profile pages. If you’re an author, for example, you could go to Muck Rack, Search Engine Land, in my case, Search Engine Journal. Make sure they link to your Twitter profile, make sure they link back to your site, and that your site links to them and to Twitter.
[00:07:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And that gives Google this circular, eternal circle of links that it’s just going round and round and round and round. And it’s just going, okay, all of this is interconnected. Because what Google is looking for is that interconnected web of relationships that confirms who you are, which are your social media platforms or your social media accounts, and which are your profiles. And that helps to drive its understanding about who you are, what you do, who your audience is. And that will help it build your Brand SERP the way you want that Brand SERP to be built.
[00:08:12] David Bain: An eternal circle of confidence, really as well as links. Is that fair enough?
[00:08:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I like that. Yeah. That’s brilliant, David. You should be on my side. I should be on your side.
[00:08:21] David Bain: You should be on a podcast. Yes.
[00:08:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
Measuring the Success of Your Brand Awareness Through Volume of Searches and Quality of What People See
[00:08:23] David Bain: One other thought in relation to SEO is it’s all very well on goods augmenting your Brand SERP with all these rich results. Does it actually deliver a measurable positive impact for your SEO efforts?
[00:08:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Well, the question of measurable is always difficult because it’s branding. If you are building up brand awareness, you are pushing people to search your brand name. So, you are putting all that money into the brand awareness. And the measurement of the KPI of the success of that brand awareness is going to be the volume of searches on your brand name and the quality of what those people then see when they do search your brand name on Google.
[00:09:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And at Kalicube, we have a KPI, which is a quality score and a control score, that measures the Brand SERP, how good it is, how attractive it is, how sexy it is, and how convincing it’s going to be for your audience.
The Success of Your Strategy Revolves Around Making Sure That the Right People or Your Audience Engage
[00:09:16] David Bain: And I guess from Google incorporating social media posts into its SERP, does that tell you something about the performance of your own social media strategy as well?
[00:09:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Absolutely. If your social media strategy, I tell my clients, if you are investing, for example, in Facebook and Facebook doesn’t rank when somebody searches your brand name, you’re investing badly, either because you’re investing in the wrong kind of tactics on or techniques on Facebook or because Google simply isn’t seeing it. And if Google isn’t seeing it, then you are not pointing to it enough. It doesn’t know it’s you.
[00:09:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, the success of your strategy revolves around making sure that the right people, your audience engage, so that reinforces Google’s understanding of who your audience is, and that Google actually sees it and it sees that it is indeed you.
[00:10:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, for example, you’ve got a Facebook profile with a totally different name, and you haven’t done that backward linking that we were talking about earlier on. You’re going to struggle. But if you’ve got two names that match incredibly well or all your social media platforms have the same username, then Google’s going to recognise it more easily. And it’s going to be able to recognise that user engagement much more easily.
[00:10:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And once again, I can’t stress enough. It’s relevant user engagement. It’s your real audience. Google knows who your audience are, and it understands who that audience is on these different social media platforms. So, you can’t actually really start cheating it anymore.
Using Tools to Have Insight Into Your Activity and Learning From Your Competitors
[00:10:44] David Bain: So, your SERP can actually indicate as to whether or not you’re doing a good job at social media, but what about directing the content that you should be publishing? Is there an argument to say that you should actually be looking at your industry level Brand SERP? So, your Brand SERPs have all your competitors and seeing what is successful for them and having that lead your own social media strategy.
[00:11:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. There are tools like SparkToro, who tell you with whom you should be connecting about specific topics. And that’s a really powerful insight into your activity and with whom you should be engaging. In terms of content, the real way is actually just to spy on your competitors, to go along, look at what they’re doing.
[00:11:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But also, I think it’s really, really important. A lot of people just copy their competitors on the assumption their competitors are doing it right. I feel that lacks often the let’s take a big step back and see are they actually doing it right? Does it make sense? Are they getting the engagement? So, you want to look at your competitors and you want to, let’s say, copy them, but only copy them if they’re actually doing something that’s making sense.
[00:11:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): From my perspective with Kalicube, we’ve been very active on social media as part of a strategy to test quite how much it does and can affect a Brand SERP. And what I’ve noticed is that our social media strategy has been driving clients to us incredibly successfully. And so, anything that Google then gives me after that is a bonus.
Some General Best Practices That Are Picked up by Brand SERPs: Rich Media and Videos
[00:12:20] David Bain: Obviously, you’ve done a lot of work on Twitter and I’m sure other social media platforms as well. Is there a general best practice list of things that you would recommend to clients in terms of frequency of social media posts or types of content that is more likely to be picked up by the Brand SERP?
[00:12:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Rich media is incredibly important. Videos, I know you’re a big fan of videos, but videos allow images and sound and text to be extracted from them. And one thing people, I think, don’t really realise is the video boxes. When you see videos on Brand SERPs or in any SERP, we tend to think, oh, YouTube and it’s all YouTube. And that isn’t the case. It’s, let’s say, 80% YouTube, but that’s still leaves 20% for other platforms, including Facebook, including Twitter.
[00:13:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, posting videos across these different social platforms is incredibly powerful in a Brand SERP context, but also from an SEO context and also from the actual engagement you get from users.
[00:13:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think what I’ve learned over the last year is that the focus on social media is bringing me clients, bringing me an audience who are truly interested in what I’m talking about. And the Brand SERP effect reflects the fact that people are actually interested in what I’m talking about and I’m talking to the right people. And that is such a powerful insight.
SEO Fails to Take Into Account the Fact That Some People Don’t Search for Generic Keywords Before Coming to Your Site
[00:13:51] David Bain: I think these are key things for SEOs to think about. I think many SEOs will still be of the mindset I’m ranking number one, that’s my job done, let’s get more keywords ranking number one and get as much traffic as possible. But the touchy feely stuff of what the SERP looks like and what kind of perception potential customers have of your brand as a result of experiencing it for the first time on the SERP can make a significant difference. Much harder to measure, of course, but doesn’t say that it’s not necessarily just as important, if not more important.
[00:14:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Sure. Yeah. From that point, the idea of SEO is saying I want to get somebody on my site and I’m counting the conversion rate. So, I’m going to be aiming for the real bottom-of-funnel stuff of generic words like buy red shoes. And that fails to take into account the fact that some people don’t ever make that search before coming to your site.
[00:14:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They see your site somewhere else. They go through different touch points. They become convinced. They search your brand. And that’s when they click through and they buy. Because they know you sell red shoes, so they don’t need to search for it on Google. They’re searching for your brand, because they want to buy red shoes specifically from your brand, because you’ve convinced them on another platform.
Looking at Google’s Brand SERP for Your Company as Your Google Business Card
[00:15:08] David Bain: I think this conversation has given a lot for a SEO to think about, okay, this is what I also need to try and incorporate within the Brand SERP. It’d be great to have a follow up conversation at some point about how to measure that, what are different ways of measuring the success of doing that, and how do you compare the value of an augmented Brand SERP versus a fairly plain text one without all the frills that you can possibly offer them. Hopefully we can get you back on and have that further conversation.
[00:15:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I’d love to. I think just one thing I’d say about, as you said, the KPI is very difficult to identify. But I don’t think anybody would ever ask me, is it worth doing a full colour business card with proper design, rather than just print out my name on a piece of card with my email address? Nobody would ask that question. Nobody would say, what is the actual added value of that? It’s obvious. And if you look at Google’s Brand SERP for your company as your Google business card, I would argue it’s like printing a business card. There isn’t a debate to be had.
Kalicube Pro Is Measuring Brand SERPs Through Quality, Control, and Brand Authority Eventually
[00:16:16] David Bain: Does that mean then that it’s impossible in some instances to measure the impact of?
[00:16:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Absolutely not. And glad you asked that question, because we are working at Kalicube Pro to actually measure this. We already have two measurements, which is quality and control. And we’re working on what we’re going to be calling brand authority to figure out just how well the brand is understood and how solid that understanding is, how confident Google is in its understanding. And that’s going to be phenomenally interesting.
[00:16:48] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We’re going to be able to measure the quality of the Brand SERP, the understanding of Google. And then I’m going to move forwards and try to start looking into Search Console data to see click-through rates, to see engagement rates. But that’s a big long story that’s to come, which is really exciting.
[00:17:05] David Bain: Big long story and a wonderful part, duh.
[00:17:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant. Yeah. No. Having gone from the let’s design your business card, I agree with you. Kalicube now needs to move forwards and say, how can we prove the value of making it really, really sexy?
The Importance of Answering Questions on People Also Ask to Gradually Drive More and More Traffic
[00:17:22] David Bain: But let’s finish off the conversation for now with the Pareto Pickle. So, Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. So, what’s one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for moderate levels of effort?
[00:17:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s actually not directly a Brand SERP, although the strategy that I developed for this came from a Brand SERP problem. And that was the People Also Ask, where there were multiple questions about the brand. So, when the audience of this brand searched their name, there were three questions in People Also Ask. And they didn’t answer any of them. It was a forum, it was one of their competitors, and then it was, I think, it was Wikipedia who answered the third one.
[00:18:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, when I said let’s answer those questions on the site, so we created a little FAQ. And we nailed those three places. And then more questions appeared, so we answered those. Then we thought let’s go and look at the questions that those questions insight in Google’s mind. And we ended up answering about a hundred questions about the brand, an astonishing number. And that drove an awful lot of traffic of people, who already knew the brand, who were asking questions about the brand, bottom-of-funnel and post-funnel.
[00:18:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Then what we did is expand that out to the topics that the brand covered. And we now have something like 500 questions on the site. And we are driving a phenomenal amount of traffic. And these are just very simple answers to very simple questions. And what I found is that rather than spending weeks trying to figure out the great blog post, the skyscraper blog post, it’s answer 10 questions a week. And you’re going to gradually drive more and more and more and more traffic. And the volumes are phenomenal, and the conversion rates are amazing.
In Making an FAQ Section, You Can Have One Question and Answer per Page and Related Questions at the Bottom
[00:19:09] David Bain: And a wonderful book that I’ve read about that is called They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. So, just shout out to him for that one as well. And he leads with just answer all the questions of your potential audience and that’s your content marketing strategy. I was initially thinking when you’re talking about FAQ section as one page of answering all the questions, but I would imagine you’re advocating an individual URL, a different page for each question.
[00:19:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The accordion system is something that really annoys me. Because if somebody’s on your site and they come to this accordion system, they actually have to search through the questions. So, you are actually giving them questions that they didn’t know they had, but they’re actually looking for a specific answer.
[00:19:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): If they’ve come from Google, they land on the page. They had a specific question. They then have to scroll through it and read through them all to find the one they asked. Whereas what you can then do is say one question-answer per page and then related questions at the bottom. And that makes sense for Google too.
[00:20:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ve got one really good example is Orange, a French company, have a page for does an eSIM work in an iPhone Pro XL. They have another page for does an eSIM work in an iPhone Pro X. Another one for does an eSIM work in an iPhone Pro XXL or whatever. I don’t what they’re called. And they’ve got literally seven or eight different pages for those X models. And each and every one ranks for the correct term, and it ranks number one. And it’s a brilliant user experience.
Find Out More About Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Over at Kalicube Pro
[00:20:42] David Bain: You’ve given me a brilliant host experience. Every single question that I ask, you’ve come up with an answer that I want to dig deeper into, giving me the circle of confidence that you would be a wonderful guest again in the future.
[00:20:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, how delightful.
[00:20:57] David Bain: I’ve been your host, David Bain. You can find Jason Barnard over at Kalicube.Pro. Jason, thanks so much for appearing on the In Search SEO Podcast.
[00:21:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you. That was brilliant, David.
[00:21:05] David Bain: Thanks for listening. Check out all the previous episodes and sign up for a free trial of the Rank Ranger platform over at rankranger.com.