The Unscripted SEO Interview with Jason Barnard
Jason Barnard is best known in the SEO industry today as The Brand SERP Guy specialising in Brand SERP optimisation and Knowledge Panel management, and is also the founder and CEO at Kalicube, a Brand SERP optimising SaaS platform and a ground-breaking brand SERP digital marketing agency.
The Multifaceted Career Journey of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:00:00] Mark A Preston: Welcome to The Unscripted SEO Interview. I’m your host, Mark A Preston. And today, we have Jason Barnard joining us who is better known as The Brand SERP Guy. That’s it, isn’t it?
[00:00:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The Brand SERP Guy.
[00:00:25] Mark A Preston: We all stumble from time to time. Jason, just for those people who don’t know who you are, can you just give an overview of who Jason is and why Brand SERPs?
[00:00:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Great starting question. Wonderful. Thank you for having me, Mark. Absolutely delighted to be here. I’m Jason Barnard, and I’ve had a long and varied career in all sorts of different things. And The Brand SERP Guy is just the latest installment of a multifaceted career.
[00:01:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I started out, I went to Liverpool University, played the Cavern Club where the Beatles famously played a lot in my band, Stanley the Counting Horse, which is a really silly name for a band, moved to Paris, joined another band, played professional music for seven or eight years playing double bass, folk punk, then became blue dog in a cartoon, went a bit mad because I ended up thinking I was the blue dog. The blue dog was obviously a fictional character. And at one point, for some reason in my brain, I became the blue dog. And it was quite fun because the idea you were a blue dog, obviously not literally. I wasn’t at the point where my wife was going to put me into an institution to sort me out. But I was bouncing along happy as a lark incredibly naively believing that the world was this kind of blue dog and yellow koala cartoon that we’d created with her. And obviously the world isn’t quite like that.
[00:02:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And now, I’ve become The Brand SERP Guy. And the same thing happened as well. I became The Brand SERP Guy in my mind, but The Brand SERP Guy is actually just another fictional character who carries the Brand SERP book, which is behind me, and the concept of Brand SERPs. So now, I look at it more. I’m trying to separate myself from The Brand SERP Guy. The Brand SERP Guy becomes a fictional character who represents Kalicube and represents Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels and everything we do around that.
The Difference Between Jason Barnard and The Brand SERP Guy
[00:02:36] Mark A Preston: Right. When you say you’re trying to separate the two, what’s different about The Brand SERP Guy as opposed to Jason, the SEO?
[00:02:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Ooh, I’m glad we’re getting into this actually, because this is a bit like a psychiatrist session for me. Thanks, Mark. It’s really helpful. Jason Barnard still plays music. Jason Barnard goes to the restaurant with his friends and talks about football or politics or what nice wonderful music we’ve been listening to recently. Jason Barnard was just in the south of France playing music with Fred and Hugo, his mates who play music. And then we were sitting around in the bar having a chat.
[00:03:20] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The Brand SERP Guy is sitting here talking to Mark Preston about the professional side of Kalicube, Brand SERPs, Knowledge Panels. So The Brand SERP Guy is the professional representation of Jason Barnard today. And we were discussing it with the Kalicube team. The Brand SERP Guy could, if I ever sell Kalicube, could become somebody or could be played by somebody else.
Separating Your Own Life and Professional Representation and the Importance of Disambiguating Your Name by Adding a Middle Initial
[00:03:46] Mark A Preston: Ah, now you’ve hit something there that sparked something in my head. Because as you’re aware, we’ve had a chat at Brighton about my own personal brand.
[00:03:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:04:00] Mark A Preston: And I’ve rebranded myself as Mark A Preston which is me because that’s who I am. Now, obviously, that means I can’t really sell the business as such to anybody else because it’s me. And distinguishing the two entities is, did you have, when you did that, did you have that in mind for future reference just in case?
[00:04:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. In fact, I realised it, what the conversation with you is one of the things that made me realise that. It was after Brighton. I thought, actually, no, I need to have my own life and The Brand SERP Guy needs to be the professional representation. So from that perspective, it’s something I realised further down the line. And so now, we have these two entities, fictional character, The Brand SERP Guy, and Jason Barnard, the real person who has a life.
[00:05:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And you mentioned as well, we talked at Brighton about Mark A Preston as opposed to Mark Preston. And it is true. I was looking around earlier on. You’ve done a very good job of actually changing all those references. And that’s incredibly important so that you become known as Mark A Preston, but I can still call you Mark. But when I think of you, I now think of Mark A Preston. And that’s the trick, to disambiguate yourself from all the other Mark Prestons out there.
[00:05:29] Mark A Preston: Yeah. It were actually something I stumbled upon. Basically, I was on LinkedIn. I was sick of getting these automated sales messages and I thought, how can I distinguish between the automated ones and the manual ones? And I thought, I’ll just stick my middle initial in. And it sort of stuck from there. It was completely by accident, unplanned on everything. And I thought, well, when I search online for Mark Preston, there is quite a few Mark Prestons in around all over the world. When I search Mark A Preston, there’s just a surgeon, I think, who is Mark A Preston as well. So I thought, well, it gives me a brand that goes a little bit beyond my name.
Everybody Who Wants to Have a Positive, Accurate, and Convincing Google Business Card Should Read Jason’s Book
[00:06:23] Mark A Preston: And basically, I actually purchased your book and spent all money in purchasing it purely because I wanted to get into the detail of how to create a personal brand online, how to create a brand online. So, regarding your book is who should actually benefit from it? Who should read your book?
[00:06:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Well, great question. I can see the book behind you and I can see the book behind me.
[00:06:57] Mark A Preston: Yes.
[00:06:58] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, we’ve got two copies in view at the moment. And thank you so much for buying it and I hope you enjoyed it. But in terms of who should buy it, the answer is everybody who owns a business, everybody who wants to create what I would call the Google business card that really represents them as a person or their business. So, when somebody googles your personal name or your company name, make sure that what they see is positive, accurate, and convincing and represents the brand message that you want to convey.
The Story of How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Started in SEO and Into Brand SERPs
[00:07:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And you asked me earlier on how did the Brand SERP thing start. And the story’s quite cute because I was a blue dog in a cartoon, and I was pitching for work as an SEO at the beginning of the around 2012 and I wasn’t getting as much work as I thought I would. After the meetings with potential clients, a lot of them wouldn’t sign. And I realised they were searching my name. They were googling my name. And it said at the top, Jason Barnard is a cartoon blue dog. And that was what Google was prioritising because it’s what Google has understood and was confident it had understood. And I realised at that point that I needed to educate Google like I would a child about what I’m actually doing now and what my current audience would be interested in, what would be helpful, valuable and interesting for them. And obviously as a digital marketer, the fact I was a blue dog isn’t the primary piece of information they need to see.
[00:08:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so I said about, it took me about three months to sort it out. And what’s interesting when you’ll know a little bit about this as well, is that as an SEO, you say three months, that’s fine, I’ve done it. And I thought I’ll go on and do something else now. But in fact, 10 years later almost, I’m still working on it. I’m still learning every day. And there are multiple things there. One is there is so many things that we can do. Number two is that Google evolves constantly and trying to keep up with it just on your own name is an ongoing monthly task that you need to do. It’s not a massive task. It’s a few hours a month, but it’s a task that I believe we all need to do.
If Google Doesn’t Understand Who You Are, It Can’t Relate to Your Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
[00:09:15] Mark A Preston: Yeah. So when it comes to the link between Brand and SEO, in your personal opinion, what is that link?
[00:09:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Great question, because I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. A few years ago, I was talking to Lily Ray and I mentioned to her that I felt that if Google doesn’t understand who you are as an entity, it can’t apply EAT signals. Any signals that apply to expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, which is the big bug buzzword today, Lily Ray, Marie Haynes, being the big experts, if Google understands explicitly who you are through the Knowledge Graph, then it can apply those signals fully. If it doesn’t understand who you are, it can’t relate your expertise or anything that proves your expertise, anything that proves your authoritativeness, or anything that proves your trustworthiness to you as an entity.
[00:10:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I wouldn’t say it can’t apply them at all because what Google then does is it uses NLP, natural language processing, to guess the entity, but what I would suggest is that the signals it’s applying of EAT, if it’s only guessing and hasn’t got explicit understanding of your entity, those signals of EAT will be dampened. So it’s phenomenally important. We used to just think about links. EAT is much more than links. Google understood websites, so it could easily apply link signals. You need to think about your entity being understood so that it can correctly apply the EAT signals.
[00:10:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing about entities, of course, is that Google’s building them into the algorithm more and more. And what we saw it may seem to be those companies who had a decent entity understanding by Google, a solid entity identity, as Koray Gübür calls it, seem to do better. I don’t have any data to prove that, but it’s my gut feeling.
Google Will Rank You on Top if It Trusts You Because It’s Trying to Make the Best Possible Experience for Its Users
[00:11:16] Mark A Preston: For the people watching this and listening to this that maybe are not SEO professionals I was going to say, I understood everything of that. But if I understood that correctly, you’re basically saying if Google doesn’t rank your brand name, then why is it meant to trust you for your services? Is that in a nutshell and if very very simple terms, is that what you’re trying to say?
[00:11:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I think that’s a really, really good way of putting it. The idea that Google trusts you to serve its users. You have to remember that Google’s users are Google’s users. There’s a subset of Google’s users who are your audience. And if Google is going to put you at the top of the results for any search, it needs to trust you to serve its users because it’s trying to make the best experience possible for its users. So the way you put it is absolutely brilliant. And I just gabbled on for 10 minutes about EAT, expertise, authority, and trust, and just name dropped Marie Haynes and Lily Ray. And then you said it in 20 seconds and it made total sense.
Build From the Brand SERP Outwards for Google to Show Your Audience What It Feels Is Most Helpful, Relevant, and Useful
[00:12:32] Mark A Preston: Yeah, but I’m still interested in what you said because that goes into the nuts and bolts of things. But from an SEO perspective, when say they’re working with a brand, should their primary focus to make sure that the website’s ranking for the brand first before they go off on a tangent?
[00:12:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I love that question because it’s something that I really truly believe. I talk about building from the Brand SERP outwards. Now, the Brand SERP is the brand search engine results page. And that’s the result that your audience sees when they google your brand name. Now, who googles your brand name? It’s people who already know who you are. So they’re necessarily aware about you. So it’s a prospect or a client or perhaps a job seeker or an investor or a journalist, people who are researching you, people who are trying to find out more about you. Will I do business with this company or person indeed or not? So they’re real bottom-of-funnel audience.
[00:13:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And from that perspective, what Google is trying to do with the Brand SERP, search engine results page, is show those people what it feels is most helpful, relevant, and useful to them. And if you look at it, search your brand name now. And do you see what you expected to see? Do you see what you want to see? And do you see what will be actually useful to the audience that you believe you’re addressing yourself to? And you will see that it’s going to be no, no, no basically for those three questions because it’s not perfect. It won’t be perfect until you actively look after it.
Start a Strategy or Improve the Existing Strategy to Control What Appears on Your Brand SERP
[00:14:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what I have found with clients more and more is we look at the Brand SERP and we work from the top downwards improving everything that already exists. That’s step number one. Then step number two is say what would I like to see? For example, if I don’t have videos showing on my Brand SERP, then why aren’t I seeing videos? Is it because I don’t have any videos or because I have videos but Google hasn’t understood that they’re important and helpful to my audience? Now, if they’re not on your Brand SERP and you do have videos, it means either your videos are not helpful and useful to your audience or they are and Google hasn’t noticed or you’ve put them on your website but Google doesn’t understand how to access them properly so it can use them. So in any of those three circumstances, you have a strategic problem with your video.
[00:15:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so what you can then do, video is just one example, Twitter would be another, is look at what your strategy is, what appears on your Brand SERP that shouldn’t, what appears on your Brand SERP that should, and what things you want to get up onto that Brand SERP in the future. You either start a strategy to get that or you improve the existing strategy until it happens.
Dominating Your Brand Name by Making Google Confident in Its Understanding of You
[00:15:37] Mark A Preston: Right. So, I’m going a bit deeper here into scenarios. Okay. What if the brand shares its brand name, the words used, with somebody else? What in that sort of scenario, what are they meant to do to make sure they are the primary brand on the page besides obviously contacting you? What sort of things could they be looking at or doing? Obviously, there’s two split up scenarios, one where the same brands in different industries and one where the brands in the related industry.
[00:16:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. If we’re talking about brands and not people, and I’d like to come back to people and middle initials after this, if we may, if we’re talking about brands, with brands, as you say, within a georegion, you will tend to have unique brand names within an industry, but you can have duplicate brand names within the same georegion but in different industries. So if you have a brand name where you have competition with the same name within your georegion, then you need to become the dominant brand. In entity terms, we talk about entities, which are things, people, companies, places, books, music groups, music albums, so on and so forth. It’s anything that you can name. You’re an entity. I’m an entity. Kalicube is an entity. You need to become the dominant entity. You need Google feel that you dominate, that you are the more.
[00:17:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): There are two things. One is it’s more confident in it’s understanding about you than it is in its understanding about your competitor with the same name. That’s number one. And number two, that it’s more probable that the user is looking for you than it is that the user is looking for them, because what Google will do with that ambiguity is it will try to serve both ambiguity, both of those names. So you’ll end up with a mixed Brand SERP and of course only one of you can have that top spot. So the one that gets the top spot is the one that Google either understands the best and/or feels is dominant and is most likely that the user is looking for.
[00:18:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it actually comes then down to digital PR and having a great digital strategy and then communicating that strategy to Google. And I come back to that idea of educate Google like it’s a child, educate Google about yourself better than your namesake educates Google about themselves.
The Problem of Having the Same Brand Name or Same Personal Name
[00:18:29] Mark A Preston: All right. You mentioned the two things, one, the business brand as a business and two, a personal brand as the person. Now, should you look at the Brand SERP in a different way with the two different things?
[00:18:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The thing about people is that there are multiple problems with people, not generally speaking because that would be very rude, but there are multiple problems in terms of Brand SERPs for people. One of which is that we are by nature multifaceted. I was a musician. I was a blue dog. I’m a digital marketer. That’s pretty difficult for Google to get its head around that there are multiple things that I do or have done. A company tends to be less multifaceted. That’s problem number one. So, educating Google is your problem number one because it’s confusing when Google says, but Jason Barnard, I thought he was a blue dog and then I thought he was a musician. Now, I think he’s an author. Last week, I thought he was a digital marketer. And it’s getting really confused.
[00:19:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The second is there are many more homonyms, people with the same name. So that problem you were talking about having another company with the same name will be a much bigger problem for a person unless you’ve got a completely unusual name, but even Jason Barnard, there are well over 300 Jason Barnards in the world. So you need to, once again, educate Google so it understands. That confidence is incredibly important. You need to dominate in terms of who you are if you want Google to show you and not your homonyms.
The Effect of Geo Sensitivity in Terms of Having the Same Personal Name
[00:20:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing is geo becomes incredibly important. Because if you search for somebody’s name in America, Mark Preston in America will bring up a very different result to Mark Preston in the UK. People’s names are very geo sensitive. I use Mary Moore as an example. In America, it pulls up Mary Tyler Moore and a couple of other Mary Moores. I can’t remember which ones. In Ireland, it brings up I think it was the daughter of Henry Moore. And in Australia, it brings up a judge and an actress.
[00:20:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And as you can see, that same name will be interpreted differently across those different countries because, and Dawn Anderson talks about this a great deal, the probabilistic nature. It’s saying, what is the probability that this person is going to be interesting to this audience? So in Australia, it’s the judge. In Ireland, it’s the daughter of Henry Moore. That idea that we are going to or Google is going to present the information that is most likely to be helpful and useful to the person. The intent of the person is to find Mary Moore, the daughter of Henry Moore in Ireland, is much more likely than the judge in Australia if they’re sitting in Ireland. So that’s phenomenally important.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Dominating His Name by Making the Effort in Educating Google
[00:21:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing, as I said, is Google will try to deal with the ambiguity by sharing the SERP, search engine results page, amongst the different people it has understood. And one of the things I’ve been thinking recently, I dominate around the world for Jason Barnard. And that’s purely down to confidence in Google’s mind because I’ve worked so hard at it. There’s a Jason Barnard podcaster in the UK. He’s brilliant. If you want to listen to a music podcast, it’s absolutely brilliant. He doesn’t get a look in, the poor guy. And I’m really sorry, Jason, if you’re listening to this. There’s a footballer in South Africa. There’s an ice hockey player in America. In San Francisco, there’s an author and university teacher. And I dominate because of the confidence not because I’m relevant.
[00:22:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one thing I think is going to happen in the future as Google learns more and more about us all despite ourselves, because it will learn whether we make the effort or not. If we make the effort, it will learn correctly. We will educate it so it understands correctly and will reflect our image and our person accurately in the way that we want. And if we don’t work on it, it’s going to just make it up as it goes along. And that could be pretty disastrous for some people. But the point is I think I need to start preparing what you’ve already done is start preparing Google to understand Jason M Barnard. Because in the future, that might be necessary to disambiguate myself.
[00:22:54] Mark A Preston: Oh.
[00:22:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But that’s few years down the line.
Using Kalicube Pro to Correct Your Name and Make Your Brand More Consistent
[00:22:58] Mark A Preston: But say, okay, say this scenario, say you are known as Mark Preston, me, not you obviously, then I didn’t do anything with that brand apart from creating a sub-brand called Mark Preston SEO, which to be fair, I didn’t really do anything with. Right. So from Google then, changing me from Mark Preston to Mark A Preston, I have noticed that there is a learning curve behind it and something still get picked up on the old Mark Preston. And so, it’s going to take a while for me for that full transition throughout the internet and what I’ve already written out there under Mark Preston, not Mark A Preston.
[00:23:59] Mark A Preston: So does that mean, I don’t know what it means. You’re the brand specialist. But in hindsight, does that mean anything historical should stay as that historical brand name or should you try to go back and change the name to the dated one even though the old Mark Preston wrote it or did that end that thing?
[00:24:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. In your particular case, you would want to change everything that you can. We have a platform at Kalicube Pro and it’s actually designed to find all of these resources that Google is using for knowledge and then we list them out by priority. We have an algorithm that figures out the priority in Google’s mind for that knowledge source. And if you go around and correct them all, when you will make your brand much more consistent. And that’s an incredibly helpful point for Google. And as you say, even if you do that, it takes time. Google takes time to adapt, once again, it’s like a child. If it’s learnt your name, Mark Preston, and then you say, well, actually it’s Mark A Preston. It’s additional information the child needs to adapt and that takes a little bit of time.
Kalicube Pro in Using Schema Markup and Building Within That Code a Timeline for the Person You Can Leave for Google to Understand
[00:25:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): One thing I had an interesting conversation with Bill Hartzer who worked for another company and was writing for that company and had a different bio when he was working for that company and wrote on all the different sites. And there you’ve got a debate. Do you want to go back in and say, Bill Hartzer of Bill Hartzer Consulting, blahdy, blahdy, blah, or do you want to leave it as the company he was working for at the time? And that is an open question.
[00:25:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): At the moment, I don’t have an answer to it, but what I suspect is going to happen, what we’re going to do at Kalicube is we build out Schema Markup, which is the code that you give to Google. Basically, it’s what is in the page written in Google’s native language that it can digest natively and simply and it can understand it and it can be sure it’s understood. And one thing is to build within that code a timeline for the person in which case it would be possible to say, well, I can actually just leave that because I can get Google to understand within the timeline of my life. That was what I was doing and that was what my name was.
[00:26:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But once again, I think I have a tendency to think, wow, yeah, this is brilliant, it all makes sense, it all fits together, and Google’s going to love it. But I think some of the things that I want to be true are not necessarily true. Google isn’t as smart as I would like it to be, but I’m trying to plan now for how smart Google is going to be in two years time. And if I’m doing it right, the work I put in place today will not have any effect today. But once Google catches up, everything should be in place. And that the example, for example, of Jason M Barnard and also the timeline of my life. I’m building that now in the hope that in two years time it will be helpful information to Google and it will be information Google can use to best effect.
Going Into Brand SERP Takes Time, Patience, and Vast Amounts of Effort
[00:27:16] Mark A Preston: So, anyone thinking of really going into Brand SERP in a deep way like SEO, they shouldn’t expect immediate results.
[00:27:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Exactly, a hundred percent. I wish I always said that and I always forget. But yeah, it takes time. With SEO people, I found clients saying, oh, I want results next month. And your saying, well, we actually need to build the foundations. On top of that, we build the content. On top of that, we build Google’s confidence in what we’re offering and it’s understanding of what we’re offering. We build up whatever signals it needs to have, what you said earlier on, the trust in us as a provider of the solution to its user.
[00:27:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s exactly the same with brand. Google won’t understand immediately. But then again with brand, why would you expect Google to understand immediately when you know as a business owner that building your brand in your audience’s mind takes masses amounts of effort and time? Google’s another member of the audience. Certainly, it sees more than your other audience, but it’s still your audience and it still needs to be educated. It still needs to understand and it still needs to be confident in that understanding. So it takes time, it takes patience, and it takes vast amounts of effort. But all of the effort you put into your brand, getting that into Google’s little mind will always help with your real human audience. So it’s simply great marketing, good business, and a long term one would hope business for yourself.
The Brand SERP Is a Great Reflection of How Well Google Has Understood You and a Good Measurement of How Well You Are Communicating With Your Audience
[00:28:50] Mark A Preston: Yeah. So you’re not, even though it’s Brand SERP, you’re not doing it for Google. You’re doing it to push your business forward so your real audience, your potential clients or customers really understand who you are.
[00:29:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And the Brand SERP is actually a great reflection of how well Google has understood you. And that’s a very good measurement of how well you are communicating with your audience. So basically, I just use it and say, if Google’s getting it wrong, it means you are not communicating very well with your audience. You need to restrategise.
[00:29:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I’ve actually got a client coming on board next week who’s saying, I want to build my digital strategy from the Brand SERP outwards. That’s what we’ve done at Kalicube and it’s taken a year and a half of really sustained effort. We haven’t looked at Google at all. We get very little traffic from Google. We’ve built out up our brand on different platforms with lots and lots and lots of content as you’ve seen. And it’s starting to truly pay dividends, not through Google, but through all of the people who contact me from LinkedIn, from Twitter, from by an email, or visiting the site, from different sources. And the traffic from Google is now starting to go up.
[00:30:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google has caught on to the fact that our branding and our marketing on all of these different platforms and a lot of it is offsite, off our own site. Google is now catching up with the fact that we are offering a service to people. Those people do really want it. And it’s starting to figure out who those people are. And we’re getting traffic from Google as of a couple of months ago.
The Importance of Having a Personality in a Company Like Kalicube
[00:30:33] Mark A Preston: Yeah. So, brand whether you, it’s a person, or a business, should that brand include things like personality of the business or personality of the person, or should it be, this person is known for X, Y, Z?
[00:30:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. This person is known for X, Y, Z is great. And we talk about topical authority, basically saying I am an expert on a specific topic. So I’m known for Brand SERPs, I’m known for Knowledge Panels, I’m known for SEO, and I’m known for being a blue dog. But from the perspective of the company and that personality, you have to have personality if you want to appeal to your human audience. And Google doesn’t really understand personality. It’s still a machine. So, the trick is perhaps to display your personality whilst also being understood by Google. Don’t expect Google to get overexcited about what a funny person you are, doesn’t have a sense of humor.
[00:31:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you’re looking at a company, with Kalicube, it’s been really interesting because Kalicube was just me for years and years and years. So Kalicube had my personality. And The Brand SERP Guy is a good example. The Brand SERP Guy has a personality. I have a personality. Kalicube had a personality. And now I’ve got a team working with me at Kalicube. I’ve got people like Joan and Mary-Ann and Katrina and Alyssa and Kristine and Jean Marie and Maria. And they are all adding their personality to this but they’re adapting to what the personality of Kalicube is. So, Kalicube’s personality over the last year has shifted away from me and I love it, because I can still see some of myself in the personality of Kalicube, but Kalicube has become something bigger, something more thanks to the contribution of those people.
[00:32:40] Mark A Preston: Yeah. I noticed you made sure you didn’t miss anyone out there. I could see your brain working over time thinking I better not miss anyone.
[00:32:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I actually think I might have missed Faith. So, I’ll add Faith on. Because what I think is really important is the people working. It’s people working with me to push forwards Kalicube, Brand SERPs, Knowledge Panels, educating Google as a child, people who bring a lot to the table, people who help move this all forwards. And what I love about the team that we currently have is it’s people who truly believe in what we’re doing and believe that what we are doing is helpful, valuable, and useful to the audience we’re trying to bring it to. And the personality, what’s great is on social media, I see all the social media posts and I say, yeah, I’m so comfortable with that. And I think Kalicube now exists in and of itself outside of who I am.
Publishing a Book Can Make You Seem More Authoritative in Google and People’s Minds
[00:33:41] Mark A Preston: So, obviously, I’m exactly just looking at your book in the background. And as you’re aware, I’ve published my own book a few years ago.
[00:33:52] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah.
[00:33:53] Mark A Preston: As far as you’re concerned, do you think publishing a book has given you added trust in both the audience and Google into your personal brand? By personal brand, I mean The Brand SERP Guy.
[00:34:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The book doesn’t make money. I think that’s…
[00:34:21] Mark A Preston: No, I can relate to that.
[00:34:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s a lot of effort and it’s a lot of work and it’s stressful and it’s difficult and it doesn’t make you money but it does indeed make you more seem at least more authoritative. What I found really interesting with the book is I’ve got loads of videos out there, loads of talks, loads of interviews like this. And a friend of mine online, who follows everything I do, read the book and said, now I get it, it’s brought it all together in one chunk and now I understand everything you’ve been talking about and I’ve been watching and reading.
[00:35:03] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so what I found with the book is it places this chunk and it says, here it is, this is what we’re looking at. It forces you to do that. And once you’ve got that, then everything you build around it, all this extra content, this conversation is a built onto the book. And so for me, the book has been an amazing springboard to define what it is I’m saying and then be able to build around that, all these extra chunks. And it’s becoming more and more intricate and involved what I know about Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels. And it’s helped me to push myself forwards. And the other thing, of course, is yes, it does bring some business in the sense that people see the book and see you as more authoritative. I think a printed book has meaning in people’s minds.
The Struggles in Writing a Book and the Big Help Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Received From His Publishing Company and Other People
[00:35:52] Mark A Preston: Yeah. I’m going to say, when I published my book, I did have help with the publishing company.
[00:35:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah.
[00:36:01] Mark A Preston: Because I always thought that, no, someone like me had never published a book. Just to give you a very brief context, when I was at school, I wasn’t even good enough for the bottom set of English.
[00:36:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh crumbs.
[00:36:17] Mark A Preston: So, literally, they put me on what we call remedial English. So just to give you context, so the day my book come through my front door, I held it and flicked through the pages. It was a massive, massive self-worth thing. Think, look…
[00:36:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant.
[00:36:36] Mark A Preston: Somebody like me has done this. And I’ve only done it because I’ve worked out how to or I’ve asked certain people. So for me, when the book was released, I very soon realised, like yourself, that Amazon basically sting you. And I’m never going to get rich off the sales of the book. But what did happen is the impact from people reading it, the added business I got, and that book allowed me to go from doing unpaid speaking gigs to paid speaking gigs, because suddenly I was perceived differently. And I think that’s the whole part of the brand trust aspect of yourself. And I think it’s not so much you’ve done this. It’s what impact from it.
[00:37:38] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I think that’s a really brilliant point and a huge kudos to you for getting from, I remember what it was like in comprehensive schools in the UK and how debilitating it can be when you are put in the wrong stream and it pushes you towards you won’t ever do this. I found it difficult to write because of my background. A lot of my family are writers. So I felt that I couldn’t write because the bar was too high. And Danny Goodwin from Search Engine Journal gave me the opportunity and encouraged me greatly.
[00:38:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you mentioned having a company helped you. And I think I had a company help me too, a company called BrightRay Publishing, a lady called Emily Batdorf. Absolutely brilliant. I thought, yeah, I can write okay. I didn’t think I was brilliant, but I thought I was okay. And people have told me the book is absolutely, it’s a real page-turner. And the person who made it the page-turner was Emily. It wasn’t me. And I had so much help with de-geeking it all and turning it into a flow of a story that’s easy to read, easy to digest. And that’s thanks to BrightRay and especially to Emily.
After Publishing, There Is the Massive Effort of Getting People to Buy, Read, and Leave a Review for the Book
[00:38:47] Mark A Preston: Yeah. I wrote something that I saw as a very long article.
[00:38:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Koray Gübür’s article, he’s actually written a review of Kalicube Pro and it’s 25,000 words and it’s a WordPress article. He’s nuts, a bit brilliant. It’s absolutely brilliant. He’s writing books as articles. Sorry. I interrupted you.
[00:39:13] Mark A Preston: Yeah, I’m going to say, but so from my personal experience, it was very by accident, talking to somebody about a speaking gig. And next thing I knew, they said, oh, I know somebody. And basically they said, I said, oh, I’d love to be an author but it’s never going to happen. I don’t know how to do it. So anyway, next thing. And that’s what I mean regarding the personal branding that for me had a big part to play in the book. And I think obviously, as we both know, it’s not just as easy as writing a few words and print it on Amazon, just getting it out there is a massive entity trying to get people to read what you’ve written.
[00:40:09] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Writing is a huge task. I found that once I just let go and just wrote, I suddenly found myself with large amounts of text. And I was very surprised at how quickly I could write then I would go back and rewrite it and that’s when it takes a lot of time. That for me, the rewriting took more time than the writing. And then as you say, once you get out there, it’s such a massive effort to actually get in front of people, get them to read it, get them to buy it, get them to review it.
Experimenting With the Knowledge Panel of Jason’s Book and Ranking Number One for the Topic of Brand SERP on Google
[00:40:37] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We had a really fun experiment with the Knowledge Panel, which is the information box on the right-hand side when you search on desktop. And a couple of things have happened with the book is number one, I asked people for reviews on the Knowledge Panel itself. And we got 14 reviews, I think. And what then happened is that the Knowledge Panel has expanded immensely. And we’ve got multiple, if you look in America, you’ve got what we call filter pills. So you’ve got multiple different aspects of the book presented in multiple SERPs. It’s a little bit complicated, but it’s expanded the presence of the book on its own Brand SERP immensely.
[00:41:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing that’s happened is if you just search Brand SERP on Google, it shows you the book. The book is the definitive work on the topic. Now, because it’s the only work on the topic, it’s easy to be the definitive work. But I’ve got a couple of other examples where somebody has written a book that Google shows us a Knowledge Panel as the definitive work on the topic. And it’s a topic that’s incredibly competitive with lots of ads. And the guy, who’s written that book, was actually saying to me, that’s my free advertising and it’s brilliant and it’s absolutely wonderful for my brand image and also for sales.
[00:41:55] Mark A Preston: Yeah. It is. For me, it’s a marketing tool. It’s just one of the various marketing tools at my disposal. Right. Now, moving away from brand. Sorry to do this to you, but we’re moving away from brand a little bit.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) as a Niche Specialist in Brand SERPs and as Someone Who Is Bridging the Gap Between SEO and Marketing
[00:42:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So I actually just said it’s alright, I don’t mind. And I don’t what you’re going to do. So, I’ve basically forgiven you for something that I don’t yet know what’s going to happen. So, off you go.
[00:42:28] Mark A Preston: Don’t worry. I was going to say, within the wider SEO industry and community, where do you place yourself?
[00:42:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Yeah. I’ve placed myself within the SEO industry as a niche specialist in the result that your audience sees when they google your brand name or your personal name. And that’s a real niche and I’m the only person in that niche in the SEO community. But what I’ve now also realised is that what I’m doing is digital PR, it’s online reputation management, and it’s brand management. So in fact, this is very much now in the wider perspective than SEO. I happen to come from the SEO world, but my true audience is going to be digital PR specialists, online reputation management experts, and brand managers at major corporations. And those are the clients I’m getting on board these days.
[00:43:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I think what I am doing, I hope I’m doing is bridging the gap between SEO and marketing in my little way. And it’s a great bridge because it’s a bridge that both communities can understand. And the SEO techniques I use for Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels are actually incredibly simple. They’re not tech or geeky at all, Schema Markup accepted. And so it means that brand managers and marketers and online reputation managers and digital PR specialists can understand what we’re talking about and they can understand what it is they need to do. And what they need to do is purely great marketing package for Google.
Taking a Consultancy Strategic Approach for Jason’s Traditional SEO Clients
[00:44:17] Mark A Preston: So within the industry, the SEO industry, is do you just solely focus on brand or is the other things you do as well?
[00:44:28] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I’ve given up on traditional SEO clients. I don’t take them anymore. The only clients I do take from the traditional SEO field are where I do consultancy. And what I do is basically one hour sessions that we video record and I send them a copy of the video afterwards where we walk through what their questions are, their problems are, their immediate challenges are, and then we use the Brand SERP and searches around the brand to understand what they need to do, what their priorities are and discuss what resources they have available.
[00:45:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so it’s much more of a consultancy strategic approach. So it’s actually not so much SEO. It’s much more marketing. How are we going to build your business online and make sure that what you are building online around your business is appreciated by Google so that Google will present you as a solution to its users when you are actually a valid and helpful, credible solution.
Digital PR Is Missing the Trick of Having an Entity Home
[00:45:30] Mark A Preston: Yeah. You mentioned digital PR?
[00:45:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:45:34] Mark A Preston: My question to you regarding digital PR is do you think they gain it right?
[00:45:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Ooh, that’s a cheeky question because now I’m very much in danger of being rude to people.
[00:45:47] Mark A Preston: No, not to any individuals, but in general. Obviously, the traditional PR is very story-based, hundred-year anniversary, that kind of thing. The way I see digital PR is data-driven. So, yes, they gain lots of impact driving people to the website because it’s data-driven but I don’t know if it’s you, but the mixture of the both, the brand aspect. I know Carrie recently mentioned something about people need to search the brand and the keyword in order to get that mix.
[00:46:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah.
[00:46:33] Mark A Preston: So I think that from my perspective, just so I’m not putting this on your head, is it just feels as though it’s just about getting the links sometimes and the story and the brand as being a secondary aspect. I don’t think it’s been taken out.
[00:46:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, no. And you’ve actually made a really, really, really good point. And it’s made me think as you were talking as well. It comes down to, I’ve actually got a partner in the US who does traditional PR, and we’re now working together to turn it into branded digital PR. And what we’re talking about, for me, makes so much sense. He’s great at PR. I’m great at packaging all this stuff for Google and making sure that it’s all in place so that Google understands and that it makes sense from the brand perspective in a digital brand world.
[00:47:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think what it comes down to is a lot of digital PR, they’re missing a trick. And the trick is basically what I call the Entity Home, which is the page on your website that represents the entity itself as being the hub and making sure that you join all the dots for Google. And maybe that’s what they’re missing out on is that they’ve got this presence. They’re getting out there but they’re not explicitly joining the dots for Google. They’re not helping the child.
The Website Is the Hub Where Everything Should Be Pointing But It Should Also Be Pointing Out to the Sources
[00:48:04] Mark A Preston: You said the hub page is the About Us page, the about them, the brand. Is that what you mean?
[00:48:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The website is the hub. And the website is where everything should be pointing, but the website should also be pointing out to the sources which is part of what Kalicube Pro does. And as you say, the about page is the factual page that Google is looking at to understand the company or the person. And that’s what we call the Entity Home. It’s the hub, the place that Google will go to. And then from the hub, you can point out to all these different sources to say, here’s all the corroboration. That’s how Google learns. And that’s how we need to approach our efforts to educate it.
The Idea of a Homepage as Stepping Stone to Other Destinations Is an Important Concept to Remember
[00:48:51] Mark A Preston: So say for instance, someone like myself, where the website is about me, the brand. I am the brand.
[00:48:59] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You can use the homepage.
[00:49:00] Mark A Preston: Do I still need an About Us page about me and the story?
[00:49:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. No or yes and no, depending on your audience. But basically when the website is entirely about you, using the homepage is fine. The homepage is naturally going to be the page that Google will take as the Entity Home because it’s the most powerful page. But if you are a company, it isn’t the best place to be explaining factually who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. So you would much rather it was on the About Us page that Google is focusing for that factual information.
[00:49:32] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Sometimes it’s not possible. Google chooses the homepage anyway. And right now, you need to just go with the flow because Google’s pretty stubborn. But if you’ve got a personal website or a website that’s only representing one entity, then the homepage is absolutely fine. And you just need to find that balance between being clear for Google and making sure that you’re giving your audience the right options.
[00:49:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And one thing I would say about homepage, we’re going a little bit off the topic here, but I think it’s really important to remember the homepage is never a destination in and of itself. It’s always somewhere you go to get somewhere else. So the key to the homepage is not to sell your products directly. It isn’t to explain everything about your company and all the people who work for it. It’s to say, where do you want to go? What’s the information you’re actually looking for? So you look at your homepage and I look at people’s homepages all the time. You think, it doesn’t actually tell me what I could do next, where I’m trying to get to. It doesn’t help me on my journey to the sales page, the blog, the help page, the Contact Us page. The idea of a homepage as a stepping stone to other destinations, I think, is a concept we would all do well to bear in mind when we’re actually designing it.
Things You Need to Add On Your About Us Page to Build Authority and Trust From Google and Your Audience
[00:50:52] Mark A Preston: Okay. So from a business brand and their About Us page, what sort of things did you need to think about adding to their About Us page to build the authority and trust up and from Google and their audience and everything? What sort of things, because I look at a lot of About Us pages and it’s a tiny little paragraph saying, yeah, we started 20 years ago and we just do what we do.
[00:51:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, no, that’s exactly it. It’s a tiny paragraph. Google needs, let’s say, approximately 200 words to get any kind of contacts that it can rely on. So less than 200 words, you’re already struggling. You don’t need to write 2000 words but maybe 500 words for an About Us page. So many people and so many companies start with we were founded in 1969 with the aim of blahdy, blahdy, blahdy, blah. They start at the beginning and they move to the end. We do it as people. I was born in 1966 in Yorkshire. And I grew up with sheep and cows and went to Otley Comprehensive School. And that’s totally the wrong way around.
[00:52:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You need to put what you’re doing right now at the top. And if you want to tell your story, you put it at the bottom because there are two things there. Number one is Google takes whatever’s at the top as being the most relevant and important. So you start with what’s most relevant and important to your audience today, but your audience don’t care when you were founded, when you were born. And if they do, they’ll read to the bottom.
[00:52:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): They care, if you’re searching for Jason Barnard, The Brand SERP Guy, you care about what is Jason Barnard saying about Brand SERPs? Why is he The Brand SERP Guy? What can he do with Knowledge Panels? What’s his approach to digital marketing? Then we can read on and say, oh, and he’s an author. Oh, and he’s written for these for Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land. He’s done Kalicube Tuesdays. He’s got his podcast. He used to be a musician. He used to be a blue dog. And he went to Liverpool University, that for me, sorry, Liverpool Polytechnic, excuse me, at the time of John Moore’s University.
[00:53:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That for me makes sense, because if anybody who isn’t really interested that I was a blue dog will have stopped halfway through, but they still got the information they need today for me as The Brand SERP Guy. And if they were interested in me as a blue dog, then they will read that far.
[00:53:20] Mark A Preston: Yeah. Now that is a very good tip because I oddly ever see that happen, really good tip.
Be Clear About Who You Are, What You Do, and Who Your Audience Is While Still Making It Interesting and Attractive
[00:53:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the other thing companies do, sorry, just one last tip as well, is they say our mission is to save the world from expensive plastic thermometers, whatever it might be. And you need to be much more specific. You need to say, we are a company who do this, who do that for this audience. And it sounds boring and dull and dry when I do it, but Google will understand that.
[00:53:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And being clear about who you are, what you do, and who your audience is for Google doesn’t mean to say you have to write boring copywriting. You can still make it interesting, but you need to get the facts in there for Google and then flower it up a bit for the people so that it’s attractive to them. That’s a real art. And as you said, I hardly ever see an About Us page that actually makes sense. And I very, very, very rarely see an About Us page that states the fact in an attractive manner. And that is the key.
[00:54:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what I’m learning with Kalicube Pro, we now have a Done for You Service where we help with Knowledge Panels. We’ll get you a Knowledge Panel. We’ll manage your Knowledge Panel. The description of your company or your person or your entity is the single most important thing. And making it factually simple for Google to understand and yet attractive to your audience, your human audience is a real trick. And it’s a real trick we’re starting to master. I’ve left you speechless. How lovely.
[00:55:00] Mark A Preston: When I’m thinking about something, my mouth shuts because I’m thinking, I digest the information I think. How could I turn that into reality? And that’s the thing. You see this is why it’s so good. I believe no matter who you speak to, there’s always something you learn and that’s interesting about the industry. So on a final note, this is an easy question for you.
[00:55:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, jolly good.
What Can the Audience and the Industry Do for Jason to Achieve Some of His Goals?
[00:55:30] Mark A Preston: Is the people watching this or maybe listening to this interview, is there anything the audience and the industry can do for you to help you achieve something maybe you’re trying to launch or bring out or anything?
[00:55:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. The more everybody talks about Brand SERPs, the better. So, talking about the importance of what your audience sees when they google your brand name, talking about it to your friends, talking about it to your colleagues, talking about it to your clients, talking about it online, the better it is for me because I want to get this out. It’s a new concept, and yet you think after 25 years old, the web, whatever it is, people haven’t focused on it, and yet it’s the single most obvious thing once you do think about it. And I find it difficult to get my head around the fact that it hasn’t been a focus in the past 25 years. I would love it to be a focus in the next 25 years.
[00:56:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you really want to understand what I’m talking about, why I think this is so important, why I’ve been so obsessed about it for the last 10 years, read the book. The book really does place this stone, this big chunk of thought, an approach that you can build on and you can build any digital marketing strategy off the content of this book, I think.
Where to Find Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) to Have Discussions and Conversations?
[00:57:04] Mark A Preston: And where can people find you and what sort of thing, discussions or conversation would you like to have with people so it’s not obviously wasting your time?
[00:57:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I would love to discuss with people things about how I can help them with their Brand SERPs, how we can help them with Knowledge Panels at Kalicube. And if you want to get in contact with me, actually google my personal name, Jason Barnard, or my company name for that matter, Kalicube. And then one really nice thing about what I call the Google business card, which is that result when you search Jason Barnard, is that when it’s well-designed and I’ve designed my Google business card, it gives you the audience, the person who’s looking for me, the choice of how you want to interact with me.
[00:57:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it starts with my own website, if you want to know more about me personally. Next up is Twitter, if you want to communicate with me on Twitter because I do that a lot. Then my company website, if you want to do business with me. LinkedIn, if you want to connect on LinkedIn, that would be more business than Twitter. Then, there’s a copy of the book about halfway down. There’s my article, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, if you want to read more about the stuff I’ve been doing, then some videos. So, what I love about the Google business card I’ve managed to build over the last 10 years is it gives the audience the choice of how they want to interact with me online.
[00:58:28] Mark A Preston: Wonderful. Now, after you’ve said all that, I realised just how much work on my own I need to do.
[00:58:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant. Yeah. You got 10 years ahead of you, mate.
[00:58:38] Mark A Preston: That’s fine. I’m not planning on doing much anyway. Okay, right. I want to thank you for taking the time out to join me today. And we could talk about this all day long, but we’ve both got other things to do.
[00:58:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Can I sing you out?
[00:59:01] Mark A Preston: Oh, please do, because you don’t want to hear me singing.
[00:59:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A quick goodbye to end your show. Thank you, Mark A Preston. It was a lot of fun.