Optimizing Your Brand SERP

with
Jason Barnard

You can also watch this interview on my YouTube channel

Table of Contents

  1. What is SERP?
  2. What is Knowledge Panel?
  3. How to Wind the SEO Game?

*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.

Intro

Arek Dvornechuck:
Hey, what's up branding experts, Arek here at Ebaqdesign and welcome to On Branding Podcast. And my guest today is Jason Barnard and Jason is a digital marketer, a business owner, a podcast host, and a book author. And he specializes in SEO and specifically in brand SERP optimization and knowledge panel management. And so Jason also wrote his book and check it out on Amazon and titled The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business. Hello, Jason, thanks for joining us today.

Jason Barnard:
Hi, Arek. How you doing? I'm really glad you've got your name in the shirt that way possibly together, even though I can't say Dvornechuck.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah. Very nice. Dvornechuck

Jason Barnard:
Yeah Dvornechuck.

Arek Dvornechuck:
People have a problem yeah. It's really hard to pronounce, but I try to Americanize the name. My original name is you wouldn't know how to pronounce it so I try to write it in a way that, you know, you can at least try. So, but anyway, thanks for joining us. And I really appreciate you reaching out, and this is great. I just briefly went through your book, but I'm gonna dive in, and read it some more because I will definitely need to apply some of those tips and tricks.

1. What is SERP?

Arek Dvornechuck:
Because this looks just amazing. The knowledge panel, you know, when someone Googles your name or your brand name. So let's actually take a step back and maybe explain to our listeners, just start with some basic, what is SEO? What is SERP and how does it all work.

Jason Barnard:
Right. Yeah. Great question. You said SEO and it's Search Engine Optimization, and it's basically trying to get to the top of Google for selling your products. And that's how traditionally people have looked at SEO and traditionally it's been very technical and geeky. And so a lot of people think, well, okay, SEO, that's all about the HTML code. It's about how my site is built. It's about the technical geeky stuff, and I need to be a web developer. And that was true 10 years ago, let's say. It was probably still quite true five years ago, but today search engine optimization is much, much more about branding and topicality. And that's where kind of the fundamentals of brand SERP comes in is that Google is trying to get its user to the solution to their problem as efficiently as possible. When you search on Google for something, you're looking for the solution to a problem. So what Google now tries to do is rather than look at the webpage and see all other words in there. It tries to understand what the webpage offers or what the video offers as a solution. What question or problem does it solve or answer? And so from that perspective, the first thing you need to do is make sure that Google has understood who you are, what you do, and who your audience is because that is how it's gonna be able to map its users' problems to the solutions you can realistically provide for that user. So what does Google show when you search for a brand name, or if you search my personal name is the representation of what Google has understood about you, who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. And if it's a misrepresentation, Google's badly misunderstood you, and it won't be able to use you as a solution for its users over a long period of time, it's gonna lose track. It's not gonna understand.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. So we actually need to take control of that and make sure that Google understands the information, you know, finds the right information. Right. So we do have some control over that. When you described specific steps that we need to take in your book in order for Google to organize our information in a way. So, you know, it can be featured in that snippet on the right side. So let's actually, I thought maybe we can just quickly show to our listeners for you guys,  who are just listening on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can just Google probably Jason Barnard. I'm gonna send a link for you guys quite on YouTube. And I'm gonna show you what we are talking about. Exactly. So I have the name right here. I already googled.

Jason Barnard:
So, you'll notice right underneath Jason Barnard, which is my name. There is a Jason Bernard and Jason Bernard is an actor and that even though the name isn't quite the same, Google associates, the two together, because they're very similar and it thinks you might have made a typographical mistake. You might have typed it in wrong. So this goes quite deeply. Google is trying to understand what do you mean? So it, thinks maybe you mean Jason Bernard when in fact you mean Jason Barnard and then I'll let you carry on with your description. I'm sorry.

2. What is Knowledge Panel?

Arek Dvornechuck:
Sure. No, I just wanted to quickly show what we are talking about. So basically what we were talking about. So these are search results. What's here, you know, on the left, right. And what's on the right is what Google called fact right. And this is the sidebar on the right. For example, if you Google your name, it displays your name, your photos, and a brief description, and some information like where you were born, your partner,  parents, and things like that, your social media profiles. Right? And the same happens with, brand names, right? Organization, names, company names, and stuff like that.

Jason Barnard:
So, what you were showing is on the left-hand side, it's Google's suggestions of how you might want to interact with me and what might interest you about me, and in the case of a brand, how you would interact with the company or what you might want to know about them. And it's a suggestion. And on the right-hand side, as you rightly said, it's fact it's the facts that Google has understood. It's a summary of the facts that Google has understood, and it's a kind of stamp of approval of your authority and your credibility to your user when they're searching your brand name. If you now don't have that knowledge panel, those facts, that summary of facts from Google, you don't look credible. You don't look like for example, a big company or an important person. And if you do you definitely look like a more authoritative person or a more credible company.

Arek Dvornechuck:
And I actually wanted to go back and show people. Maybe we can show the difference. So if you Google my name, unfortunately, I don't have the knowledge panel here. We do have some such results, pretty strong in, you know, like I do blogging, have optimized my website for SEO. I've done some on-page SEO, but I could definitely improve. So that's what I'm saying. That is pretty interesting. I will definitely wanna dive in and follow these steps in order to have this knowledge panel on the right. Just like you were able to do it for yourself.

Jason Barnard:
And what is interesting though? Is it very much associates you with your company?

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yes, that's right.

Jason Barnard:
And so from that perspective, as well, you were saying, oh, I've. Optimizing my blog I've been working on my company website. Google is trying to understand not only you but your company and the relationship between you and the better it understands each of them. And that relationship, the more you can build its understanding outwards about where are your specialist topics? Where are your authoritative? What do you offer? What product, and you can build this understanding. I like to talk about Google as a child. It's understood your company. Next, you can get it to understand you. Then you can get it to understand your product. Then it can get you can get it to understand your topicality. And at that point, this child can say, well, when I've got a user who's looking for, for A, then I know that this person and this company are authoritative and expert, incredible to providing this solution to A, and that's where you're gonna win. And it's we call it SEO, but it's digital marketing through the interface of Google.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. I like that analogy with a child. So basically we need to feed Google with this information, right.  So just to sum up for our listeners, I have some of the key takeaways. My key takeaways here. So just to sum up, what is SEO, Search Engine Optimization? That's the abbreviation. So is the art and science of persuading search engines, such as Google, but there are other also search engines, right? To recommend your content to their users as the best solution to their problem, right? So if someone searches for something, Google sees you as the most credible answer to this particular question or a problem, and they show you instead of your competitors, for example, right? It's a big part of branding, right? Because whatever we do. We sell products, offer services, especially when we are trying to build a personal brand, everyone is going to Google us, our name or a company name, check out our social media. So this is really important to have this information easily available online, right? Also, I like what you say, you basically, I like this phrase. Google is your new business card. Right? So you need to be proactive and take control of that, right?

Jason Barnard:
Yeah, no, a hundred percent. The idea that somebody searches your name or Googles your name to use the Google verb is incredibly common. We all do it, but then we don't really think, oh, maybe other people are doing it to me. We do that also when we're bottom of the funnel with a brand, as we're thinking about doing business with them, we Google the name, but also people will Google a brand name when they're navigating to the site when they're already a client. So it becomes incredibly important as a passageway towards your site. Or is a place where people will research you. So it is your business card. You could even say, it's your homepage because it's the page that they see before they come to their website. And the other incredibly important thing is you were talking about all the different social media platforms, all the things we do online, and the branding in a more global sense. If you look at your brand SERP, what appears when your audience Googles your brand name, it will show you what it thinks is important from your digital ecosystem. And from that perspective, you can then look at your brand SERP and see, A. What's out there, B. What Google thinks is important and C. If Google has got it wrong, you can then see where you can re-strategize. Because Google is the machine that knows the most about what you're doing online. And it's representing to your audience when they Google your brand name, what it feels is helpful, valuable, and relevant to them. And if it gets it wrong, It's misunderstood. If it's misunderstood, you have badly educated this child. You need to work out where it is. You are going wrong in that education or where you're going wrong in your strategy because it might be that Google's fully understood and you are just getting it totally wrong and you need to change your entire strategy. So those are the two choices. If Google's got it wrong on your brand. So SERP, Search Engine Results Page is either you've misexplained it to the child or the child is correctly understood. And you are not addressing your audience in the way that you should.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. So let's talk about some of these strategies, right? Because you described quite a few and I have your kindle version of your book right here.

3. How to Wind the SEO Game?

Arek Dvornechuck:
You talk about things like optimizing your homepage, optimizing site links, managing social media and other things, other tactics and techniques. Probably, we won't have time to go over all of them, but maybe you can give us like a brief overview of the process. Like maybe what are the some of the most important steps that we should definitely take in order to, you know, have this knowledge for our name.

Jason Barnard:
Right? Yeah. Great question about the knowledge panel. In fact, the foundation of everything, you mentioned the homepage, and you mentioned the site links, the single most important thing for Google is that it understands your site. So you might think, okay, you search my brand name on my personal name, my site ranks, number one, job done. But in fact, the knowledge panel is, as I said, a summary of the facts that Google has understood about you, and the problem it faces is that it has lots of different pieces of, let's say a broken plate that is scattered around the internet on your Facebook, on your LinkedIn, on crunch base, an article about you in the New York Times, whatever it might be. And it's trying to put this plate together to make the complete puzzle so that it can fully understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. They talk about reconciliation. I talk about making the puzzle of the broken plate and for reconciliation. They're looking for a point of reconciliation and that point of reconciliation is a page on your website that explains who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. Either provides it with a completed plate puzzle, and it can then compare its version of the puzzle to your version of the puzzle. So the fact that Google is actually actively looking for a place on your website that describes who you are, what you're doing, and who your audience seems a little bit contradictory, but it's looking to get that information from you so it can compare it to the let's say the fragmented version, the broken plate. That it's put together and to see if it's put it together correctly. And so the knowledge panel is always based on either Wikipedia or because most of us don't have, we're not notable enough to have a Wikipedia page and we should never have a Wikipedia page because nobody would spontaneously search for us or be interested in us. It gets it from Wikipedia or it gets it from your website, the full plate that corresponds to all the broken pieces that it's found around the web. And so it's up to you to educate the child by presenting it on your well-organized website, with a clear description of who you are, what you're doing, and who your audience is that corresponds to your digital ecosystem. Then that repeats the same thing.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Mm-hmm. Is it just enough to have a well-written about page, for example, do we have to use any structured data? How does it work, you know, behind the scenes, can you elaborate on that a little bit and having a profile creating, as you mentioned, like. Wikipedia page. So we know that this helps for sure. You know, how about an Amazon page? For example, if you're a book author got, does this help? How about if you run a podcast, having all those profiles on different podcasting platforms and stuff like that. Can you explain on that?

Jason Barnard:
Yeah. I mean, you make a great point with Amazon and podcasting profiles. Wikipedia is where everybody's kind of knee-jerk reaction goes to. But the problem with Wikipedia is that you are immediately handing over control of who you are, what you're doing, and who your audience is to the Wikipedia editors who can change anything they want. So even if you can have a Wikipedia page, it isn't the best solution. The best solution is your own website corroborated, as you rightly said, if you're an author by Amazon by good reads, by Muck Rack, for example. If you're a musician, it would be MusicBrainz, it would be Dizi, it would be Spotify. If you are a film actor, it would be IMDb. It would be Rotten Tomatoes. So as you can see, I'm building up, this idea is that I can say on my own website, what I need Google to understand for my knowledge panel, but then from there, I need to link out to these corroborative sources to repeat the same information.  And the corroborative sources need to be relevant to who I am and what I'm doing. So an actor, as we said, would be on IMDb. An author would be Amazon Goodreads, other books like Google Books, and so on and so forth. And if we come back to the child analogy, your webpage, that explains what the child needs to understand is you as an adult explaining to the child, and then you say to the child, right? Here's some information about history. The child goes, okay, fine. I kind of understand. Then you say, go and ask grandma and grandma is trusted. And grandma explains the same thing in the same way. And the child says, okay, now I'm really starting to understand then you say, now go and ask the history teacher at school. So the child goes and asks the history teacher at school. Then it is confident it's understood. And at that point, the child that is Google gives you your knowledge panel and it's the equivalent to the child going to the playground. And if I've explained it to it as the parent, it's not gonna say anything because the child will be a little bit scared of getting it wrong and looking foolish to its friends. But if the history teacher, the grandma, the sister, the brother, whoever has repeated the same information in the same manner, and they are authoritative relevant sources. The history teacher being perhaps the most important, the equivalent of AMDb for an actor, then the child will go into the playground and it will shout this information. So your knowledge panel on your brand SERP, is the child shouting out the information it understood about you in the playground.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Mm-hmm. From different and taken from different places, right? So exactly Google always confirms this information pulling from different places.

Jason Barnard:
Exactly. So it is this idea of Google will never let you just tell it what the truth is. It needs to get corroboration and that corroboration needs to be from trusted, authoritative, highly relevant sources.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Right. So this is about SEO knowledge panels. Okay. So just to sum up for our listeners, maybe some of the key takeaways. It's just this quick, quick snapshot of information, right? And we can take control of this, of this by optimizing our homepage, about page we have on our other profiles. And this is gonna be different for, you know, if you are an actor, if you're a singer, if you're a designer and so on, right? There are some authoritative websites that you should create profiles and then create links to your about page. So this information matches.

Jason Barnard:
Right? And I'm sorry, one thing you asked about is schema markup, structured data. And that's the really geeky thing that people are very scared of. And what I love about this is, you don't need it a lot of SEOs. A lot of people in my industry will tell you, you have to have it, but we had a client we've got a case study on callicube.com, our company website. With an author who managed to get his complete control of his knowledge panel with no structured data, with no nothing, geeky, pure marketing, purely just reorganizing, as you said, his own website and the sources. And there was in fact, a very famous guy in the SEO industry called Barry Schwartz, and he has correctly got his knowledge panel filled with information. Google has understood who he is and where he is representing himself on his own site, which is called rustybrick.com. And he has no geeky structured data on that page. So the idea that this is necessarily geeky and techie is completely wrong. It's all about being clear with the child. And then as I said, being, sorry, being clear with the child on your own page and then pointing it to the corroborative sources and the thing that both of these people, Barry Schwartz and G. Scott Graham, the client that I had. Is that they were pointing to incredibly linking out to incredibly irrelevant corroborative sources. That makes total sense to the child. And one of the nice things is to keep it simple.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Keep it simple in terms of the messaging, the words, the phrases you use to describe yourself, like, for example, you describe yourself as The Brand SERP Guy, right? Yeah. And that's your unique phrase or, or a tagline as you wish, right? So is this what you are talking about like, we should create some kind of two, maybe two sentences or three sentence-description of who we are and what we do, and then reuse this information over and over again on, in different places?

Jason Barnard:
Yeah. You've summed it up absolutely brilliantly because a lot of people say Google doesn't like duplicated text traditionally in SEO. There is a problem with duplicated text, but this is the one case where it's actually incredibly powerful because the idea that you have this same description on all these different sources, is incredibly reassuring for Google. It's a child that understands by repetition  when you are describing who you are and what you do. So the more you could, if you can write a really simple couple of sentences, that really describe who you are and what you do and who your audience is, if you can. And then that same description or an adaptation of it slightly on different platforms will reassure the child. And it's really important to remember that not only does the child need to understand. That it needs to be confident in that understanding. And confidence in the understanding is the absolute key, getting the understanding isn't so very difficult. Building the confidence of that child is the big trick.

Arek Dvornechuck:
And that is what takes time. Right? So I probably, you know,  can imagine our listeners thinking about, you know, how long it takes. How long it takes, you know, like, I can change the information to my website today within an hour, right? But it is gonna take some time for Google to crawl on my website again, you know, I can request the indexing right? In Google research console. But how about other websites? You know, if I wanna create a profile on the Wikipedia and then optimize all those profiles on, you know. Like portfolio websites for designers, for example, like the number one is Behance for designers right? So that probably would help and, and things like that. So what do you think is there is  a timeframe, how fast it can be done, or how long it can take.

Jason Barnard:
Right. Well, it's a really interesting question because there are two different aspects to it. The first is how long does it take for Google to digest? And that can be one month and it can be three months. The other is, and it's never a couple of days. So Google takes time to digest this information. But the other big question is how contradictory and how fragmented is the information out there already and how quickly and how efficiently and how well can you correct it all. Because if you think about it, you know, I've, I've been online for 25 years. So some profiles I haven't looked at for 15 years. Some haven't looked at it for 10 years. Some haven't looked at for a couple of years and some, I look at every day and for a company, if you've been around for 20 years, let's say you've had loads of employees who say different things are set up accounts on different platforms you don't necessarily know about. And so the real trick there is to find all of these corroborative sources that Google is looking at and correct them all as quickly as you possibly can. So that they all corroborate each other. And I was actually working for a company called Yoast. If you know them, Yoast is the WordPress plugin.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah. I've been using that for a long time. Very, very helpful. I know a lot of people must know about this. This is like the number one. Plugin, not just SEO plugin, but probably in a general plugin, you know, everyone is using that on WordPress,

Jason Barnard:
Right. Well, we help them with their knowledge panel and the Yoast. Develop is the boss with his knowledge panel. And we were trying to collect his profile pages and all the review platforms that we're having reviews for Yoast and so on and so forth. And I realized that it's very labor-intensive. After a day we had collected let's say 50 profile pages and review platforms. So I actually built a SaaS platform, a software as a service platform Kalicube Pro that does this automatically. And it's, so now only takes two minutes and we can build the entire digital ecosystem, all the profiles, all the review platforms, all of these different sites that are talking about you. And then we can prioritize it by how much importance, Google, places on each of these sources then you just click on each one and you go in and correct it. And an example would be that I switched information in my knowledge panel, which it said Jason Barnard musician. And one day I went through every single profile, 75 profiles, and pages about me and my own website. And I corrected them all in three hours using Kalicube Pro. And two weeks later, Google switched from musician to author because I changed my description from Jason Barnard as a musician and a digital marketer to Jason Barnard as an author and a digital marketer on 75 platforms in the space of three hours. So what happened is that Google came to our website, and saw the information had changed. I pointed it to all these corroborative sources from my website, and it's still the same information everywhere, all at the same time. And so it went okay. That must be true. The child switched his point of view and said, Jason Barnard, is an author.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Okay. That really gives us an understanding of how it works. So, yeah. So you have this tool, right? That helps us to basically prioritize. It just basically searches for a brand name or your personal brand name. It prioritizes all those, you know. I just have a question here. Does domain authority matter in this case, the domain authority of the website, does it really matter?

Jason Barnard:
Right? It will partially, but Google's moving away from that kind of concept of websites because it's starting to understand more and more the brands behind them and the people behind them. And it looks at expertise, authority, and trust. They call it E.A.T. Of the person or the company behind the website or the article. So for example, if you confirm something about me to Google because we are relevant to each other. You are in branding and I'm in branding and digital marketing. Your confirmation would be more valuable to me than let's say The Adelaide Times in Australia because The Adelaide Times is a generalist newspaper in Australia. It isn't relevant directly relevant to my industry. And it's the other side of the world. Whereas, you are not in the same country as me, but you are relevant to my topic. And if I were to look in the UK, for example, The Guardian would be more relevant for me because I come from the UK so The Guardian in the UK is more relevant for example than New York Times. So, yes, the importance of the site will play a role. But it's relevancy to me and my topic and my core topic  is going to be the most important thing

Arek Dvornechuck:
Okay. Understood. So the relevance is actually more important.

Outro

Arek Dvornechuck:
Okay. So just as we are approaching the end of our interview, of course, I'm gonna link in the description to your book, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business. So you guys can check it out and, you know, there are specific step-by-step processes he describes. What you need to do specifically in order to achieve that. And I will definitely dive into this. So I'm super excited to, you know because all I have to do is just start organizing this information and updating my profiles because it's gonna take a while, right? So it's not gonna happen overnight or in a few days, it's gonna probably take a month or so at least. So the sooner I start, you know, changing this information, the sooner I can achieve that, right?

Jason Barnard:
As you say, it will take you about a month to sort out your own information, and then it will take Google a couple of months, let's say to digest it. So your whole project is gonna be about three months. And during the two months, it's digesting, you can continue to generate confirmation, corroboration. And the book describes as you said, the different things you need to do in the right order. And one thing I really do like is I do come from a geeky SEO world and I work with a company called BrightRay Publishing, a lady called Emily Barto who read my initial draft and just said, I don't understand this. So she rewrote it. And I realized that she hadn't understood it and that some of it was wrong. So I rewrote it again. And what we've ended up with the BrightRay Publishing and Emily, in particular, is a book that's accessible to absolutely everybody. And I'm so thankful for them, for helping me with that because otherwise it would've been too geeky and I would've lost a massive audience. I think, for that, I actually have online video courses for the more geeky people. So once you've read the book, take courses. Once you've taken the courses, get the platform, then you can really sort out your entity identity, that knowledge panel, what Google understands about you, and what Google shows your audience when they Google your brand name. And as you see, I'm smiling, I'm getting over-excited. I love this topic.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah. Yeah. So thanks for joining us again. And for those who wanna find out more about you, how to connect with you across your website or social media, right?

Jason Barnard:
Yeah. If you search my name, one of the things that the brand SERP does is giving the choice of how you interact with me. What it should do is represent all the different ways you can potentially interact with me and it's up to you to choose. So if you search now, Jason Barnard, or you search my company, name Kalicube, it will offer you my site, my Twitter account, my LinkedIn account. Yeah. My YouTube account. For the Kalicube, it will offer the Kalicube Pro Tool. It will offer the book. It will offer LinkedIn. It will offer Twitter. So this idea of it's your business card, it's a business card with a list of different ways you can interact with us. So it's up to you. And that's what I love about this particular kind of business camp.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Yeah. So just Google Jason Barnard, and you're gonna find a lot of ways to connect with Jason. So I appreciate that again. Thank you very much.

Jason Barnard:
Thank you. That was absolutely brilliant, Arek. That was delightful and wonderful.

Arek Dvornechuck:
Thanks, bye.

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