Scrubbing up your Brand SERP to make a good impression
In this tech-crazed day and age, we often Google first, and ask questions later.
When we find a new business, product, or service, we want to know what the search engines, and the entire world, think of it.
And we want to know NOW.
But more importantly, we want to know the brand behind the product or service.
The who behind the what.
And of course, being found for who you are will always be easier than being found for what we do.
And that’s where improving your BRAND SERPS can help.
Today I’m chatting with Jason Barnard to find out how you can make your brand SERP as sexy and alluring as a porch light is for a furry little moth.
Tune in to learn:
- What is a Brand SERP? Who searches exact match brand names?
- What does Google display
- Why using the default option isn’t always best.
- How to make your SERPs sexier.
- How to use the insight gained from your results.
- How the knowledge graph can improve your brand SERPs
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And big thanks to TracySydney for their lovely review.
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Jason Barnard is an international digital marketing consultant who specialises in Brand SERPs.
He also teaches Brand SERP optimisation to students at Kalicube.pro
He writes regularly for leading digital marketing publications such as Search Engine Journal and SEMrush and regularly features in others such as onCrawl, Search Engine Watch, Searchmetrics, Trustpilot, and Content King.
Connect with Jason
Kate Toon: In this tech-crazed day and age, we often google first and ask questions later. When we find a new business, product or service, we want to know what the search engines in the entire world think of it, and we want to know now. But more importantly, we want to know the brand behind the products or the service, the who behind the what, and of course being found for who you are will always be easier than being found for what you do. And that’s where improving your brand’s SERPs can help.
Today I’m talking with Jason Barnard to find out how you can make your brand SERP as sexy and alluring as a porch light is for a furry little moth.
Hello, my name is Kate Toon, I’m the head chef of the Recipe for SEO Success, an online teaching hub for all things related to search engine optimization and digital marketing, and today I’m talking to Jason Barnard.
How are you, Jason?
Jason Barnard: I’m fine thank you very much. How are you?
Kate Toon: I’m exhausted, but it’s bright and early there in sunny France. How’s everything in your life? What’s lockdown like in France?
Jason Barnard: Well we were locked down for a couple of months. I was living with my grown-up daughter for the two months. It’s now incredibly sunny and very hot, lockdown is over, life is more or less back to normal and people appear to have forgotten all about it within about a week, and I played a gig last week and people are having gigs and parties and it’s bonkers.
Kate Toon: Well that’s exciting, isn’t it? Because that’s your alter ego, your inner band. What do you play in the band?
Jason Barnard: Double bass. I’m in two bands. I was in a punk folk, or a folk punk band in the ’90s in France playing double bass and singing, and if you look up Jason Barnard, the Ace of Spades, or even, in fact, who played the double bass on the Ace of Spades, you actually get [inaudible] saying it was me. Which I thought was kind of funny, and that’s the old trick I play on Google.
Kate Toon: And is it true? It’s not true then.
Jason Barnard: Yeah, no, no, I played it on the Ace of Spades by the Barking Dogs, which was my band. I didn’t play it on the Ace of Spades by Motörhead.
Kate Toon: Oh, that’s very cool. I love that. Well I’m going to read out your official bio, which is much more boring if we’re perfectly honest, but it explains why you’re here today.
So Jason Barnard is an international digital marketing consultant who specialises in brand SERPs. He also teaches brand SERP optimization to his students at Kalicube.pro. He writes regularly for leading digital marketing publications such as Search Engine Journal and SEM Rush and regularly features in others such as onCrawl, Search Engine Watch.
I’m not going to read them all out because it just feels like you-
Jason Barnard: No.
Kate Toon: … you know, waving your willy about to be honest.
Weird fact: he played the role of Blue Dog in a cartoon TV series for kids. He also did the voices for four other characters in the series in French and English. [French language]. How do you say Blue Dog in French?
Jason Barnard: [French language].
Kate Toon: There you go. That’s it. We now believe you. And I think that’s a really important bit of translation and I’m guessing that a lot of our listeners are listening right now and going, “This all sounds wonderful, but what the hell is a brand SERP?” So let’s start with that. For the uninitiated, what do you mean by brand SERP?
Jason Barnard: Well it’s what shows on Google results when somebody searches for your brand name or your personal name or, in fact, even your product name. So basically if I’ve been talking to you, Kate, and you don’t know me and I’ve told you how wonderful everything I do is, first thing you do when you get back to the office or get home is type Jason Barnard into Google to see who I am and whether I was telling the truth. And that goes for my brand too.
So it’s kind of like your business card, perhaps even your homepage, because a lot of people will Google your brand name just to get to your site, so it’s actually the first thing they see before your homepage on your site.
Kate Toon: So, so important. So just for the uninitiated, SERP stands for search engine and results page, so brand SERP, and that’s exactly it. I love the way you’ve just described it. We’re calling this episode Brand SERP is your New Business Card, but it’s also, it’s like your landing page, isn’t it? Like if you do go and type Kate Toon into Google, I’ve worked very hard to own the front page both of my websites, my social media, videos, Twitter snippets, photos. I want to own that first result, and that’s kind of what it’s all about.
But you just gave a few examples there, which I loved. After doing the podcast, I think dating is another great example, if you’re about to meet someone that you’ve met on Tinder, not that I’ve ever done that obviously, because I’m too old, but if you’re essentially meeting someone or you’re recruiting someone or you’ve been thinking about working with a service provider, what’s the first thing we all do now? We all go to Google and we search for brand names, people names.
What kinds of people do you think are doing this and why is it so important? Why have you made this your platform?
Jason Barnard: Well what I love about it is it’s a niche topic in SEO, but it’s not niche at all in the sense that everybody needs it, so it’s niche but not niche, which is wonderful, so basically everybody, for any brand, for any person, and in fact, once you think about it, any product.
I mean, a lot of it, for brands, the sell, in inverted commas, is bottom of funnel. Just before they make the decision they check up on you. But it’s also existing clients who will Google your name to navigate to the site. So your existing clients potentially see your brand SERP multiple times a day, because that’s how they’re getting to your site, and if you’re a person, if you’re running a company, for example, or you’re a sales person or you’re representing your company, people will also search your name and check what comes up there. So I don’t think anybody can get away with not thinking about it today.
Kate Toon: No, it’s really interesting and my next question was kind of about that. What stage are people at when they are doing this? And I think it’s BoFu, MoFu and ToFu. I think it’s all of them.
ToFu, maybe they’re slightly past awareness or problem stage. They’re into solution, they’ve heard of you and they’ve also heard of Bob. Or they’ve heard of this product and they’ve also heard of that product and maybe they’re doing kind of comparison searches, investigational searches. There’s definitely that bottom of funnel people as well, like, oh, so everyone’s recommending this random Jason Barnard bloke or this Kate Toon bird. Let’s go and check them out. Are they really who they say they are?
So I think it’s kind of most stages of the funnel, but, as you say, it’s more towards the end and therefore so much more important because they are teetering on the brink, right? They are ready to make a decision.
Jason Barnard: Yeah. It is actually kind of that’s how I pitch it to people. And the thing about it is is it won’t generate sales as such, it just stops you losing. It stops the churn or the loss. And my clients actually all say to me at some point, “Oh, as soon as you walked out the room we searched your name.” And they-
Kate Toon: They found that you played the bass on that amazing song and that was what clinched it, right?
Jason Barnard: Well, in fact, yes. But that’s the trick, is that I have all of that. I have the Blue Dog, and you can see it on the brand SERP, on my personal brand SERP, but what comes out most is SEO and digital marketing. So in fact what happens is they see that and say, “He’s incredibly impressive.” And they sign on the dotted line.
Kate Toon: And then they realise that you’re not, but it’s too late. I’m only joking.
Jason Barnard: But in fact where it makes me money is that they no longer argue about the price.
Kate Toon: Yes. Yes, that’s so important. So you’ve shown your value. Because again, there’s a classic line that Google’s the most popular girl at school. You have to make everyone else like her before she will. And if you kind of dominate the first page, the second page, the third page and you’ve got really rich results, then it looks like you’ve got your crap together, let’s be perfectly honest.
So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about how brand SERPs appear in Google. So I’ve typed in Jason Barnard. What sort of things am I going to see?
Jason Barnard: Right. Well at the top, you’re going to have my site. If you don’t have my site… Obviously, in my case, like you, I’ve been working on this for years and years and you said earlier on, you worked very hard at it, and I think that’s what people don’t realise. You have to work very hard at it, and it’s an ongoing job you can’t just kind of do here and there and from now… from time to time. Sorry.
Either Wikipedia’s the top or my own site. My own site tends to be the top, and the aim there is to say, my site is the primary source of information for Google about me. And what I say about me is taken by Google to be true, and it’s taken years to get to that point, and that’s how I played the trick with who played bass, double bass, sorry, on the Ace of Spades? Because Google takes my word for what I say I have done, and I’m currently doing some other experiments where in fact I can inject pretty much anything I want about myself into Google in a few minutes.
For example, what musical instrument does Jason Barnard play? I tested it and managed to get it to say that I play the ukulele and not the double bass.
Kate Toon: You wacky beast. I’d have put something like, Jason Barnard was once the lover of the Queen of England, or something like that. Let’s see if you can get [crosstalk].
Jason Barnard: Yeah, the wackiest I got was Jason Barnard plays the fool.
Kate Toon: Well, that is the truth though, so I can see why Google gets it.
So the first result is you. Now I’m going to interject here because this is a really important thing. Many people, when you’re starting out with your webinar and you don’t maybe have, whether we believe domain authority is a thing or not, but you don’t really have much reputation, you haven’t really been around a lot, obviously you won’t be the first result. Probably LinkedIn might be the first result or some random article that was written by cousin Sue, and it can be quite disheartening that you’re like fourth or fifth in the list.
So is that all about sort of this expertise, authority and trusting? Is that all about building backlinks? How do you make sure that your site is the definitive result in the SERPs?
Jason Barnard: Well in fact, domain authority, you can forget it. Doesn’t matter. It is all about [inaudible]. You are the expert about yourself, so you should be [inaudible]. So it then comes down to, I mean, for brands it’s easy. If you’re not first you’ve got a problem. Either you’ve got a rubbish site or you have an ambiguous name, both of which need to be dealt with in different ways. So if you’re not number one with your brand, with your company name, you really need to start thinking about that because that’s a big problem for your business overall in SEO, because it means Google doesn’t understand who you are and that your site is important when talking about you, because it wants to get a client who’s obviously searching for you to your site as quickly as possible.
In the personal brand space, because a lot of people share names, being first isn’t as easy because there are other people who might be, in inverted commas, more important, more interesting or, in fact, the truth is, Dawn Anderson talks about this, it’s more probable that people are searching for that person and not you.
Kate Toon: It’s so-
Jason Barnard: So that’s a whole-
Kate Toon: … depressing, isn’t it? Like, I am not the most important Kate Toon, surely! And that can be very hard, especially if you have a generic name. One of the great writers in my community is called Gary Cooper. He’s doomed.
Jason Barnard: Oh, brilliant.
Kate Toon: I know. Actually, two people on my course who share a name with a very famous porn star, which is interesting as well. So, I’m sorry, I’m going off the path, I’m treading into the grass here. But if you do have a pretty generic name, is it better to then come up with some kind of brand name and try and get that to be the number one result rather than trying to go with an eponymous brand?
Jason Barnard: Well, and I remember back in the day people would choose a name for their company that was the product they sold. You know, Doors and Company, or Doors, or whatever it might be. Our first vehicle [crosstalk].
Kate Toon: Blue widgets. Bluewidgets.com.
Jason Barnard: Blue widgets, [inaudible]. And in the world of entities, that’s a rubbish idea because it’s so ambiguous. One of my experiments at the moment is there are two groups called the Barking Dogs. It’s obviously ambiguous which is which, and Google has got such a mix up. It’s got the Knowledge Panel, which is half my band and half some Italian deejay’s, and it mixes it all up. It’s got our description, but the members of the band are Italian deejays, our style of music but their records, so when you click on the link [inaudible] techno music when it says it’s actually folk punk.
I spent three weeks now sorting it out, and I’ve almost finished. I’ve almost managed to disambiguate the entire thing, get two Knowledge Panels, one for each group and each one being specifically about them. So that’s the trick, is disambiguation and making sure that Google has fully understood who you are and what you do and that you’re not the same entity as the other one.
Kate Toon: Okay. I’m going to stop you there because we’ve billed this episode as a newbie episode, and you’ve just brought up couple of terms which I’m guessing-
Jason Barnard: Sorry.
Kate Toon: … your average Joe… No, this is what I’m here for, you see. Sometimes people say I dumb down SEO, but actually I think I smarten up SEO.
So you’ve talked about entities, so let’s talk about what is an entity? Because you kind of threw that in there as this is a bad idea for an entity. So what do you mean when you say entity?
Jason Barnard: Well entity is a really interesting kind of concept. It’s a thing, and so obviously I’m a thing. Me, Jason Barnard.
Kate Toon: You are such a thing. You are an entity.
Jason Barnard: I’m an entity, and there’s another Jason Barnard, but he’s a different entity, a different thing. Kate Toon is a thing.
Kate Toon: I’m such a thing! [inaudible].
Jason Barnard: Your course is a thing, it’s an entity, and Google today is working less with words, strings of characters and more with understanding what it is we’re talking about.
So when somebody searches Jason Barnard, they’re searching for me as a person, or another Jason Barnard. There’s a footballer in South Africa who doesn’t even get a look in because I’ve been working so hard on my personal brand. And so Google is trying to show them information about this entity which is Jason Barnard.
The other thing, it’s important, it’s not so important in this particular context, but an entity can also be a concept. So teaching. The concept of teaching is an entity.
Kate Toon: Okay. You’re getting a bit existential there. Now I love it because we just had an episode about schema. We were talking about separating things from strings and identifying that when we’re looking at content, this thing here is the price. This thing here is the name of the product. This thing here is the author. So I don’t think it should be too much of a stretch for people to understand that.
Jason Barnard: Well, that’s brilliant. You’ve explained it incredibly well and I didn’t know you’d been talking about schema markup. But schema markup is basically a way for us to express to Google the relationships between things, and that’s the fundamental base of everything that’s happening in SEO today and will be happening in the future, which is why this whole kind of brand SERP is important because Google needs to understand who you are and what you do. And schema markup is basically saying, this is the name, this is the date founded, this is the address. And it’s saying, address of brand name equals whatever it might be.
Schema markup is the simplest and best way for us to express the relationships between different entities. So Jason Barnard teaches the brand SERP course. The brand SERP course is an entity. Jason Barnard’s an entity and teaches is the relationship between them.
Kate Toon: Yeah, I think it’s so interesting.
Jason Barnard: And I can express that schema.
Kate Toon: Yeah, no, it’s super interesting and it ties in with [Bert]. I’m hoping [inaudible] an episode with Dawn soon, Dawn Anderson, you mentioned her already, about how sophisticated Google is getting at understanding different like verbs like run, which has something like 600 plus definitions in the dictionary. But Google’s getting better and better at understanding, “Oh, you mean this run.” And clearly from what you’re saying, Google’s getting better and better at thinking, “Ah, you mean this Jason Barnard.”
But equally at the moment it’s still manipulatable, because in reality maybe the South African, South American footballer is more famous than you, has more followers than you, but because he doesn’t know mad stuff about brand SERPs and SEO, he’s not able to, not necessarily gain the system, but understand the system and take advantage of it.
I’m going to come back to the other thing that you mentioned, which was the Knowledge Graph because I want to talk about that towards the end, so we’re talking about how brands SERPs appear in Google. We only got as far as talking about the fact that your site is first. Lots of other elements that you see in a usual brand SERP could be other websites that you’re on or that you own or that you mentioned. Twitter feeds. If you have a Twitter feed which is on your name as well, images for you, videos that you’ve been mentioning and searches related to you, and that’s kind of the ideal isn’t it, if you’ve got a couple of sites, maybe your LinkedIn, your Facebook. What does the ideal SERP result, brand SERP result look like, I guess, is the question?
Jason Barnard: Yeah, and then work towards it, and that’s what the brand SERP course does, it teaches you the techniques. For example, you mentioned the Twitter feed. That’s quite difficult to get, because Google doesn’t just put it up there for anybody, because what Google shows is what’s going to be valuable and useful for the person searching your brand name or your name, and if your Twitter feed is rubbish, it’s not interesting. If the video’s are rubbish, it’s not interesting.
So you need to, and it’s not manipulation, it’s looking at what your audience is looking for and providing that so that Google can show it to that audience, and I think we tend to forget that our audience is a subset of Google’s users. And that-
Kate Toon: [crosstalk].
Jason Barnard: What we’re asking… Sorry, go ahead.
Kate Toon: No, no, I love that. And when I said manipulation, as I said, a caveat of that was it’s not manipulation, it’s understanding and doing the work. And you and I are both big agree-ers, if that’s a phrase, human’s first, Google second. You think of your humans and what the humans want to know, what would humans want to see from me? Well they’d want to see my website, maybe my LinkedIn profiles and pictures. That’s going to help them understand who I am and what I do, so I work towards making that content accessible to Google and then it pleases the humans, which in turn pleases Google, which in turn makes everyone happy. I get my sexy little brand SERP. Right?
Jason Barnard: Brilliant. Yeah, and if you look at my brand SERP, I mean, I’ve got the Twitter boxes. I worked to get those. Then Search Engine Journal, SEM Rush, [inaudible] with the podcasts and videos, LinkedIn and Crunchbase. And getting Search Engine Journal and SEM Rush up there, those profiles in my industry, in the SEO industry, make me look more impressive than I would otherwise look.
Kate Toon: Than you actually are. No, I’m just joking. No, it’s interesting. We’re going to talk about that in a minute because I see something very different, so I’ll tell you what I see over here when we get to that, because at the end I want to talk through a few different people’s brand SERPs and what we see and why we see what we see.
But one of the things you’ve mentioned a few timed now is that you’ve worked at this, and I think one of the big issues around this amazingly rich opportunity that we have is that many of us think, “Oh, Google will just show the right thing by default. I don’t need to do anything.” But you and I both know that’s not true, right?
Jason Barnard: Absolutely not. Google wants to show us in a good light, it has no reason to not show us in a good light, it has no reason not to show our wonderful content, but if our content is badly presented or we write the wrong things about ourselves, which actually happens more than we would imagine, Google will just show it because that’s what it has to show.
Videos is a great example. Google wants to show videos, it loves showing videos, but it needs to have those videos and it needs us to prepare and present those videos to Google in a format in a manner that makes it easy for it to show and make it want to show them because it sees that they’re valuable to our audience.
Kate Toon: Yeah, so exactly. Obviously you built an entire course around this as a strategy, as an SEO kind of a niche but a super important niche, and it’s something that I talk about to a degree on the Recipe for SEO Success course. But I don’t want you to give away all your IP, but can you give us like maybe two or three tips on how to make our existing brand SERPs a little bit sexier?
Jason Barnard:Well, if we’re talking about a company or a person, the thing I would say what you really need to work on is getting that Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side. We call it the right rail. Well that’s what the guys at Bing call it. Everything on the right-hand side is what Google considers to be fact. Everything on the left is what Google is recommending, in inverted commas, as content, and when we’re talking about fact, we’re looking at entities, we’re looking at what Google has understood about the world, and when we’re talking about strings to things that you mentioned earlier on, that’s where it’s all going. Google needs to understand who we are and what we do. And that’s what the right rail, the right-hand side of a desktop search result is showing. It’s showing us that Google has understood and is confident it’s understood, and that’s very important too.
The simplest tip for a brand is have a look at your meta title and your meta description of your homepage and it’s probably rubbish in the context of somebody searching your brand name.
Kate Toon: Yes. That’s the biggest thing.
Jason Barnard: It might say blue widgets, cheap blue widgets, buy blue widgets at [acmecorp].
Kate Toon: Oh no, it won’t even say that, it will say acmec… And then it will truncate.
Jason Barnard: And Yoast says it very well. I mean, he says your homepage is your brand, it’s not your products. Your products should be on different pages. And obviously it’s easier to rank for those products or the generic terms of your homepage, but any business with any sense will be saying, “Okay, I need to present my brand to people, either people who are arriving on that page for the first time who don’t know me, or people who already know me and direct them where they need to go,” because the homepage is never the final destination. It’s a passage through to another part of your site.
So I would say look at that, look at your site links. Those rich site links for brands, if you don’t have them with the multiple blue links underneath your homepage that all belong to you with the little descriptions, if you don’t have them, you’ve got a bad site organisation. You can trigger them, you can manage them. You said manipulate. I will now say manipulate. You can make it show what you want it to show, not obviously every time, but you can make sure that it’s positive, accurate and convincing, and those are the three words I use all the time. You want that brand SERP to be positive, accurate and convincing.
Kate Toon: Oh. Oh. I love it. I’ve got goosebumps. So we’ve kind of gone off kilter a little bit what we’re going to talk about, but let’s talk about rich elements. So one of the questions that we were going to have here is how can you work the insights shown in the results into your content strategy?
So often the thing is we have to kind of reverse engineer it. Google hasn’t picked the right site results that we would like, the little blue links as you described them. It hasn’t used our meta description. It’s switched around our title tag, and unfortunately LinkedIn is above us, so how do you look at what Google’s done with your brand SERP and go, “Well, okay, why have they done that? What do I need to change?”
Jason Barnard: You need to look at the content of the pages. If you’re talking about blue links, and you’re in a great business now as in writing, because you were talking about Bert earlier on, and we were talking about entities and relationships, and entities and relationships are just good writing: subject, verb, object.
If you start writing your searches in an incredibly complex manner, Google won’t understand it, but I won’t understand it either because you’ve gone off on some rant about, you know, Kate Toon, the wonderful, beautiful, amazing-
Kate Toon: Keep going.
Jason Barnard:… English woman living in Australia. The Kate Toon and the living in Australia are separated by too much fluff. You could say, “Kate Toon lives in Australia and is wonderful, beautiful and adorable.” And it says the same thing and it’s much clearer to everybody.
So clear, concise writing is incredibly important, writing without fluff, not in the sense that you can’t put it in. It doesn’t mean you have to ruin your style, it just means you have to think about how you’re formulating your sentences so they’re easier to read, easier to digest and easier to understand. And if you go beyond that in terms of content, you were saying they don’t choose the meta description. It’s because the meta description doesn’t correctly describe the page and they think they can do better.
I was talking to [Ali Algy] from Bing, and in fact the descriptions in the SERPs are run by a different algorithm to the actual blue links themselves. So what they will do is they have an algorithm that summarises the page and if it thinks its summary is better than yours in the context of the query, it will use theirs and not yours. So if your meta description isn’t being used, it’s because it thinks it can do better than you can, and you’re a human being and you know yourself that’s rubbish.
Kate Toon: Yeah, that’s it. That’s what I always say. Like have a look at what they’ve chosen. Why did they choose it? Why is it better? What words have they used in that?
I love what you mentioned about fluff-free writing, and just for any newbies on the podcast, one little great free tool that you can use to just look at the complexity of your sentence structure, whether you’re using passive or active voice, is Hemingway App. Hemingway.app, it’s a free tool and it shows you The Flesch–Kincaid readability level of your content, and you should be aiming for around grade seven in Australia, which is around 12 to 13.
It doesn’t have to always hit that metric, but we also need to understand that often people are reading our content and English isn’t their first language, and we also just need to cut to the chase. So many people just waffle on like I am now.
Jason Barnard: I was going to say, that thing about aiming at 12 to 13 year olds, I don’t like that personally as a way of presenting it. I prefer what you said just after which is, write for people who’s first language is not English, because the thing about 12 to 13 year olds, they don’t have the culture and the experience of life, whereas Google and your audience do. What they don’t have is a level of English sufficiently good or as sufficiently advanced to be able to understand very complex phrases. The Flesch thingamybob scale is wonderful, but I would say write for somebody who doesn’t speak English as a first language.
Kate Toon: I think Hemingway App looks at plain English and I think the other thing that I like to make people consider is use of idiom and slang and jargon and abbreviations, which so often just fall in…
I mean, we’re talking on this podcast to people who vaguely understand SEO, and yet already several terms that we’ve used will be new to people because they are the right terms, they are the only terms. There’s not a different way to describe entity or the Knowledge Graph, that’s what it’s called, but then we just need to caveat it with a bit of an explanation as well.
Now, that brings me to my next question, because I’m so good at segues. We talked about the Knowledge Panel, the Knowledge Graph a few times, and you’ve talked about, I think you referred to it as the right-hand lane. Is that right? Or the left-hand lane. I’m not very good with [inaudible].
Jason Barnard: The right rail.
Kate Toon: The right rail, which is a phrase I’ve never heard before. So I love that, and I love the fact that you’ve mentioned that that’s what Google thinks is facts.
I know from my experience, and I’ll tell you my little problem in a minute. When I type Kate Toon into Google, I recently, and you’re the one who told me, I think, I recently have got a little bit of Knowledge Graph, goodness, with my book appearing in that right rail. But I cannot get the Google My Business panel to spawn, unless you literally put the location in, and that’s because I’ve got two bloody websites and I’m an idiot. But if someone’s sitting here going, “Well when I type my brand name in or my name into Google, nothing comes up in that side panel.” Why is that?
Jason Barnard: Well, it shows the Knowledge Panel when it’s understood who you are and what you do and it is sure of the fact. Once again, if you divide the SERP into two, you got left rail and the right rail, the left-hand side and the right-hand side. The left-hand side is recommendations and opinions. If you take the [inaudible], it’s a great example. Ali Algy from Bing was saying to me, that’s what we recommend as being the best answer that we could find on the web. And then if you talk about the right rail, it’s this is fact. So it won’t put something there it’s not very sure of it, and your book Knowledge Panel is looking rather groovy. I know you don’t like the photo. You’ve told me that.
And the right-hand rail. Basically think of it as Google is trying to understand the world in the way that human beings understand the world, and that involves, as we said earlier on, entities and relationships, and if you look at Google’s understanding of the world, the Knowledge Graph, it’s basically an encyclopaedia for machines that the machine can read and understand without human help. So it’s like Wikipedia for a machine, and it was based on Wikipedia to start with, but as you see with your books, which aren’t in Wikipedia, you’re not in Wikipedia, and yet Google has figured out facts about you. It knows who you are and it knows which books you’ve written, and it’s placing up there as fact.
So it’s understood, it’s confident it’s understood, and that is a very good start to your place in Google search. And I would go beyond that is that if Google is to present you as a solution in any circumstance, and it’s recommending you as a solution for its users, it needs to understand who you are and what you do. And that’s the start. That’s the basis.
Kate Toon: My goodness, this is fabulous. I think what’ll be interesting, and I was going to do a few examples, but I think we might only do one, because you mentioned something earlier on before we started the conversation that brand SERP results are hugely affected by geography and I think also personalization to some degree. Does that have any impact?
Jason Barnard: For the moment very little, I would imagine. The problem is it’s very difficult to actually measure. But the geo specifics are very easy to spot.
You said if you don’t have what you want and your site isn’t number one, I have a tool on my Chrome browser, which a friend of mine recommended to me, which is called, hold one, I’ll find the name. GS Location Changer. Look that up on Google Chrome, and you can actually-
Kate Toon: I’ll add a little link to that in the show notes. That’s a great little find.
Jason Barnard: It’s awesome. It’s so cool. And I just pretended that I’m in Wellington, New Zealand, and I see Kate Toon with three books on the right rail with the Knowledge Panel which needs to be claimed. On the left rail I’ve got Katetoon.com, Katetoon.com, three videos, Yoastcon, How to Convert and, ooh, a Facebook video. People forget that it’s not just YouTube. Facebook and Twitter and other sites comes up quite a lot. WP Elevation [crosstalk].
Kate Toon: See, I’m in Australia, not New Zealand, and so when I type in Kate Toon, it varies massively, so because I’ve got two websites both called Kate Toon and I’ve built a kind of reputation as a copywriter and a SEO, Google does get confused because I’m trying to be, you know, I’m a bit me, myself and I.
So when I type in Kate Toon, my Kate Toon copywriter website comes up first, which is annoying to me because it’s actually no longer a real website to a degree, and then I get another Kate Toon copywriter result, then I get Katetoon.com, I get the Recipe for SEO Success, The Clever Copywriting School, Twitter, which I’m rather pleased about, images, including some hideous ones that I can’t get rid of, videos, as you mentioned, Clever Copywriting School again, and then in the side bar, if I just type in Kate Toon, I only get the book. If I type in Kate Toon, Sydney, everything changes dramatically. I get my Google My Business page, the results all shimmy around, but when I look at Jason Barnard, shall I tell you what I see for Jason Barnard, because that might be interesting I mean, you’ve probably done this before.
Jason Barnard: You see an incredibly handsome and lovely guy.
Kate Toon: I really do. Good grief. I see Jason Barnard.com, I see Wikipedia. Now, this is the question that everyone will be asking. How do I get myself on Wikipedia? And we all know it used to be so easy back in the day. I had a page on Wikipedia. They took it down. You have to have a reputation, you have to have done something. People will often come to me and say, “I sell bathmats and I’ve been doing it for a week. Can you get me a Wikipedia page?”
So you have one because obviously you’ve done a fair bit. How does your average Joe get a Wikipedia page?
Jason Barnard: You don’t. It’s as simple as that.
Kate Toon: You hire Jason Barnard for $10 million.
Jason Barnard: No, no, no. The thing about Wikipedia, Google has an encyclopaedia for machines, which is the Knowledge Graph. They want to understand everything. So everybody can get a place in the Knowledge Graph. Everyone should get a place in the Knowledge Graph. Wikipedia is for human beings. We don’t want it for we. I mean, the world. You don’t want to fill up Wikipedia with lots of useless people, in inverted commas. Sorry, not useless in any sense other than that people aren’t going to be looking up. Other people will not look up off their own bat. I’m trying to think of what the word for that is.
Basically, the concept of notability comes into Wikipedia. If you’re not notable, don’t create a Wikipedia page. A, you don’t need one to get in the Knowledge Graph and it’s just kind of, you know, I’m the star of my own film. I think I’m really important. I think I should have a Wikipedia page. I had a friend who said, “Oh, I want Wikipedia page.” And he wrote it and sent it to me and said, “What do you think?” And I said, “The only people who are ever going to be interested in this are you and your mother.”
Kate Toon: And you’re mom probably’s not that bothered.
Jason Barnard: And it lasted 10 days, got taken down and now he can’t possibly get one. Every time he says anything on… I mean, and that’s the other thing. It’s ruined all his chances of doing anything on Wikipedia now.
Kate Toon: Yeah, but he can screen grab it and live off that screen grab, like the people who release an eBook and it gets to some obscure category on Amazon and they’re like, “I’m an Amazon bestseller.” For one second.
Interesting. I’m just going to tell you what else I can see. You’ve already seen this, but I can see Jasonbarnard.com, I can see Wikipedia, Twitter, so you’ve got that, and as you said you’ve got a couple of your articles in Search Engine Journal, SEM Rush, which if you’re massively into the SEO world is very impressive. You’ve got Kalicube.pro. I’m going to link to all these in the show notes so you can check them out. And then we’ve got LinkedIn, couple of LinkedIns and Crunchbase. And in the side I can see lots of pictures of you, which I love.
Now, this is another question that people ask a lot. That picture that you have there, yours look great because you’re wearing a red T-shirt in everything, which is very on brand. But how did you control those? Because I’ve just read a, well I read it a while ago, about four years ago, fabulous book by John Ronson called You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, and there are all these businesses that work on reputation management and managing photos and managing what comes up in the brand SERPs. I could talk about this all day. I won’t. But how do you change your photos in the Knowledge Graph, I guess is the question.
Jason Barnard: Well in fact, for the photos, up until the end of last year, the photo I used basically everywhere was me in a brown shirt, but I was actually wearing a red shirt to every single conference. That’s my branding. And I’m careful always to wear a red shirt whenever I’m filmed or on stage, and that actually started with the music career. I realised standing on stage wearing a blue shirt, which I thought was cool, looks rubbish. Wearing a red shirt looks loads better when you’re playing the double bass and throwing it around and putting it on your head, and so I switched to red shirts for everything.
And at the beginning of this year, basically I just pushed one image, that one image that you see, the round one, onto every single platform. I contacted them and I said, “Replace the existing image,” and I got it absolutely everywhere and Google could not then ignore it. And it took me about a month and a half to get it all to switch across.
Kate Toon: Right, okay. And you just did that by renaming or deleting or…
Jason Barnard: No, no, no, you can’t actually… I changed the images on my site first and then I pushed them out. I used Schema markup to tell Google this is the image I want you to use, and then I pushed it out onto every single site I was present on so that every site uses that exact same image. And if you take that round image and you do reverse image lookup, which is, I will explain it.
When you go onto Google Image search, there’s a little a camera. If you click on that you can upload an image and it will tell you what’s in the image, and that’s a big part of the Knowledge Graph as well because it can recognise entities in images-
Kate Toon: [crosstalk].
Jason Barnard: … and if you use that round photo, it will name me.
Kate Toon: I love it. Jason, this is such a fascinating topic, and I could talk about it loads more because I think it’s really, really interesting. I’m all about building personal brands, so I think a lot of people listening are cottoning onto the fact that people want to relate to people, they want to relate to brands that they know, like and trust, so really fascinating.
People can find out more about you at Kalicube.com, and they can find you at Jason [crosstalk]-
Jason Barnard: Kalicube.pro. Sorry.
Kate Toon: Dot pro.
Jason Barnard: Kalicube.com-
Kate Toon: Sorry.
Jason Barnard: … they’re trying to sell it to me for a fortune and I don’t want [crosstalk].
Kate Toon: And you’re @Jasonmbarnard on Twitter, but I’ll include links to all your various bits and bobs in the show notes, and I just want to say thank you so much for spending some time with us today.
Jason Barnard: Well, thank you for having me. I love talking about this stuff and you’re an amazing host and I love talking to you about this stuff in particular.
Kate Toon: Oh, you lovely man. Well now you have to sit awkwardly while I do the outro and try not to giggle.
So at the end of the show, I always like to give a shout out to one of my lovely listeners, and today it’s Tracey Sydney, and she writes, “SEO story with a whole lot of teaching thrown in. Kate is so self…” I can’t say self-assured, “and straightforward, you feel straightaway she’s a no-nonsense type of person and trustworthy too. She always packs in so much info. Even when she’s telling her own story, she manages to teach as she goes along. I love the part about knowing your customers’ beliefs, desires and fears. So valuable to be able to quell any doubts they might have even before they ask. And great practical advice to have your website clean and light and working well before you even think about SEO. Great podcast. Will be back for more.”
Thank you very much, Tracey. It’s very difficult for me to read that. I don’t know why. I need new teeth in. Thank you to you for listening. If you like the show, don’t forget to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you heard the podcast. Your review will help others find the show and learn more about the lovely world of search engine optimization and digital marketing. And don’t forget to check out the show notes for this episode at Therecipeforseosuccess.com where you can learn more about Jason, learn more about brand SERPs, check out the useful links and leave a comment about the show.
So thanks again, Jason. You’re still there?
Jason Barnard: Yep. Thank you very much. No, I was letting you finish with your beautiful podcasting voice, which [crosstalk].
Kate Toon: Oh, I know, I put my posh voice on. I know I’ll go back to being right northern after this, because I’m talking to you, I always get northern. Anyway, until next time, happy SEOing.