Our special guest for episode 393 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast was Jason Barnard, the Brand SERP Guy and the Founder/CEO of Kalicube. Host Erin Sparks spoke with Jason about the concept of the Brand SERP and how it affects digital visibility. Here’s what we learned:
Jason Barnard: His Background and Experience
Jason is co-founder and CEO of Kalicube, a groundbreaking digital marketing agency that pioneered the concept of exact match Brand SERPs (what your audience sees when they search your brand name on Google). He has more than two decades of experience in digital marketing. Jason started promoting his first website in the year Google was incorporated and built it up to become one of the top 10,000 most visited sites in the world.
Jason is a regular contributor to leading digital marketing publications such as Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land as well as Wordlift, SEranking, SEMrush, Search Engine Watch, Searchmetrics, and Trustpilot. He speaks at major marketing conferences worldwide including BrightonSEO, PubCon, SMX series, ITB Berlin and YoastCon. He also does podcast hosting where the conversations are always intelligent, interesting, and fun with guests such as Rand Fishkin, Joost de Valk, Ted Rubin, Bill Slawski, John Mueller, and many others.
His knowledge of brand SERP came about when he shifted into doing SEO consulting work and realized when people searched his name on Google, what came up was a very successful children’s game site called Boowa and Kwala he had been a part of (and which led to the popular animated television series of the same name). He basically had to figure out how to fix his own personal brand SERP, which was the learning journey that put him on the pathway of brand SERP expertise.
What is a Brand SERP?
A Brand SERP is what appears on Google when someone searches your brand name. Users invariably search your brand name and personal name (more on that later), so it is very important to optimize your brand name for search in order to maximize every opportunity to control how you are seen on search.
Theoretically, you don’t have to jump through a bunch of SEO hoops to rank number one for your own company brand name, but that doesn’t mean your job is done, not by a long shot. And it’s critical to pay attention to all the complexity in a brand SERP because it goes right to the very core, the heart of your entire digital presence. The other pieces of brand SERP “real estate” you want to be optimizing include the following:
- Knowledge Panel
- Rich Site Links
- Reviews (if applicable)
- Managing anything negative
- Image and Video boxes
- Google’s Business Card
You’ve got to manage your brand SERP as if “it’s your new home page.” That’s how important it is. For each of those elements listed above you have to figure out how you want to be represented and then how to achieve it through specific kinds of optimization techniques. All of this is made easier when you understand how Google approaches these things and what they’re trying to do for users. And the first thing to keep in mind is who you’re addressing here, which is Google users, and those users may not be your users in terms of your audience, customers, etc. In other words, you’re optimizing for both people who are already fans as well as Google users who are not yet under your umbrella. You want to look to see if what’s being surfaced on the brand SERP is making your brand look credible or not credible. Whatever is being surfaced there is what Google thinks is important to surface.
Google users are savvy about what they expect to see on a brand SERP, and not just that number-one position for the brand, but all those other pieces of real estate on the brand SERP. Even if you have the number-one position, if all those other elements are anemic, they’re going to notice it. You have to pay close attention to all those elements. If Google doesn’t understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, then it can’t even begin to surface the right content for your brand SERP. Take a look Jason Barnard’s brand SERP and you’ll see it done right. It’s got the knowledge panel on the right side, properly ranked links to his website, a carousel of his Twitter posts, a link to his author page on Search Engine Journal, the Kalicube Marketing Podcast, and so on right down the entire page-one SERP.
For your knowledge panel information to come out right, Google has to be able to find well-structured data about you or your brand from database sources it trusts, so if your information isn’t in the sources Google trusts, then the information drawn on is going to be more haphazard, not well-structured, contradictory, and so on.
More About Brand SERP
The idea with Jason’s company Kalicube is that it’s a platform to help you optimize your brand SERP and bring it into focus by helping you identify what those trusted sources are from Google’s perspective for different industries based on actual knowledge panels. But you can also drill down into the country level, which is important because those Google-trusted sources change by country. In general, the knowledge panels are becoming increasingly industry-sensitive as well as geo-sensitive.
What Jason just realized recently is that the brand SERP for Kalicube itself has big holes in it because it’s so new that Google doesn’t have a good enough understanding of it yet, but with the data available, Jason is able to hone in on what’s lacking and where it’s lacking in order to address it.
If you put conscious effort into improving your brand SERP, then you’re necessarily improving Google’s understanding of your brand entity, its impression of your credibility, your own content strategy, and your entire digital ecosystem.
Stay tuned for episode 395 when we’ll dig deeper with Jason Barnard about how to go about optimizing your brand SERP!
Connect with Jason Barnard, the Brand SERP Guy, and Kalicube
Twitter: @jasonmbarnard (https://twitter.com/jasonmbarnard)
Connect with Erin Sparks, Host of EDGE of the Web and CEO of Site Strategics
Twitter: @ErinSparks (https://twitter.com/erinsparks)