019 Strategic Approach to SEO With Jason Barnard
Jason Barnard, The Brand SERP Guy, is the founder of Kalicube and a regular conference speaker on SEO. This episode is about all you need to know about the strategic approach to search engine optimization. We talked about the three needs Google has – Understanding, Credibility and Deliverability – that you need to satisfy so you can win the SEO game.
Introducing Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) as Founder and CEO of Kalicube, Writer, Speaker, Podcaster, Musician, and Cartoon Actor
[00:00:00] Slobodan Manic: Hello, everyone. My name is Slobodan Manic and welcome to another episode of No Hacks Marketing podcast. We have a great one for you today, as I’m joined by my guest, Mr. Jason Barnard. You may know him as The Brand SERP Guy, founder and CEO of Kalicube, a regular contributor to your favourite digital marketing publication, a conference speaker, host of With Jason Barnard… podcast, a rock musician, or even a cartoon actor.
[00:00:25] Slobodan Manic: Today, he’s with us to tell you all you need to know about strategic approach to search engine optimisation. We’ll talk about the three basic needs Google has that you need to satisfy to win the SEO game long term. Jason, thank you for joining us. It’s a pleasure to have you on the podcast. How is everything going?
[00:00:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Absolutely fine. Thank you very much for having me, Slobodan. I hope I said that right. Did I say it right?
[00:00:47] Slobodan Manic: You definitely did, yes, definitely did.
Choosing to Specialise in Brand SERPs and Making Sure That Your Google Business Card Is Positive, Accurate, and Convincing
[00:00:49] Slobodan Manic: So tell us more about yourself. What kind of work do you do these days within digital marketing?
[00:00:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, I’ve chosen to specialise in Brand SERPs, which is the search engine results page for an exact match Brand SERP. So I’m not talking about branded search, brand plus reviews, brand plus employment, whatever it might be. It’s what your audience sees when they search your brand name. And a lot of people, a lot of SEOs, a lot of brand managers and marketers ignore this or forget about it or think it’s simple or that it’s already dealt with. And that simply isn’t true. It’s something that is often unappreciated, often not optimised.
[00:01:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I love to say you need to make sure that that Google business card, what your audience sees when they google your brand name or your personal name, is positive, accurate, and convincing. And it reflects the brand message you want to convey to your audience, and you don’t leave it to chance.
[00:01:48] Slobodan Manic: I love that term, Google business card, because that’s really what it is. This is what you look like when someone googles your name. And people will do that, your brand, your name, people will. The first thing they do when they receive an email from you or whatever happens, they’ll google your name. So you better control that business card, what it looks like, the information it has, and all that.
[00:02:07] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that is the thing. It’s your best audience, it’s prospects, it’s existing clients. And you’ll be surprised how many do google your brand name. And some people say to me, but I don’t get very many brand searches every day so there’s no point. You say, but even if it’s only 10 a day, those 10 people are the most important people to your bottom line. So you really want to make sure they’re seeing something true and brilliant.
For Someone Entering the World of Digital Marketing and SEO, You Need to Start With Something Very Specific
[00:02:29] Slobodan Manic: That makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. And you mentioned you’re a specialist when it comes to Brand SERP, the thing we just talked about. So just a general question for, let’s say, for someone just starting with digital marketing and with SEO, do you recommend taking that approach, find a niche on that niche? Because you are known as The Brand SERP Guy. This is just something that goes with your name. Is it better to do that when you’re getting started or maybe start as a generalist and then figure out what you want to do later or stay a generalist even?
[00:02:58] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I think we all do. You need to start somewhere with something very specific. Whether you are going to be well-known for that specific thing is another matter. You were talking earlier on that you were a web dev. I come from the cartoon world. We’ll probably talk about that in a little while. And it was a mixture of pure SEO, the old hat techniques from the end of the 1990s, beginning of the 2000s, really at the beginning of all this stuff, then a bit of technical stuff. Then I moved more into the branding marketing side of things. So, I actually learned an awful lot, expanded my knowledge, and then came back into what I was really a) interested in, b) if I may say so, good at, because I’m not so good at development.
[00:03:40] Slobodan Manic: Well, you can’t be good at everything. That’s just general life advice for everyone trying to learn any skill.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Defining the Word Strategic Through His Theory About the Six Stages of Chess
[00:03:47] Slobodan Manic: Okay. So let’s just introduce today’s topic. We are talking about strategic approach to search engine optimisation. And could you define what strategic means here and maybe even better define what strategic is not? So what is the opposite of doing it the right way?
[00:04:04] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): A few years ago, I started giving conference talks. And I used to be a chess player. I’ve given up on chess because it’s dangerous for your health. Anybody who’s out there playing too much chess, it’s dangerous for your health in my opinion. It sent me a little bit loopy, a bit mad when I played too much of it at one point. But what I was trying to get across with the chess analogy was saying there are tactics and there are strategies.
[00:04:27] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I have a theory about the six stages of chess and I’ll go through it really, really quickly. I learned chess when I was about 6. And first of all, you learn the rules. Then you learn not to make stupid mistakes. Then you learn some kind of really cheap tricks that you can play on other people. Then you realise that other people are playing cheap tricks on you, and you need to learn to avoid them. Then you start calculating, and I could calculate 20 moves in advance, which is basically brute force analysis. And I would just sit and calculate all this stuff. And that’s five. And that’s one hand, and it’s beautifully, beautifully relevant.
Playing Chess With a Grand Master and Realising the Sixth Stage of Chess Is the Need for a Strategy
[00:05:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Then I went to London and I played around, sorry, what do you call it, a simultaneous display with an international master, a guy who was really good. And he just walked around the table and he played one move on 20 boards, just walking around and around. And if you hadn’t made your move by the time he got back to you, he’d just walked around again and wait. So I could have, let’s say, 10 minutes to think about it, and he would have 15 seconds. And he won 18 matches, drew one, and lost one. And I was one of the people who completely, completely fell apart.
[00:05:32] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it occurred to me that day, that was the day I gave up trying to think I was going to be a grand master, is that there’s that sixth one. And that requires an artistic appreciation of the board, experience, and natural talent. It requires a strategy.
[00:05:50] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I talked to the guy afterwards and he said, basically, I look at it. And I said, that looks right. If I move that there, it won’t look right anymore. And that’s basically, he was strategising from a very, very, very large overview of an individual situation. He could do it very, very quickly. And I think that’s an incredibly valuable point. And the reason I’m saying six, if anybody’s wondering, is that from that five fingers on a hand, the jump to the other hand is immense. And it’s no point even trying if you’re not going to make it.
The First Five Stages of Chess Are Just Tactics While the Sixth One Is a Strategy
[00:06:20] Slobodan Manic: That makes a lot of sense. And now I see how that ties back to search engine optimisation. So, you really need to have that overview when you’re optimising your website for search engines or anything else. Because if you’re just focusing on what you want to say and this is the thing that a lot of people get wrong, they focus on what they’re trying to push out. No, you need to be about what is happening in the world, what people are looking for, what their intent is.
[00:06:46] Slobodan Manic: And this is that sixth finger from chess, basically, and apply to SEO. So you need to anticipate what’s going to happen, but also have a great lesson on what is going on at the moment. So I think this is a really good analogy, chess. Again, I dropped out of chess when I was seven. I started when I was six. So I’m not really the best person to talk about it, but I really like that example. And the jump from five fingers to sixth finger or the sixth component of it is really something that is not easy. And that’s what we are going to be talking about today.
[00:07:21] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And just coming back to that, when you really think about it, I hadn’t really thought about it until you just said that is that those five are all just tactics. And the last one is actually pretty advanced tactics, very time consuming tactics. And when you hit that sixth, it becomes incredibly quick and much, much, much more effective.
[00:07:37] Slobodan Manic: Exactly. And it’s not a tactic anymore. This is something completely different.
[00:07:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It’s a strategy. Brilliant. We agree.
[00:07:45] Slobodan Manic: So far. Absolutely. Yes.
[00:07:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So far.
[00:07:48] Slobodan Manic: I was joking.
The Story of How Google Started and How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Tried to Rank His Website for Kids
[00:07:50] Slobodan Manic: So, to understand where we are with Google and with Google’s needs, and we’ll talk about the three Google needs a bit later in this episode, let’s just take a look back and how we got here. Google wasn’t really the way it is today, back in the day.
[00:08:07] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No.
[00:08:07] Slobodan Manic: I have a back to the past moment for the last few months. Because as an experiment for one of the episodes, I switched to DuckDuckGo and I haven’t looked back. And DuckDuckGo today is really Google from 10 or 15 years ago. Because you’re just typing something, you get your results based on what the page says, and that’s about it, and maybe location. So, can you walk us through the memory lane, let’s call it that way, of how Google has advanced and become better at understanding our intent and our needs?
[00:08:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Right. Well, I started in 1998. In fact, I launched my first website in December of 1998. And Google was incorporated in September 1998. So there’s a nice parallel going on there. And I launched the website and realised that I needed to please Excite, HotBot, Magellan, Lycos, all these other engines. And they all basically worked on word counting. And it was a pretty simple exercise of counting words, calculating the relative waiting of each word, and then making a page.
[00:09:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And you could do things like put text with the same colour on the same background and they didn’t see it. They couldn’t analyse because they could simply see what was in the HTML. And they couldn’t actually render the HTML to see how it looked to the user. And so, it was relatively simple if you had that kind of analytical mathematical brain, which I do or did.
[00:09:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And actually, all of this was for a blue dog and a yellow koala cartoon. So it actually made it very fun. And it wasn’t just trying to rank to make as much money as possible. It was trying to rank to get kids to come and watch the songs and play the games on the website, which I feel is a bit kinder.
Using Flash to Make Cartoons and Getting Involved With the SEO World
[00:09:49] Slobodan Manic: And then this was when, the cartoon and everything? This is early, early days of Google still, right?
[00:09:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. This was 1998. It was Flash site, if anybody remembers Flash.
[00:09:59] Slobodan Manic: Sadly, I do. Sadly, I do.
[00:10:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I loved it. I’m the only person, as far as I can tell, who actually loved it. And I still love it to this day because it allowed me to make cartoons, and basically, CD-ROMs online, and deliver them online in 1998, which was a phenomenal opportunity. The fact that they then went too far and tried to make too much of everything, silly them, bad luck. For me, it was just a cartoon making machine. And for making cartoons, it’s brilliant.
[00:10:26] Slobodan Manic: It’s perfect. It’s perfect for that. I absolutely agree with that. Video games, cartoons, stuff like that, it’s absolutely perfect. Yes.
Creating HTML Pages for SEO and Using Excel to Rank for Related Keyword Terms Like Kids Games, Which Made Their Page Still Rank in 2015
[00:10:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. So I did it. I did that for 10 years and absolutely, absolutely had a ball. I never could have made cartoons in any other manner, because obviously the technology would’ve been too heavy for me or too much of a steep learning curve. Flash was relatively simple, but the SEO side came from the fact that they couldn’t read the Flash. So we had to create HTML pages around it and then reproduce the text and try to describe the game.
[00:10:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then I had a guy working with me who did an Excel sheet, and he just worked out all the relative weightings for words in order to rank. And interesting enough, he did one for the term kids games. And he created the page in 2001, and it was still ranking number one in 2015, the same page.
[00:11:17] Slobodan Manic: That is fascinating.
[00:11:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that brings me to another interesting point with Google is that historical positioning does matter. And the fact that the SEO on that page was rubbish. It started in 2001 and hadn’t been changed shows that quality content, because the content behind it delivered what the user was looking for, and the kids would stay. And the average visit lengths were 20 minutes. Google doesn’t derank a page that gets an average visit length of 20 minutes.
Browsers Stopped Being Compatible With Flash and That Would Have Made the Visit Length of the Site Drop
[00:11:47] Slobodan Manic: So what happened after 2015 with that page?
[00:11:51] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Long story short, my business partner, who took the site over, didn’t look after it. And he’s still using Flash today. So you can guess what happened. It wasn’t Hummingbird. It was just Flash.
[00:12:03] Slobodan Manic: Okay.
[00:12:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The browsers stopped being compatible around 2015. It was no longer installed by default. Steve Jobs started to kill it in 2008 or whatever it was, but it really got killed middle of around 2015. So, basically, that visit length would’ve dropped dramatically very quickly when it was no longer installed by default on Chrome and so on and so forth. And you actually had to install it. At which point, that visit length would’ve dropped. At which point, the page became less interesting as a number one search result. Bingo. Bob’s your uncle. It’s out. It just seems so logical to me when I look back historically on that.
[00:12:38] Slobodan Manic: So the lesson learned is don’t use Flash in 2021, I guess.
[00:12:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Definitely foolish.
Google Started With Counting Words and Links; Then Their Technology Evolved With Big Data, Big Query, and Machine Learning
[00:12:46] Slobodan Manic: News flash. So, how about the changes that came to Google? I’m guessing the biggest ones that I know because I wasn’t really an SEO back then were Hummingbird, Knowledge Graph. That’s when Google started becoming smarter, right?
[00:13:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Right. Yeah. Up until then, you could cheat. Basically, I like to say Google was all about counting words and counting links.
[00:13:09] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:13:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You look at it now and you think, how silly is that? But in 1998, all the others were just counting words. So counting links was a big leap forwards. But that big leap forwards actually hung around for literally 20 years. From, let’s say, 1998 to 2018, counting links and counting words was pretty much all it was about. I did a long day at Google where they presented their technology and how it evolved. And they were basically trying to sell Google Cloud, which I now use. So they did a good job.
[00:13:36] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And they were explaining where the technology came from, big data, big query, all of these massive, massive, massive technologies and machine learning, of course. And it came from the fact that they knew where they were going in 1998. They just didn’t have the technology to do it. So they built the technology to get them where they wanted to go, which sounds obvious when you think about it. But then you look at it and you say they went through being able to store masses amount of data, being able to analyse that data, being able to query that data very quickly.
The Importance of Data Lakes and Data Rivers and the Concept of the Google Dance
[00:14:07] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And one of the things that struck me and I think it’s incredibly important, especially today so bear with me, is data lakes and data rivers. And the idea of a data lake, I remember back in the day, you would update your website, your webpage, and then Google would come and crawl it. And you would wait two months before actually the rankings change. So you wouldn’t know if what you had done had worked or not for another two months.
[00:14:32] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that’s because the machine would collect the data, and it would stick it in a big lake. And then another machine would come along, and it would crawl through the lake, find all the good stuff, and then regurgitate a new ranking system.
[00:14:43] Slobodan Manic: Okay.
[00:14:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that was called the Google Dance. And everyone thinks, oh, the Google Dance is behind us. And it is. Because then what they manage to do is say, okay, we’ve got data rivers. As the data runs past the robot, it’s like a gold panner.
[00:14:57] Slobodan Manic: Got it.
[00:14:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It picks out the golden nuggets as they go past and sticks it straight in the index, which is why we get this very fast indexing. In a minute, you can get a new page index if you do it right. I’ve got a couple of videos that show how to do that or a couple of days. But at worst, it’s going to be a week if you don’t do anything.
The Emergence of the Knowledge Graph in 2012 Which Became Part of the Algorithm in 2015
[00:15:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And what the machine is doing is it’s watching the data flow by. And if it sees data flying by that looks interesting or is from a trusted source, this is one thing I do believe truly, it sees a trusted source going by, it will just pick the data out and then it will index it very quickly. And we think, okay, data rivers, that’s done and dusted. And in fact, it’s not because the Knowledge Graph, which we’ll talk about later, still works on data lakes. Although that might have changed on maybe 22nd. I’m betting it has.
[00:15:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So you’ve got that. And they’ve developed all this technology. And the Knowledge Graph, which started in 2012, became part of the algorithm in 2015 with Hummingbird, was another part of that is Google saying this hooks really nicely into what we’re going to be talking about. It wants to understand the world in a similar manner to a human being.
[00:15:57] Slobodan Manic: Right. And it’s there. It’s pretty much there today. Google is able to understand you. The fact that it can understand language and the fact that voice search is really effective today just tells you that this is not the old Google, where you would just search for a keyword, it gives you a website, like you said, stuff that keyword in a page, and that is the best resource for whatever you’re looking for. Luckily, that doesn’t apply anymore.
The First Basic Need That Google Has That You Need to Answer: Understanding
[00:16:23] Slobodan Manic: So, this brings us to the topic that we have today, the three basic needs that Google has that you need to answer. So, the three, I’ll just list them and then let’s talk about each one of them. It’s understanding, credibility, and deliverability. So let’s just start with understanding, because this is the one that, I read one of your articles, you said, if you don’t get this right, you’re stuck at the gates. So you need to allow Google to understand what you’re trying to say. So can you walk us through this concept of understanding and what you need to do really to be understood by Google?
[00:17:00] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Right. The first thing to do is I think a lot of us need to change our mindset. And rather than say, I want to rank number one in Google, say, I want Google to recommend me to its users as the best solution to their problem or answer to their question. And as soon as you are saying, I want to be the best answer or the best solution, you’re immediately focusing on the client or the customer or the user, your user. And as soon as I want Google to recommend me, you start thinking about what are Google’s problems in order to be able to recognise that I am in fact the best answer or the best solution.
[00:17:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And those three problems, understanding, credibility, and deliverability. And if it can’t understand what it is you’re offering, it obviously never will be able to recommend you as the best solution. And it’s as simple as that. And you need to educate it. So, you think about a child, and you’re saying, I need to provide the information in a format that this child can understand and will believe.
To Make Google Understand, You Need to Understand How the Machine Is Learning and Have Structured Data Plus Clear Copywriting
[00:17:57] Slobodan Manic: Okay. And how do you do that?
[00:17:58] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It’s actually thinking about how this machine is learning, how it understands. And that means understanding Knowledge Graphs. It means understanding how Google, a lot of this is not necessarily where it is today but where it’s going tomorrow. And even if it doesn’t fully understand today, it’s definitely moving that way. So we need to start thinking that way.
[00:18:18] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It doesn’t mean to say you can’t do some things to have some quick wins. I’m not saying don’t go for the quick wins if you can get them. I’m saying you need to build those quick wins into a larger strategy, a wider strategy of understanding. And that understanding goes through clear, simple copywriting. It goes through Schema Markup, which is basically, if you don’t really know much about it, it’s saying to Google in a structure it can understand exactly what’s already in the page.
[00:18:43] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:18:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I like to say it’s Google’s native language. You’re feeding the machine with its native language. So, structured data plus clear copywriting. And I think we’d be surprised, a lot of us would be surprised at how unclear we tend to be. I think you have to remember that the machine reads and understands, but it doesn’t have imagination, it doesn’t understand poetry, and it doesn’t have a sense of humor and no sense of irony.
[00:19:10] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And when you read your text, all of those things pop in. Because as human beings, we can skip over them, because we’ve got that imagination, we’ve got culture. It doesn’t have any culture. So, it’s this kind of neutral machine. It’s the most boring friend you could possibly imagine. And you are trying to explain everything to it.
Google’s Understanding Is Both a Page Level and Website Level Thing; Start at the Top and Explain From the Brand Downwards
[00:19:28] Slobodan Manic: Right. One follow up question here. Is this understanding or ability for Google to understand you and who you are and what you offer and what kind of audience you can serve for Google, is this a page level thing or a website level thing?
[00:19:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It’s actually both. You actually almost said one of my catchphrases, which is who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. That’s what you need to get across to Google. It understands on a page level, but it also understands on a brand level. And John Mueller started saying, in the context of E-A-T, which we’ll come to with credibility, but it cannot understand, if it cannot understand who you are, it cannot possibly apply the criteria, whatever they may be, of E-A-T. And if it cannot understand who you are, it’s going to have a great deal of difficulty understanding what it is you offer.
[00:20:16] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So you need to start at the top with the main entity, which is the brand, the company, and explain, educate Google who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. And part of that what you do is what you offer as well. And then explain it from the brand downwards, which is why I now work from the Brand SERP outwards, because the Brand SERP is a representation of what Google thinks the world thinks about you and how Google understands who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. If it doesn’t reflect who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, Google has misunderstood and you need to explain it better.
It Is Ultimately About Your Users; It Doesn’t Matter Whether They Are There or Not
[00:20:47] Slobodan Manic: And even though Google is extremely important for a lot of websites, it’s one of the key channels of organic traffic. What you’re trying to do here is use Google as a vehicle to deliver what you have to say to your customers.
[00:20:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Brilliant.
[00:20:59] Slobodan Manic: And it’s ultimately about your customers or users or whoever is searching for you online being able to understand what you’re trying to say. If they can, almost certainly Google will as well. Does that make sense?
[00:21:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It does, totally. I think a lot of us think that John Mueller is being trite and unhelpful when he says focus on the user, but he actually can’t say anything else because that’s what Google is doing. And whether they’re there or not is actually partially at least a moot point because that’s where they’re going. So if we don’t start doing that, we’re going to be dead in the water in a few years time.
Google’s Trying to Judge Whether You’re a Good Match for Their User and Whether They Can Recommend You
[00:21:36] Slobodan Manic: That’s a good point. A very similar example is let’s mention Core Web Vitals and page experience update because it’s just about to be launched. Yes, Google is doing this so they can probably save on their electricity bill, crawling the websites, and make that process more efficient, and who knows what else? But ultimately, don’t do that for Google. Do that for your user, who will be able to access your page faster, have a more pleasant experience.
[00:22:03] Slobodan Manic: I think SEO and content have the same logic. If Google can do it in a more efficient way that, if a machine can understand it in a good way, a human certainly will as well. So, Google is just a proxy to your customers. And if you look at it that way, that should work.
[00:22:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Oh, I like that. That’s lovely. Yeah. Google’s trying to judge whether you’re a good match for their customer, whether they can recommend you. So it is actually a proxy. It’s an independent judgment of how good or bad you are actually presenting your offers to your customers and how good they are.
Everything You Do in SEO Needs to Serve at Least One of the Pillars, Which Are Understanding, Deliverability, and Credibility
[00:22:37] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the thing about understanding, deliverability, and credibility is everything you do in SEO needs to serve at least one of these pillars, possibly multiple pillars. And so, basically, if it doesn’t serve one of them, and as we go through them, you’ll see that everything fits into one of these pillars. And some of them fit into multiple pillars. For example, Schema Markup will also fit into credibility and also deliverability for that matter.
[00:22:58] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And inbound links also help with understanding. If you’ve got inbound links from relevant sources, that will help Google understand that you are in the same sector as the other source. So, inbound links, the idea that an inbound link needs to be, all inbound links are not equal. A relevant inbound link will help understanding, credibility incredibly. And an irrelevant link will help neither very much at all.
Google Is Using Schema Markup to Train the Machine
[00:23:22] Slobodan Manic: That’s a good point. And you mentioned Schema as something that helps with all three, understanding, credibility, and deliverability. Talking about understanding and Google being able to understand you, do you suggest ever trying to go without Schema or without structure markup? Does that ever make sense? Or how much are you hurting yourself if you’re not implementing structure data markup?
[00:23:43] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I think Google’s using Schema Markup to train the machine.
[00:23:47] Slobodan Manic: Absolutely.
[00:23:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And Google’s aim is to get the machine to learn as quickly as possible and as efficiently as possible and as accurately as possible as we’ll see later on. So if you are not helping Google help its machine to learn, Google isn’t going to do you very many favours.
[00:24:00] Slobodan Manic: Okay. So, I help you, you help me kind of thing with Google.
[00:24:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): That kind of thing. Yeah. Scratching backs and all that stuff.
[00:24:06] Slobodan Manic: Right, right.
[00:24:07] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I think Schema Markup is a fundamental tool in both tactical and strategical tool set.
You Need to be Credible to Your Audience and Then Demonstrate That Credibility to Google
[00:24:17] Slobodan Manic: Right. I think that makes perfect sense. And now let’s move on to the second thing and that is credibility. We could talk for days about this topic, because this is where E-A-T is. And this is a favourite topic for a lot of SEO professionals. And it’s also one that you don’t really know. It’s foggy. It’s not as clearly defined. There are a lot of things that may or may work. A lot of it is, but there’s still the E-A-T. Is it a ranking factor? Is it not a ranking factor? What do I need to do with all that stuff?
[00:24:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah, yeah, no, no. It’s a great question. Sorry. I was going to let you finish your question.
[00:24:52] Slobodan Manic: Okay. Okay. So, yes, let’s just move on to credibility. And the basic question here is what do I need to do with my website or add to my website so Google can start taking me seriously?
[00:25:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Right. As we said earlier, John Mueller was saying, if Google doesn’t understand the entity behind the content, it cannot possibly evaluate the expertise, authority, and trust. I call it credibility. Expertise, authority, and trust breaks it down nicely into three little packages that we can focus on. I think it’s great. And I think Google do a good job of naming things, obviously.
[00:25:25] Slobodan Manic: They sure do.
[00:25:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): A lot of experience and much more than I do, but credibility speaks to more people, I think, and saying, you need to be credible. You need to be credible to your audience, first and foremost, and then demonstrate that credibility to Google. And that’s the E-A-T. So, don’t just think, how do I show Google my E-A-T? It’s how do I prove to my users that I am credible? And then how do I communicate that to Google? And communicating to Google basically comes down to it, making sure it’s understood you, which is step one. And then that you basically shout and boast about how great you are.
[00:26:06] Slobodan Manic: And be able to back it up and prove it.
[00:26:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. You need to walk the walk and talk the talk and wear the right trousers. I can’t remember what the phrase is.
Google Thinks You Are Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy When You Are Satisfying Its Users
[00:26:17] Slobodan Manic: Something like that. But this is page level, brand level, author level, all of it. It all has to be very website level. It all has to be very credible. And Google is able to figure it out.
[00:26:30] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): With expertise. I’ve got a client and we’ve built an FAQ section. And we’ve demonstrated how expert we are because people come to the webpages, they get the answer, they’re happy, and so on and so forth. And what we’ve ended up doing is ranking all the short head queries by creating long tail content, where we satisfy every time. And Google thinks, well, and we’ve got no link building at all. There’s no links to these pages from other sites than our own. So it’s a linkless piece of ranking where we’re getting 2,000 visits a day, where a year and a half ago we were getting zero.
[00:27:02] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:27:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that’s purely building satisfaction for Google’s users, who are our audience, and satisfying them, proving that we are the best solution by demonstrating it by the fact that we keep providing this best solution. Google ends up thinking, now this is expert, they’re authoritative, they’re trustworthy because they’re serving my users.
[00:27:22] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And obviously, the understanding comes before all that, which we had to get it to understand that we could provide the answer. Once we’ve done that, the credibility actually comes a lot through over time delivering, delivering, and delivering.
In Your Brand SERP, Make Sure Google Has Understood Who You Are, What You Do, and Who Your Audience Is
[00:27:34] Slobodan Manic: And this is a follow up question I had, but you already answered it. Where do you start if you have a new website? So, focus on providing the best bits of information on not so competitive long tail keywords maybe, and then use that as a foundation to build, and then you will rank for the important ones.
[00:27:51] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Never try to hit head terms right off the bat. There’s no point, absolutely no point. But I would actually go a little bit further than that and say, start with the questions people ask about and around your brand. Think about who am I, what do I do, who is my audience, and then what questions does this audience ask.
[00:28:10] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then you start with the bottom-of-funnel ones, which are about my brand, about how they’re going to be doing business with me. And then you can move up the funnel to the more general questions and potentially the head queries, but that’s a long way down the line.
[00:28:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I come back to the Brand SERPs. Look at your Brand SERP, sort that out, make sure Google’s understood who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, start answering questions that are fundamental to your brand, and build out from that Brand SERP your entire content and digital strategy.
Looking at How Google Works as a Machine and How They Measure the Success or Failure of the Machine
[00:28:41] Slobodan Manic: We have a recurring topic today and not what I expected, but to win on Google, you need to forget Google exists. Basically, you need to address your audience and their needs. You need to find what they’re looking for and then respond to those questions. And they just happen to be using Google to find answers to the questions.
[00:29:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The giggle was an agreement giggle. And now you sound like John Muller with these kind of platitudes about satisfying the user, but he’s right and I agree with him. And what else can he say? And that was the point is even if they’re not there yet, that’s where they’re going. And if you’re asking about ranking factors, I think ranking factors is something we can stop talking about safely.
[00:29:23] Slobodan Manic: Yeah.
[00:29:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Frederic Dubut from Bing, who’s talking about we should be talking about metrics, how they measure the success of the machine that they’re training. And if we look at the metrics they’re using and how they measure it and what data they’re feeding back to the machine, because what they’re doing with the machine is they say, here’s the success that we evaluate the machine. This is what we’re looking for you to do, machine. Off you go.
[00:29:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The machine then tries to do it. They then get the human validators. They call them the quality raters at Google. They get them to rate pages and they feed it back into the machine and say, this is corrective, this was wrong, we’re correcting you, this is right, we’re giving you a sweetie, let’s say, because the machine is a child. And the machine goes, great.
[00:30:07] Slobodan Manic: Machine oil.
[00:30:08] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Machine oil. Thank you very much. And so, basically, they’re just feeding this corrective data back in. And then the machine goes, okay, I got that right, I got that wrong, this is how I need to adapt now. And they can potentially change what the goals and the success looks like to the machine. And those are what they’re doing. That’s what they’re doing when they’re updating the machine learning. It’s not about, here, machine, this is what you need to be looking at. It’s saying this is a success. This is a failure. And this is what the goal is.
The Quality Raters Do Not Affect the Individual Sites Ranking; They’re Only There to Criticise and Compliment the Machine
[00:30:35] Slobodan Manic: Right. And one thing about quality raters and I don’t know as much about this topic as you do, but they don’t actually drag and drop someone from number four to number one or anything like that on Google pages or Google SERPs. They just, like you said, they pat the machine on the back and say, good job here or this was bad, try better next time.
[00:30:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Sorry, can I just interrupt? Because I think that’s absolutely important. We can pull this out as a mini clip that I would love to push out there.
[00:31:02] Slobodan Manic: Absolutely.
[00:31:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The quality raters do not affect any individual sites ranking. They don’t actually work on the sites per se. They’re there to criticise and to compliment the machine. And it is that, as you said, patting it on the back and making it feel good about itself. They are there to work with the machine. So it’s only indirectly they will ever affect any sites. Their focus is the machine. They’re the machines. They’re the machines examiners. It’s like at school. The machine is still a child. Even if you don’t want it to be a child, it’s going to be a child. They market at its end of year exams. Sorry.
[00:31:40] Slobodan Manic: I was going to say machine whisper, but examiner might be even better. So, yes, but that’s how it is. And again, the recurring topic for anything you do online, if you have online presence like website or anything you’re building online, make it as good as you can for your user. And I’ve spent the last three plus years working in conversion rate optimisation, mostly e-commerce websites.
[00:32:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Right.
When You Get to the Fifth Tactic, You Have to Remember There Is Another Hand and Make That Leap
[00:32:04] Slobodan Manic: The number of times I told clients, don’t push your offer because you need to push your offer. Don’t do it like this because you feel like this is how it needs to be done. Don’t worry about average order value or recurring transactions because you want that metric to be higher. Make the best possible experience or design the best possible experience for your users. And that will happen organically. So, focus on the end result. Everything in between, that’s tactics.
[00:32:31] Slobodan Manic: Going back to the intro of this episode, that’s the five tactics or it’s not five or zero. I think there’s a million tactics, but the strategy is what you want to achieve. And the only way to achieve that is unless you’re using something, trying to trick your customers. Let’s just put it that way. If you’re being honest with your customers, the only way to do that is to make their experience as good as possible. And that goes with the purchase, the follow-up emails, and all that. So, yes, please go ahead.
[00:32:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I was going to correct you. So this is the first time we’ve disagreed. No, there aren’t five tactics, but I was saying there are five approaches to tactics, increasingly complex. And when we get to that fifth one, which is analysing everything and getting all our data out and being incredibly clever, we think we’ve nailed it. And we forget that the other hand is over here, and we need to make that leap. And if we don’t make that leap, we’re never going to get that in my personal opinion.
It Is an Important Distinction to Make That You Are Asking Google to Recommend to Your Audience, Who Are a Subset of Their Users, Your Solution
[00:33:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the thing about it is you are saying users, and I think that’s a really, really important distinction that I love to make. They are your users, but they come from Google’s audience. Sorry. Your audience, but they come from Google’s users. Excuse me. You are asking Google to recommend to your audience, who are a subset of their users, your result, your solutions.
[00:33:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, don’t think that you can aim all of Google’s users. That’s useless. You want to identify which subsection of Google’s users are truly your audience and attract those in, because that’s where you’re going to find success.
[00:33:58] Slobodan Manic: That is a great way to put it. That’s a really, really good way to describe it. Because like you said, you are just borrowing Google’s users.
[00:34:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah.
[00:34:05] Slobodan Manic: And they’re becoming your audience. This is the world we live in.
The Third Basic Need That Google Has That You Need to Answer: Deliverability
[00:34:08] Slobodan Manic: So, the final and third need Google has is deliverability that you have defined. So in this context, what’s deliverability?
[00:34:18] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, deliverability, the first thing people say to me, oh, that’s just sonic speed and Core Web Vitals and mobile friendliness. And you go, well, that’s part of it. That’s the geek tech in you that’s getting a bit obsessed about this stuff. Not you personally. Excuse me. I do apologise. That was terribly rude.
[00:34:33] Slobodan Manic: I’ll take that. That’s fine.
[00:34:36] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But deliverability is also the kind of content you’re creating. If your users, your audience, sorry, I better not make that mistake again. If your audience are looking for video, you need to produce video. If they’re looking for text, you need to produce text and audio as well. If your audience hangs out on YouTube, you want to be putting that video on YouTube and then repurposing it on your site. There’s no point in putting it on any site, if your audience are hanging beyond that site, if they’re already on YouTube. So that idea of deliverability is incredibly important for Google.
Looking at Rich Elements in Brand SERPs Which You Need to Invest in and Get User Engagement
[00:35:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Now I tend to look at Brand SERPs a lot. And look at what Rich Elements, I call them Rich Elements as opposed to SERP features, because it allows me more breath to call something a Rich Element. For me, anything like Rich Sitelinks under the homepage, Rich Element, because it’s richer.
[00:35:23] Slobodan Manic: That’s anything that’s not a blue link, right?
[00:35:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Exactly.
[00:35:26] Slobodan Manic: Okay.
[00:35:27] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, it gives me more freedom to be artistic about this and poetic about it, which Google doesn’t understand because it’s a machine, as I said earlier. Twitter boxes. If you’re investing in Twitter, if you are tweeting all the time but you haven’t got Twitter boxes, you’re investing badly. If you haven’t got video boxes but you’re investing in video, you’re investing badly or you’re not getting engagement. But what Google is looking for is that area of deliverability, which is to say my user is looking for a video. If that brand is understood and is credible but has not got the video, they will not get the spot.
[00:36:00] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, you then enter the horrible world, and we won’t talk about it here, but on SERP SEO and the fact that Google is delivering more solutions on the SERP. I would suggest that Google is simply doing what we all do, which is try to satisfy its users as efficiently and effectively as possible. So, obviously, it’s not good for us. But if Google didn’t do that, they wouldn’t be fulfilling their purpose as a company.
[00:36:24] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:36:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): To serve their users as best as possible. So, what we are doing is also the same thing and we would be shocked if we weren’t. So, we shouldn’t really be shocked that Google is doing the same thing.
Among the Three Pillars, Deliverability Is a Big Chunk of This Theory
[00:36:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Now, what you’ve got to do is say, what can I leverage from that? I can create the contents that is considered by Google to be deliverable in that context. And I can brand it and I can use it as a branding opportunity, rather than complaining about the fact that I’m losing the traffic. Obviously, it doesn’t apply to everything. Obviously, that’s a vast statement. And it’s saying, I don’t know where we’re at and I don’t know where we’re going with on SERP SEO, but we definitely need to accept that it’s happening and figure out a way to make the most of it.
[00:37:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that kind of branding opportunity, deliverability is a big chunk of this theory that I only realised a couple of years ago. I was actually sitting on a plane trying to figure out what the third pillar of my strategy would be, because I had understanding, deliverability, and I couldn’t figure it out. And it’s something I thought. It has to be deliverability. And that was literally the day before Gary Illyes explained to me how ranking works.
[00:37:24] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:37:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And basically, he confirmed that this idea of Rich Elements and getting those Rich Elements and naming those Rich Elements is the future of SEO.
Since the SERP Contains Blue Links That Are Not Going Away, You Need to Add Rich Elements That Are Relevant and Helpful
[00:37:32] Slobodan Manic: No. This is interesting and I’m guilty of that as well. When you think deliverability and being able to deliver the content to Google, you think page speed and mobile friendliness, because that’s what we have now with the update that’s about to roll out. And a few years ago, we had the big mobile update so we know that is what Google wants. What most people don’t think about is the structure of your content, like you said, and the format, which might be even more important, the format of your content.
[00:37:58] Slobodan Manic: So, let’s say I’m looking for how to wash my car. I want to learn that. That might be best delivered with images. And then if I don’t have images of how to wash my car, how to apply wax, all that stuff, or a video, I don’t know what the best format is. So if the other websites have it and I don’t and people are expecting to see images and video, I have no chance of ranking for that search phrase. It’s as simple as that or ranking well.
[00:38:29] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Exactly. And you need to consider that the SERP obviously contains the blue links. Frederic Dubut from Bing said they’re not going away anytime soon because it’s the foundation of the entire results page. So, what they’re doing is adding the elements that they think are going to be relevant and helpful, be it video, be it images, be it a Google My Business, or a Knowledge Panel for that matter.
[00:38:48] Slobodan Manic: Right.
You Have to Please Your Audience, Who Are a Subset of Google’s Users, If They Are Looking for Certain Rich Elements Like Video Boxes
[00:38:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And if that place exists, you need to be sure that you’re on it. And if it doesn’t exist, ask yourself, does it not exist because it’s not going to be helpful to Google’s user or does it not exist because Google simply hasn’t found a good example that it can use? In which case, it’s a great opportunity. If you think there’s an obvious need for video here and there isn’t a video, make the video because the place is begging to be filled. You’ve got to use a little bit of human intelligence and imagination to do that.
[00:39:17] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And tracking those Rich Elements is phenomenally important. Everyone goes, oh, I’m ranking number two, number three. And I use SE Ranking a lot because I love the way they show these Rich Elements. You can see them really, really easily and report on them really easily. And the idea from my perspective is to stop saying to the boss or the client we’re ranking number four, because number four can be well under the fold.
[00:39:39] Slobodan Manic: That is true.
[00:39:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): We’ve got the video, and videos are loads more exciting than a blue link, especially if Google has got that video. It’s saying that its users are looking for video. Therefore, we’ve produced something that the user is looking for. Therefore, we’re pleasing our audience who happen to be a subset of Google’s users. And Google will then potentially recommend our videos as the best solution to its users when they ask that question. That was a good sentence.
You Don’t Control What Google Show Because You Don’t Have the Last Say, But You Can Influence It to a Surprising Extent
[00:40:03] Slobodan Manic: That was great. That’s going to be a great snippet for a clip from this episode as well. So, this becomes more about delivering those non blue links that you see in the page. And those are when you see it, when you think about a blue link, you want the people to click it, come to your website, complete a goal, convert, or whatever. Everything else is more brand building. It’s direct traffic. It’s organic traffic, not direct traffic, as well, but it’s more about brand building and using Google, let’s go back to business card, to build your brand. If you can control, you cannot control, but if you can affect the way Google is displaying your brand to users, you can control it, but you don’t have the final say.
[00:40:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No.
[00:40:47] Slobodan Manic: Can I say that?
[00:40:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): In Kalicube Pro, it’s a tool I’ve built, and we actually have a measurement of control.
[00:40:54] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:40:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I can say, you’re right. You can’t control it.
[00:40:57] Slobodan Manic: You don’t have the final switch, let’s just go with it, but you can absolutely control and affect it. Yes, of course.
[00:41:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. And the same with the Knowledge Panel, I think, we won’t talk about much that today. But the Knowledge Panel, people think, oh, just let Google get on with it. Google’s trying to understand it, fills it with what it wants. You can actually manage that to surprisingly a fine degree. And so, no, you don’t control it because you don’t get the last say, but you can influence it to an extent that I think most people would be very surprised about.
Convincing Google to Call Jason Barnard as The Brand SERP Guy Through His Experiments
[00:41:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I do experiments all the time. If you search my name, it says The Brand SERP Guy. I think I found the word brand on my Brand SERP, my personal Brand SERP 27 times.
[00:41:34] Slobodan Manic: Wow.
[00:41:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Which is an astonishing number. It’s nuts. I actually get Google to repeat it to such an extent that it becomes so, so boring and repetitive. And from my point of view, to defend myself, I’m not trying to trick Google in anyway. I’m just seeing how far I can push it, what I can do, what I can’t do, and how it reacts.
[00:41:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And this example with that particular one is if I repeat myself absolutely everywhere with exactly the same text, does it simply repeat that text everywhere on the Brand SERP? And the answer is no. It digs down into the text and pulls it out. But that one term, The Brand SERP Guy, comes up so often that it thinks that must be incredibly important. And therefore, it represents that me as being The Brand SERP Guy, because basically I’ve convinced it that it’s so incredibly important.
[00:42:24] Slobodan Manic: You’ve done a great job at training the machine that you are The Brand SERP Guy. I’ll give you that.
[00:42:29] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Andrea Volpini from WordLift said, oh, yeah, Jason Barnard googles his CMS, which I really liked. He is obviously exaggerating and terribly charming. But when somebody says something like that, you have to go and blush a little bit. Yeah.
[00:42:41] Slobodan Manic: Absolutely.
[00:42:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’m blushing, literally. I’m blushing.
Recap of the Three Needs Google Has, Understanding, Credibility, and Deliverability, and the Logic of Google
[00:42:44] Slobodan Manic: So, just to recap the three needs Google has, and I’ll just go through them again. It’s understanding, credibility, and deliverability. You need to provide all that to Google. I’ll just try to recap this section by saying the worst kind of SEO advice is build it and they will come. There’s nothing worse you can do for your website. If you just think about your brand, build what you want to build, say what you want to say, and don’t worry about Google’s users or your audience, because there’s a big distinction there.
[00:43:15] Slobodan Manic: So, what you need to do instead is you really need to satisfy a specific need that your potential audience has. And a subset of that audience just happens to be Google’s users. So, think about the users first, eliminate the Google from the equation when you’re planning your strategy for Google. I cannot believe I said that again, but honestly, to me, that just makes sense. If you’re trying to answer to real people, Google will reward you for that. Not even reward you for that. Google will use you to reward its users.
[00:43:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): That’s a really nice way of saying it. Google’s basically making itself look good off our backs, in inverted commas, by simply recommending the best solution. And then we fulfill that. And Google looks good so people come back to Google. And if you remember, that’s Google’s logic. It’s saying, I need to send this person efficiently and effectively to the best solution. If you think about it, then that person will come back to me to search the next time. That’s Google’s logic.
Thoughts About Google’s Monopoly; Google Is a Self Propelling Machine
[00:44:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And a lot of us think, well, they’ve got this monopoly so they don’t really care. You couldn’t be more wrong. There’s no better way to lose a monopoly. Good point. You can’t. They’ve gone.
[00:44:27] Slobodan Manic: That’s why I got silent for a second. I thought you were trying to trick me into something, but no. I’m joking. The thing is Google does have a monopoly. It will for probably for a very long time. They will continue to have it. But if people start talking, hey, Google’s giving me bad results lately, what’s going on, and something new emerges, they’re going to lose a great portion of their traffic. And that is something they don’t want to do. I’m sure they’re worried about that.
[00:44:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I think also, I don’t know if anybody out there has been in a situation. It must be quite an incredible situation where you’ve got this machine that just has this methodology or this way of functioning that keeps pushing itself forward. It’s this self propelling machine.
[00:45:19] Slobodan Manic: It is. And this is a good time to…
[00:45:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it must be terribly addictive for the people who are working on it. They must go, oh, this can’t stop. It’s like, I was going to say crack cocaine. That’s probably not the right thing to say in this context.
[00:45:30] Slobodan Manic: Probably not. But yes, it’s a good point though. It is a good point.
Introducing the New AI Model of Google Called MUM Which Is Built on the Same Technology as BERT But More Powerful
[00:45:33] Slobodan Manic: And this is a good time to mention what’s next with Google, I would guess, because we talked about this before we started recording. Recently, a few weeks ago, they announced, I believe it’s MUM and not M.U.M. or Multitask Unified Model, which is their new AI model built on the same technology as BERT from a few years ago but a thousand times more powerful.
[00:45:57] Slobodan Manic: And the main difference is BERT was designed to understand language and understand our intent and the way we ask questions. MUM can understand and generate language. So, it will be able to understand exactly what you want to ask it and then generate an organic response like there was some person typing. And not only that, but it can understand information across different languages and compile it in the language you want and give you back an answer, which is fascinating but also scary. What is next?
[00:46:30] Slobodan Manic: And I’ll give you an example that they have in Google blog and then let’s talk about that quickly. So the example they have is you want to ask Google exactly this. I’m reading the question. You’ve hiked Mount Adams. Now you want to hike Mount Fuji next fall. And you want to know what to do differently to prepare. And then Google will be able to analyse the entire internet. And it could be things written in Japanese because, of course, it’s in Japan. And it will compare that to English, German, French, whatever language, and give you a response. And it is fascinating. Nothing like this has ever happen in history of humanity. We’ve never had anything like this at this scale.
[00:47:10] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And a hundred percent.
[00:47:13] Slobodan Manic: But this is where, I mentioned this before we hit record, this is where in sci-fi movies from the 80s and 90s, this is where things start going bad. We are at that point.
[00:47:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Right.
Because of His Obsession With Educating Google, Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Is Excited With Google’s MUM
[00:47:25] Slobodan Manic: And this could be the best thing humanity has ever developed or the worst thing humanity has ever developed. I don’t want to sound too dramatic, but this is a massive development for search engine optimisation, everything, humanity in general. So what do you think about this?
[00:47:40] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’m super duper excited. I’m overexcited like a small child. But the one aspect you didn’t mention there was that it can actually analyse across different formats. So it can analyse text alongside images, potentially in the future, video and audio, not potentially, definitely, when they’ve got the technology going, which actually means it’s bringing together those different media formats. And the example you were giving, they were saying, you’ll be able to take a picture of the boots you’re going to use. And they can say, oh, that’s a rubbish idea, which is phenomenally powerful.
[00:48:10] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And from my perspective, the reason I’m a small child getting overexcited about it is because I’m obsessed by the Knowledge Graph and how you educate Google. And we come back to the child idea, but this time the machine is truly a child trying to learn.
[00:48:23] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:48:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): If we look back and we look at this machine, you say, right, okay, I’m faced with a child that needs to learn everything. All it needs is for me to explain it clearly and then get corroboration from other trusted sources. So if you look at the child, you’re saying, I need to explain it, then I need to get the teacher to explain it in the same way, then the grandparents, then the baker down the road, then the policewoman, all these people that the child trusts.
Google Tends to Push Knowledge Panels When It’s Confident About the Information It’s Sharing
[00:48:51] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Now, I like this analogy as well is a child, if I tell the child something, they won’t go into the playground and shout it out because they are not stupid.
[00:49:00] Slobodan Manic: Hopefully not, hopefully not.
[00:49:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But children going to the playground, they shout this stuff out. And that’s what Google tends to do. It tends to say, well, I’m not sure, I won’t say anything. And then all of a sudden it says lots, and those are Knowledge Panels. It will tend to push them when it’s incredibly confident about the information it’s sharing.
[00:49:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And if we come back to MUM, the reason that I’m so excited is because MUM is basically saying Google is going to be able to produce answers and content for people that is generated from the Knowledge Graph from knowledge it has accrued from multiple trusted sources, much in the way the child has done it.
[00:49:35] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so you get this child with a phenomenal memory and a phenomenal understanding of the world who can just regurgitate facts and information that nobody has ever taught it explicitly. And that’s through its understanding everything that’s been pushed into it.
Without Educating the Machine, It Will Either Not Understand You or It Will Get It Wrong
[00:49:52] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so as a marketer, part of that strategy we’re talking, we’re coming back to understanding, which is right at the beginning. Without understanding, you stand no hope, and without educating the machine, the machine will either not understand you or get it wrong. And you need to make sure that machine understands incredibly accurately and with incredible detail and with incredible confidence. So it shouts out in the playground, which is the equivalent of Google recommending you.
[00:50:22] Slobodan Manic: Right.
[00:50:22] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It needs to understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, because it’s going to start generating content whether you like it or not.
[00:50:29] Slobodan Manic: Oh, it definitely will. I’ll just add to that. If you don’t explain it in a good way, someone else will.
[00:50:37] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah.
[00:50:38] Slobodan Manic: If you’re a digital marketer. So this is really important. This is a game that we have to play. You don’t have a choice. This is something you have to do if you’re a digital marketer.
You Should Do It for Your Audience Because Your Audience Are the People Buying From You Ultimately
[00:50:47] Slobodan Manic: And just to recap today’s episodes, we talked about three things that you have to do to have long term SEO success. Make it easy for Google to understand your content, the thing you just said. You want to be credible in the eyes of Google by providing correct information, relevant information over a long period of time, being recommended by others, and all that. And you want to deliver your content to Google in the best way or format possible. And that means fast website, mobile, not optimised, mobile first website, all of that.
[00:51:16] Slobodan Manic: So, just remove again, remove the word Google there. And if you’re talking to a human being, this is what you need to do. So, I’ll just say it again. The best way to win Google is to pretend it doesn’t exist and to pretend you’re doing this for human beings using your website.
[00:51:37] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Can I make a point? You said pretend you’re doing it for human beings. In fact, you shouldn’t just pretend to do it for human beings. You should do it for your audience, because your audience are the people who are buying from you ultimately.
[00:51:47] Slobodan Manic: Absolutely. Yes. That was a mistake on my end, but yes. Thank you for that.
[00:51:51] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I couldn’t resist.
[00:51:52] Slobodan Manic: I’m glad you did. I’m glad you did.
What Is the Best Way to Follow or Get in Touch With Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?
[00:51:54] Slobodan Manic: And that is all we have for today. I want to thank you, Jason, for being our guest at No Hacks Marketing. What is the best way for our audience to follow you online or get in touch with you?
[00:52:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, you can search my name, Jason Barnard, and everything on there is all about me.
[00:52:09] Slobodan Manic: The Brand SERP Guy, right?
[00:52:11] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The Brand SERP Guy.
[00:52:11] Slobodan Manic: I was going to say that as well.
[00:52:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, yeah, you’ll see basically in order of importance where you should be going. It starts with my website, continues with Twitter, goes onto YouTube with the videos, then it goes on to the podcast.
Using Kalicube Pro Which Helps You Change the Description on Your Brand SERP Incredibly, Effectively, and Efficiently
[00:52:23] Slobodan Manic: Google is your CMS. If you got it organised like that, Google is your CMS. Do you have some kind of a drag and drop interface for your SERP page or how do you do that?
[00:52:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, in fact, the reason Andrea said that was because on a Friday he did a little program that analysed text and produced a summary, an AI that produced a summary of text. And he analysed my Brand SERP. And it came up with a description that I didn’t really like. I didn’t think it was accurate. And on Saturday morning at three o’clock after a couple of beers, I thought I’m going to change that.
[00:52:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So I rewrote my bio, went to use Kalicube Pro, which is this amazing tool which helps you do this incredibly, effectively, and efficiently, and went around every single profile and changed them all, pointed to Google from my own website to all these profiles that I’d updated, updated my page in Google’s index. Then Google went and crawl through all the other pages. And by Tuesday, the description was pretty much exactly what I wanted.
[00:53:26] Slobodan Manic: That is very, very impressive.
[00:53:28] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It’s astonishing. I personally didn’t believe it when it happened, but it does show. And you said you can’t control. I don’t control. I don’t have the ultimate decision, but I’ve got immense influence.
[00:53:38] Slobodan Manic: To some extent, you definitely do. Thank you, Jason. That is a wrap for this episode. And thank you for listening. We will talk to you next week.
[00:53:48] Narrator: Thanks for listening to No Hacks Marketing. If you enjoyed this episode, we’d appreciate it if you can leave a rating on any of your favourite podcast platforms. Visit nohacksmarketing.com to subscribe.