Here are some of the things you are going to learn today:
– Jason’s secret sauce to learning anything quickly and how you can apply it, too
– why talent X perseverance + a tiny bit of luck were the keys to his successes & yours too
– Why you should care about your Brand SERP, #1 most important aspect of any SEO strategy and how to spot an SEO bullshitter
[00:00:00] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): When it was rejected twice or in two different contexts, and I corrected the third context, we had to fight for 2 years to get accepted by anybody, and then another 4 years to get anywhere near making any money, and then another 2 years to get ITV International to make the TV series. Perseverance, if you really, really believe in it, stick with it.
[00:00:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): If you pay somebody else to help you with your SEO, here’s a little hint. If whatever they’re doing doesn’t serve one or more of understanding, credibility, or deliverability, they’re doing something that isn’t going to help. So, basically, it’s an easy way for you to say which one does it serve. And if they can’t make a decent argument for it serving one or more of those pillars, tell them they’re getting it wrong.
An Overview About the Show’s Content and Guest, Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:00:47] Konrad Yerba Addict: Welcome to the Quest for Questions Podcast. And joining me today is someone who describes himself as a digital marketer, musician, and a cartoon blue dog. After our conversation, I would more accurately call him the first professional double bass player who had no idea how to play it, the first digital nomad with an address between the sea and the post office, Mauritius, and finally, the only person who can make Brand SERP and SEO an exciting conversation topic for someone even outside of digital marketing. If you stick long enough, you will even learn a French word that better describes a person with drive. This is Konrad Yerba Mate Addict, and here is an interview with the one and only Jason Barnard. Enjoy.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) and Konrad Yerba Addict on Meeting at a Platform for Podcasters and Guest
[00:01:34] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, welcome, Jason, to the Quest for Questions Podcast. And I’m excited to talk to you today. It’s mostly going to be, I think, about digital marketing, but there’s also some other topics like digital nomadism and living on desert islands and going through a lot of different careers in your life. So, maybe let’s start first with something that I read on your profile. I think at MatchMaker, that’s where we met
[00:02:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): That sounds like a dating site by the way, but it isn’t. It’s a bringing of podcasters and guests together platform.
[00:02:15] Konrad Yerba Addict: It’s like Tinder but for podcast people. Yeah. That was a good clarification I forgot to mention. That’s where me and Jason met, and I’m on the lookout for uncommon people. And I thought, just looking at you, that you had a lot of uncommon things you did in your life. So, I guess first thing I would want to start with is that you mentioned that you were always part of a gig economy. And you went from being a punk folk musician to starring in a TV cartoon that became quite popular, to then finally running your own digital agency, and then being a digital nomad living on Mauritius.
The Story of How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) First Got Into Music Before Settling on Marketing and Brand SERPs
[00:02:58] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, can you paint us the story of how it came about? That you first got into music, and then you always remain in the gig economy, and then you finally settled on the digital marketing and specifically Brand SERPs or mostly focusing on Google search.
[00:03:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Right. Brand SERP is a brand search engine results page. It’s what Google shows when they google your brand name to either look you up and figure out who you are and what you do or to come to your site. And it’s phenomenally important, but that’s at the end, the really clever part when I’m going to be wearing the glasses. But I can take the glasses off, because I don’t need to look clever for this part.
[00:03:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I’ve always been in the gig economy. I went to university in Liverpool. I played the Cavern Club where the Beatles played. That was my claim to fame during my time there with the world’s worst blues band. We were called Stanley the Counting Horse, for reasons completely off the wall. And we played loads of blues gigs. I was really thin. I was this thin and quite small.
Playing Blues Music at the Cavern Club and Studying at the Same University as John Lennon
[00:04:11] Konrad Yerba Addict: Good old days.
[00:04:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Good old days. And I still had this big deep voice. So, I used to sing these big blues songs like I’m a man. And people just look at me and go, how’s that coming out of his mouth? He’s incredibly small and incredibly thin, and he’s got this big deep thundering voice, which was quite funny. We played the Cavern Club, which was great. And I’m terribly pleased about that.
[00:04:37] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And if you look up alumni of John Moores University, I sometimes come up alongside John Lennon because he went to the same school as I did. So, that’s a nice trick. This is the intellectual part that I’m playing with the Knowledge Graph. I can get myself put next to John Lennon in Google. Back to the real life, when in fact, I don’t know John Lennon. He was there years and years before me. So, absolutely nothing to do with him, except for the fact I happened to hang out at the same college he did. Then I left Liverpool and moved to Paris because I was in love with a French woman.
Exchanging Postcards With a Girl and Finally Moving to Paris Without a Definite Long Term Plan Because of Love
[00:05:12] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s all right.
[00:05:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Well, I moved to Paris because we’ve been exchanging postcards. This was when the internet didn’t exist, literally. This was 1988. I think it might have just existed, but we certainly didn’t know. And we used to exchange postcards, these terribly deep and meaningful postcards, very short obviously, with I love you. And now I think about it and go, the postman was reading this stuff. He must have been having such a good laugh with these awful postcards coming from France and vice versa, I assume.
[00:05:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then I moved there and literally moved my entire life there, because I thought I was going to move, and I didn’t bother asking her if she was interested. And I turned up at her doorstep, knocked on the door. She opened the door and she went, oh, this is my boyfriend.
Staying in Paris Even Though His Love Failed and Getting His First Gig Job as an English Teacher
[00:06:03] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, really?
[00:06:04] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. She’s going out with a guy, and he was an economist as well. I did a degree in economics. And I then said to her, he’s an economist, I’m an economist. He’s good looking, I’m good looking. He’s boring, I’m funny. And she wouldn’t have it. So, that was a lost opportunity. And then her mom decided that she liked me, so she let me stay in the chambre du pont in Paris, a little room above. And unfortunately, it was right above this girl’s bedroom. So, I spent six months, obviously. I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one, but it was a bit weird.
[00:06:41] Konrad Yerba Addict: Okay. Yeah.
[00:06:43] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then I was going to go home back to the UK. I didn’t really want to, but I was thinking, oh, living at Paris, isn’t this cool? And I had 50 euros or 50 francs actually at the time, and it was enough to get a bus ticket. I said, if I don’t find a job today, I’ll go home. And I was looking around and somebody said to me, why don’t you apply to be an English teacher? I said, okay. So, I rang up 3 English language schools. One of them said, yeah, you can have 5 hours a week, start from next week. So, I think, oh, I’ll stay. So, that was my first gig job, as it were, in Paris, completely outside of anything I’d imagined I’d be doing.
At 22 Years Old, Jason Barnard Started to Hate His Job of Teaching English, Which Was Easy But Boring
[00:07:27] Konrad Yerba Addict: How old were you at this point?
[00:07:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): 22, I think. I absolutely hated it. I really hated teaching English. Teaching is okay. I like teaching. Now, I teach Brand SERP courses, digital marketing, and I love it. And I think I’m a good teacher. I think I express things correctly and clearly, bring people through to understanding what it is I’ve understood, and making sense of what is actually a very complicated subject. But when you dig down and you manage to explain it, I would say, properly or clearly, it’s actually really, really simple.
[00:08:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, back to English teaching. The worst thing about English teaching is what they say is get the person to talk to you and just correct them incessantly. And the problem with that is that you speak English or I speak English so well, it’s my native language, that I don’t even have to listen to people to be able to know. As soon as they make a mistake, it triggers my ear.
[00:08:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I could sleep most of the time. They make a mistake, I wake up and say, no, that’s wrong, correct it, and then go back to sleep again. And the problem with that is it sounds easy, but it’s just boring. And it’s boring listening to most people. I did say, please do interrupt me because none of us are interesting for a minute, but these students weren’t interesting for 5 seconds.
Jason Barnard Was Asked to Join a Band, as Long as He Can Learn to Play the Double Bass in 30 Days
[00:08:45] Konrad Yerba Addict: Okay.
[00:08:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, there you go. Now, in Paris, gigging, as it were, doing work as an English teacher. And then some friends of mine say, do you want to join our band? Because they knew I was a singer.
[00:08:59] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, okay. In the UK?
[00:09:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No, in Paris. It was 3 English guys in Paris playing in the street, basically, and they had a few gigs in small bars. And they were playing the street, and they were making a good living. They were playing in the street, playing in the Metro. They used to leap into the Metro in the morning. They’d leap into the train carriages, play 3 songs, pass the hat around, jump off again, making great living.
[00:09:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And they said, do you want to join the band? I said, oh yeah, great, I’m a singer. They said, we don’t need a singer, we can all sing. I said, I can play a bit of guitar. And they said, we don’t need a guitar player, we’ve got a guitar player, we need a double bass player. I said, I don’t play the double bass. And they said, if you learn the double bass in 30 days, you can play in our band. So, I bought a double bass with my last 500 pounds because I had 500 pounds in a bank account, because my grandfather had died, unfortunately, in between times and left me 500 pounds.
With His Last Money, Jason Barnard Bought a Double Bass With the Hope of Learning to Play It for 30 Days
[00:09:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I went back to the UK, got the money out of the bank, went to buy. I saw an advert in the paper, and it was a double bass for sale. I go, okay, went around there. And the guy said, okay, here you go. And he had 5 or 6 double basses. And he was a double bass teacher. And he said, one of my students has got really good at double bass, so he’s selling this one because it isn’t up to standard for him. Do you want to try? And I was going, no, I don’t want to try at all. No, I’ll just buy it please.
[00:10:22] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I bought it and brought it back in the days when you crossed the English channel on a ferry. So, I actually had to carry it onto the ferry, carry it across, then carry it off the other side, back onto the train, and through Paris. And then I stood up at my house and learned to play it in 30 days. I’d love to say I was really good at it, a natural, but it was a bit of a struggle to be honest.
By Trading the Band’s Best Pitch With Another Group, a German Guy Then Taught Jason Barnard How to Play the Double Bass
[00:10:50] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But what they did, the band, we used to have these places in Paris where you would play. And there were some places that made loads of money and some places that made not very much money. They were called pitches. They traded. Everyone took their turn. It was terribly well organised, and people were terribly fair. And they traded the best pitch in the city for a week with another group for lessons for me, for the double bass, so that I could actually get up to speed.
[00:11:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it was this improbably, small German guy who played the double bass. The double bass is this big, and he was this big. And he was amazing, the guy called Franz. He was such a nice guy and such a good double bass player. He gave me a 2 hour lesson. The first hour was basically showing me where the notes were, showing me how to slap it. And the second hour was when you’re really good, this is what you’ll be able to do. And he spent an hour just showing me all the great things you could do with the double bass. I’m just going, I’m not getting there, mate.
Some Music and Performance Advice Jason Barnard Received While Learning to Play the Double Bass
[00:11:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But he gave me advice at the end, which is what saved my bacon, as it were. He said, right, rules of the game are you get up on stage and you smile. You never stop smiling, whatever happens. You can play all the bum notes you want, you can make all the mistakes you want, you can do whatever you want, but never stop smiling, rule number one.
[00:12:09] Konrad Yerba Addict: The best music advice.
[00:12:11] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Great. It’s actually very good music advice. So, any musicians out there, good hint. Because when you’re smiling, you look confident. When you look confident, people imagine you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t. Next one was slap it in time. Always hit it in time. Just think about the rhythm all the time. And if you get this hand wrong, which is the notes.
[00:12:32] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): If you play a bum note, a wrong note, there are two types of people in the audience. One is people who’ve got no idea about music, and they don’t hear it. They simply don’t know you’ve played a wrong note. This is on the bass. And there are jazz musicians who will hear it. But if you’re smiling enough and you look confident enough, they’ll think you’ve done something really clever that they don’t understand, and they won’t dare ask you about it. And that’s it.
Jason Barnard on Applying All the Advice He Received, Finally Joining the Band, and the Rest Is History
[00:12:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): He said, nobody in the room actually knows when you make a mistake or cares. They don’t know and they don’t care is a double thing. And every time you make a mistake, forget about it, just put it behind you. And if you can do that, everything in front of you, everything is possible. And if you focus on where you went wrong before, that whole feel just closes down and you’re going to make more and more mistakes. It’s going to snowball. Which was genius advice, because that’s all I did for a month.
[00:13:30] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Basically, I didn’t really learn to play the double bass. I just hit it in time and thought about forgetting mistakes and imagining the people in the audience hadn’t noticed what I had done. And then on the day itself, he was quite small, so he actually stood on a table right at the back of the room. And throughout the gig, he was going every time I didn’t smile. And every time I made a mistake, he went. And it was brilliant. And he got me through the gig, and I got in the band. And the rest is history, as they say.
Jason Barnard on Playing With His Band, Organising Gigs, Selling Albums, and Making Good Money
[00:13:57] Konrad Yerba Addict: And then you stuck with it for 8 years, I think, with the band.
[00:14:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah, playing in a band. In fact, we played in the street and were making very good money. And I started organising gigs, and I wanted to play gigs. We basically rang up bars and said, can we play in your bar? And luckily for us, if you know the Mano Negra, Manu Chao’s first group.
[00:14:18] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. I have no idea.
[00:14:19] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Manu Chao is a very famous French musician. Mano Negra is basically the clash play folk music in French and Spanish. And they’re awesome. They were really, really good. And what they did was opened up the French alternative music scene. So, at the beginning of the 90s, end of the 80s, actually, French music was all Johnny Hallyday. And I can’t remember who else was around at the time. These, let’s say, bland French musical artists. It was very variete, we call it in French, which is pretty awful, dirgey pop music. And what they did is they went round to every single record shop, and they would take their literal records, and they would put them in the shop, play the band.
A Musical Movement in France That Was Started by a Band Called Mano Negra and Other Bands
[00:15:10] Konrad Yerba Addict: Your band or who?
[00:15:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No, another band, Mano Negra.
[00:15:13] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, okay.
[00:15:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And they would play the gig. And they would tell everyone at the gig, don’t buy our record here, you can’t buy here, you have to buy it in the shops. So, people would then go to the shop the next day, buy out all the stock. The shop would think, this is brilliant, we’re selling loads of records. And they would restock, and they managed to get an entire musical movement. It’s not just them. The Les Garcons Bouchers was there as well and several others.
From Playing in the Street, Jason Barnard’s Band Went on Tour, Played in Big Festivals With Famous Musicians, and Had a Good Music Career
[00:15:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And there was an alternative rock scene, which was basically folk music played punk. And it’s a really, really, really lovely thing to have been in. And we were basically just behind all of these groups. So, we got the benefit of everything that they’d done to open it up. So, it’s actually quite easy for me to organise tours. And so, we then moved from playing in the street to being able to play tours, obviously playing small bars, but also big festivals would have us. And we managed to make 4 albums, and we sold 40,000 albums in France.
[00:16:06] Konrad Yerba Addict: Wow.
[00:16:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, it was reasonably successful. In terms of festivals, we played with The Pogues, we played on the same bill as Bob Dylan, believe it or not. And it was a professional music career for somebody who didn’t really know how to play the double bass with a band who were playing punk folk music. We can call it polk, if you want.
Jason Barnard on Being a Good Double Bass Player Who Knows Much More Than He Let On
[00:16:29] Konrad Yerba Addict: But at some point, you must have actually learned how to play decently, right?
[00:16:35] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Jumping forward to literally 30 years, and I started playing with a banjo player and a guitar player. And the banjo player finally convinced me that I am actually quite a good musician and that I had just been saying I only played the double bass functionally. But in fact, I am quite a good double bass player and I do know much more than I let on. So, I played it down.
[00:16:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But that initial starting off thing, what it was for me was I wanted to be a rockstar. I wanted to play big stadiums full of 30-40,000 people. It never happened. When you are in a band, you think, you’re completely convinced it’s going to happen. And it’s obviously never going to happen. But in your mind, you are driving. We used to do 100,000 kilometres a year for 6 years in a row. And you’d be sitting in the van just going, it’ll all be worth, it’ll all be worth it. Because we were playing in front of 40,000 people, and you are convinced that that’s what’s going to happen, which it doesn’t.
[00:17:32] Konrad Yerba Addict: Was it worth? It probably was still.
[00:17:35] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Oh, it’s brilliant. It gave great stories to tell people like you, hey.
Some Other Reasons Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Moved From the UK to France
[00:17:39] Konrad Yerba Addict: But you never thought about, because what I’m interested to is that you are originally from the UK, right? From Leeds, I think, you said.
[00:17:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yep. You’re a good researcher.
[00:17:50] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, you never thought about when you were all this time in Paris, living there and then traveling, you never thought about going home? It seems like you never had a big love for living in the UK or am I just projecting something in my mind?
[00:18:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No. I think you’re right. There are several reasons. This is quite long. Well, the first one is simply Margaret Thatcher going for the third time. She became prime minister for the third time.
Moving for Political Reasons: A Socialist Government Suits Jason Barnard Than a Conservative Government
[00:18:16] Konrad Yerba Addict: Cool. Say it again?
[00:18:17] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Margaret Thatcher.
[00:18:18] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, okay.
[00:18:19] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): She’s famous as well, like Manu Chao.
[00:18:22] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. I know Margaret Thatcher.
[00:18:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): He might possibly had influenced world events a little bit more. Sorry. I’m being facetious. I do apologise. So, I actually left because I couldn’t stand the idea of conservative government for the third time. And in France at the time, it was a socialist government and I thought that suits me better. So, I moved for political reasons.
Coming From a Family of Relatively Successful People, Jason Barnard Thought He Could Be Whoever He Wanted to Be in Paris
[00:18:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And once I got to Paris, the thing that struck me was I come from a family of relatively successful people in their different lines of work. And it’s quite a heavy judgmental that I felt. At least, that’s my personal feeling for it. When I got to France, I just sat there and I thought I can be whoever I want. I can completely reinvent myself. And basically, if anyone ever moves to Paris, it takes a year to make any friends at all.
[00:19:21] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. I know French are.
[00:19:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. You stick it out for a year. And after a year, it actually becomes really, really nice. That first year is a struggle. But I just spent that first year saying, who do I want to be? And it’s terribly existential. Who do I want be? What do I want to do? And by the end of the year, I was in the band and thinking this is so much fun.
Getting a Confusing and Weird Advice From His Mother About Having Music as a Career
[00:19:43] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And ironically, my mother in fact is a jazz musician, but she left home when I was 4. So, she didn’t bring me up. So, the jazz music has got nothing to do with my upbringing because my upbringing was all in literature, which is what my father was doing. But she left home to go and play in the street, to go and play music in the street, and become a musician by learning along the way because she wasn’t technically a musician. She was a painter.
[00:20:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I went to her and went to see her. And I said, oh, I’ve joined band and we’re playing in the street and I’m playing the double bass. And she went, oh, don’t. I go, why not? She said, get a job as an accountant, you’ve got an economics degree, you could become an accountant. I said, but why? And she said, because it’s safe. And I said, but you left home to learn music, playing in the street, do you regret that decision? She said, not at all. Are you happy? Yep. So, why are you telling me not to do it? It’s insane.
[00:20:41] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah.
[00:20:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But it just turns out it’s a mother being worried that her son is going to suffer and not be able to make a wonderful life for himself. And that music isn’t a career for your own son, even if it’s a career for yourself, which is a bit weird, but there you go.
The Transition of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) From Playing in a Band to Doing Cartoons
[00:20:54] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. That makes sense. I know that’s how it goes. So, I think the next episode was the TV cartoons. So, how does one go from playing in a band and a double bass to doing TV cartoons?
[00:21:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): With great difficulty is the answer. It’s another weaving story. Because basically, what happened is everybody else left the band except me. Everyone sort of went, oh, I’m bored. They all realised we were never going to be stars, I think. And they all left one by one, and I ended up on my own with the double bass. The drummer left and went to Czech Republic and is now in Russia and plays avant-garde jazz music and writes anti-western pieces for English language, Russian papers, which is a bit strange.
[00:21:50] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Another guy moved to the South of France and is now doing voiceovers for video games. And another guy moved to the UK delivering vegetables as a job, got on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, won a fortune, spent it all, and then moved to Thailand. And he’s now happily living in Thailand. Basically, they all went off because they wanted to do something different.
After His Band Went Their Separate Ways, Jason Barnard Decided to Write Songs for Children
[00:22:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I thought I’m not going to keep doing this myself, and I’m not going to go and get a proper job. Because by that time, how old I must’ve been, I was 30. At 30, you’re thinking, oh, I’m not going to get a proper job now. It’s a bit late. So, I got a part-time work, but luckily my wife had a really good job as a graphic designer. She was, what would you call it, an artistic director for a major French advertising agency, so she made decent money. And we had a child and she said, basically, if you stay home and look after the child, I’ll bring the money. And I went, that’s all right by me.
[00:22:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I brought our daughter up for 2-3 years. And during that time, I started writing songs for children, which ironically was what we had all said when we were in the band would be a nightmare. Our nightmare audience would be children. We all laughed about it because we were punks. And as soon as that ended, I thought actually I quite like to write songs for kids. Kids are all right. So, I wrote these songs for kids, went to the record companies, who all knew me because I’ve been in the record industry in France for 7 or 8 years. And none of them wanted it. They said no, we can’t use that, not at all. And basically, it turns out the music industry for children in France is a mafia.
Because the Children’s Music Industry in France Was Constrained, Jason Barnard Decided to Create Characters to Sing His Songs
[00:23:33] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh wow.
[00:23:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Not a literal mafia, but you can’t get in.
[00:23:37] Konrad Yerba Addict: You need connections, that kind of thing.
[00:23:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Much more than the wider world. It’s a niche market, but they sell gazillions of records and make absolutely loads of money. And they won’t let you in, if you’re not part of their club. And it’s a very different club to the rock and pop part of the industry. So, I then talked to my wife and I said, yeah. She and I had created the two characters to sing the songs. It wasn’t going to be us. It was going to be these two characters, a blue dog called Boowa and a yellow koala called Kwala. And she was the yellow koala and I was the blue dog.
[00:24:18] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the idea was the blue dog had this big, deep voice. And he was terribly reassuring and would sing in tune all the time. And then the little yellow koala would sing out of tune, out of time, get it wrong. And she would be the child to make the child feel comfortable with a character they could relate to. And then the blue dog, bringing both the tune and Kwala forwards in terms of learning and understanding. It was a really, really sweet idea.
Trying to Make a Book With the Cartoon Characters and Songs, But the Book Publishers Did Not Want It Either
[00:24:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I said, why don’t we make a book? So, she took the 12 songs I’d written and she created a story out of them, Around the World in 12 songs with Boowa and Kwala. And then she did all the drawings. We wrote the story together, put the album and the book together, and then went to see the book publishers thinking, if we can get the book publishers to publish it, then we’ve nailed it. We’ve got our record out.
[00:25:11] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It turns out they don’t want it either because I didn’t know anybody. It’s less of a mafia as far as I understand, but they didn’t want it because they didn’t know who I was. And they just said, another two boring characters, we don’t need them, we’ve got hundreds of them, boring, boring, boring, boring. It’s soul destroying. And then, oh, this is a nice story as well. I was playing one of those awful fantasy football games on internet, and this is 1998.
When Jason Barnard Won in an Online Football Game, He Got a Subscription From Different Magazines Including Macromedia Flash
[00:25:38] Konrad Yerba Addict: It was already around? I didn’t know.
[00:25:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Oh, god, yeah. It was awful. I was using a dial-up modem, that funny noise at the beginning each time when you’re connecting. And it would connect to 14K, which is unbelievably slow. And I played this game, and I played it a couple of times and lost. I was down at the bottom of the league. And then I figured out basically what their algorithm was doing. And I did 4 at a time, and I won 3 out of the 4. And I thought, all right, what have I won? And they said, you got a subscription to these magazines.
[00:26:18] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so, I got the one for football because I like football. So, I got the subscription for the football magazine. I can’t remember what the second one was, probably another football magazine. And I thought I don’t want the third one. And the only one I could see that even might be interesting was one about the internet, so I got that. And there was a free copy of Macromedia Flash. You might not know what it is, but it was Adobe Flash afterwards, animation software program, animation with some program. At the time, it was just animation.
Using Macromedia Flash, Jason Barnard Learned How to Make a Website and Animations for His Cartoon Characters
[00:26:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I sat down and said, right, I’m going to make a website. I’m going to do animation. And I’m going to put the songs into an animation form, make stories up. And because there’s a very small amount of programming, I’ll start programming these games. At the time, the programming was Flash 3, there was no programming. Flash 4, they had the start of ActionScript, which was the simplest programming in the world.
[00:27:11] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I just sat down and learned it and created a website. Because the record companies and the publishers didn’t want the characters, I thought I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to make it a success. I’m going to prove you all wrong because this is really cool. And once again, my wife was making a decent living, so I could afford to do that, which was an immense luxury. And it was.
With the Creation of His Website, It Was Jason Barnard’s First Step Into Digital Marketing and Search Engines
[00:27:34] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, that was your first, how do you say it, first step into the digital marketing in a way?
[00:27:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Exactly. Yeah. Because we launched the site, and the first thing I had to do was figure out the search engines. At the time, the search engines, there was Infoseek, HotBot, Magellan. I can’t remember the other one. There are 15 of them. Excite was another one. Oh, the one with the dog, I can’t remember it. It doesn’t matter.
[00:28:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Basically, it was all counting words. They didn’t even think about links. It was all about what was in the page. And so, you would create one page for each keyword and each variant of each keyword for each search engine. So, there were 15 search engines, 50 keywords. That would be 10,000 pages you would have to create.
Launching the Website on the Same Year Google Was Incorporated, Jason Barnard Saw How Google Evolved
[00:28:26] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, Google wasn’t around then, because I think you mentioned somewhere that your first beginning was when Google was coming up.
[00:28:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Google was incorporated in September 1998. I launched the website in December 1998 with an animated avant calendar. So, September 1998, when they were incorporated, I was building the avant calendar that was then released 3 months later. So, I’ve had a parallel career to Google pretty much. Obviously, I’ve seen how I’ve evolved and how they’ve evolved in parallel, in many ways, but they obviously haven’t noticed me.
The Journey of When Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Moved With His Family to Mauritius
[00:29:06] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, how did you then go from that moment to then being a full on digital nomad? I guess moving at some point to Mauritius and then getting, I guess, more involved with the whole Google and search results and never really going back to the normal job market, but sticking with the economy. What was the path?
[00:29:35] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, we launched in 1998. And then in mid 1999, a French businessman contacted us and said, I’d like to be part of your project. And we said, great. And at the time, my thought was there quite a lot. My wife wasn’t happy in her job. And we decided we needed to get away from Paris. So, I said to him, okay, you can come in, but we want to move to the other side of the world. And he said, where? And I said, there.
With the Idea That You Can Do the Internet Anywhere in the World, Jason Barnard’s Family Moved From Stressful France to Sunny Mauritius
[00:30:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the idea for me was at the time, people were saying you can do internet sites from anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter, but nobody was doing it. Everyone is still sitting in the cities doing it. And I thought I’m going to do this. Once again, I don’t know how to say it, demoule in French. I just want to prove that things can be done.
[00:30:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Mauritius is a tiny island just off Madagascar, desert island, not desert island, tropical island. We have these visions of desert island. It’s actually very heavily populated for the size. And so we moved there, to be in the sun, be next to the sea. And it was absolutely beautiful. It was a really, really nice experience. Just from the sense of getting away from Western culture, going to the Southern Hemisphere, learning a different way of life, learning that life isn’t quite as stressful as it was in Paris.
The Nice Story of How Jason Barnard Chose What They Would Call Their Address in Mauritius
[00:30:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And there’s a really nice story for the beginning of this. Because we got a house, and it was next to a cemetery, the post office, and the sea. It was near the seafront. And the postman came around and said, all right, who are you, basically? And I gave him our names because it’s the postman. It’s not address. They don’t have post codes. So, it’s a very manual approach to delivering mail. And I said, oh, but can you tell me what the address is? Because the landlord hasn’t actually given us an address. The contract for the house says the town.
[00:31:32] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And he said, oh, there isn’t really an address for this house. It’s Chez Deauman Deville. And I said, I don’t really like that. Can I say between the sea and the post office? And he went, okay. I said, is that my address? And he went, yep. I said, oh, can I change it? Can I change it to between the cemetery and the sea? And he said, nope, you can’t change it. You’ve made your mind. That’s it. The first one you said is the one you’re going to get.
The Parents and Kids Sending Their Drawings to: Boowa and Kwala, Between the Sea and the Post Office, Mauritius
[00:31:55] Konrad Yerba Addict: Did it really stay that way?
[00:31:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It did. What was nice is because we had these characters Boowa and Kwala, we could tell people, tell the audience, the kids. At this point, we had a million kids a month coming to the site. And we could say, send you drawings to Boowa and Kwala. The address is Boowa Kwala, between the sea and the post office, Mauritius. And their parents must be going, I’m not sending that. It’s like sending it to Santa Claus at the North Pole. It’s such a ridiculous address.
[00:32:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But the kids were going, yeah, between the sea and the post office, Mauritius, that’s completely logical. And it got to us every time. So, it was a beautiful piece of bad luck, good luck. Because if I’d chosen the cemetery and the sea, we couldn’t have given that to the kids because you know. Between the sea and the post office is a beautiful little address.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Having a Hard Time Finding Qualified People for the Jobs Needed
[00:32:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then what happened is basically I got to Mauritius. We set up. And I was going to get developers to help with the code, to build the server, do the MySQL, the databases, run the server, do the coding of the site, do the promotion, do the marketing, do the search engine optimisation. My idea was to employ all these people, because we now had a businessman on board who was providing some money.
[00:33:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It didn’t occur to me until I actually turned up there that there weren’t any of these qualified people on the island. And when I advertised for people to code, they would say, I know Excel a bit. That’s not coding. So, I actually had to learn all these skills myself in order to be able to then manage the people who were supposed to be doing the job, so I could actually teach them how to do it a lot of the time, not all the time, of course.
Being Lucky Enough to Hire a Guy Who Was Good at Excel, Where He Calculated Word Ratios for the Search Engines
[00:33:41] Konrad Yerba Addict: Because it wasn’t the time of remote work, and remote work was not trending.
[00:33:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No. And it was 2000 on an island in the middle of nowhere, which hadn’t really hooked onto the internet at the time. The internet was awful. So, I hadn’t calculated all of that. It was just, oh, what nice idea, this is a good idea. And a lot of my life has been about that, like going to see the woman I was in love with in Paris. It’s a good idea. And I don’t think it through to the end, but I just want to do it because I want to see what’s going to happen. It’s usually difficult, but it’s very rewarding. It’s a rewarding way to live.
[00:34:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And from an SEO point of view, I was lucky enough to get this guy, the guy who liked Excel. I said, you’re not going to be a programmer, but what you can do with Excel is calculate the word ratios for each of the search engines. And then we can build pages, and you can write them. So, you don’t need to code. You’re using Excel to calculate the word ratios on a sample of these pages, and then you can calculate it. And then you can write them because he spoke pretty good English, and he was a semi marketing guy.
After Trying to Rank for Every Search Engine, Jason Barnard Decided to Just Focus on Google Because It Brought the Most Traffic
[00:34:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It was really funny. He had the office next to mine. And he literally locked himself away for a month, and we hardly ever saw him. And I never asked him what he was doing. I assumed he was getting on with it. And one day, he just came out. He was like, Eureka. And he had this sheet of paper with his formula for all the different search engines on it. And he just went through and created them. And the pages, some of them are still there.
[00:35:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): What I then said to him is right, okay, we’re going to do it in this order, in this importance. And I started with Google and then went down. After a couple of months, we realised that Google was the one we were performing best on and it’s the one that brought in the most traffic. So, I just said we can forget about the rest. We are just going to go with Google, which is probably the best decision I could have made. That was in 2002, probably. And so, we just forgot about the others.
Choosing Google Became a Good Bet and Even After 18 Years, Some of Their Pages Are Still Ranking
[00:35:32] Konrad Yerba Addict: A good bet.
[00:35:32] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It was a good bet, lucky bet maybe. And what’s interesting is that one of the pages he built in 2002 is still ranking number one 18 years later.
[00:35:43] Konrad Yerba Addict: Wow.
[00:35:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It was astonishing. Hats off to him. Amazing. And that was the art of being an employer in Mauritius. You advertise for a job, people come in, and then you look at what they can do and you find them a job to do. And it worked really well. We went with 14 people working for us at one point. And it was basically I’ll just create the job around what they were good at. It was a successful way of managing it.
The Unfortunate Ending of Jason Barnard’s Journey With the Blue Dog
[00:36:16] Konrad Yerba Addict: Because from then on, your life looked a bit different in a way that you focus on the Brand SERP and the digital marketing.
[00:36:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Oh, right, sorry, there’s a big hole there, just to interrupt you. If you come back a bit, in fact, at one point, ITV International approached us and said, can we make a cartoon? We had 5 million visits a month on the site, 100 million page views a month. It was a phenomenal success. We were the 10,000th biggest site in the world. We were only for kids up to 10 years old. We were competing with PBS and Disney and the BBC. It’s insane what we were doing.
[00:36:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then ITV said, oh, we’d like to make a TV series. And we ended up making a TV series, 52 episodes of Boowa and Kwala showed in 25 countries in the end. We did it in French and English. And that was really, really, really enjoyable. So, it went from the website to the TV series. And the whole thing collapsed due to an argument with the business partner, which is terribly unfortunate.
More Stories by Jason Barnard of Some of Their Successful Hires for Their Cartoon Business
[00:37:19] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, okay. I wanted to ask how it ended, but I guess it often happens, some kind of argument.
[00:37:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I got so into it that I became the blue dog. I think somewhere in my mind, I went a bit mad, I think, halfway through. One day, we had this guy. It was amazing. This guy who did these animations, astonishingly talented chap. He left school at 16, no qualifications, came in for an interview. And we were looking for people to help my wife with the drawings and illustrations and animations. And I said to her, I don’t know how to choose them. She said, I’m not coming in.
[00:37:56] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, what I did, I interviewed them, and I got them to draw a copy of one of her characters. And then I took them back and I went, right, I’ve got 10 drawings for you. I know which one you’re going to pick because it’s the best one. I presented it to her and she went, nope. And she went through it, and she picked the worst one. What are you doing? It doesn’t look anything like it. And she said, but he’s got soul. This guy has got a soul, and he is going to take the characters further than I would.
Because Jason Barnard Sees Himself as the Blue Dog, He Had a Hard Time When They Lost the Business
[00:38:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I employed him and turns out she was right. He was absolutely brilliant. And one day, he did this animation of the blue dog walking across the screen.. And I looked and I thought, he was actually like this, looking really happy. It was amazing. And I said to him, that’s an amazing animation. How did you manage to do that? He said, I just watch you everyday.
[00:38:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Basically, the blue dog was me, and that became the problem. I would see in this blue dog myself, and I would become the blue dog. And I was with a business partner who was obviously just out to make loads of money. And I was there to be the blue dog and share this glorious, wonderful content with happiness and joy with the world of children. So, I got completely shafted.
Some Takeaways From Jason Barnard’s Experience of Being a Musician and Doing Cartoons
[00:39:13] Konrad Yerba Addict: I see. So, from that part of life, which is crazy, many different things you did and many stories and stuff, are there some biggest takeaways from you, from all those, from doing the music, playing in a band?
[00:39:29] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Dare to dream you’ll be a rockstar, because that allows you to actually stick through 6 years of driving 100,000 kilometres a year with people you don’t even like, who burp and fart in the van. Believe that what you are doing is good. Make it as good as you possibly can. Don’t be pretentious. Try and take a step back and say, actually, is it as good as I think? Can I make it better? Be self critical without putting yourself down. Don’t say this isn’t good, say this isn’t as good as it could be, and here’s how I can make it better.
[00:40:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that’s basically, when we were doing Boowa and Kwala, how we progressed. And if you look at the site, which is actually still online, you can find it, Boowa and Kwala, uptoten.com. And if you look at the very first ones, Around the World with Boowa and Kwala, you’ll see the quality. You can feel that it’s nice, but you can see the quality isn’t there. And you get to the end, and the quality is astonishing.
Jason Barnard’s Takeaway When Making the Cartoon Series: Perseverance and Sticking on What You Believe in
[00:40:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): We had a team, so it’s not just me. It was me, my wife, these guys doing the animations, some guy doing the sound as well, another guy helping out with the music. But when it was rejected twice or in two different contexts, and I created the third context, we had to fight for 2 years to get accepted by anybody, and then another 4 years to get anywhere near making any money, and then another 2 years to get ITV International to make the TV series.
[00:40:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Perseverance, if you really, really believe in it, stick with it. But obviously, it’s dangerous because you can stick with something that just isn’t going to work. But if you have some talent and you persevere and you keep banging away, it will end up bringing something. So, obviously, you need the talent to start with, but it’s the perseverance that makes it happen. If you’ve got talent but you don’t persevere, you won’t get anywhere as of all.
[00:41:21] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. It’s like multiplying. Talent multiplied by perseverance, and you might actually get somewhere.
[00:41:28] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Add a bit of luck, and you’re away. Absolutely wonderful.
The Reality of the Gig Economy With Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:41:31] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. True. And what about the whole gig economy? I guess you had enough success to never really, I guess, probably think about going back to the typical life, going back to the UK or somewhere else, getting a job or something like that. I guess you just got enough success in the middle to never think about it or you thought about it, but it just never happened.
After Trying Out a Regular Job for 3 Months, Jason Barnard Realised He Doesn’t Want to Be in That Situation
[00:41:58] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No. I actually did start a job once, but it was a trial period of 3 months. And after 3 months, I’m never doing this again. I had a weird boss. She was lovely actually, but she was mad. I worked for 3 months, and I never saw her wear the same outfit twice. And we lived in Paris, and she must had a tiny flat. How did she do it? I’ve been wondering that for 35 years.
[00:42:30] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And after that, basically it was a gig job just in the sense that it was only 3 months. And I didn’t intend to stay even after the first few days, but that was a real memory for me that I refer back to. She was nice. She was a lovely person. I just don’t want to be in that situation. It doesn’t suit me. I’m not very good at it. So, no, I’ve never thought about that. I always think, where can I go next? What can I do next?
[00:42:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But there are a couple of things. One is I’m now probably too old. And the other is being in the gig economy, I have every advantage that makes it or made it easy for me to make that choice because I could always fall back on the advantages I have, which is white, male, English speaking, well educated, tall, good looking, quite bulky, nice deep voice. People have confidence in somebody with a deep voice. I’ve got every advantage possible.
[00:43:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): If I’d been a woman or if I’d been small or if I’d had a little voice like that, I wouldn’t have had the courage because I wouldn’t have had the fall back option. And I think that’s really important to remember. Knowing you’ve got the fall back option makes it much easier. So, I think I had it relatively easy.
Knowing That He Had a Fall Back Option, Jason Barnard Haven’t Thought the Risks of Being in the Gig Economy Until COVID Happened
[00:43:45] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, it’s like a calculated risk in a way.
[00:43:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I’ve got a degree in economics. I could fall back on becoming an accountant. It’s probably too late to be an accountant now because you’ve got to be, oh, I’m not. So, I always say rude things about accountants and I regret it immediately afterwards. So, I’ve never thought about it.
[00:44:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Honestly, with COVID, it’s the first time I’ve thought I don’t have a pension. Oh, dear. So, the gig economy has this big advantage of when you get to my age 54 and COVID comes along. 54, fine, I might have started worrying about it anyway. But COVID, you think, oh, crumbs, things can change very quickly. You can become incapacitated very quickly, very suddenly. Then the whole thing goes out the window. What do I do then?
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Trying New Things and Easily Figuring It Out
[00:44:36] Konrad Yerba Addict: I think at this point, you’re probably in your life. Just listening to you and reading about you and seeing what you’ve done, I can imagine that you’ve got not so many, but enough skills to just figure something out. At this point, you learned, you did so many things, you had to figure so many things out, solve so many problems, and learn so many different skills in different areas. That I think if push comes to shove, you can just basically do so many things that you will always survive. I think that from my point of view.
[00:45:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I think that’s probably true. And the other thing is, as you say, I learned things with relative ease. I’m not going to say easily, but so just saying, oh, I’m going to do that. I actually picked up something called Doodly. They’ve got these awful, awful, awful salesy ads on YouTube, but I thought, yeah, okay. Why don’t I give Doodly a go? Because I’ve got illustrations, which my ex-wife does, and I’ve got these videos that I’m making. I’ve got a green screen set just over here. So, I can record green screen videos, put animations behind it, but I can’t do animations and I can’t afford to pay somebody to do them for me.
Learning an Animation Software Called Doodly and Easily Figuring It Out Because of His Past Experiences With Similar Stuff
[00:45:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I picked up Doodly, started working on it, and it took me literally a day to do some actually pretty good animations. And you’ll see them on my Twitter feed. I’ll be releasing them soon. And obviously, Doodly is a great platform for it. But because I’ve done so many of these things in the past, picked up Flash, picked up MySQL, PHP, that you just think I’ve just got to get into the head of the person who developed this. Figure out how they’ve been approaching it, what’s logical for this kind of software, and you can get your head around it quite quickly.
[00:46:19] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): What took me longest was figuring out. Because I’ve got these pre-drawn illustrations, and I have to get the hand because it’s a Doodly hand that goes like that. And I had to get the hand to actually look like it was drawing all the different elements. That was the hardest thing of the lot. All the rest of it is really easy. And I’m not an affiliate of Doodly at all, and I don’t even like them because they’ve got a horrible sales pitch, but the product is actually pretty good. It’s taken my animation skills from zero to about here. So, it all pan out well.
Jason Barnard Is Still a Long Way From Disney’s Level of Animating, But His Work Is Good Enough for YouTube
[00:46:53] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s pretty good. It depends where is the top.
[00:46:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): If we say Disney, we’ll say Disney is here because it’s top of the screen. In fact, I’m still here, but it’s good enough for YouTube. And it’s quick, and it’s easy. But I think the point you’re trying to make is yes, I could segue into a different career if I needed to, but I think and what I’ve done is now we can talk about Brand SERPs.
Where Did Jason Barnard’s Ability to Learn Anything and Be Good at It Come From?
[00:47:23] Konrad Yerba Addict: But before we get there, can we just talk about one more thing? Because you touched a couple of times on learning, I think you have something to say there for sure. Because it seems like you mentioned twice that you have an ease to learning, but also I think you mentioned once that you always feel like you can learn anything.
[00:47:43] Konrad Yerba Addict: Do you know where that comes from? That you would always go into something, you wouldn’t know anything about it, and you would be like, oh, I can figure it out, I can learn it, and I can become good at it. Because I think a lot of people don’t have that, and you started a lot of things from scratch. So, I think you have to have some secret sauce there.
[00:48:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): That’s a great question, actually. Because in fact, when I was 16, in the UK, you do exams at 16.
[00:48:08] Konrad Yerba Addict: You do what at 16?
[00:48:10] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You do exams.
[00:48:11] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, okay, exams at 16.
Academic Qualifications Aren’t Everything; It’s More Important to Have Perseverance and a Desire to Learn
[00:48:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You do them at 11, and it’s called the 11 Plus or it was at the time. And if you get really good marks, you can go to a really posh school, a really good school. If you get bad marks, you go to a really bad school. And I was on the cusp. I almost got the good marks, but I didn’t get them, so I went to the really crap school. Then at 16, you do exams and I failed almost all of them. I went from being one of the brightest kids in the class to being one of the stupidest kids in the class or the least successful, let’s say. And then I scraped through my levels and then the economics degree.
[00:48:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Basically, I did economics because for me it was the easiest subject I could find. I found it easier than the other ones. And so, my educational career, I’ve got a degree. So, obviously, it’s not a failure, but it wasn’t what it should have been. And I think that’s encouraging for anybody, just in the sense that academic qualifications aren’t everything. Your perseverance and your desire to learn a great deal in that, and your capacity too. And it’s having a flexible brain.
The Difference Between People With Flexible Brains and People Without Flexible Brains
[00:49:16] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I was talking to a guy called David Amerland, who’s an absolute lovely chap and a genius person, about analysing how we think and how we work in our brains. And we were talking about people with flexible brains and people without flexible brains. Narcissists don’t have flexible brains. People with empathy do have flexible brains. Obviously, that’s not the only distinction, but it’s a good way of looking at it. We had a guy in the band who was a bit of a narcissist. He couldn’t learn to play guitar. He would play every day for 3 hours. And after 4 years, he was still as crap as he was at the start.
[00:49:55] Konrad Yerba Addict: Open mind, no?
[00:49:56] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Open mind. That’s a good word. He couldn’t understand that simply by practicing and practicing and practicing, he didn’t get any better. So, when I say persevere, I mean persevere, if you’ve got any semblance of talent, and persevere, if you are willing to learn and adapt. And keep that open mind. Be empathetic.
[00:50:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I said earlier on about the software I’m using. I was trying to understand how they would be looking at it. That’s being empathetic. It’s understanding their point of view. And that helped me get to the point where I could master it or get something decent from the software very quickly. Because I wasn’t thinking, what would I do? I was thinking, what would they do to make this easy for me?
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Learning Empathy and Other Values From the Blue Dog
[00:50:37] Konrad Yerba Addict: And who injected that in you? Did it just come somehow naturally from different experiences?
[00:50:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It was the blue dog.
[00:50:43] Konrad Yerba Addict: Say it again.
[00:50:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It was the blue dog.
[00:50:45] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, the blue dog.
Jason Barnard Adapted to His Character as a Blue Dog and Learned to Be More Empathetic, Caring, and Cheerful
[00:50:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): As I said, I became the blue dog. The blue dog was this incredibly nice, kind, empathetic character with a big, deep voice. A little story with that, I started the voice, and I thought my voice needed to be a little bit lower, so I took it down 2 semitones. So, everything I sang and everything I said was down 2 semitones, which makes it slightly deeper. And having done that for 4 or 5 years, I realised that my voice now is the same as the adapted voice that I’d made.
[00:51:17] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, my voice adapted to the character. My character adapted the character. I became more empathetic, more caring. I now say thank you incessantly, whereas I didn’t before, because the blue dog’s role was to be polite. Please. Thank you. Lovely to see you. Absolutely delightful. Oh, and smiling and being chirpy and cheerful all the time. Because the voice was so low, I had to be excessively cheerful all the time. And that rubbed off on my character as well.
When Managing His Team in Mauritius, Jason Barnard Needed to Have an Open Mind to Make Things Better
[00:51:43] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then if we come back to the Mauritius thing, when I couldn’t find a PHP developer or a MySQL developer. I bought a book on Amazon, got it delivered to the house, read the book over the weekend, went in on the Monday, and said to the developers, who didn’t specialise in that book. I did have developers and said, right, here’s how we’re going to approach it. You need to read that chapter, that chapter, that chapter, and then you’re going to put this into operation. So, it was by necessity because the coding, sorry.
[00:52:10] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah, no, go ahead.
[00:52:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, it was necessity to actually get things to move forward in a situation where if I didn’t do it, nothing would happen. And everybody was relying on me to make it happen. So, responsibility, necessity, and then being empathetic. Because I needed to be empathetic to, in the case of the software, how they’re trying to approach it, but empathetic also to the people I was asking to do things. What could they do, what couldn’t they do, what would demotivate them if it didn’t work out, and so on and so forth.
[00:52:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I like what you said about being open-minded. If you’re open-minded, and that’s the other thing. I said it earlier on about be critical of yourself. Don’t criticize yourself. Look for where things could be better. This isn’t as good as it could be. Don’t ever say it’s not good enough. It’s not as good as it could be. And then you just keep moving. It sounds terribly American. But that idea, with the talks I give and the conferences I give and the podcasts, I listen back and I watch back and I think, where could I have made this a little bit better?
Even With Performing, Having Empathy Will Give You and Your Audience the Connection to Be Part of the Show
[00:53:27] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so, it goes with performing as well. It goes with playing the double bass. It goes with being on stage, giving a show. When you’re on stage playing the double bass, you’re playing the double bass, you’re singing, you’re remembering the words, you’re remembering the song, you’re remembering the structure, and you’re giving a show to the audience so that there’s a connection with them.
[00:53:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I can’t just play the music and expect people to go, oh, great. That would be a, let’s say, dull jazz concert where people just admire how good you are. And I wasn’t good enough to do that. So, I would make a show so that people would get into the show and think, wow, this is cool and I feel part of this show. Empathy again.
Jason Barnard Acts the Same Even With Different Groups of People and Even With His Clients
[00:54:05] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. Empathy. It seems like you just developed a really good way with people, how to be with people, talk with people, be empathetic with people, throughout the years and experiences.
[00:54:21] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I had an interesting comment from my ex-girlfriend. Basically, she’s seen me working, she’s seen me with one bunch of people, she’s seen me with another bunch of people, she’s seen me with the people I work with. And she’s going, but you’re the same everywhere. This is just me. It’s not even me trying to be nice to people or trying to be something that I’m not. I’m like this with my clients. I will say the same stupid things I’m saying to you that I will say to my clients. So, I can’t be any other way. And I lose clients because they think, oh, no, he’s not very professional. But that’s fine by me, because I wouldn’t enjoy it.
[00:54:57] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. And also, one last thing, I think one thing that stood out to me. And this is, I think, what separates most people who end up getting something done in life. Maybe not achieving success, because success has different definitions for everyone. Accomplishing some interesting things, going their own way, and succeeding in some way is that you have this mindset of looking for solutions rather than problems.
More Insights and Advice From Jason Barnard’s Experiences on Making Drastic Life Decisions
[00:55:37] Konrad Yerba Addict: Half of the people or even more, I feel even more, when they have a problem or something happens or there’s an obstacle, they immediately start looking at why is this bad or it’s horrible. I can’t do it. And they just list out all that’s wrong with it instead of immediately switching to, okay, this happened. There’s nothing to do about it. How can I solve this?
[00:56:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Sorry, I interrupt that, but that comes back to playing the double bass. The guy told me, when you make a mistake, put it behind you and look forwards. And it’s exactly that same idea. It’s saying there was a barrier, but it’s now behind me. Let’s move forward. Sorry, I interrupted.
Working Hard for Something He Really Wants, Jason Barnard Learned a Lot From Some of His Life Decisions
[00:56:19] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. That’s perfect. Okay. So, it comes from somewhere around that time.
[00:56:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I think it’s accumulation, but I think learning to play the double bass because I really, really, really wanted to be in the band. It was really something I really, really, really, really wanted. And I was willing to put myself through a month of very hard work, learning the double bass. I didn’t have a job or I didn’t work. I just worked on the double bass, and I took the risk. And I worked and I worked and I worked. I really wanted it.
[00:56:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that taught me that you can make these drastic decisions. And it can work out, and it can fail as well. And then you take the kids album later on. I made that drastic decision, and it completely failed. Then we did the book, and it completely failed. And I did the third attempt, and it was the website. And it succeeded, but it succeeded after 4 years.
[00:57:08] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, you also had to fell in love with the process.
[00:57:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Brilliant. And that is the thing. I wake up every morning thinking, oh, what am I going to do today? Which actually makes life much, much easier. And that’s the great thing about the gig economy or at least being freelance or making your own decisions. You decide. There’s always going to be something you don’t want to do, and you’ve always got to do it. You can’t just put all the stuff you don’t like to one side and just do the stuff you like. But if the overreaching, overall project is something you’re excited about, even the boring stuff is nice or okay.
Jason Barnard on Helping His Employees to Enjoy at least 50% of Their Job, Because It Worked for Him
[00:57:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And one of the other things I did when I had these people working in Mauritius is that I had meetings. And I would say to them, 50% of your job has to be enjoyable. If less than 50% of your job is enjoyable, come to me, tell me what isn’t enjoyable, and we’ll try and figure out a way to get that out of your work. So, that 50% or at least 50% is stuff you actually enjoy doing, and you’re pleased to come to work to do it.
[00:58:12] Konrad Yerba Addict: Where did that 50% came from? Was it just something you just came up with?
[00:58:18] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I figure if I’m doing 2 hours of work and what I do in the first hour is so boring, but the next hour is going to be really nice, then I can do the 2 hours of work. There’s no reason it’s 50%. It worked for me. But what actually happened is people would come to see me and they would say, okay, I don’t like sending this email, it’s always the same.
[00:58:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I said, okay, we’ll write a script, so you can click on a button and it sends the email for you. So, it gets rid of half your work. Now, what do you want to do with the other half? And they would suggest and we’d agree, and then they’d end up with a new partial job description. That was a lot of fun. And it worked really well.
Having Empathy, Once Again, to Help People With Their Jobs and Making Himself Interested in at least Half of His Work
[00:58:55] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s a good advice. I hope people are taking notes.
[00:59:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. But it’s also empathy because I’m thinking, how are they feeling about doing their job? I’m telling them to do all this stuff. And it breaks my heart, well, breaks my heart. It makes me feel a bit annoyed when somebody, a 22 year old comes and say, I don’t want to do that, it’s boring. You go, we all have to do boring things sometimes. The art of the thing is to understand that the boring stuff goes with the interesting stuff.
[00:59:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And even today, I’m doing my own project and I love my project, but half of my work is boring. Half my work is stuff I don’t really want to do, but the project interests me and the other half is really interesting. This part is really cool. I consider this to be part of my job because my job is Brand SERPs. And you said it right at the beginning. So, the job for today, in inverted commas, is done. We’ve got the message across of what appears when somebody googles your brand name is incredibly important to your business.
The Importance of Variety and Other Things That Can Help You in the Process of Learning
[00:59:49] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. We’ll get to that in a moment.
[00:59:51] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. That was a bit pushy, wasn’t it? I do apologise.
[00:59:54] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. I had this in mind anyway, but I just want to say that I feel like this is one big problem, but I think there’s a few reasons for it. It’s hard to pinpoint one, like social media, all these things that glorify the success and also doing the cool things that you want to do, but a lot of people don’t show a lot of the grind. The freelancers or entrepreneurs or people who have their own business and stuff, they don’t show what really goes behind the scenes, that they in fact do a lot of things they don’t want to.
[01:00:26] Konrad Yerba Addict: Still, eventually, you can design your life and everything in a way that you minimise the amount, but you still have to do quite a big part of it. But as you said, if you have a bigger project or bigger goal or bigger vision, then doing some small thing that you don’t like then becomes bearable. It’s hard when you work in some corporate job that you hate and there’s no really vision for where you can get. And everything sucks then, obviously.
Listening and Getting Feedback From a Wide Range of People Can Help With the Learning Process
[01:00:56] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. And that’s probably why, if we come back to the question in the beginning, why I always stayed in the gig economy is because I couldn’t stand being in something, in a corporate job where I could hate it, and it goes around in circles. And the other thing is the people above me, the people I work with.
[01:01:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’m a nice enough guy and I’m empathetic enough and I get on with most people, but you’re saying I don’t want to be forced to always work with the same people. And that variety is also perhaps something. Listening to other people, getting feedback from other people, from a wide range of people also helps with that learning process.
[01:01:37] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah, definitely. That’s a good point.
[01:01:40] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And with the number of clients I’ve had, the number of people I’ve worked with, the number of projects I’ve worked on, it’s a phenomenal variety. And I think that if we’re going to say, how do you learn to learn? It’s take a step back, be realistic to what you’re trying to do, empathetic to the people and the tools that are going to help you get there, and do as many different projects as you can, because that variety of projects is going to help you to understand how you can better learn stuff.
A Nice Trick From Jason Barnard: You Don’t Have to Remember Everything; You Just Have to Remember Where It Is
[01:02:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And one thing I did in fact for making the TV series, the film director who made the TV series, who was the director, they actually put me as part of the team. So, I co-directed it. And I bought a book from Amazon, got it delivered, about how to make a TV show. And I read it, and it taught me a lot.
[01:02:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But what I realised as I was reading is I don’t have to remember all this. All I have to do is remember where I saw the information and then flip through it when I need the information. I need to know that it’s there, and I need to know where it was. And that’s another nice trick. You don’t have to remember everything. You just have to remember where it is.
The Concept of Smart Intelligence: It’s Applied Intelligence to Actually Move the Needle
[01:02:53] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. Especially now with the accessibility of information. You can just take your phone out or something.
[01:03:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I think a lot of the intelligence from my youth was remembering things, remembering things I wrote, like a list of all the economists from the 20th century, or remembering what Patrick Minford said about this and that and the other in 1996, and Margaret Thatcher, and the dates that these people came to power or the dates that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were in some awful world dominating meeting that killed the world in 1986, but I don’t need to remember that anymore.
[01:03:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Because if I remember it was in 1986 and it was Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and that it was about nuclear power, look it up on Google and you’re away. I don’t need to. We don’t need today the memory we needed yesterday. What we need as a capacity to remember where the information was and then a capacity to use that information. Now that’s what I call smart intelligence. It’s applied intelligence. It’s using your intelligence to actually move the needle. And that’s great. What an opportunity that’s going to be or it is.
The More Varied Your Horizons Are, the Better You Are Going to Perform
[01:04:05] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. And for sure. I think you mentioned that traveling helped, at least from my point of view, probably helped you big time with having that, also developing that empathy, and also being able to step back, because you had to go into different cultures. Then you traveled, you did conferences in many places, so probably that also gave you a different perspective, at least it did to me. So, I imagine for you it could be similar.
[01:04:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. The more varied your horizons, the better you’re going to perform, in my opinion. I think also somebody who tends to go towards that varied horizon, like you do, like I do, is going to be somebody who’s more open-minded and is therefore going to learn more easily, in inverted commas. And somebody who tends to stay in the same thing, I would use the example of accountant that I get shouted at again, not by you. I keep using it.
[01:04:57] Konrad Yerba Addict: Accountants probably don’t watch this podcast or not going to watch this. And if they do, maybe they will take it lightly.
A Story of Jason Barnard’s Friend, Who Got Stuck With His Area of Expertise in Statistics and Complicated Math Calculations
[01:05:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Right. I’ve actually got a friend who did really well at school, and he got a first at Cambridge in statistics and complicated math stuff. And he pushed through with the education that I didn’t bother pushing through with, and he was my best friend at the time as a kid. And I met him again 5 or 6 years ago, and he’s an actuary.
[01:05:24] Konrad Yerba Addict: He is a who?
[01:05:28] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Actuary.
[01:05:28] Konrad Yerba Addict: Actuary. What does that do?
[01:05:29] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah, exactly. I said that. We can repeat the conversation. And he said, I don’t really know. I said, you’ve been doing it for 30 years. And he said, actually, I sit in an office in an insurance agency, a big insurance company, and my boss sends me calculations that I have to check that they’re right. And then I send them back when I check that they’re right or I’ve corrected them, if he’s made a mistake. And I say, what do these calculations do? He said, oh, I don’t know, something to do with calculating insurance risk.
As a Tiny Cog in a Really Big Machine, Jason Barnard’s Friend Became So Bored with His Job and was Stuck on the Same Horizon
[01:06:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, he’s a tiny cog in a really big machine, and all he is being used for is that capacity of his to write complicated math formulas. And he is so bored with his job. It’s phenomenal how much he hates his job. And that’s the thing. He does one thing and he does it incredibly well, but he doesn’t have the horizons and he doesn’t have an open view.
[01:06:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): He’s a lovely, lovely guy. I wouldn’t say he is not open-minded because he goes mountain climbing. I think he goes to the top of the mountain, so he can go like that at the top of the mountain, as opposed to being in his office, which I can appreciate. But he got stuck in that, and I don’t think it’s his natural habitat as it were. But then once you get stuck in it, you’re going down this thing and you’re thinking that’s all I’m ever going to do.
Jason Barnard’s Transition From Creating Cartoons in Mauritius to the World of SEO and Brand SERPs
[01:06:47] Konrad Yerba Addict: And your vision narrows, and then it’s so narrow you can’t see anything else. But speaking of boring, and then we can transition now into your area of more expertise.
[01:07:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): A brilliant transition, the boring topic of Brand SERPs. Is that what you’re saying?
[01:07:05] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. I wanted to. It’s actually part of the question. Looking on the outside, it’s very interesting for me that someone with your history of what you did, playing in a band, creating cartoons, and then living on Mauritius, would finally go into something like Brand SERP and digital marketing and focus on search results on Google. So, maybe you can interest us. What are we missing from the story? What got you so interested? What got you to stick with it for so long? How long have you been doing it already?
When His Website Collapsed in 2008, Jason Barnard Pitched Online for Remote Work as an SEO Expert
[01:07:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I started with Boowa and Kwala in 1998, specs off for Boowa and Kwala in 1998. Then it all collapsed in 2008, and I was stuck in Mauritius. I got the company taken away from me. I lost all my income. I lost the characters. I lost the company. It was a complete, complete disaster. And I was in Mauritius with no money, and I had to find a way to make money quickly. And so, I pitched online to people saying, I built this website up, look at it, it’s the 10,000th biggest site in the world. If you want help with your SEO, I’m your man.
[01:08:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I got some work doing that and started working in SEO because it was the most saleable thing I had. And I had the site. I could have said, I make these great animations, but then it’s a lot to do with people’s taste. I don’t like the animation. And I couldn’t do it on my own because I would’ve needed the team. Or I could say, I write songs. And they were going, we don’t want you to write songs, we’re not going to pay you to write songs.
[01:08:50] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But if I said I can push Google traffic to your site, everyone went, oh, I can see that’s good. That makes money, so we’ll pay you. And so, it was actually simply a way to make money in the short term when everything went pear shaped in Mauritius. And then after a couple of years, I managed to move back to France, got the money together to move back to France.
Returning to France, Jason Barnard Had to Personally Face People When Applying for Work
[01:09:10] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And when I turned up in France, because in Mauritius, it was all remote work. I was pitching to people in the UK, all my clients were in the UK, so I never had to go and see them. And I never really thought about how to sell to people. And then I came to Paris and started pitching to people, pitching online. And I thought I’ll get the work. And they said, no, you’ve got to come into our offices and actually meet us.
[01:09:36] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I would go to the offices and I would talk to them and I’d go, blah blah blah. I’d be really excited. I’d be like, this is going to be really great. We’re going to do this. We’re going to get this content in place. We’re going to make these amazing structured sites that are going to wow Google. We’re going to bring this traffic in. We’re going to get quality traffic. They’re going to buy your products. You’re going to convert. And they’d be going, yeah, yeah. And you have this thing going. I’m exaggerating it. It wasn’t like that.
Even With His Great Energy, Jason Barnard Only Converted Half and Finally Realised the Importance of His Brand SERP
[01:09:58] Konrad Yerba Addict: You had great energy.
[01:10:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I would have this great energy. I think that’s the point rather than what I was saying. And people go, yeah, I believe in this guy, he’s got this energy, and I’m sure he’s going to get us there. And I would walk out and I would convert, let’s say, 50%. And then one day, I look my own name up. I went into Google. I looked it up.
[01:10:17] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I thought, actually, it says Jason Barnard is a blue dog. It doesn’t say Jason Barnard is an expert in digital marketing. And so, I then thought if I can make it show what I want it to show and I can make it impressive for my job, for the thing I’ve just pitched for, when people search my name, they will think this is the seal on the deal.
Your Brand SERP Is Supposed to Represent You, From Your Current Career Down to Your Previous Jobs
[01:10:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it’s true. I spent 2 years maybe working to get that Brand SERP, search engine results page, what appears when people search my name, so that it shows Jason Barnard, my site right at the top, and then Search Engine Journal, SEMrush, big companies, big platforms respected in the industry, videos from YouTube, all about digital marketing. And then I’ve got the Knowledge Panel on the right hand side that says, Jason Barnard used to be a blue dog, he used to be in a band.
[01:11:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, it tells my story, which it should, because the Brand SERP is supposed to represent you as a person, in the case of a person, or you as a brand, in the case of a brand, or you as a music group, if it’s a music group SERP, search engine results page. It shows people who were searching my name at the time, who I was pitching to, or in fact today, when I’m pitching to people. I say, search my name. And they search my name and they say, he’s an expert because he writes for Search Engine Journal, he’s on SEMrush all the time, he’s got these great videos on all these great channels. It validates who I’ve been saying I am.
[01:11:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And my conversion rate, let’s say it was 50%, now it’s 80%. People don’t argue about my prices anymore. They say, he’s The Brand SERP Guy and he’s impressive in digital marketing. But I’m still a blue dog, and you can still see I’m a blue dog. And that’s now funny and interesting. It’s a quirk that people like, but it hasn’t taken over the Brand SERP, which it did before. So, what it comes down to is when I was pitching to people, they would then look me up online afterwards. And when what came up was impressive, they bought into the project.
Jason Barnard’s Reasons to Keep Going Into the Direction of Brand SERPs and Focus on That
[01:12:21] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, that was the inspiration to go into that direction later and just focus on that.
[01:12:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): In fact, I did it for two years. And I thought, I honestly thought this will take me a few months to sort out. And it did. I did okay in a few months with my super duper SEO skills. Then after a couple years, I thought actually we can get better and better and I can control it more and more. And I can use Google as a CMS. Somebody said that to me a few weeks ago. Google is Jason Barnard’s CMS.
[01:12:52] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s content management system. Right. Yeah.
[01:12:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Because what appears is pretty much what I want. I’m writing my own Google page. And that’s one extreme. But the point for me is that I thought it would take me a couple of years to master it, once I decided I was going to figure it out. And it’s 7 years later, and every single day I learned something new. There hasn’t been a day gone by in the last 7 years when I haven’t looked at a Brand SERP and thought, yeah, I hadn’t thought of that.
The Idea of Proactive Management: Control It Today So That You Won’t Have These Problems in the Future
[01:13:25] Konrad Yerba Addict: Is that what keeps you going with it? The fact that it’s this ongoing question that can never be complete.
[01:13:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. It used to be perfecting my own, and then it was some clients asked me to help them with theirs. Especially clients with problems, if you’ve got a bad review or a competitor ranking on your Brand SERP. So, I can help with that kind of thing, but that’s not the work I prefer. And I like the idea of if you control your Brand SERP, then what appears when somebody googles your name becomes easier to manage over the long term.
[01:13:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So if there is bad press or bad reviews, they’re much less likely to come up to that first page. And if they do, they’re much more easy to get rid of. So, I’m into the idea of proactive management. Control it today, so that in the future you don’t have these problems. And that doesn’t really sell very well because people don’t get it until they have a problem, which is unfortunate.
Other Than Always Learning Something New, Jason Barnard Gets Excited With Brand SERPs Because of His Collection of It
[01:14:22] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But the reason I’m so enthusiastic, there’s several reasons. One of which is every single day I learn something new. And I keep saying to people, oh, Rich Sitelinks, there’s an average of 5 Rich Sitelinks on Brand SERPs. And people go, I don’t care. You go, you will, you will, honest, honest. And it is that thing is I’m sure this is a great path to be on. And I’m now obsessed by the idea of convincing everybody else to jump on the bandwagon and be on this path with me, because it’s great and it’s fun and it’s enjoyable and it’s interesting.
[01:14:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And other thing that’s really getting me excited is that I’ve got a collection. I collect Brand SERPs. I’ve got 70,000 brands and people, and I’m tracking these Brand SERPs every single month. So, I see not only I’ve got 10 million Brand SERPs in a database, so I’d be looking at these. And you look at them and you’re going, okay, what can I understand from here? And just by looking at them, I have in my brain a picture that nobody else has got.
[01:15:22] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I find that really interesting. I can now look at a Brand SERP and say that, that, that, that. And it takes me about 3 seconds. Whereas 7 years ago, I wouldn’t have known. 2 years ago, it would’ve taken me hours and hours and hours. So, it’s like an ongoing appreciation, artistic appreciation, perhaps somewhere down the line of Brand SERPs that I’m developing, that I can feel. And it feels really nice and it’s fun.
The Interesting Statistics About Blue Links, Video Boxes, and Other Elements in the World of Brand SERPs
[01:15:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And also the statistics, because I did economics, I did statistical analysis. I sort through the database and figure out how many blue links there are on a Brand SERP, how many video boxes do you get on a Brand SERP, what do you find in Knowledge Panels, how many sitelinks do you get, all of these things that are on Google’s results page, the rich results.
[01:16:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): How much does YouTube dominate video boxes when you see them on Google SERPs? 68%. It’s lower than you would think. There’s an awful lot of news sites. There’s an awful lot of Twitter. There’s an awful of Facebook. When do they come up? When don’t they come up? When should you rely on YouTube videos? When should you not rely on YouTube videos in that context? All of that is phenomenally interesting. And every day, I find something that I didn’t expect.
Jason Barnard’s Enthusiasm With Talking About Brand SERPs Gets People to Be Also Interested in Them
[01:16:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the third one is when I talk to people about it. They say, oh, Brand SERPs, that’s really boring. I talk to them about it for 10 minutes. They go, oh, wow, yeah, oh, that, oh, that’s interesting. And I love that.
[01:16:38] Konrad Yerba Addict: It’s not what you talk about. It’s how you talk about it, right?
[01:16:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I’d like also to think that Brand SERPs are actually interesting, but I do appreciate that they’re only interesting as long as I’m talking about them enthusiastically.
[01:16:50] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. For me, for someone who knows about digital marketing and some different pieces there, the obvious question that rises, and I guess it’s going to be useful for people watching and listening, is the big one known is SEO. That’s the good old thing that’s been there, and now it has fallen out of trend but used to have golden days.
In a Nutshell, What Is the Difference Between General SEO Versus Optimising a Brand SERP?
[01:17:14] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, in a nutshell, what would you say is the difference between generally SEO, some marketing agencies, or whatever teams just focusing on, hey, we will help with your SEO, versus a Brand SERP? Because for me, it seems like it’s very much similar, but probably in your eyes it’s totally different or maybe it isn’t. So, I’m just curious how you look at it.
[01:17:38] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You just asked me the best question. I was trying not to interrupt you because I wanted to answer it straight away, because it’s a great question. I love it. Number one is SEO isn’t difficult. It’s really quite simple. But because of the number of things you need to deal with, the number of parameters you need to be looking at, it becomes very complicated very quickly when you’re looking at the overall picture.
[01:18:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But if you look at a Brand SERP, it’s very focused. It’s a controlled environment about your brand, and you can control it relatively easily using very simple SEO tactics, but they’re the exact same SEO tactics you would use everywhere else. So, that’s a really good way to learn SEO. Because if I change my meta title on my homepage, on my site, which is ranking number one, Google then crawls it and it changes in the SERP pretty much immediately. So, I can see how it affects. I don’t need to wait and I don’t need to extrapolate. I can see exactly what it’s done.
An Application of a Fairly Simple SEO Technique When Managing Brand SERPs Could Give You an Insight for the Rest of Your SEO
[01:18:37] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then if I try and change the sitelinks that go underneath, i.e. you’ve got the homepage and then you’ve got blue links underneath all coming from that same brand site, I can try and get those to swap around, try and change how Google’s presenting them. That’s a fairly simple SEO technique that actually helps with all the rest of your SEO as well. And it gives you an insight into how you should be working the rest of your SEO.
[01:18:58] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): If you look at the Knowledge Panel, if you want a Knowledge Panel, it’s about informing Google. It’s about educating Google. And that’s what SEO is. It’s packaging your content for Google and informing Google about what you are talking about, what you are offering its users, why you are the most credible or that you are the most credible, and that you have the content it needs to deliver to its users. That’s all SEO is.
You Can Push Anything You Want on Your Brand SERP if You Can Package It in the Right Way for Google
[01:19:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And Brand SERPs is all about Google will show to your users, your audience, the content that it thinks is the most valuable to them. Which means that you can push anything you want onto your Brand SERP, if you can package it in a way that demonstrates to Google that it’s valuable to your audience.
[01:19:44] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, basically, if I want video boxes, Twitter boxes, image boxes, podcast boxes, blue links, descriptions, Knowledge Panels, whatever you want, every single one of those elements can be affected by SEO. Every single one of those elements can be brought onto the Brand SERP. And bringing those elements onto your Brand SERP is using simple SEO tactics that you don’t even need to be a developer to do. So, it’s a really simple entry into understanding SEO and understanding modern SEO, which isn’t the complex technical jungle that it used to be.
The Simpler Side of SEO and How It Works According to Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[01:20:23] Konrad Yerba Addict: Oh, really?
[01:20:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No.
[01:20:25] Konrad Yerba Addict: Because a lot of people, just to interrupt you slightly, because maybe you’ll have a really good take there, is that a lot of people, I think, when you now mention the name SEO, people think oh, it’s this thing that’s super complex on one hand. Two, the rules of the game change a lot. So, it’s very much like you’re not in control. And then it’s not sexy, and it takes a lot of time. So, these are the objections that I hear from people now. So, what would you say to those things?
Machine Learning: It’s Basically the Machine Trying to Understand How to Achieve a Goal That a Human Being Has Set
[01:21:04] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I would say all of that was true 3 years ago. Not anymore. The thing is Google’s algorithms are no longer written by human beings. They’re written by machines. What the human beings do is they say to the machines, this is all machine learning. It’s basically the machine trying to understand how to achieve a goal that a human being has set it.
[01:21:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, what the human being says is I want the perfect SERP, I want this SERP to serve this purpose. There you go. You’ve got to get to there, machine. And they give the machine examples of what they consider to be good results. Then they give the machine all the data and they say, figure it out for everything else.
[01:21:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, that means that those rules you were talking about no longer exist as such, because nobody in the world knows what they are. Only the machine knows what they are. Because the human being is simply telling the machine, get to that result. And when the machine has been working on it for a bit and it started producing these results, it’s going, hey, now, what do you think? I’m being the machine here. What do you think of my results?
The Purpose of Human Beings on Google: Rating the Quality of the SERPs Using Feedback From Google’s Users
[01:22:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then the human being, Google, will then say, okay, this is right, that’s wrong, that’s right, that’s right, that’s wrong, that’s right, that’s good, almost right, that’s good, that’s bad, blah, blah, blah. And they do that by using human beings to rate the quality of the results of Google, and they use feedback from users on Google. And they use data from the SERPs themselves, i.e. how users interact with the SERPs, the results pages.
[01:22:40] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, they then say to the machine, this work, this didn’t, this work, this didn’t. And then the machine goes back and tries to do it again with that new information about what was good and what was bad about what it had done. So, every single thing that it takes into consideration is something the machine decides about and not the human being, not every single, pretty much everything.
Why Does Machine Learning Controlled by People on Google Make the Process Better?
[01:23:04] Konrad Yerba Addict: And why that makes it better?
[01:23:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Because then you can’t say to anybody, oh, I need more links or I need more structured data or I need more text or I need more of this or more of that. Because nobody knows what the real answer is. But what you can do is say, Google will keep feeding this machine mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake as long as the results don’t satisfy its users.
[01:23:27] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it will keep feeding that machine, great, great, great, patting it on the head, saying what a great machine you are every time it does satisfy the user. So, what they’re doing is Google people are saying, this is a good result because it brings the solution to the user efficiently and quickly, the best result, the best solution.
The Importance of Focusing on the User and the Concept of Understanding, Credibility, and Deliverability
[01:23:46] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, then the main idea is to focus on the user then.
[01:23:50] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that’s what Google is saying. People are getting really frustrated with them and saying, oh, hey, just tell us how many links we need. Because that’s what we’re used to in the SEO community. And Google is saying, but you just have to satisfy the user. And they’re not doing it because they’re horrible people. They’re doing it because that’s what they’re telling the machine. So, they don’t know what you need to do on a detail by detail basis. And every single result page is going to be different.
Google’s Aim Is to Bring the Best Solution to Their Users as Quickly and as Efficiently as They Possibly Can
[01:24:11] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, they can’t tell you what you need to do for your particular case. So, at the end of the day, you need to make sure that this machine that’s judging you. Basically, what Google is saying is we have our users who are expressing a problem or asking a question, and we want to bring them the best solution or the best answer as quickly and as efficiently as we possibly can. That’s their aim. That’s it.
[01:24:35] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, the number one result, the one that they put in front of the user has to be the best result with the most efficient and qualitatively, great, satisfying solution for their user. If you start with that, you’re going, okay, that’s what they’re aiming to do. Now they’re saying to the machine, you need to get us that result. And that machine needs to understand what it is you’re offering, it needs to understand exactly what solution you are offering to whom. So, it needs to understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is.
The Concept of Expertise, Authority, and Trust, Which Is Just Credibility According to Jason Barnard
[01:25:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Then if it’s understood you and your competitor, it’s saying, well, which one do I put first? Because I’ve got two that are pretty much the same. Then you say, okay. Now you need to convince it that you are the most credible out of those two solutions. So, that would be reviews, inbound links, user generated content on your page, i.e. interaction with users who actually find your content interesting and useful. And it creates discussion or influences linking to you, all these things that make your content look credible.
[01:25:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I use the word credible. Google uses the word expertise, authority, and trust. Just think credible. It needs to look credible, more credible than my competition. So, you’ve got it to understand what you’re offering. You’ve got it to understand that you are a more credible solution to its user’s problem or a better answer to their question than your competitors.
The Next Step Is Making Sure You’re Delivering the Content to Google in the Correct Format
[01:26:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Then you need to just make sure that the content you’re giving Google is in the correct format. It can deliver that content or it believes you can deliver that content. So, in the case where it’s showing the answer on the SERP, which would be the case of featured snippet or perhaps a video that they sometimes now embed, it needs to be able to deliver that content correctly. And that means you just need the right player for the video in your page. It just needs to be a player that Google can pick up and put in the SERP. It’s very simple. YouTube, you put your embed link in, and you’re away. It’s not complicated.
[01:26:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Or when the user comes to your site, if Google sends the users through to your site, Google has to be convinced that you can deliver that content correctly. And that just means having a decent site that isn’t really slow and that you can use on a mobile device. That’s the minimum you would want for your user anyway. Google is asking you for the minimum you would want for your user anyway.
[01:26:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So if you can get it to understand that you provide a relevant solution to the specific questions that’s just been asked, remembering that there are billions of questions asked every day, and you can convince it that yours is the most credible solution, and you can demonstrate to it that you can deliver that solution, you’ve won the game. And it really isn’t difficult. It’s not that technical game we were playing before. It’s a very different game, and it is focused on the user.
Starting With Your Brand SERP, You Need to Build a Proper Content Strategy, Which Will Then Feed Into Your SEO
[01:27:22] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the thing about Brand SERPs, and this wraps it up really nicely, is if you don’t have video boxes on your Brand SERP, when somebody searches your brand name, if there aren’t video boxes, then your video strategy is awful. It’s not valuable to your users. Google can’t see the value. It’s never going to show your videos in the wider world.
[01:27:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So if you sort that out, then you sort out your Twitter boxes. Because you want the Twitter boxes, you need a decent Twitter strategy for that. Then you’re starting to build a proper content strategy. So if you start with your Brand SERP, you are immediately building a better content strategy, which will then feed into your SEO without you even doing anything extra.
Understanding How the Machine Works: There’s No Point Even Trying
[01:28:00] Konrad Yerba Addict: But the big thing for me, the way you were talking about it is that…
[01:28:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It sounds good, doesn’t it?
[01:28:07] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. But it’s also that the way you look at it is through many fundamental principles, what lies under it. And most people are focusing on the different tactics. And now, you are basically saying that those small little tactics, they don’t work as well because it’s harder to hack the algorithm. I think it’s similar to what’s happening on YouTube. And then I think what’s happening, at least that’s my understanding, people say, okay, then this doesn’t work.
[01:28:41] Konrad Yerba Addict: But I think the way to make it work and then switch your perspective is that you have to understand it on one fundamental level, and then you can create as many tactics and strategies as you want. But the way you explain it is that you basically have to understand what’s under, how this machine works. And then what are the basic necessities for you to rank? And then you can focus on those. And then those small tactics that work now but maybe don’t work in two weeks from now, you can do them, but these are just bonuses in a way.
You Don’t Need to Understand How the Machine Works Because Not Even Google Understands How It Works
[01:29:18] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. Oh, I like that. I’ll come back to that in a moment, but you don’t need to understand how the machine works. There’s no point even trying. I just explained it. Basically, the machine is trying to get or the whole aim of Google is to get the machine to provide the best answer or solution to its user as possible in every single circumstance. That’s all. That’s what they’re aiming to do. So, there’s no point now in trying to understand how the machine works, because you never will, because not even Google understands how it works.
[01:29:45] Konrad Yerba Addict: I don’t mean the machine, literally, but in a way that, okay. The way Google works now is that it’s AI. And what they want, the goal is to deliver the best content. So, then your role is to provide, in a way, the best content. Make sure it’s correct. Make sure there’s credibility. So, I’m talking about this kind of machine.
[01:30:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. And I was just trying to clarify that. Because for me, I think that needs to be really, really clear. There’s no point in trying to understand the machine. Sorry. I was maybe repeating what you’d already said, and I was unhelpful.
[01:30:20] Konrad Yerba Addict: No, that’s good, that’s good.
Creating Content That Is Aimed at Your Audience, Then Packaging It for Google as the Bonus
[01:30:22] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): One thing that you did say is bonus, and I’d like to focus on the word bonus for a moment. Google is the bonus. Google isn’t the target. The users are the target. What you should be doing, in my opinion, is creating content on the platforms in the format that your audience is using. That’s useful and helpful and valuable to your audience on those other platforms, be it YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn Facebook, Medium, Quora. What else would there be?
[01:30:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Even things like Crunchbase, Reddit. It even thought something like Crunchbase, which is a source of information for B2B. If you create content on Crunchbase, it will help Google. But it will help Google secondarily to helping your user or your audience, who is B2B business people. But if we come back and you’re saying, okay, I’ve created this great video for YouTube, for example, or a great post on Facebook. If I can make that valuable and useful for my audience and make it helpful to my business, move my business forward a little bit, it’s already paid for itself.
[01:31:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Then what I need to do is take that content and package it for Google for that bonus. And if you approach it from that point of view, you are making content for your audience, pushing it out to your audience, making the value of that content for yourself already without Google, and then saying, how do I package it for Google so that I can get a bonus for it? And Google are happy with that. That’s absolutely not a problem.
Packaging for Google Is Your Content Strategy: Getting Your Audience to Engage With Your Content in Different Sites and Formats
[01:31:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the packaging for Google, that’s what I talk about with understanding, credibility, deliverability. That’s the packaging. That would be my content strategy today or it is my content strategy today for all my clients. We think of the platforms first. We think of the users first. So, we say, okay, which platform are they hanging out on? We’ll focus on that first. We’ll create this content. We’ll get them engaged. We’ll get the audience into all this.
[01:32:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And at the same time, we will also post it to our site in a different format. For example, we’ll do a YouTube video with just timings on it on the YouTube channel. And then we’ll put a whole transcript of that video on our website. That gives Google two choices, and it gives us two potential possibilities to appear in Google, but the video is already paid for itself on YouTube. So, we don’t actually need the Google payback as it were.
Applying the Concept of Understanding, Credibility, and Deliverability When Packaging Content for Google
[01:32:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so, when I say packaging, I just mean if you think about understanding, if I do a transcript, it understands the video. That’s done, finished. Credibility, get some links and get your audience engaging with it. Google will see that YouTube is part of it. If people are watching it and liking it and commenting on it on YouTube, it will see that credibility. If you can get your peers to talk about it, it can see that credibility too. If you can get your audience talking about it on social media and linking back to it, that’s credibility too.
[01:33:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Then deliverability, YouTube looks after the deliverability when you’ve embedded it in your site. All you need is a site that loads within 5 seconds. It doesn’t have to be a super fast site. And it needs to be mobile compatible because most people or a lot of people are on mobile today. So, that’s your deliverability. I haven’t said anything complicated, and I haven’t even mentioned the word code.
[01:33:37] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah.
Being in Majority of the Web by Using WordPress and Yoast and Trying to Be Different With Your Design and Content
[01:33:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Any WordPress site with Gutenberg blocks, if you know WordPress, big CMS, great thing to use. Google loves it because it’s 30% of the web, so Google understands how WordPress is presented. So, you’ve already got an advantage if you use WordPress because it dominates. If you use Yoast as a plugin, it does most of the technical stuff for you. You don’t need to worry about it. Yoast is 50% of WordPress, so that’s 15% of the web. For Google, it’s exactly the same. It’s WordPress plus Yoast.
[01:34:08] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, you’re already in the majority of the web. And you think, oh, I don’t want to be in the majority, I want to be different. Be different with your design. Be different with your content. Because Google likes things that are standardised, and Yoast plus WordPress is standardised. And Google absolutely loves it because it makes it more deliverable, understandable, and also to a certain extent, credible, but it’s really the deliverability and the understandability of it.
[01:34:35] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so, from that point, you’re saying, if I’ve got a WordPress site, which is responsive, and I haven’t messed with it too much by changing the theme, getting somebody to change absolutely everything in it, because I actually want all the bells and whistles. Don’t go for the bells and whistles, go for something simple and efficient, and make the difference with the design and the content.
[01:34:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy):Because then you’ve already got understanding and deliverability sold. It’s done. It’s finished. You don’t have to think about it. Then you can go and you say, credibility, right, I need reviews, I need users interacting with my site, I need users linking into it, I need peers linking back to it or talking about it, talking about my content.
The Reasons Jason Barnard Always Says That He Is The Brand SERP Guy
[01:35:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Why do I say I’m The Brand SERP Guy all the time? Because people refer to it all the time, because that then identifies me as The Brand SERP Guy. And Google understands that when you said The Brand SERP Guy, I don’t need the link. It knows you’re talking about me because I’ve banged it home to everybody all the time. So, you’ve got this thing of you don’t need links anymore. You need mentions. Google understands that people are talking about you.
[01:35:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Sorry, I’m getting a bit overexcited, but it is an interesting concept that a lot of the understanding and deliverability are dealt with by WordPress and Yoast, leaving you only really the credibility to deal with. And it makes the content creation itself and thinking about your audience and where they’re hanging out and where they will find value from this content as the single most important thing of your SEO strategy, with which is what it should be.
Breaking Down Information Into Something Simple Shows How Much Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Knows
[01:36:01] Konrad Yerba Addict: I love how you broke it down to actually something simple.
[01:36:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I just made that up by the way.
[01:36:08] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s perfect. To simple steps, because that also shows how much I think you know about it.
[01:36:17] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’ve thought about it far too much. But if I may pay you a compliment, what you did was bring the questions through to allow me to say that or to prompt me to say that. And as I said, I’d never said that before. And that’s a sign of a great interview if I might be a little bit.
[01:36:31] Konrad Yerba Addict: I’m happy to hear.
[01:36:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But it is. Every now and then, I do an interview like this and I end up saying something I think, wow, yeah, that’s clear, that’s straight, and it’s easy to understand. That was a moment.
Having Discussions, Like This Conversation, May Potentially Help You in Processing and Simplifying the Knowledge You Know
[01:36:44] Konrad Yerba Addict: And that’s why I think these kind of discussions, even though some people say, oh, maybe it’s too long or whatever. But I think, even though someone might be like you, an expert in SEO, it’s also some things are in your head, you’re thinking about it. And sometimes you need to articulate it with someone else to really say it. And then you’re like, oh, that actually makes sense or, oh, maybe I didn’t know fully. And then I ask you more questions and then you clarify.
[01:37:13] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, in a way, also, it helps you get you answers to some and you get better at what you do also, talking about it, but in a way where it’s a two-way conversation, not just you talking to the public, because that’s good for sharing, but it’s not so good for actually ironing out your ideas, your knowledge, and simplifying.
When People Come to Listen to Jason Barnard, It Makes SEO Less Scary and Part of a Wider Digital Marketing Content Strategy
[01:37:37] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No, a hundred percent. That’s absolutely brilliant. I actually just wrote an article for Search Engine Journal about understanding, credibility, and deliverability. And it was published on Friday, and the SEO industry, as a whole, doesn’t say what I’m just saying now. It’s new for the SEO industry as well as a concept. So, I’m not saying the SEO industry doesn’t understand what I’m saying. I’m saying that they haven’t thought of it in this manner.
[01:38:02] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it’s been a really big success. And people are now saying to me, oh, can you explain more about this? Because it’s so simple, and it makes SEO so much easier for everybody else to understand. And it makes SEO obviously less scary, and it makes SEO more a part of a larger, wider digital marketing content strategy. And I think that’s also something that really excites me.
Organising Your Content Strategy Given the Resources You Have and the Priorities Within Your Business
[01:38:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And if you say, what makes you get up in the morning? For example, me, in my little corner in Paris, being able to change something for some people in terms of how they perceive this and how comfortable they feel. What I see with my clients is after a coaching session, they say, yeah, that makes total sense. And when they say that, you go, that’s a good thing. That means we’re on the right track. That means I’ve understood what it is your business needs to do for Google.
[01:38:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it isn’t technical stuff. It’s how are we going to organise our content strategy given what you already have, the resources you have moving forwards, and what your priorities are within your own business. And if we can nail that and then tag Google on, as you said, as the bonus at the end, it makes total sense. And it’s so much less scary.
[01:39:16] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. It’s follow the bread crumbs and makes all logical sense.
[01:39:21] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Oh, you’re good at this. I like that.
In the World of SEO, What Is Something the World May Disagree With Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?
[01:39:25] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, I don’t know if it makes sense that question, because one that I wanted to ask you regarding the SEO industry and your take on it, but maybe you answer it. If so, just tell me. But I just wanted to know maybe what’s one biggest, if you already haven’t mentioned it, what’s one biggest, not misconception, but something that you believe in when it comes to the SEO and that world, but most people in that space would disagree with you or you disagree with most people? What’s this one main thing that you would see that you have a totally different opinion or different view or different idea?
[01:40:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Basically, I think I’ve got 4 different things that I’m really keen on. Brand SERPs, the SEO industry tells me Brand SERPs, they’re really easy. I know all about them. I deal with them all the time. And I think they’re underestimating it. So, that would be the first thing I think the SEO industry hasn’t understood about what I’m talking about. They underestimate the power and the intricacy of Brand SERPs, number one.
Darwinism in Search: An Easy Way to Visualise How Google Functions With the Rich Elements in the SERP
[01:40:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Number two is I wrote an article last year, Darwinism in Search. And it’s about how these different Rich Elements, SERP features get onto the pages of Google. And it’s Darwinism. And it’s really, really, really cool. And it’s another really easy way to visualise and understand how Google is functioning today. And I thought it would catch on really quickly, and it hasn’t.
[01:40:56] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): A guy called Gary Illyes from Google, who’s one of the spokespeople for Google, who actually explained it. People have been saying, oh, it’s Jason Barnard. It’s not. It’s what Gary Illyes explained that they explained to their engineers. So, all I’ve done is basically repeated what he told me.
[01:41:16] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Then I went and did interviews with team leads in Bing, which is Microsoft’s search engine. And they confirm that it works exactly the same way at Bing. So, we have these two major search engines that work in the same way. And it’s Darwinism. It’s cheated Darwinism, because obviously they’re money making machines and they can’t just leave everything to survival of the fittest.
The Different Algorithms of the Search Engines and the Process of How They Rank the Rich Elements and Blue Links in the SERP
[01:41:36] Konrad Yerba Addict: In what way do you mean Darwinism, in that context?
[01:41:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You have the blue link algorithm, which is the fundamental algorithm, it ranks what I call blue link algorithm. It ranks web pages by the content of those web pages in relation to the query the user has made, the problem they’re expressing, or the question they’ve asked. Then the video algorithm comes into play and it will say, okay, I’ve got these videos and these videos are really, really good. And so, it will put in a bid. They call them bids, and it’s not a monetary bid. It’s a bid of value to the user. And if the bid of the videos is higher than the bid of the top blue link, the videos got a place.
[01:42:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Then the image algorithm comes in, and they’re all built on the same dataset, i.e. what Google has collected from websites, and the same basic algorithms. They’re adaptations of the same set of algorithms that the blue link algorithm works on. It’s all interconnected. So, the image algorithm comes on. It says, I’ve got a bid. And it’s going, oh, that’s not good enough so you’re not getting a place. Then the featured snippet, Twitter boxes, podcast boxes, all of these different elements.
[01:42:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And basically, if they can prove or if they can make a bid that shows that they bring more value to the user in the circumstance that the user finds themselves in, i.e. the question they have asked, the problem they have expressed, and the device they are on, and the geolocation and the language and their search history, all of this comes into play. They get a place. So, it’s Darwinism, i.e. it’s the most appropriate, it’s the fittest, and it will get a place.
The Whole Page Algorithm and How It Affects Brand SERPs and Jason Barnard’s Darwinism in Search Theory
[01:43:17] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But then I talked to a guy called Nathan Chalmers at Bing, who blew my mind because he said, oh, there’s a whole page algorithm too.
[01:43:26] Konrad Yerba Addict: What page?
[01:43:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): A whole page algorithm. It’s genius. And it’s so obvious when he says it to you as well. And so, you’ve got all these elements. So, the algorithm themselves said that these are the 10 best blue links, but we’re going to put videos, Twitter boxes, and images. So, those go off the bottom. So, we’ve lost those three blue links. Here you go. That’s your result. But he says, no, no, no. We then have another algorithm that looks at that and says, well, from past experience, we know that videos don’t satisfy the user for this type of query.
[01:43:56] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, even though they won their place through Darwinistic survival of the fittest, we’re going to throw you out anyway. But you know that the Knowledge Panel, for example, is often useful to users. So, we’re going to bring in the Knowledge Panel, even though it didn’t appear to have enough value to the user, which allows it to bring in new elements and get rid of old elements and adapt to the SERP, the results page, according to real user data.
The Importance of User Behaviour in the Context of Evaluating Particular Elements in the SERPs
[01:44:21] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Now, here’s a trick. When SEOs ask the people at Google, do you use click-through data, i.e. do you use user behaviour on Google’s pages for ranking? They say, no. And everyone goes, okay, but we don’t believe you. But they don’t believe you. The fact is they don’t use it for ranking. They use it in the whole page algorithm. So, it’s not technically used for ranking, so they’re not lying, but it is used to sort the wood from the chaff, as we say in English, to redesign the results page according to user behaviour in the past, and machine learning understood probable user behaviour in the given case.
[01:45:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that’s really important. It doesn’t have to have seen the query before. It can evaluate whether or not this particular element will help or not according to the past experience, the massive data these machines are working on. So, once again, we’re in machine learning. It isn’t somebody pressing a button saying, we don’t want videos. It’s a machine who’s being given the reward of being told how terribly good and clever it is, making these decisions based on the feedback that the people from Google and from Microsoft are giving that machine about the success and failure of its previous actions, which is genius.
A Very Important Point: Your Audience That You Want to Satisfy Is a Subset of Google’s Users
[01:45:43] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it’s so simple. Listen back to that little chunk, but it’s incredibly important and it does make it much easier, for me at least, to approach all this and say, okay, what am I trying to do? I’m trying to provide the most appropriate content to satisfy Google’s user, who is potentially my audience.
[01:46:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And there’s a very important point. Google’s users are not your users. Your audience is a subset of Google’s users. And you only realistically want to appeal to the subset of Google’s users who are truly your audience. And if you bear that in mind, focus on your user, bring value to your user, and you’ll win the game.
More SEO Tips From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[01:46:31] Konrad Yerba Addict: And that’s a great, I think, segue to the last topic. We can end the SEO talk. But I think if someone is listening to this, he’s going to be taking notes. And now I think maybe some light bulbs are going to shine and be like, now I get this, now it’s not so complex, and I can approach it more strategically and maybe even figure it out myself. So, maybe I can pay someone, but maybe I don’t have to because now I see that it’s not as complex.
[01:47:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): As you said, if you pay somebody else to help you with your SEO, here’s a little hint. If whatever they’re doing doesn’t serve one or more of understanding, credibility, or deliverability, they’re doing something that isn’t going to help. So, basically, it’s an easy way for you to say which one does it serve. And if they can’t make a decent argument for it serving one or more of those pillars, tell them they’re getting it wrong.
[01:47:32] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s a good tip.
With the Advancement in Technology, You Don’t Have to Be Scared of SEO Anymore Because It Became Simple
[01:47:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Which actually gives you more control. We used to be scared of developers because we didn’t know how it goes. Now, we’ve got things like WordPress and Yoast. We don’t need the developers so much, which they probably don’t like, but it means we don’t need to confront them so much. We don’t need to understand so much.
[01:47:51] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Now we’re scared of SEOs because they’re now coming and saying, oh, you need links, you need this, you need that, you need Schema Markup. You do need Schema Markup, but Yoast does it for you, so why bother thinking about it? And you can actually get rid of that barrier, once again, by saying something simple.
[01:48:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): As a marketer, I want Google to understand what I’m offering, I want it to believe I’m credible, and I want to understand that it or I can deliver this content and satisfy its user’s question or their problem. And if the SEO cannot argue convincingly, that what he or she is doing is going to serve one or more of these aims, help Google in one of these manners, don’t do it.
What’s the Motivation Behind Jason Barnard’s Podcast?
[01:48:36] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s a great advice. So, I guess the last thing that I wanted to ask you and talk about is you’re running a podcast now and your transition, because I think I read it or heard it somewhere that you turned from a presenter of ideas to the world and hoping that people will like them to a host pulling ideas from people. So, I guess I’m curious, what made you go into that space, start a podcast and make that transition from this to this? And what keeps you going? What’s the motivation behind it?
[01:49:21] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, interestingly enough, actually I talked to the guys at Yoast. They invited me over to be part of their academy, not as a student but as a teacher, I had to add. And we were having a beer, and one of them just turned around to me. It was actually Joost himself and said, where have you come from? Nobody had heard of Jason Barnard a year ago, and now you are everywhere. And you are one of the leading experts in the world of SEO. Where did you come from and why did we never heard about you before?
[01:49:52] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the reason was because of the disaster with the blue dog and the yellow koala in Mauritius, I have spent or I had spent over 10 years trying to pay off the debts and get myself back on my feet. So, I focused 100% on just doing the work. And then 2 and a half years ago, I found myself in a situation where the debts paid off and I could actually start doing other things again that weren’t making money.
Jason Barnard on Hosting a Webinar Series for SEMrush to Try and Explain His Theory to the World
[01:50:18] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I asked a guy called Anton Shulke from SEMrush if I could do a series, because I was really interested in hosting a series about answer engine optimisation. And I thought, I’m so clever. I’m going to host this series, and it’s going to be 15 webinars in 15 weeks. And I’m going to explain to the world about my theory, and I’m going to get 50 experts on to just agree with me, basically. This was me being very naive and thinking I was smarter than the rest of the world put together.
[01:50:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And he agreed to do it, which was wonderful and really generous of him, and we got 50 guests on. And about after 2 episodes, I was going number one, I don’t understand half as much as I thought I understood. Number two, my theory doesn’t fly as high as I thought it was. Number three, I need these people because I’m not going to get through this, if they don’t actually contribute an awful lot to it.
After Doing the Webinar Series, Jason Barnard Learned a Lot and Decided to Become a Digital Nomad to Interview People
[01:51:07] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I did this 15 episode webinar series and learned a phenomenal amount from incredibly kind people, very generous people. And you’ll find in the SEO industry, digital marketing industry, as a wider description of it, immense kindness, empathy, and desire to share. It’s not a scary place at all. It’s really, really, really nice people who really want to help other people and share their knowledge.
[01:51:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that series, at the end of it, I just thought, I know so much more than I did at the start of it. What can I do to carry that idea on? Which is basically learning from asking people, questions, people who really know what they’re talking about. And I became a digital nomad, packed up my stuff, gave the flat away, and started going to conferences around the world a year and a half ago and interviewed people. Basically, I found people having interesting conversations then grab one of them and said, do an interview please.
[01:52:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): One guy called Brad Geddes, he was talking about why Bing will never shut down, why Microsoft will continue with Bing even if it loses money. And I said, oh, shut up. And he looked really offended. And I thought, I didn’t mean it quite like that. I just meant, please don’t say anymore, because if you say some more, I won’t be able to then ask you the questions and be surprised and interested and intrigued by your answers. And I did the interview with him, and it was really good.
Currently Having Done 160 Interviews, It’s Amazing How Much Jason Barnard Learned Just by Asking People
[01:52:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I’ve done 160 interviews now, and it’s been an incredible experience. Because each and every one of them, I’m asking people who know boatloads about their topic and are really enthusiastic about their topic, to explain to me the things I don’t understand about their topic, which probably means that most people don’t understand about their topic. And they do it really, really, really well.
[01:52:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Some of them are a bit complicated in their explanation. So, what I then do is summarise it in a simpler manner. Some of them really do nail it, and we end up with these great conversations, like this conversation, where people are sharing incredible insights that you didn’t expect into a topic you didn’t know enough about and making it much less scary. I’ve learned more in the last two years of doing that than I did in the 10 previous years working for different clients on different projects. And it is amazing. Just by asking people, you learn.
The Different Kinds of Information That Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Received From His Podcast Guests
[01:53:30] Konrad Yerba Addict: And it’s mostly SEO focused? The guests, are they mostly in digital marketing? Because you said different topics.
[01:53:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It’s all digital marketing, but their marketing to some extent is now partially digital or by offshoot digital. Everything ends up online at some point, in the Western world at least. It was very SEO. The first year was incredibly SEO. So, the first 120 episodes are focused on SEO with a digital marketing outlook. And the last 6 months, I’ve tried to get more marketers on. But so far, some have been great, but a lot of it for me is not actually particularly helpful information. It’s not very actionable.
There Are Some Insights That Made Jason Barnard Disappointed, Especially From the Marketing Side of Things
[01:54:18] Konrad Yerba Addict: Do you mean the interviews?
[01:54:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I won’t name names. But the last 6 months, I’ve had about half marketers and influencers and half digital marketing, SEO, Google related stuff. And I can’t help but be disappointed by the insights I’ve had from the people from the marketing side of things. And it might be that I’ve just chosen the wrong people.
Some People Might Have Too Much Confidence and There Are Few People Out There Who Can Balance Things Out
[01:54:44] Konrad Yerba Addict: I think it’s partially also because, at least that’s my personal opinion from being in this space, is that people like you are, I would say, a quite rare occurrence. Most people in that space are people who’ve been there 2 years, 1 year, 3 years. They’re maybe my age or something like that. They usually think they know everything, but they actually don’t know. They usually say what they are about is the most important thing, but they don’t have the bigger, because they haven’t been in the trenches for long enough.
[01:55:23] Konrad Yerba Addict: There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is, I think, maybe too much confidence because maybe of the age and that it’s something new. And there’s not enough people like you to balance things out. People are there. People have been doing something for 20 years. And maybe that skews that, at least that’s from my perspective, that looks like it.
Empathy for the Person Asking the Questions Should Make the Conversation Flowing Backwards and Forwards
[01:55:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No. It’s interesting what you’re saying. I think that, once again, the lack of empathy for the person asking the questions, that thing of what do I want to say? And I’ve noticed that. Actually, that’s not just the marketing guy. It’s everybody. Some guests, you can see they’re just thinking, how can I say what I want to say? So, they’re not actually listening to the questions at all. And for me, the conversation is about flowing backwards and forwards.
[01:56:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And at some point, you’re going to get what you wanted to say in there. And they failed to stand back and say, what am I actually providing as opposed to what am I getting. They’re thinking, I’m getting my message across. Actually, how can I help the people who are watching this and how can I help this presenter make this a better show? But also, from my point of view, when I’m interviewing people, I would hope they would think, what can I teach Jason that he didn’t already know?
Having a Mindset to Teach Will Make the Show Insightful to the People Listening to the Show
[01:56:41] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. Because if you can teach Jason, you can probably teach all the people listening.
[01:56:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): That’s not what I meant, but yeah.
[01:56:48] Konrad Yerba Addict: No. But I mean that’s partially true, right? If someone can have a mindset like, oh, I’m going to teach or tell something to this guy, share something that is going to be really new or interesting to the host, then it’s most likely going to be really insightful to the people listening to the show.
How People Feel About What Has Been Said and the Message Underneath Is Incredibly Important
[01:57:07] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): A hundred percent. Yeah. My podcast has got a good listenership, and most of all are very faithful listenership. And I think, probably like yours, a lot of the listenership or the faithfulness of that listenership is because they know it’s always going to be an enjoyable conversation. This was a very enjoyable conversation. I have enjoyable conversations with my guests, and I think that’s a phenomenally important part.
[01:57:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): As you said earlier on, it’s how people feel about what’s been said that’s incredibly important. The message underneath is obviously very important too. But if you can get people to feel something that they’ve been in nice company, let’s say, for the last 2 hours, I think it now is, then you’ve won the game. And if they get useful information as well, wow. Like Google, that’s a bonus.
Thoughts About Podcasts by Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) and Konrad Yerba Addict
[01:57:55] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. I think podcasts, I don’t know what’s your opinion about podcasts, but for me, it’s this beautiful thing that just came out of nowhere. It’s not revolutionary in a way that it suddenly popped because it was just slowly brewing and then just raised to the top, but it just got this beautiful, I don’t know, idea behind it. You can do so many things with it. It’s very independent. You can have those long conversations. You can connect with people, especially in these times where the virus. People don’t meet as much.
[01:58:35] Konrad Yerba Addict: And as you said, and for the people listening, they can just be in the room with you and the two people are talking. And that’s what I usually love about the best podcast. I watch Joe Rogan or something. You just sit there, you pull it up, and you just listen to them talking for a couple hours. And you feel like you’re just a person sitting in the same room and listening on the conversation. Maybe you can’t say anything, but it’s still, I don’t know, it’s just great.
Jason Barnard on Never Having Done Yet a 2-Hour Podcast Before This Show
[01:59:09] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’ve never done a 2 hour podcast before.
[01:59:12] Konrad Yerba Addict: It was good.
[01:59:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It was. Yeah. It’s a little over 2 hours, is it, I think now, but I would’ve been scared if I thought it was going to be 2 hours right off the bat, because I think I haven’t got that much to say. It turns out I’ve got probably more than that to say. I just didn’t know it. But just the idea of having a 2 hour conversation filmed and anybody watching a 2 hour conversation, if anyone’s made it this far, congratulations, that’s a major achievement. Yeah. Anything over an hour, you think isn’t that getting a bit long? But maybe not, maybe I’ve just not thought about it this way before.
It’s a Big Challenge to Do a 2-Hour Episode Because You Have to Be Consistently Interesting, Enjoyable, and Valuable All at the Same Time
[01:59:53] Konrad Yerba Addict: We’ll see. That’s also part of my experiment, but I think there’s a few people out there in this space that made it big, like Joe Rogan, but not just him who have proven that there is a need for the long conversation too. It’s not the NBO, but people enjoy it.
[02:00:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. A hundred percent mean. I’m not saying this is a bad format. It’s easy to keep people’s attention for 20 minutes or 30 minutes up to an hour, yeah, okay. When you get to 2 hours, you are getting somebody to commit quite a big chunk of their life to sitting and listening to you. So, I think the weight on your shoulders is saying, to do 2 hours, it has to be consistently interesting, enjoyable, and valuable all at the same time. And that’s a big challenge you’ve set yourself there.
Some Final Thoughts From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) and Where You Can Find Him
[02:00:46] Konrad Yerba Addict: Yeah. We’ll see. But before we click the stop record button, maybe you have some last thoughts. Meaning you can, one, say where people can find you, but also maybe say something that I haven’t asked you about and you still have it on your mind. It sometimes happens. And you just want to let go of it, share your last thoughts, and then where can people find you. And then we can wrap this up.
[02:01:17] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You can find me on Twitter, jasonmbarnard. You can find me on LinkedIn, Jason M Barnard. You can find me by searching my own name, Jason Barnard, on Google. And you’ll see my amazingly wonderful Brand SERP, and you’ll see my life story thrown before you by Google. So, the easiest way to find me is search my name. That should be a given fact, and I never really think about saying that.
Sharing the Motivating Meaning of the French Word, La Niaque, and How It Helped Jason Barnard
[02:01:40] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’ll actually end with one thing, which I really like. One thing I learned, the word that we have in French is la niaque. And it’s a word that really, really, really makes sense to me. And it’s a bit like the American word drive, but without the commercial pushy disagreeable aspect that I find the word, I’ve got drive. That la niaque is a positive desire to move the needle.
[02:02:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): When you get up in the morning, somebody who’s got la niaque is somebody who’s going, right, what are we going to do today? That’s me. And France is my spiritual home. And in fact, now I’m French, so it’s my home. Probably from the beginning, because I quickly caught on to the fact that the word la niaque just describes me.
Ending the Show With a Message About Confronting What’s in Front of You Instead of Giving Up
[02:02:38] Konrad Yerba Addict: That’s, I guess, a perfect summary. And let’s hope that other people can find la niaque in themselves, so they can achieve the things they want in life, like you did, and try different things. Fail and move forward every day, waking up and just confronting what’s in front of you instead of giving up.
[02:03:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Brilliant stuff. I love that.
[02:03:03] Konrad Yerba Addict: So, merci beaucoup, Jason, just to show off my French. And it was a lovely more than 2 hour conversation. I hope people learned about SEO, but also took some takeaways from your story from your music times to creating the TV cartoon to then living on Mauritius and hiring people and working there. I think there’s plenty of takeaways, so thanks again.
[02:03:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, I learned a lot from my own story. So, hopefully, yeah, other people can take stuff away. So, thank you very much. Merci beaucoup.
Published by: Konrad Cichawa. Guest: Jason Barnard. Host: Konrad Cichawa. November 29, 2020.