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SERP 101: Building Your Brand
Sean: So what happened after this second company was taken from you? You mentioned you started another one, is it an animation company as well?
Jason: No. well I was stuck in Mauritius with no money and no work permit. I couldn’t work. So I had to work online. So basically I just pitched to people to do work and I pitched them saying, I built this blue dog and yellow koala site to 5 million visits a month. Sorry, a million of them are coming from Google.
Because we ranked number one for kids games, preschool games, all preschool songs, all of these kinds of very popular keywords. We were pulling in a million kids a month through Google alone for free.
Sean: Good thing. You’re a good guy.
Jason: And so I would, I pitched for work and said, you know, if I can do that for a blue dog and a yellow koala, think what I can do for your car company or your printing company or whatever it might be.
And I created a company that just did search engine optimization, getting companies to the top of Google from Mauritius working with companies in the UK, because obviously from my perspective, I would get better rates in the UK than I would be getting in Mauritius. So working in the UK or for people in the UK and France in fact, was profitable for me.
And then I came back to France – this is a nice story. It segues into kind of the brand SERP guy. I came back to France, had to close the company that I created in Mauritius, and created a new company in France, but that new company was my own name. It was Jason Barnard EIRL, which is a legal format, which is just me, and I thought, I don’t want a team anymore. I’m just going to work on my own.
And I would go to pitch to clients. I would go in, I would say, we’re going to do this great digital strategy. Woo hoo. This is going to be amazing. I’m going to get you a million visits a month and I walk out and I would think that’s now I would have given them my business card. I would walk out of the meeting and I think that’s a sold account. That’s it? I’ve done that.
And 50% of the time they didn’t sign, but they had seemed so enthusiastic and I didn’t know why. And then one day, one of my clients said to me, actually, you know what we did, as soon as you walked out of the room, we searched your name.
What came up. Oh, the blue dog. We thought it was funny, but I bet my bottom dollar, the other clients that didn’t sign thought I’m not going to hand my digital marketing strategy to a cartoon blue dog. So I then realized that that business card that I was giving them, that I had spent money designing and getting printed, and I thought this is brilliant.
And it makes me look so professional people would just go and search my name and find a blue dog. And that was my business card. Not the physical one. My business card was what appeared when you search Jason Barnard on Google.
And if you search that now, you’ll see that it now looks incredibly impressive. I decided that I would make that brand SERP, that search engine results page for my name show me as a digital marketer first and the blue dog section in order to convert more clients. And in fact, what ended up happening is I went from 50% to 80% conversions in those situations where I’d sold face to face.
Sean: 80% conversion is actually very, very good.
Jason: Okay. I mean, 80% from the moment when they, they said as I left the office, yes.
We’re going to sign with you. So it’s not actually that good.
Sean: A lot of people miss that out, don’t they? When people search for their name or their company name, there’s just stuff that gets in there that is not something that the person or the company would want in their brand. What led you to focus on being the brand SERP guy?
Jason: And that’s the interesting point. And that’s a great question is from saying actually I didn’t want the blue dog to be so prominent. It’s not that I didn’t want it there. I don’t want to deny that I was the blue dog, but it’s now relegated to a little image in the knowledge panel on the right-hand side.
And the left-hand side is dominated by digital marketing stuff. The brand SERP guy, the knowledge panel guy. Basically, me expressing the brand message I want to project to my audience and the brand message I’ve built up so carefully on my own site, on my social media platforms, on every piece of content I publish, and in this podcast.
The brand SERP guy, Jason Barnard does brand SERPs. He’s a specialist in what appears when your audience Google’s your brand name or your personal name. And that brand message is reflected in my brand SERP. And if you look up your own company name, I will bet my bottom dollar. The message you’ve worked so hard to build on your own website and on your social channels is not reflected accurately by Google that your brand message on that brand SERP is distorted and it doesn’t need to be, you can actually control it.
Google wants to show your brand message, if it can understand your brand message and your brand messages relevant and helpful to your audience, it will show the exact brand message you want. And it’s up to you to make sure that Google knows what it is. It should be presented to your audience because of what’s Google trying to do with that.
When somebody searches your brand name, they’re trying to get to your site or find out more about you. Google wants to show them your audience who are a subset of its users. The information and the opportunity such as videos, Twitter boxes, knowledge panels, links to your site, site links to the login page on here, or the contact page or the newsletter page.
It wants to show all of these things if they are helpful, relevant, and useful to your audience. All you have to do is demonstrate in your videos, your Twitter boxes, your contact page, your newsletter page – are helpful and valuable to your audience searching your name on Google.
Sean: You’re up there. You see all of these things, you’re the expert, but for someone who’s tuning in, they’re already scratching their heads and saying, what is that?
Do you know, I mean, so how do you make sure – and a lot of business owners, they think, “Hey, it’s Google’s job you know, I got stuff out there, it’s there and it’s Google’s job to sort this out.” But how do we get from that point, that kind of perspective and mindset to what you’re saying to demonstrate that value to your audience so that it’s actually what Google is showing?
Jason: Right? Yeah. Well, baby steps, I think is the answer to that? You start if your site’s ranking number one, which it should be for your brand name or your personal name. You want to make sure that that blue link, the first blue link says what you wanted to say about your brand.
For example, if you sell blue widgets, there is a tradition for people to say, we sell blue widgets and then the brand name goes at the end. But in fact, you want to, you would be more – it would be more pertinent for your audience, for you to communicate your brand message, right from that moment. Then the description underneath that Google shows, you can control that on your webpage, by giving Google the description you want it to show, the title you want it to show.
And much of the time, if it’s relevant, if it’s valid, Google will show the title and the description that you ask it to show in it. To ask you have it in your page, ask your technician or your developer, what meta titles or meta descriptions are, make sure that the content and the page reflects accurately, who you are, what you do, and who your audience is and Google will show what you want more or less.
Right underneath that. You’ve got what I call the rich site links, which are the blue links with the little text underneath that link through to your contact page and use like the page, your blog page, your ‘about us’ page. Google shows them when your site is well organized and when the content within the pages is clearly defined.
And it knows that that content will be helpful to your users. For example, login page newsletter page is typically very useful for your audience. If it doesn’t show them, that simply means your site is badly organized and Google doesn’t understand that. And as you say, people think, well, it’s Google’s problem – it’s not, it’s your problem because it’s your brand message that’s being lost.
Because if you think about it, that little blue link with the description underneath is just the start of your brand message. Why should you subscribe to my newsletter about us? What do you want to know about us? Login, come in, start working with the platform, do whatever it is you need to do.
Look at your orders, whatever it might be. All of that is part of your brand message, how you express that to your audience who are searching on Google for your name to come to your website, either as a prospect or as an existing client. And I think people forget that a lot of the people searching a brand name or simply navigating to your website, never have existing clients.
And you want to make sure their experience is as good as possible, because their experience with you starts from the moment they search your brand name on Google. So that result is part of your brand message and your reputation in their eyes. So start with something simple, which is what you control, which is your website.
Sean: I’m going to go and dive a little bit deeper into this without getting too technical for our listeners out there. When you say you have to organize it for Google, what do you mean? Is it just a matter of having a better site map, having a better location for your pages, making sure they’re on the nav bar, the main nav bar up there on the header section or is it something else?
Jason: Yeah. Well, the navbar is important. If there’s a clear way for the user to get to this page, you’re indicating to Google that page is important to your users, so that would be the first step. The second step would be making sure that you’ve got to like your contact page. Typically you’ll just have the form with no text.
That doesn’t help Google to actually display that in a helpful, valuable manner to your audience. So you’d want to write a little text, which says, you know, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. This is the page, do it, whatever it might be. I would also advise you to be careful about using negative terms.
I almost said if you have any problems never, ever, ever start with that kind of, oh, if you’ve got problems because it gives people the idea that they should have problems if they don’t. And it also shows on your brand search, which immediately if you see the word problems or issues or anything else negative, you’re sending out a negative message, which actually isn’t necessary, you can turn that around and be more positive.
So you need a little bit of contact on these pages that are typically forgotten for SEO purposes, for search engine optimization – login pages are typically forgotten. You need a nice little bit of text, explains what people need to do on the page – it’s as simple as that. What solution does this page bring to the user? And if you just explain that Google will show up and you make sure that your brand message is included and boom, your up there you’re away. It’s brilliant.
And the third thing is not to have a flat site structure. What do I mean by that? It’s having all the pages at the root level, you need to put your pages and folders and organize your site into silos. So for example, I mean, one, typically that I see is that I advise all my clients and all the people I work with to have an about silo.
So you have about the company, about the products, about the people in the team contact has joined the team so on and so forth. And that’s the about silo. And that’s the one that’s important, most important, sorry for the rich site links. And if you’ve got it in a silo, Google will immediately understand that all of that is serving your existing audience or your prospects, and it will be useful for it to show them.
And that’s a really, really simple trick to gain those rich site links. Then obviously you’ve got your blog silo, and if it thinks your blog articles are important, it will start showing blogging articles in those rich site links according to their freshness or its perceived importance.