Doc had technical issues, so Steve got to visit solo with this week’s guest, Jason Barnard, founder of Kalicube. Jason absolutely blew our minds with his information on building a brand SERP! He shares how to get your brand a Knowledge Panel and control it. (Spoiler Alert: You do NOT want to focus on getting your brand a Wikipedia page – that’s a sure way to LOSE control of your Knowledge Panel!
Jason bills himself The Brand SERP Guy – if you have any doubt about this being a dynamic (and amazingly neglected) specialty, you really need to watch this episode! Jason will definitely change your mind and send you scurrying to put his methods to work!
And we highly recommend you consider getting a copy of Jason’s book – https://kalicube.com/books/fundamentals-of-brand-serps-for-business/
As always, there’s a transcript below, and of course, we always appreciate the Likes and Subscribes! 😉
Steve [00:02]: Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Deep SEO conference webinar series. I’m Steve Gerencser. And today our guest is Jason Barnard. Jason is a newly minted bestselling author with the fundamentals of Brand SERPs for business. You can also pretty much everything he’s ever written all over the internet. He’s published everywhere that’s important. And as a brand SERP guy, he knows more about this stuff than just about anybody I’ve met. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason [00:37]: Thank you very much, Steve. It’s absolutely delightful to be here and thank you for that introduction.
Steve [00:40]: Outstanding. Thank you very much. So Jason is going to go ahead and start with a small presentation for us, and then we will carry on with some questions after that.
Jason [00:50]: It’s actually quite a long presentation, but I’m going to do it incredibly quickly because you guys are all smart. And if we go for it quickly, you’ll get the idea. And you can also look at the slide deck afterwards, or watch this again if I speak too quickly, which I may well do. So I’m going to talk about knowledge panels, triggering them and managing them for your brand. I’m the brand SERP guy, as Steve just said. I specialize in brand SERPs. That’s what appears when somebody Googles your brand name and in this case, my personal name, and I can tell my story through my brand SERP. That’s the trick I’m trying to play. And as a brand, you can imagine telling your brand story or your brand message through your brand SERP when your audience searches, your brand name is incredibly important. They’re the most important audience for your bottom and post funnel as we’ll see.
[01:35] So… John Mueller, from Google, calls me Mr. Knowledge Panel from time to time, which is terribly delightful and charming, and makes me feel a bit proud of myself. I live in Paris. You can see that from my LinkedIn profile ranking up there on the brand SERP. I was a voice actor, cartoon Blue Dog, as you can see from the songs and the video and the IMDB profile, all of which were on my brand SERP that tell that part of my life to you. I was a punk-folk musician, as you can see from this part of my brand SERP, The Barking Dogs. It says that I was a rock musician in the nineties, double bass player and singer. I have a groovy podcast with Jason Barnard ranking once again on my brand SERP, so you can interact with me through my podcast and listen to that.
[02:18] I’m an author. My book came out and it’s sitting behind me and it’s on the screen in front of you. And that also is on my brand SERP through my Twitter feed because that’s quite new. I have managed to leverage it up there onto the brand SERP proper, as it were. I’m the CEO and founder of Kalicube which is a SaaS platform and a set of courses to learn all about brand SERP and knowledge panels, of course. And I’m the brand SERP guy and I’ve managed to educate Google with a new concept that it didn’t know about six or seven months ago. And it now has people also ask on my brand SERP, what is a brander and who is the brand SERP guy?
[02:54] So I’ve done a great job of educating Google about a new topic that I invented, or at least the kind of term, and got Google to understand that and understand that I am the person or that term is associated with my name very closely. So the plan really quickly, we’re going to look at the context, which is brand SERP, look at brand, look at brand knowledge panel, the international variations, what are Google sources, what you can do, practical tips what’s next. And that’s exciting. It’s the stuff I love the most 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of stuff I’ve gone through for the last 9 years. What’s next is the exciting part for me at least.
[03:27] Fun examples are really fun. It’s all to do with the blue dog and yellow koala that I mentioned earlier on, the cartoon and my rock group and the ultimate aim, which is obviously fun and games aside. We need to be serious and take this serious. Today the context is your brand SERP, it’s important to explain that it’s the exact match brand SERP search it. Isn’t branded terms, it’s your exact match brand name and these results are more or less convincing, more or less positive, more or less accurate.
[03:55] And as you can see, Microsoft over there on the left, incredibly rich, incredibly helpful to the user. Then we have somebody else in the middle, which is WordLift, great tool from platform AISEO from Italy and Kalicube we’ve worked on that for the last year to get the really pretty looking brand SERP with all those videos and Twitter boxes. That’s a great content strategy. You can see there from Kalicube. And over there on the right, a company that I can’t remember the name of who have 10 Blue Links ranks.
[04:20] When did we last see 10 Blue Links on a SERP? If you have a brand SERP with 10 Blue Links, you really should be ashamed of yourselves. And I do apologize for being rude. So it’s important for your audience. They’re obviously A-list people, actually matter to your business so your clients, your prospect, your investors, your partners, they know what your name is, and they’re searching your name to navigate to your site, or find out more about you.
[04:42] They’re ready to do business with you or already doing business with you. That is your Google business card. It’s important for Google. It’s Google’s assessment of the world opinion of you. If you think about it, Google looks at all this content, wherever it is on your site, around the web, it digests it. And then it presents to the audience we just saw or your users, what it feels is going to be valuable, helpful, and relevant for them.
[05:05] So it’s giving them its opinion of what you have to offer within your digital ecosystem, not just SCL, but every single digital outlet that you have. And if it looks good and it looks relevant to your business, it suggests that Google thinks your expertise and trust are pretty good. So it’s a good way to kind of get a thumb gauge, if we can say that of your EAT credentials.
[05:31] And it’s important for you because it’s an insight into your digital ecosystem and your content strategy. And it’s a really easy way of seeing where you’re weak, where you’re strong, where you’re doing great stuff and where you’re not doing such a great job on your digital strategy, overall. Brand knowledge panels really quickly into that. Why does Google put a knowledge panel on the SERP? And I think it’s a question we don’t often ask ourselves perhaps enough, and it’s basically a summary of what it’s understood as fact about your brand. And the aim for Google is to allow its users to understand more about you or the basic facts about you without having to click through on multiple links and bring it all together in their own little brains.
[06:14] So it’s saying here is our summary from the results that you could click on, theoretically, therefore you don’t need to click. You can figure out who this brand is, what they’re doing and who their audience is from the SERP, and then decide how you want to interact with them. And the idea that one size fits order is totally false. Obviously we’ve got from over there on the left, Tiny Sprout, Perspective Fittings Limited. I don’t know who they are, but they’ve got the tiniest knowledge panel ever. Kalicube, a little bit bigger SEO ranking, WordLift, and then Meta obviously with that massive knowledge panel where Google’s got a lot of facts in its brain, and it can express those facts in that summary, incredibly richly. And it’s got a lot to say about Meta and we can all potentially have a knowledge panel like that if Google can understand it. And if it thinks that information is going to be helpful, valuable, and relevant to your audience.
[07:04] So they’re actually very commonplace. 51% of brands have a knowledge panel in the USA. That’s up from 43%, two years ago. Doesn’t seem like much of a leap, but when you think about how much Google is trying to understand, that is quite a big leap. Google is basically understanding more and more entities, and it’s pushing that understanding. It’s understanding that it’s willing to place on the righthand side of a SERP on desktop. As a fact, it’s building that up pretty quickly. They talked about 500 billion facts a few years ago. That’s probably quadrupled or maybe quintupled by now.
[07:42] And across the world, if you’re an international brand, that knowledge panel will be replicated 98% of the time across these different five Anglophone countries. So factory universal, but what’s relevant to show for a brand is not universal. So we’ll just compare the USA to the UK. You can see here, the customer service number is different in the US to the UK. That’s logical. It’s a fact, it’s helpful to the user, but it needs to be geo-specific. And apparently in America, we’re looking at the chainsaw ratio size, whatever that is. And in the UK, they’re more interested in who the subsidiaries are. So Google not only shows relevant information, but also the information it feels that geo-location audience is going to be interested in.
[08:29] Social profiles, vary across the world. If you’ve got different social profiles in different countries to serve those people. Here, IKEA have got it pretty right. They’ve got one era of their UAE on the right hand side and the US for Pinterest. Obviously if I’m in the UK, I would rather see their UK Pinterest account. People also search for, we tend to think that’s going to be stable around the world. It isn’t. It varies across regions. It’s a representation of what Google thinks are the most closely related entities to your entity and therefore, potentially your competitors, or at least companies in the same area industry as you, and as you can see, 28% of these are the same all around the world, but that leaves another 72% of these that are not the same in other countries. And so that’s something you would want to keep an eye out on because these entities, the related entities that Google perceives to be the most related to you will vary by geo region.
[09:27] Entity statements. You can think about those as people also ask in the right-hand rail. They are more and more prevalent, very much in the US, less so in the rest of the world, but that’s starting to come. Over 25% of knowledge panels now have them in the US, and that’s up from 10% a year ago. So that’s growing very fast, just like people also ask. And you want to grab control of those because you don’t want other people, other companies representing facts, or these pseudo facts that Google is presenting questions as facts here. So the people also ask that are on the left, that are questions. Here are facts. You don’t want somebody else presenting those facts to your audience.
[10:08] And here’s a fun example, CheapOair out. I love the name, absolutely delightful, and pretty much everything is different. So this company whoever they may be really need to pay attention to their international knowledge panels. A lot of information are in there and very different information in different regions. And it’s a mistake to imagine that you cannot heavily influence the information Google has and the information Google shows. And a big mention for WordLift, who do a lot of work on knowledge panel product.
[10:39] Don’t what you’d call them, carousels. This is going to be incredibly important for brands who have products, which is most brands, so far only in the US, but it’s going to spread around the world. This is something you need to grab control of because you want it to show your best products in their best light.
[10:56] What are Google sources? We often think of Wikipedia. Here we have descriptions, all of which come from Wikipedia. A lot of the facts that the attributes that Google is showing come from Wikipedia too, but there are so many other sources. That’s the tip of the iceberg. You can see all of these different sources. Linkedin is more important than one might imagine. Crunchbase too. You can see my little face there and Kalicube and WordLift. And these are sites that you wouldn’t expect to see in this list of sources that Google is citing in a knowledge panel. And yet, because I am an authority and a trusted authority about the entities that we’ll see later on, I get a place as a representative of those sites that Google trusts to source as information, factual information in that knowledge panel and we can all potentially do that for entities where we are authoritative and trustworthy.
[11:49] It is very much niche industry. So you look for different sites to be representing and educating Google about your brand and getting that information into the knowledge panels, depending on your industry. Geo is incredibly vital. Google will show different information in different countries as we’ve seen, and it will cite different sources and get its information from different sources depending on the geo region. And at Kalicube we figure that out using entity equivalence, which you can’t quite read there, but the last word there is equivalence. And that’s the idea that the same entity type, the same geo region or the same category, we can segment Google sources of information and tell you, which are the sources you should be looking at to educate Google and to get control, or at least heavy influence over that knowledge panel.
[12:39] We’ve got these new insights. These are delightful. I love it. We’ve managed to figure out how to see where Google is getting its information from. We can’t tell necessarily the details of it, but we can tell you that 70% come from third party human curated sources, such IMDB, Wikipedia, Wikidata, Musicbrainz, and other such sources that are third party. The red line 18% is Google sourced human curated, which will be Google podcast, Google books, Google My Business, and also the feedback button strangely enough. It uses that information, feeds it back into the machine as corrective or supportive information about what the machine has been doing. And what the machine has been doing is crawling around the web and making up its own facts from the stuff it finds on the web from the web index.
[13:29] And we are looking there at 6 or 7%, our web facts, which is where the machine has made up its own about the facts from a seed set of sources that Google trusts, that Google has given the machine. And that green one, which is the most exciting moment of my life of the last few years, is the machine going on its own, making up its own mind, where it’s not the seed set. You can find the web facts. We’ve got about 2000 different sources that are cited by Google as the source of information for an attribute that are completely not, how can you say, I can’t find a pattern. It’s finding the information where that information exists and where the machine has decided it is trustworthy. It is relevant. And I would bet my bottom dollar, it’s all about entity, equivalence.
[14:20] What you can do… you can take control, you can heavily influence what appears. John Mueller talks about reconciliation. It’s the idea that the machine has fragmented information around the web, and it tries to bring that together and make facts in its little brain. But it isn’t sure about what it’s found and what it’s looking for. And this is slightly contradictory in my little mind, is that it’s looking for a place on your website, the one page that we will call the entity home that represents the entity and that explains that entity to it. So it’s looking for you to tell it what it should know, and then it takes that information that is reconcilable or it’s found around the web, and it will reconcile it and compare it to your version. And if they match, it will then be more confident in the information it found.
[15:09] So for reconciliation, to help Google with reconciliation, you need to provide the entity home, which is a page on your site that you control, where you describe clearly who you are, what you do, and you sling posts all of the corroboration around the web, on multiple independent authority, third-parties’ sites. I call that the Accumulation of Corroboration – and preferably. if you can get it pointing both ways. So you link out to them using sameAs in your schema or a link in your page and get that to link back to you, to the entity home. So Google just goes from your entity home with the facts, to that site with the facts, back to the entity home with the facts, out to another one with the facts, back to your site with the facts and so on and so forth. It’s a child. It needs to be educated by pure repetition.
[15:57] Repetition builds confidence. Confidence will help you build a stable knowledge panel. And as you can see, once you get it really good, it will just pull the description from your own website. That’s the point at which it trusts you to describe yourself. You are the trusted authority about yourself. And I will let you read the figures over there on the right hand side. I don’t need to read them for you. I’m sure.
[16:21] And you can feed the knowledge graph once you’ve done that. From this perspective, here’s my group, the barking dogs I told you we’d come back to that. I have a page on my website, which is the entity home. I’m the trusted authority. It uses my own description. I changed the description at 12:58 and within 8 minutes, it’s updated on the knowledge panel. That’s as close as you’ll ever get to control.
[16:44] Now what’s next. The filter pills. This is really what I’m getting excited about. The filter pills are brilliant. You get the overview, which is the brand SERP as it stands, which is what we’ve been talking about. And then Google says, well, there are actually multiple verticals we can look at. So with these filter pills, when you click on them, will add the word to the query and present you with a new brand SERP that is more focused on that particular aspect of, in this case, a person, but it could be a brand, not yet, but I’m batting my bottom dollar once again that within a couple of years, this is going to be true of brands or for brands too.
[17:21] And you need to take control. And it gets really complicated really quickly, because brand SERPs are difficult to grab hold of and get control of and master. Taking control of here, we’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 different vertical brand SERPs. It’s going to be really difficult. And here we’re looking at songs. Now this is where, kind of, if we imagine that I was a company and these songs are my product, which they kind of are, cause you can buy songs, you can download them, you can stream them. Potentially I could make money from them. I don’t, because I don’t own the rights to the songs, which is unfortunate, but I did write them.
[17:56] And here, what I’ve done is educated Google about which songs I’ve written, which songs I’ve recorded, and I can present them here. And when you click on them, you go through to the brand SERP for the song and it gives you the option to download it or to listen to it on Spotify. And my aim there would be to push my products that I want to push forward to the top of this list and make sure that the distributors that are cited on the next page when the person looks at the brand SERP for the product song are the ones that I want my audience to purchase from.
[18:30] And if you want to know how I do it, I create a dedicated page on my website that deals with that specific vertical. And I educate Google as to what it can, could be, showing to my audience in that vertical. In this case, my education, where I went to university. I created a page and Google trusts me and feels that I’m authoritative about myself and with some corroborative sources around the web to confirm, to back me up. It’s showing now where I was educated within one of these filter pill verticals.
[19:00] Videos too. What’s interesting here is that all of these videos come from my own site. If you search Jason Barnard videos in Google normal results, or even in the videos vertical, the videos are not the same. They do not come from my site, they come from YouTube and the thumbnails are much prettier. So what we have here is a completely separate vertical of results that is principally pulled from my site because my site is what is educating Google as to what would be appropriate for this specific filter pill vertical. So as you can see, taking control is possible and it’s something I think we need to start thinking about today because within two years, this is going to apply to companies as well as people and films and books.
[19:51] Fun examples, really quickly. I’ll try not to bore you with my silly examples with the Happy Families – the Yellow Koalas and the Blue Dogs. I built in Google’s brain the family tree of these characters that I created with my ex-wife. You can see them here behind me, this side. You can see them, the yellow and blues smudges behind me. And the thing is they were reasonably famous in 2006-7. But nobody cares about them because the characters Boowa and Koalas were famous, the families were not. So what I’ve done is built up the family tree in Google’s brain, on my entity homes. As you can see, all of these have descriptions from my own site, and I’ve managed to build that understanding of the family tree.
[20:35] And you can do the same with a brand with its subsidiary companies and the products of those subsidiary companies, a family tree of your company and its layout. And it really isn’t actually very difficult. But ambiguity makes it tough. And here’s a really cool example from my band once again. There’s an Italian techno duo with the same name. And as you can see the knowledge panel in June 2020 was 50% about them and 50% about us. And it got the members mixed up, the albums, the record companies, and even it said, we were a dance electronic group.
[21:14] And in fact, we were a punk folk group and this is how I sorted it out. It took me a year and a half. In four months, I got it from 50/50 to 70/30 in our favor. And it took me another year to get it to a hundred percent all about us, where Google was really straight in its mind, exactly who we were and which albums were recorded and who was in the band. And that’s a good indication of how slowly Google learns. The knowledge panel doesn’t, or the knowledge graph and the knowledge panels don’t update from one day to the next except in exceptional circumstances. Like the example I showed earlier on. It takes months to get this machine to digest this information that we are feeding it.
[21:57] And the ultimate aim, of course, is control. That’s the entity home. Once you’ve nailed the entity home, you can start nailing the different verticals in your brand SERP, as I showed you with the filter pills and also start educating it about sub-entities or related entities like the Blue and Koalas families or the music group. And it becomes relatively easy, just slow. And Kalicube, which is my company, we now offer services and products – Beginners: the Brand SERP Book, Intermediate: Brand SERP Courses, and Advanced: the Brand SERP SaaS Platform, which I build with my little hands, basically to try to get all the stuff that’s in my brain into a platform that will help other people who want to optimize brand SERPs and manage knowledge panels, give them the tools and the means to do so.
[22:44] So you can optimize your brand SERP, manage your knowledge panel, with Kalicube Pro, with our partners, WordLift, Authoritas, and SE Ranking. Here’s what you would want to retain in your brain: knowledge panels presence is consistent internationally, at least in the Anglophone world, but the actual content will vary enormously. Create an entity home and start gaining control using schema markup, but also, good sense, great explanations, and back and forth linking and corroboration on multiple authoritative third-party sources.
[23:15] The trusted sources you leverage depends on market and geography, entity equivalence that I mentioned earlier on. Brand SERPS are the most interesting thing in the digital marketing world, without exception – in my opinion, of course, but I’m totally biased. And you should really – in my opinion, once again – track and measure for stunning insights and it really is interesting once you start tracking, you start measuring, you start analyzing, brand SERPs and knowledge panels. You get so many insights into your company, into your audience, into your content strategy and into your digital footprint and your digital ecosystem. And I don’t think there’s anywhere else you would get that kind of insight that simply and for free from Google. Thank you.
Steve [23:57]: Wow. That was very fast. And I feel like almost everything I thought I knew about knowledge panels was a lie. It’s brilliant, because, from my perspective, I try to know a little bit about everything because that’s the role I play for a lot of my clients. And personally, I was unaware that you could have that much of a dramatic impact on knowledge panel. Because from where I come from, we’ve always been taught the knowledge panels is what Google thinks it should be. And taking the time to train Google to understand what you think Google should think it should be is an eye-opening and a mind expanding thought process that now needs to be explored. And we see that a lot in a lot of the digital groups, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever, whether we want to or not, we kind of close our mind off to certain things. My whole brain is kind of like bouncing all over the place.
Jason [25:16]: And what is lovely, I’ve been doing this for nine years and nobody really listened to me very much for the first 7 or 8. And I really felt I was talking and talking and talking, no one was listening and at some point you think maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m not doing this. Maybe this is a dream. But in fact what I managed to do was heavily influenced, once I nailed the entity homes and I really did only nail them three years ago. So I was trained before. So I understand that kind of people going, yeah, maybe, yeah, whatever. But once you start demonstrating with examples, like I’m showing here, they’re silly examples because they’re music groups and blue dogs and yellow koalas.
[26:01] But when you think about how you can apply them to business, they do make real sense. And the reason I chose the blue dogs and yellow koalas and the music group is because I don’t damage my clients. When I’m doing experiments, I don’t mess it all up. And it’s really lucky for me because nobody cares about the blue dog and yellow koala or the music group, because they haven’t existed for 15 to 25 years. I’m the only person who’s affected by it. I’m the only person working on it. So I know that the effect that I’m having, or the changes we’re seeing are thanks to me because nobody’s talking about them and it also makes my job obviously easier because nobody’s talking about them, nobody’s contradicting me and I can just place the information around the web. So that’s kind of cheeky, but it’s also very demonstrative and it’s lovely. And I love it. It’s really good fun.
Steve [26:53]: That is awesome. I noticed when you were talking about filter pills in general. For anybody who is unaware of what they are or how they work. The best example I can think of is Google image search. If you go into Google image search and you type somebody’s name, that’s where you’re going to see filter pills always. It’s not a secret that there are, especially, an actor or an actress. It may break it down by movie. It may break it down in a hundred different ways, but that is the best example of filter pills that I can think of. And the thought of being able to do that with a knowledge panel is one of those areas that my brain just went, oh, I never thought of it. I don’t see those very often for knowledge panels.
Jason [27:49]: No, I mean, I look at this all day long, so kind of when I saw them and started thinking about them, I just thought, okay, right, click on it, you get the same results. And it took me a while to realize, A – we need to control the verticals and B – we can actually affect which ones appear and we can also see it as a way for us to help Google, to help our audience. But the downside. And you know, I’m not saying Google’s wonderful, but we have to deal with it. It’s not something that’s going to go away. It’s something that’s going to stay there. And the downside for us is that that overview is your homepage and those filter pills are navigating through your site.
[28:31] But that layout of the knowledge panel becomes a mini website for you and a mini website, which you don’t control directly. So it becomes scary. But it’s a great challenge because what’s happens is that when you start thinking about that, you are forced to think about who you are, what you do, and who your audience is, what content is going to appeal to your audience, what content is relevant to you and make sure that it’s optimized wherever it appears on the web, not just on your own site. And if you’re looking at products, if you’re looking at the CEO of the company, the C level employees, it forces you to figure out how all of these different related entities and aspects of your business need to be presented.
[29:13] And from the Kalicube example, what we skipped over very quickly earlier on, to build a really beautiful brand SERP with the Twitter boxes and the video boxes and the videos and the YouTube stream took us a year. And we’ve created vast amounts of relevant, helpful content that works for our audience. And what I love about it is I stopped doing SEO for a year. I’ve just been doing content and I’m pulling in clients through the content. And now Google is my bonus. I just package this stuff up and push it out to Google. And I’m getting SEO traffic now as a bonus. So, looking at it that way around for me as an SEO has totally flipped me over in just the last year.
Steve [29:53]: This brings us back to the SEO without links. Because you’re not technically building links, you’re building content and then Google’s going, this is the way it should be. And then just pumping traffic to you, which is awesome.
Jason [30:10]: Well, not building links is, is one of those things. If you are building incredibly relevant content where you have topical authority and by building content, you’re going to start building that topical authority. If the content is incredibly topically relevant to your business, you don’t need links anymore. Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR is a Turkish SEO who proves this day in, day out, we’ve done it as well with Kalicube. We don’t build links, we build topical authority. And that builds up that presence in Google, which is incredibly interesting.
[30:39] And I think very, very powerful. Links are always useful and they’re helpful and they’re supportive, but Google’s understanding and its confidence in its understanding of who you are, what topics you are truly an expert in, is always going to be the prime driver in what it ranks, because it wants to rank the most authoritative, credible, trustworthy solutions for its users when they’re searching.
Steve [31:05]: The question that was just funneled into me, was, are you seeing more natural links develop because of this content? Or is that something you don’t even try?
Jason [31:15]: No. A great question. I assume that’s Doc asking the question. What’s delightful is it all started with the podcast and the webinars. In fact, Doc was on one of the first webinars with SemRush when I was doing things with SemRush and I wasn’t doing it on my own. And it’s built a lot of links really quickly. To give you an idea. I actually split my site into different sites, as an experiment once again. So I have a site for Kalicube Tuesdays, which is my weekly event, a site for the podcast, a site for my company, a site for the SaaS platform. And I launched them all in May, 2021. So that’s nine months. And they all have built links, incredibly steadily and strongly throughout the year. And I haven’t made any effort at all.
[32:03] And the tools now show these amazing backlinks from Moz and from SemRush and from WordLift and from all sorts and lots of noise on social media. So yeah, building great content that your audience engages with builds links on its own. And link building isn’t something I do. And I’m really happy, because I don’t like doing it.
Steve [32:27]: I would agree with you a hundred percent on that one. The last links I built were 15 years ago when we were doing link directories. I owned a few directories. So yeah, that was a whole different world back then. So another area that you talked about briefly is reconciliation, where we find a lot of, we would call it noise in your knowledge panel. Information that doesn’t relate directly to you or is confused between two different people with similar or the same names. And I’m just curious if you could go into a little more of what kind of a process you would look at to, one, try to sort that out as for the best way to attack it. And then, is it just a simply a matter of providing enough of the relevant information to Google in a way that it decides that the other guy’s probably wrong?
Jason [33:27]: It’s a great question. In fact, you’ve just described what the Kalicube Pro SaaS platform does. So a bit of promotion there, but I’m really pleased with it because Joost de Valk, of Yoast fame, asked me to help him and his team about a year ago. And I came up with a list of all the different places where he had profile pages and people were talking about him. And I had a list of about a hundred that I thought were important. And he wrote me an email back and said, what about that? What about that? What about that? And I’d missed about 30 pretty important sites by doing it by hand. So I built a machine that crawls Google, pulls it all in. Built an algorithm that prioritizes it. And I pump that back to him and I found another 30 that he hadn’t seen.
[34:12] So we end up with this system where I built the platform that basically asks Google. What’s important for your knowledge and understanding about this entity? We pull that in, we have an algorithm that sorts it all through and then gives you a prioritized list of all the profiles, the articles about you, the data sources and tells you basically what order we think – we’re obviously not sure, but we’ve got a good idea. And the lists tend to make sense, that you can then, A – go around and correct the information on all of those different sources so that everything is great. It’s like maps in local SEO, make sure everything says the same thing and the child will end up understanding and the child being a great analogy because if I’m the parent and I explain to the child, the child goes, okay, great. Yep, fine.
[35:03] If grandma says it exactly the same way. If the sister says it the same way the teacher says it the same way, the child will become confident in that understanding. And he will probably understand it better as well. And if they’re all contradicting each other, of course, the child won’t understand. And of course the child, if it does understand will not be confident in the understanding. So that’s the kind of theory behind it. And then what we do is create the schema markup that points to the same ads, and to the subject of, and then we invite you through another list to go through all of these. Make sure the corroborations correct. Point back to the entity home, entity home points back to them and Bob is your uncle. It’s really very, very, very simple. It’s just time consuming and phenomenally they’ll work.
Steve [35:48]: So Schema rears its ugly head again.
Jason [35:51]: Yes, sorry. But as I said, in fact kind of a lot of people, or some people say to me, oh, you only ever do schema and then you do sameAs, and it’s all finished and you say, well, there is schema in there. But if you just added links to your page, it has been, and I have had the experience, where it does work. It doesn’t need schema. Schema helps because it’s the bullet list for Google. It’s Google’s native language. It can digest it natively, it’s confident the schema, because it’s named value pairs. It’s confident that it’s understood exactly what’s being said. It isn’t necessary. It is very helpful. And one thing you did mention is making sure that Google understands that what the other person is saying isn’t necessarily the right fact and a great example of that is yearly revenues for a company let’s say.
[36:38] And I’ve had clients who say, well, Ooh, it’s got the wrong number. It says 40 million. And it was 60 million. And then you say, well, where do you say on your site that it was 60 million? And they say, well, we don’t. They say, well, if you don’t give it the information yourself, it’s going to go and find it elsewhere. And they say, well, we don’t really want to talk about it. And you say, you don’t have that choice. And as much as Google will show it, whether you talk about it or not, your best bet is to grab control and being coy about it seems to me to be a foolish mistake, but each to their own. So you have to own the information about yourself and take control. I agree. I don’t necessarily want to talk about all these things, but if Google’s going to show it anyway, I don’t have much choice.
Steve [37:26]: It would be similar to like where we’re at with conferences, where people talk about how many people showed up to the conference, or either a sporting event, there were 80,000 people at a football game and you kind of look around and go I don’t think so, but the event is who published the information. They said there were 80,000. And so Google may lean more towards that as being the actual proper source versus what somebody else may have said on Twitter or whatever.
Jason [37:59]: I love the idea that you had 80,000 people at your conference though. That’s great.
Steve [38:03]: I would love that too. That would mean I wouldn’t have to work on the farm anymore.
Steve [40:06]: So we are going to ask you one more question about corroboration because that also ties in with the reconciliation. When you start looking at corroborating data, because obviously you’re going to have different sources with different information. A lot of these sites are not very welcoming to having data corrected on their websites. We’ll take Wikipedia as a prime example. They will publish what they publish and no matter how much you present to them, they rarely want to make those changes. Do you have a process or do you just ignore some of that and try to combat it with more correct data than what they have in the hopes that they eventually change it or do you know a guy at the table that you talk to?
Jason [40:59]: Well, as you might say, the problem with Wikipedia is, I mean, a lot of people think, oh, I’ll create a Wikipedia page, get myself a knowledge panel. And pretty much, if you create yourself a Wikipedia page, you will get a knowledge panel. But Rand Fishkin was on my Kalicube Tuesday show. And he said he got his Wikipedia page deleted because they got it all wrong. And it turns out once you don’t have a Wikipedia page, you regain control. If you allow somebody to create or you let that page grow or happen or you encourage it even, you lose control because Google believes Wikipedia much more easily than it believes other sources at the moment, at least.
[41:37] A few years ago, it was pretty much a hundred percent Wikipedia, Musicbrainz, IMDB, and these other trusted databases. So you were really at their mercy. Now you’re not. So if you’re thinking about building a Wikipedia page for your company, I would suggest, don’t, it’s a lot of work. It probably won’t stick. And if it does stick, you’ve lost control. You’ll do better building up that kind of corroboration for the reconciliation on your own site and on different sources that are relevant to your industry. And you would be surprised at how powerful a great geo industry entity relevant site is for your knowledge panel and your knowledge graph presence.
[42:17] So from that perspective with Wikipedia, if you have that problem, you need to get it corrected because Google would tend to weight that much more heavily. And there are companies who do it. I’ve met a couple, I don’t do it myself. I don’t really like getting involved in Wikipedia for a lot of reasons. But yeah, getting it corrected, there are companies that do that, if you don’t have one, you can save yourself the trouble and just create a knowledge panel without Wikipedia.
[42:46] Even without Wikidata, Wikidata is really helpful and the notability guidelines are much lower, whatever you do with Wikidata, don’t start creating a Wiki data entry until you have enough corroborative sources from third party sites that you can point to from Wikidata. When you add the information you point to corroboration to prove what you’re saying, then they don’t delete it. If you just create something and you can’t point to any third party, reliable authoritative source that they can easily understand. And that’s another trick they need to be able to see. It needs to be obvious that it’s relevant and authoritative and it needs to be immediately obvious to them without them having to dig into the tiny content in the page, because obviously they don’t want to spend lots of time and their knee jerk reaction is to click set for deletion or vote for deletion, which is terrible.
[43:37] So yeah and there are things that people don’t really think about, IMDB is pretty good. They’re less difficult about that stuff. And I think it’s the INSI. It might be the ISNI, I can’t remember. It’s a database of information based in the UK and it brings together different sources and builds that relationship. And they’re pretty cool in the sense that if you submit something and they can see that it’s true, they will publish it. There’s also DBpedia. So the reconciliation idea is, up until three years ago, you were at Wikipedia’s mercy and now you’re not.
[44:17] Build your own corroboration on third party authority sources, make sure your own sources, all corroborate, they’re all consistent. Build your entity home, make sure they will point back to your entity home, grab that authority and trustworthiness and bank yourself in Google’s little brain. And you can feed it pretty much whatever you want, which is maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean?
Steve [44:40]: Yes. And the third-party sources is always the big challenge for a lot of people. Especially when they’re the primary source and they feel like they should just be believed.
Jason [44:56]: Well, we do have that tendency. I mean, I had a client years ago and I was saying, why would Google rank you number one? They said, we are the best. And I saying, well, where does it say that anywhere? They said, we say it on our site and you’re going, yeah, you wouldn’t believe your kid if they said that or the baker next door, you need some supporting evidence from third parties. And so does Google. And I think people fail to realize that what they see in front of them every day, isn’t obvious to everybody else, either because they can’t see it or because they don’t see it every day. And so you need to remember that there’s lots of repetition that needs to be done, especially for Google.
Steve [45:34] Fantastic. Jason, I want to thank you so, so much for your time here on our show today. You’ve been amazing. We also want to go ahead and provide you with a minute or two, if you want to go ahead and promote something, promote Kalicube, tell us more about it.
Jason [45:51]: Well, thank you for having me. That was delightful. I love it when people ask me about this stuff. My promotion is for the book here, just out in January, we’ve had lots of – I’ve had lots of great feedback about it. Marie Hays read it and was really kind. And I was saying, oh, it’s for beginners because for me I wrote it so that brand managers and marketers could get their head around it without knowing anything about SEO. And I was saying to Marie, why would you read it, you know so much about this stuff? And she said, it’s a really interesting new perspective. And I wish I’d seen this perspective four or five years ago, which is incredibly touching.
[46:26] And I think that’s the important thing is the book is for any marketer, but I hope that the perspective it’s bringing, which is the perspective I’ve been explaining today is fresh, helpful to people and it gives that approach to Google, which is, it’s not the big, scary machine. It’s a child that we’re educating. We’re educating it about our little corner of the universe. We educate it little by little, and if we can do that, then we can bring Google over to our side, to present us to our audience in the way we want, which is what it wants to do. It wants to present us in an authentic manner to our audience. And if we can do that, then we’re already on a good step to start building an SEO strategy and a digital marketing strategy. As I say, build your digital marketing strategy from the brand SERP out. And that is what the book says.
Steve [47:18]: Fantastic. We’ll go ahead and put a link to that in the description here, in the video. I want to take a moment to thank everybody for showing up and watching the show again. As always, we appreciate it. If you like the video or if don’t like the video – engagement is always good. The algorithm doesn’t care if you like it or not, they care if you engage. And we all know that as marketers and we would definitely love it if you would subscribe to the show and with that, Jason, thank you very much. It’s been great having you on the show.
Jason [47:54]: Thank you very much, Steve. It’s been an absolute delight. Charming and delightful.
Jason: Bye bye
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