Journey as an digital marketer

1. How you started from UpToTen and became the Brand SERP Guy?

I will explain briefly about UpToTen, it's a website for children aged up to 10 which is a brilliant name we found. I played the role of a blue dog in a cartoon on the website UpToTen. The cartoon delivered a billion page views in 2007. It's a huge success, and then one day it all went horribly wrong for business reasons and I had to find a new job so I converted myself to a digital marketer. The problem was that when I pitched for work, people would search my name and at the top it would say Jason Barnard is a cartoon blue dog. Companies won't sign a contract with me because they wouldn't want to give their marketing strategy to a cartoon blue dog. I wanted to change Google's perspective about me from the "cartoon blue dog" to a "professional, authoritative and hugely credible digital marketer". That's how I became obsessed by the search engine results page of your brand name or personal name on Google and it is the single most important thing about your branding or your personal branding strategy and I would argue for corporations it's where you should start with your entire digital marketing strategy.

2. Can you explain in simple words what is Brand SERP and a knowledge panel?

The term SERP, S-E-R-P, is a Search Engine Results Page, so that's the result you see on Google when you search on Google or on Bing for that matter. A brand SERP is the search engine results page for a search on a brand name, a company name, a personal name. The brand SERP is very simple when somebody is researching you or navigating to your website, they will search your name on Google, and that is your brand SERP. Then the knowledge panel is the information box on the right hand side when you search on desktop. Some might have it and some may don't. I would argue that having the knowledge panel is vitally important because that knowledge panel is Google's understanding and representation of the facts about your company, your brand or you as a person, and that helps you to be assessed as credible.

3. How have you seen marketing on Google evolve over time?

I started in 1998 when Google was incorporated. The same year, just 2 months after Google's incorporation, I launched my company. I've grown up with Google on the web and Google's grown up with me. We started off with the 10 blue links, the tactics and the strategies were very simplistic. Around 2012 we got universal search which included things like videos and images, and then the knowledge panel came along. We then needed to start thinking not just about web pages with text, but also video and images and how Google would rank them, and insert them into the content. There is a whole concept called "Darwinism in Search" which is the survival of the fittest and I created the approach. We've gone from pure text 10 blue links, to multimedia from multiple sources. You need a healthy digital ecosystem, a healthy website, and multimedia contents.

Operating as an digital marketer

1. What are the top three things for a brand to improve its SERP ranking on Google?

I'll talk about what you shouldn't do and then what you should do. What you shouldn't do, is looking for top of funnel keywords and try to rank for them, you would want to niche down. So the first thing you do for your digital strategy and your SEO strategy, is to search your own brand, and think of what results you expect to see. List what you want to change, and then you can start building your digital strategy and improving your Brand SERP. We call this the Kalicube Process. What you're doing by correcting your brand SERP is correcting your own digital ecosystem. That way you'll start to drive more business and revenue for your company.

2. How do you see new technologies impacting the brand SERP in today's time?

One thing that is really interesting is that Google updates very rarely impact the brand SERP very much. Once you've built your brand SERP, they're stable. Even if somebody isn't looking after their brand SERP, its not going to change drastically. Generally speaking when there's a Google update, none of our clients are ever affected on the brand SERP side and very rarely affected on the ranking side. Because the Brand SERP is just 10 results in the knowledge panel, it's never going to get drowned by Generative AI so it's not going to be a problem. AI generated text doesn't have much personalities even though it's trained, and would often be deemed as boring.

Pain points as an digital marketer

1. What are your pain points in dealing with clients today compared to a few years ago?

My pain point with clients has always been the same. They want lots of growth and traffic very very quickly, and when you deliver that, they want more and more. Convincing clients to focus on brand first can be very difficult, especially for companies who've grown up online. When people come to us, generally speaking, their pain point is that they've been burnt by multiple digital marketing agencies who promise a lot and deliver very little.

Future of Digital Marketing

1. Looking ahead, what do you believe are the biggest opportunities and challenges in the marketing and SEO industry?

Well, the biggest challenge is going to be generative AI both in terms of how we produce content, but also how we market ourselves through search engines. So the biggest challenge is going to be to adapt our SEO strategies and our digital strategies to fit into the generative AI world of these search engines. When they become assistive engines, what happens is that you start a conversation with the machines. The next challenge will be to reproduce your funnel on Google and Bing. That's that's a huge task but also a huge opportunity. A lot of people are scared of the generative AI aspect of search but I'm really excited. This is a huge opportunity for people who get it right because your competitors are going to get it wrong. I think there is opportunity for the small players as the big players are going to struggle to adapt. So start now!

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