Interview with Jason Barnard (the Brand SERP Guy) – CEO at Kalicube (@jasonmbarnard)

How did you start digital? What have you been doing before? 

I made my living playing double bass in a folk-punk band in the 90s (here’s our version of The Ace of Spades). The band folded, so in 1998 I learned Flash, built games and cartoons for kids and launched a website that had 5 million visits a month in 2008 (here’s me as a blue dog singing about colour).

A million of those were from Google, so when I moved on, I figured SEO would be a good bet for a new career. Luckily, 11 years on, and it turns out I was right ! With the bonus that I LOVE the work πŸ™‚

What you really hate about digital and what you really love about it? 

I love the fact that it is a vast subject that is moving incredibly fast… and that however much I learn, every single conversation I have with other experts, colleagues and clients brings new ideas, options and avenues to explore.

I hate the fact that I will never fully explore all the ideas, options and avenues people share with me πŸ™‚

What is the future of SEO?

In terms of strategy, SEO can no longer go it alone. As we move forwards, it will only bring commercial value to brands if they use it intelligently as part of a wider digital marketing strategy.

To fit into a wider strategy, SEO practitioners will need to adapt their techniques and tactics. 

What Next for the SERPs?

The ten blue links are slowly disappearing and being replaced with multimedia elements that increasingly provide the answer right there on the SERP. That changes everything.

For example, we need to look to optimise for users’ on-SERP experience, start to include on-SERP KPIs, push out more multimedia content, consider what is important for ranking for different types of content… etc etc
Looking at that in a wider context, Google is starting to provide bespoke, machine-driven, context-specific multimedia results.

And that is set to expand as brands adapt their content strategies and create the content that serves those needs. You talk a lot about Brand SERPs. Why?

A brand’s website is just one representation of that brand, alongside others such as its social accounts, Google SERPs, review sites, news, images, knowledge graphs etc.

Brands must not only be aware of this, but also actively manage these representations as part of their digital strategy strategy. But this task becomes very big, very quickly. The immediate (difficult) questions are where do we start and how do we measure? 

That is where Brand SERPs come in. The results Google throws up for a brand is a great way to take the pulse / gauge the temperature (measure), as well as a great indicator of what your priorities should be (where to start). I have built a tool that takes care of this:

Your 3 favourite conferences? 

SMS Sydney – I travelled half way round the world and back on a jokey suggestion from Kate Toon, and ended up with a scoop on how Google’s ranking functions from Gary Illyes (write up on Search Engine Journal).

Now that I have digested it, my outlook on SEO and its role in a digital strategy has evolved quite dramatically (see questions 3, 4 and 5 πŸ™‚

SEOcamp Paris – I get to host / MC the English language track, which I love doing.

Brighton SEO – My first. I thought they were all like that !

Conferences to attend second half of 2019?

Ungagged Los Angeles, Pubcon Las Vegas, Chiang Mai

Jason BARNARD speaking

The 3 tools you use most?

  • Search Console
  • Screaming Frog
  • SEMrush

Films that inspired you? 

My top 5 are

  • Some Like it Hot (for Jack Lemmon on the double bass)
  • Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (marked the end of one era, and the start of another) 
  • Anvil (absolutely brilliant, and encouraged me back into music)
  • Robin Hood (made me want to make cartoons)
  • G-Force (home appliances with smart tech and eSims try to take over the world, but are thwarted by guinea pigs. Warning: we may need the guinea pigs yet.)

People to follow? 

Bill Slawski @bill_slawski – incredibly smart guy – I love his approach and all the insights he surfaces

Dawn Anderson @dawnaderso – incredibly smart lady who shares amazing stuff and explains so well

Anton Shulke @anton_shulke – if you follow him, you are indirectly following most (if not all) the groovy people. 

Jason Barnard

Jason Barnard (the Brand SERP Guy) is the founder and CEO at Kalicube, a digital marketing agency based in France. He is also a podcast host and regular contributor to major SEO publications such as Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land.

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