Catch Jason Barnard on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns: [00:00:10] We're going to be talking about a lot of different things today on the #PirateBroadcast™ and having a great time because that's what we do here. So welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™. We got Jason in the house, a new pirate, good day, my friend.
Jason Barnard: [00:00:24] Good day, Russ. Thank you very much for having me.
Russ Johns: [00:00:27] It's a pleasure. And we were talking before the show about music, musicians and deciding whether it's punk folk or folk punk.
Jason Barnard: [00:00:37] And it's definitely punk folk because you put them together and it makes poke. And if you put folk punk together, it makes funk and that doesn't make sense.
Russ Johns: [00:00:45] That's easy for you to say.
Jason Barnard: [00:00:47] It's not actually, it's really difficult. I've been struggling with that for well over 30 years and I still can't get it right in my brain.
Russ Johns: [00:00:55] Oh my. So we were both musicians. We were talking about being musicians and playing music and the joy that it brought us and how you could get in the groove and how you're not always in the groove with everyone. So how did you start playing music? What was your seed and how did you get playing, starting up with a double bass, that I recall.
Jason Barnard: [00:01:16] The gang to music was slightly strange, cause I say to people I'm not... my mother's a jazz singer. And peoples are obvious. But in fact, she left when I was four and my father brought me up and he's a literary person, university teacher. So I actually didn't spend much time with my mother. So it's got very little to do with that. But what actually happened is I went to Liverpool and Liverpool University and met a guy by the guitar and he was, he'd just left the band and I talked to him and we decided to form a band called Stanley the Counting Horse, which is a really silly name for a band, but it was a silly band. And the whole basis of it was I was really thin and quite small. And I had a really big, deep voice that comes from down here. And the other day was, it was quite funny for people thinking like, where is that voice coming from? And I sang in this band for three years. And then moved to Paris. And some friends of friends said to me, do you want to be in our band? We play in the street, you can join our band. I said, , great. I'm a singer. And they said, we don't need a singer. I play a bit of guitar. They said, we don't need a guitarist. I said, what do you need? A double bass. If you buy double bass, learn to play in 30 days, you can be in the band. I bought the double bass and I learned to play in 30 days. And I was in the band.
Russ Johns: [00:02:31] Oh man. That's an interesting story. You run to Paris, join a band, learn an instrument, playing the streets.
Jason Barnard: [00:02:41] Yep. And we played in the street and actually made a decent living. It was kinda we also played in the the Metro in Paris. It's called the Metro, the underground trains. And we used to leap into the carriages play a couple of songs. Take the hat round, jump off the train again. And then we went to play in Switzerland. You make quite a lot of money playing in the street in Switzerland. And then I decided we did, I thought I really want to play proper gigs. I want to be a stadium, rock band. I think we all think we're going to do that and naively, you truly believe it. And it's so foolish and so naive, but then if you didn't, you wouldn't do it. I don't think it's like naive dreaming that keeps you going. And so I just rang up all these bars and bullied them until they accepted to have us play. And after a while, we ended up with these two where we would play all these different clubs and bars and actually ended up playing some quite big festivals, played with them pose and the man and agro who are famous French kind of Spanish roots and played on the same bill as Bob Dylan.
Russ Johns: [00:03:39] Nice.
Jason Barnard: [00:03:40] It doesn't make me a better person, but it is cool.
Russ Johns: [00:03:43] It didn't make you a better songwriter.
Jason Barnard: [00:03:46] I actually, I've written over a hundred songs. Are we were talking about recording and writing songs. I find writing songs quite painful. And I listened back to some of the first songs I wrote and they were pretty appalling.
Russ Johns: [00:03:58] . Yeah. I have some of those that I keep in the closet stored away, dark shelf.
Jason Barnard: [00:04:03] Sorry. And then you come up with a song you think I'm really proud of this? I think this is really good. And I would like to think I'm quite honest about when I've done something that's actually very good when I've done something that's actually quite embarrassing and appalling.
Russ Johns: [00:04:15] And I think really the creative process, and maybe you can agree with this or disagree, but I think the creative process, you have to start creating in order to get better, because it's like any instrument you have to practice at it. And the more you practice and you had those things that you're going that wasn't really great. Then you can understand where your voice is, where you're headed, where you're taking the next lesson and continue to improve. And that's the way life is, actually.
Jason Barnard: [00:04:41] I mean everything in life, I agree a hundred percent. You've got to start creating, make the mistakes to figure out what it is you're good at, what you're not good at, what works, what doesn't work for you, what works for you doesn't necessarily work for somebody else. A song I wrote that is bad for me, could potentially be a big hit for Britney Spears and vice versa. Who knows. We'll never know, I wouldn't have thought. And I liked the concept as well the blank sheet of paper, because it's the hardest thing is to write something on that blank sheet of paper. And the easiest thing is to then criticize it. So I tell people I work with, write something or get something down. And then the person that the client or the person you're talking to, or the partner or whatever it might be will come back and say, oh, that's rubbish. And that's the easiest part. They got the easy part, which is saying it's rubbish. And then you can work on improving it together. And you've just always got to remember, they're not criticizing you. They're looking at something and saying we can do better, but they're just expressing it very badly. .
Russ Johns: [00:05:36] Yeah. It's hard sometimes not to take things personal and you still need to work on not taking it personal because ultimately, especially when you're working with clients and creatives and people that want to do projects, it's always nice to be able to work together for the mutual goal of creating something amazing. And that's like a musician in a band. And they're all there for the same reasons. And ultimately sometimes it works really well and sometimes it doesn't work out at all.
Jason Barnard: [00:06:06] And each person brings their talents to the group and sometimes the group gels and it really works and the whole thing takes off and it's brilliant and sometimes there's infighting, but it still works away. This being a great example of inner fighting that still works. And sometimes it all just falls apart and you've got saying I need to rebuild something else. And that's human relationships. That's life, once again.
Russ Johns: [00:06:27] So now you've been doing the SERP guy, the brand SERP guy for some time now. So what was the transition? How, what was the seed saying? Okay, I'm done playing the double bass. I'm going to go do Brandon SERP. And I got one day, I think I'll be a circuit guy.
Jason Barnard: [00:06:48] Absolutely. Bans is that one day you end up standing on your own thinking where's everybody else gone, left, abandoned, except you. And that was my situation. I was standing there with the device going well, all of a sudden there's only me and I can't actually do this on my own. We all need support and help and groups and doing it on your own. There's very rarely a realistic option that side. And went into a period where I was wondering what I was going to do, and I suddenly thought I can write songs for kids. That'd be cool. So I wrote some songs for kids, went round all the record companies and they went, you can't, we can't release a record by Jason Barnard kids songs for kids. You're a punk folk musician that doesn't work. And so none of them would release them. So my wife and I created a website for kids because I'm the kind of person who thinks I'm sure this is good. Once again, I'm being honest with myself. It was good. It wasn't the best thing in the world, but it was good.
Russ Johns: [00:07:43] Putting it out to the world.
Jason Barnard: [00:07:44] Yes, exactly. And we created characters and created a website. I learned flash in... like the double bass. I had a month to learn Flash. And then we released this site and we ended up with 5 million visits a month, a hundred million page views in 2007 in a month. So that's a billion pages in the year. You'll like this living on an Island in the Indian ocean, just off the coast of Madagascar called Mauritius.
Russ Johns: [00:08:10] That sounds terrible. Somebody had to do it right?
Jason Barnard: [00:08:14] Terrible. Terrible. I was the blue dog and my wife was a yellow koala and we basically ran this website and made a TV series for 10 years. Before that fell apart in its term, as these things have a tendency to do And the segue into brand SERPs was interesting because I then pitched to clients and said to them, if I can drive a million visits a month from Google to this kid's website, imagine what it can do for your business. And that's how I hooked the new clients and got my new career going. And I actually went into these meetings. Got everyone really excited. I thought that's sold. I've got that as a client. I've nailed that one. And then a lot of them wouldn't sign. And one client who did sign said, you know what we did, as soon as you walked out the room, we looked you up on Google. We search in Amazon, Google, and what came up, it was a blue dog. And you can imagine all the other people saying I'm not having a blue dog looking after my digital marketing strategy. So I then decided to do was say, I need to push the blue dog to a minor possession and boosts up the kind of credibility or being a digital marketing expert by writing for search engine journal. Search engine land, getting all these kinds of the digital marketing, building your authority and getting the blue dog, Les to be this front and center thing. And more to be part of my backstory. And it occurred to me that my conversion rate, I don't really know exactly what it was, but let's say it was 50% before and went up to 80% because I was convincing when people search my name.
Russ Johns: [00:09:50] So for those that may not be familiar with search and some of the terms Oh, sorry. Yeah. Let's go back to the foundation of what SERP actually represents.
Jason Barnard: [00:10:02] Very good. Yes. Search engine results page. I tend to say it as this kind of word that everybody knows. And of course they don't.
Russ Johns: [00:10:09] In the knowledge inside the sphere of knowledge, we're all so familiar with the terms right? Outside of the sphere, you're lost. It's what are you talking about?
Jason Barnard: [00:10:18] That's what he's talking about. It's funny. I can actually remember the day I looked up the word or the acronym SERP and it wasn't that long ago. I would love to say it was back in 2000, but it's not, I was blue dog and blue dogs don't care. So it was literally when I started working on this, I thought, okay what doesSERP actually mean? So I started to become interested in the mechanics and the aspects of how Google and other search engines like Bing actually function, how they decide what to show the users when they use it search in these search engine results page. And the more I looked at it, the more I became interested in how does Google decide what it shows when you search somebody's name or their brand name? Because that search is informational or navigational, you're saying either want to go to the site or find the business on Google maps, or I want information. And how does Google make that balance and how do we influence that balance to make sure it reflects positively accurately unconvincingly honors for our audience.
Russ Johns: [00:11:26] That's a great question. So you obviously learned the answer.
Jason Barnard: [00:11:31] It started as a question and it became in my mind afterwards as I went through that an answer. But yes, it is a great question. And I'm glad I asked myself that question because it leads me onto the answer which is actually in terms of SEO. I think a lot of SEOs think this is so simple. It's not worth dealing with. It's small fry, play, whatever you would call it, but I would argue, number one, the people searching your brand name, the most important people to your business because they're people who are either doing business with you or going to do business, where they are thinking about doing business with you. And secondly, the techniques you're using to influence Google for your brands. So exactly the same ones you use for traditional SEO, which is to try to rank the generic keywords, like buy red shoes or blue widgets or whatever it might be. But in a very controlled environment, which allows you to understand which actions intending to have which results. So it's a really good place to learn SEO.
Russ Johns: [00:12:30] Yeah. I know. After having been involved in technology and I started an email in 95. So it's been a journey and I never really enjoyed SEO and tweaking and tuning keywords and keywords long tail research and all of that kind of stuff. I just never really enjoyed it. And I admired people like yourself that are able and capable of looking at something and saying, hey, if we tweak a little here and make an adjustment here, we're going to make some improvements. And then looking at the results and analyzing what the traffic looks like before and after an AB analysis and all that kind of information. So do you have a certain process, Jason, that you like to go through that you're comfortable with or that you can go back to and know that there's going to be improvements?
Jason Barnard: [00:13:24] Yeah actually the last seven years, I've been doing this for seven years since I started looking at my own brands...
Russ Johns: [00:13:29] In French, you started this whole process in French. You're speaking another language.
Jason Barnard: [00:13:34] Yeah, bonjour, I'm French. I am in fact French and I speak French. My wife is French. My daughter is French English, but that's beside the point. I have spent the last seven years doing it in a very haphazard manner, ad hoc, because nobody's ever really, I don't know of anybody who's done it. And I haven't read very much about it. And people do branded search all the searches around a brand like brand reviews and brand product and brand, whatever it might be. I don't know of anybody else who's looking at just the exact match brand search. And so there's, there isn't any information out. That's what I'm making it up as I go along and I spent the last seven years working for clients doing in a very ad hoc fragmented manner, trying to figure out all these different things whilst making a living, because it's quite difficult to get people to pay you to do that, right? Because people don't see the immediate value. And I, three months ago, I started working with Yost the company, as opposed to Yost the plugin. They employed me to start looking at their brands and the entities in search and I see ranking as well. Who's a bit like SEMrush. They do keyword tracking. I've been working with them too and companies that are now saying this is important and we are willing to pay you to help us with it. And what happened was I very quickly got overwhelmed with work because you can't start working for these very smart, very knowledgeable people and companies. In the ad hoc fragmented manner because they spot it a mile off and they're saying, but you're making this up as you go along. And I was going well, yeah. So what I actually did, I sat down three months ago and I wrote out the process and I've now built it into a platform which automates the whole thing or automates as much as we possibly can. So I'm releasing it this month. It's a SAS platform where we just set out for each brand step by step. What it is you need to do. To make your, what I call the Google business card. What appears when somebody Googles your brand name, make it look sexy, let's say a positive and accurate and convincing. And it's been a wonderful experience in the sense that it forces me to think, what am I actually doing? What am I actually saying? What effect does all of this have? And how can I turn it into a process that any idiot can follow? Including me playing the idiot.
Russ Johns: [00:15:59] I was just going to say, sign me up. So Howard asks is the search experience better today than it was two years ago?
Jason Barnard: [00:16:08] It's definitely better than it was 10 years ago. I would argue it depends. There's a big debate about this 10 years ago. It was 10 blue links. Google gave you a choice. It was a search engine where they gave you a choice of options. They said here's a 10 best week and find a new choose the one you think probably it looks the best.
Russ Johns: [00:16:26] I think it's down to three now. Isn't it?
Jason Barnard: [00:16:29] Yeah. And now they're actually increasingly saying, we're just going to give you the answer. So if you look at it from a user perspective, as a Google user, I'm getting the answer often right there on Google's page. It will. If I say, how old is Jason Barnard? He will say 54 years old. I don't need to visit Jason Barnards website to actually find that out. So from a user perspective, that's great user experience. . From a brand exposure, from a brand's perspective, I'm losing that visit.
Russ Johns: [00:16:58] Yeah, because that's going to reduce the traffic because the information is already asked and answered and that's I'm sure because Google primarily is an advertising company that wants the eyeballs to stay on their platform. Just like Facebook, just like anywhere else.
Jason Barnard: [00:17:14] I was going to say that all of these kind of big platforms of walled guard or trying to be walled gardens, they're trying to keep you on the YouTube algorithm promotes things that keep people on YouTube. Same with Facebook. Same with Twitter. Google, I would argue is very slightly different in the sense that it's not so much they're trying to keep you on Google. So per se, although obviously they are, they want you to keep using Google, but how did they do that? How did they keep using Google? Is they get you to the, so to your question or the solution to your problem as efficiently as possible. And I did some interviews with the people at bang, the team leads at being now, this is cool. The people at Google won't tell you all the secrets and the people being have got nothing to lose. So they share more. So I did a series of interviews with them last year, and I'm going to be doing another one in a month or so where obviously they don't tell us all the secrets, but they're more open than Google. And I learned absolutely boatloads from them. Brilliant bunch of people. And the one thing that kept coming up was we want to get the user to the solution, to their problem as efficiently. And the word is efficient. It's not fast. It's efficient. . Efficiently as possible. If that means telling you Jason Barnard's agent right there in the results, that's what we'll do because we want to satisfy our users. And one thing I would suggest is that people who are complaining about Google doing this. Complaining about Google doing exactly what they themselves do for their own users, which is try to satisfy them as efficiently as possible.
Russ Johns: [00:18:38] We do that on our website, as well.
Jason Barnard: [00:18:39] Exactly. So we're all fighting the same game. And one thing I, if you can take a step back and you say, actually these people are Google's users, not mine. It's just that there is a subset of Google's users who are my audience, who I am asking Google to recommend me as the solution when they a problem, or ask a question to Google and it's Google their trusting, and it's Google, who's doing the recommending. I hate to say it, but a bit of empathy for what Google is trying to do. And I think your strategy vis-a-vis Google will probably improve in the end..
Russ Johns: [00:19:13] Yeah, I love it. I just want to give a shout out. Tracie, Producer of the #PirateBroadcast, she brought you a great experience today, Jason.
Jason Barnard: [00:19:21] How are you, Tracie? And not really meet you, but meet you.
Russ Johns: [00:19:24] Good morning, Angie. Angie's a long time supporter of the #PirateBroadcast. Howard Kaufman. Is it really a box that is black in color, making reference to it's a black hole. Really. I think it's a really black hole, Howard. And then Cathi Spooner says, good morning pirates. I want to ask you some tactical questions in terms of structure. I know. There's some basic foundational principles that a lot of people use in SEO and structuring your website and using tags and H1 and all these complicated things. And really, is there something that a business owner could just think about and just implement that would potentially make a difference in improvement if they incrementally do it? Cause content creation. I create a lot of content. The more I create, the better off I am in terms of people seeing me and building authority and being recognized for a certain thing, not a dog, but a SERP guy. Same thing. It's you have put enough information out there, that is an authority. In that particular space where people can search and you can be found. So are there basics that we need to think about as a business owner that's not involved in this process?
Jason Barnard: [00:20:50] I think the most important piece of advice I can give anybody is to say, don't think Google is stupid. And don't think that if Google sends people to your site and your site contains rubbish information or bad content or unhelpful content that you're going to satisfy anybody, it's not this kind of quick, rich, quick win, rich, get rich Gold digging thingy that works at the snap of a button. It's a long process. It's a marketing process. So you've got to come back and say, I'm doing marketing. I'm marketing to a group of people for whom I am relevant and helpful. I'm offering them a solution to a problem, and I need to create content that provides that solution efficiently. So we come back to that idea. Then what I need to do is say, how can I package this content, this solution, and present it to Google. So Google will then recommend it to its users. So it's a question of not thinking I need to create content for Google. It's saying I need to create it for my audience, my real audience, my core audience, and then package it for Google so that Google understands that this is the best solution. So it's really a question of packaging for Google. And if you're making content and you're expecting Google to make that content profitable, I would argue you could do well to take a step back and say, oh, I need to create content that is profitable on its own. , but it's profitable. I Obviously YouTube is part of Google, but on YouTube on all these social channels, it's pulling people in. It's a marketing aspect of my marketing that stands alone and stands firmly and solidly alone making my company money. And then if I can package it up for Google, I get a bonus of Google sending me some extra traffic, which is a vast number of users. And once again, remembering that it's only a small proportion of their users who are actually our true audience. And there is no point in trying to get Google or trick Google into sending you users who are not actually your true audience, you need to focus on your audience. And that's in marketing in general. And what I like to say is I wrote an article. If you want to look it up, it's a search engine journal. And it's basically, I say SEO in a nutshell, and it's saying there are three things you need to consider. If you think about what Google is struggling with and needs to understand who you are, what you do and who your audience is, then it needs to understand that you are credible compared to your competitors, who it has also understood who they are and what they offer. Then you need to make sure that it can deliver all. Then it sees that you can deliver. The solution to its users problems and everything you do packaging for Google needs to serve one or more of those three pillars. If you're not helping Google understand who you are, what you do and who your audience says, if you're not helping it to understand that you're more credible than the competition. And if you're not helping it to understand them to believe that you can deliver or helping it to deliver, even if it's on the syrup, if you're not helping it with one of those three things, you're not doing a good job in terms of Google packaging for Google.
Russ Johns: [00:24:00] As Anna says, also understand your audience.
Jason Barnard: [00:24:04] I should've said that right from the start, shouldn't I? Thank you, Anna, for bringing that corrective piece of information. First thing before you do anything else is understand your audience.
Russ Johns: [00:24:14] It's really, sometimes just like a musician playing music, you can't play for everyone. You do have to decide what that audience needs to look like and who you like to work with and who you want to serve and create valuable information, create valuable content, create value in the world and put it out there, and that's what the #PirateBroadcast does. My goal is to highlight people like yourself that are doing some great work and be able to say, check it out, connect with Jason, make sure that you let them know that you're a pirate, make that conversation start the conversation because as it's just one conversation away can make the difference in your day.
Jason Barnard: [00:24:56] Yeah. One thing that I do now that I'm thinking about understanding your audience. I found really empowering about brand SERPs is that Google potentially understands your audience incredibly well. And if what you're seeing, when you search your exact match brand name, doesn't correspond to what you think your audience should be seeing. Google has misunderstood your brand. . Or you've misunderstood your audience. And I would hope it's the former that Google has misunderstood your brand. And if that's the case, you're dead in the water in SEO. If Google hasn't understood what you're offering and to whom, how can it possibly even consider offering you up as a solution to its users. So search your own brand name and say, does that represent accurately and positively and convincingly who I think I am and what I think my audience should be seeing when they're searching my brand name. And if the answer is no get to work, making sure that Google can understand what it should be showing to your audience? I like that.
Russ Johns: [00:25:57] I like that. Good thing we recorded that Jason,
Jason Barnard: [00:26:01] I hope he did press the record button and we started.
Russ Johns: [00:26:03] And so it's so amazing that we can learn something every day. I try to create something every day. I try to learn something every day, try to improve who I was yesterday. And it's really about how we can actually experience. Life and it's just like Google getting tons of information. There is all kinds of noise going out there. We just have to be aware of who we want to have the conversation with aware of how we want to have a conversation and deliver that message and that value. So it's really important for us to narrow that down and, the riches are in the niches as they say. And it's probably better understood that once you get the message crystal clear and everybody that wants it understands it, then you're in that sweet spot and Google understands it. Your community understands it. Everybody understands it. And then, you know what to say, when you need to say something.
Jason Barnard: [00:26:57] I love the fact Russ that we learned something new every day to quote yourself back at yourself. I love the way you put that.
Russ Johns: [00:27:05] Thank you. Randy's here. Kindness officer, great insights, Jason. Anna says good morning. And she also said, you're welcome, for that insight. So it's been a wonderful time, Jason, thank you so much for sharing some insight into SERP, talking about music life and how some of your adventures unfolded from being a young dog to a vintage SERP branding expert. So go check it out, Jason, and connect with him. Tell him you're a pirate. Start the conversation, ask the questions, build your authority and let's get moving. All right.
Jason Barnard: [00:27:44] Brilliant stuff. That was absolutely delightful, Russ. Thank you very much.
Russ Johns: [00:27:48] So as always everybody and do the Google thing, the social media thing, if you like, comment and share, if you found this interesting, share it with a friend that might be interested in learning more about this subject and talking to Jason, this is how we operate at the #PirateBroadcast and the #PirateSyndicate. Share it out. Be genuine. Help someone out today. So I really appreciate you because #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Oh, hang on.
Jason Barnard: [00:28:19] I thought it was a frightened expression.
Russ Johns: [00:28:22] I love it, Jason. I love it.
Jason Barnard: [00:28:24] Shame on me. I'm sorry.
Russ Johns: [00:28:27] Thank you so much for being here, Jason. Appreciate you. Take care everyone.
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