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Video: Obtaining a Personal Brand Panel – A Discussion with Jason Barnard

By June 7, 2021 No Comments
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As an author, scholar, expert and even business owner becomes more prominent in their industry, and authoritative in their knowledge – the Google SERP can reflect their trust in that knowledge by showing a personal brand panel – or personal knowledge panel.

For example – here’s Mike’s

Jason Barnard of Kalicube joins Mike and Mary as they discuss tactics and strategies any professional can attempt in an effort to improve the search results for their own name.

Transcript:

Mike Blumenthal:
All right. So with that, we’re going to switch over to Jason Barnard who runs Kalicube. It specializes in tools and I believe consulting around brand and personal knowledge graphs. And we wanted to bring him on to talk about, sort of the process involved in creating a personal or brand knowledge graph for businesses that don’t yet have them. Clearly we’ve seen in local, the importance of the knowledge graph growing dramatically since 2012. And it’s happening across virtually every aspect that Google is bringing into the knowledge graph, whether it’s brands or individuals or events or products, Google is using it as a way to tell more in the SERPs rather than less. So why don’t you let people know who you are, Jason, and we’ll go from there?

Jason Barnard:
I’m Jason Barnard, I call myself the brand SERP guy because I started looking at brand SERPs a few years ago and I thought, “Ooh, I’ll look at brand SERPs for a couple of months, and then it will be over because I would have figured it all out.” And five years later I’m still delving into it, and finding new things that I hadn’t expected. And I think one of the most interesting aspects of brand SERPs, and for me a brand SERP is what appears when somebody searches your exact brand name and for local business, that’s been important for years.

Jason Barnard:
You guys say it’s your homepage that Google result. I say it’s your business card from a less local perspective. But phenomenally important, and what’s been really interesting is the entity elements into that, including the knowledge panel on the right hand side, the entity boxes and carousels and events. I mean, you just mentioned events. I think coming from a local perspective, what Google has done with Google My Business was get human curated data set of businesses where they created a Google My Businesses, everyone came in and edited them, you had control over it.

Jason Barnard:
And with events that isn’t possible outside of Google My Business panel, you actually have to feed the machine and the machine needs to understand and I think that’s where we’re now heading with pretty much all of these entities, be it people, companies, brands, events, software, or books or authors, whatever it might be. If it’s a thing that Google can understand, it’s letting go of the idea of human-curated listings and knowledge graphs like Google My Business, Google Maps, and moving towards a machine-driven one.

Mike Blumenthal:
Just to note, Google Maps has not been human-curated for 15 years. They only bring curation in under duress of a government investigation or a newspaper report. The rest of it’s totally algorithmic. You somehow think that the local business knowledge graph is different. It’s the same. It’s just, we had it first is the only difference. So it functions like every other knowledge graph in a largely autonomous way. And in many ways it was where Google developed some of their understanding of how to store things in the knowledge graph in large scale data sets all that [crosstalk 00:03:16] sort of stuff.

Mike Blumenthal:
So it’s the same in the sense that it’s fully automated, but they do give people a little more chance to update it because it has to be current when you’re driving someplace and if the hours are wrong, or the place is incorrectly located, they do give humans an opportunity to let Google know that but whereas if George Clooney is alive and it says he’s dead or he’s dead and it says he’s alive, not too many people are going to be hurt by that.

Jason Barnard:
No, sure. A hundred percent. I mean, Google My Business, you can actually change things and it will appear immediately. The machine will not override you because it thinks you’re wrong. Whereas in the knowledge graph in the Google knowledge panels, proper in inverted commas, the machine will simply correct you if it thinks you’re wrong, even if a human being has updated it. So from my perspective, there is a difference in that you’re looking at-

Mike Blumenthal:
Yes, there’s a difference in how it’s curated, but only because of the need in the local knowledge graph for more current information, not because there’s a functional difference in terms of how they

Mike Blumenthal:
Create.

Jason Barnard:
An example of baseball scores, where obviously it’s not incredibly important, but people will stop using Google, if the baseball score isn’t up to date. I mean, I’ll use football because I’m in Europe and work what we’re interested in European football soccer. If Mohammed Salah has just scored a goal, I expect it shown a knowledge panel. And that is time-sensitive. They’ve actually done a pretty good job of that. And I would imagine that’s where they’re going is that the machine is going to be running it more and more, but that’s obviously predicting the future.

Mike Blumenthal:
Yeah. Although speaking of predicting the future for those of you who I think we mentioned this last week, but there is an article that Google researchers wrote called rethinking search, making experts out of Dillon tons, where they refer to the knowledge graph as dilettantes. In other words, it’s just snippets of information, where they want to go is to be able to literally write a Wikipedia article in real-time with images and references. So at least that’s what the vision they articulate in this document. And that ties in with what they were talking about at Google IO last week with MUM, {unk}, and images, all getting smarter, the ability to understand what’s in text, the ability to automatically write text, and the ability to understand what’s in images and display them based on queries. So relates to that in the sense that it not so much prediction is clearly where Google’s going. Let’s talk about creating a brand graph though for let’s take a business that doesn’t have one or a person that doesn’t have one say, Mary Bowling wants a personal knowledge graph to show up for her name. What would be the steps she takes to do that?

Jason Barnard:
The first step that I think people tend to skip it is to decide who you are, what you’re doing, where you live on the web, and it’s what I’m calling an entity home. You are calling it a canonical for an entity. That’s basically saying me Mary, or this particular Mary Bowling, because there are many Mary Bowlings and there is a certain ambiguity that Google, you need to tell Google or convince Google that the specific place it needs to look to get the information from the horse’s mouth, is a specific webpage on a specific site. And once it’s done that, I can do what John Mueller’s calling reconciliation, which is bringing together the fragmented information it’s finding around the web, and making sense of it into one kind of fact. And as you said, the idea that it understands enough facts to be able to start expressing itself in the form of a knowledge panel.

Mike Blumenthal:
So what role does Wiki data play in that because it seemed critical. I just recently worked on getting my own panel and I got one, but it seemed like Wiki data plays a significant role in letting Google know that I am an entity of some ma

Mike Blumenthal:
Whatever.

Jason Barnard:
Yeah. Wiki data has a lot of power. I mean, I would argue, Wikipedia is interesting, but Wiki data is more important in the sense that it’s formatted in a way a machine can understand it better. There’s less of a notability that needs to get in there. You might not deserve a Wikipedia article, but you might deserve a Wiki data page, but it’s not actually strictly necessary. It depends on the entity. It depends on what it is you do. For example, authors will typically have a knowledge panel without having a Wiki data page, but Wiki, sorry, the knowledge panel will come from Google books. Basically, my vision of this is that Google has multiple vertical knowledge graphs, including a vertical that is Google books and another one that’s Google scholar and others, Google images, and other as Google my business and the other is the knowledge graph proper, which is the one that I think that trying to fill up.

Jason Barnard:
And from that perspective, when you were talking about mum, which is their new kind of technology, one of the leaps forward they’ve made is that mum is able to connect the image knowledge graph with the website, the webpage, the web index knowledge graph. And it hasn’t been able to actually connect these verticals before. And I think that’s kind of something that’s going to be increasingly important is how Google is managing to correct the verticals, and potentially move different verticals into the main knowledge graph. So from that perspective, interesting, if you’re an author, you can probably rely on Google books. If you’re a scholar or you’ve published scholarly papers, you can probably rely on Google scholars. If you’re not, then you would tend to look towards Wiki data. If you’re a film star or a music star, you can rely on things like INDB, the cumulative information that these curated databases provide. I N D B music brains Discogs will tend to feed the knowledge graph quite effectively. So Wiki data is a good source, yes.

Mike Blumenthal:
To some extent, this comes down to Google’s trust in books or trust in IMDV correct or trust in Wiki data, or trusting with

Jason Barnard:
Google books are something out in. And so obviously it’s easier for it to, to trust its own information, whereas time to be a third party.

Mike Blumenthal:
So, interestingly, sorry, go ahead. Mary.

Mary Bowling:
What

Mary Bowling:
Do you see as the main things that low, small local businesses need to concentrate on in order to grow their knowledge pimp?

Jason Barnard:
Right.

Jason Barnard:
I mean, what I’ve seen with Calico prom and I’ve been tracking 70,000 brands and people, and some, some of them are local companies, is that you now have a situation where you’ll have a Google my business panel and you will have a knowledge panel. And the two are living kind of in, I was going to say harmony, but not necessarily in harmony. And sometimes you’ll get the Google, my business panel above, and then the links through to see results about it and click on it and it shows you the knowledge panel. I mean, I think that Mike we’ve talked about it a few times is that the two will merge at times that if Google can be confident that it’s the same entity, it will tend to merge them. But I think kind of this is all terribly new from a local business perspective.

Jason Barnard:
I would argue that, although it’s not important today, that it’s a good idea to start thinking about how Google is going to pull these two knowledge graphs together, or the multiple knowledge guts, the multiple verticals together. Google my business, in my opinion, will become part of the overall knowledge graph because Google can’t afford to not connect the verticals together. And just, just to be really clear, this isn’t something that’s going to happen in the, in the very near future, but it’s something perhaps we might want to start thinking about. And it comes down to maps I mean, I’ve always been terribly jarred, not always been terribly just, I’m now terribly jealous of the local search community because you’ve been doing maps for years. And a lot of what we’re trying to do at category pro is doing maps on a fact basis with corroboration, from multiple sources, with the entity home so that the machine can go around. It can actually do the reconsideration, but John’s talking about

Mike Blumenthal:
So I would make a couple of points to your question, Mary firstly, there’s the, whether the brand panel shows or whether the local panel shows for a business is largely dependent upon the location of the searcher and how powerful the location panel is relative to that location of the searcher. And sometimes the brand panel isn’t very strong. So for a business, a local business, it may not make sense to have a brand panel, but for a business that has a really prominent owner, it may make sense for the owner to have a brand panel. So that, like in the case of Miriam’s article about the business owner in Lawrence, Kansas who speaks and writes, he’s done books, Danny Kane, I think is his name. He probably already has a brand or a personal panel. His business probably does too. And the two, it’s not clear to me that a personal and a local panel can ever merge. Can they? Or does it have to be a brand panel and local for a merger?

Mike Blumenthal:
I mean, if you could merge them, then it would be a powerful, combined view. And we see that occasionally like I saw it on a hospital chain I worked with, or they had a Wikipedia article on the head who was confused about where the brand panels should go. We finally got it to associate with their primary hospital listing and that made the listing stronger. And it was much more information. It was very powerful. So I think we can merge them in businesses. It’s not clear you can merge an individual and panel and a local business.

Jason Barnard:
Yeah. Andrea

Jason Barnard:
Penny from word lifts has been doing that as well with the idea that you kind of bring these things together, bring them to the knowledge panel and the Google, my business together, so they merged, but with a person, it would be a little illogical because the knowledge panel contains one entity. The idea is that from what my perspective is, the knowledge panel represents the personal. It represents the business and the business is not the person. That’s two separate entities.

Mike Blumenthal:
Right? Although you can, like I said see brand and business stuff, which can be the same entity. And the other idea is that a bit of a human can’t be geolocated the way a business can.

Jason Barnard:
Well I mean, one thing about the human knowledge panel, which is interesting is it depends on where you search. Once again, it is, or geo sensitive because of the ambiguity of people’s names. For example, for my name, if you search Jason Barnard, everywhere in the world, I get in the knowledge panel. But if you search for me in San Francisco, there is a university lecturer in San Francisco, the golden gate university. I then only get the see results about, because there is more of a probability perhaps that they’re searching for the other Jason Barnard and what you’ll see. I think it was Mary Moore, I tried, if you search in Australia, there’s a judge. If you search in the UK, there’s an Irish actress. If you search in America, you get the American actresses. So the geolocation of the search will have an enormous effect on the people. It will show you,

Mike Blumenthal:
So create a canonical page, or what did you call the page, your home or [crosstalk 00:14:32] your brand page, your entity homepage for the business and or person or brand possibly take it, get listed in Wiki debt data. If you can’t get a Wikipedia article, what else does one need to do to see Mary Bowling’s personal knowledge panel to show up?

Jason Barnard:
The first important thing is not to mix your entities on one page. Each entity has its own entity home. Google isn’t very good at having, for example, Mary Bowling and her company on the same page. You would have one for Mary Bowling and one for the company that you represent. And on that page, you need to be very clear about who you are, what you’re doing, who your audience is, and focus on what you do today at the top. Google will read from top to bottom and take it to be the order of importance. And a lot of us start with the history of the company or my history, I left school at 18, whatever it might be. And in fact, it should be the other way around. It should be what I’m doing today, who I’m interested in. Interesting thought day. None of the bots might tell my backstory and same for the company we want to talk about what’s relevant today because that’s what we want Google to show in the knowledge panel

Jason Barnard:
Once you’ve done that you would need to look into schema markup. Schema markup seems maybe perhaps a little bit complicated, but I like to say, it’s just you representing the information you’ve already presented in the page, in a language that Google can natively digest. So it’s basically taking that same information and providing it to Google in a machine-readable format, which increases its confidence that it’s fully understood the text of what’s in the page. Then once you’ve done

Mike Blumenthal:
although

Mary Bowling:
How hard is it for a local business to get a Wiki data page? What’s involved with that?

Jason Barnard:
Well, in fact anybody can edit Wiki data, but if you add yourself or somebody else for that matter, and a Wiki data editor finds that you are not notable or through notability guidelines that you need to read, they’ll simply delete it. And one of the things that will happen is, if you have triggered a knowledge panel using the Wiki data technique, and it is then deleted because you are not sufficiently notable in the Wiki data sense, the knowledge center [crosstalk 00:16:52] certainly disappear.

Mary Bowling:
What kind of things make a local business notable enough to get a Wiki data page?

Jason Barnard:
Well, Wikipedia talk a lot about having changed our industry. So a local business would have to be fairly dominant or dominant within its local and local area for its specific service, and have done something that is worthy of not, I mean, what you would tend to judge it by is what kinds of, authoritative trustworthy publications are talking about this entity that the local business and what are they saying about it? Are they talking about what it’s done? That’s a little bit exceptional. You have to stand out from the crowd a little bit. So if you’re the local cheese shop that sells to the people around you, you would not be eligible [crosstalk 00:17:41]

Mike Blumenthal:
but the owner might

Mike Blumenthal:
Be, if the owner might be still, so they may be viewed, here’s [crosstalk 00:17:47] one way to approach it, or is the owner speaking at national conferences? Is he writing books or manuals or consulting nationally, those kinds of things.

Jason Barnard:
And, and that brings us onto the idea of piggybacking. So basically if you have a company owner who is sufficiently notable, you can have that Wiki data page, and then you can use the entity home to point to the fact that the founder or owner of this company, is this person who has the Wiki data page, or has a knowledge panel. And basically what Google will then do is see that relationship as being close and strong and hopefully long-term, and you will piggyback, and it will pull you up into the knowledge graph on the basis of your relationship with that founder. And if we look at families, for example, you will tend to find once you have one member of the family in the knowledge graph, the other members of the family will tend to follow if the articles and the information around them online, that the machine finds, show that relationship very clearly.

Mike Blumenthal:
So

Mike Blumenthal:
That’s interesting though Mary, that a personal knowledge graph for Mike Blumenthal might help my Mike Blumenthal consulting business listing by virtue of being significant, so adding value, prominence to my listing because of that relationship that’s possible

Jason Barnard:
Understand. And if you think about it in the way that we learn and remember as human beings, is that if you try to give me a piece of information where I’ve only got one reference to hook it onto in my memory, I will tend not to remember it. If you give me a piece of information and provide me with four or five different references that I already know, and that already well anchored in my mind, I will tend to remember, and Google is the same. So if you try to hook yourself onto one individual entity, so you’re saying, okay, we’ll hook the business onto just Mike. I mean, if you have another partner, then potentially that would be a big help because Google will then have two hooks to pull it up by.

Jason Barnard:
And the trick would be events are very, very powerful, if you’ve sponsored an event, and that event is in the knowledge graph, the fact of sponsoring it gives you a very good relationship with it. If you spoke at events, sorry, as a company, if you have spoken to an event as a person, obviously that relationship is strong too. So you need to start looking at the relationships that you have with entities that Google has already understood.

Mike Blumenthal:
How do you start [crosstalk 00:20:13] checking yourself?

Mike Blumenthal:
Like word Lyft I know, has their own knowledge graph, is that a way to represent those relationships or is there some other way to represent the relationships?

Jason Barnard:
Well, in fact, there are multiple ways. The first one is to write in, you need to write it on the entity home. If it’s important to you, unimportant to Google, and we’ll help you, if you need to express it as simply as possible on the entity home, so that Google’s machine learning can understand what it is.

Mike Blumenthal:
So the business Mike Blumenthal is owned by Mike Blumenthal, the link to the about page. So somewhere on the homepage of Mike Blumenthal consulting, there’s a reference to the fact that and a link to my canonical page with that relationship.

Jason Barnard:
Yeah.

Jason Barnard:
And as you said, Mike Blumenthal is the founder of what we call a semantic triple with a semantic triple incredibly simple, in fact, his subject verb object. And do you want to keep them close together, because the machine gets into trouble when you say Mike Blumenthal, the most beautiful human being in New York is the founder of the wonderful company. That’s breaking ground coal mines. [crosstalk 00:21:33] So you need to keep them close together. And then you can use schema markup. When you talk about word lift, you’ve also got schema app and Yoast and other plugins, but that creates skin mark on Kalicube. We’ve got a tool that helps you to generate the schema markup, so it becomes less geeky, less complicated for [crosstalk 00:21:50] normally constituted

Mike Blumenthal:
Two questions I’ll ask you. One is, I haven’t done the schema yet. I still got the knowledge panel. So clearly it’s not absolutely needed to get it. But the question then is let’s assume, what other things can you show in the schema that would help this? Could you show the people list that people you’re related to or other, what would you show in this schema?

Jason Barnard:
A hundred percent? You’re making a really good point there because a lot of people, I mean, I tend to go schema and you’re right. You don’t need it. And a lot of people imagine that’s all I do is create schema marker, put out on pages. And it’s much more than that, schema helps, but it isn’t necessary. And to come back to schema and what you were asking is, I can express in schema, who is my sister, who is my mother, who is my father. I can also express the company I’ve founded. I can express it as the company who founded the company. I can express where it was founded. I can express who the company or what events the company has sponsored, as a human being. I can express what books I’ve authored and so on and so forth.

Jason Barnard:
If I know I can’t it, I can only express a book has been authored by. And that’s one of the things we’ve schema markup. You can’t always express the relationships you want to. So as you write, you say, relying on it, a hundred percent is not going to work. And Andy Crestodina said something very interesting to me that day. And he tends to focus on the digital footprint. And he just says, make a lot of noise, make a lot of consistent noise. That is consistent noise that is relevant to your topic and your geolocation, if you’re a local business. So all of the efforts you can make that echo offline and pull online or just online are all great information for reassuring Google in its understanding of what you’ve presented on the entity arm. But the focus is to say, I need to say who I am, what I do and who my audience is on my entity home. So that Google has that basis of information straight from the horse’s mouth, that it then goes around and corroborates with the noise on successfully making, by sponsoring local events [crosstalk 00:24:03] and writing books.

Mike Blumenthal:
So we’ve created these relationships, that’s Wiki data homepage for the entity relationships with schema. What else does somebody need to do then to likely get a knowledge graph or improve it, like one of the things I’ve noticed in mine in my panel is the pictures they’ve chosen are not particularly a good pictures.

Jason Barnard:
Well, if you want to find a picture you wanted it to use on your entity home, you’ve got a good chance that we’ll use it if that picture is then used consistently across multiple other channels. So you don’t need to use the same photo everywhere, but if it sees that photo only once on your entity home, but doesn’t see it anywhere else, it will tend not to use it because it looks like it isn’t representative of you. So if you have a different photo on every single social channel and a different photo on every single newspaper article and then a different photo again on your entity home, you’re unlikely to have any control. I’ve personally been using the same photo across every single channel. And that is the photo that Google will show from.

Mike Blumenthal:
20 years ago.

Jason Barnard:
It’s actually for the last year, but I do look very young. Thank you very much, Mike I’m charmed.

Jason Barnard:
It was an interesting experience because with the photo in particular, I had a photo and I decided to do the experiment of seeing if I could change it. And I got a new photo done and I put it on my entity home, and then I changed every single profile with a new photo under new description for that matter. And it took about a month for Google and to replace the old photo with the new photo in the knowledge [crosstalk 00:25:43] panel. So another important thing with the knowledge panel, is to remember that we’re not talking days or weeks, we’re talking a month, two months, three months for the machines catch up with us.

Jason Barnard:
And another interesting point is I’ve been tracking knowledge, graph updates, how volatile the knowledge graph is in terms of the information at returns for the entity already knows. And it updates periodically much like the Google algorithm, but not at the same time. So there was a period from about September to January where it didn’t update at all. And until I figured out how to work out when the updates were, I was worried the, all the work I was doing, wasn’t having an effect, because my knowledge panel wasn’t changing. And it turns out that Google was simply not updating it updated in January. And my knowledge panel got to a refresh

Jason Barnard:
Look.

Mike Blumenthal:
So this updating occurs in your mind every six weeks give or take eight weeks, or what are you looking at?

Jason Barnard:
Yeah, well, on Kalicube pro I’ve got a knowledge graph tracking tool where you can actually see when it’s updated. The last update was 22nd of May, which interestingly enough is the first time that the knowledge graph has dated at the same time as the main algorithm in the year and a half that I’ve been tracking it, basically you will have one or the other and never the two together until the 25th

Mike Blumenthal:
Do things get recalibrated, example. Last week I had a numismatist of famous going dealer who had written a number of books, and he noted that a number of people in his industry, with the exception of the person who had a Wikipedia article, never people in his industry lost the consolidated graph of the person and the books and just the books were showing. And it happens roughly in that timeframe and so I’m just curious, maybe everybody was suddenly perceived as less relevant or something, or I have no idea why it would separate them once they’ve been joined.

Jason Barnard:
Yeah

Jason Barnard:
Well my reading of that was that the books are related to the authors in Google books, which is one of the verticals and that relationship, assuming things are being ported or moved into the main knowledge graph, that relationship would not be as strong because obviously Google books is dedicated to those relationships. Obviously we don’t know that’s me kind of guessing at what might be happening, but you pointed that out to me. And I’ve actually got a couple of other examples of books being separated from the authors in the knowledge panel at around the same time. And I think kind of, we’ve got to appreciate the fact that just like the main algorithm, the Google knowledge graph algorithm is updating. And at times it will shake things up so much that a lot of things will change through no fault of our

Jason Barnard:
Own.

Mike Blumenthal:
Any closing words for the audience here before we sign off?

Jason Barnard:
Yeah. I mean, a knowledge panel is a kind of I’ve really enjoyed building knowledge panels, and looking into all of this, simply because I said as an attempt by ourselves to educate Google. So Google better understands who we are, what we do and who we serve, who our audience is, but I would argue that it’s a great exercise in the sense that’s what we should already be doing on a wider scale, both to Google and to our wider audience is focusing on our real audience, the audience for whom we’re going to be useful, but also communicating to them who we are and what we do and why they might be useful to them. So I think knowledge panels as an exercise might be not necessarily great or important for your bottom line short-term, but it certainly a great exercise for better understanding what you’re trying to do. So

Mike Blumenthal:
Somebody would like to get in touch with you with a question about a personal or brand knowledge panel. How would they do that?

Jason Barnard:
I hang out on Twitter a lot. So Twitter is a great place. If you search my name, Jason Barnard, you’ll see my site, my company site, Kalicube, DocPro, and the knowledge panel, lots of ways to interact with me

Jason Barnard:
There.

Mike Blumenthal:
Sounds good. Well, with that, I want to thank you for joining last week in local. We’ll be back with you next week and we start the fourth year. So congratulations to us. Yes. Happy birthday back to you. So thanks again for joining us. We’ll see you next week for the last week and local.

Jason Barnard:
Thanks. Bye-bye.

 

Carrie Hill
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