David Amerland "The SERPs Guy" Book Review

Semantic search did away with the notion of being at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) by putting clear emphasis on context and relevance in reference to every search query. It did not, however, do away with SERPs themselves and every time there is a search query that is related to the context of a brand’s activities, that brand, naturally dominates the SERPs.

Enter, Jason Barnard, better known as “The SERPs guy” whose experiments on the subject have given lots of conversation fodder to SEOs round the globe and have, on occasion, revealed loopholes in Google’s process of getting your brand listed in the SERPs. 

All of this is relevant because Jason has put much of the knowledge gleamed from his own experiments and from his many interviews with industry experts, not least, yours truly (see video below) into a handy book format enticingly titled “The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business”. 


Now, you will think, that fundamentals are probably basic and if you’re already doing something to promote your business which will make you believe that this is a book you don’t need to bother with. After all lots of what you need to know is already available online, not least, on Jason’s company, Kalicube, YouTube channel.

This is where your brain plays a trick on you. To understand this better consider how you arrive at your estimation that this may not be a book for you. If you’re like most people you’re now expecting me to talk about the Dunning-Kruger effect which popular media has turned into shorthand for “you’re too-stupid to realize your own stupidity”. 

I will, but not for the reasons you may think. First of all, as the APA definition of the effect makes clear, self-knowledge (not stupidity) is hard to do. Second, Metacognition the effect of thinking about thinking at a sufficiently removed context for us to realize our own fallibility and the potential weaknesses we may not be aware of requires both time and energy that we often don’t have. 

Add to this the fact that the brain is designed to forget in order to function properly and you begin to realize that maybe some things you thought you knew, you don’t and some things you knew, you now can’t remember. All the while you labor each day under the assumption that your online-marketing is cutting-edge and makes use of everything possible to help your business. 

If you are a member of diverse team of experts that may be true. But if, like most, you’re doing this yourself or are part of a small team with overlaps in knowledge and expertise the chances that you’re missing fundamental actions and are unaware of it are quite high. 

All of which brings us to: “The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business”. Jason has a very direct style of writing which makes it easy to get his message across, He also has taken a very deliberate approach to building knowledge about SERPs for brands. Because he takes nothing for granted some of the things he says you probably already know, which is a great validation of your knowledge. He also takes a deliberate, step-by-step approach to helping you understand how to approach results you don’t control but which you may be able to influence. 

The book is all-encompassing: It talks about sitelinks, social media, Rich Elements, Knowledge Panels and Google Ads. Whether you are creating content, amplifying social media engagement or paying-to-play, the chances are you will discover something in this book that will be of direct benefit to you. 

Does that mean that he covers everything? Well, no … but. This is a book about fundamentals. If you’re looking for shortcuts, advanced technical tips or anything that is considered to be at the very cutting edge of SEO, semantic search and search engine marketing this is not the place to find it. 

Knowledge, Tactics and Strategy Clearly Explained

The book’s strength lies in its approach. We are at the stage in marketing now where things are becoming very nuanced indeed. The increased use of AI in Google search makes everything matter and nothing you do be decisive enough. This opens up the vista of activities you need to engage in, in order to get the results you need, as a brand, on the SERPs. 

Having a refresher (if you read the book from cover to cover) or simply a handy reference guide you can dip in, provides a handy bedrock of fundamentals from which to extrapolate additional knowledge and experience into activities you need to throw your weight behind. 

Context plays such a pivotal role in search and marketing now that even a successful campaign does not always provide clear answers to the question of “why did it work?” We live in a world where the VUCA world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity is the norm. We try to mine intent hoping that what we see externally reveals what is happening internally so we can best meet the expectations of potential prospects. In this regard a sound understanding of fundamentals is key. 

If you’re new to all this and don’t know where to start Jason’s book is a really good place and I cannot recommend it enough. If you already know your stuff this is a good reference book to have. Jason has done a lot of experiments and he has talked to a lot of experts so the book itself is a shortcut to a lot of knowledge, which is always a great thing to have at your fingertips. Particularly at those times when something in brand marketing stumps you and you’re not sure where to start to better understand the issue you are facing. 

Plus, for those who are concerned they don’t have the time for all this (always a valid concern) Jason’s easy, friendly style makes everything really accessible which makes the book a quick read even if you choose to go cover to cover, like I did.  


Go Deeper: 

Take Control Of Your Actions.    Make Better Decisions.