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Build Your Personal Brand
#SEOisAEO with Deepak Shukla at #DigitalOlympus

Don’t feel guilty or ashamed about building your personal brand. It is important for both you and your company, and will serve you well in everything you do in future. Top tips 1) Don’t rent your “digital brand house” (2) Get yourself an Adina You’ll have to listen to the episode to know what those two tips even mean… but they are gold-dust. Brilliant stuff from Deepak (and Adina by proxy).

Release date Sunday 7 April 2019

Deepak Shukla

Deepak Shukla

Jason Barnard
SEO is AEO, welcome to the show, Deepak Shukla.
Deepak Shukla
Dude, that was amazing.
Jason Barnard
That's your introduction.
Deepak Shukla
I'd love you to sing that to me every night.
Jason Barnard
Oh, just before you go to sleep. I think it'd probably wake you up.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely, that's the idea.
Jason Barnard
Somebody Tweeted that they had that in their dreams.
Deepak Shukla
Really?
Jason Barnard
Yeah, the poor chap. He's going, "I dream of that song".
Deepak Shukla
Dude, it was perfect for you just for this story. I'm happy to hear that.
Jason Barnard
Yeah, we met last night, hadn't met you before. This wasn't a planned interview. You travel the world running marathons and triathlons. Is that right?
Deepak Shukla
Yeah. I'm off course, in an about an hour to fly to, two hours to fly to Milan to run a marathon on Sunday, so exactly that. I do travel vis a vis marathons and sometimes triathlons.
Jason Barnard
But you go out for a beer the night before?
Deepak Shukla
Yeah. Unfortunately, I do do that also, but I can't give up either seemingly.
Jason Barnard
No, no, right. Okay, no. I get you. I mean, it's like this. I know I'm going to be doing interviews, but I still have a beer or two the night before and I wake up with a hangover and-
Deepak Shukla
And then you just muddle through and you're better by about 10:00 and then you're like, "Right, I'm good to go."
Jason Barnard
That sounds about right, but I'm sure a marathon is much tougher to get through.
Deepak Shukla
Well, I think that it really is just about the things that we enjoy and marathons are something that I do and we mentioned this before. You have to enjoy the process. It's the only way to, I think, achieve any level of competency or mastery.
Jason Barnard
Oh yeah, okay. And your company's called "Juicy Lemon", or something like that?
Deepak Shukla
Well, I wish they were juicy, "Pearl Lemon".
Jason Barnard
Pearl Lemon, that was it. Why Pearl and Lemon?
Deepak Shukla
Because my partner, she's Italian. She introduced me to lemons as being a replacement for balsamic vinegar, for the other dressings that I was using. So lemons came into my life and during this period, when I say during this period, she wears pearl necklaces sometimes. So when I was debating about ideas, the lemons were there because we were in the kitchen and then Pearl Lemon came to life.
Jason Barnard
Brilliant. I live the double L in the middle.
Deepak Shukla
Yeah.
Jason Barnard
It sounded like, I was going to say the twin towers, but that's probably inappropriate.
Deepak Shukla
No, no, no. Well, the Malay Twin Towers.
Jason Barnard
Yeah. Thank you very much. Whew. Pearl Lemon, lovely name.
Deepak Shukla
Thank you.
Jason Barnard
Wonderful stuff. Now, we're going to talk. I mean, you were talking about Know Thy Name. That was what ...
Deepak Shukla
Yeah, Know My Name, yeah, yeah.
Jason Barnard
Watched your talk, loved it. Terribly, terribly interested to the idea of building your own name. I kind of felt embarrassed about doing it.
Deepak Shukla
I think that a lot of people do.
Jason Barnard
Oh, God. So I shouldn't?
Deepak Shukla
I think that a lot of people do. I think that with a presentation I gave, I think people will feel that perhaps it's too egotistical, it's too narcissistic ...
Jason Barnard
No.
Deepak Shukla
People ...
Jason Barnard
I don't know whether I'm saying yes or no.
Deepak Shukla
No, but you're in agreement with me that people feel embarrassed, I think.
Jason Barnard
I was watching the talk and I was thinking, "that's a bit egotistical, I can't do that" and I was thinking, "actually I do do that all the time". So go ahead, sorry, yeah.
Deepak Shukla
So I think that this concept of building your own name is something that in certainly the SEO space, a lot of people would struggle with. Because it's inherently technical SEO and that lends itself towards the kind of bedroom expert. Meaning that you can sit at home or at your office and you can do deeply technical things and you can talk to other technical people. The speech I gave is born from a decision that you want to make as to the journey that you're on with SEO or with anything. And I'm gonna be very honest and say that I made a decision at one point, that do I become someone who's going to be deeply technical or do I try and build a company? And where then should I take and spend my time?
Jason Barnard
And you were saying spend your time building your own brand and building your brands brand as it were and that we're not spending enough time on that. Obviously that's a terribly general statement, but we're not.
Deepak Shukla
And what we don't ...
Jason Barnard
Sorry, I'm just going to interrupt, because I just realized, I feel guilty when I'm spending time on it. A, because I find it a bit egotistical, but also because I should be spending time on my clients. So I feel guilty and I shouldn't, please.
Deepak Shukla
A couple of things. I think practically, the way to get around that was my first full time hire within Pearl Lemon, Adina, she's an internal Brand Manager. She works full time building the brand internally.
Jason Barnard
Okay, Pearl Lemon?
Deepak Shukla
Yeah and Deepak Shukla. She does nothing else, apart from those two things and that has proven to be the biggest asset in us growing quite quickly broadly speaking, over the last even six months. Her focus has been on that.
Jason Barnard
I would like you to say, "thank you, Adina", please.
Deepak Shukla
Thank you, Adina.
Jason Barnard
Yeah, I forced you into that, she's great, yeah?
Deepak Shukla
She's amazing. She has been the best investment I've ever made because I also struggle like yourself with writing stuff about myself and when you give it someone who thinks great things about you. We all have people like that in our life that think "you know, Jason, you really know your stuff" and it's natural to be humble and the work around is have someone else do it. Done.
Deepak Shukla
People say, I don't have practically the finances to do it, you could get a university intern to produce content about you. The important thing and Brian Dean speaks about this in some of his interviews; about building Baclinker and what is your advice to anyone. He said, "Just stop.". The start is inherently always messy, but it's the start that most people struggle with.
Deepak Shukla
So I think that that's the practical work around. I can say anecdotally, well not even anecdotally, one of the most visited pages on any service website is, "about us". After you to go "home", you to go "about us", because you want to know the man behind the iron mask.
Jason Barnard
Then the Google quality guidelines are saying, "who are these people?" And I go onto my new clients website and actually you haven't got a "about us" page or your "about us" page is so poetic, you've got no idea who you actually are.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely.
Jason Barnard
Can you just state who you are and what it is you do? And that was part of my presentation that I've just done. Schema markup...
Deepak Shukla
Who are you and what do you do!
Jason Barnard
It's not just giving a mark up, it's "about us" page. Start there, say who you are, what you do.
Deepak Shukla
And "about us" is no longer ... It's not about the brand mission or the company culture, which is BS, people see through it.
Jason Barnard
Thank you for not saying a rude word.
Deepak Shukla
You're welcome. As has been made reference to today, that we need to understand the actual search intent behind the search intent. The knowledge graph relates to what, you know, Jason or Deepak are actually thinking when they're inputting a keyword search and the immediate thing that we do when we get introduced to anything that we in any way find useful; I immediately look up the person who came up with it.
Jason Barnard
Yeah, you were mentioning that and I mean I look up everybody for the interviews, but I actually didn't look up anybody I'm not interviewing. And you're saying well if you want to listen to somebody and really get to grips with that it is they're saying, perhaps look them up and know their story.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely. I think the best example of that is as we said, comes from the influence of marketing and I think that the SEO community do themselves an injustice by not building their brand name because actually, there are people within this community that are a hundred times more intelligent than I am when it comes to the space of SEO. If we can push them to the forefront and have them build their own brand name, they will just develop the audience that will allow them to get onto the platforms that are worthy of the knowledge that they have.
Jason Barnard
But some people aren't comfortable building their brand name, so what you're saying is get yourself an "Adina" and she'll do it for you.
Deepak Shukla
Yeah, get yourself an, "Adina" that should be the thing Get yourself an "Adina", someone who believes in your mission or your vision.
Jason Barnard
I can make a song with that. Get yourself an Adina and she'll do the work for you.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely.
Jason Barnard
Sorry, I couldn't help.
Deepak Shukla
No, you're right. She takes away that difficulty that I have and this is a mindset issue that I think impedes peoples progress, because whenever someone ... And we heard it today, right, through Digital Olympus. There were freelancers, there were people that were working at this company, that company and it all becomes a bit confusing. 'Cause I'm like, I can't remember where the bloody hell that you worked historically or what he did. I can't remember the history, I just remember the name, it's the one thing that tends to stick.
Jason Barnard
Sorry, that brings me onto another thing. The "mind palace" idea that Sherlock Holmes gets right involved in. Well, he uses a mind palace, but I was talking to Bill [inaudible] and he was saying that he remembers the patent stuff from hooking onto the date. And he hooks it all onto the date and then say says, all the rest of it I just remember it for the title, who wrote it, what it's about and the number, apparently. So he just remembers the date and the rest follows and it's the same thing with a person an remembering their story. I was saying I can't remember anything about anybody about anything in the world, but give me a story and I'll remember your story from beginning to end. Sorry, I'm rambling a bit here.
Jason Barnard
People can hook onto your name and say I remember all this stuff about this person because I remember their name and I know where I was going with this, sorry I've got a bit lost. The idea that over time your name doesn't change, whereas your career might.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely. Company search volumes reflect that and the biggest search volume that a company will always carry will be the search volume for their name. When you look it up, Coca Cola has more searches than anything that they'll try and rank for and it's practically the same for any business and any individual, broadly speaking. That's because our brand name relates directly to search and peoples experience in trying to find out about the company, the individuals behind the company and you lose so much equity when you transition through careers because you build up something that's effectively a rented house. Even it it's your own company ...
Jason Barnard
Brilliant, I love that. And the person who didn't rent his house is Rand Fishkin because Moz was built on Rand Fishkin, then he left Moz. SparkToro, I know it because it's Rand Fishkin and he took that equity with him and applied it to a new situation.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely. So that's the equity that everybody should invest in because it's the one thing that definitely won't change. I can't tell you if Pearl Lemon will still exist in 25 years.
Jason Barnard
Probably not. Sorry no, I mean you'll sell it and become rich.
Deepak Shukla
Statistically, the reality is that I probably won't be involved in whatever journey Peal Lemon takes, right?
Jason Barnard
Sorry, yes, that's what I meant.
Deepak Shukla
If it closes down tomorrow, Deepak Shukla's still gonna be around and Jason will follow me because you follow "me" and everything else becomes secondary to that. And that can always help with anything that you want to grow and that's I think what people don't recognize. As you said with Rand Fishkin and his journey.
Jason Barnard
Sorry, I've just realized, it's going through my mind. I made the phenomenal mistake, I was a rock musician in the 90's, but I was subservient to the group, so the group was famous, but I wasn't. Then I did a cartoon for kids, the cartoon characters were famous, but I wasn't.
Deepak Shukla
And people think that, "oh, that's my company" and I say, "no, it's a rented house".
Jason Barnard
So rented two houses and this this first time I've actually started building a house.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely, because you bought that domain name and yes, you attached it to your name. The domain that everyone buys is attached to my personal credit card billing details, which is, "Deepak Shukla". So Deepak Shukla is the company that owns Pearl Lemon really. When people understand that concept, then you realize that you've done so many things back to front. Because we've got all of these assets and all of these collections and bodies of data and the question is, "where should you apply that resource?".
Deepak Shukla
I have only recently recognized a mistake that I have made and ...
Jason Barnard
It was Milosz would told you, yeah?
Deepak Shukla
Yeah, he said, "you were the mailshake guy" and I was like, "what do you mean?". He saw the review and then he went to find out and then he was like, "you don't have a blog". I've got filler content on my blog is I'm being honest, but it's not like Brian Dean level content for example. And that's to my detriment, that's to my mistake because Milosh would probably invest in me because he saw the Mailshake video and therefore that's the leverage. That's how Pearl Lemon wins, that's how anything I attach to myself wins. When anybody understands that and the reality is that most of us don't do it. No way, we attach out assets to rented organizations, it's not even to the benefit of the organization. Because then you carry equity into anything that you come into.
Jason Barnard
Brilliant and I don't feel as guilty and I don't feel as self obsessed as I did 20 minutes ago, which is really making me feel better about everything. What I do really like and it's what I try and tell my clients, I don't know if it's called "barnaceling or piggybacking". It's saying look at your company, piggyback bosses of the company on the company and vice versa and you can have this playoff game and I hadn't really thought it through, but then, the company will continue to exist, the bosses go and do something else and like Rand Fishkin, you got this phenomenal advantage when you start.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely. And people will sometimes then assume, well what happens when they leave and I as like, there's still going to be the new audience that Rand Fishkin will build that will look up his history.
Jason Barnard
Brilliant.
Deepak Shukla
And people forget that. You had a influencer that was previously part of your company and unless that influencer just dies and even if he dies, then gets even more media.
Jason Barnard
Yeah, I mean his history is still there. And what you're saying is Rand has left Moz, but Moz can continue to leverage Rand as something that can drive their brand forward.
Deepak Shukla
If he builds another company with a billion dollar valuation, is Moz going to benefit? Of course they are! 'Cause of the new audiences that he's trying to reach because he's not doing what Moz does, he's gone onto different things and that equals new audience, new leverage, new media, new PR mentions for Moz as well has his new company. And that's a part that often gets forgotten when they're like, "oh well, should we hang our careers off influencers" and I'm just, "absolutely, yes".
Deepak Shukla
It's just logical, because it reflects the way that people search semantically, it's the second thing that you want to know, especially today. Coca Cola type companies don't really exist in the same way because we have access to understanding the people behind the business, the people behind the brand. The billion dollar startups that exist today, we'll know what the founders are, we'll look at the on Wikipedia, we'll study them, we'll explore and that is what's so different about the way that companies should consider how they build today. You can always get leverage off influencers irrespective of whether they come, they go, influence is the key.
Jason Barnard
And that really hooks, very, very, very nicely into the knowledge graph because that's exactly what the knowledge graph is and obviously entities and relationships then you're saying okay, let's piggyback off our relationships. I like to say it's bigging yourself up and there is no shame in bigging yourself up as long as you're not bigging yourself up for something you cannot assume.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely. I think that that's of course something that people would, "that's what can be easily abused" when of course you build your brand, there's gonna be people in the room that will say, "did you really do that or are you inflating this" and that is where there's the ... But that's no different to any industry, that's like cold email, yes, it can be easily used for spam, that's like link building, yes, you can build PBN's, every industry has that issue, there's nothing that's absent of that. I think that the challenge for the SEO community is to get comfortable with the idea of working on oneself because it's counterintuitive, I think, in terms of the mindset.
Jason Barnard
We can also encourage our clients to do it.
Deepak Shukla
Yeah.
Jason Barnard
And this is really good advice and it's EAT as well. We're looking at EAT building your brand, getting in the knowledge graph, we're really looking at that. And not wishing to dis any technical SEO's, but you kinda "technical SEO, okay, fine", it's suddenly not that important anymore. It's one of the legs, it isn't the principle leg anymore.
Deepak Shukla
Absolutely and I think that when you look at any companies competitive advantages, the technical SEO comparing one company vs another. It becomes extremely difficult from the outsider looking in and one of the things that I understood that was really critical to how I then still now look at Pearl Lemon that's like with Deepak. When you go and spread your message, whether it's about technical link building, whatever it's about, consider everyone else that's saying the same message and recognize it's going to be very difficult for anyone who's external to truly differentiate your message from someone else's.
Deepak Shukla
We spoke about it today, the fact that there's a lot of presentations that are broadly similar and what do we need to focus on. How do we actually get our message heard? By bringing something that's unique to the table and that's where and this again comes from storytelling, that we have to build our brand vis a vis storytelling.
Deepak Shukla
"Hi, my name's Deepak Shukla. I started Pearl Lemon in a bedroom in my mum's house after a failed application to the British Special Forces and I was broke and I had to get out of home".
Jason Barnard
Shouldn't have been in a garage? Isn't that where all great startups start?
Deepak Shukla
I don't think any of them started in a garage, I think they were in their living room really. Who starts in a garage?
Jason Barnard
And it is having that story and saying this is who I am and having a real brand and not being embarrassed or guilty about it. Which is what I'm feeling much better about now.
Deepak Shukla
then you give that actual building component to someone ... Get yourself an Adina as you said and that's taking care of ...
Jason Barnard
Get yourself an Adina, I can't remember the rest of the words or the melody for that matter.
Deepak Shukla
As you spoke about your history with the rock band, the group and the cartoon. If your name was on an equal pegging with both of those things, it would open up so many doors to anything that you do.
Jason Barnard
Yeah and in fact, I look at that, I mean I was in the band and I felt when I did the cartoon, I had to rebuild my entire life and then when the cartoon fell apart for various reasons, I had to rebuild my whole life again. I get the feeling that this time because I built my brand, I'm not going to hit that problem a third time. Third time lucky!
Deepak Shukla
Yeah, absolutely, my friend. Because people follow you and it's simple, but when you look at everything else that it can give you, it's extremely powerful because of all of the leverage. Then you can build links easier, because people know your name. Then Google kind of understands your journey. And as you said, with the knowledge graph, it's like okay, great, you have documented your journey, you have got clear references to what you're trying to build today as does the company; we understand the connection and you can bring your pre-existing influence into anything that you build and then even in 10 years from now, everything that you do historically will always benefit from the fact that you've got a big name.
Jason Barnard
Brilliant. So long term SEO depends on brand building. Absolutely, brilliant. SEO is AEO, thank you, Deepak.
Deepak Shukla
Thank you Jason, I had so much fun.
Jason Barnard
Thanks, man.