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E91: The Evolution of SEO and the Changing Landscape of Digital Marketing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In this episode, Sara Mannix, the founder of successful marketing agency Mannix Marketing Inc., discusses the evolution of SEO and the changing landscape of digital marketing. She highlights the key factors that have remained constant, such as the power of focus and niche expertise. Sara also talks about the shift towards a holistic approach to marketing and shares strategies used to market hard-to-reach industries, including the challenges faced in the hospitality industry.

Sara Mannix is the Founder and President of Mannix Marketing Inc., an award-winning digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC, and web design. With over 27 years of experience in marketing and tourism, she leads Mannix Tourism, a destination marketing agency focused on helping communities thrive, and tourism businesses achieve their goals. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Hard to Market:

  • SEO has evolved from “search engine positioning” to a holistic approach focused on success metrics.
  • The success of SEO depends on understanding the lifetime value of customers and targeting the right audience.
  • Niche industries can utilize thought leadership and targeted marketing to generate conversions.
  • Cross-functional learning enables the application of successful strategies from one industry to another.
  • Niche expertise in the hospitality industry provides a deep understanding of specific challenges and solutions.
  • Having a niche helps in clearly defining goals and delivering a guaranteed return on investment.
  • Agencies struggling with their pipeline can benefit greatly from partnering with niche digital marketing experts.


Connect with Sara Mannix:

Connect with our host, Brian Mattocks:


  • 02:39 –  “I said, well, at the bottom of every website that we do, I put website design and development by Mannix Marketing, and it links back to us. And I think that makes a difference. So the links have changed. It’s not just about having a link on any website, it’s about having, you know, relevant content on relevant sites. That was true even before Google. Because Google really made it much more about the quality of the link.”
  • 04:45 – “So I think the businesses that lend themselves to paid search and SEO and that type of lead gen are typically businesses with shorter turnaround times. I need this item, or I need this expertise, and I’m gonna search for it. Right. Where can I find it? Right. And that has a shorter span. And a lot of experts think, well, it’s only word of mouth for my business, or it’s this or that. And I always tell people, if it’s a big purchase, and they are the type of people who want it within the next three months, they’re going to research it on the internet as well.”
  • 20:10 –  “I think it’s one of those paradoxical things, like what is the saying about attorneys, like someone who represents themselves in court as a fool for a client. I think in many ways you almost can’t do your own marketing. The blind spots are just too big. Yeah. Which is probably an unpopular opinion.”
  • 06:29 – Brian: “So how do you deal with some of those hard to market kind of items or how to hard to market services with the clients that you represent?”.. Sara: “Yeah, so we actually have a client very similar. They do massive heating, heating and cooling systems that go on top of billion buildings that are worth millions of dollars. Right. And those numbers are very low for somebody who doesn’t know who they are and who are searching for it. But when you’re selling something that’s a million dollars, and you’re number one in search, they actually do SEO, and they have such great ROI because if there’s 50 people a year searching for it, and they find them, and they sell a million dollar cooling refrigerant building Right, right. Solution, they’ve paid for their SEO, and their paid search for the next seven years.”
  • 12:41 – Brian: “So what I’m hearing is that anyone willing to pay or anyone with a pulse and a checkbook is not a sufficient information for you to target them for SEO. Is that right?”.. Sara: “That’s true.”.. Brian: “I have the number of clients that I’ve worked with in the marketing space where I’m like, so who’s a great client for you? And they’re like, ah, anybody will pay.”.. Sara: “We like, we have specific industries that we do really well, but we have really narrowed down on, and we have been in business for 30, 26 years, so we have done many industries. So, but if I were only a five-year-old agency, I would not recommend that, it’s a nightmare. And it’s just too much. You can’t do everything. Well, you can’t, right. We don’t say we do everything well, we say we do SEO well, right. And we can do SEO well for anybody, but do we want to do it for everybody? No, no.”.. Brian: “You can go horizontal, or you can go vertical, but you can’t really go both. Right.”