The Power of Personalized Authority with Relevance’s President
Speaker 1: Welcome to Page One or Bust, your ultimate guide to getting on page one of search engines. Today, we're talking to Misty Larkins, the President of relevance. com, a growth marketing agency that helps companies own their industries and increase market share. Misty's background includes nearly 20 years in the marketing and advertising industry, and she's an expert on full funnel content strategies, digital PR, and organic search. In this episode, Misty shares insights she learned after her company shifted from a digital PR focus to prioritizing more on- page strategies, and tells us just exactly how they built personalized authority using a blend of content and SEO tactics. Then Drew, Ryan, and Misty dive deep into the different ways to ensure your SEO strategy aligns to the interest of your target audience before wrapping with a look at the ever- changing SEO landscape. But before we get into it, here's a brief word from our sponsor. Page One or Bust is brought to you by DemandJump. Get insights, drive outcomes with DemandJump. Get started creating content that ranks for free at demandjump. com today. And now, here are your co-hosts, Drew Detzler and Ryan Brock.
Drew Detzler: Welcome to Page One or Bust. This is your host, Drew Detzler. As always, I'm joined by my co- host, Ryan Brock.
Ryan Brock: Yo!
Drew Detzler: Ryan, how we doing?
Ryan Brock: Oh, living the dream. It's a beautiful day in Indianapolis today.
Drew Detzler: It is. It is. I'm excited, because today, joining us is Misty Larkins, the President of Relevance. Misty, welcome to the show.
Misty Larkins: Thank you so much for having me.
Drew Detzler: Yeah, we're excited. Before we dive into some of my big questions, Misty, why don't you tell us a little bit about Relevance and your role as President there?
Misty Larkins: Sure, sure, sure. Relevance is a growth marketing agency that focuses on organic channels and ways to grow authority, credibility, and visibility for brands online. So what that means in a nutshell is essentially, we focus on comprehensive content strategies and how to leverage those in ways that presents brands as authorities in their space. And that's typically like onsite content, making sure you're meeting customers where they are at any point in the buyer's journey, credibility in lieu of going on third- party publications, using digital PR tactics to get them mentioned in both high- level industry publications as well as more niche publications, and then visibility, which has everything to do with showing up in search. So, making sure that you're covering all of the areas that we think make brands very relevant, hence the name, and also help them own their industries, is what we say, making sure that they're everywhere that they need to be to capitalize on opportunity.
Ryan Brock: It's a brilliant name. It's inspired.
Drew Detzler: Yeah, exactly.
Misty Larkins: Thank you.
Ryan Brock: It's efficient in the character usage. I love it.
Misty Larkins: Yeah, yeah. We used to actually be named something else, and we bought the Relevance domain and rights to the name about, I think like three and a half years ago. It's way more relevant to what we do than what we used to be named, which just didn't have much meaning at all.
Ryan Brock: Which, true story, Misty, I don't know if you and I have talked about this or if it was someone else on your team, but I got my start in SEO writing for the company that used to own that URL. Which is really weird, because we're not even in the same town, but it's just funny how those things come full circle.
Misty Larkins: Yeah. You're in Indianapolis. I consistently get outreach from business organizations in Indianapolis that's still saying that's where we're based, and I'm just like, " You know, your group sounds really nice, very cool, but I am not there, so I can't participate in that." So yeah, that's funny. I think we did chat about that when we first met.
Ryan Brock: Yeah, yeah.
Misty Larkins: That's funny. Small world.
Ryan Brock: Yeah, it is.
Drew Detzler: So Misty, tell me a little bit about your SEO journey and how you came to be President of a content- focused agency.
Misty Larkins: Yeah, I've been with Relevant for about four and a half years now. We always talk about SEO, and I was fairly new to the actual intricacies of SEO when I joined the company. I knew what it was and knew what the word stood for, and I knew the basic general concept of how to execute on SEO, but it really came more to the forefront of my mind as well as professional development goals to learn more about it when I joined Relevance. When we were first executing SEO strategies, it had more to do for us with more offsite strategies for SEO, identifying opportunities like listicles and articles that already were ranking well for certain keyword trends, whether it was around top books for X or X conferences that you should check out or X, name your technology area that your business could consider, and finding ways to either get articles like that placed on publications to help them rank or working on getting lists updated to include our clients. SEO strategy for us was much more off- page than it was on- page at that time, because the majority of our business model and what we were really great at was more on the digital PR side of things. The guys who own Relevance have spent the last 20 years working to form relationships with contributors and editors and publication owners, and get them to essentially take a look at the content we would send their way or set pitches. We really focused on that, and a lot of our clients came to us for that element of what we do. And it wasn't until probably nine to 12 months after I started, and SEO had already changed a ton by then, that we started having more conversations with our clients, and what they would tell us is, " I don't know or I can't tell where the ROI is coming from this PR strategy that we're deploying."
Ryan Brock: Bingo. Yeah.
Misty Larkins: I'm like, " Well, excuse my cursing, but no inaudible. I get it." PR is notoriously difficult to measure even when it's done digitally. It's notoriously difficult to measure. It's even harder to tie into an ROI metric because of the different ways that people enter a funnel. And also, people, I think, had this perception, and I don't know if it's just a holdover from the way that PR used to be done years and years ago, but they had this perception that if their brand was mentioned on a publication, say Forbes, Inc., Entre, whatever, name your high- level business publication, especially when you're talking about B2B companies, they had this perception that that mention, whether it was just a mention in an article or a feature that it looked like their grandmother wrote would result in leads for them, and that's really not the case. We were telling them, " The goal of this PR mention is to grow your overall credibility of your brand. You need to leverage it, use it in your marketing materials, use it in your email, use it in everything, whether you are looking to just support your credibility in the industry with investors or with potential clients or whatever. But the goal of that it's not referral traffic, because the fact of the matter is, unless you're a consumer products brand and you get mentioned on something like Oprah's favorite things list, you're not going to get high volumes of qualified traffic to your website as a result of that mention alone. Your strategy should not be inaudible on just getting your brand mentioned in a publication." We started having those conversations with clients because they're like, "Well, we want more leads. Leads is our goal." And I'm like, " Well, if leads is your goal, PR should only be a piece of your strategy. You should be doing so much more with your onsite content. You should be doing so much more with how you're strategically approaching search, and you should be doing so much more than just these mentions, because mentions alone are not going to get you there."
Ryan Brock: And just to commiserate with you for a moment, even coming at this from a purely on- page content SEO side of things, I ran a content agency for 10 years. I was in your shoes, just maybe started more on the on- page content side and got more into the broader SEO stuff. But SEO at the time even that you're talking, even a few years ago, SEO was no different. Tying" I'm writing this blog post and that is going to lead to this outcome in my marketing" was impossible to do, and it took so long to do that it wasn't much easier if you were focusing on the on- page stuff, at least I don't think it was.
Misty Larkins: Yeah, I totally agree with you.
Drew Detzler: Until fairly recently, right? All right, if I'm doing the math correctly here, Misty joined about three and a half, four years ago. Nine to 12 months, you shifted. It seems you shifted a little bit from the PR side of things to more of the SEO lead gen side of things. Can you walk me through that process, that shift, and then how you create these content strategies to focus on lead generation?
Misty Larkins: Yeah. We started really taking a more focused approach on a comprehensive style of strategy. Not PR alone, but PR tied with onsite content, tied with more SEO strategies that support both off- page and on- page SEO, technical SEO, all of those things. We started with clients who were the ones that we were having the conversations with, that were saying, " Well, we want leads," and we're like, " Okay, let's talk about how we do that." And it really was a shift that I think changed the whole trajectory of really who we were as an agency and where we thought our strengths would be inaudible. Because I think we were a valuable partner in some ways to the brands that we worked with, but a lot of times, we were more treated like a tool, not a toolbox. We were like, " Oh, well, here's this great thing we want people to know about. Can you get something published that mentions this?" And I was constantly having to be the one that was like, " Okay, I get it. You think your baby is cute, but is your baby Gerber baby cute? Because if your baby isn't Gerber baby cute, this is not getting on the inaudible. That's just not going to happen."
Drew Detzler: Yeah, exactly.
Misty Larkins: And then we got to shift and we got to talk a little bit more about identifying, " What does your customer journey look like and what are the types of questions that people have along the way, and are you meeting them with content at every stop that they have along that journey? Are you guiding them in the way that pushes them further towards that conversion step? Are you then supporting that with those digital PR strategies?" Because we didn't want to abandon that. It's really a very special secret sauce that we have, that not a lot of other agencies do, especially when you're talking about in the gross marketing space. We have this toolset that we can deploy. So that then became more about, " Okay, how do we evaluate linkable and rankable content on your site? How do we leverage that for opportunities to build credibility in those publications that you still want to be in? And how do we design that whole strategy in a way that gets you to the end goal of seeing that return on your investment, seeing the results from both your traffic strategies as well as your overall brand credibility?" It took a long time for us to shift, especially as it relates to our current client base, and figuring out how to connect with the types of client that were looking for the service that we had to offer. Prior to really landing on the gross marketing agency moniker, we often refer to ourselves more as just a boutique digital marketing agency, which I would say still applies. However, a lot of the things that we do, we like the growth aspect. Because that's really what our goal is, is to take businesses that... We don't really work with a ton of early- stage startups. We work more maybe after someone has made it past their first funding round or a Series A or something like that. They have their proven product or service. They know who they're targeting, what their market is. And then what we like to say is, "We can pour gasoline on the fire. We can pour gasoline on the fire that's already burning and help with that growth." So yeah, it took a while to shift and we're still working on it. We're still a work in progress as well, but it's been a really interesting last probably two years in really trying to shift the types of clients that we're going after and really identify for us what makes the most sense.
Ryan Brock: In a slightly roundabout way, this connects really strongly in my mind to something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Just, I don't know, a couple weeks ago, I did a webinar with Content Marketing Institute and I boldly named that webinar Domain Authority is Dead. I made the argument that trying to do things like build back links to your website for the purposes of raising your domain authority doesn't matter, especially in the world of pillar- based marketing that I know we're all familiar with, where we've seen time and time again, if you align to search behavior, if you understand what people actually care about when it comes to a topic, you can develop the right content, network it in the right way, and you can reach page one without having to do that. It doesn't matter. The domain authority is a vanity metric, if that's possible, which it is. And that's what I think I'm hearing you say, where it's like, what we might have done five years ago for the sake of this is what SEO is, today, we're doing similar things, but it's all based on creating actual authority, not checking off a box and saying, " Oh, we have a high domain authority score," or" We've got a certain number of back links," or" We've gotten a certain number of brand mentions." It's about this grassroots, comprehensive approach to saying, " When people are trying to learn about a topic, there's a million, billion different ways that they could go to learn that on the internet. It's so broad, it's so vast. They could search a million different places, infinite number of different keywords and avenues to learn about something. Our job is to understand where the ones people are at more often than not, and how can we make sure that our brands that we represent are there, actually giving people what they need, actually being a legitimate authority?" And so to me, that's what I'm hearing you say, and I think it's like, that is the future of SEO, if we're talking about SEO. It's not, check these boxes and do these things to get a better score. It's, know where people are and then know that there's different ways to engage with information and you need to align with those things. So it's super cool to hear you talking about that from your perspective.
Misty Larkins: I think that backlinks, they have a place in the overall formula, or I think it's art and science as it applies to SEO, but I do think that it is so much more about building your personalized authority in a topic than it is about trying to work any kind of system. People who still think that they can game Google, I just don't believe it. I just don't believe it. I don't believe it will happen. I think that Google is smart enough now. We're past the day, we left the days of keyword stuffing 10, 15 years in the past.
Ryan Brock: Right.
Misty Larkins: We've left the gaming backlinks in the past. Now it is so much more about proving, not just to Google, but to your potential customers that you know what you're talking about and that they should trust you. So if you do not have that piece, if you're not consistently working on that, if that is not a focused part of your strategy, backlinks are not going to do anything for you. It's just not going to happen. They're not going to be an additive to what you're doing, if what you're doing is nothing else as it relates to your overall authority and credibility on your site.
Ryan Brock: Right. I'm going to assume that we're both going to be in DC for Content Marketing World this year.
Misty Larkins: Yeah!
Ryan Brock: I'm going to make a mission to buy you a drink and convince you that backlinks are never the top priority. Allow me that opportunity. I know it's bold. I know it's bold, but I'm telling you, you can give me a thousand things to look at to do, and backlinks are never going to be the top priority. But it's a bold perspective.
Misty Larkins: It is bold.
Drew Detzler: It is.
Misty Larkins: That's bold, and I will let you buy me that drink. I will let you buy me that drink, and then I'll buy the appetizers and I'll show you reasons why I still think that they are useful in certain cases.
Ryan Brock: Fair play. Love it.
Drew Detzler: Yeah, I love this. One thing that I hear you talking about, Misty, is a part of broadening your guys' approach and attaching the PR aspect of things with the on- page and content SEO side of things. As a marketer, SEO historically was very hard to attribute revenue to, unless you were an enterprise- level company that can afford tools that can do that. But as we've come along as marketers, it's possible now for your growth stage companies and smaller companies to attribute revenue to SEO. When both PR and content were both very hard to attribute revenue to, it was a coin flip of which we spend money on. But now that content is becoming more attributable, I think that's where we see people shifting their focus. We see people more interested in showing us those lead- generating content results.
Misty Larkins: I think you are entirely correct. I don't gamble in Vegas. I go to Vegas all the time. I love the food, I love the shows, I love the people- watching, but I do not gamble, because I don't like giving people money for them to not guarantee and give something back. I just don't like it. That's why I would prefer to online shop than gamble. I give you my money, you give me something back. And I think that that's why things that can be revenue- attributed, I think that that's why they're so much more popular. Again, I still think that PR does have its place, and where we see PR working really well especially is in companies who are looking for exits or for raises. So if you can prove, especially to investors, you might not get any traffic to your site from that article, but you can 100% leverage it in the way that still achieves your goals in the end by showing that other publications find you credible enough to mention you in articles on their site. And so even though you might not be able to directly attribute any revenue to those, I think it is still a great tool to have in your arsenal. Even if you're a B2C, like you sell whatever, cogs or whatever they use, there's still a place for that. But again, I think that using that as your only strategy, especially if your goal is leads and conversions, I used to jokingly refer to people who only wanted PR as badge- chasers. They just wanted the badges to show up on their website, because they thought that that would do something. And again, I think it was more they thought it would do something that it doesn't. It still has its place. It's still important. It's still a powerful tool when used the right way and when the expectations are not that it's going to have an outcome.
Drew Detzler: Absolutely.
Misty Larkins: That it's not possible to do it.
Drew Detzler: It absolutely has its place and it's very important. It builds trust, to your point. But exactly, if it's lead gen you're looking for, it can't be your only solution.
Ryan Brock: And I think what we're talking about is the fact that marketers, they should focus on a good mix of, what are those tactics that you can employ that actually drive results that are measurable and provable, so you can earn trust and get a seat at the table, and then what are the other things that need to happen that aren't going to have that level of insight, but are going to support the other efforts that you're doing? I think we've over- corrected to a certain extent, because every aspect of business for so long has had so much transparency in terms of data. How do we automate this and automate that and think about this and attribute that? Marketing is desperate for that. That's why we all spend so much money on paid ads, even though we hate them, because we understand them and they're clear, and we can show those numbers to a boss who's never worked in marketing and they'll get it. But it's like, if we can do that on a few things and then really earn the trust, we can make magic happen that's not as measurable and it doesn't need to be.
Misty Larkins: Yeah, I totally agree with you.
Drew Detzler: All right. Talk a little bit more about the SEO strategy side of things. How are you ensuring relevance that your SEO strategy aligns to the interests of your target audiences? Or your client's target audiences, I should say.
Misty Larkins: Yeah, yeah. I started from obviously the in- depth conversations that we have with their clients about their customers, because no one's going to know a brand's customers better than them, or no one should know a brand's customers better than them. We are using a lot of tools that try to make sure that we're gut- checking ourselves at every point. Obviously, DemandJump being one of the newer tool for us, but one we've definitely seen a lot of progress with and see it as a powerful tool in our arsenal. It's like we're deploying all of those, like I said, art and science type things. I feel like sometimes, people think we just create content to create content, or they think that they should create a certain amount of content. Like, " I have to have a blog post every day," or" I have to have..." whatever, and I'm just like, " Okay, well, are you writing content just to fill checks in box, fill some quota and say that you wrote a blog post? Or are you designing content and topics that is intentionally made to have both the authority- building aspect of being able to answer a person's question that they're having about legitimate topics that your website should cover, and also raise your visibility by potentially being able to rank for keywords and questions around that?" Because they're two very different things, but I think that the second is much more aligned with what customers, especially top of the funnel customers are really looking for. And it really is more about meeting them where their needs are rather than just deciding, " Well, I saw another blog have this topic. I feel like we should have it too." It's like, " Okay, but why?"
Drew Detzler: Yep, that's what we always say. "How do you know you're not copying the dumb kid in class?" is something that we always reference when it comes to writing that.
Misty Larkins: Right.
Ryan Brock: Yo.
Drew Detzler: Just because they wrote it doesn't mean that you should write it.
Ryan Brock: Yeah. Misty, I don't know if you've learned this about me yet, but I like to make bold statements, big statements that are largely unsubstantiated.
Drew Detzler: No.
Ryan Brock: But one of them is, " Nobody's reading your blog. Nobody cares. Nobody's going to your company's website clicking blog and saying,'I wonder what's going on at my favorite brand today'." We're finding these things through search, and maybe there's one person in the stack of a thousand that's wanting to see what your volunteer day look like or whatever, and that's great. It's wonderful. Do that. It's part of your character. But yeah, I'm always going to focus on the things that are aligned with the actual customer journey, and I don't know if-
Drew Detzler: Yeah, answering the questions they're asking. Like Misty said, meet them where they are.
Misty Larkins: I feel like blog content that's less focused on customer journey and more focused on, like you said, somebody's volunteer day is more for existing customers. I don't think it ever really is targeted. Well, they could think it's targeted at potential customers or people looking to find them, but I have admittedly definitely gone to brands that I'm already aware with, and I've gone and I've looked at their blog and it was more of a question, and maybe just because I understand search and how that's designed. However, I have read blogs for things that I had Googled and then introduced myself to new brands. So I think it's really, again, if I'm a brand and I'm going to spend my money on something, it's 100% going to be the latter of that, and it's going to be the content that's designed to attract and answer potential customers questions. Even existing customers, it's not like they stop having questions when they buy your service or know your brand. But yeah, there's room for the other. I just think that, again, I think that one is designed more for potential customers and one is more relevant or more likely to be read by existing customers.
Ryan Brock: Yeah. I think we need to patent this show format, Drew. Ryan says something obtuse and potentially dumb, allowing our guests to say something much more subtle and intelligent, and let's just do that back and forth.
Drew Detzler: Yeah, I agree. I agree. All right. One or two more questions, then we'll jump into the lightening round. All right, I'm going to bring it up. You guys thought you were going to be able to listen to a piece of content without hearing it, but generative AI?
Ryan Brock: Oh, no, no. Okay.
Drew Detzler: No, I'm not going there, generative AI.
Ryan Brock: What's that? What's generative AI, Drew? I've never heard of that before.
Drew Detzler: AI and content, you can't go anywhere without seeing it. Everything's changing. Everyone's talking about it. Search engine algorithms are always changing; new developments in SEO, the most recent one, AI. Misty, how do you at Relevance keep up with everything that's changing, and how do you guys change your strategies as a part of that?
Misty Larkins: Yeah. I would say that we have a lot of strategic advisors and people that we converse with and just bounce ideas off of a lot, and that definitely helps. Because reading an article, I joke that I love Search Engine Journal. I really do. I think that there's great ideas there, but I also feel like they can be slightly alarmist.
Ryan Brock: Oh, yes.
Drew Detzler: Yes.
Misty Larkins: And I'm more a wait and see. I'm more of a wait and see. I want to see how things shake out. I want to see how things play out in real life. I want to test it. Our model is always we test it on ourselves first, so we'll test it on our own website. We'll test it on our own blog. We'll test it as part of our own strategy and see what happens, and then slow- roll it out. If it works and we're like, " We can get behind it," we then slow- roll that out to our clients. That way, we can say, " Hey, look, we did this on our own website. We tried this. It works. We would love to try this strategy with you." How it relates to AI, I don't know. Maybe I've just watched too many Will Smith movies around AI. I, for one, welcome our robot overlords, but I think that there's a real risk for people who think that AI like ChatGPT is just going to eliminate any kind of human element as it relates, especially to writing content. Because I think you could teach an AI and give it all these prompts. You can tell it all about your customers. You can tell it all about what you want. But at the end of the day, I think that a human is going to write better, more nuanced content that more effectively is able to reach your potential customers and your readers than AI will. Especially as it relates to search, there are already things that can tell if search and if something is AI- generated, and I can't see a world in which Google doesn't slap that down. I just cannot see a world in which they will rank AI content that's written entirely by AI over a piece of content that's been written by humans. If for no other reason, then they're like, " You're intentionally trying to game the system. I don't like that. Go sit in the corner." If for no other reason than that.
Ryan Brock: Almost everything you've said is a really good paraphrasing of what Google has said on the subject. They're not saying explicitly, " Don't do this." They're saying, " Keep focused on what we're telling you you need to do, which is to actually engage humans and provide authority." And that authority should be derived from something, from experience perspective, knowledge, not... It's not going to be good enough to just ask an AI to tell us what is the lowest common denominator of what the internet says on a subject, paste that on the internet, and then hope that we're going to win. And they have said that, " If we see that kind of crap, we're going to flag it, and we might even flag your whole domain." And Neil Patel, I've referenced the study a bunch of times, but he has 100 sites that use AI content, half of them edited by humans, the other half not. 100% drop in traffic overnight when the spam update hit on the ones that didn't have human editing, and then like 7% on the ones that did. I don't know about you, Misty, but 7% is a big margin. That's enough to keep Drew here awake at night as our CMO. So I wouldn't trust that, even if it's a little bit better than the ones that are fully there. I think it's a great tool. No, I think it's a bad tool that will become great.
Drew Detzler: Yes. There it is.
Misty Larkins: I think there are certain applications where it's helpful. I do not think when writing content. I would never use it to write content, even though obviously that's the benefit to being... Obviously, you can save money if you're not having to pay a writer or an editor or anyone to touch it. But the risk- reward for me where content, especially content that's designed for search and to meet your customers as part of their journey is concerned, it's just not worth it. I think we even read it in a blog that somebody posted about ChatGPT, and they were like, " It's good for getting the bad ideas out of the way." If you're brainstorming and you're like, "Okay, this is what we're brainstorming on," and you ask ChatGPT to give you 20 ideas about it, well, there are all your bad ideas out on a paper. Now, move beyond that into the more creative things and the better things.
Ryan Brock: Boom.
Misty Larkins: So if you want to use ChatGPT to get all the bad ideas out, 100% use it for that. I think too, that if you're struggling... I, obviously, I am not a writer. I'm an agonized writer. I guess that there's that way. I will spend five times as long writing a stinking headline than, say, an editor or someone who writes regularly would do. So I think that if I have something in my head that I'm trying to figure out how to say, typing something in ChatGPT, " Summarize this for me," and reading it, that's great. I've also used it to double- check my child's homework, so there's that too.
Drew Detzler: Oh, there you go.
Misty Larkins: So parents across the world, if you just don't understand new math, I luckily do, my mom's a math teacher, but if you don't understand new math, ChatGPT can help you there. And also, if you want a summary to understand a historical topic.
Drew Detzler: Exactly.
Misty Larkins: Just not in writing, like I said, that content.
Ryan Brock: Well, I used it for actual work that we're doing in marketing recently. One of our very talented writers, and she knows I did this, we talked about this, I have her blessing, thank you, Claire, she wrote a really great case study blog post. It was a good, I don't know, 700, 800 words long. It was a decent- size thing. But we have these new case study templates for a one- pager that we built, and I'm like, " All right, I've got about 200 words that I can fit this into." So this is something that I could take the existing thing that was our original content, say, " Hey, ChatGPT, summarize this in 200 words," and it was like 95% there. It was really, really close, and it was effective. It saved me time, but it also wasn't starting from nothing or relying on the general knowledge of the internet to talk about a complicated subject. And so I think that's where we got to look. I recently likened it to a calculator. All of my math teachers, sorry to your mom, were wrong about me not having access to calculators and spreadsheets at all times when I needed them. And the math that I need to do is very simple. It always works, but I always hated showing my work. And I think that that's what writers are going to run into now, is we as a community, as a society need to agree on, what does it mean for a writer to show their work? We need to know that if I'm trusting you with telling me the truth and giving me good information, there's certain things about your job that are wrote and I think could be replaced by a calculator or ChatGPT, but then there's other parts of your job as a writer that aren't. And I think it's going to be interesting as we all figure that out together over the next coming months and years.
Misty Larkins: Yeah. My child uses that. " I don't understand why I have to do this. I'm always going to have a calculator." And I'm like, " You are not wrong. You are not wrong."
Drew Detzler: I love it. Yeah, that's a tough one. " You will always have a calculator, but not right now." I love it. Ryan, any other questions? Anywhere else you want to go here before we hit the lightning round?
Ryan Brock: No, this was a great conversation. I am excited to dig into Misty's life here in the lightning round and-
Misty Larkins: Oh, wonderful. Yeah, yeah, let's do that. That sounds great.
Drew Detzler: All right, here we go. Before we let you go, Misty, we're going to have some fun with what we call the lightning round. The last thing you searched, what was it?
Ryan Brock: Boom.
Misty Larkins: Best restaurants at Disney.
Drew Detzler: Ooh.
Ryan Brock: Ooh.
Drew Detzler: Going to Disney? When are you going to Disney?
Misty Larkins: Whenever.
Drew Detzler: Okay.
Misty Larkins: Disney is my happy place.
Drew Detzler: Oh, I love it.
Misty Larkins: I don't have a trip on the books yet, but I needed the information.
Drew Detzler: Well, based off of your search intent, I'm guessing it'll be relatively soon that you'll book that trip.
Misty Larkins: Hopefully. Random fact about me, and this is more than just a lightning round, I really like two things, sneakers and Disney. And I stumbled into a Discord channel called Kicks at the Castle, which is literally all about Disney and sneakers. There's an ongoing debate about Land versus World in that Discord specifically that is the funniest thing I've ever seen.
Ryan Brock: This is what we're talking about, but here's the thing. I'm going to make this relevant to the podcast. Because if, Misty, you can go out there on the internet and find a community of people who are at the convergence of these two completely unrelated interests, that's representative to me of how all of us think about information and community now. We all expect that in the wide world of the internet, we can find what we want somewhere. And if our customers are expecting that, then we should be bringing that experience. There's a lot to be said about targeting keywords with zero traffic or going after really long tail terms that are super niche when it comes to SEO. That's where brands should be, because if you understand your customers well enough, you're going to understand what those perfect convergence points are, and I think it's super cool that we even have the ability to do that as marketers.
Misty Larkins: Yep. I totally agree with you. Way to make it relevant. I appreciate that.
Drew Detzler: Oh, man. That's why you're here, Ryan. That's why we keep you around. All right, last question. Misty, what's your best prediction for SEO trends in this year and beyond?
Misty Larkins: Oh. I am 100% convinced, and I swear this is not just because we do digital PR at Relevance, I am 100% convinced that Google, if they are not already, which I argue that they are, can take a mention of a brand that is not linked in any way back to that brand's website and attribute it to the EAT model and use that as part of the brand's overall expertise, authority, and trust score.
Drew Detzler: Interesting.
Ryan Brock: Yeah, that's tinfoil hat level stuff, but it makes a lot of sense.
Drew Detzler: Yeah, it does. And well, I'm going to say it. That lends to Ryan's backlink stance a little bit, so...
Misty Larkins: Yeah, it does. It does. It 100% does, and I just think it's possible. I think it's possible if not probable.
Drew Detzler: Yeah, I tend to agree with you. What makes us think that they aren't able and aren't already doing that?
Ryan Brock: Because the whole point, every loophole we've ever used in SEO has been a weakness of Google, and they know that and they're working to fix it. They simply want to find real authority out there, quantify it somehow, and present it to people in a time of need. That's all they want. So yeah, that, of course, would be something worth pursuing if you were.
Misty Larkins: Google, look, I think it's so funny to me that people, they freak out over algorithm updates. They freak out and they're like, "Oh my God, how's it inaudible?", whatever. I'm like, if you've been doing the things that you should be doing, if your intention is to create the content that matches what people are searching for... Because search intent, I think that that's nothing, like the next frontier. If you're not paying attention to search intent and making sure that your page, the content on your page matches what the search intent of that keyword or phrase or whatever is, then you're already behind. And if you ever have to question why a page isn't ranking well, there are a lot of checks on that checkbox that you should do, but one of them should be, " Is what I am writing along this page targeting this keyword? Does it match the search intent of all of the things that are ranking in the top 10?" If not, then the problem is in the type of content that you have, not in your domain authority or whatever. Because I don't care if you have a domain authority in the eighties, the nineties, whatever, if you are not writing better content than what's already ranking, and if you are not doing it to match the search intent of the user, you're not going to rank. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you have 500 backlinks. It doesn't matter if you have an 80 domain authority. None of that's going to matter, because at the end of the day, Google is trying to serve content that the person's looking for, period.
Ryan Brock: In fact, if you have a domain authority of 10 and your competitors have domain authorities of 70, if you know what to write and it aligns to the journey Google already understands is happening around a topic, you can beat them. It happens all the time. We've seen it dozens of times. Our domain authority at DemandJump is so below the big players in the SEO industry, it's not even funny, and we whoop their butts on the things that we actually care about. Not everything, but the things we care about, those convergence points with our customers where we know these are where people are, knowing that it's half the battle. And getting there is about understanding and then providing what people actually want, what they're asking for, not checking boxes. I couldn't agree more with what you're saying, Misty.
Drew Detzler: All right. Well, thank you, Misty, for being an awesome guest today. Before we let you go, is there anything else you would like to plug or tell us about what's going on in Relevance?
Misty Larkins: Oh, geez. No, not that I can think of. Honestly, we're just out there. My favorite thing is an underdog story. I love my favorite types of clients. I love working with big brands too, but my favorite types of clients are underdog brands that are looking to become radically relevant. I'm competitive, so I want to win those page one terms. I want to help grow brands, so if that's the type of brand you are, get at me. I'd love to work with you.
Ryan Brock: Boom. Do it.
Drew Detzler: I love it. We'll link to it in the show notes and you guys can check it out. Please look up Misty and Relevance. Thanks again, Misty.
Misty Larkins: Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you guys for having me.
Ryan Brock: Thanks for a great convo.
Drew Detzler: Ryan, what do you leave that conversation with? What was your main takeaway?
Ryan Brock: My main takeaway is that Misty was awesome, and that's really all I have to say about that, honestly. If I was forced to say more, it's that you talk to people like Misty who are in it every day, like agency owners. And it's not always that. It's internal marketers too, but people who are under pressure to make marketing do something for the person that you're promising, " Okay, you give me your money and I'm going to do something for you. I'm going to turn it into leads or sales or whatever it is you want." We talk to those people, and I think they come at all of these issues that we talked about today, like AI and SEO and everything, from such a level- headed perspective. Because we're at a point where all of us who are in marketing are tired of having to justify what we do, and then we want to justify what we do in the workflow. We want to have the numbers. We want to report. We want to make smart decisions. But I'm with Misty on everything she said. When it comes to the new technologies that are coming, AI, algorithm updates, it's like, just wait and see. Everybody, don't freak out. We'll collect data and we'll become smart and we will find uses for tools and for new kinds of data as they come. In the meantime, let's have a drink. Let's talk about marketing and let's see if we can change each other's minds, which I think is really awesome too. That was just a really great conversation.
Drew Detzler: Beautiful, beautiful. I completely agree, Ryan. All right. Well, that is it for this episode of Page One or Bust. We'll see you next time.
Speaker 1: Are you ready to dive even deeper into pillar- based marketing? Here's your chance. The brand new book, Pillar- Based Marketing: A Data- Driven Methodology for SEO and Content That Actually Works by co-hosts Ryan Brock and Christopher Day is now available in paperback, hard cover, and ebook editions. Find it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or look for the link in the show notes.
Join the conversation as Misty Larkins, President at Relevance, shares how her team transformed itself from a digital PR company to a powerhouse of on-page strategies. Learn how they blended content strategies and SEO tactics to build personalized authority on a topic. Plus, Drew, Ryan, and Misty reveal the secrets to aligning your SEO strategy with your target audience's interests and keeping up with the ever-changing SEO landscape.
Got a topic idea? Hot take? Guest pitch? We’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us at PageOne@DemandJump.com.