Archive for SEO

Portland’s SEM Scene

LONG TIME NO SEE. How’s it going? Good, that’s good. Cool. Oh, me? Just, oh, y’know, stumbling into thriving hubs of digital marketing niches in Portland.

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM for short, is getting paid a lot of attention by the buzzing industry in Portland.

I wasn’t even very aware that SEM specifically was so talked-about until I started following a lot of Portland digital-marketing related accounts and noticed the word floating around everywhere.

First, I stumbled upon Michael Cottom’s twitter account; he had recently posted a slideshare about his recent presentation on Google Panda’s influence at a local event, which had gotten retweeted and made its way to me. As it turns out, his sense of humor in presenting is HILARIOUS (clearly a bonus in my book), and I immediately posted it, followed him, and very quickly realized that not is he an SEO consultant in Portland (and we both know how I feel about that), but also a Moz associate. holla. We are now facebook friends and I go about liking all the pictures he posts of his recent tropical vacations. Not that that’s weird, or anything.

michael cottam


Michael is also a board member of SEMpdx, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting Portland SEM events as well as an annual conference, SearchFest, all aimed towards fostering critical thought and discussion around the ever-changing search engine marketing industry and what PDX professionals are doing to keep up with it.  SEMpdx’s twitter feed is active with info about upcoming events and retweets from a highly connected network of Portland professionals all looking to connect and better their SEM strategy. (We follow each other too. It’s casual.)

You can get plugged in to the SEM industry, anytime.

All it took was a twitter mention and a few strategic follows to get connected–not just to the local digital marketing industry, but to SEM in particular. Instead of just focusing on SEO in general, you can try going even more granular and focusing on one (increasingly important) facet of the industry–and one that you’d do well to check in with.



Digital Marketing Spotlight: PORTLAND

Portland skyline sketch

Portland: home to the now-cliche “hipster,” now-touristy Voodoo donuts, and now-blooming hub for digital marketing.

Keeping up with my “Spotlight” series on brands that are doing some aspect of digital marketing right (if you missed it, here’s me gushing about Kate Spade’s twitter + instagram campaigns and Gap’s mobile marketing initiative), I wanted to highlight another champion of the digital marketing industry. In this case, however, instead of singing the praises of a specific brand, I’m giving a shoutout to my hometown, which is ONNNN POINT with its host of kick-ass digital marketing agencies. I’ll post some more specific introductions to a few that have done an especially good job of standing out from the pack, but right now I’m drawing emphasis to the Portland region as a whole with its digital marketing efforts.

Digital marketing has met its match with Portland’s blend of creativity, youthfulness, and innovation.

It’s fueled by a contagious cocktail of talent, young energy, professionals who work their toned-bike-commuter butts off, quirky creativity, and maybe some really great sustainably-sourced coffee. It’s the work-hard-play-hard mentality. It’s the marriage of tried-and-true traditional marketing with the millennialist  emphasis on relationship, experience, and aesthetic/design. And it’s a sight more beautiful to behold than the mid-April Portland waterfront in bloom. (Okay, laying off with the overdone PDX references for real now.)

Pop Art, one such Portland-based agency (not to be confused with Lady Gaga’s lackluster 3rd album ARTPOP), explains the phenomenon in better words than I could:

 Pop Art’s home of Portland, Oregon has become one of the creative capitals of the United States. We’re home to exceptional interactive agencies on the cutting edge of modern digital marketing and interactive design.

Okay, digital marketing and design, we get it. But why is Portland actually distinct from other regions when it comes to the digital marketing industry?

 Portland’s history is steeped in the go-it-alone, do-your-own-thing, pioneer spirit. That translates directly into the modern makeup of the city. With our thriving arts, music, film and interactive scene, Portland has become a place where even the most “out-there” thinkers can find their niche and innovate in the global economy.


That’s the key: NICHES. NICHES NICHES NICHES NIETZSCHE NICHES. Digital marketing is geared around the long tail, the granular, the individual…and individualism is basically the altar upon which Portland worships. Not conceited individualism which only serves the self, but the overall concept of valuing and cultivating your own unique skillsets that can always be honed and improved to create something bigger than yourself. Not lazy individualism, but oh-you-think-you’re-cool-okay-then-do-something-with-it individualism. Individualism that ultimately ends up contributing to a team effort in some way or another.

The result of such a culture is an elite team of intelligent, savvy, forward-thinking individuals who are ever learning, ever creating, ever tweaking. And I want to be on one.

SO BADLY. I realize as a sophomore in college I haven’t exactly peaked professionally (I just finished building out my LinkedIn profile, for crying out loud), but I am doing everything I can to align myself now with that ultimate goal in order to make sure I can bring something worthwhile to the table and contribute meaningfully to a team that could use my own skillset. I thrive in the atmosphere of competition, camaraderie, and a permeating passion for the craft, and I would literally KILLLLL for that job. And by “literally” I mean figuratively kill myself getting there, of course.

I have a deep sense of belonging in the culture of Portland, in the industry of digital marketing, and in the work environment of a hip-and-happenin’ agency that’s constantly moving forward. And I have such a thirst to learn and absorb and simply be in that environment. (Any super-cool dig. marketing agencies out there need a starry-eyed intern? Will work for food.)

…welllll that escalated quickly. My b. Bottom line: Portland has got it goin’ on, and I’m way proud to call it home.



SEO for Dummies: What You Need to Know

SEO has become such a buzzword now but for those just starting to learn about its effectiveness and how it works (read: me), it can help to simplify things a bit in order really nail the key ideas. So without further ado, I present to you the dumbed-down, oversimplified, bare basics of SEO for dummies.

Rule #1: Content is king in the SEO world. All the great tips and tactics in the world can’t help you if your content sucks, so make sure the bulk of your time is spent investing in valuable, unique, well-written content that people actually want to read.

Rule #2: If content is king, then links are the benevolent right-hand man. If you want people (and the Google indexing “spiders”) to be crawling your site, you’re going to need some other sources who also think your stuff is worthwhile. The key is that they need to be authoritative sources! A big reason people tend to be reluctant to trust SEO is because of all the black-hat tricks out there that rely on link farms and deceptive sites to gain more traffic. But if you get into the practice of paying for worthless links in bulk, Google will punish you and that’s a lot worse than sitting in the corner without dessert. Make sure you link out, too—though not as valuable, it increases your chances of getting some recognition back.

Rule #3: Reputation matters. In our happy little SEO monarchy, it’s probably the knighthood or something. Essentially, you need to have a positive reputation, which you build up with your valuable content, and authoritative links. It takes patience and time (something a lot of people forget to take into account), but you will gradually build your reputation and popularity which alone will give you higher ranking. You’ll be rewarded for the legit content you post and people will like you and everyone will be happy.

That’s all I got. Good luck.

P.S. for 52 more SEO-related tips, check out Search Engine Journal’s handy-dandy list of SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love.