SEMpdx, a Portland organization aimed at educating people about search engine marketing techniques, held their 6th annual Searchfest Conference on Feb 23, 2011 at the Governor Hotel. After reviewing the speaker lineup, and seeing tickets for under $200, I decided I had to attend.
There was much talk about a snowpocalypse, but luckily that didn’t affect Portland which only got a couple of inches of snow, only the people driving from out of town.
I always try to fly on Southwest and this trip was no different. I flew from Dallas to Kansas City and onto Portland. The current issue of Spirit magazinefeatures articles about Dallas, and being from Dallas, I thought I wouldn’t see anthing new, but I did discover a new nature hiking trail that I plan on checking out soon.
I always knew Texas is business friendly but wasn’t aware that ‘more corporations are based in Texas than any other state. There are 20+ Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Dallas (yes, the now infamous JCPenney included).
After arriving in Portland, I hopped on the train to downtown which was super cheap at $2.35 for the ride. I was pretty pleased with Portland’s public transit and didn’t have to rent a car which is always nice.
I was unable to get a room at the conference hotel, The Governor Hotel, so I got a room at the nearby Paramount hotel, which was very nice. I definitely enjoyed the Jacuzzi tub each night of my stay. I had a corner executive suite and had some nice views of downtown Portland.
The next morning I woke up early and headed over to SearchFest.
After the Keynote by Chris Sherman of Search Engine Land, I attended the Competitive Intelligence session presented by Todd Malicoat and John Andrews.
The next sesssion I attended (along with 90%) of the other attendees was the Advanced Linkbuilding session featuring the SEO celebrity himself, Rand Fishkin, and Adam Audette of Audette Media. Rand was very upbeat and many thought his demeanor was more excited than normal.
What would a search conference be without a quote from Matt Cutts?!
Next up was lunch, which was surprisingly good considering the food I’ve had at other conferences isn’t always up to par. Great job Jake’s Catering!
The next session I attended was the Conversion Optimization session presented by Susan Delz of Ion Interactive and Lulu Gephart of REI. If you haven’t checked out LiveBall from Ion Interactive, I highly suggest checking out this great landing page optimization tool that I was introduced to recently. (link to LiveBall)
After this session, for the final breakouts, I was one of 30 others who listened to Todd Friesen and Ian Lurie talk about Building Your Search Agency. This was a great session that featured lots of humor, obscene language, David Hasselhoff naked and lots of tips for running a search agency. I have to say that this one was my favorite of the day.
After the keynote, everyone hung around for a few hours for the Happy Hour sponsored by ethology. There were lots of great people to talk with and I met a lots of great people. You can see the rest of my Searchfest 2011 pictures at Flickr.
The next day, I headed out to the airport. There wasn’t any snow on the ground in downtown, but there was on the outskirts of town.
Overall, SearchFest was a great conference and I’m hoping to attend next year. Thanks to SEMpdx, David Mihm and all of the others who made this a great event.