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SEMpdx’s 6th Annual SearchFest is this Friday, February 24th at The Governor Hotel in Portland, OR. Portland’s premier search marketing and social media conference offers sessions from industry leaders from all over the country, covering the latest in PPC, SEO, and Social Media.

SearchFest 2012

To help you figure out what sessions to attend or if you’re on the fence about attending SearchFest, Ryan, Jessica, and Ashley have selected the sessions that they want to attend the most and why. To top it all off, Ben Lloyd, our fearless leader and Portland native, has included a list of some of his favorite Portland hotspots for food, drink, and fun for Friday night and Saturday morning.

If you haven’t already purchased your ticket, it’s not too late! Go to the SEMpdx SearchFest Pages and use the code PREVIEW to get $50 off your ticket price! Check out the SearchFest agenda to figure out your top session picks. Let us know what you’re attending in the comments.

Ryan’s SearchFest Playlist

Marketing Challenges

Rand Fishkin is one of the best presenters/speakers I’ve seen in our industry. He always has great content and shares it in a way that is easy to understand.

Display and Remarketing

I’ve seen Joanna Lord speak multiple times now and her energy and passion for internet marketing is contagious. Her presentations are always great and informative.

Advanced Off-Site SEO

I’m most excited about Adam Audette in this session. SEO is a complex topic and Adam Audette always simplifies SEO and has great actionable advice.

Universal Search

I’ve never seen either of these two speakers present but I love analytics and data. I’ve heard from a few people that Mike Pantoliano is one of the best when it comes to web analytics.

Jessica’s SearchFest “Likes”

Jessica Ward

Social Media Strategy

I’m really excited about this session. Ian Lurie and John Shehata are awesome at what they do. Inside information tells me Ian is actually going to go over his daily, weekly, and monthly tasks for monitoring social media and John is going to give us the skinny on Facebook. Oh, did I mention that they’re both very entertaining speakers?

Advanced On-Site SEO

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of Advanced SEO tactics. I’ve heard from colleagues that Jon Colman and Dennis Goedegebuure are very interesting speakers. I really look forward to hearing what they have to say.

Conversion Optimization

Conversions. For many clients it’s the life blood of their online marketing endeavors. I’m really interested in hearing what Susan Delz has to say about landing page strategy and optimization. I’ve heard quite a few people from REI talk about conversion rates and cross-marketing, so I’m sure Jordan LeBaron will continue to intrigue me with their tactics. Brian Jones is an unknown for me, but I’ve never heard a speaker at SearchFest that didn’t teach me something – so it will be interesting to get to know him.

Local / Mobile Strategies and Tactics

Local, Local, Local. The tactics are different from traditional SEO and seem to constantly change with the new social platform of the month. I’ve heard that both Greg Sterling and Chris Silver Smith are fantastic speakers and will bring lots to the table. And if you don’t take my word for it, take the word of David Mihm who specifically requested to moderate this session.

According to… Ashley Kennedy, Top 4 SearchFest Sessions

Advanced PPC

I love managing PPC campaigns and am really looking forward to gaining some insight from Dan Sundgren and Tim Mayer. The main aspect I am interested in is the emphasis on campaign development and keyword research. Insights into search trends and research with competitive tools are a few of the main topics that will be covered.

Advanced Social Media Tactics

I have not seen Marty Weintraub or Will Scott present. I am very excited to attend this session because I have heard great things about their sessions from my co-workers. Expanding my knowledge in advanced content strategies in social media is something I am really looking forward to.

Social Analytics

Once a strong audience in the social realm has been established, what is the next step? Justin Kistner and Kelly Feller will discuss how to set goals that align with your social strategy. I am looking forward to learning how to build a success measurement against social media activities and investments.

Universal Search

In online marketing strategies, common topics that are often emphasized are social media and sponsored advertising. I am really excited to hear Marshall Simmonds and Rhea Drysdale discuss exploration of new strategies and procedures to strengthen exposure across these non-traditional platforms.

Ben’s Portland Pro Tips

Twitter: @blizzle

Restaurant for Friday Night

Boy – if there is a town for restaurants Portland is it. I don’t really even know where to start with this one…  so I kept it pretty close to the conference. I’ve listed too many as it is but here’s a few spots I like a lot. All are KINDA spendy but hey, it’s all a business expense right?

  • Clyde Common: See the 1st bar stop below.
  • Little Bird: French spot but I love the Le Pigeon burger.
  • Gruner: “Alpine” (German) cuisine.
  • Urban Farmer or Departure at The Nines Hotel… The architecture is nice to look at and so are the patrons.
  • Jake’s: A Portland institution and there’s one right at The Governor Hotel… and there’s another one a block or two away.
  • Portland City Grill: Hard to go wrong with a 30th floor view.
  • Brasserie Montmartre: Kind of forgotten about but this french/gastropub stop is still pretty great.
  • Cheapskate option: Go to a food cart (there’s an App as well). My fave – I LOVE Koi Fusion. On Friday night there’s one stationed near Jeld-Wen field on SW 20th & Burnside. It’s a little bit of a hike but you can take the MAX there… and then you’re in striking distance of NW 21st ave which has lots of bars as well.

Bar for Friday Night

Personally, I’m more of an East Side guy when it comes to bars… and you definitely won’t catch me in a “club”. But, here’s some spots that’ll keep you close to the Governor. If you don’t like my recommendations – check out www.barflypdx.com to find your spot.

  • 1st Stop: Clyde Common: Get your first drink here… and maybe a bite to eat. Located in the Ace Hotel, it’s more of a restaurant than a bar, but the cocktails are excellent and it’s PDX in full.
  • 2nd Stop: From there – it’s really all about what you’re into and there are plenty of spots. Like video games and pinball with your beer? Go to Ground Kontrol. Fancy cocktails? Teardrop Cocktail Lounge. Beer? Bailey’s Taproom. Just getting crazy? Head down to 2nd & Burnside and pick a spot.
  • 3rd Stop: Scooter McQuade’s. For the truly hardcore. Clear drinks and Jell-O shots for everyone! Go ahead, you won’t regret that in the morning.
  • You didn’t get drunk and eat junk food in PDX unless you hit VooDoo Donuts

Breakfast for Saturday Morning

I’m going to start out with my overall #1 breakfast/brunch recommendation, but it requires transportation. The other spots are walking distance from SearchFest.

  • 1st – Tasty n Sons: Extremely popular and deservedly so. IF you can get there early AND you have transportation (it’s only a few minutes to drive there from downtown) AND you don’t mind waiting a bit… if you get there a bit late the wait will be long
  • 2nd – Mother’s Bistro & Bar: Downtown breakfast mainstay. Simple, fantastic food.
  • Honorable mention – Bijou Cafe or Fuller’s Coffee Shop
  • Don’t forget! You haven’t had coffee in PDX until you’ve had Stumptown (two locations downtown)

Place to Visit Saturday During the Day

If you aren’t working off your hangover from Friday night then here are a few things to try out. Apparently I mostly like eating and drinking because that’s all that came to mind. So here are some things that I’d do… and a few that I haven’t done in a long time.

  • Alder St Food Carts: SW 10th & Alder right close to the hotel. Food cart mania.
  • Director Park: Close to pioneer square but a little classier
  • Powell’s City of Books: Remember books that you actually bought and held in your hand? Here’s an entire city block of them.
  • Go wine tasting: The Willamette Valley is home to the best Pinot Noir and it’s close to PDX. You can be at a winery in 20 minutes.
  • Portland Saturday Market: It’s like Seattle’s Pike Place Market but nowhere near as good. Sorry folks but that’s the truth. It is great for people watching though.
  • And finally – don’t take my word for it. Time Magazine gives you 10 things to do right here. Turns out my intuition wasn’t that far off – several of these are centered on eating and drinking.

A Google Map of Ben’s Recommendations

View Ben’s SEMpdx SearchFest 2012 Recommendations in a larger map

About Jessica Ward

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