After years of planning, more than 150 search marketing professionals gathered to network and learn at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake for the kickoff meeting of Salt Lake City Search engine marketing, or SLCSEM.org, on Wednesday.
Companies like Ancestry.com, Backcountry.com and Overstock.com, coupled with low costs, have given Utah a growing technology presence, which has raised demand for search engine optimization. But the presence of these Internet giants alone isn’t enough to bring prominence to Utah, according to some who participated in the event.
“California gets a lot of attention from Internet companies,” said Jay Bean, CEO of American Fork-based OrangeSoda, which sponsors SLCSEM.org. “I think organizations like this can hopefully build credibility for Utah companies involved.”
In the eyes of the SLCSEM.org board, Utah is not short on talent, which is a lesser-known fact to which they hope to draw national attention.
“This market gets underrated,” said Dustin Engel, chief revenue and strategy officer at ClearSaleing, who has worked in Dallas, Austin and Seattle. “The talent pool here is just as good as anywhere else. Actually, I think it’s better, specifically in certain arenas like search.”
Engel also serves on the board for SLCSEM.org.
Some companies that recruit primarily from Utah, like Bluffdale-based SEO.com, are regularly looking for talent, which is a perk the search marketing company intends to capitalize on.
“Most of our recruitment is done here,” said Ash Buckles, president of SEO.com. “We’ve been in rapid growth mode over the last four years. We’re constantly hiring monthly.”
SEO.com’s head count is at about 70 and will grow by three or four by the end of the year.
Future events will provide a place to find new talent and give training for an ever-changing market.
SEO.com executives plan to attend future events so they are updated on changes in search marketing.
“Our market literally changes every day in one aspect or another,” Buckles said. “So it’s a matter of staying current. If we can get a few representatives to some local and industry events throughout the year it will keep us fresh.