SALT LAKE CITY - Some have called Utah’s technology industry “Silicon Slopes,” because the tech sector is situated so close to the Wasatch Range. Adobe and Microsoft have offices in the state so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that many search engine optimization firms call Utah home.
Because search engine optimization is a newer field, many working in SEO are only in their 20s. Some of the top SEO minds are college dropouts while others are still working on degrees. Some wear shorts and flip-flops to the office, but one thing remains constant: SEOs are passionate about getting their clients’ websites to rank at the top of the search engines.
On Wednesday, rock stars in the industry, Seattle-based SEOmoz, visited Salt Lake City during the first stop on this summer’s Family MozCation tour. SEOmoz is a leading provider of SEO software.
Because Utah has so many SEO professionals, SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin said Salt Lake City was an obvious choice for a tour stop.
“The Salt Lake City SEO community is absolutely phenomenal,” Fishkin said. “If you are a website that wants to rank on the Internet you should come to Salt Lake City.”
The couple hundred people who attended MozCation in Utah would compare with a crowd of 50,000 at a New York City SEO event, he said.
“In terms of population, it’s a substantive number,” Fishkin explained in between signing autographs and appearing in photos with fans.
Some employed in the industry said one reason so many SEO firms have opened in Utah is because of the friendly business climate in the state. Low taxes and few health care mandates make Utah a popular place for startups.
“There are a bunch of entrepreneurial minded people in Utah,” said Tyson Hymas, an SEO manager at Utah-based SEO.com.
If you are a website that wants to rank on the Internet you should come to Salt Lake City."
- SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin
Colleges in Utah also churn out SEOs.
“Schools like the University of Utah and [Brigham Young University] pump out fairly technologically savvy students ready to make an impact,” said Jordan Kasteler, a managing partner at BlueGlass in Salt Lake City. “Salt Lake and Utah County people tend to be well-educated and youthful thus an interest in the Internet and technology.”
In May, SEOmoz requested nominations from cities interested in hosting a MozCation stop. Submissions from Utah poured in.
“I've been participating in local events in Utah for about six years, and have seen interest increase during that time. We have a great search community in Utah that heavily supports these local events,” SEO.com President Ash Buckles said.
Fishkin was the main presenter. He spoke about social media and whether Facebook and Twitter posts influence search engine rankings.
Other MozCation meetups are planned this summer in Brazil, Peru and Spain.
“The fact that Salt Lake City is the only English-speaking destination on the MozCation tour speaks volumes about our SEO professionals, and our excitement about the industry,” said Claye Stokes, an SEO director at SEO.com.