Sponsored by Oregon Business

Internet search grows in Bend

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Thursday, January 05, 2012

BY LINDA BAKER

Like Leo Tolstoy, I’ve never been a fan of the “great man” theory of history, in which lone, albeit powerful, individuals — i.e. Napoleon — are considered the primary drivers of historical events.

Still, open-mindedness is a virtue. And when I heard about the history of the search marketing industry and how it gained a foothold in Bend, all narrative threads did seem to lead back to one man.  That would be John Audette, an Internet pioneer who founded a Portland company called Multi-Media Marketing Group (MMG) in 1994, moved it to Bend in 1997, and is widely credited for coining the phrase “search engine optimization.”

I happened across the Central Oregon-search connection a few weeks ago while interviewing Adam Audette — son of John — for an Oregon Business feature story. His father’s company “seeded a lot of talent,” said Audette junior, whose own Bend-based search company, AudetteMedia, was acquired last summer by RKG, a Virginia-based online marketing firm.

At least two other search companies of national stature call Bend home: Global Strategies International, and G5. The latter was recently named one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country, with revenue growth of 2,111% from 2006 to 2010. There are also a handful of smaller search companies and consultants in town, including Derrick Wheeler, a former MMG employee who continues to work from Bend as Microsoft’s search engine specialist.

It’s a good industry to be in. Seemingly recession proof, the ever-evolving search marketing sector keeps moving along at double-digit growth rates. Spending in the North American Search Engine Marketing sector reached $16.6 billion in 2010, up 14 percent from the year before, according to SEMPO, a Massachusetts-based trade association.

Based on job volume, New York is driving that growth, with Los Angeles a close second. Enter the mavericks in Bend, which ”is very much a hotbed considering its size and that it isn’t a major market,” says Jeremy Sanchez, CEO of Global Strategies International. I had called Sanchez to get his perspective on the Bend-search connection, only to discover that Sanchez had also worked for MMG and John Audette —“before Google was even a search-engine company.”
Marshall Simmons, SEO director for the New York Times, is yet another MMG protégé.

Sanchez did invoke the name of another “renowned industry figure:” Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, whom Audette hired in the late 1990s to train people in Central Oregon. Audette’s innovation was to conceive of search as a marketing service, said Sanchez.  Sullivan’s focus was how search engines as operating systems “really work.”

Today, Audette senior is reportedly launching another company offering Internet services to the nonprofit sector. And as search expands into social media and onto mobile platforms, Bend companies continue to grow.  RKG, for example, recently signed a lease on a new 10,000-square-foot Bend warehouse—tripling the size of its existing footprint.

Labor and infrastructure costs are lower in Bend than major cities, said RKG chief executive George Michie, adding that the central Oregon town has other advantages—namely, employee retention. “We like the model of a small town where people like to grow roots and stay.”

Like Tolstoy said:  broader social, economic and geographical factors are at least as important as a single great man, or woman, in determining the course of human events. Then again, the Audette factor is clearly the main reason why one small Oregon town has so much search.  Says Sanchez: “It all ties back to one individual.”

Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
Adam Audette
+1 #1 The Bend SEO legacyAdam Audette 2012-01-05 11:44:43
Linda, nicely done piece. Thank you for this, hopefully it will be of interest to the Bend and Oregon community who may not be aware of what a hotbed of search Bend has become.

I would also point people to http://www.historyofseo.org/ which was put together by Mark Knowles of PixelSilk / Smartz.com (another great Bend search and web development company). There's a lot of history about folks who were influential in the early days, many of which have roots here in Bend.

Thanks again.

Adam
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
John Audette
0 #2 FounderJohn Audette 2012-05-02 05:34:45
Just saw this - thanks for the nice mention Linda.

John
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

Banking Perspective

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Craig Wanichek, president and CEO of Summit Bank.


Read more...

All Rise

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.


Read more...

Nuclear fingerprints

March 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

At Oregon State University, a 21st century version of the bad dream — nuclear terrorism — is alive and well. This winter, the Department of Nuclear Physics and Radiation Health Physics created a new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in nuclear forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created.


Read more...

Epitaph for a Boondoggle

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The CRC is a cautionary tale about how we plan for, finance and invest in transportation infrastructure.


Read more...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS