OK SEOmoz friends and fans, so here's the deal. On behalf of the fair cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the fine state of Minnesota, we'd like to formally invite you to mozcation here with us.
What makes the Twin Cities a great place for SEOs and fans of inbound marketing to live, work and play, you say, in your fancy landing page? Here's a dozen darned good reasons to use up a few of your PTO days in the 32nd state of our fair U.S. of A. (If you're a Minnesotan SEO, share this post far and wide on your social networks to prove to SEOmoz just how much we'd like them to be our guest.)
1. Twin Cities and Interactive Marketing Go Way Back
Did you know that the oldest interactive marketing association in the nation is from right here in Minnesota? The Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association, or MIMA, is home to over 1,100 marketers in the state. Last year's MIMA Summit featured some of the biggest names around, including Wired's Chris Anderson, Avinash Kaushik, and none other than a Mr. Rand Fishkin. This year's keynotes are Guy Kawasaki and Jane McGonigal, and SEO/social highlights include Vanessa Fox, Mark Schaefer, and some players to be named later (yes, registration is open!). All the cool kids are coming to Minnesota, why not you, too?
2. We have 10,000 Friggin' Lakes
We understand that you fine folks on the coasts like your beachfront, but at over 90,000 ft of total shoreline with our 10,000 lakes (actually it's more like 15,000, but who's counting?), we have more space for waterfront activities than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined. Do you like to swim/boat/sail/row/ski/fish/wakeboard/wade/paddle/surf? If you said yes to any of these things, then you'll love it here. (Note: yes, we're still painfully aware that nothing beats a sunrise/sunset on an ocean.)
We love our lakes so much that we can't bear to be away from them, even in the winter. Join us for some ice fishing, curling, or maybe some good old-fashioned hockey if you can handle the cold.
3. We Know How to Party
Minnesota was first settled by waves of mostly German and Irish settlers in the 1860's and 1870's after it became a state in 1858. Who doesn't love a good party if not the Germans and Irish? Imagine generations of these folks mingling with the liberal Scandinavians who followed them from Europe shortly thereafter, and you've got a state cultured to work hard and play hard. We're always up for a good time.
4. There's a Thriving SEO Community Here
Minneapolis and St. Paul (the entire state of Minnesota, for that matter) are home to many talented search marketers hungry for event-based SEO content. Case in point: the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association (MnSearch)'s inaugural event back in January brought in over 100 attendees for Taylor Pratt's talk about SEO tools of the trade,. Minnesotan friends of SEOmoz include the incredibly entertaining Marty Weintraub, Rand's blog-fixin' buddy Jeff Sauer, and yours truly. In fact, there are a lot of SEOmoz fans here in Minnesota.
5. Two Cities for the Price of One
Although known as the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul each provide a unique experience and maximize any mozcation by delivering two times the fun. Think of it as if the West Coast and East Coast hung out across the Mississippi River. I mean, yes, most of us are "Minnesota nice", but you'll often find Minneapolis to be a bit "younger" and "modern," while St. Paul is often a little more "historic" and "quaint." Wikipedia's words, folks, not mine.
6. We are Sports Fanatics
Other than the Twins back in '87 and '91, our sports teams' records haven't been a major source of state pride. But our philosophy is simple: if you build your teams a nice enough dome/stadium/amphitheater, some day they'll win it all and make us proud. Plus, we fans get the extra added benefit of losing in comfort as consolation.
Take the Twins, for example. Target Field opened up in 2010, and I will admit. It makes me like the Twins more when I go. There's not a bad seat in the house, and there are unique sources of food and beverages around every corner. A ball game on a cool summer evening in Minnesota is not to be missed.
And then there's the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, home to the Minnesota Wild. Built in 2000, it was cited as the best overall sports venue in the U.S. by ESPN. Would you like to join us to be up close to see the action in a place like this?
We love our sports so much that we're even going to finally build the Vikings a new stadium, and they've never won a Superbowl. So please... come cheer at our games with us so that the Lynx in 2011 aren't our only major bragging rights in recent memory.
7. Minnesotans are Foodies
If fresh and delicious food is a mozcation must, then look no further. Minnesota ranks number five on the list of greatest farm output in the U.S. historically behind California, Iowa, Texas and Illinois. With amazing restaurants around every corner and a local farmer's market virtually every weekend, your taste buds will thank you for giving them a Minnesota mozcation.
PS in the food department: have you heard of a thing called the Minnesota State Fair, the second largest state fair in the nation? We've perfected just about every technique known to man when it comes to deep-frying a food, putting it on a stick, or deep-frying food that comes on a stick naturally.
8. We Can't Get Enough Good Music
The Twin Cities are often included among the top music scenes in the nation. We absolutely love our music and have plenty of places to gather and appreciate this aural art. From larger venues such as TCF Bank Stadium (again, we just built it for the Gophers in the hopes they'll win) to classic downtown Minneapolis venues such as First Avenue, there is a show for fans of nearly any type of music playing somewhere in the Twin Cities tonight.
When we're not at concerts, we're listening to our vast collections at home. Yes, we have Pandora and love Spotify, too, but we also like flipping through the vintage collection of LPs at the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis.
9. We Love Us Some Art and Culture
We Minnesotans are a civilized and educated bunch, and we have a lot of high-minded entertainment options that expand the horizons of residents and guests alike. Maybe it's all the cold winter months that force us to get creative. Maybe it's because we're smart: Minnesotan high schoolers scored the highest in the nation, on average, on the ACT college placement exam (like the SAT, but on a 36-point scale). Whatever it is, we like our art and cultural events.
It's not uncommon to find us enjoying the theater, classical music, and other forms of entertainment that don't involve auto-tuning. If you're in to any of those things, you'll be in good company here.
10. Nature Meets Civilization
With all these lakes and many undisturbed natural environments in Minnesota, it doesn't take long to notice the beautiful dynamic between Mother Nature and the ingenuity of man's architecture in the Twin Cities and throughout the state. The Landmark Center, for example, was built in 1902 in St. Paul and then restored in 1978 and overlooks Rice Park.
Also, countless old industrial and agricultural buildings built in the 19th and 20th century in Minneapolis overlook the mighty Mississippi. If you're an outdoors enthusiast who prefers double-checking your iPhone map during your nature excursions, the Twin Cities can't be beat.
11. The Largest Shopping Center in America
Is shopping your bag? The Mall of America in Bloomington is just minutes away from the airport and boasts more than 400 stores, nearly 12,000 employees, and serves between 35-40 million shoppers per year. And while the mall truly is a wonder to behold, it's just one of many great places to shop in our fine state .
If you like to shop, come on out to Minnesota (Bonus: there's no sales tax on clothing here!).
12. Pasty SEOs are in Good Company
We know SEOs are often holed up in cubes/offices often with little chance to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Those links aren't going to build themselves! As a result, going to the beach on the coasts may be a little uncomfortable because some people have nothing better to do than work on their tan.
In Minnesota, we have a great equalizer in place we like to call winter. You won't feel alone on our beaches during the summer months. We're all pasty white in the springtime. Mozcation with us and you too can proudly flaunt that perfectly colorless bod without shame or judgement.
Well what are you waiting for, SEOmoz? How could you not want to mozcation in Minnesota after this helpful handful of reasons to visit us?! We all anxiously await your reply and do hope you'll accept our offer.
Minnesotans, if you want to SEOmoz to mozcation here, do us a favor and share this post on your social networks (use the #mozcation hash on Twitter and G+).
Finally, I'd like to send a special thanks to friend and St. Paul photographer Tom Dunn for allowing me to use some of his amazing photography in this post. Visit Tom, and follow him on the Twitters, too. Thanks for sharing your work, Tom!