SearchLove San Diego: The Essential To-Do List

Dr. Steve Brule Loves Guacamole

Next week I’m headed off to the land that houses eternal sunshine, epic landscapes, and endless bowls of guacamole. I’m talking about a little place called San Diego.

The same place I lived for five years while completing my undergraduate work at SDSU. It’s also the place where I got my start in SEO (shout out to Thunder). So it’s only fitting that I make my return as an attendee of Distilled’s SearchLove. I feel fortunate to be able to represent pblasio & people at an event with so many intelligent folks, so I thought I’d share my intimate knowledge of the city in the form of a tubular to-do list. I’d like to highlight some of the sessions that I’m particularly amped for, as well as recommend some delicious local eateries and scenic spots.

Check out a section dude:


All of the sessions are guaranteed to produce a Vesuvius-sized knowledge eruption, and while I’m looking forward to each of them, here are my top five must-sees:


Darren Shaw Local Search Holy Man

Audit and Fix Citations for Local Search Gains
with Darren Shaw

I first became aware of Darren’s oneness with all things local search while using his famed “Local Citation Finder” tool to help find additional citations for a San Diego auto shop. He’ll show you how to clean up your local search footprint by finding duplicate listings and where to check for those that are just plain wrong. Darren’s one of the few that can answer just about any local-related question you can throw his way—and he does it with zen-like fashion.


The Secret World of Mack

Are We There Yet? A 12-month trip from Nowhere to Somewhere
with Mackenzie Fogelson

Mackenzie Fogelson, or “Mack” as she’s known in the biz, has become one of the prominent voices in community building. Specifically, starting from the foundation of a brand, and going all the way to the shingles. The results that she’s shared in the past about her experiences with her own company, Mack Web Solutions, have been amazing. I’m particularly jazzed (that’s right, I say that sometimes) to hear about her 12 month case study and the results that will no longer be a secret.
Image: Twitter


Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation: Expanding Internationally
with Kate Morris

International web growth seems daunting for most businesses. I’m excited to see what Kate, an SEO Consultant at Distilled, has to say about it. Obviously proper translation must be taken into account, but I’m more curious about her advice on geo-targeting as it relates to consumer psychology. After all, if you don’t understand the consumers of the country you’re trying to reach, how can you hope to influence them?


Wistia and Yellow Chairs

Pulling back the curtain on video SEO
with Chris Savage

Producing weekly video content to enhance brand storytelling has been one of my goals of late. Even if it’s just a short clip, consistent video content that a community comes to expect can be super effective.  Moz uses Wistia for their “White Board Friday” series, so clearly Wistia’s product features must be pretty stellar. I’m curious to hear what the founder, Chris, says about using his product to enhance visibility and brand storytelling.
Image: Phil Campbell


Killer Bee Swarm

Conversion Optimization for Mobile
with Stephen Pavlovich

We often work with clients who are seeking help with site redesign, and keeping mobile at the forefront of the process is integral. E-Commerce sites need to start treating mobile users like killer bees, because they’re headed this way and there’s NOTHING WE CAN DO TO STOP THEM! One thing we can do is simplify the purchase process, and that’s exactly what Stephen (Founder of Conversion Factory) will discuss. Coffee is for Converters!
Image: pinkgranite




If a delicious San Diego culinary experience is what you seek, you’ve come to the right place. Keep in mind that I haven’t been to these restaurants in over a year and a half, so if I seem a little bit too excited, that’s why. Stuff your face with these delicious options:


Kevin Knecht at Luche Libre

Luche Libre

Named after the famous style of Mexican wrestling, Luche Libre offers a delicious menu with a decor that you can’t help but stare at. Luchador masks adorn the walls and customers fill the seats. Did I mention there’s usually a line out the door? Cause there is. Give the Surfin’ California Burrito a try and you won’t be disappointed. If you have extra time, reserve the Golden Champions Booth so you can look like a champ while you eat like one!


Tacos at Carnitas Snack Shack

Carnitas Snack Shack

This little gem is located in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Pork lovers will be in swine heaven at this little shack. The menu is different everyday because all of their ingredients are bought from local vendors. What makes Carnitas so unique is that they employ award-winning chefs and work out of such a small location. Try the poutine (if they have it) or check their Facebook for current options.
Image: Food Revu


Mashed Potato Pizza From Urbn

Urbn Coal Fired Pizza

Also located in North Park, this New Haven style pizzeria offers delicious pizza (think mashed potatoes) and an incredible craft beer selection. It’s a huge space with long, lunch-table style seating so you shouldn’t be worried about finding a spot. In fact, you should be more worried about what kind of pie to get. Like I said before, you’d be a fool not to get the Mashed Potato. The Margherita is also divine.


Fish Tacos from South Beach Bar and Grille

South Beach Bar & Grille

Dude, this place has some killer fish tacos. I mean the best around San Diego. Located near the pier in the Ocean Beach area of San Diego, South Beach Bar & Grille is super close to Paradise Point. It’s the kind of place you wouldn’t find unless you stumbled upon it randomly or were given some choice advice by a resident. I implore you to order several fish tacos and try to work in some oysters if you have time.


Kono's Big Breakfast #2

Kono’s Cafe

If you feel like venturing towards the beach for a little breakfast with a view, Kono’s is your spot. Try to get there earlier in the morning if you can (they open at 7) so you can get a spot on the deck. Nothing beats an oceanfront view while enjoying big breakfast number 2. Not only did that rhyme, but it’s also the menu item you should order. It’s not “super healthy” per se, but you’re on vacation, so LIVE a little.
Image: Food Revu




Part of the San Diego experience is taking in the sights, so it’s imperative that I highlight some of my favorite scenic areas. Sadly, I won’t be including Sea World or the Zoo, because I want you to avoid hearing a bunch of screaming kids and paying for overpriced sandwiches. Bring your camera (phone):


Torrey Pines State ParkTorrey Pines State Reserve

With some of the most breathtaking views of the ocean you’re likely to find, Torrey Pines State Reserve is the ultimate in ocean-side nature hikes. The multiple trails should take you a few hours to get through and will take you from the foot of the beach to the edge of steep cliffs. Just make sure to watch out for snakes whilst walking. I came across one and screamed louder than Billy Ray Cyrus watching the VMA’s.
Image: bdearth


Cowles Mountain Entrance

Cowles Mountain

Bring your sunblock for this one. Cowles Mountain is about 15 miles east of Paradise Point on the 8, but it’s worth the trip. Atop the summit lies one of the best views of nearly the entire county. There are multiple trail entrances but they all lead to the same place. On a typical day both trails are quite populous, so it doesn’t matter if you take the one less traveled by. I found that listening to “Eye of the Tiger” helped me climb faster.
Image: jlantzy


Kate Sessions Park

Kate O. Sessions Memorial Park

No, Kate Sessions is not the name of some local indie music festival, it’s a hillside park in Pacific Beach. It’s a mere three miles from Paradise Point, so you can easily bike or hoof it. Just be aware that the last quarter mile is a very steep incline. You’ll find that the park is full of dog enthusiasts, picnickers, and cougars looking to stay in shape. The views of the beach, downtown, and Mission Bay are glorious.
Image: michael.mccracken


Area of Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Although it’s extremely close to the zoo, Balboa Park offers plenty to do on it’s own. It acts as San Diego’s cultural epicenter, and you could easily spend a whole day there. Such activities include learning about humans at the History of Man, reading about electrons as the Fleet Science Center, walking through the gardens, or catching a live performance at the Globe Theater. Take some time to thoroughly enjoy this treasure trove of the arts.
Image: kycheng


Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs

No trip to San Diego would be complete without catching at least one SoCal sunset. I can think of no better spot than Sunset Cliffs. Enjoy the view from atop the cliffs on a nearby bench, or you can venture down one of the unmarked trails to get closer to the surf. Wade into the swaying waters and let out a bodacious war-cry, you’ve earned it.
Image: billmorrow




If none of these items seem appealing, well then I guess you could always spend some time by the Paradise Point pool. The adjacent bar cooks up a mean piña colada, but hopefully you take the time to get out and see some things after the SearchLove panels and after parties.

As a certain anchor of a non-specific news channel once said, “San Diego, drink it in, it always goes down smooth.”

  • David J Baker

    KEVIN, This is “Way Cool”. Enjoy your moments back at SDSU and the old stomping grounds. Have fun and enjoy. Dave