What is a Portal?

By definition it would be described as:

A doorway, gate, or other entrance, especially a large and imposing one or a website or web page providing access or links to other sites.

The one I’m describing today is the later, called Black Hills Portal.

To answer that better, let me give you a little background of my history creating one of the first online community portals in the United States.

A portal by definition is a place to collectively meet up in the same place you are looking to go, but I’m not talking about an actual star gate. Some of the very first online portals were AOL, Yahoo and etc. However similar in concept as virtual space goes, they are close.

The portal I created was an online community portal. This portal was for 72 area communities and residents in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I provided free access to the residents to login and publish their content and businesses had a yearly license they had to purchase to use.

In the early 2000’s I started researching online Portal development. This lead me to deep diving everything about computer code, html, flash development, digital video/audio, RSS and many other very technical aspects of content management.

Then around July of 2004 I launched Black Hills Portal. It was a community portal based on an online Cold Fusion content manage system. In short, people could self-publish their own content to include news, events, business listings, classifieds and so much more in one place.

By 2005, we started receiving over a million pageviews a month. This success continued for the next 10 years, however this technology was just to early for a community that still didn’t even use email.

This was shortly after Google, and YouTube where just developed. I tried everything I could to educate the community on self publishing and the power of getting their own information, content and news into the search engines with links, video, etc., but they really never understood the power of the “Portal” or content management systems.

The BlackHillsPortal was ranked in the top 2% of all online news at that time, but I still couldn’t get the community to engage.

NewsKnife at that time ranked us in the Top 2% of online news sites online. Out of over 4600 online news organizations we were around #170. That put us higher than many major news publishers and newspapers like Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Denver Post. You can still see that amazing story here in the internet archives. I might add that this link is an excellent preview of the Black Hills Portal in the internet archives.

Sincerely, I really felt sorry for the community as a whole, because they where missing out on a very valuable asset that I was providing for free. I was paying hundreds of thousands a year for this tech and was spending thousands of hours in my own time to really get no where. So, after ten long years of diligently putting my best effort forward, I shut it down in 2014.

Now, with that said, I have to say I learned a vast amount of knowledge. This information has helped me so much throughout my career. From just learning about the content management system alone to online graphic design to drive traffic. I believe through all of this I became one of the early developers of what is known today as SEO or search Engines Optimization. Much of what I learned then I still use today to get my content into the search engines and ultimately into the hands of those who are looking for it.

No matter what, I enjoyed my time as Black Hills Portal founder, executive director and manager.

I closed the Black Hills Portal down in 2014 after giving it the best opportunity I could.

To this day, I still have fun thinking about this days of early development and all those years of trying to educate the people on freedom of self publishing.

In reference to the picture above taken back around 2006, I was down in Edgemont, SD using this wild tactic to explain “Gorilla Marketing”, to explain content publishing to the community in one of their annual events. OMG, I really had a blast that day. I even went to a hog/pig rodeo that day that featured lots of mud and pigs. That was what we would of called a real “Hoot”!

Even today I still look for “Portals”, as a fun or fantasy reminder of Black Hills Portal’s early life.

Here is my recent capture of some other type of portals:

Here are some physical portals I’ve visited, now of course I’m talking about ones like on the TV series Stargate.


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