No. 1624
November 8th, 2008

What I “Learned About Web” on Friday

I was among about 80 small business owners to attend the brilliant Learn About Web conference this Friday in Tri-Cities, Washington. Craig Sutton of Bright Web Marketing arranged an amazing lineup of speakers which included Matt McGee, Jennifer Laycock, and Stoney DeGeyter.

Although Craig did a terrific job at getting the word out (several attendees mentioned to me they’d heard about it on the radio, seen it on TV, etc.) I was pretty surprised there weren’t more in attendance.  At $129 for a full-day session with some of the top small business web marketing experts in the world, it was an absolute screaming deal.

As the title probably implies, the conference was aimed predominantly at small business owners, so personally I didn’t gain a whole lot of earth-shattering knowledge but there were a couple of great reminders on best practices from the speakers above, and it was a pleasure to hear Mack Collier speak for the first time.

But it was incredibly refreshing to be among small business owners for whom this was the first time they were hearing this information.  It was also eye-opening, and a great wake-up call, for where we are as an industry among this very important contingent of prospective customers.

Matt McGee and I estimated the following anecdotal statistics, based on questions asked of the audience by presenters:

  • Several attendees hadn’t heard of LinkedIn.  One specifically asked Jennifer how to spell it.
  • No more than two out of ~80 attendees were currently doing any kind of linkbuilding for their websites.
  • Only ~15% of attendees had heard of Yelp.
  • Less than 50% had heard of Twitter.
  • and the kicker: barely 50% of the audience even knew what SEO meant

By no means am I trying to mock the ignorance of these small business owners.  In fact, quite the opposite. Keep in mind that this was a motivated audience interested in web marketing, giving up an entire day to learn more about it!  Most of them would probably make great clients.

While it’s true that Tri-Cities isn’t as tech-savvy as many towns across the country, this level of ignorance of the SEO industry dramatically underscores the need for more proactive outreach by us as an industry, as well as more basic training blog posts and training sessions aimed at this important audience.