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An Open Letter to All Technology Partners

Why clarity is essential for partners trying to sell their wares.
Dec | 1 | 2015


Dec | 1 | 2015


I get it. Really.

You believe that your products and services are best-in-breed. What’s more, they play nice with other enterprise technologies. That is, with a few mouse clicks, they can easily integrate with other important services such as Dropbox, Slack, Salesforce, and scores more. You know with every fiber in your being that every potential client out there would benefit a great deal from your offerings. They would dramatically reduce costs, understand its customers better, and ultimately increase revenue and profits.

Based on your role and your compensation, you want—nay, need—to sell your wares. If only those prospective clients could discovery your company, your know that your sales team could take care of the rest.

And therein lies the problem.

A Quick SEO Primer for Technology Partners

Search engine optimization (SEO) has always been important, and that’s certainly still true today. In case you’re unfamiliar with SEO 101, here’s a primer from Chitika, an “online ad network that delivers more than 4 billion strategically targeted ads each month to a network of more than 250,000 websites.” In June of 2013, the company released a study that proved what many marketers and technologists already knew: There’s tremendous power in occupying the top spot in Google’s organic search results. Consider the following data:

  • The top 10 results drive nearly 92 percent of all search traffic.
  • Results 11 through 20, inclusive drive another 4.8 percent.
  • Collectively, all of the remaining results drive less than 4 percent of Google search traffic.

Here’s a figure manifesting the enormous importance of rank from Message Not Received:

There’s tremendous power in occupying the top spot in Google’s organic search results.

To paraphrase William Gibson, SEO isn’t evenly distributed, nor is it remotely democratic. (Notice the fade to virtual oblivion.) As the data above shows, SEO is a classic power law. The lion’s share of the traffic goes to the top few sites.

Put differently, for the vast majority of searches, your company website all but certainly falls in the long tail. Google a mainstream term such as Big Data or analytics. Your company’s site or blog post is most likely not going to magically appear on page one. It’s really hard to occupy the cherished real estate that is the top of organic results. Buying ads to rise to the top of results gets really expensive.

Against the backdrop of a cold, dispiriting algorithm, what should you do? As I see it, you have two choices:

  • Option A: Create new jargon-filled monstrosities such as Next-Generation Big Data Platform as a Service. That way, if a prospect searches for that very specific yet incomprehensible term, you’re very likely to get some clicks.
  • Option B: Use simple and straightforward language. Build your SEO organically. Embrace content marketing. Play the long game. To be sure, you may very well get fewer hits—at least at first. I’d wager, though, that those sessions will be longer and ultimately prove more fruitful. Yes, clarity has never been more important.

The Choice Is Yours

Option A might be tempting, but ask yourself about the quality of those clicks. Will they convert? Will a buzzword-fueled landing page result in meaningful leads, conversations, and conversions? I suspect that the more likely scenarios are user confusion and inaction. After all, who’s going to sign a contract with a partner without understanding what’s being purchased? Also remember that even well understood words such as diversity can lose their meaning. What does that say about newfangled ones that no one really understands?

The choice, though, is ultimately yours. What are you going to do?



Phil Simon

IBM paid me to write this post, but the opinions in it are mine.

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