December 30, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Create Quality Content on LinkedIn



By Lewis J.

With 300 million users, LinkedIn is the internet’s third most popular social media site. It’s a social network for business professionals who are interested in creating career connections and learning more about their industry. Most of its users are over 30 and 69 percent of them have a college degree. They are also uniquely engaged with site content, in a way that far exceeds Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn users are 50 percent more likely to buy from a company that they follow on LinkedIn and four times more likely to visit their website from LinkedIn than from either Facebook or Twitter.

Influencers


In 2012, LinkedIn began publishing original content by distinguished business writers and personalities: Richard Branson, Jack Welsh, and Airanna Huffington. LinkedIn referred to them as “thought leaders” or “influencers.” Earlier this year, LinkedIn decided to open its publishing program to its entire user base, which means that every LinkedIn member can now write with the hope of becoming a prominent Linkedin-fluencer. Click the pencil icon in the “Share” box on your LinkedIn page to launch the program. Completed articles appear on your profile and are shared with contacts in your network. If enough people read, like, or share them, LinkedIn will begin sharing them with users outside of your network in an ever-increasing circle, and perhaps even to the entire site.

Content


With so many other users competing for attention, creating quality content is obviously the biggest challenge for any LinkedIn publisher. So, how do you stand out from the crowd? 

December 29, 2014

Team Building: Minute To Win It



By Justin H.

How many marshmallows do you think you could throw through a Christmas wreath and into a bucket? How do you think you would do if given 60 seconds to build and deconstruct a tower of 36 cups? Could you pick up a bag two inches off the ground using only your teeth? It turns out that many of the employees at eGumball can.

In the week leading up to Christmas, our employees at eGumball Inc. were all divided into teams and pitted against each other in our very own “Minute To Win It” contest. Each team was also allowed to come up with a unique team name. The tournament was all orchestrated and hosted by one of our collections assistants, who donned a particularly snazzy suit for the events.

Teams took quick breaks throughout their busy workdays to participate in many games throughout the week, such as the Breakfast Scramble, which requires the contestant to reassemble a cereal box puzzle in 60 seconds. Employees’ patience and steady hands were put to the test in many other deceptively difficult games. The activities ranged from building soda cans into a tower, to throwing cards like ninja stars into watermelons, and even stacking dice on a popsicle stick held in the player’s mouth.

December 23, 2014

3 Lessons Businesses Can Learn From the Sony Hacking Scandal

























By Lauren C.

North Korea’s cyber-attack on Sony Pictures over the satirical film The Interview has created quite an international stir. The Sony Pictures’ film stars Seth Rogen and James Franco depict two pseudo journalists hired by the CIA that assassinate the leader of the hermit kingdom, Kim Jung- Un. As a result, real North Korean hackers attacked Sony Pictures and exposed a large amount of embarrassing emails and private information about celebrities. Sony decided to pull the plug and cancel The Interview after North Korea made threats on movie theaters throughout the country that were going to show the film.

The cancellation of the movie has led to an enormous amount of criticism by free speech advocates, Hollywood, pundits, and even the President himself. After much criticism and mockery, Sony finally decided to safely release The Interview by playing it in limited theaters. The aftermath of this back and forth has brought about many valuable lessons that businesses can learn from the political and international cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

1. Emails are forever. A phone call is a private conversation between two individuals. Unless the conversation is secretly recorded, there is more leeway for frank discussions. Emails on the other hand are in writing, and their digital contents can never truly be disposed of. Make sure employees understand the importance of keeping information both courteous and professional in emails. One source explains, “You can never retrieve an email message, which is precisely why observing the best practices of email etiquette from the outset is so important.”

December 22, 2014

Yahoo Search: The Long Lost Search Engine

By Nick K.

Google always seems to be the default method of exploring a search query. Whatever happened to the other search engines on the Internet? Surely, there must be a few other search engines that aren't always brought up in conversation, such as Bing and Yahoo Search. Surprisingly, Yahoo Search is the long lost search engine that many do not consider when it comes to search engine optimization.

Yahoo Search is the 3rd most popular search engine online, ranking far below Google in the search popularity contest. However, Yahoo Search has scored a major victory by landing a deal with Mozilla Firefox by becoming the default search engine and also merging with Bing back in 2009. Since Yahoo Search is now powered by Bing’s search index and Microsoft’s AdCenter, webmasters and small business owners should follow Bing guidelines in order to fully optimize for Yahoo Search.


Here are some guidelines on how to optimize your website for Yahoo Search:

Old Fashioned On-Page SEO

Bing and Yahoo have old-fashioned guidelines in regards to on-page SEO factors. They place a crucial emphasis on keyword research, meta descriptions, and consistent page titles for overall page rank. In addition, social media activity influences search engine page ranks.

Age Before Beauty

Bing and Yahoo both rank websites depending on the age of their domain. According to One SEO Company’s website, The Yahoo indexing bot does not even consider crawling through a website for at least 3-4 months. Yahoo and Bing have done this to reward those who have grown their website through organic search.  

December 19, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Break Through to New Fans



By Lewis J.

We’ve already explored how to engage with your current customers on Facebook and Twitter, but what if you are a new business searching for your first customers, or an established business that wants to expand its client base? Fortunately, Facebook and Twitter can help you with that too. Using information gathered from their social media databases, they can create targeted advertisements aimed at millions of potential customers.

Facebook


Facebook ads are one of the most powerful advertising tools on the planet, even when users don’t click on the ads and make a purchase. That’s because their purpose is to raise awareness of a product or service the way that television does. This is known as “demand generation advertising,” and Facebook does it better than anyone. They allow you to tailor the audience for your advertisements by city, age, gender, relationship status, education, income, hobbies, and interests. Keep in mind that Facebook ads are not free. The more people you want to reach, the more it will cost.

Facebook ads have a simple layout, which makes them accessible and easy to create. They include your business’ name at the top, a few lines of text describing your business, an image or video, and a call to action button at the bottom. The call to action button invites users to interact with your ad and is customizable, depending your ad’s objective. Do you want people to like your Facebook page, visit your website, download an app, or maybe view a video? You can select the appropriate call to action button and encourage them to do so. Facebook ads also display social information, so the viewer can see which of their Facebook friends have already connected with your business, which in turn encourages them to connect as well.

eGumball, Inc. Participates in the 45th Annual Adopt A Family Program!

Eight employees at eGumball Inc. were proud to participate in the Share Our Selves Adopt a Family charity event on Wednesday, Dec. 17 in Costa Mesa, CA. These employees were among a large group of volunteers from the Orange County community who gathered together to wrap presents for families in need this holiday season.


eGumball has also worked with the Share Our Selves charity during the Thanksgiving holiday, organizing and distributing delicious Thanksgiving meals to families in need. Share Our Selves is a recognized health center that provides safety net services to the Orange County community. eGumball looks forward to working with them again in the future.

Product Review: Is This BlackBerry Fresh From the Vine, or is it Still Rotten?

By Justin H.

Believe it or not, there once was a time when Blackberries were the must-have smartphones. They were all the rage until iPhones and Androids came along with their fancy touch-screens and shoved them aside. For the past handful of years, BlackBerry has been teetering on the edge amidst a brand new marketing tactic, which mainly focuses on targeting the 1-percenters. Recent BlackBerry phones have gone for as much as $2,200, as the company strives to carve out a new niche. There is, however, a cheaper options that’s just hit the shelves.

BlackBerry’s recently stated that they are not content pigeonholing themselves anymore. The new $449 Blackberry Classic is an ode to past smartphones, and looks very similar to the old BlackBerry Bold. The real question is: can it fight back against its keyboard-shunning brethren? More importantly, is it worth the purchase?

December 18, 2014

F.U.N.! 3 SEO Concepts for a Productive Online Presence

Photo from The Keep Calm-O-Matic
By Megan G.

With all the jargon and stats that go along with the work of search engine optimization, we can often forget how enjoyable it can be!  Marketing your business can be a tricky task, but it doesn’t have to be a total grind.  I have listed three concepts below, using the handy-dandy acronym, “F.U.N.”:
    
F is for forensic research.

U is for user experience.

N is for networking.


Forensics, in SEO and Beyond


I know that “research” is the last thing you want to hear when you think about having fun, but bear with me.  These investigative practices will help you find your company’s obstacles and conquer them. 

First, let’s talk about forensic SEO, which can be extremely helpful after the rollout of a new Google algorithm update.  This type of SEO focuses on finding poor SEO practices:  repetitive keywords, harmful backlinks, etc.   Problems like these cause web ranking penalties, and you need a diagnosis before you can move forward with standard optimization.  Check out this free trial of Neil Patel’s website, QuickSprout, which analyzes your website and highlights areas that could use improvements. 

December 15, 2014

The Secret Behind Bing’s Algorithm

By Nick K
In case you missed it, Mozilla Firefox has designated Yahoo as their new default search engine. Since Yahoo search is powered by Bing, and there has been a significant increase in Yahoo searches and Bing searches, optimizing your web content for Bing appears to be a worthy investment to make.

Bing’s web content criteria used in ranking web pages can be classified into 3 categories:

1. Authority
Much like Google does, Bing also has filters to determine how trustworthy a website is. Bing rates a website’s trust score by analyzing social metrics, website author rank, citations, and the consistency of author identity (Beymour). Bing’s algorithm also favors content that is from well-credited, authoritative sources when the webpage centers on specific query subjects.


2. Utility
Bing grades the quality of websites based on how pertinent and relative it is to search queries. Businesses that create credible, trustworthy content will rank higher on search results pages. According to Search Engine Land, Bing prefers to see videos, images, and graphics on a page as opposed to just text. In addition, Bing acknowledges that users will recycle others’ content, but Bing is looking for unique versions of that content. Bing disapproves of users who simply copy and paste the information and claim it as their own.   

December 12, 2014

The Singularity: Power of Technology Increasing at Exponential Rate



By Justin H.

Parents raise their children from birth and encourage them to become all that they can be. They instill values in them that will ideally help their kids become exceedingly successful members of society, as well as caring and loving people. One of a parent’s proudest moments is when a child grows up, learns to grab life by the horns, and learns to fend for themselves. That child works through adversity by embracing what it takes to be a self-sufficient adult. However, few moments can top that proud feeling when a son or daughter finally beats a parent at a game of chess, monopoly, or 1-on-1 basketball.

Well, what happens when technology goes through this phase?
The singularity is a prediction that, over time, the barrier between human and machine will cease to exist. The line between reality and fantasy will erode completely. Humans will continue to make technological advances that allow computers and machines to think for themselves, which could eventually lead us to the point where they won’t need us anymore. At that juncture, technology will have its own state of consciousness and be able to improve on its own, relegating humans to the back seat of the knowledge bus. Once technology realizes its own power, many believe it will rise up against us.

Customer Service at eGumball for 2015

Along with many special events and charities that eGumball plans to take part in this coming year, eGumball’s customer service department has some exciting news for the year of 2015. eGumball takes pride in providing only the best services for our loyal customers. To better assist our customers and their businesses, especially those on the East Coast, our customer service line is now open from 7:30AM to 7:30PM (PST).

Furthermore, eGumball’s customer service representatives now create status reports of our customer’s campaigns to show how much progress has been made and where they are ranking. eGumball works hard to keep you in the “know” about your account, as well as the status of SEO and Google Maps optimization here on Tek Shouts!





Be sure to ask an eGumball customer service representative about your PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign!

December 11, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Create Effective Twitter Content





























By Lewis J.

With approximately 284 million active users and 310 million monthly visitors, Twitter is the second most popular social media platform in the world. It is also a powerful sales generator. Twitter users who read a tweet from a business are five percent more likely to visit their website, and 38 percent more likely to make a purchase. Approximately 33 percent of Twitter users follow at least one brand or company. They are 67 percent more likely to buy from that brand and 76 percent more likely to recommend it to someone they know.

Viral Tweets

 

Users favorite, retweet, or reply to posts that they like on Twitter. There is no set formula for creating viral tweets, but here are some features that help drive interaction.



1. Photos & Videos: Tweets that contain a photo or a video are retweeted 35 percent and 28 percent more often than text-based tweets. Photos are the most popular. They’re retweeted 128 percent more often than videos, though videos are favorited 49 percent more often. Humorous images make up 62 percent of all image-based tweets. Photos are a great way to introduce new products, punch up company announcements, or draw attention prizes and giveaways.

2. Links: Tweets with links to websites and articles are retweeted 86 percent more often. Links embedded approximately a quarter of the way into your tweet are clicked on more often. Tweets with links to how-to articles or lists were retweeted three times as often. Twitter automatically shortens links in tweets to ensure that they don’t use up all of your 140 characters. Users can also shorten their links with Bitly, a free web service that compresses internet links.

December 10, 2014

Barnacle SEO: An Arthropod’s Advantage

A cluster of barnacles.  Photo from Gizmodo.



















By Megan G.

Say that you own a small but unique Italian-inspired café, and that you have an effectively optimized site for this business.  Keywords, hyperlinks, internal backlinks—you’ve got those all down pat.  Yet, your awesome site still gathers virtual dust on the third page of Google.  To make things worse, that dastardly generic coffee shop across the street ranks much higher than you.  Those java jerks steal all your fun slogans and discount ideas, and now they have snatched your rightful place in the SERPs.  

What are they doing that you’re not? 

The answer lies in a simple and useful form SEO.  That rival coffee shop’s highly-ranked search result does not link to their main page, but instead to their Yelp profile.  The owners have stuck their business onto a large, reputable directory, and now ride that branded ship to victory.  In short, their business became a barnacle. 

December 9, 2014

Tips and Tricks to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign This Holiday Season

By Lauren C.

Retailers and marketers have an enormous task on their plates each holiday season. Their products and services must be able to compete effectively in a broad, global market that becomes progressively more cutthroat each year. With the growth of Ecommerce and mobile commerce, companies must be especially competitive and innovative with their online advertisements. Here are a few tips from the experts on how businesses can improve their AdWords campaigns and expand their marketing capabilities this holiday season.

1. Browse Google’s Trends pages.
Google advises all companies to begin the optimization process by browsing its trend pages to understand what is popular around the globe during the holidays. Google Trends can “help you get a sense of the most popular searches by region, or help you identify searches that are just beginning to take off.” The Google Trends pages are helpful because the tool breaks down information and products into categories, so retailers can see their competition in certain niches. This will help advertisers understand which marketing terms provide the biggest impact to a specific audience.

2. Businesses must use Ad Extensions.

Ad extensions are an advertising format in AdWords campaigns that shows an extra tidbit of information about a business. Ad extensions allow the user to try a product, call about a product, or download an example of a product (like an application) before deciding on whether or not to use it. These extensions help products and services stand out amongst other AdWords campaigns, and aid users in understanding more about the product itself before they purchase it.

December 8, 2014

7 Effective Content Tips We Can Learn From Buzzfeed

By Nick K.

How on Earth did Buzzfeed gain so much popularity in such a short time? The website was introduced in 2006, and certain critics considered the site a rip-off of Facebook. Though many experts doubted that Buzzfeed could become successful, it is now considered a social media giant.

1. Lists are King


In general, people prefer to read a list because it is quick, fast, and convenient for them. Lists provide the instant gratification that readers seek. Buzzfeed content rarely strays from its listing format. According to Wired, readers want high quality content spoon-fed to them. Unfortunately, people will not take the time to read through blog posts that are several pages long, rather than blog posts in list form containing key points.

2. Pictures tell the Story


Words can only tell so much, while a picture can tell over a 1000 words. Photos are a great way to break up large chunks of text, and keep the reader engaged throughout the post. Visual readers, this one is for you!

photo from: favim.com






















3. Short and Sweet but to the Point


The concept of “short and sweet” goes hand in hand with creating a list. The list’s key points can contain details, if necessary, but writers should use fair judgment when creating an article using lists. Lists should be long enough to prove your point but short enough to keep the reader engaged.

December 5, 2014

Affordable Gadgets That Won’t End Up in the Junk Drawer the Day After Christmas




























By Alexis G.

We've all been there. Mom, Grandma, or Auntie Em hit up the dollar store to grab you some last-minute gifts, which you chuck into the junk drawer with a flinch of guilt the day after Christmas because you feel bad throwing them away. These gifts fall under the category of useless items that seem great when you open them on Christmas day, but eventually get thrown out. Face it, your junk drawer is getting full and the thrill of that kitschy coffee mug warmer only lasts so long. Who cares how cool your Chewbacca USB drive looks? And how many times are you really going to cool up those whiskey stones before you get that whiskey down your gullet?

We’ve compiled a list of affordable gadgets that are not only cool on Christmas day, but are so cool that whoever you’re gifting them to won’t even realize they needed them in the first place.

WARNING: The following gadgets may mesmerize and hypnotize you into keeping them for yourself.

1. Chromecast – this little device plugs into your TV so you can stream music, TV shows, movies, and more through various applications, including Netflix and YouTube. The best part is that it runs around $30. Move over Roku and who needs cable?

2. Stainless Steel Smoker Box – this little steel box will infuse your grilled food with that smoky flavor you crave. Just add some wood chips and place the steel box under your grill grates. It runs from $17 to $20.

Cyber Monday 2014 Shatters a Sales Record With Over $2 Billion In Transactions: What Does it Mean?























By Justin H.

Many pundits, including us at TekShouts!, predicted that 2014 would be the year Cyber Monday truly overthrew Black Friday, and that is precisely what happened. No longer is Cyber Monday just Black Friday’s eschewed little brother, as it has now eclipsed that vaunted, mall-mobbing day with e-commerce glory. According to CBS, Cyber Monday reeled in an astonishing $2.68 billion worth of online sales this year, a 17% leap from last year, which was good enough to make it the single biggest online shopping day in U.S. history.

Conversely, Black Friday took a noticeable hit this year, when sales fell 11%. This drop can be attributed to a handful of factors, such as the 24% surge in Thanksgiving Day sales, as well as the diminishing quality of Black Friday deals overall. Consumers also spent more money in general this year, which could be a result of plunging gas prices and a steadily improving job market. All of these factors certainly play a role in the balance of power between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they don’t account for such a massive shift towards e-commerce.

Brick and mortar locations will never become obsolete in terms of shopping, but they are simply facing an endless uphill battle against the constantly growing e-commerce business. E-commerce is currently winning the bout for retail supremacy, and will continue to do so because it operates online. Therefore, companies are able to reach substantially more customers from all over the world. Waiting in line in the cold to buy an iPad? What are we, cavemen?

December 4, 2014

Social Media Strategy: Creating Popular Facebook Posts


By Lewis J.

With 1.15 billon users – more than Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram combined – Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world. All ages, races, educational backgrounds, and income levels are well-represented on the site, making it the ideal social platform for businesses with a broad customer base. 

Facebook Newsfeed


Facebook users don’t spend a lot of time browsing individual profiles. Most of them spend their time scrolling through their news feed: a constantly updated list of status updates, pics, videos, links, and stories uploaded by their Facebook friends or liked groups. The news feed is heavily filtered based on the content that users have liked, shared, or commented on in the past. To be considered viral, posts don’t have to be especially popular – though the most viral ones will be – they simply have to spur user interaction.

Going Viral


There is no guaranteed formula for creating viral content, though there are several common features that it shares

eGumball Employees Compete in Biannual Foosball Tradition






























The Irvine office’s eGumball employees participated in the company’s exciting, biannual Foosball tournament! Each team came up with their own unique name and competed until the two teams left standing duked it out in a final foos battle. Our first place winning team narrowly beat their rival by a 10-9 score. Congratulations to our winners and to all who participated in this epic biannual tradition!

December 3, 2014

The European Union Seeks to Break the Google Monopoly
















By Lauren C.

While many people were huddled in their homes on Black Friday avoiding the last acceptable form of legalized chaos at the mall, the European Union decided to openly vote on breaking Google into smaller companies so that it would no longer be a dominant monopoly. This decision was not spontaneous but rather the latest example of the EU’s long, bitter, and questionable anti- Google campaign.

The European Union has a complicated history with Google, which can be traced back to a 2010 investigation by Joaquin Alumnia, the European Commission’s anti-trust chief. The European Commission (EC) is the regulatory authority for the European Union, and it can make decisions on whether or not to regulate certain industries. The lawsuit occurred because Alumnia wanted to know if Google’s dominance was so great that it required regulatory action. The EC’s three primary complaints were that Google linked to its own vertical search services like YouTube and Maps over rivals, Google copied content from other vertical search companies, and there were too many restrictions on other competitors who might be advertising on sites using Google ads.

After rumors that Parliament would vote to “unbundle” Google, which they cannot legally do by vote, the EU went forward with its decision to hold a symbolic vote on the measure. It stated, “The online search market is of particular importance in ensuring competitive conditions within the digital single market. We believe in preventing any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines.” Both political parties in Parliament supported the measure, and it passed by a 384 to 174 vote. The members hope that the move will influence the EC, which has the power to decide on and implement new regulations for companies.

December 1, 2014

The Man's Candy Crush: Game of War: Fire Age


Game of War:  Fire Age logo from the game’s main website.



















By Megan G.

Too manly to crush candy?  Game of War:  Fire Age might be the addictive mobile game for you.  The name probably sounds familiar if you’ve recently watched an NFL football game, as a new commercial has been showing ad nauseam during various “manly-man” programs.  You know the ad with the intense battle scene, a massive hydra-demon-dragon, and Kate Upton in a toga?  That’s Game of War’s new, high budget commercial from their $40 million marketing campaign. 

Screenshot of the hydra-demon-dragon


















Venture Beat reports that the advertisements’ intense action, undoubtedly paired with Kate Upton’s curves, has largely appealed to viewers catching the promotion during football games.  I was actually surprised to see the Game of War:  Fire Age title appear after such a grand advertisement.  The last time I remember seeing Game of War was as a small banner ad on my smartphone—the kind I usually write off as spam.  How did a free-to-play gaming application profit enough to produce this high cost commercial, complete with impressive CGI and a famous supermodel?  The answer lies in a tactic that mobile apps have both used and abused:  microtransactions, or users’ real payments for virtual goods.

November 26, 2014

What Do You Do to Give Back?

By Alexis G.

eGumball Inc. was proud to volunteer at the Share Our Selves food pantry on Tuesday, November 25th. A team of six employees spent the day sorting food and handing out bags filled with canned goods, desserts, and other Thanksgiving staples to families in need just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Not only was the cause honorable, but the team had a fantastic time working and meeting with other community volunteers.  eGumball Inc. and its employees were excited to participate in such a noteworthy cause and provide a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner to families in need around the Orange County area. Thank you Share Our Selves!

Happy Thanksgiving from eGumball!


What do you do to give back to the community? Share with us!

November 25, 2014

Uber’s Missteps Might Jeopardize Longevity of Company

By Lauren C.

“If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”-Henry Ford

The digital revolution has inspired countless gadgets and gizmos which have rendered older concepts of communication and transportation obsolete. The trend began with the rise of the automobile industry when entrepreneurs sought after ways for people to travel from Point A to Point B faster. When the automobile was invented, it wasn’t until large scale production of the automobile became commonplace that the working class could afford to take part in the auto craze.

The taxi cab is one type of vehicle that has become an American staple; a simple means for those to hitch a ride without worries of parking, drinking and driving, or leaving the car at the airport. Is it possible that someone has outdone this classic American means of transportation? Meet Uber, a digital alternative to an old fashioned method of travelling from Point A to Point B.

Uber is a ridesharing company that uses a smartphone application to manage rides between riders and drivers. Users download the application to their phone and then can then request a ride from drivers without ever having to make a phone call. The company is less regulated than taxi cabs, which has resulted in cheaper fees and more luxurious cars and pickups. This has made Uber enemy number one for taxi companies, who are burdened with heavy regulations and stuck with generic yellow vehicles for transport.

November 24, 2014

Amazon’s Fire Phone Smolders and Fizzles to Failure


































By Nick K.

Why was it extinguished?

The Amazon Fire Phone did not live up to consumers’ technology expectations because it was overpriced and exclusive only to AT&T. As a result, the only real fire created from Amazon’s smartphone was a significant loss in sales and an inventory of over $83 million in unsold smartphones.

Amazon tried to keep up with the times by releasing their own custom designed smartphone last July called the Amazon Fire Phone. The smartphone seemed promising during Amazon’s product presentation, especially because the Fire Phone included a sleek phone design, and a 3D user interface.

Amazon Fire Phone fizzled out because:

1.    Amazon Fire Phone tried to contend with the latest generation iPhone and Galaxy smartphones. Upon release the Fire Phone attempted to set the new standard for the next generation of smartphones until the release of the iPhone 6 and Galaxy Note 4 which ultimately put out dimly lit embers of the Fire Phone. 

2.    Amazon Fire Phone lacked popular smartphone features like Google Play applications and services. The Amazon Fire Phone ran a similar version of Android lacked basic Google applications like Hangouts, or Google+.

3.    The phone had a decent overall performance rating, but had overheating issues and an average-grade battery. The Fire Phone was no match compared to the latest generation of smartphones providing optimal performance and battery enhancements.

November 21, 2014

Cyber Monday Sending Black Friday into Darker Days

















By Justin H.

Black Friday, we are not scared of you anymore!

The novelty and aura of Black Friday has started to wear off in recent years for a variety of reasons, resulting in a changing of the guard. Gone are the days of camping out in a tent by the mall for 12 hours in hopes of getting your hands on the newest gadget. Instead we simply stay up a little past our bedtime constantly refreshing our search browser. Gone, too, are the fears of being mugged or trampled by a mob of seething shoppers at the mall. Because so many people now shop online, you will just encounter some unpleasant traffic.

At TekShouts!, we have shed plenty of light in the past on the Internet’s beneficial relationship with the retail industry, as well as the smartphone epidemic. Both of these ideologies hold true when it comes to holiday shopping. The rise of e-commerce has made Black Friday different than it once was. It can still be a fun and exciting day of shopping if you want it to be, but Cyber Monday is now just as powerful. In fact, CNBC even says that Cyber Monday has already overthrown its vaunted early-weekend foe in terms of providing deals for shoppers.

November 20, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Find Your Audience




















By Lewis J.

Let’s say that you are a small business owner. Business is good, but it could be better, and you want to find a way to increase sales, find new customers, and promote your company. The solution seems obvious: social media. Half of all Americans and one quarter of the global population have social media profiles, which is why so many companies use it to promote their products and services, create favorable public perception, and attract new business. Best of all, its costs are low, allowing you to compete on almost equal terms with your competitors, regardless of their size. 

Beginner Errors


It’s common for businesses to overextend themselves when moving into social media. They establish accounts on a wide range of platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram) and start pumping out material – posts, tweets, articles, and pics – without creating any appreciable results. Their content doesn’t draw fans, no one shares their posts, and it doesn’t bring in any new business. They become tired of updating their profile and eventually dismiss social media as commercially irrelevant, a passing fad with no return on investment.

Strategizing About Social Media


A select number of companies understand that effectively engaging with social media requires careful planning. The content you release and the platform you release it on have to be considered. Not all social media networks are created equally, and neither is the content that appeals to them. You need to target the social media site most popular with your customers and design content specific to it. Once you have successfully established yourself on one platform, only then should you consider branching out to another. 

November 19, 2014

Should We Have the Right to be Forgotten?

By Megan G.

As of September of this year, member states of European Union may legally seek the removal of certain links in Google result pages.  This ruling has been dubbed “the Right to be Forgotten,” because individuals may now request that Google takes down irrelevant, out-of-date, and most often defamatory links regarding the individuals’ names.  The SERPs “forget” these articles, and remove them from public access.  The removal of such links has also been referred to as “search de-listing.”  While Google has acquiesced to some of these requests, the company has refused to take down certain links, such as less-than-stellar reviews of individuals’ works or companies. 

An Attack on Google’s Main Domain 

Recently, Google France has faced daily fines of €1,000 for not removing a selection of links from its global index.  This stink has been raised by Dan Shefet, a Danish lawyer who lives in France.  His firm has suffered a libelous campaign at the hands of various websites and blogs listed in Google’s search pages, and Shefet requested the removal of the links to these mudslingers.  Google France conceded, removing the results from French SERPs.  However, Shefet was not satisfied.  His international law firm serves clients in several countries, and wishes the defamatory links to be removed from Google’s main, U.S.-based domain. 

In relation to the recent news on net neutrality, Google’s compliance with the French court spells global censorship of its SERPs—and that includes the censoring of the United States’ free, open Internet.  A U.S.-based company like Google is hard-pressed to allow such action, and the company is currently “considering its options” by seeking advice from authorities in data protection and their Advisory Council.  Google’s quandary is this:  “How should one person’s right to be forgotten be balanced with the public’s right to information?”

November 18, 2014

SEOville: 2015 and Beyond

By Lauren C.

There was once a rural town with farmers, a few families, and large swaths of land in between properties. There weren’t many laws in the town, since most citizens kept to themselves and didn’t bother one another except when they needed to ask a favor every now and then. Everyone was fairly happy in the town, except there wasn’t much to do.

One day, a businessman came in and decided to build a factory. He hired many people from the town, as well as out of town, to come work in the factory. Soon, houses were built to accommodate all the new people. The new citizens decided that the town was fairly boring, and that it needed some more fun things to enjoy. They built a mall, new grocery shops, and new businesses. The new families flourished, and even more people moved in. Eventually, the town became a city, and that city became a hub.

Suddenly, a particular group of people weren’t happy with another because they lived close by and played their music very loud at night. A new law was created that stated music playing past ten p.m. had to be kept to a reasonable volume. More laws like this were established as more people came to the town, and there were always more travelers, commerce, and entertainment. A few grumpy farmers, who had lived in the town since the beginning, disliked the new city and longed for the solitude and quiet of the past. Other than that, life was good in the city.

November 17, 2014

Wipe out for Reddit’s CEO

By Nick K.

In recent social media news, Reddit CEO Yishan Wong has stepped down from his high-ranking position. People speculate that his resignation happened for ridiculous reasons, such as not obtaining the office he originally wanted, according to The Daily Caller. Thankfully, more concrete information and details are beginning to surface.

Upon further research, Yishan Wong admitted that he has stepped down from CEO position based on many reasons that Forbes reported, including his lack of leadership experience and the unhealthy lifestyle that the stress of the job caused him. As a first time CEO, the amount of success Wong achieved while leading Reddit was incredible. For the 2 ½ years that he was CEO, Wong brought Reddit’s popularity to new heights and the website currently continues to grow.

Although it is surprising that this major change has happened, especially for a highly successful social media platform, Wong’s resignation is the right move.Wong commented that he was not fully prepared to handle the daunting task of moving forward as Reddit’s CEO. According to ABC News, the position had massively affected his personal relationships and he admitted to pushing himself “too far” for what the position entailed.

It takes great humility and courage for Wong to recognize that he needed to step down for the greater good of Reddit. The decision for Wong to step down ensures the social sharing site will continue its current success. Yishan Wong will certainly be missed by many, but he is confident that Reddit will continue to expand and grow under new leadership. 

November 14, 2014

Global SEO: Don’t Dream Small When You Can Dream Big


























By Justin H. 

Local SEO and maps optimization are two of the most widely-covered topics here at the Tek Shouts! blog. They help small businesses by driving up online traffic and churning out more potential business opportunities, but you already knew that. If you own a small business such as a law firm, convenience store, dental office, diner or dog grooming service, then by all means local SEO is your ticket to the Promised Land.

However, what if your business plans on expanding one day? What if your business sells cunning, innovative products that have a market not just in your little town, but across the whole world? If your business is capable of providing services outside of your area code, then it might be time to entertain some broader techniques, known as global SEO.

Global SEO could be the key to unlocking your business’ localized handcuffs. Every business owner dreams of having tons of success. For some businesses, success simply means driving a bunch of customers to one location. For others, it is becoming optimized online in other continents. Global SEO techniques will not help your dog grooming business, aside from the off chance that a Beijing native coincidentally flies to your little town, and just so happens to bring one particularly fluffy canine with them. You are selling yourself short by doing this, and before you know it, you end up living a life full of settling and compromises, and turn into a real-life Walter White from Breaking Bad.

November 13, 2014

What You Need To Know About Hyperlinks: Part II

By Lewis J.

Last week we talked about external hyperlinks, which direct internet users to other websites. Now let’s turn our attention to internal hyperlinks. Internal hyperlinks redirect visitors to different pages on your website. Because they don’t provide any link juice, people tend to undervalue them, which is a pity since they are a useful tool for site navigation and promotion.

Site Navigation

Internal links provide an easy way for visitors and web crawlers to explore your website by reducing the number of clicks needed to find content. Ideally, a visitor should be able to access any page on your website with no more than three clicks.

Internal Links

There are four types of internal links. Menu links are normally found at the top of the website and repeat on every page. 

Menu Links
Footer links are found at the bottom of the page and usually list the most popular pages or content on the website in order to help visitors who have scrolled to the bottom of the page without finding the content they were looking for.

November 12, 2014

Virtual Reality: A Novelty or Not?


By Megan G. 

Last week on Tek Shouts!, I wrote about some horror titles created specifically for the virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift.  Today, let’s highlight some recent updates, as well as its possible capabilities beyond gaming.  Oculus VR, the company that manufactures the Rift, is headed by Rift-creator Palmer Luckey and CEO Brendan Iribe.  The most recent version of the headset, Crescent Bay, features integrated audio and full positional tracking.  Iribe reports that the Oculus Rift is “many months” away from hitting the shelves, but ensures that Crescent Bay is quite close to the final, consumer product.

Virtual reality technology is not new;  VR products first surfaced in the late ‘80s and ‘90s.  Consumer interest eventually petered out, however, because of the devices’ high costs and unwieldy designs.  Is the Oculus Rift different, or will it leave people nauseated, bored, or falling on their bums?  Thanks to a streamlined design and the financial support of a social media giant, the Rift has the potential for greater consumer accessibility and longevity.

The Oculus Rift Sails to the Mainstream

In March of this year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg bought Oculus VR for $2 billion after being impressed by the Rift’s capabilities.  This financial boost gives Oculus team more time to create a solid VR device that has the ability to last beyond the lifetime of its ancestors.  Oculus VR has used these FB funds to flesh out their research and development division.

November 11, 2014

Don’t Like it? Then Don’t Read it: Free Speech on the Net and the Democratic Process


By: Lauren C.

“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the Microchip”-Ronald Reagan, 1989

An open and democratic government with citizens who are free to express their opinions is predicated upon education, information, and a fearless ability to express political beliefs. Many of our politicians forget that everything they say can be checked and double checked by conducting a quick Google search or viewing a YouTube video. Even in a country like America, where freedom of expression is fundamental to our traditions, there are still those in the government and media who forget that news stories can no longer be controlled by a few sources. An open Internet promotes democracy, but an open Internet only exists in a society that values individual rights and freedom of speech.

Internet that is easily accessible amongst the general population has several advantages for a democratic society. Namely, there is a wider range of information available to the masses, it allows citizens to have a voice and participate in the democratic process, and it helps create transparency and accountability amongst governing bodies. On the other hand, there are countries such as North Korea, which have censored Internet access let alone newspaper and television access save for government propaganda. Furthermore, some regimes like Iran have suppressed online revolutions, while others like Egypt had enormous changes as a result of them. What then, is the determinate factor in whether or not the Internet promotes democracy, and why is this important to freedom around the globe? The answer lies in the amount of freedom that already exists within the country itself.

November 10, 2014

Android 5.0 Lollipop: Just How Sweet Is It?

By Nick K. 

Once again Android has outdone itself with the release of its latest operating system update. Like previous Android updates, Jelly Bean 4.1 and KitKat 4.4, Android is sticking with its candy update theme by introducing Android 5.0, Lollipop . Android has promised that this OS update will satisfy any Android user’s sweet tooth. 

Let’s unwrap the Lollipop to see what Android owners can enjoy:

Sweet visual overhaul
Android’s main goal with the Lollipop update was to focus on visual changes by providing brighter and trendier icons and menus. Android wanted to reduce overall on-screen clutter associated with opening and closing of pages. As a result, the latest update has created a “pencil and paper feel” to how pages and applications are displayed.

Exquisite performance enhancements
The new Lollipop update implements major application performance and responsiveness upgrades, battery improvements, and many security updates to ensure that users’ information is kept safe. Lollipop allows for extended battery use by minimizing the amount of energy used by applications. For increased phone security, Lollipop introduces encryption improvements and a smart lock feature that activates when users pair their phone with another device.

November 7, 2014

Panda-monium!





























By Justin H.

We at TekShouts! are continuing our tour through the proverbial search engine zoo. Having already covered the bases on Google Pigeon and Google Penguin, we will now be detailing Google Panda in lieu of its recent update.

Just like its cuddly real-life namesake, Google Panda was massive in stature upon its release. It was launched on February 23, 2011, and immediately affected 12% of all search results. Panda laid a beating on sites with thin content, content farms, high ad-to-content ratios and many other problems that were having negative impacts on user experience.

Panda 4.1 – Google’s 27th installment of the algorithm – was released in September of 2014 with the goal of allowing more high-quality small and medium-sized sites to rank higher. With over a month under its belt, users now can see tangible results from Panda’s update. This slow rollout of the update paid huge dividends for some sites, and did damage on others, as always. Based on feedback from many of the users and webmasters, this recent update allowed Google to uncover some new methods for Panda to target low-quality content more efficiently.

The rollout will allow sites previously affected by the last Panda update to prove that they have made necessary changes to move back up the search rankings. For example, if a website had questionable content that hurt its rankings, the update presents it with a chance to show that it has improved its content, and/or produced plenty of new content that abides by the appropriate standards. Believe it or not, just a few bad pages of keyword-crammed, weak content is more than enough to send a site plummeting down the rankings.

November 6, 2014

What You Need To Know About Hyperlinks



By Lewis J.

We’ve mentioned the relationship between hyperlinks and Google rankings before (Game of Thrones, Penguin) without ever delving into how they operate or why they work. It’s about time we did. Links are one of the most important factors in your Google Page Rank.

Hyperlinks

Put simply, hyperlinks are elements in electronic documents that redirect users to a different part of the document or to another document altogether. If you’re a regular web user, you’re familiar with hyperlinks already (they normally look like this). There are two types of hyperlinks: internal and external. Internal links send you to a different page on the same website. External links send you to an outside website, and improve your Google Page Ranking. 

Popular Websites Rank Best

To Google, the simplest way to measure a website’s credibility and relevance is to determine its popularity with users. Because measuring web traffic is difficult (site visits are volatile and the information is often stored on private servers), Google counts the number of external links that a site has instead. Links are public, stable, and difficult to manipulate, which makes them an easy way to judge the relative popularity of a site. They’re a vote of popularity from the web community.
The impact that a link has is called “link juice,” but not every link supplies the same amount of juice. Links from popular sites with a lot of incoming links provide more juice than sites that have few links. Similarly, links from sites related to yours also count more strongly towards your Google ranking. If you sold baking equipment, a link from a cooking site has more juice than a link from a sewing site.

November 5, 2014

Cupcakes with Character: A Small Baking Business in the Big Marketing World

By Megan G.

I have a good friend who happens to be a talented baker.  For the purposes of this article, let’s call her “Tillie Bundt.”  Tillie has a dream of one day starting her own cupcake shop, “Butter Nonsense.”  She has imagined its menu, décor, and bustling amount of business—unfortunately, this delicious venture remains only a fanciful thought in Tillie’s mind.  With her permission, I have decided to take this imagined business and create an SEO marketing platform.  Hopefully, this can act as an example to other small business owners who want to improve their online standings in the SERPs of Google.  With Tillie’s unique vision and search engine optimization strategies, Butter Nonsense can flourish in the big world of small business.

Here are some key points for Tillie (and you) to consider.

Hey Girl, What’s Your Niche?


Unless you are watching your weight (and if you are, bless you, for you are stronger than me), a cupcake business sounds rather exciting.  Tillie shouldn’t have too much trouble making sales amongst friends and family.  On the web, however, big food culture titans stomp about, such as Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, and FoodNetwork.com.  Tillie must find her own place in the baked goods market.