October 31, 2014

Self-EO: Optimization for Your Personal Reputation

By Justin H.

We have all Googled ourselves at some point out of curiosity. Tek Shouts sheds plenty of light on how SEO can help your business, but we have yet to explore how SEO can be applied to people for their own personal benefits. Not everyone is a business owner, but how you show up in Google rankings still matters. For reference sake, we are going to call this method “Self-EO.”
SEO is a valuable tool for bloggers and job seekers who are simply trying to develop their own brands. Googling your own name is much more than a periodical checkup to see how famous you are. Online search engines have made us all a little bit famous, and with the prominence of social media, how and where you rank online is as important as ever.

The Huffington Post measured that 80% of employers Google prospective employees prior to potentially bringing them in for an interview. Suddenly, those pictures from that one night in college don’t seem so amusing anymore. Another Huffington Post article noted how 70% of recruiters have also rejected an applicant due to what they have found online about them. Luckily, this is a correctable problem that can be mitigated by using proper Self-EO techniques.

All internet users have to assume that anything they post online will be there forever. Knowing that employers will not hire a candidate due to online findings, it is important to develop a track record of appropriate internet behavior. You are at an advantage if you have a common name, such as John Johnson. However, if you are like me and are the only person with your first and last name in the entire country, then the odds of something unfortunate you posted online resurfacing are greater.

October 30, 2014

How I Can Trust You: Penguin

By Lewis J.

Last week, I explained the trust factors in Google’s Pigeon algorithm. Now I want to discuss Google’s Penguin algorithm. Released in 2012, Penguin was designed to eliminate spam sites from Google’s web index, specifically sites using keyword stuffing and link schemes. 

Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO strategy used by spammers whereby a large number of unnecessary or irrelevant keywords are added to a site’s homepage in order to trick Google into including it in search results unrelated to the site’s content. These additional keywords are often camouflaged by altering their color to match the page background. In this way, a disreputable loan company might be able to include its site in a search for bicycles or hamburgers.

Link schemes are another black hat strategy, related to keyword stuffing. They are designed to boost a site’s ranking artificially by increasing the number of links being directed at a targeted website. Links, both inbound and outbound, are one of the criteria Google uses to determine a site’s page ranking. Google’s web crawlers treat links to your site as a vote of confidence from the web community. The more links you have, the higher your ranking will be. Often, spammers will boost their rankings by creating false webpages that contain links back to their targeted site. It’s not uncommon for spammers to stuff these dummy sites with relevant keywords as well. If Google perceives a site as relevant to yours, it weighs those links more heavily. Other strategies include link exchanges (where two parties agree to create multiple links to each other’s sites), link generating bots, and creating blogs with articles full of unnecessary links to a target website. Visit Google to see their full list of link schemes.

Not only will links created with these sorts of schemes damage your trust ranking, but links from sites that use them are also damaging. If you have any of these untrustworthy links to your website, remove them or disavow them. If you are uncertain what links are considered spam and which are not, your best solution is to contact a reputable SEO company, like eGumball Inc. They can help you manage your site and generate trustworthy links that will improve your Google ranking.

Have more questions about links or rankings? Leave them in the comments!

October 29, 2014

Middle-Aged and Lookin' Good: Happy 45th Birthday, Internet!

Forty five years ago today, the Internet was born. The beginnings of the Internet are debatable, with celebrities like Al Gore taking credit for it (we had to fit the joke in somewhere). But in all honestly, the moment which created the Internet phenomenon can be traced back to the first host to host connection of the ARPANET between UCLA and Stanford in 1969.  It was not until the mid-1990’s, however, that the Internet became an international network and was incorporated into everyday life.

Since its inception in the 60’s, technology has drastically shifted. Computers have become smaller, Internet use around the globe has become more accessible, and the amount of information that is available within seconds has skyrocketed. In fact, our world has become so dominated by the Internet that we had a massive scare of global collapse with rumors of computer failure during Y2K. We also now have mobile phones which can access the Internet with the mere touch of a button. Society can only wait and see what the Internet has in store for us in the years to come. Happy 45th birthday, Internet!

Virtual Scares on the Oculus Rift

By Megan G.

Some hyperlinks in this article lead to horror game developers’ websites, which feature frightening images and video clips.  There is also a link to a list of YouTube videos with gamers shouting certain expletives in terror as they play these games.  Click only if you are not faint of heart!

Here at Tek Shouts! we provide our readers with the latest updates and interesting tidbits of the SEO, tech, and marketing fields.  For today, let us take a look at what is happening in the world of virtual reality (VR).  The Oculus Rift, an intriguing VR device, has been making groundbreaking waves in the video game industry over the past year.  Still in development, the Rift is a goggle-headphones combination that offers a dynamic VR experience through complete visual and aural immersion.  With zero vision of the outside world, players can only see what the Oculus shows them.  The Rift’s 360° head-tracking matches the game’s images to players’ head movements, thus allowing them to observe the virtual world as they would reality—by looking side-to-side, up-and-down, and even right behind them.

In the spirit of Halloween, let’s take a look at the scarier titles made especially for the Oculus Rift.  These virtual reality goggles have been described as a perfect innovation for the survival horror genre, immersing players directly into terrifying settings without letting them look away.  With headphones that block all sounds except those of the monsters chasing you, the Oculus Rift can create a truly nightmarish experience.  Don’t worry too much, though.  This isn’t A Clockwork Orange, so you can still shut your eyes!  Or take off the headset.

October 28, 2014

Trick or Tech: Spooky Search Results & Terrifying Technology

By Lauren C.

The costumes are ready, the pumpkins are carved, and the candy is bought. It’s Halloween: that time of year for monsters, goblins, zombies, and everything pumpkin- flavored. Like other holidays, Halloween has evolved over the years to becoming an intricate part of the eCommerce world. Halloween gurus are finding ideas for costumes and party favors on the Internet, and spending an unprecedented amount of money on online shopping in the process. For those tech geeks out there, Halloween has become an exciting holiday. Popular online search results include spooky gadgets, gizmos, and apps meant to scare the living nerd out of you. Here’s what we found for popular online search results in the past five years:

Popular search results during Halloween this year included the 3D printer, which can print a three-dimensional object. Considered unthinkable just a few short years ago, this printer allows people to make their own costume from the comfort of their own home.
Also included in this mix of popular searches is the Freak Mask by Firebox, which allows the user to send a high resolution photo of their face to Firebox, who then makes a custom made mask with the exact same facial features. One mask is only about $25.00, so this is an easy way to creep people out without going over budget on a costume.
Finally, the Skullhub USB, which is a 4 port USB hub, is a great way to terrify co-workers. It is a simple USB- charging station for your electronics, the Skullhub USB is in the shape of a giant skull with room in it for knick- knacks and even candy, to boot.

October 27, 2014

Time is of the Essence: Webpage Loading Times

By Nick K. 

Think back to a time when people patiently waited at least a minute for a webpage to load, which was probably back in the days of dial-up Internet connection. Today, search engines gather page results very quickly and webpage loading times have become much faster to the point where it can keep lowering our attention spans and patience. Speed has become important because of the higher chance of people leaving their current webpage because it “took too long to load.”

Is webpage loading time really a concern?

Webpage loading time is a very serious factor that doesn’t always come to mind when people think about SEO or Internet marketing. Yet, webpage loading time is potentially one of the most important aspects for a business depending on their industry. This is due to the large quantity of people browsing the Internet. In fact, webpage loading times are so crucial that Google penalizes websites with poor webpage loading times, hence the creation of the Google Panda Algorithm.
Webpage loading times are also affected by a popular controversial Internet issue known as net neutrality. According to Google, net neutrality is a principal that keeps the Internet free of Internet service provider regulations and discriminating against 3rd party websites. If Internet service providers had the power to regulate and dictate the speed of information transmitted to websites it would heavily impact all webpage loading times.     

October 24, 2014

How I Can Trust You: Pigeon

By Lewis J.

We get a lot of questions about Google rankings, but the most common are about Google Trust Rankings. What are they? Why are they important? What affects them?

Put simply, your Google Trust Ranking is how much Google trusts your business is real and your website isn’t spam. There’s no score or metric attached to it. Google either trusts you or it doesn’t, and Google will not rank companies that it doesn’t trust.

How do you become trusted? There are several ways, but the two most important reasons are contained in Google’s two most recent algorithms: Pigeon and Penguin. (Google and its followers have a fondness for animals) 

Pigeon’s goal is to improve local and mobile web searches. Part of this algorithm determines whether brick and mortar businesses are open, reputable, and reliable by examining their Google reviews, Google+ profile, and the consistency of the name, address, and phone number.

The importance of Google reviews is self-explanatory. They don’t just indicate the quality of your business, they prove that it has an active client base. Star rankings reflect the number of reviews that you have received, good or bad. Once you have received five reviews, they’re averaged together and become your star rating. Businesses with star ratings are trusted more than ones without them, though they are not necessarily ranked higher, as you can see.

I Didn’t Get the Job Because They Didn’t Like My Shirt?

By Justin H.

A world without color would be one seriously dull place to live. We are surrounded by so much vivacity in our day-to-day lives that color almost seems peripheral at times. However, there are instances where it is imperative to put some thought into color, especially when going on a job interview

Colors are not just simple reflections of light. Blue is not just the color of the sky, but is also the color that makes time pass more quickly, and even reduces suicide attempts and street crime. Red is not only the color of stop signs, but also elicits hunger and makes athletes perform better. Yellow? Well, that makes babies cry. Was Big Bird your favorite Sesame Street character as a kid? I didn’t think so. There are much deeper psychological nuances that color has upon this world besides just being different reflections of light. We all play color favoritism, but don’t always see the psychological impact that colors have on the world. Medicinal pills are colored a certain way to act as placebos. Many food items you eat often have food coloring in them to appeal not only to your senses of taste and smell, but also sight.

The business world is no exception to this color rule. Forbes noted that customers make purchase decisions within 90 seconds of interacting with a product, with 62-90% of their judgment being based specifically on the color of the product or brand. A company’s logo is also crucial in this aspect, with the most important element being how the brand and product relate to one another. Google’s colorful logo undoubtedly helps them out, as do the colors of the eGumball Inc. logo. An SEO marketing company with a black and red logo would immediately come across as untrustworthy, just as a football team wearing pink uniforms would not intimidate anybody.

Clothing color is one area where everyone can relate. When it comes to business, people might often choose to wear colors in the office that they like. Out of fear of ruffling any feathers with the human resources department, people frequently sport blue or white shirts because they are safe neutral colors. Instead of thinking about what colors will help people blend in or look the most professional, employees need to research on color psychology and examine how their colors make other people feel around them.

October 21, 2014

Drivers, Start your Social Media Engines: 7 ways Social Media has helped NASCAR grow

By Nick K.

NASCAR is a professional sport portrayed, by many, as “people driving a car and turning left,” but surprisingly the NASCAR fan base has gone anywhere but turn left. In fact, the professional sport has been called by many sports commentators as the “the largest spectator sport.” According to Search Engine Journal, NASCAR has a strong fan base of over 75 million fans, and sells over 3 billion dollars to fans annually in products and tickets, while broadcasting their weekly races in over 150 different countries. For the past 5 years, NASCAR viewer ratings have been right behind NFL viewer ratings, and race fan attendance itself has always been in the fast lane.

Here is a look at 7 ways Social Media has helped NASCAR grow in popularity:

      1. Twitter pairing with NASCAR started the Social Media push

NASCAR’s latest marketing plan includes a push for greater online presence which, Forbes documented, NASCAR’s partnership with Twitter back in 2012. Thus, creating their first social media outlet, aside from NASCAR’s main website, to be used in creating NASCAR updates and posting race updates.

2. Sharing daily related content and updates

NASCAR loves to keep fans updated and entertained. Search Engine Journal says NASCAR accomplishes this, “by posting videos of previous races or interviews with some of the drivers on video sharing sites”, like NASCAR.com, NASCAR’s mobile app, and social media sites. The daily postings of content and videos creates interest and excitement about the next big race to current fans, and even attracts new fans.

3. Expanding their Twitter presence

With NASCAR providing daily content via Twitter, Forbes pointed out that the Twitter.com/#NASCAR hashtag has received over 2.25 million tweets by 275,000 contributors in 2012 alone. While NASCAR’s official twitter account, @NASCAR, has grown from 800,000 followers in November 2012 to almost 1.6 million followers in October 2014.

Advertising in the Digital Age: Maps Optimization & Local Search

By Lauren C.

With Yellow Pages probably not making a comeback any time soon, it’s safe to say that a business can’t survive without an online presence. The ability to show up in local search results online is vital to a company’s survival. With over 20 million small businesses in the United States alone, the competition is fierce and cutthroat in the online marketing war. For each small business to gain the edge, they must utilize whatever online tools are available, including maps optimization.

And, if you have any doubt whatsoever about the importance of maps optimization, look no further than these statistics:

There are other general reasons to invest in local search and map optimization.

October 20, 2014

Participation Inequality: Why You Should Comment on This Blog Post

By Justin H.

I see you there, reading this blog post. You might skim through it quickly. You might even read every word, but will you leave a comment afterwards?

We can all recount a situation where we were amongst a large group of people and knew almost no one. It might have been your first day at school, your first day at a new job or a crowded night out on the town, but at some point you have been in a large crowd of people that made you feel small. This is essentially what the internet is.

Millions upon millions of websites are floating around on the web just begging to be seen, without the convenience of being able to stand up on a bar stool and shout to the masses. The majority of people would love to be the life of the party and have the ability to chat with a new acquaintance as if they were a best friend of 20 years. The problem is that people are afraid to take initiative and make that first move, even though most people in a large gathering are in the same boat. Instead, we lurk.

October 17, 2014

eGumball Interviews: Team Building in Style

By Lauren C.

Chelsea G. is an office manager and assistant to the CEO at eGumball, Inc. We sat down with her today to talk about corporate team building, and how companies should focus on building a work community that is both fun and inclusive.

What do you think team building is, and why is it so important to company morale?
As an athlete, I think team building skills can be incorporated anywhere. Team building is simply a way to create responsibility by encouraging a group to work collectively towards a goal. Yes, we are all individuals, and our individual talent is what drives our businesses’ success, but we also have to work together in order to achieve our main objectives. Team building can be lots of different activities, and most of them are fun. If they weren’t fun, nobody would want to participate in them!

October 16, 2014

Starting and Maintaining a Successful Company Blog

By Lauren C.

Blog. Blog. Blog. That’s what experts in the SEO business continue to tell companies who are looking for ways to expand their brand. However, a garbage company owner probably isn’t sure why anyone would care to read blogs that talk about different ways to compact disposable waste. He may ask himself, what good would a blog do for me, and how can I even begin coming up with enough material to maintain a weekly blog? Regardless of the type of company, SEO experts continue to argue that writing a blog is not only possible, but a fundamental part of maintaining a successful business.

Some believe that the purpose of a blog is to entertain, but this isn’t necessarily true. The primary purpose of a blog should be to bring more traffic and attention to a website. Most websites consist of an about page, a contact page, and a few other pages. Unless a company has a vast amount of pages like Amazon, there isn’t that much material for Google to index, so a blog consists of more pages that Google can in fact index. If blogs contain relevant rich keywords with valuable content, there will be more indexed pages that will show up in related search queries. Finally, a blog will help relate to the reader what it is a company does, as well as provide relevant news and statistics that exist within the industry.

The next step is the hardest: getting started. Luckily, there are proven methods that work for every company who is looking to start a blog. Here are some of these methods:

Buy a domain name. A domain name is a method of telling a computer where the user wants to go to in the form of a name, not a number. A domain name should be easy to remember, and the price will depend on the length, number of words, and the ease of spelling the name, among other factors. Research companies like GoDaddy and Web.com to compare prices and make sure your name isn’t taken first.

October 15, 2014

Google Now: Comprehensive, Comprehending

By Megan G.

Introduced as a mobile device app in 2012, Google Now provides “the right information at just the right time,” meaning the app uses different sources of information from your mobile device activities to specifically tailor Google Now updates to your interests.  For example, a person’s Google Now ‘cards’—individual tabs that show up in the app—may include commute traffic, local hotspots, or your favorite sports teams’ scores.  This all depends on how you use your phone and what you let Google Now access.  It gathers data in the background of your phone as you use it, and predicts what info you need, and when you need it—hence the tagline.  Google Now is a pocket-sized secretary in the same vein as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.  Why label this particular app both comprehensive and comprehending?   Two major traits set Google Now apart from its competitors in the digital arena:

1)  Google Now pulls information from the ever-evolving Knowledge Graph of Google, transforming the app into a mini-encyclopedia, in addition to its standard search engine services.  This makes it comprehensive.

2)  Google Now’s natural language processor allows the app to comprehend the user.  Through conversational search, Google Now can understand spoken queries, and can answer many of the user’s related questions in succession.

October 14, 2014

The Smartphone Epidemic

By Nick K.

Although smartphones have become a normal accessory in our everyday lives, it wasn’t too long ago that the first smartphones were released. Since then, the smartphone has taken off faster than a shooting star and started a mobile phone revolution. In fact, according to businessinsider.com, smartphone ownership increased from 5% of the global population in 2009, to 22% by the end of 2013. That means smartphone ownership has gained over 1 billion global users in just four years. What explains the giant increase? The answer is the smartphone empowers users to access information at any place and any time. The creation of a computer and a phone might be one of the greatest technological breakthroughs in our current generation, but not one person could have predicted that the smartphone would have altered society as much as it has.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The smartphone has affected society in numerous ways, including excessive smartphone overuse, disjointed interpersonal human communication and adopting the smartphone into their daily routine.

According to Nielsen.com, Americans spend 34 hours a month using smartphone apps and the mobile web December 2013, up six hours from December 2012. Nielsen.com also points out people from the U.K. spend an average of over 40 hours per month on their smartphone. Because the data was from December 2013, the average has increased since then. In fact, people use smartphones on average 1.8 hours a day according to digitalbuzzblog.com, and most people still use their computer, either at home or at work, in addition to their phone to access the same information.

October 13, 2014

Green Marketing: Free-Range Chicken Soup for the Business Soul

By Megan G.
For a long time, organic foods and natural products failed to reach the mainstream mindset, staying a niche market headed by ecological entrepreneurs for select groups of the environmentally-minded.  Even today, one still hears snide jokes about the volley of grass-fed, hormone-free, biodegradable buzzwords peppering the packages of natural foods and products.  However, in recent years a marked shift has occurred, and the demand of organic and natural items and services has shot up and into the mainstream.   Being green no longer remains the business of corner stores, hipsters, and Kermit the Frog.  Large corporations, as well, are seeing the world through mint-colored glasses.

On April 9th, 2014, Target jumped on the big, green bandwagon with a wholesome, “handpicked,” “made to matter” collection.  The Made-to-Matter webpage features a compilation of 16 organic brands such as Burt’s Bees, Kashi, and ClifBar.  Target, a master of making all types of practical products available in once place, is no stranger to green practices and community service—but now they have created their own natural and organic brand, “Simply Balanced,” officially joining this verdant market.  Target’s move parallels one of their corporate competitors, the Kroger Company.  Within the last year, Kroger has also introduced a unique line dubbed, “Simple Truth Organic”.  A lot of “simply simple” ideas floating around this big business headspace, and even the packaging of both brands relies on easy, crisp color schemes and straightforward labels.  Clean, simple, and green all seem to go hand-in-hand—and why not?  The goal of both Target and Kroger’s go-green brands is to provide readily accessible natural, organic, and sustainable products to their customers, as well as sew their oats in the fertile, growing gardens of green marketing.

October 10, 2014

Market Norms and Social Networks

By Lewis J.

What is the most popular social media content? It varies depending on the site. On Facebook, it’s personal quizzes, sentimental news stories, and entertainment updates. On Twitter, it’s business news, breaking news, and social activism. On Pinterest, it’s recipes, fashion, and home improvement tips. On LinkedIn, it’s industry news, and on Google+ it’s discounts, coupons, celebrity news, and sports. There is a common thread though. Even though much of it is designed to promote a brand, none of it is advertising.

This may come as a surprise to you. After all, it’s not hard to find major corporations with Facebook pages. Coca-Cola, Nestle, and IKEA are all there and aren’t shy about mentioning their brand or their products. While this may be true, it’s not the whole story. There is more to advertising than promotion and branding. Advertising is based on an implicit promise between the advertiser and the consumer. In exchange for money, the advertiser will provide a product or service. This reciprocity is also the foundation of a group of behaviors known as market norms, which are impersonal exchanges between two people based on immediate and comparable gains between parties. Market norms are ubiquitous between cultures and classes. If you’ve ever haggled with a salesman, negotiated your salary, or disputed a bill, then you’ve experienced market norms.

Opposite to market norms are social norms. Social norms are interpersonal behaviors based on personal relationships and emotional gains without the expectation of immediate reciprocity. Social norms are ubiquitous too. They’re the basis for the bonds you share with your friends and family and they’re everywhere in social media. It’s the reason why so many social media users post baby pics, tweet wedding proposals, or create status updates about their favorite meals. It’s an extension of our social instincts. (Visit Dan Ariely for the full rundown)

October 9, 2014

SEO & Social Media: Two Ends of the Same Coin

By Lauren C.

Brand awareness is the first and final puzzle piece in creating a successful enterprise.  A fully optimized website will automatically draw traffic to a web page, but there are other influencing factors which are essential in brand promotion and increasing conversion rates. One component that is vital to a successful marketing campaign is social media marketing, especially in how it relates to search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization and social media marketing are not the same, nor does Google have an algorithm that officially includes social media, but the two overlap and work together to build brand awareness. Social media marketing refers to the ability of businesses to promote their brand via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +. Each platform is different, but they have the same agenda: each is a way to promote company specific content that includes important keywords, with the aim of increasing website traffic.

When you share links through social media, and others re-share those links, the link will increase awareness throughout the web community of a company’s website content. For example, if someone writes a blog and posts it via their company Twitter platform, and one of those friends retweets that link to their friends, or uses the link as part of a blog on their own website, brand awareness increases. Google enjoys what is popular, recommended, and used in a reputable way. The more your content is out there, the better it is for rankings and optimization.
So what are the ways to optimize your social media platforms in order to increase optimization? Here are a few suggestions for the more popular social media sites.

The best way to optimize your company Facebook page is to match the actual name of the URL to the company name or a brand name that is an easily remembered keyword. This allows search engines a larger and clearer metric to understand what it is your company does. Having a fully filled out company description, along with the accurate city and state, helps the Facebook page rank higher in company search queries.

October 7, 2014

Sitelinks: Components and Criteria

By Justin H.

There is a solid chance you have not heard of sitelinks, unless you are an avid SEO guru or have worked in the industry. Even so, this is a term that gets somewhat overlooked. Whether or not you know exactly what a sitelink is, you have surely seen and clicked on plenty of them before. Average internet users likely never even realized when Google added these links within the links, but they are crucial.

A sitelink is a link that is automatically selected by one of Google’s algorithms. A group of them will appear in a box underneath the search result for a website, and they will link to more specific aspects of the main website. Take a glance at the attached Google search for a better concept of sitelinks.

Search Results for eGumball.com

As an example, when you search for eGumball.com, you also get sitelinks that contribute to website traffic. The sitelinks present clear options for you such as “pricing” or “Google Places Optimization,” essentially acting as the opposite of a keyword. The amount of sitelinks for a website depends on a couple of variables, such as traffic and overall popularity. There is a somewhat random element to it due to Google’s algorithms, but quite simply, it is better to have more than less.

However, sitelinks do have their caveats. There is certain criteria that a company must have in order to obtain sitelinks in a Google search result. A website has to be at least 18-24 months old in order to even have sitelinks. Alluding to the previous point, a site also cannot have sitelinks unless it already has the number one ranking for a certain keyword. You can find more criteria and important details about sitelinks at this excerpt from SEOpedia.com.