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  • You might be surprised – or, perhaps, not – at how often we get asked a question that looks a lot like this: “Is It Possible to Get Negative Information Off of Google?”

    Knowing that we have attained remarkable success with SEO and online reputation management strategies for all sorts of clients, professionals come to us, looking to see if there’s some strategy we can use to eliminate their bad PR from the face of the internet.

    The thing is? Unfortunately, there’s no one secret strategy to get unwelcome search results off of Google, provided that they’re real and accurate. That is to say that if a past customer of yours, say, had a negative experience and wrote a personal blog post about it, your options for getting that post “removed” from search results are quite limited, in most cases.

    Similarly, if your name is associated with a less-than-positive news story from a legitimate outlet, it’s not necessarily possible to just have that post just removed from Google results. In most cases, that link is on the search engine results page (SERP) for a reason. And, bear in mind that the internet is a complex, interconnected ecosystem. Even if you do manage to get a piece of information or a story taken down from one place, it may live on via social media, the Wayback Machine, or a user’s personal data cache.

    In most cases, what your parents probably told you about the internet is largely true: Once something is published, it often lives online forever, whether you’d like it to or not.

    So, what are your choices when you want to get rid of bad press or a search result that reflects poorly on your personal brand? We’ve got a few ideas.

  • "Vibe" Proivdes Personal Info Based on an Email AddressIf your inbox looks anything like ours, chances are you get a lot of different email from a lot of different people throughout the day.  On occasion, you may receive a new "lead", introduction, or important email from someone that you don't know anything about (or at least very little.)

    Here's where Vibe comes in.

    "The fastest way to know your contacts" is the name of their game.  Vibe is an app and browser extension that provides you instant extended information on your email contacts simply by hovering over their email address.  This could include some, if not all of the above information:

    • Their full name
    • A picture
    • Their location
    • Their job information
    • A biography
    • Links to their various social media sites (including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and more)
    • A list of keyword topics related to their interests

    Vibe has been designed as a Chrome extension and a application for Mac OS products.  The Chrome version naturally only works for email addresses found within the web browsers, while the Mac version works across the entire desktop.

    How does Vibe find information?

  • 10 Google Features That Will Make Your Life EasierGoogle has become an essential part of most of our online lives. It's superior search engine, maps, email, calendar, and cloud storage already provide so much to our online browsing experience.

    But did you know there are even more features we can take advantage of?

    A recent article in USA Today brought to light 10 incredibly awesome tools that often get overlooked. Here are the highlights.

    1. Google Flight Search

    10 Google Features That Will Make Your Life Easier

    If you're shopping around for the cheapest fare for a flight, Google has a great tool for it. Check out Google Flight Search - easily one of the simplest and most effective price-comparison sites around. Pick your starting location and your destination directly on the map, your desired travel dates, and voila. It will even give you recommended tips on additional departure dates around your time slot that are cheaper.

    2. Atari Breakout

  • Google rolled out an online marketplace for third-party apps last months, and there are a lot of great apps to choose from.

    The apps, known by Google as "add-ons", are available to users through Google Docs and Sheets - Google's free online word-processor and spreadsheet generator.  The add-ons essentially provide added functionality or some missing features to what the programs already provide.

    Here are some add-ons that we love.

    1. Charts - Insert data from Sheets directly into to Docs

    Making a Google spreadsheet in Sheets hasn't yet been easily transferred over to Docs without some issues.  With this add on by Charts, however, it is now exceptionally easy to do so.

    2. Track Changes - Review and approve changes to your documents. 

    The desktop competitors, like Microsoft Word, feature this handy tool to help collaborators propose changes and give the author ultimate discretion to review and accept or reject those changes.  Now this functionality is available in Docs.  Killer.

    3. HelloFax - Fax documents for free from Docs

    HelloFax is a fantastic free service that lets you fax your documents to any number, anywhere in the world directly from Google Docs.  The free version of HelloFax lets you fax up to 5 pages.

    4. Avery's Label Merge - Create labels within Docs

    Sheets and Docs work well together with Avery's Label merge add-on.  It allows users to take data found in Sheets and transform it into labels and name tags within Docs for printing.  Avoid the "copy+paste" stage of your process by using this neat add-on.

  • 5 Essential Elements for Your Web Page (Source: pexels.com - used as royalty free image)

    “My website is working! Why change it?”

    We hear this all the time, whether we’re networking with a Chicago business owner or just talking shop at the bar at the end of the day (yep, we really do talk about digital marketing in our free time, too… it’s what we do).

    We understand being resistant to change, and we get it – not everyone is a technical wonk. But if your website isn’t optimized for today’s digital landscape, then it’s not working; in fact, it may well be doing more harm than good.

    But where to start updating and refining your website? Start by making sure that your site includes all five of these essential elements. If you’re missing one, it may be high time to start the conversation about getting your website back on track!

    About Us

  • 5 Reasons Not to Use a Free Website Builder (Source: pixabay.com - used as royalty free image)

    We have reached a point in business where the importance of having a website for a company of any size is pretty much universally understood. In today's digital landscape, it is simply "the cost of doing business." Despite this, however, many business owners balk at the idea of investing money on website design.

    To a certain extent, this reluctance does make sense. Investing in a custom site seems like a sizable chunk of change upfront, especially for start-ups, where money can be spread exceptionally thin.

    At this point in the decision-making process, many small business owners decide to self-design a website using a free website builder, like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, as a way to cut costs in the short term. Unfortunately, this decision has come back to haunt many small businesses in the long term, due to hidden costs, loss of ownership, perceived lack of professionalism, and poor functionality.

    Don't let it happen to you! Take control of your site now, and enjoy the benefits down the line. Need some convincing? Here are five big reasons you should avoid free website builders altogether:

    1. You don't own your site

  • 2019 is going to be a big year - particularly in the world of search engine optimization, orSEO. 

    Already this year, there are trends and narratives taking shape in the SEO realm. On Google and other search engines, changes and developments, big and small, are starting to have an impact on search engine results pages (SERPS). Audience tastes and techniques are changing. New technologies are gaining a foothold. 

    Bottom line? If your brand is considering starting with SEO in 2019, or fine-tuning the approach you already have in place,  it’s important to keep an eye on all these developments as they come up. Knowing what lies ahead for SEO could make all the difference when it comes to getting your business the traffic and conversions you need - or else, getting left behind. 

  • Do you remember how Google search was back in the late 90s?

    If you don't, it isn't really that surprising. Google has come a long way since then, especially in terms of its search algorithms.

    In the beginning, getting your website to rank highly in a Google search comprised of a simple two steps:

    1. Saturate your pages with as many keywords and trigger phrases as possible
    2. Accumulate inbound links - The more, the better.

    As you probably already know, the Google search algorithm has evolved quite a long way from its primitive beginning.  Keywords and links are no longer the full name of the game - value, on the other hand is.  "Hacking the system" (i.e. keyword saturated content that has little to no actual value to readers) has been effectively avoided as Google's algorithm has improved.

    Google has endeavored over the years to find new, more effective ways to deliver high-value, high-quality search engine results. Starting in 2003 with "Boston", Google users started seeing these algorithm changes labeled with names. In recent memory, you may recollect mention of "Panda", "Penguin", and most recently, with "Hummingbird".  Google has recently endeavored to have their searches pull up high-quality content that effectively serves as an answer to a question.

  • best password management tools

    When did the internet become such a scary place?

    For some people, of course, the answer to that question would be “a few decades ago,” when the dancing baby meme first went viral and amused/horrified a still-innocent nation.

    But, for the rest of us, 2017 really feels like floodgates have opened, and the internet - a second home so many of us have long taken for granted – has become a more frightening place, where scammers, hackers, and malicious bots lurk around every virtual corner, ready to steal our information, bring down our businesses, and even shake up our government.

  • social messaging apps replace email marketing?

    Earlier this year, Facebook announced that its Messenger service had cleared a major benchmark, reaching 1.2 billion monthly average users (MAU); this probably shakes out to anywhere from 400 to 600 million daily active users (DAU) for the messaging and chat service.

    That’s a huge deal. For context, those numbers dwarf the DAU rate for Instagram Stories and Snapchat by a wide margin, for instance, positioning Facebook Messenger highly within the social chat space. 

    Of course, Messenger is still massively overshadowed by major email platforms; it is estimated that we collectively send more than more than 200 billion emails a day, at a rate of about 2.4 million emails a second.

    That’s also a huge deal. And yet the fact remains that for marketers, Facebook Messenger is increasingly looking like a welcoming new frontier, while email has lost some of its luster.

  • Evergreen Marketing in a Nutshell

    Do you want to make your content more searchable, more shareable, and more appealing to your customers? If you answered “yes” to any of the above – and we hope you did – then it’s time to think about trees.

    Pine and fir trees – like the kind we bring indoors to light up around the holidays – are known as “evergreen trees,” because their vivid green leaves stick around all year long.

    Evergreen content works the same way. We consider a piece evergreen if it’s timeless, with a long, maybe even indefinite, shelf life. It’s the kind of content that your readers will always be seeking out, regardless of the time of year or the hot trend of the moment.

    When done right, evergreen content is foundational: It provides the definitions or helps answer the questions your users are already looking for, and it’s a vital piece of any content marketing strategy.

    Having the right kind of evergreen content marketing in place can help drive sustainable, continuous traffic to your blog or site, allowing you to build your following and, with the right tools, convert visiting users into clients.

    Need some ideas to get started? Here are a five types of evergreen content that never go out of style:

    1.) Curated Content

  • Gmail is about to get a huge makeover in both form and function, it is claimed.

    Thanks to some leaked screenshots published by Geek.com, we're able to get a first glimpse at an all-new Gmail that Google is supposedly testing with a select group of users.

    Gmail will likely get a whole new interface

    Looking at the new screenshots, it is apparent that apart from a new design, the interface itself will be very different in the new Gmail.  Some would speculate the new interface looks a good deal like Google+ and the Google Now digital assistant.

    Here are some other interesting potential new changes:

  • SEO is an art, a science, a skill, and a mindset. And, at times, it can also feel like a bit of a mystery - even to experts in the industry. 

    SEO 101

    Let’s back up a second. First thing’s first, it’s important to note that SEO is shorthand for “search engine optimization,”the process involved in getting website content to rank highly with search engines like Google or Bing. With an SEO strategy in place, a brand can make sure that its content is high on the list of a search engine results page, or SERP - a powerful way tosecure inbound traffic and warm leads, without having to spend and strategize on paid advertising. 

    SEO is one of the most effective and dependable forms of inbound marketing there is. Every day, millions of eager searchers turn to Google and other search engines to find everything from “new car” to “how to unclog toilet.” This is a massive audience that can be directed from a SERP straightinto your conversion funnel, whether they’re at the very beginning of their buyer’s journey, or almost ready to make a purchase. 

  • Hands-On With Slack for Business

    If you work in or near tech or media, you’ve probably heard of it: Slack.

    It’s spoken of with awe and reverence from those who use it – a group that includes 9 million individuals, 43 companies from the Fortune 100, and businesses in more than 100 countries around the world. 

    But is Slack the right fit for your business?

    Our team recently integrated this all-in-one messaging platform into our workflow, and we’ve got some thoughts.

    Let’s dive into the history of Slack; from there, we’ll break down what it does well, and where it comes up short. Hopefully, we’ll answer any questions you have about this instant messaging giant along the way, helping you decide whether it’s worth giving this insanely popular platform a go:

    A Brief History of Slack

  • Google+ users, have you been getting emails from random sources? With Google's new settings, you soon will!

    Never fear, this is simply a result of the deepened integration between Gmail and Google+, and there's a way out.

    Due to an automatic setting Google applied to all accounts after the update, all Google+ users are set to be able to receive Gmail from anyone who wants - family and friends, sure, but also complete strangers are able to contact you under their default setting.

    Don't worry, you can opt out of this feature easily, or simply set your default to receive email from your Google+ extended circles or circles.

    Here's how:

    1. Login to your Gmail account

    2. Click the "gear icon" and the top right corner of your screen

    3. Under "General," look for the setting "Google via Google+"

  • How to Create Contact Forms The Convert LeadsSo, which of you just LOVES filling out forms?
    ...what, no takers?

    Lets face it, filling out forms is never a favorite thing for your prospective clients to do.  In fact, the wrong type a form can turn a previously curious customer or client into an exasperated one.  Sometimes, it can even make them turn off to the idea of giving you any information at all, as they close their browser in frustration.

    How do you make your forms useful to you and usable for your prospective contacts?  Here are the ways that Ted Ammon at Hubspot suggests you build forms to convert actual leads.

    Smaller is better.

    Size matters when it comes to forms, and in this case, the smaller the better.  In fact, according to Hubspot, the optimum conversion rate, at 25% conversion, lies at 3 fields or less.  3-5 fields yields a 20% conversion rate, while it is only 15% for 6+ fields.

    How do you pare down your form fields?  It may be a painful process, but make sure you get exactly what you need, with absolutely nothing extraneous.  Try to narrow down to a top 5 necessary fields that you will need to follow up with the client... and then cut it down some more.

    The word "submit" won't get you submits.

  • How to Create Sharable Images for Social MediaImages are a powerful tool for social media sites. Users respond to images more than they respond to text, so it makes sense why digital marketers place a good deal of emphasis on using images to promote your content.

    So how to you create images that will successfully market your content? The good news is, you don't have to be a graphic designer to make a quality, sharable image.

    Here are 3 great online design tools, recently shared by Social Media Examiner, to help you create some of your own sharable images.

    1. Reusable Images Have Layers

  • Many small business owners are curious about advertising on Facebook.  Facebook has over a billion users worldwide, so naturally, it s a platform that has an exceptional base to tap into.

    There are ways to optimize your Facebook ads to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.  Facebook offers a nice variety of tools and features to tailor your reach, but how do you make them work for you?

    1. Good content makes good ads

    Advertisements are best displayed when they are marketing some already fantastic content.  What makes your content great will be amplified in advertisement form.  If your content is not-so-great, this aspect will also be amplified in advertisement form.

    Take the time to craft meaningful content that you are going to be promoting, be it on your website, blog, newsletter, etc.  Steamfeed describes advertisements as a "tour guide, showing visitors all the cool places, sights and sounds" of your company.  Make sure they're directing curious observers to some sights worth seeing!

    2. Create and use an email list for ad optimization

    Facebook Ads are best optimized when they work with your own pre-existing email list of contacts.  This list is essentially a tried and tested group of contacts that are already familiar with your company and product line.  If you target these people correctly, their word-of-mouth marketing can easily take your Facebook ad experience to a whole new level of success.

    The email list also allows you use designated parameters (in person contacts, contacts who have bought your products, contacts who are in your immediate area, etc) so that you can target your audience with more specificity.

  • The idea of writing your individual website articles or blogposts with "keywords" in mind makes sense, as each blog topic typically has an optimized group of phrases and words already at hand, but how does this concept work for your overall website?

    Keywords, as we've previously written about, have a changeable yet important relationship to SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  Google alone has seen numerous changes over the years when it comes to how they pull in their data for searches.  

    One thing stands tried and true, however: websites with an optimized keyword base improve their SEO.

    Here are some ways you can improve the keyword standing on your own website, courtesy of Hubspot.

    Identify the Best Keywords for Your Website

    Creating your list of keywords can be the most time consuming part of the process, but it is a one-time process that will pay you huge dividends down the line not only for your website, but for your content creation process as well.

    Our extended guide to developing your keyword list can be found here.

    Audit Your Site

    Once you have an established base of keywords to begin optimizing your site with, you can begin to audit your site.  This will target which pages on your sites should use which keywords, as well as identifying duplicate content.  Here is the quick way to go through this process:

    • Export your site pages into an Excel spreadsheet
    • Sort the pages from most frequently visited pages to least visited pages
    • Add a column for "Keyword Category" and identify each page by its most important, overarching keyword
    • Add an additional column for other relevant keywords and keyword phrases (Note: RELEVANT)

    You now have a roadmap for how to improve your website.

    Add Selected Keywords to Specific Site Information

    Now that you have a list of keywords and keyword phrases, you're ready to start plugging them in on each individual page.  This includes:

  • How to Make Sure Your Password is Actually SafeWith security malfunctions, bugs (like the recent Heartbleed bug), hackers... the passwords you desire to keep secret may not be as safe as you think.

    How can you strengthen your passwords against these threats?  Here are some great tips.

    Use a Secure Password Generator and Manager

    Many hackers are able to identify passwords based on patterns and expectations, and substituting a "3" for an "e" or capitalizing a few random letters is just not enough anymore.  

    Additionally, if you are the type of person who likes using the same password for everything (just so you don't have to remember multiple passwords), remember: if one goes down, they ALL go down.  Having variated, unrelated passwords is the best way to combat this.

    The most secure way to create long, random, complex passwords is to use password manager, like LastPass, KeePass, or 1Password.  These not only store your passwords for you, they also create random passwords for you that you don't have to remember.

    LastPass is our favorite.  It is extremely secure, browser integrated, includes organization and password storage, generates random, complex passwords, and is completely free.

    Avoid Predictable Password Formulas

    If you'd rather manage all of your passwords yourself, make sure you're avoiding predictable formulas, like these:

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).