Gadget of the Week - Sony Xperia Ear Duo

Have you ever been waiting at a train station with headphones on, only to have your music completely drown out the sound of an incoming announcement from the PA system?

Or maybe you’ve been hard at work with your favorite podcast in your ears, only to have your supervisor yell at you for not perking up right when they called your name?

Both of these situations have certainly happened to us Geeks - maybe even more times than we can count!

Noise canceling headphones are great, but it’s hard to deny that they can sometimes work a little too well, creating a whole set of new problems. Wouldn’t it be great if you could combine a powerful listening experience with the ability to also tune into the most important noises in your environment?

Take that promise, multiply it by the power of “truly wireless,” and toss in seamless voice and gesture control for good measure, and you’d wind up with a set of headphones a lot like Sony’s new Xperia Ear Duo earbuds.

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Understanding Gray Hat SEO: The Search Techniques That Could Go Wrong

The world doesn’t work in binaries – and neither does SEO.

SEO – digital marketers’ shorthand for “search engine optimization” – refers to the art and science behind getting your brand to the top of search engine results pages (also known as SERPs). In many ways, putting a solid SEO strategy into practice is the single most important thing you can do to get your next customers to find your site, and keep your existing audience coming back for more.

With that being said, it’s important to realize that there are many different types of SEO strategies out there – and not all of them are going to bring you the results you may be hoping for.

As a rule, we generally break SEO tactics into two categories. On the one hand, you have white hat SEO tactics; these are the surefire methods that will allow you to rank highly on search engines while also playing fair with Google, and other businesses in your industry.

On the flip side, there’s black hat SEO; these are the tactics which Google and other search engines consider to be cheating. Employing a black hat SEO strategy can damage your brand’s reputation, and may actually backfire on you, resulting in your SERP rankings falling – with your organic traffic and conversion rates plummeting, too.

So, if you’re reading this and considering implementing an SEO strategy, you’re probably thinking: “Got it. Just use white hat SEO and I’ll be good.”

And, while that’s true, it’s not always quite that simple in practice. That’s why we feel it’s important to understand that there’s a third way that SEO can sometimes go, often despite your business’s best intentions: The way of the gray hat.

What Is Gray Hat SEO?

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App of the Week - Stations by Spotify

If you’ve ever spent hours scrolling through Netflix without being able to make a decision on what to watch, then you’re familiar with the problem of infinite choice.

Basically, it goes like this: The more options you have, the harder it can be to make a selection, and then the harder it is to fully enjoy the choice you do end up making.

To combat this growing problem in the internet ecosystem, a lot of content providers are actually finding ways to streamline and speed up their users’ selection process – or take the burden of choice off of them completely!

Stations by Spotify is one such app. Billed as “an experiment by Spotify that makes it easy for anyone to listen to great music,” Stations is a standalone program that does away with a lot of the bells and whistles of Spotify’s core product, and instead focuses exclusively on playlists.

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Reputation Management for Real Estate, Architecture, and Interior Design Professionals

Reputation Management for Real Estate, Architecture, and Interior Design Professionals

Join us for our upcoming free webinar -
"Reputation Management for Real Estate Professionals"

Before the internet, how did real estate agents, architects, and others in the real estate business get clients?

It’s not out of school, we think, to say that a ton of business came from referrals and word of mouth. One client, satisfied with the work you did for them, told their friends, family, and colleagues, and, sure enough, some of them would give your business a call when the time came.

And the reality is that plenty of home professionals – that’s real estate brokers, interior designers, architects, contractors, and decorators – still solicit the bulk of their business from personal referrals. After all, people are never going to stop talking to each other face to face, no matter how much time we spend on our smartphones.

But the thing is? Today, people aren’t only chatting with each other over coffee or at dinner parties. Instead, they’re taking their referrals and recommendations online.

And there’s a way that you can guide the conversation around your brand for the better, helping make sure that reviews, rankings, and testimonials all work in your favor, helping you gain new leads on the backs of your existing, satisfied clients. We call this strategy reputation management, and it’s a must-have for any business in any industry, from sales to design.

Generally, we break down successful reputation management into three interrelated parts, each of which has a major role to play in making your business stand out – for the right reasons – on the internet. Whether you work in real estate, interior design, architecture, or construction, here’s what you need to know about online reputation management for your business:

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Looking For Leads? Start With Your Content!

Looking For Leads? Start With Your Content! (Image Source: Wikimedia Creative Commons User Felixibel)

We've defined the importance of quality content on this blog before. Long story short? We believe that creating high quality content can help your business truly stand out on search engines and social media - making content creation the single most important thing you can do to get customers to your site.

But before you get cracking on that latest blog post, it would help to make sure it’s primed and ready to add value for your business. It’s important to always create content with a strategy. You should take time to identify the specific goals of your writing, and organize it in a way that will let you accomplish your chosen goal - whether that’s to expand your brand reach, to retain your existing clients, or, perhaps most important of all, to attract warm leads.

A lead is a party interested in your product, who is also able to eventually make the purchase. Sounds pretty critical to the success of your brand - let alone your content marketing - right?

Let’s look at how you can create content that helps you gain leads, from two different angles. First, we’ll dive into how you can make sure that you’re reaching an audience that’s eager to hear from you, and ready to sign on the dotted line (or at least fill in that lead capture form).

Then, we’ll focus in on the types of creative content you can craft to help sway different audiences, guiding them down your conversion funnel and helping create real value for your brand.

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Is My Smartphone Always Listening to Me?

“I’m, like, 99% sure my phone is listening to me.”

Those were the words of my friend Charlie a few days ago, holding up his iPhone and insisting that I look at a screenshot of a Facebook ad.

Instantly, I got what he was talking about. See, a few days earlier, Charlie and I, along with a few other pals, had held a long conversation about fast food, focusing in on one restaurant’s curly fries in particular. Lo and behold, Charlie had been served up an ad for that chain’s fries on his Facebook feed later that very night.

And he’s definitely not the only one who’s experienced this phenomenon! In fact, lots of people who receive targeted ads, seemingly out of the blue, wonder about whether the ad was the result of their iPhone or Android device listening in on their private conversations.

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Gadget of the Week - Nokia 8810 'Banana Phone'

In a lot of ways, 2018 is the year of the reboot. Think about it! Will & Grace and Queer Eye are back on the small screen, there’s a brand new Han Solo speeding his way into theaters… We could go on!

Even in tech, 2018 may well be remembered as the year that a beloved icon comes back to life! We’re talking, of course, about the Nokia 8810 – perhaps better known as the Nokia “banana phone.”

A favorite of hackers and hipsters – and a cult classic, thanks to its pivotal role in the Matrix movies – the Nokia 8810 was very much a product of its time, featuring not only a tactile keyboard, but a long and gently curved design, as well as an actual slider that let you answer and end calls in dramatic fashion. It even came in bright yellow, making those produce comparisons all but inevitable.

It would be easy for HMD, the company behind the relaunch of Nokia branded phones, to release the 8810 as a chintzy marketing gimmick. But, in reality, the company is throwing more weight behind this product than you might think.

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Why Inbound and Traditional Marketing Can Work Together

Digital marketing. Conventional advertising.

For a long time, people believed that these two methods for brand outreach and lead generation were completely distinct from one another - and that businesses looking to maximize their marketing budgets had to prioritize one over the other.

So which one? Well, that was always up to your brand. Certainly, there have always been cases to be made for both sides.

For brick-and-mortar stores making local appeals, or brands whose target audience still consume print and TV regularly, traditional paid advertising can definitely still bring in enough ROI to justify the effort. On the flip side, digital marketing – using inbound methods such as SEO, social media, and email marketing – has long been considered a great way to have leads come to you, and encourage your current customers to stick around, often for less cost overall.

There are merits to both options – so why do so many businesses fail to see the benefits of using these methods in tandem?

So, here’s the scoop: In our experience, conventional advertising methods and digital inbound marketing don’t have to live completely separately.

In fact, there’s plenty of argument to be made that brands can see an enormous benefit by putting both marketing methods to work at the same time!

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App of the Week - Otter

Ever have an incredibly productive work meeting – only to forget that incredible point you made about timelines the minute you exited the conference room? Ever recorded an interview on a tape recorder – only to spend twice the length of your conversation transcribing your dialogue?

Here’s what you need to do next time: Have an Otter with you!

No, we’re not talking about a cute little critter! We mean the Otter app, a powerful new free tool for recording searchable voice transcripts.

Otter uses the power of AI to make recording and reviewing your most important conversations a breeze. After an initial set-up process, you just turn the app on, and it begins recording your conversation and generating text. The app is automatically able to differentiate between different voices, and you can perform a “deep search” for words or phrases, if you’re ever trying to locate a specific keyword or phrase within one transcript, or your entire library of voice recordings.

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Boost Organic Traffic With These 5 Smart SEO Tactics

Despite what you may have heard over the years, SEO is still here to stay.

In fact, in an era of inflated marketing budgets and boundless technical innovations, the art of maximizing your presence on search engines matters more than ever.

The long and short of it all is that SEO is still vital for spreading the word about your business, particularly if you’re trying to connect with local audiences. It’s one of the most consistent ways to drive traffic to your site, increasing your brand’s visibility and helping to generate warm leads over time.

But – and, we know, there’s always a “but” – just thinking about SEO won’t make it start producing results for your brand. Instead, you need to understand SEO – what it does, how it works, and what types of audiences it will bring to your site.

For one thing, it’s vital to understand the type of audience driven to your site via search engines – which digital marketers call organic traffic. In simplest terms, organic traffic refers to the volume of visits to your site that come through queries on search engines.

And now, more than ever, it’s important to recognize that your organic traffic consists of hyper-local audiences, mobile users on the go, and people looking for quick solutions to complex problems. These are all users prime for conversion – if you know how to help guide them into your funnel in the first place!

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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).