Kristen Hicks, Author at HostGator Blog

HostGator Blog

Web Hosting Made Easy!

  • Inexpensive Online Marketing Tools You Should Be Using

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017 by

    Cheap internet marketing tools

    Whether you’re a lean startup or a budget conscious behemoth, there’s nothing wrong with saving a few dollars, especially if it’s on something as important as online marketing. But with plenty of snake-oil salesmen and low-quality services out there on the internet, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

    Luckily, you can find a number of the most important online marketing tools every business needs at either very little cost or no cost at all. To make your search for the best inexpensive online marketing tools out there easier, we’ve rounded up a list of 21 tools worth checking out.

    HostGator Website Builder

    Tools for Marketing Research

    Great marketing is built on a foundation of good research. To reach your target audience effectively with the right message, you have to first understand who they are and what they care about. And to position yourself effectively in the industry, you need a good understanding of who your competitors are and what their marketing strategy looks like.

    Performing audience research to build accurate personas and competitor research to clarify your positioning are two crucial early steps in every marketing effort. Here are a few tools to help you do marketing research that won’t eat up much of your budget.  


    Cost: Free With government mandated filings for publicly traded firms, posted in plain view for all to see, the SEC stands as a veritable gold mine of information for learning more about your competitors. Two primary items drive the usefulness of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s postings. The first one is comprehensive annual reports in a readily accessible PDF format. The second, however, is probably the most attractive for time conscious tycoons. XBRL (short for eXtensible Business Reporting Language) meta-tagging of vital financial statistics ensures that data can be cataloged and presented in quick-reference, easy-to-understand tables. The combination makes for an insightful look into competitors, risks, and market trends.  

    2. Instant Survey

    Cost: Free Instant Survey’s continuing adaptation and development are just accessories to the fact that it performs one basic task extremely well: collecting customer feedback. From real-time results to random assignments for answer order, even seasoned marketers will find exactly what they’re looking for. Free online survey tool Instant Survey is currently in beta and, for now, free for both the basic and pro versions. In the future, the pro version is likely to jump up to $10/month, but for many small businesses the basic version will provide many of the features you’ll need.  

    3. Survey Monkey

    Cost: Free and paid plans Survey Monkey is one of the other top choices for conducting surveys to learn more about your audience. It offers the ability to make and send surveys, as well as sophisticated data and analytics that can help you make better decisions based on the results. NPS Survey Like Instant Survey, they offer a free basic version, but they also have a couple other plans for anywhere from $25/month to $85/month that provide more useful features, such as custom themes, rich data, and unlimited questions and responses.  


    Cost: Free While querying your existing customers can be useful, brand new companies (and even established names) can always benefit from understanding the clients they haven’t made yet. This is where the US Census comes in. From information about median income and population distribution to detailed facts like computer and internet use, there is no shortage of useful tools to help paint a picture of potential customers. But the Census doesn’t just document people. Detailed information about industries, employment, trade, and so on can help your business understand the greater context of your market. Between these exhaustive statistics and a bevy of research articles on the data itself, there’s no question that whatever you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it here. Did we mention it’s free?  

    Tools for Website Analytics

    Online marketing isn’t possible without a website. It’s the home base all your other marketing is pointing toward and if it doesn’t do its job well, all that other work could be for naught. These affordable tools can help you make sure your website is doing its job well – and if it’s not, figure out what changes you should make.  

    5. HostGator Web Hosting

    Cost: As low as $3.95/month We know, we know, it’s a shameless plug, but we had to include it. A key part of running any successful marketing campaign is using your website to its full potential. To do that, you need a web host you can rely on. HostGator offers a variety of hosting plans for small businesses. You can choose WordPress hosting to easily get your blog up and running or you can get a dedicated server to handle huge influxes of web traffic. Whichever plan you choose, our team is available 24/7/365 to help. Low cost web hosting  

    6. Google Analytics

    Cost: Free If you have a website, you should have Google Analytics. Google tracks most of the important data that tells you what’s working (and what’s not) with your online marketing.  You can see how many people are coming to your site, how they found you, and what they do once they get there. And those are just some of the more obvious metrics to monitor; when you dig deeper you can learn so much more. Google Analytics Dashboard The information businesses get from Google Analytics is invaluable, and yet the tool remains 100% free.  If you haven’t set up Google Analytics for your website, make that your top priority.  It won’t take too long and you’ll start getting some serious value out of the tool relatively quickly.  

    7. Google Content Experiments

    Cost: Free Formerly called Google Website Optimizer, Google Content Experiments is a tool included within Google Analytics that allows you to set up A/B testing experiments to test out how changes to your website can produce different results. You can pit two landing page designs against each other, try out different copy on your home page, or see if a different CTA button makes a difference. The tool even allows you to go beyond A/B testing and test out more than two versions of the same page – up to 10. The results will be easy to track and clearly visualized within Google Analytics, the tool you should already be using to track your website metrics.  

    Tools for Content Marketing and SEO

    Content marketing and SEO aren’t the same thing, but they go hand in hand. As such, tools that will help you out with one will often be useful for the other as well. For any business practicing content marketing and SEO, these tools can help make your efforts stronger without adding much to the costs of your work.  

    8. Google Keyword Planner

    Cost: Free Keyword research is one of the most important steps in any SEO strategy (as well as any PPC strategy), and Google Keyword Planner is one of the most essential tools available to do it. And like the other Google tools on this list, it’s entirely free. It allows you to research how popular and valuable different keywords are based on how frequently they’re searched in Google and how much businesses spend on them in Google Adwords. This can help you expand your list of relevant keywords beyond the ones you brainstorm yourself in order to better shape a content strategy. There are plenty of other keyword tools out there you can use, but between its low, low price (free) and the wealth of data Google’s able to access in providing you the tool, it’s the best one to start with.  

    9. Google Trends

    Cost: Free Surprise, surprise - we have yet another Google tool on the list! The company has so much data that it’s in a powerful position to provide it to businesses in useful formats, and it does so in a number of ways we can all appreciate. Google Trends Google Trends takes the billions of online searches per day and breaks them down by category, top hits, and geographic region. As if this wasn’t helpful enough, the service even prepares graphic data and customizable reports using the Explore feature. But the real strength of Google Trends lies in the name: Google. Utilizing the most heavily trafficked search engine on the web provides instant access to the behaviors, thoughts, trends, and interests of a cross-section of the population that would otherwise take a huge amount of money and time to survey on your own.  


    Cost: Free and paid plans You know when you start to do a search in Google (or YouTube or Amazon or any number of other search tools) how sometimes you’ll see a dropdown menu of suggestions finishing the phrase you started? The creators of had the idea that all those suggestions for finishing a phrase could become valuable fodder for marketers to understand what their customers are looking for, and by extension what topics they should be covering in their content strategy. So they put together a tool that lets you see the autocomplete options for a number of commonly used search tools. Google Keyword Research You can enter in a word or two and see a list of the autocomplete keywords that are commonly used that include or are related to the words you entered. You can use for free if you stick with the basic version, or upgrade to one of the paid versions with more features and data access for $29 or $49 a month.  

    11. Portent’s Title Generator

    Cost: Free Content marketing requires generating what often feels like an infinite list of topic ideas to create content around. When you’re working on your content calendar and you start to feel like you’ve exhausted every relevant idea you can come up with, Portent’s Title Generator can help you get the juices flowing again. The free tool drops the keywords you provide into popular headline formats to help you come up with new subjects to add to your list. The results may be hit or miss, but the tool can be a boon to your topic brainstorming sessions. Blog Topic Generator  

    Tools for Social Media Marketing

    One of the subsets of digital marketing that gets the most buzz is social media marketing, and for good reason. Social media platforms are some of the best spaces to meet your audience where they hang out and gain insights into what they’re talking and thinking about.  

    12. Social Networks

    Cost: Free Just as widespread in use as search engines, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all provide a unique opportunity for research. Besides being heavily-visited and free distribution channels for content and product announcements, these services stand as one of the most potent methods of rapid-fire data gathering on the internet today. While surveys and census data can provide powerful insights, social networking exists in a space where people are encouraged and happy to communicate and provide feedback. The ability to simply click in a comment box, fire off a response, and hit enter, all in a matter of seconds, means an outlet for customers, and a steady stream of intel for you. Creating a comprehensive picture of your market is no easy task, but with some low cost options at hand, the job becomes a little easier. Remember to combine information from all sources and get whatever value you can out of each service. At the end of the day, you’ll have a better understanding of your target market, and you’ll save some money in the process.  

    13. HootSuite

    Cost: Free and paid plans Social media manages to be an important marketing tool and a serious distraction for procrastinators all at once. Having a frequent presence on there is generally a good thing – unless it becomes all you’re doing. HootSuite makes it possible to manage all your social media profiles in one space and create a schedule of updates in advance. That way, you can approach social media strategically with a well-thought out plan, instead of doing it as you go and getting sucked in. HostGator HootSuite HootSuite provides a free plan that will work fine for some small business users, as well as paid plans for larger businesses and social media professionals that allow room for more users and profiles.  

    14. Buffer

    Cost: Free and paid plans The other main player in social media management is Buffer. It also lets you schedule your updates in advance and access multiple social profiles in one centralized space. There's a free plan, as well as paid ones with access to more users and social media analytics. The features and functionality are similar, so you might consider giving both Buffer and HootSuite a try to see which one you prefer the look and feel of.   

    15. Followerwonk

    Cost: Free and paid versions Followerwonk is a helpful tool that provides a deeper level of analysis to your Twitter use and that of other people in your industry. It makes identifying the people to target for influencer marketing easy with social authority rankings, and helps you strategize growing your follower list by better understanding your current followers and their influence. Follwerwonk  

    Tools for Email Marketing

    Email marketing is one of the most powerful forms of online marketing you can do. According to one report, it’s been shown to have a 3800% ROI. That puts it well above any other type of online marketing. To do email marketing, you need a good email marketing software to manage and execute your strategy.  

    16. Constant Contact

    Cost: Starts at $20/month Constant Contact helps you build your email lists, manage them, create emails from visually appealing templates, and track the important metrics from each marketing email you send out. It’s easy to use and gives you the means to improve your email marketing over time based on the rich data and analytics the product provides.  

    Other Valuable Marketing Tools

    We’ve covered the main categories, but we’re not done yet. Here are a few more affordable tools that can make your life easier as a marketer.  

    17. Canva

    Cost: Free Images are a huge part of online marketing, but for some marketers, they feel like the hardest part. Stock images don’t perform as well as original ones, and original ones are a pain to create. Canva makes putting together original images that look good much easier. They have tons of templates, backgrounds, images, and fonts you can use. While many of the images they make available are free, there are some you can grab the usage rights to for a small price (generally a dollar). Canva Free Online Image Creator If you’ve been struggling with creating worthwhile images, signing up for Canva can immediately make that struggle easier on you.  

    18. Headline Analyzer

    Cost: Free We already looked at a tool for helping you come up with titles; this one helps you gauge how successful your titles, social media updates, and email subject lines will be by comparing them to what data says works best. Simply enter your headline into the tool and it will generate a headline score for you, along with tips for alternate suggestions that are likely to perform better. (Note: for your first use, you will have to provide some basic information about you in order to use the tool, but no payment information.) CoSchedule Headline Analyzer The analysis is quick, thorough, and helpful. By taking a couple minutes before you publish or send each post, social media update, or email, you can get a fast, valuable idea of how to make it better.   There you have it. While you can find loads of online marketing tools out there that will gladly eat up your budget, you now have 21 suggestions for options that can strengthen your online marketing without adding much to your overall marketing costs. Did we miss one of your favorite tools? Let us know in the comments!
  • Why You Need Professional Photos for Your Business Website

    Thursday, February 16, 2017 by
    Need Professional Photos for Business Website With content marketing all the rage these days, the value of written text gets a lot of attention, but images are at least as important to a visitor’s experience of a website. In fact, images are one of your most valuable tools for getting better results from your written content. Visitors are 80% more likely to read content if it’s paired with an image and 64% more likely to remember what they read. In other words, your website needs images. The primary question that remains is: where should you get them?  

    Stock Photography vs. Original Photography

    Stock photography is the most obvious option to consider. It’s affordable and easy. When you need an image that will simply suffice, finding a stock image is the path of least resistance. There’s a place for easy options in life, but the images you use on your business website isn’t it. Stock photography comes with certain issues and risks. [bctt tweet="There’s a place for easy options in life, but the images you use on your biz website isn’t it." username="hostgator"]  

    Stock photographs can be bought by anyone.

    In most cases, when you buy a stock photograph, you don’t become its outright owner. You’re only buying the rights to use a photograph that hundreds or thousands of other individuals and businesses could buy as well. That means there’s a decent chance that your customers will have seen your stock photograph before, possibly on a competitor’s website – or worse, on a scammer’s website. If a photo on your website inspires a mental association with a business a visitor has had a bad experience with, those associations will influence how they view your brand. Obviously, that’s bad. [bctt tweet="Visitors are 80% more likely to read content if it’s paired with an image. #ContentMarketing" username="hostgator"]  

    Stock photography simply feels inauthentic.

    Stock photography trades on the themes and clichés everyone’s seen before. Have you ever seen a photo of a smiling person with a headset? Even if you don’t particularly remember it, you’ve probably seen dozens of variations on this picture. It’s the go-to stock photograph subject many companies use to demonstrate the concept of customer service. Customer Support Stock PhotosThe fact that you’ve seen it so many times makes it boring and easy to ignore. By comparison, original photographs have personality.  

    Original photography works better.

    Several companies have put this to the test. Marketing Experiments found that customers converted 35% more when faced with an original photo than they did with a stock photo.  Eye tracking studies have shown that people tend to ignore stock photos, but do pay attention to photos of real people. And one moving company in New York City found that their original photos converted at rates around 45% higher than a stock photo. It’s been tested again and again with the same results. People respond better to images that feel authentic. [bctt tweet="People ignore stock #photography, but pay attention to photos of real people. #WebsiteDesign" username="hostgator"]  

    How to Create Original Photos

    You have two main options when it comes to creating original photos for your business website:
    • Hire a professional
    • Take them yourself
    Hire professional photographer for company photosEven photos you take yourself with affordable cameras (or your phone) are often an improvement over stock photos, but if you want photos that are high quality, then hiring a professional is probably worth it. Do some searches to find professional photographers working in your area and ask around amongst friends, family, and other business owners to see if anyone has recommendations. Before hiring a professional photographer, take some time to look over their portfolio and confirm you like their work and that they seem like a good fit for your needs. If the quotes you get from local professional photographers are outside of your budget, check and see if there’s a photography program in any of the colleges in your area. A student photographer can do the job at lower rates and will likely be eager to please in return for future referrals and a sample for their portfolio. It’s not as easy as buying a stock photograph, but the time and costs involved in creating original photographs for your business website is worth it. You have the chance to show your visitors some real personality and connect with them in a way that no generic image of a woman wearing a headset ever will. Recommended WordPress Hosting
  • How To Set Pricing for Your Online Store

    Friday, February 3, 2017 by
    Set pricing for your online store So many parts of starting a new business are exciting. You have dreams of wild success and enjoying the freedom of working for yourself. But every business owner has to deal with one especially tricky problem: figuring out pricing. Setting the pricing for items in your online store is one of the hardest parts of setting up a new business. If your prices are too high, you’ll lose sales. If they’re too low, you won’t make enough profit. Either way, your business faces a real possibility of failure. Your success depends on getting this right, yet there’s no clear right answer to what you should charge.  Here are a number of steps you can take to make an informed decision when setting your pricing. HostGator Website Builder  

    Step 1: Consider your business costs.

    Consider your business costs for online storeEvery business has expenses. Your pricing needs to account for the amount you’re paying into the business if you ever want to make a profit. Hopefully you’ve been tracking your expenses as you go and have a fairly clear idea of the budget you’ll need moving forward. If not, then your first step needs to be tallying up all your costs so far and those you expect to take on in the near future. Your list will likely includes the cost of items such as: -Inventory -Any supplies needed to make the product you sell -Various supplies needed to run your business – ranging from higher-cost items like computers and furniture, to smaller items like pens and paper Web hosting for your business website -Designing your website (or hiring someone to do so) -All your marketing efforts -Any labor your hire – including employees, contractors, and specialists like your accountant Even if your business is relatively simple, your costs do add up and you need to be confident your pricing will help you make that money back (and then some).  

    Step 2: Consider your time.

    Just as you track your expenses, you should be tracking your time whenever you work on your business. You can find a number of free time-tracking tools, such as Toggl and My Hours that will help you gain a complete picture of how much time you’re putting into this store. Cost of time for online shop ownerIn the early days when you’re just getting set up, you likely won’t be making anything back for that time, but eventually you need to for the effort to be worth it. Your pricing therefore needs to consider your labor, as well as your costs. Figure out two numbers: 1. How much would you like to be paid for your time – if you’re being ambitious? 2. What’s the bare minimum you feel you need to be paid for your time for this business to pay off? That range will help you clarify how much your business needs to make for you to be happy with the profits you earn for the amount of work you put in.  

    Step 3: Research your competitor’s prices.

    The first two steps make it easy to think big and might make you inclined to price high, but this is the step where you have to figure out what’s realistic in your industry. Spend some time browsing the websites of people selling similar products. Think like a customer: do searches for the terms they’re most likely to use to find products like yours and check out what’s typical on the websites that show up first. Record what you find as you go in a spreadsheet so you can better see the trends in pricing in your industry and track how prices vary across products with different sets of features.  At the end of this exercise, you should have a good range in mind.  You want to know both the low and high ends of pricing in your industry, and have an idea of what’s different about the brands that charge prices on the higher end.  

    Step 4: Figure out your unique positioning.

    If seeing what businesses were charging on the low end of your range in step three was disheartening, don’t let it get to you.  You can go higher than your competitors if you can figure out what makes your business or product special. Whether it’s because your products look better, last longer, or work better in some key way, if you can find the thing that differentiates what you’re selling from the low-end options out there, then you can convince customers it’s worth paying more when they buy from you. A marketing consultant can help you with this step if you’re having a hard time on your own. It’s part of their job to help clients figure out clear brand positioning.  

    Step 5: Consider shipping.

    Shipping costs are an inevitable part of online business. People hate paying for shipping and the added expense immediately makes your products look more expensive. In one survey by UPS, 44% of customers said they’ve abandoned an online purchase because of high shipping costs. 44% of customers said they’ve abandoned an online purchase because of high shipping costs. #ecommerce Click To Tweet Cost of shipping for online storeYou have a few options here: Option A: You can stick with passing the cost of shipping onto your customers. Many businesses do this, but you increase the chances of shopping cart abandonment. Option B: You can offer a flat fee for all shipping – say something like $5 – so it doesn’t look too high to customers, but also means you’re not having to cover the full costs of shipping yourself. Option C: You can offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount. This is becoming an increasingly common option businesses offer as it encourages customers to spend more, so while you do have to pay more in shipping costs, you end up making more on the order as a whole. Option D: You can offer free shipping on all orders and raise your prices to account for the difference. The main risk here is that your products will look more expensive at a glance, which could drive customers away. Any one of these options can work and you could potentially try out different ones over time to see what gets the best results. Having a clear idea of how you’re going to handle shipping is important as you reach your final step.  

    Step 6: Set your prices.

    Even all your prior research won’t make this step easy, per say, but it will give you the information you need to make an informed decision. At this point, you just have to do it.   Set pricing that falls within the range of what you found your competitors charging, while being high enough to cover your expenses and allow for some healthy profits besides. Make sure the prices are high enough to leave some room for discounts and specials. You don’t want to lose money when great sales opportunities like Black Friday roll around.   Determining your pricing isn’t fun, but it’s an important step toward making money (which is fun). You might not get your pricing just right on the first try, and it’s okay to change it later if you need to. By doing the proper research and really thinking through each of these steps though, you should come close to finding pricing that will work for your business.

    HostGator Business Hosting includes a private SSL, dedicated IP, and your own toll-free number.

    Launch your online store today!

  • The Grammys, Snappy Edition

    Wednesday, February 1, 2017 by
    The Grammys, Snappy Edition On February 12, many of the world’s greatest musicians will gather to be honored for their craft. Many of those musicians aren’t just good at music though; they (and their marketing teams) have built websites that offer great examples of how to do web marketing well. To honor their skills at another type of craft, we at HostGator have decided to provide our own awards to Grammy nominees based on the marketing savvy on display on their websites. Without further ado, here are 2017’s winners of the Snappys. HostGator WordPress Hosting  

    Best Landing Page

    Winner: Lukas Graham

    A good landing page is focused on trying to get visitors to do one specific thing.  That means the action you want your visitors to take should be clear, the case for doing so briefly made, and the page designed to minimize distractions. People who navigate to Lukas Graham’s website are hit with a page that is a perfect case study in all the best practices of a good landing page. Lukas Graham Landing Page First, you know right away what action this page wants you to take: Sign up. Then, they sum up in just a few words what you get when you do so: exclusive updates and special offers. Other than those words and the sign up box, the only other thing on the page is the small link in the top right to enter the main website. The page checks all the boxes for a high-converting, well-designed landing page.  

    Most Intuitive Web Design

    Winner: Drake

    You want anybody landing on your website to be able to find whatever they’re looking for easily and quickly. Drake’s website has a simple, clean design that puts all the navigation options front and center (well, to the left) where any visitor can find them. Drake Website All the information you could need is right there in the left-hand menu. Our only complaint about Drake’s website: he falls prey to one of our top ten homepage mistakes by including an autoplay video.  

    Most Unique Web Layout

    Winner: Rihanna

    Part of the appeal of a pop star like Rihanna is that she’s always bringing something new and fresh to the scene. In her website, as in her songs and style, Rihanna doesn’t bother with the conventional. She does something entirely different. Rihanna Website While she keeps the left-hand menu for intuitive navigation, the rest of Rihanna’s home page provides a unique visual layout that looks great and allows users to navigate the site via images. When you scroll over each image, you get a little more information to help you decide whether or not to click. In spite of being different than the design choices commonly used on websites, Rihanna’s layout is easy for visitors to figure out and it looks good.  

    Best Website Visuals

    Winner: Sturgill Simpson

    Sturgill Simpson’s website has a distinct illustration style that immediately gives the website character and provides a visual theme that ties back to the artist’s album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Sturgill Simpson Website The whole website keeps up the visual style, making it thematically resonant and attractive throughout.  

    Best Website Photography

    Winner: Beyoncé

    While Simpson does a great job with illustrations, Beyoncé is the queen of great photography. Her website’s design centers on beautiful photos of Queen Bey herself, her costumes, her performances and any other great visual mementos she chooses to share with her followers. Beyonce Website When you photograph like Beyoncé does, why not make that the centerpiece of your website? For bonus points, her website also has a whole section, #Beygood, devoted to highlighting the singer’s philanthropic efforts and actions fans can take to do good.  

    Best Website Animation

    Winner: Anderson Paak

    Some basic animation turns a colorful, alluring image into something you can hardly take your eyes off of, in spite of its simplicity. For a cool touch, the animation on Anderson Paak’s home page is even slightly interactive. Anderson Paak Website On top of the neat effect the animation has, the page manages to clearly communicate the main thing it wants every visitor to know: where to buy the artist’s music.  

    Best Mobile Site

    Winner: Adele

    With nearly 60% of all searches now happening on mobile devices, no website can afford not to have a mobile friendly version. Adele’s website works great on mobile.  It’s visual, the CTA buttons are all big enough to see clearly and click comfortably on a mobile device, and you can scroll down to see your different options.
    Adele Mobile    Adele Mobile    Adele Website
    Adele’s marketing team clearly gets how important mobile is and how crucial it is to provide an intuitive, easy experience to visitors on a mobile device. Her mobile website gets it right; many brand websites could learn a thing or two from it.  

    Best Website

    Just as the Grammys do, we’ve left the most important category for last. With so many websites to choose from, all of which show different strengths, this isn’t an easy category to choose a winner in, but decisions must be made. For 2017, our choice for Best Website from a Grammy contender goes to….

    Winner: Sturgill Simpson

    The illustrations on the website look great, they tie into the album’s theme, and the website checks a lot of important marketing boxes. The main page has clear CTAs: Sturgill Simpson CTA The navigation options are clear and intuitive: Sturgill Simpson Navigation Every page has a CTA to sign up for email updates at the bottom: Sturgill Simpson Bottom CTA And it’s optimized for mobile:
    Sturgill Simpson Mobile Website   Sturgill Simpson Mobile 3   Simpson Mobile Website 2
    All in all, it does enough right to merit our biggest award of the year. To some degree, musicians have different marketing goals and best practices than a lot of other brands, but every business can learn from looking at good website examples and analyzing why they work. Consider if there’s anything you can borrow from this year’s "Snappys" winners to make your own website stronger.
  • Top Tech News of January Roundup

    Tuesday, January 31, 2017 by
    January 2017 Tech News Roundup The tech world moves fast. To help small business owners like you keep up with the most important news in tech, we’re starting a monthly roundup of the tech stories that people are talking about the most. Here’s a roundup of the top tech news of January 2017. HostGator WordPress Hosting  

    New Products and Updates Introduced at CES

    The International Consumer Technology Associate Conference (CES) met from January 5 to January 8 and gave many of the world’s tech companies a chance to show off new products, updated versions of familiar products, and exciting advancements they’re working on for the future. Conference attendees witnessed a ton of new gadgets, too many to talk about here, but there were a few main highlights that got a lot of attention. Drone cameras that can capture pictures of your travels for you, robots for home use, and cars of the future (including several looks at self-driving cars) all made an appearance. All in all, CES gave people a glimpse of a pretty cool possible future.  

    The Country’s Biggest Corporations Commit to AI

    While large companies conducting AI research isn’t in itself a shocking development, some big players in the tech space did make some significant moves signaling their commitment to developing artificial intelligence. Earlier this month, Microsoft acquired a Toronto startup called Maluuba, a company that focuses on AI research, specifically on natural language processing. Their AI system has reached the point of being able to comprehend writing at a level comparable to humans – a big step forward in AI research. Just last week, Apple moved to join the Partnership on AI, a group devoted to instituting best practices in AI research. This group already includes many of the largest tech companies in the world, including Google, Microsoft, and IBM.  

    The End of Vine

    Remember when you were reading articles about how to best use Vine in your social media marketing? If you hadn’t quite gotten around to using the popular Twitter video feature, no need to learn it now. Twitter decided to shutter the program in October and this past month was the last chance users had to save their old vines before the feature went away. If you were using Vine and are worried you’ll feel its lack in your social media marketing efforts, don’t worry too much. Twitter plans to replace it with a feature called Vine Camera that’s relatively similar in functionality.  

    Social Media Channels Begin Working Against Fake News

    One of the biggest news stories of 2016 was the rise of fake news. That wouldn’t likely be a tech story, except that one of the primary ways people were exposed to fake news was through the social media sites we all know and love. In response to criticism, Facebook is making moves to reduce the reach of fake news by working with journalists and outside groups to fact check stories that show up on Facebook’s feed and help bring more attention to legitimate journalism. On Twitter, some individual accounts have made waves by providing facts and definitions in response to inaccuracies shared in the press. The Merriam Webster Twitter account was one of the most talked about of the month for its clever posts sharing dictionary definitions of words used (often inaccurately) by politicians and media throughout the month. And a number of rogue social media accounts have popped up that are presumably run by people working in government agencies that no longer feel they can share facts about issues like climate change on the official government accounts. While not a social media platform, it’s worth also mentioning that Google itself joined the fray by instituting a policy to kick publishers off one of its ad networks if they were found to be spreading fake news.  

    Slack Introduces Threaded Messages

    On a lighter note, the popular platform for business collaboration responded to customer feedback about the difficulty in following conversations on the platform by releasing a threaded messages feature. The threaded messages are meant to make it easier to separate out and follow a specific conversation happening within the larger public feed. So far response to the feature is largely positive.  

    The Transition of White House Social Media Properties

    Chances are, you’re well aware of the biggest non-tech news story of January, the inauguration of a new president. As the first new administration to take power after White House social media accounts had been established, this was the first time in history that figuring out how to transition social media accounts to a new presidential administration was a story. The White House announced plans in October to make all the White House social media handles available to the incoming president on inauguration day, while archiving all old messages and updates and making them freely available to people in the days and years after. On January 20, the transition was made as promised and the social media profiles of the White House took on new ownership. This month saw a lot of interesting and important technological advancements and stories. Next month’s sure to bring its share as well. Check back for future additions to our new series of monthly top tech news roundups.