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How to Infiltrate LinkedIn Groups for Maximum Marketing ROI

I feel like LinkedIn is a social media platform that receives a fair amount of attention but is still overshadowed by other networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

That’s a shame. Why? Because in the B2B space especially, I’ve found LinkedIn to be incredibly effective for professional networking and for marketing in general.

With 450 million registered users as of August 2016 and two new members joining every second, LinkedIn has a huge potential.

I think many marketers are still reluctant to go all in on LinkedIn simply because they don’t understand how to utilize it properly. It’s also possible they don’t fully understand all the opportunities it presents.

Maybe it’s because of its robust set of features, the inherent learning curve, or the lack of understanding of the nuts and bolts of the platform. Whatever the reason, there’s a definite trend of marketers failing to extract LinkedIn’s full potential.

In fact, a study from the Content Marketing Institute found that an overwhelming number of LinkedIn users consider it to be ineffective as a marketing tool:

B2C marketers in North America in particular saw only limited results.

But what if I told you that there’s a way to kill it on LinkedIn and generate valuable, ongoing leads for your business? What if you could have an amazing ROI by following a fairly simple formula?

It’s definitely possible. The key is to infiltrate LinkedIn Groups.

Here’s how.

Joining groups

You have two options with LinkedIn Groups.

You can either start your own group or join existing groups relevant to your industry.

In my opinion, the latter option is your best bet, especially when you’re just starting out and have a limited network.

It’s easier to gain traction, and you can get your brand in front of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of prospects without having to do a whole lot of legwork.

Download this cheat sheet to learn how to infiltrate LinkedIn groups for maximum marketing ROI.

This starts by first visiting the Groups Directory.

As you can see, you can choose from a number of groups, and these are just a slice of the groups available.

You can browse the groups by name, or you can enter a specific search term in the search box at the top.

If a group is public, simply click “Join,” and you’re in.

If a group is private, you’ll need to click “Ask to join,” and an administrator will have to approve your request.

I’ve found that approval will usually happen within a day or so.

Relevancy is vital

One of the most important aspects of marketing with LinkedIn Groups is to join groups that are highly relevant to your industry.

This will ensure you’re interacting and connecting with like-minded individuals who have the same interests as you.

It also means the content you share is more likely to gain attention and get shared.

Keep this in mind when searching for groups to join.

What do I do once I’ve joined?

The first thing you’ll want to do is look over the rules and guidelines of the group.

To prevent spam and ensure a positive user experience, many groups have restrictions regarding the type of content you can and can’t post.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Here you can see that this group doesn’t allow links and promotions.

Ideally, the groups you join will allow links and some type of promotions, but always double-check before you start participating.

I then suggest taking some time to check out the discussions. Take note of the conversations and the topics being discussed.

Are there any overarching trends? Which conversations are getting the biggest response?

Answering questions

When you’re just getting started with a new group, I recommend looking for questions to answer that are in your wheelhouse.

Try to identify a topic you’re knowledgeable about and to which you can add some legitimate value.

Here’s an example of a question from an HR-based group:

If you can nail it and come up with an answer that’s spot on, you’ll instantly raise your credibility, and other members are going to take notice.

This is how you showcase your expertise and start building leverage.

In other words, this boosts your “street cred.”

Posting questions

You can also start your own conversation with the group at the top of the page.

One of the best ways to get the ball rolling is to ask a thought-provoking question.

Make sure it’s open-ended so that members are forced to dive in deep and not simply answer “yes” or “no.”

But before you post a question, I recommend scanning over previous conversations just to make sure it hasn’t already been covered. Otherwise, its impact will be reduced, and you’ll likely look like a noob.

Posting content

You can also post content, such as blog posts and articles, relating to your industry.

While I do recommend posting content from time to time, it’s extremely important you remain tactful.

What do I mean by tactful?

First of all, anything you post should be hyper-relevant and right on target with the type of discussions members are having.

Anything off topic isn’t going to add any real value and is probably going to make you look bad.

Second, make sure you’re not going overboard when posting content.

Even if every single thing you post is gold, you don’t want to clog up the group discussion with excessive content. Although what’s considered excessive is subjective, I would say that if you’re posting any more than three pieces of content a week, it’s too much.

Just use your best judgment.

Third, make sure you’re not being overly promotional or salesy with your content.

Over-promoting yourself and your brand is an inexcusable marketing sin regardless of the platform you’re using, and LinkedIn groups are no exception.

Group members can smell this type of douchebaggery a mile away, and it’s going to kill your reputation (and your ROI).

While it’s fine to promote your brand (that’s the reason you’re using this platform in the first place), you need to be responsible and respectful when doing so.

Here are some tips for tactful promotion:

Keep it to a minimum
Make sure every piece of content ties into the conversation
Make sure your promotions add genuine value
Don’t annoy group members with in your face antics like “BUY NOW!”

In other words, be cool about it.

Building authority

You can liken LinkedIn Groups to a forum.

On most forums, there’s usually a handful of individuals who noticeably contribute a lot of helpful information and are highly respected as a result.

You want to do everything possible to be one of these people because it’s going to pave the way to success on LinkedIn Groups.

It’s also going to boost your ROI in the long run.

How exactly can you build authority?

Be an active member, and don’t go MIA for months on end
Chime in on conversations you’re knowledgeable about, and let other members get to know you
Post awesome content from resources that aren’t your own
Concentrate more on providing value than on shameless self-promotion
Encourage others to join the group

Making connections

Another great feature of LinkedIn Groups is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with other members in an extremely convenient manner.

I suggest you take full advantage of this and make it a point to be the first one to reach out.

You can get in contact with other members by scrolling through the members list:

Hover your cursor over a person’s name, and you can view information about their industry, region, skills, and groups.

You can also check out their profile, send them a message, or send an invitation to connect.

But before you reach out, it’s usually best if you interact with that member via conversations and build at least a little rapport.

This tends to make the process smoother and should alleviate any potential awkwardness/borderline creepiness.

If you’ve been interacting with someone in your group for a while, you may want to connect with them on other networks as well.

Most people will also have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other account, and this can potentially lead to additional opportunities.


Like with many other marketing techniques, it usually takes a little while for things to gel on LinkedIn Groups. It’s going to take some time and effort before you can reap the full rewards.

But by being active and working to establish a presence, you can potentially gain some massive exposure for yourself and your brand.

An added plus is that you can network with other professionals at the same time, thus killing two birds with one stone.

If you’re not currently utilizing this resource as a marketing tool, I would strongly suggest you get started ASAP.

With the right approach, you can effectively promote your brand while simultaneously growing your network.

Do you have any specific techniques that have helped you generate leads on LinkedIn Groups?


Lessons learned from the early days of Google

Earlier this month I did a talk at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about lessons learned from the early days of Google. The video is now online and watchable, or you can watch it on YouTube:

We did the talk in a pretty large room, and the camera at the back of the room couldn’t easily record me and the slides at the same time. So here are the slides to go along with the talk:

Or you can view the slides at this link.

I believe all the pictures should be covered either by license or fair use (the talk was free), but let me know if you see anything that you believe is problematic. I hope you enjoy the talk!

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The 5 Best Tools You Should Be Using to Market Your Local Business

Mobile devices and local searches go together like peanut butter and jelly.

If you’re a local business, guess what method people use to find you?

They’re looking for your business on their mobile devices. If you’re not aware of this or optimizing for it, you’re leaving money on the table.

Smartphones and tablets have made it easier than ever before for prospective customers to search for businesses in their areas and to find any pertinent information to influence their purchasing decisions.

In fact, “60 percent of American adults use smartphones and tablets to search for local product and service information.”

Furthermore, “50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on a computer/tablet did the same.”

Within seconds, potential customers can see what product/service a business offers, get directions, and find contact information.

I do this myself all the time. I live in a big city. There are always great new places to discover, and I know I can find these places, check what they offer, and discover their ratings with just a few taps on my phone.

Because of the simplicity and convenience of the local search, one thing is true for smart local businesses who capitalize on it: increased sales.

In theory, one out of every two individuals who find your business through their smartphones will actually visit your business that very day.

Studies have even found that “18 percent of mobile searches lead to a sale within one day.” That’s pretty impressive!

But we need to ask a question: how do you capitalize on this sales-ready segment of the population? How can you make sure your business is placed front and center before their eyes?

It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, if you use these four tools, you’re virtually guaranteed a position at the top.

I’ve seen businesses rise from having zero online presence to dominating their local markets simply by using these tools. You can do it too.

Want to automate your local business marketing? Check out this 5 tools that would be effective for you.

Here are the tools you should be using.

1. Google My Business

Did you know that 46% of all searches on Google are local searches?

That’s right. Nearly half of the people checking out your business online will be located within your immediate geographical area.

To ensure that prospects are finding your business, you’ll need to be active on Google My Business.

I personally can’t even count the number of times a week I use my smartphone to search for business info via Google.

I also find myself using the “Okay, Google” voice search feature more and more. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s hands-free. By and large, it’s quite accurate in matching my voice commands.

Getting set up on Google My Business is simple. First, visit the site:

Next, register and fill out all pertinent business information.

I also recommend including plenty of pictures (at least five) so that prospective leads can get a better sense of what your business is all about.

Once you’re set up, you can painlessly manage everything from your dashboard.

More specifically, you can:

Stay updated on customer reviews
Get insights on the way people are interacting (e.g., the number of views and clicks you receive)
Check the number of requests for driving directions to your business
See the number of people ultimately visiting your website

For me, the more data, the better.

The more information I can accumulate, the easier it is for me to spot patterns and trends so that I can make necessary adjustments.

That’s why I really like this tool. It gives me comprehensive data so that I can make highly informed decisions.

Like most platforms from Google, Google My Business is intuitive and user friendly, so there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve.

You can also update your profile when necessary to ensure your information is always current.

2. Yelp

In my opinion, Yelp is the second most important tool after Google.

Some marketers have even gone so far as to say that having your business listed on Yelp is more important than having a website.

While I wouldn’t go that far, I do think being featured on Yelp is pretty much a necessity these days.

As of March 2016, Yelp received 145 million unique visitors per month and is one of the go-to sites for finding information on local businesses.

People use it to find contact info, business hours, pictures, reviews, and more.

If you’re able to get a solid list of reviews and a strong rating, you can bet that your sales are going to increase and your brand equity will grow.

To get set up, you’ll need to first claim your business  and visit the mobile download site to use the mobile app for business owners.

From that page, Yelp will send you a link so that you can manage your page from your mobile device.

Using this app is awesome because you can:

Seamlessly manage your page
Engage with customers
Track visitor engagement
Monitor leads
Respond to reviews and overall feedback

Just remember you’ll want to fill out your profile completely and include enough info to answer any common questions customers may have.

Again, I recommend including plenty of pictures.

3. Facebook Pages Manager

The fact that I mentioned Facebook probably doesn’t come as any surprise.

Facebook is a huge deal, so it only makes sense that you’ll want to use Facebook Pages Manager. Visit this page to download the app.

Simply download the app for your iOS or Android device, and you can manage your business’s presence on Facebook with the utmost level of control and efficiency.

Use it to do the following:

Post updates, photos, and videos
Respond to comments on your page
View and reply to messages
Get push notifications for page activity, tips, and reminders
View your Page Insights
Manage your settings and page roles

This app serves as a streamlined way to manage your Facebook account from your mobile device and stay in close contact with your customers.

I like it because I can stay on top of things no matter where I’m at—even if I’m out of the country.

Having a presence on Facebook and advertising on Facebook matters.

For better or worse, people trust Facebook. Facebook serves as a tool for people to discover new friends, keep up with the news, stay in touch with family, and, yes, discover new places to eat, drink, shop, and play.

Not being on Facebook is the 1980s equivalent of not being in the phone book. I’m not going overboard when I say your business needs to be on Facebook.

4. Bing Places for Business

Okay, so Bing isn’t nearly as big as Google or Facebook. That’s true.

But that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be a viable resource for marketing your business locally. Bing relies on the same basic premise as Google My Business does, only it does so on the Bing search engine.

It’s easy to hate Bing or totally neglect it. I get that. But listen to this: Bing controls 33% of search!

In my opinion, a third of all search engine users is no small chunk.

Getting set up is pretty straightforward. Visit Bing Places for Business.

You must first claim your listing. Next, fill out your profile, and verify your listing.

Think of it like this. Many of your competitors are likely to be so fixated on Google that they completely overlook Bing. Maybe you were even tempted to neglect Bing.

Getting on Bing takes just a few minutes, giving you an advantage over your competition. By taking the time to get your profile up and running, you can pull in a larger chunk of your target market and win their business.

5. YP for Business

Remember back in the day when people manually thumbed through the Yellow Pages directory to find information on businesses in their area?

Well those days are gone.

But like most companies with any type of longevity, the Yellow Pages has been smart enough to reinvent itself so that it’s still practical in our modern era.

Now you can get your business listed free on the YP for Business app.

According to its website, “60 million consumers search YP every month for local businesses,” which is nothing to sneeze at.

Here are some other interesting stats:

Over 15 million consumers have downloaded the YP app.
The YP app and mobile web drive more than three calls to a local business every second.

If you’re looking to round out your local marketing efforts and get exposure to the largest percentage of your demographic, I definitely recommend listing your business there.

It only takes a few minutes, and your reach can grow considerably.

Some added benefits of using Yellow Pages include having the ability to check out the number of impressions, clicks, and leads you generate.

You can also maintain a comprehensive vantage point of your online presence, online reviews, and social activity.

I would also imagine that the YP for Business app would be an effective way to reach a lot of the older demographic of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, who have fond memories of the original Yellow Pages.


To get your business in front of potential customers, you must have a presence on some key sites.

Because people are using these sites so frequently, taking the time to register your business and fill out your profile in its entirety can pay good dividends in the long run.

Don’t forget the key statistics, correlating searches, and sales.

Remember: 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases.

That’s huge! If you’re a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment, you can most definitely cash in by featuring your business in the right online places.

The bottom line is that there’s a growing trend of people using their mobile devices to search for local businesses.

Being active on these five online spots not only allows you to be more competitive and claim your piece of the pie but can also be the catalyst for your business thriving in the long term.

Which of these tools do you find yourself using the most to find info on businesses in your area?

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17 Unexpected SEO Lessons I Learned After Publishing My First Listicle

It’s been ten years since I started blogging. It began as a fun thing (and it still is!). Also, blogging was just another random stuff that I used to do at that time. But today my blog is much more than a random thing for me, and that’s the only difference.

I don’t know if I’m one of the so-called professional blogger or a hobby blogger or yet another nerd. It’s something that I’m trying to figure out. But I just know for sure that it’s been a long amazing journey so far. 🙂

And it didn’t happen in one day and it didn’t happen in a couple of years time. It happened over time and is something that’s still happening.

I don’t know if you have read this blog post of mine:

Over 201 Google Products & Services You Probably Don’t Know

Well, you should. You know why? Because that’s my first (original) evergreen blog post and apparently that’s my first (real) listicle too. It eventually became one of my first pillar blog post and taught me a lot of things that I never thought of.

Don’t Miss: What Does It Take To Generate 1,000,000 Pageviews & $3,000 Per Month

First things first.

I didn’t write Over 60 Google Products & Services You Probably Don’t Know (the original blog post — thanks to Wayback Machine) for SEO. And I didn’t write it for traffic either.

I did it as I was using (or tried) almost all of Google’s web products and services. So I just wanted to show my gratitude plus create a useful list as it wasn’t there on any other blogs.

Moreover, it was also just another random blog post that I did which happened to became the foundation of my blog’s SEO. You know why? Because it taught me a lot of things about Google SEO that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Oh yes, that post was published way back in 2009 when there was no Google Pandas or Penguins. Also, I didn’t know any Neil Patels or Rand Fishkins of the SEO world. Back then I gathered most of my internet marketing knowledge from the Digital Point forum.

Coming back…

Here are the things that I learned about blogging and SEO from my favorite blog post — let’s call it “Google 101“. Okay? So yeah, they are all more or less related to SEO Google SEO. 🙂

Don’t Miss: 7 Blogging Years. 7 Blogging Lessons. 7 Blogging Tips.

1. It’s all About Quality, Not Quantity!

I must had at least 250 blog posts back then but the majority of the traffic was contributed by a handful of blog posts. “Google Products” being the primary one.

I realized that I don’t have to publish a blog post daily and that it’s all about quality. One single blog post that’s useful and perfectly optimized has more worth than 100 mediocre blog posts.

2. Scannable Blog Posts

People do not read your blog posts. They scan it.

“Google 101” was one such blog post. It didn’t have much paragraphs to read though it was over 1,500 words. You know why? It was a listicle. It did not make the content boring or make it lengthy (even if it had more than a thousand words in it).

That’s how I started spending many, many, hours formatting a blog post by customizing its images, heading tags, paragraphs, lists, etc. to make it as much organized as possible. And now it’s something that I love to do.

Don’t Miss: Long-Form Content vs. Short-Form Content: The Ultimate Comparison

3. Listicles = More Social Sharing

Whenever I shared “Google 101” on Twitter, it used to immediately attract hundreds of visits and that’s how I realized the power of listicles and viral titles (though I didn’t mean to make it a viral post like the BuzzFeeds and HuffingtonPosts of the world are doing).

4. Don’t Write For Google

The best SEO happens when you do not do any SEO. You don’t believe it? Let me explain. As mentioned earlier, I listed all the Google products for fun.

After few quarters I noticed that it’s sending me a lot of organic traffic. So, when I checked my traffic stats I was surprised to see that my blog post was ranking on top for the keyword “Google Products”.

I was totally surprised as it was a top keyword (and that too a short tail keyword). Also, my primary competitor was Wikipedia and Google’s own “About” pages. Plus, there was already a service named “Google Product Search”.

So, I started researching about how it went on top and then I got my answer.

It was the most comprehensive blog post for that particular keyword.
It’s got less competitors though the keyword was super-competitive (in terms of number of results).
It was a blog post and not a static HTML web page (that was the time Google started loving blogs).

What did I do after that? I started creating more blog posts thinking like an “algorithm”. Every single time I asked myself what makes it stand out. Or, why should Google rank it on top? Of course, I have also published a lot of “for fun” blog posts as well.

5. Use Compelling Titles

I didn’t choose the title “Over 60 Google Products & Services You Probably Don’t Know” with the idea to make it a compelling story or to make it a linkbait article. Instead, when I wrote it I actually meant it.

Because the top 3 Google products was Search, Mail, Images. Even today, it must be less than 50 and never 200.

Now how do I know that it was indeed a compelling title? Well, someone told me. So, I started writing titles in a similar fashion for more blog posts (when I think is relevant).

And that’s why you won’t see a blog post titled “Over 101 Google Products & Services That Will Absolutely Blow Your Mind” on Minterest. Ever.

6. Use Sub-heading (H2-H6) Tags

When I started updating Google Products I also tried to optimize it by placing optimized images, and meta tags, and headings.

However, I can’t say in a definite way whether it’s going to help or not (actually no one can say except the folks at Google).

Anyway, now I try to add sub-headings whenever I can — by following a hierarchy that makes sense.

7. Use Personalized Images/Screenshots

I was using images and screenshots ever since I started blogging but “Google 101” was one of the first few blog posts in which I started placing personalized screenshots (from my own accounts).

So, how is it useful? Well, it adds more clarity (or at least I think so) and it makes the blog posts more casual and friendly. Since then, I started placing customized screenshots rather than placing press images or cliparts.

8. Use Timeless URLs

As I have already mentioned, when I first published “Google 101”, it was a list of just 60 Google Products & Services. Because Google had only around sixty products at that time.

And the original URL was:

When I updated the blog post to include more Google products the original URL looked boring and outdated (because of number ’60’). So when I updated the blog post, I published it as a fresh blog post in order to change its URL, images, etc.

As you can see, now the URL is timeless and I won’t lose its SEO advantage or don’t have to care about future 404 errors. I now try to make sure that my URLs are all timeless.

9. Use Effective Natural Keywords

I was already on top for the primary keyword “Google Products”. So what I did was I modified the article over time to include related long tail keywords as well.

And it worked too! That said, I never over-optimized that page and everything was done naturally and organically.

10. Link Out Generously

The SEO community believed that having more than 100 links on a single web page is a bad idea. Because Google once said so. But I didn’t care. I was linking to whatever blog post or web page that I thought was relevant without caring the number of external links.

My idea was pretty simple and it’s something like Wikipedia Citation. When I was linking out to another web page I was actually bookmarking it (for my own personal use) and I thought it would be useful for users as they can get deeper insights about what I have written.

11. Comprehensiveness Counts

Let me repeat. “Google 101” was the most comprehensive blog post for the search query “Google Products”. Because that was listing almost all the products Google ever launched in an easy to scan way.

It basically means that, if a blog post is the most comprehensive (or rather most useful) web page for a specific keyword then it eventually ranks on top (without any SEO expertise). And that’s why they say, write as if Google doesn’t exist. 😉

12. Do Competitor Analysis

Oh yeah, it taught me about competitor analysis as well. My primary competitors were Wikipedia and So, did I beat them? Well, yes and no.

It doesn’t make sense for Google to rank my domain #1 for obvious reasons. But I was able to beat all the other competitors and it includes several high profile blogs. How? Simple. I made it more useful and more comprehensive and more optimized. And it worked!

13. Show Post/Comment Dates

I have expressed my anger over bloggers who hide the published dates of their blog posts on 30 Things I Absolutely Hate About Your Blog. And most of them hide the dates of the comments as well.

I know why they are doing it but I strongly believe that it’s not a good practise to follow. Because I still remember the first person who pointed out the published date problem on my blog though I never hid the blog post or comment dates on Minterest.

See, readers notice everything.

14. The Wikipedia Way

You know what inspired me to update my archived blog posts? It’s Wikipedia. I’m pretty sure that you have noticed that Wikipedia ranks on top for almost all the keywords for which there’s a Wiki page.

So why is Google rewarding Wikipedia in a big way? The answer is simple. Wikipedia is always fresh and its domain name has high authority.

And I tried to replicate it on my own blog. I started updating Google products list as Google launched more products and then I noticed that it became one of the most popular posts on my blog retaining its organic rankings.

15. Duplicate Content Is Okay

Google penalize duplicate content, right? Well, I would say it depends. Because it depends upon how you define duplicate content.

If you copy-paste this entire blog post and publish it on your own blog (as you own content) then it’s duplicate content + plagiarism.

But if you have used only a few excerpts and is even giving me credits for the same then it neither becomes duplicate content nor becomes plagiarism.

“Google 101” showed me that duplicate content can be effective. Because if you check out that blog post then you can see that almost all the product descriptions are actually copied from its source page itself.

My job was only to list all the products in a useful way. And it’s not just “Google 101”. If you check out inspirational quotes then you can sense the same thing. So, it’s all about how you are doing it and why you are doing it.

16. Fill Content Gaps

When I published “60 Google Products”, Wikipedia already had a dedicated web page listing all the Google products and yet I did it. Why? Because the Wikipedia list was less useful than mine as it lacked external links (links to actual product pages on

I wanted to list products and add links in ways that I wanted. And what I did was I filled a content gap. Because at least some people expect the links on Wikipedia to redirect to actual product pages and not to another Wiki page.

17. Update Evergreen Content

Freshness is rewarded. I used to update “Google 101” every once in a while and then I noticed that whenever I updated that blog post it started sending more organic traffic (and referral traffic too).

So, I started updating it more often and it had a positive impact on that blog post’s organic rankings. And then I did the same for almost all the evergreen blog posts on my blog. And it worked like magic.

Don’t Miss: 30 Things I Absolutely Hate About Your Blog

Closing Thoughts

Whenever I think of my blogging journey on Minterest, I see three levels. Level 1.0 was the beginning phase (2006-2012) and was apparently my learning phase.

And then I started to get very obsessed with writing and spent many, many hours to compose a single blog post and that was Level 2.0 which lasted until mid-2016. Like I said,  “Google 101” was the base of my blog’s Level 2.0. 🙂

What about Level 3.0? Well, I can’t exactly say anything simply because I haven’t yet figured it out totally. All I know is that it’s time to change the way I’m blogging (unless I don’t want to scale up my blog).

So have you ever composed a blog post that changed the way you blog? If so, do let me know as a comment below and don’t forget to include its link.

Happy Blogging! 🙂

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17 Unexpected SEO Lessons I Learned After Publishing My First Listicle is a post by Minterest

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Halloween 2015: USB Drive

I went a little overboard for Halloween last year. And as you can tell from my the Halloween category on my blog, sometimes I get a little too excited about Halloween.

So this year I decided to go quick, easy, and lo-fi as a USB drive:

To make a thumb drive/USB key, I just took a cardboard box, spray painted it black, and glued on some gold-colored paper. Super simple and easy to do. Then I cut out a curve for my head.

I made the mask using digital plans I bought from Once I had the materials, it took me a couple hours and was lots of fun. It was like a super-simple version of this big head costume.

If you wanted easy freedom of movement, you could also just wear the USB part on your head:


Over 61 Microsoft Products, Services, & Apps You (Probably) Don’t Know

I have always wanted to list all the Microsoft products and services (just like I did Google’s). But Microsoft’s products are really diverse in nature and a good percentage of them are actually targeting companies and business users. Therefore I found it difficult to list all the products in an organized way.

Microsoft’s products were mostly desktop applications until a few years ago. Now things have changed substantially and Microsoft has been launching a lot of standalone web and mobile apps for individual consumers. This is why I (finally) decided to list all the Microsoft products and services.

Don’t Miss: Over 201 Google Products & Services You Probably Don’t Know

A List Of (Almost) All Microsoft Products, Services, Tools, & Apps

Over 400 million Windows 10 devices. Over 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users. Over 400 million users. Over 3 billion Skype minutes a day. Over 669,000 Windows Store apps. That’s the stats of Microsoft.

Credit: Microsoft by the Numbers

  1. Bing — A search engine by Microsoft.
  2. Bing Ads — A pay-per-click advertising network by Microsoft.
  3. Bing Bar — Bing Bar is a browser extension toolbar for Internet Explorer,
  4. Bing Desktop — With the Bing Desktop app, you get the daily homepage image, quick access to search, the latest news, your Facebook newsfeed, and more, right where you want it — on your desktop.
  5. Bing Images — Explore personalized image results based on your interests, favorites, and trending searches.
  6. Bing Maps — Map multiple locations, get transit/walking/driving directions, view live traffic conditions, plan trips, view satellite, aerial and street side imagery.
  7. Bing News — News from world, national, and local news sources, organized to give you in-depth news coverage of sports, entertainment, business, politics, weather, and more.
  8. Bing Places —  Bing Places for Business is a Bing portal that enables local business owners add a listing for their business on Bing.
  9. Bing Search History — Your search history is your personal collection of searches and web sites you’ve visited on Bing.
  10. Bing Translator — Instantly translate your text from one language to another with Bing Translator.
  11. Bing Video — A video search engine by Bing.
  12. Bing Webmaster — Bing Webmaster provides easy-to-use public tools to help you do more with your site.
  13. Cortana — Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant created by Microsoft for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone, Microsoft Band, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.
  14. — Showcase and discover Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Sway and PDF documents for free.
  15. LinkedIn — A business social networking service acquired by Microsoft.
  16. Microsoft Azure — Microsoft Azure is an open, flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing platform.
  17. Microsoft Dynamics — Microsoft Dynamics is a line of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software applications.
  18. Microsoft Edge —  The newest browser from Microsoft designed for faster, safer browsing on Windows 10.
  19. Microsoft Expression — Microsoft Expression Studio is a discontinued suite of tools for designing and building web and Windows client applications and rich digital media contents.
  20. Microsoft Flow — Create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more.
  21. Microsoft Groove — A digital music streaming service by Microsoft that offers music streaming through subscription or purchase through the Windows Store.
  22. Microsoft Health — Microsoft Health helps you live healthier by giving you actionable insights into how your physical activity benefits your overall health.
  23. Microsoft Internet Explorer — A discontinued series of web browsers by Microsoft.
  24. Microsoft Money — A discontinued personal finance management software by Microsoft.
  25. Microsoft Movies & TV — Rent or buy the latest hit movies and commercial-free TV shows from Microsoft, and watch them using the Movies & TV app, at home or on the go.
  26. Microsoft Office — A set of interrelated desktop applications, servers and services, collectively referred to as an office suite, for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.
  27. Microsoft Access — Create your own database apps easily in formats that serve your business best.
  28. Microsoft Excel — View, edit, or create spreadsheets from anywhere.
  29. Microsoft Exchange — Accomplish more with a rich, business-class email experience on phones, tablets, desktops, and the web.
  30. Microsoft OneNote —  Capture your ideas and to-do lists in one place wherever you are.
  31. Microsoft Outlook — Stay more connected and productive with a clear, unified view of your email, calendar, contacts, and files.
  32. Microsoft PowerPoint —  Explore how PowerPoint can help you tell a powerful story in your presentations and easily share your slides on the web.
  33. Microsoft Project — Streamline project, resource, and portfolio management with Microsoft Project & Portfolio Management (PPM).
  34. Microsoft Publisher — create professional, personalized newsletters, brochures, post cards, and more.
  35. Microsoft SharePoint — Empower individuals, teams and organizations to intelligently discover, share, and collaborate on content from anywhere and on any device.
  36. Microsoft Visio — The one-stop diagramming solution to simplify and communicate complex information.
  37. Microsoft Word —  Explore Word for an easier screen-reading experience, new ways to work together on documents, and tools that help you polish your documents like a pro.
  38. Microsoft Office Online — Collaborate for free with online versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote.
  39. Microsoft Office 365 — Office 365 for business gives you access to Microsoft Office tools from virtually anywhere, plus collaboration services that are easy to administer.
  40. Microsoft OneDrive — Get to your files and photos from anywhere, on any device.
  41. Microsoft Rewards — Microsoft Rewards is a way to get rewarded for doing what you already do on Microsoft.
  42. Microsoft Security Essentials — Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home or small business PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.
  43. Microsoft Silverlight — Silverlight is a development tool for creating engaging, interactive user experiences for Web and mobile applications.
  44. Microsoft Windows — A metafamily of graphical operating systems by Microsoft.
  45. Windows 10
  46. Windows 10 Mobile
  47. MSN — A web portal by Microsoft that offers customizable collection of the best in news, sports, entertainment, money, weather, travel, health, and lifestyle, combined with Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and more.
  48. Open Live Writer — Open Live Writer is a powerful, lightweight blog editor that allows you to create blog posts, add photos and videos then publish to your website.
  49. — Outlook is the free email and calendar service that helps you stay on top of what matters and get things done.
  50. Outlook Mail
  51. Outlook Calendar
  52. Outlook People
  53. Outlook Tasks
  54. Photosynth — Capture your world in 3D.
  55. Skype — Free messaging, voice and video calls with anyone for free.
  56. Socl — Socl — pronounced social — lets you create, collect and share stuff you love.
  57. Sway — Sway is an easy-to-use digital storytelling app for creating interactive reports, presentations, personal stories and more.
  58. WorldWide Telescope — Worldwide Telescope enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best telescopes in the world.
  59. Yammer — Yammer is a freemium enterprise social networking service used for private communication within organizations.


  1. Microsoft Accessories — Accessories including computer mice, keyboards, webcams, headsets, display adapters, and more by Microsoft.
  2. Microsoft Band — A Band that helps you live healthier by tracking your heart rate, exercise, calorie burn, and sleep quality, and helps you be productive with email, text, and calendar alerts.
  3. Microsoft HoloLens — HoloLens is a fully self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to interact with high?definition holograms in your world.
  4. Microsoft Lumia — A smartphone by Microsoft.
  5. Microsoft Surface — A Windows tablet that can replace your laptop.
  6. Xbox — A gaming console by Microsoft.
  7. Xbox Kinect — With Kinect for Xbox One, command your Xbox and TV with your voice and gestures, play games where you are the controller, and make Skype calls in HD.

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Apps (iOS)

  1. Cortana — Cortana is your truly personal assistant — helping you get things done by letting your PC and iPhone work together.
  2. Microsoft Authenticator — One app to quickly and securely verify your identity online for all of your accounts.
  3. Microsoft GigJam — GigJam is a breakthrough way to spontaneously and ephemerally involve other people in your work.
  4. Microsoft Outlook — Outlook for iOS works with Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, (including Hotmail and MSN), Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and iCloud.
  5. Microsoft Pix Camera — A smart camera app that helps you take better photos with your phone without any extra effort.
  6. Microsoft Remote Desktop — With the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere.
  7. Microsoft Selfie — Microsoft Selfie is a selfie and photo enhancement application.
  8. Microsoft Translator — Microsoft Translator enables you to quickly translate text or speech, have two-way conversations, and even download languages to use offline when you travel abroad.
  9. Microsoft Xim — Xim your photos on your camera roll or favorite service to your friends’ devices, even those who don’t have the app.
  10. Office Lens — Office Lens trims, enhances and makes pictures of whiteboards and documents readable.
  11. Sprightly — Sprightly lets you instantly create gorgeous Posters, Collages, Videos, E-cards, detailed Catalogs, beautiful Flyers, multiple Price-lists and Coupons on the go.
  12. Tossup — Tossup makes event planning and opinion-gathering a cinch.
  13. Twist 
  14. Word Flow Keyboard — Word Flow is a blazing fast keyboard that comes with search (GIFs, restaurants, and more), free customizable themes, swipe, and Arc mode for comfortable one-handed typing.
  15. Xbox 360 SmartGlass — Xbox 360 SmartGlass lets your phone work with your Xbox 360 console.

Apps (Android)

Cortana — Cortana is your personal assistant — helping you get things done by letting your PC and phone work together.
Kaizala — Kaizala is a messaging and productivity app that helps you get your work done quickly with built-in actions while chatting.
Microsoft Authenticator — One app to quickly and securely verify your identity online, for all of your accounts.
Microsoft Hyperlapse — Microsoft Hyperlapse is a simple app to help you shoot smooth and stable time-lapse videos, or quickly upload and enhance your existing videos.
Microsoft Remote Desktop — With the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere.
Microsoft Translator — Microsoft Translator enables you to quickly translate text or speech, have two-way conversations, and even download languages to use offline when you travel abroad.
Next Lock Screen — Next Lock Screen helps protect your phone from unwanted access by others, and you are instantly more productive.
Office Lens — Office Lens trims, enhances, and makes pictures of whiteboards and docs readable.
Parchi — Parchi, a Microsoft Garage project, is a quick note taking app.
Picturesque Lock Screen — Wallpaper, Notifications, Quick launch camera, Cricket, Top News, Weather, Tools, Search web, Call/message frequent contacts and Launch favourite apps from your lock screen .

You might also want to check out ALL the mobile apps by Microsoft — for iOS and for Android. 🙂

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Closing Thoughts

As you probably know, the word “Microsoft” is a portmanteau of “microcomputer” and “software”. And that means Microsoft is NOT just a software company but also a hardware company.

I haven’t listed the entire range of Microsoft products, services and devices as they have a ton of server products and enterprise business solutions and games and whatnot. This would have been a never ending list had I included all of them.

I have listed only the ones that are targeting individual consumers, rather than companies or corporations. And I’ve also included few business products and services that I knew existed (as a consumer).

Additionally, you can check out the Wikipedia list of:

Microsoft Software and Microsoft Servers and Microsoft Mobile Services and Microsoft Operating Systems and Microsoft Office and Microsoft Services and Microsoft Hardware and Microsoft Studios to explore more Microsoft products, services, tools, apps, and games.

Have I missed your favorite Microsoft product or service or even an app? If so, do let me know as a comment below and I will add it to the list.

So, how many Microsoft products and services are you using? 🙂

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