My next project: AutoSEO

This was an April Fool’s joke.

I’ve been working really hard with some friends on a project to handle SEO automatically. Now we’re ready to take the wraps off it over at seo.ninja.

One of the ideas that helped the World Wide Web succeed was that it separated presentation and content. You could write your text and decouple it from the problem of how the text looked. AutoSEO takes that to the next stage with search engines, so you don’t have to think about things like redirects.

How much would you pay to never have to worry about keyword density, H1 headers, or meta descriptions again? How about.. free? That’s right, AutoSEO is free for individual, students, self-hosted installs, and companies with fewer than 100 employees. AutoSEO is also built from the ground up to handle mobile browsers.

We’re starting with a limited set of invites to kick the tires on the system before opening things up for wider usage. Read more about the project over at seo.ninja!

This was an April Fool’s joke.

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All Things Facebook: Products, Services, And Apps

Let me be honest. I didn’t even have a vague plan of writing this very blog post. The actual idea was to list all the products, services, and apps by Facebook — just like I did Over 201 Google Products & Services You Probably Don’t Know.

And I even started writing this blog post with the title “Over 51 Facebook Products & Services You Probably Don’t Know” only to realize later that they don’t even have 21 standalone products (including web and mobile apps). 😀

Nevertheless, I’m listing all the products and services and apps offered by Facebook. And you will see that Facebook’s dominance comes from just three products apps. Facebook. WhatsApp. Instagram.

As you probably know, Facebook is the single largest social network out there and is also the second most popular website on the web according to Alexa Top 500 Global Websites (the first being Google + YouTube).

Facebook is not the first social network and yet it’s dominating the web 2.0. Just like Google did. Google wasn’t the first search engine out there but it managed to change the way we used the web. Google changed the way  we gathered information, and it changed the way we spend our time online.

Facebook did the same. It changed the social networking scene forever and at the same time it crushed several other social networking websites (MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, Hi5, to name a few) and several mobile apps.

So today, I’m listing all the products and services and apps by Facebook. And I will be updating this article as they launch more products or make more acquisitions.

A List Of All Facebook Products, Services, & Apps

Over 1.71 billion monthly active users. Over 1 billion mobile daily active users. Over 1.5 billion searches per day. Over $300 billion market capitalization. That’s the stats of Facebook.

  1. Facebook (Facebook.com) — The largest social network on the planet with over 1.7 billion users. And the Facebook centric products or rather features include Profile, News Feed, Messenger, Groups, Events, Video, Photos, Search, Pages, and Facebook for Business.
  2. Instagram (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile) — The most popular photo-sharing app with over 500 million users.
  3. Facebook Messenger (Messenger.com) — An instant messenger app by Facebook that lets Facebook users chat with their friends (on mobile and on the web). And then there are a handful of “for Messenger” apps like Sound Clips, Stickered, Strobe, Selfied, and Shout for Messenger that are available for both iOS and Android.
  4. WhatsApp — The most popular messaging app for mobile with over a billion users.
  5. Moments — A photo app for iOS and Android that lets you create shared photo albums with your friends and family. With Moments you can send photos to your friends and get photos back.
  6. Internet.org (now known as Free Basics) — Free Basics by Facebook provides people with access to useful services on their mobile phones in markets where internet access may be less affordable. The websites are available for free without data charges, and include content on things like news, employment, health, education and local information.
  7. Facebook Paper* — A social magazine app for iOS and it was considered as a Flipboard competitor. After shutting it down, Facebook launched Instant Articles and integrated several design features of Paper with it.
  8. Facebook Poke* — A messaging app for iOS that allowed you to send expiring text, photos, or videos to your Facebook friends. And it was Facebook’s first attempt to compete with Snapchat when its CEO rejected the $3 billion acquisition offer by Facebook.
  9. Facebook Slingshot* — An instant messaging app for iOS and Android that allowed you to send disappearing photo and video messages. In other words, another Snapchat competitor by Facebook that failed miserably.
  10. Lifestage — Share a visual profile of who you are with your school network. It’s an app for teens that’s yet another Snapchat clone. Seriously.
  11. Atlas — People-based marketing solutions.
  12. Oculus — It’s all about virtual reality.
  13. Origami — A free tool for designing modern user interfaces.


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

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

Closing Thoughts

As you might have already imagined, Facebook is dominating the web with its whopping billion+ active daily users and they haven’t diversified their business yet.

It’s also true that over 90% of Google’s revenue still comes from advertising but they have already started diversifying their business (YouTube, Android, Maps, Mobile, Email, etc.).

And yeah, I’m pretty sure that you knew almost all the products and services that are listed here. But still I just wanted to create this listicle. 😉

Please do let me know if I missed something Facebook so that I can add it to the list above.

Happy Facebooking! 🙂

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Thanks, Amit

Amit Singhal just announced that he’s retiring toward the end of the month. Amit has been a formative part of Google’s search team, but he’s also a good friend. Last year, after he marked 15 years with Google, I wrote this about Amit’s contributions:

Amit Singhal, one of the unsung heroes of Google, just celebrated 15 years at the company. If you’ve ever gotten a magical answer from Google, you probably have Amit to thank for it.

I can’t think of another person who has taken on so many different roles–individual contributor, manager, and head of search, not to mention dealing with press–and done such a superb job in each role. When a regular person hits a wall and gets discouraged, that’s when Amit is just getting started. It’s always fun to see how he cuts to the root of a problem and solves it. I’m proud to call him my friend.

Billions of people have benefited in some way from Amit’s insight and judgment. Google will miss you, but thank you for everything, Amit. I’m also thankful that the leadership of search remains in excellent hands, including an experienced group of contributors and leaders in core ranking.


Solving a Verizon issue (Nexus 5X)

I solved a problem today and figured that I’d document it for the rest of the world. Every time someone left me a voicemail on Verizon, I would get a cryptic text from Verizon at 900080006202 that looked like “//VZWVVM:SYNC:ev=NM;id=1;c=1;t=v;s=1XXXXXXXXXX;dt=18/01/2016 13:40-0900;l=13;dev_t=5” or “//VZWVVM:SYNC:ev=MBU;dev_t=5”.

Here’s what happened. It turns out that Verizon has three kinds of voicemail: basic voicemail (free), basic visual voicemail (also free), and premium visual voicemail ($2.99/month). I have a Nexus 5X and I recently switched from an unlimited Verizon data plan to a different plan (long story).

As part of that shift, it looks like Verizon switched me to visual voicemail. I suspect a lot of phones that you get at a Verizon store have some sort of visual voicemail app pre-installed. That app probably intercepts those cryptic texts and uses them to show a voicemail indicator. Ever wondered how the voicemail indicator disappears so fast after you call voicemail? I suspect that’s also because of a Verizon text that is interpreted by your phone.

But a Nexus 5X doesn’t have Verizon’s voicemail app, so it just presents texts from Verizon. To fix this issue, I stopped by a Verizon store and had a rep change me from “basic visual voicemail” to “basic voicemail,” and that fixed the issue. I don’t think you can toggle that setting yourself on Verizon’s website. Added: A friend told me that he got his voicemail changed to basic voicemail by chatting with a Verizon representative online. That might be easier/faster than visiting a Verizon store in person.

Nexus 5X rocks!

By the way, I love my Nexus 5X. It fits well in my hand, the camera is superb, and the fingerprint reader is blazingly fast. Also, the speed and accuracy of voice recognition on the Nexus 5X is amazing.

A final nice feature is that you can insert a Nano SIM card from any of the major carriers in the US. I often switch my Nexus 5X over to Google Fi in various situations; for example, Fi is great if you’re traveling outside the US.

HD Voice

One last tip if you’re still on Verizon: you can get HD Voice for free, but you have to enable it. HD Voice works via Voice over LTE, or VoLTE. HD Voice should have much better audio than a regular cell phone as long as both phones support it. On Verizon’s site, go to My Verizon->My Plan & Services->My Plan->Products & Apps->Manage Products & Apps and then click Free Products. Enable HD Voice on all your compatible lines on the website.

Then you need to enable HD Voice on each of your phones. On recent Android phones, look for Settings->More->Cellular networks->Enhanced 4G LTE Mode. On iPhones, look for Settings->Cellular->Enable LTE and select Voice & Data. More info on HD Voice and Advanced Calling on Verizon is in these FAQs.

What phone are you rocking right now, and how do you like it?

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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: https://www.google.com/business/.

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?