Taming the local search beast in a post-Possum and Fred world

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

It’s estimated that 46 percent of all searches performed on Google have a local intent, and the Map Pack appears for 93 percent of these.

In September 2016 Google unveiled a new local search algorithm, dubbed Possum, and it pretty much went unnoticed in comparison to the real-time Penguin update released in the same month.

In short, Possum made it harder for businesses to fake being in locations that they’re not (through the likes of virtual offices), as well as tackling Google My Business spam.

Possum, however, isn’t a “single” algorithm update, as it affected both localized search results as well as the Map Pack, which of course are two separate algorithms both triggered by search queries that are interpreted as having a local search intent.

The Google “Fred” update, which hit SERPs back in March, has also had an impact on local search, much like the Phantom updates before it.

A lot of local SERPs are extremely spammy, where websites have been built cheap and location names have been liberally applied to every menu link and keyword on the page, such as this home page sidebar menu:

This of course, is only a snapshot of the page – the menu and tile icons go on a lot more. Spam such as this still ranks on page one, because Google still has to provide results to its users.

Take advantage of the market conditions

A lot of locally-focused websites aren’t built by agencies; the vast majority tend to be self-built or built by bedroom level developers who can churn out a full website for £300 (or less).

Some verticals have seen some significant online investment in recent years, while others lag behind considerably. By investing in a good website and avoiding the same spammy tactics of your competitors, you can create a powerful resource offering user value that Google will appreciate.

Directory submissions and citations

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about just backlinks. Recent studies have shown that citations with a consistent NAP (Name, Address & Phone number) are important to both local algorithms.

There is no magic number to how many directory submissions you should have, but they need to be relevant.

I’ve worked on local campaigns in the UK where they have been previously submitted to directories in Vietnam, Thailand and Australia. Yes, it’s a backlink, but it’s not relevant in the slightest.

Think local with your directories, and exhaust those before moving onto national ones. The number of local directories should also outweigh the nationals were possible. To do this properly, it’s a manual process and to ensure quality it can’t be automated.

Reviews

Review volume, velocity and diversity factors are important, and in my opinion, they’re going to become more important in the coming months – particularly following the recent release of verified customer reviews for online businesses.

In Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, the evaluators are instructed to research a website/brand’s online reputation from external sources in order to assess the quality of the website.

This is why getting reviews on your Google My Business listing, Facebook pages, positive tweets, Yell, Trip Advisor reviews etc are all great. Having testimonials and reviews on your website is great for users, but you wouldn’t publish bad reviews on your own website, would you?

Google accepts that negative reviews appear, but as long the good outweighs the bad, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If you do get a negative review, demonstrate your customer service and respond to it. You can set up Google Alerts to monitor for your brand and flag up any external reviews.

Screenshot of Amazon reviews for a product, averaging 4.7 of 5 stars.

Google My Business & Bing Places

Believe it or not, Google My Business is considered a directory, as is Bing Places. It’s important that you have one if you’re a local business, and that you’ve optimised it correctly. This means the correct business name, address and phone number (keep your NAP as consistent as possible), choose an appropriate category and include a thorough description.

localBusiness structured data mark-up

Structured data mark-up (or schema) is an addition to a website’s code that enables Google’s RankBrain (and other AI algorithms from other search engines) to better understand a website’s context by providing it with additional information.

Not all websites are currently utilizing this schema (or any schema), and Google wants you to use it.

If you don’t have developer resource to hand, and you’re not a coder you can use Google’s Data Highlighter to mark-up content – you will need a verified Google Search Console however to make this work.

Other considerations

As well as focusing locally, you need to also consider other ranking factors such as SERP click-through rates.

Optimizing your meta title and description to appeal to local users can have a huge impact on click-through rates, and the change could be as simple as including the phone number in the title tag.

You also need to be on https and have a secure website. Getting hacked, suffering a SQL injection or having malware put on your site can seriously damage your reputation within Google and take a long, long time to recover.

Taming the local search beast in a post-Possum and Fred world

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

It’s estimated that 46 percent of all searches performed on Google have a local intent, and the Map Pack appears for 93 percent of these.

In September 2016 Google unveiled a new local search algorithm, dubbed Possum, and it pretty much went unnoticed in comparison to the real-time Penguin update released in the same month.

In short, Possum made it harder for businesses to fake being in locations that they’re not (through the likes of virtual offices), as well as tackling Google My Business spam.

Possum, however, isn’t a “single” algorithm update, as it affected both localized search results as well as the Map Pack, which of course are two separate algorithms both triggered by search queries that are interpreted as having a local search intent.

The Google “Fred” update, which hit SERPs back in March, has also had an impact on local search, much like the Phantom updates before it.

A lot of local SERPs are extremely spammy, where websites have been built cheap and location names have been liberally applied to every menu link and keyword on the page, such as this home page sidebar menu:

This of course, is only a snapshot of the page – the menu and tile icons go on a lot more. Spam such as this still ranks on page one, because Google still has to provide results to its users.

Take advantage of the market conditions

A lot of locally-focused websites aren’t built by agencies; the vast majority tend to be self-built or built by bedroom level developers who can churn out a full website for £300 (or less).

Some verticals have seen some significant online investment in recent years, while others lag behind considerably. By investing in a good website and avoiding the same spammy tactics of your competitors, you can create a powerful resource offering user value that Google will appreciate.

Directory submissions and citations

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about just backlinks. Recent studies have shown that citations with a consistent NAP (Name, Address & Phone number) are important to both local algorithms.

There is no magic number to how many directory submissions you should have, but they need to be relevant.

I’ve worked on local campaigns in the UK where they have been previously submitted to directories in Vietnam, Thailand and Australia. Yes, it’s a backlink, but it’s not relevant in the slightest.

Think local with your directories, and exhaust those before moving onto national ones. The number of local directories should also outweigh the nationals were possible. To do this properly, it’s a manual process and to ensure quality it can’t be automated.

Reviews

Review volume, velocity and diversity factors are important, and in my opinion, they’re going to become more important in the coming months – particularly following the recent release of verified customer reviews for online businesses.

In Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, the evaluators are instructed to research a website/brand’s online reputation from external sources in order to assess the quality of the website.

This is why getting reviews on your Google My Business listing, Facebook pages, positive tweets, Yell, Trip Advisor reviews etc are all great. Having testimonials and reviews on your website is great for users, but you wouldn’t publish bad reviews on your own website, would you?

Google accepts that negative reviews appear, but as long the good outweighs the bad, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If you do get a negative review, demonstrate your customer service and respond to it. You can set up Google Alerts to monitor for your brand and flag up any external reviews.

Screenshot of Amazon reviews for a product, averaging 4.7 of 5 stars.

Google My Business & Bing Places

Believe it or not, Google My Business is considered a directory, as is Bing Places. It’s important that you have one if you’re a local business, and that you’ve optimised it correctly. This means the correct business name, address and phone number (keep your NAP as consistent as possible), choose an appropriate category and include a thorough description.

localBusiness structured data mark-up

Structured data mark-up (or schema) is an addition to a website’s code that enables Google’s RankBrain (and other AI algorithms from other search engines) to better understand a website’s context by providing it with additional information.

Not all websites are currently utilizing this schema (or any schema), and Google wants you to use it.

If you don’t have developer resource to hand, and you’re not a coder you can use Google’s Data Highlighter to mark-up content – you will need a verified Google Search Console however to make this work.

Other considerations

As well as focusing locally, you need to also consider other ranking factors such as SERP click-through rates.

Optimizing your meta title and description to appeal to local users can have a huge impact on click-through rates, and the change could be as simple as including the phone number in the title tag.

You also need to be on https and have a secure website. Getting hacked, suffering a SQL injection or having malware put on your site can seriously damage your reputation within Google and take a long, long time to recover.

Google to Start Tracking Your Offline Purchases

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Google has announced its intention to track the purchases you make with your credit and debit cards for marketing purposes.

By tracking offline purchasing, Google can compare your online ad clicks with the money you spend in traditional bricks and mortar stores. So whether you pop in at Wal-Mart for groceries or Toys R Us to buy a last minute birthday party gift, Google will know.

But how does Google accomplish this level of tracking? Using deep learning technology to recover data from its many services, including Google Maps, combined with credit-card transaction records. Google, at its Marketing Next conference this week, said it is able to access roughly 70 percent of credit and debit card transactions in the United States.

Google will then use the collected data to show marketers their online ads are leading to in-store as well as online purchases. For example, Google can tell Target how many people saw its ad for sheets and then went to a store to buy a set.

O2O Stats Graphic cropped

“You need insights into how your online ads drive sales for your business. You need to know: are my online ads ringing my cash register?” Google said in a blog post. “In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out store sales measurement at the device and campaign levels. This will allow you to measure in-store revenue in addition to the store visits delivered by your Search and Shopping ads.”

Google has said it will not provide shoppers’ names or credit card numbers to marketers, just the purchasing data. The tech titan’s deep learning abilities will be a boon not just to marketers, but to Google itself which will no doubt rake in even more advertising dollars as a result.

Privacy advocates are less than happy with Google’s plans, however.

The Washington Post spoke with a number of privacy advocates, including Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Paul Stephens. Stephens said Google’s plan may not be enough to protect consumers’ privacy.

“What we have learned is that it’s extremely difficult to anonymize data,” Stephens told the Post.”If you care about your privacy, you definitely need to be concerned.”

Via Business Insider


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The post Google to Start Tracking Your Offline Purchases appeared first on SiteProNews.

Google to Start Tracking Your Offline Purchases

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Google has announced its intention to track the purchases you make with your credit and debit cards for marketing purposes.

By tracking offline purchasing, Google can compare your online ad clicks with the money you spend in traditional bricks and mortar stores. So whether you pop in at Wal-Mart for groceries or Toys R Us to buy a last minute birthday party gift, Google will know.

But how does Google accomplish this level of tracking? Using deep learning technology to recover data from its many services, including Google Maps, combined with credit-card transaction records. Google, at its Marketing Next conference this week, said it is able to access roughly 70 percent of credit and debit card transactions in the United States.

Google will then use the collected data to show marketers their online ads are leading to in-store as well as online purchases. For example, Google can tell Target how many people saw its ad for sheets and then went to a store to buy a set.

O2O Stats Graphic cropped

“You need insights into how your online ads drive sales for your business. You need to know: are my online ads ringing my cash register?” Google said in a blog post. “In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out store sales measurement at the device and campaign levels. This will allow you to measure in-store revenue in addition to the store visits delivered by your Search and Shopping ads.”

Google has said it will not provide shoppers’ names or credit card numbers to marketers, just the purchasing data. The tech titan’s deep learning abilities will be a boon not just to marketers, but to Google itself which will no doubt rake in even more advertising dollars as a result.

Privacy advocates are less than happy with Google’s plans, however.

The Washington Post spoke with a number of privacy advocates, including Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Paul Stephens. Stephens said Google’s plan may not be enough to protect consumers’ privacy.

“What we have learned is that it’s extremely difficult to anonymize data,” Stephens told the Post.”If you care about your privacy, you definitely need to be concerned.”

Via Business Insider


avatar

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Facebook Trending Topics Update Offers More News Sources

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Facebook has launched a redesigned Trending results page to offer readers more publication choices as the social media firm continues to respond to criticism that it is not doing enough to combat so-called fake news.

trending_results_press_052417Trending topics will not only include coverage from a wider variety of news sources, but updates on what what your friends and public figures are saying as well about a given story.

“You’ve always been able to click on a topic to see related posts and stories, but we’ve redesigned the page to make it easier to discover other publications that are covering the story,” Facebook said in a blog post. “Now, when you click on a Trending topic, you’ll see a carousel with stories from other publications about a given topic that you can swipe through. By making it easier to see what other news outlets are saying about each topic, we hope that people will feel more informed about the news in their region.”

Articles that appear in Facebook’s Trending section are, not surprisingly, the stories that are trending on the platform. Facebook determines if an article is trending using a number of factors such as the engagement around the article, the engagement around the publisher overall and if other articles on the topic are linking to it. The trending topics you see, meanwhile, will be based on a variety of factors, including Pages you’ve liked, where you live, previous trending topics with which you’ve interacted, and what is trending across the social media site overall.

The update will also make Trending easier to find for mobile users.

“We’re soon beginning a test in News Feed that will show people the top three Trending stories, which they can click on to see the full list of Trending topics and explore what people are discussing on Facebook,” the company said in a blog post. “While most people will not see Trending in their News Feed as part of this small test, we hope that it will help us learn how to make Trending as useful and informative for people as possible. If you do see the Trending unit in your News Feed, you have the option to remove it in the drop-down menu which will prevent it from being shown to you in the future.”

Facebook is first rolling out the new Trending results to iPhone users in the U.S. It will be coming to Android and desktop “soon.”


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

The post Facebook Trending Topics Update Offers More News Sources appeared first on SiteProNews.

Facebook Trending Topics Update Offers More News Sources

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Facebook has launched a redesigned Trending results page to offer readers more publication choices as the social media firm continues to respond to criticism that it is not doing enough to combat so-called fake news.

trending_results_press_052417Trending topics will not only include coverage from a wider variety of news sources, but updates on what what your friends and public figures are saying as well about a given story.

“You’ve always been able to click on a topic to see related posts and stories, but we’ve redesigned the page to make it easier to discover other publications that are covering the story,” Facebook said in a blog post. “Now, when you click on a Trending topic, you’ll see a carousel with stories from other publications about a given topic that you can swipe through. By making it easier to see what other news outlets are saying about each topic, we hope that people will feel more informed about the news in their region.”

Articles that appear in Facebook’s Trending section are, not surprisingly, the stories that are trending on the platform. Facebook determines if an article is trending using a number of factors such as the engagement around the article, the engagement around the publisher overall and if other articles on the topic are linking to it. The trending topics you see, meanwhile, will be based on a variety of factors, including Pages you’ve liked, where you live, previous trending topics with which you’ve interacted, and what is trending across the social media site overall.

The update will also make Trending easier to find for mobile users.

“We’re soon beginning a test in News Feed that will show people the top three Trending stories, which they can click on to see the full list of Trending topics and explore what people are discussing on Facebook,” the company said in a blog post. “While most people will not see Trending in their News Feed as part of this small test, we hope that it will help us learn how to make Trending as useful and informative for people as possible. If you do see the Trending unit in your News Feed, you have the option to remove it in the drop-down menu which will prevent it from being shown to you in the future.”

Facebook is first rolling out the new Trending results to iPhone users in the U.S. It will be coming to Android and desktop “soon.”


avatar

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

The post Facebook Trending Topics Update Offers More News Sources appeared first on SiteProNews.

7 Fail-Proof Ways to Drive Organic Traffic in 2017

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Many business owners know that value of SEO for driving organic traffic. However, with all the Google algorithm changes, it’s understandable why most people feel at a loss about what works and what doesn’t.

Today’s organic reach is not just determined by the keywords you stuff your copy with and the number of links you can buy. On the contrary, organic traffic only comes to those who have quality content.

Here’s how to get noticed by search engines in 2017:

1. Work on your influencer outreach strategy

Think about your industry as a giant online community. You are all in it together, so why not help each other?

I know that influencer outreach can be a bit scary – begging for links isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But you only need to jumpstart it and allow the snowball effect to happen.

Take a look at the 100 most influential content marketers. There’s a list with Twitter handles you can easily use to spark a conversation.

Another way to get links from influencers is to mention them in your blog posts and let them know about it. They might want to link back or even tweet your article.

Who doesn’t like to be praised?

2. Join conversations in Facebook groups

There are tens (if not hundreds) of Facebook groups for almost every niche. Join as many of them as possible and engage in conversations with your peers.

Get friendly with the group admins and you will have the chance to be the group’s primary content provider. Aside from the actual traffic posting in groups will bring you, you will also get other perks like recognition, a stronger reputation and yes, even Internet fame.

3. Find out what the competition is doing

You can’t get too much traffic if your competitors are stealing it all, can’t you? So why not get ahead of the competition?

Services like Ahrefs are a great place to find out which websites link to your competitors. And you know what? If those websites loved your competitors’ work, they might just love yours, as well.

But remember, every time you reach out to other bloggers you should have something to give in exchange. At least a link back to their website. Of course, great content could make some people link your articles without even having to ask, but if you’re not there yet, you should have a honey pot prepared.

4. Create GREAT content

I’ve said this a million times: there’s no better way to get noticed than to give people what they want. And, in this game, what they want is always great content.

But writing the perfect blog post is easier said than done, right?

Here’s how to get started: first off, head on to BuzzSumo and type in the topic of your next piece of content. Read the articles in results carefully.

Then ask yourself: can you do a better job? Can you write a better, more researched and fact-backed post than your competitors? If your honest answer is “yes”, then this is your golden ticket.

The top results in BuzzSumo get thousands of reads and social shares. Not to mention the attention of search engines. If you can beat that quality, you’re just one step away from your organic traffic goal.

5. Guest post on high-DA platforms

If your website or blog isn’t getting much traction, a great way to put a spotlight on it is to guest post on various platforms.

Ever since I started regularly blogging for SiteProNews, I noticed a significant increase in traffic. Plus, it’s always great to share your ideas with new audiences.

It goes without saying that, when you guest blog, you should be allowed to have at least one link in your bio or copy back to your website or blog. If the platform denies you this, you might be dealing with a content farm, not a website where you want your name to appear.

Guest posting is a great way to secure traffic in the long-run. You won’t just get the occasional click when your article is featured. You will also improve your domain authority significantly due to the links.

6. Go visual

Infographics and slide decks are all the rage now.

Why, you ask?

Because they are visually-appealing and jam-packed with research-backed information. People love infographics because putting data in a visual context helps them understand and memorize it better.

Even more, posting infographics and slide decks on social media is bound to bring you a lot of retweets and shares. Bit-sized information is great for everyone. Plus, you’ll reach people who don’t have the time to read a lengthy article and enjoy getting their information at a glance.

Consequently, numerous retweets and shares will bring you a stronger social media community. In the long-run, this means more people who are eager to click on all your links and, yes, more organic traffic.

7. Play the long-term game

When you conduct keyword research, think about those keywords that bring actual value to your website and business. The most popular ones are, of course, long-tail keywords. They might be harder to fit in, but “how to create great content” will bring you more (targeted) traffic than “great content.”

As a rule of thumb, instructional articles (how-to pieces) are excellent for your long-term strategy. There will always people searching for information and you’ll always be there to deliver it.

Next up: update your old content. Make sure that all the links you inserted are still valid. Update your research quotes. And don’t forget about the basics: you have a new idea that could enrich an older article, add it. The higher the word count, the better your ranking and, thus, the more organic traffic you will get.

Getting organic traffic is all about quality

Before you spend ages trying to get links and even pondering black-hat SEO techniques (by the way, they are NEVER a good idea), work on improving your content quality.

Excellent, information-packed and easy to read articles will bring both links and visitors. Pair that with an influencer outreach program and savvy social media techniques and you’ve got yourself a winning strategy.


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Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the CEO of Idunn, a digital marketing agency that helps clients all over the world with copywriting, social media marketing and marketing strategy. Follow her blog here: http://idunn.pro/blog.

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In-Store and Out of Store, Brands Are Giving VR a Whirl

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Located in Venice, Calif., TOMS’ flagship store is a cozy shop and café, where you can buy the company’s footwear and eyeglasses or sit in an open-air back patio and sip the brand’s fresh-roasted coffee.

But while there’s also lots of messaging all around the place about the company’s mission—buy one product and you pay for another pair for someone in need—perhaps the most gripping experience is a “virtual reality chair” that anyone can try out. Put on a headset and you’re transported to a village in Peru, where volunteers hand out shoes to a passel of beaming children. The immersive technology, introduced in the store about a year ago, allows you to understand in immediate way just how important these “giving trips’ are to the recipients of TOMS largesse.

For marketers, VR has a mouth-watering potential — a tactic for creating an immersive and highly engaging message. In fact, TOMS is one of many brands dipping their toes in VR, testing out how to use it to give their marketing an extra punch and trying it out in everything from in-store promotion to advertising.

“Customers have a visceral emotional reaction to VR experiences–and then act on it,” says Brian Roth, vice president of sales at Immersv, a VR platform. “And that’s what every brand is looking for.” Plus, for companies trying to be on the cutting edge, the technology provides a badge of cool—and makes promotions fun.

Certainly, the more consumers feel like they’re experiencing something for real, the greater the potential there is for high engagement. For example, according to Roth, VR video promotions have higher completion rates than standard videos. And the click-through rate is 15 percent to 20 percent or more compared to 0.2 percent for conventional videos seen on a desktop, he says.

In-store promotion

One way marketers are using VR is as part of in-store promotions and experiences. Customers can, say, check out a remodeled bedroom in VR, while they’re just a few feet away from the products they would need to buy. Take Lowe’s. About a year ago, the retailer introduced an app that uses the technology to help consumers visualize home improvements. In “Holorooms”, customers can put on Oculus Rift headsets and choose everything from lighting and paint color to fixtures, then arrange them in a room with real-life dimensions. If they don’t like what they see, they can substitute, say, a different wallpaper and decide whether that suits them better. Lowe’s shoppers can also view their home improvement projects at home, with a Google Cardboard viewing device.

On the other hand, for a company like TOMS, VR experiences serve a different purpose. The one-for-one mission is both the firm’s raison d’etre, as well as a crucial element in its marketing. Thus, its VR experience isn’t about providing a virtual try-before-you-buy opportunity. Instead, the object is to make the mission feel real and allow shoppers to feel a direct connection to the communities their purchases help.

Advertising

At the same time, marketers are experimenting with applying VR to advertising. In some cases, that involves using a subtle tack. Earlier this year, for example, GE debuted a documentary miniseries about innovation that uses VR technology. Called The Possible, the five films allow viewers to experience cutting-edge technology such as flying on a hover board or taking a walk with a robot. In addition, each film is followed by a brief 360-degree video underscoring the message that GE has an unconventional approach. For example, in Fighting Fire with Fire, a nod to the TV show MythBusters, scientists show how they can put out fire by using high- frequency, intense bursts of sound.

Similarly, in 2016, Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) engaged Kelly Lund, a social media star who shares various outdoor adventures with his Wolfdog, Loki, on Instagram, YouTube and other places. They created, among other things, a two-minute 360-degree VR video documenting a trip to the very snowy and pristine Colorado mountains. To get there, dog and owner drive in a Mercedes 2017 GLS sport utility vehicle. Then they have fun snowboarding and frolicking in the snow. “Users feel like they are part of the action,” says Mark Aikman, general manager, marketing services.

Results have been positive, especially with Millennials, the target audience, according to Aikman. In 2016 alone, the videos earned more than 4 million views across platforms and nearly 80,000 social media engagements. Plus, MBUSA’s Instagram followers grew by 57,000. There’s also been an increase in the number of 18 to 34-year-olds visiting MBUSA’s site.

When it comes to using VR as an advertising vehicle, one barrier to entry for some brands is the cost of creating 360-degree videos. That’s where startups like Immersv come in.  Launched in 2015, the company has a platform for producing VR content, aimed largely at brands and agencies. Says Roth, “This is a stepping stone for someone to try it out.”


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Anne Field is an award-winning journalist who specializes in covering entrepreneurship and small business. A freelancer for many years, she has contributed to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Business Insider, Crain’s New York Business, Inc., and the New York Times, in addition to many other publications. She lives in Pelham, NY, with her husband, two children, and dog. Used with the permission of http://thenetwork.cisco.com/.

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