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How to Give your Page an Edge on Google+

Now that Google+ Pages has launched you might be asking yourself, do you really need another page for your business?  The answer is yes.  Though there is a lot of debate on whether Google+ is going to be a truly competitive social network for Facebook, there is one area that Facebook cannot compete and that is SEO.

SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the most powerful tools that Google+ has to offer a business.

  1. When you create a page you are instantly indexed
  2. You are creating more backlinks to your website
  3. Direct Connect – Google’s new way to search online

Direct Connect is one of the more interesting elements of the SEO boost. It is trying to give pages more visibility in the search engines. Now if someone is searching for you page all they have to do is  add “+” before your business name, ie. “+Your Business “, and they will pull up your page.

Harnessing Pages for Your Business?

Lets walk through setting up a basic business page and then we will look at how to give your page an edge.

Google+ Pages Create a Page1 . Sign up: Go to: http://www.google.com/+/business/

  • Click “Create your Goolge+ Page”
Google+ Page Categories

Select your category

3. Category: Select the main category for your page.

  • Local Business or Place- this is for if you are primarily local or have a physical location.
  • Product or Brand- if you are creating a page for one specific product item or for a brand. Tip: Bloggers this is where you want to be!
  • Company, Institution or Organization- this is the general business category
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports- anything having to do with these categories, though often these are people like artists and musician or groups of people like a sports team.
  • Other- If you just don’t quite fit anywhere, you can assign your own category. Tip: I don’t really recommend this unless you have to because you are missing out on the “category” search benefit of Google+.

4. Sub-Category: After you select a main category you will be able to select a sub category that best describes you.

5. Page Name: Enter in your page name. This is what everyone will see as your page name and how people will find you. Do not make it too complicated and keep it to something that is easy to remember.

  • Though vanity URLs are not currently available, they will not be long in coming and you would rather have plus.google.com/mywebsite than plus.google.com/dontyouwishyourwebsitewerecoollikethis as your URL. Keep it clean and keep it simple!

6. URL: Enter in the URL for your website.

7. Age Restriction:You can opt to have age restriction on your page. This is good if you talk about mature issues, alcohol or drugs. The ages restrictions available are 13+, 18+ and 21+.

Google+ Page Profile Photo

Your profile image has a square aspect ratio, pick a photo that looks good cropped to a square.

8. Profile Photo: Your profile photo is your face to the world. You may want to put your logo in here, or a picture of you. But whatever you decide make sure that the picture is square. Unlike Facebook, Google+ Pages give limited real estate to your pic.

9. Tag Line: This is where you get to put some quick little tid bit about your business. Think of this as your elevator pitch. You want something that describes your page and essentially draws someone into the page. Tip: Give yourself an SEO boost and use keywords in this tag line.

Once you are done you will be asked if you want to share your page on your Google+ profile. Go ahead and say yes. This is a great way to share your page with your various circles.

Give Your Page an Edge

You may be thinking that the set up process was really easy, and wondering why you did not have to fill out a ton of questionnaires about your business, information, description, contact information, etc.  That is because you don’t have to have any of that information on your page. But trust me, you want all that information on your page.

Once your page is set up, you will want to go view your page profile and start editing information.

When you click the edit button (a blue button on the top right of your page profile) it allows you to edit nearly all sections of your page.  All you need to do is click on a section to edit.

Google+ Page Description

  1. Introduction: Write something descriptive about your business. This is your space to make your first real introduction and tell people what you are all about. Make sure you use key words that are related to your brand to given an even bigger SEO boost.
  2. Contact Info: You can add an email address or phone number. To protect your privacy, I recommend just an email address. You don’t necessarily want anyone who can find your page able to call you.
  3. Website: This is where your website URL will be.

A note on Privacy: you can set the level of visibility as you set up these fields. You can control whether you only want your circles to be able to see this information or if you want it completely public. If you are worried about privacy you should restrict your visibility to “only circles” or even custom circles.  For your website, I recommend leaving this viewable by anyone.

Linking Relationship

Google+ offers another way to build good relations with other websites. Like a blog, where you can share your blogroll, you are able to share your recommended links. This is to the right column next to your information. If you have websites that you particularly like or support, this is a great way to share them with your followers. Plus this is a great way to breed good relationships with those websites. If you link someone, make sure you reach out to them and tell them.

Photo Strip

Google+ Page Photo Strip

The photo strip is one of the most powerful visual aids of your page. You can add any photo that you like on this strip, and unlike in Facebook, you can place them in any order you like. All you have to do is upload the photo directly into the Google+ Page Circlephotostip. Once they are loaded you can drag and drop them into any position you like.

With a little creative photography you can make your photostrip be an excellent brand ambassador for you page….or you can just have some fun with it and create a really interesting panoramic.

Get Social!

The number one power of any social network is the ability to be social. Pages is no different. Similar to Facebook, you can use Google+ as your page. You can go and add other pages to your circles. You can comment on their posts and interact them.  Though people can add your page to their circle, pages cannot add people to their circles.

On the left column of your page, you will see your profile pic, a button to share your page and then a section showing who is in your circles and who has added you to theirs.  By looking at this section on other pages you will be able to find a lot of relevant and interesting pages to network with.

The more you network with other pages the more they will network with you. Ultimately the more people who have circled you, the more people who are reading your posts. So get out there and network!

 

Google+ Pages for business is not hugely different than Facebook Pages. However, the SEO value they add is reason enough to get a page set up for your website. The pages are easy to set up and offer the opportunity for more exposure to your website. So go out there and set up a Page and make sure to tell everyone about it!

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

 

Google+ for Business….well almost

Google Plus Business Pages

Goolgle+ announced today that they are offering pages for business. This is answering a long standing question, when with Google+ be business friendly.  Well, they had been promising the eventual advent of their business Pages, and the day has finally come!…well kind of.

The pages roll out is just that, a roll out. So not everyone can make a page yet. When will everyone be allowed? Good question. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that. So though they are not focusing on the exclusivity of the original “invite only” launch, they are likely only giving the “star players” the first shot at the new Page.

Google Plus for Business but not for you

As a user of Google+ you will be able to to add pages to you circles. It seems that the pages will be much like the Facebook Pages we are all accustomed to.  But one distinct edge the pages have will be the indexing. Google will be immediately indexing any business page. This means that when you create a page you are immediately getting an SEO boost to your page. Additionally when you type in a business name, if you add a + sign before the name it will pull of the Plus page for that business.  So type in + SM Cubed Consulting and you will find my business page.

Is the + search a step forward in the next generation of SEO? Maybe it is. It does make me wonder if this will be a change in the Boolean search that traditional search engine algorithm have been rooted in. (In my mind I see lovers of Library Science heads exploding)

The questions that arise are based in the experience from pages on Facebook.  Will you be able to pursue fans or are we reliant on fans finding pages, like in Facebook?  Will this essentially be simply duplicate content? Is there a point to have both?

SEO Killer! Google is the Primary Suspect

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the primary way to drive traffic to your website. It is what facilitates you coming up in search results and therefore facilitates people going to your website. But Google might be trying to kill your SEO.

SEO primarily operates from the use of keywords. These words are used strategically in your site to help the search engines find your site and match it with appropriate search terms. The better your SEO the better you will turn up in the search results. Really good SEO can result in you being one of the first few websites found in a relevant search.

Google is jumping on the privacy train, but not in a way that users will actually know. They are making it so if you do a search, and you are signed into Google, your search will be encrypted. What does this mean? Good question! This means that the information about your search, keywords and the link you clicked to get to the website will not be shared with the website.

What this means to websites:

When someone comes to your website from a search engine, they use a search term to find your site. That gives them a link to a page on your site. They click the link and go to your site. As obvious as this is, this information is important to your SEO strategy. You want to know the words people are using to find your site. You want to know the links that are bringing people into your site.

The data you will not be receiving due to the new encryption is:

  • Referral Data – This is the link they clicked to get to your site.
  • Key Words- These are the search terms the used to find your site.

This information will not be withheld on ads or sponsored listings, so if you pay for your listing you will still know how the user found you.

Whats the upside?

This is only affective when people are signed into their Google accounts, which is roughly only 10% of the users. So 90% of your organic traffic will deliver data to your analytics. The other 10% will show you that the user came, but not the how’s, what’s or where-from’s.

Why are they killing my SEO?

Good question. The primary argument is this is a step towards increased privacy. Google has often been criticized for being too invasive. They gather and share information about their users. This is giving users the option of increased privacy in their searches. Of course, Google still has this information and that information is still feeding into their ads, sponsored links, stories, etc. So you will not likely notice the increase in privacy.

From the users point of view nothing has changed. From the websites point of view, they are being denied some valuable data.

Facebook’s New Platform & Social Signals as Search Engine Ranking

Facebook is the world’s second largest advertising network, second only to Google, in terms of users, scale and global influence. In September, Mark Zuckerberg gave the keynote at F8, an annual conference about all things Facebook. Woven into the many topics, was the announcement of Facebook’s work with the Open Graph protocol and HTML5, a combination which has led to the largest overhaul of Facebook’s user interface to date.

Facebook, the world’s premier social cloud, is ushering in new ways of interaction with the web. The ascension of tablet, smartphones and other mobile web devices, has necessitated a shift towards cloud computing and cloud computing a shift we will likely remain in for the forseeable future.

Open Graph allows for a “frictionless experience”, deeply integrating users’ web activity with their Timelines, creating a more holistic representation of one’s digital self. The system is set up such that users opt-in for a service – Spotify is a popular example, as is Hulu – and once that user opts in, that service then has access to all the information stored on Facebook. These social signals will revolutionize the world of search ranking. The folks at SEOmoz explain:

The data you get from Facebook is available at load time and as such you can use it to tailor the experience directly to the user. You can get quite granular with this approach once you’ve successfully identified key characteristics of your personas. Keep in mind that you’re not limited to just their demographic information but their likes, interests, status updates, etc. And while this is outside of my programming ability there are some very smart people putting together algorithms to that allow you to map this type of data to your user to determine how closely they fit your persona. Google has some machine learning APIs that can aid in these determinations.

Will open graph allow iPhone mobile apps to be built into profile?

Recent updates to Facebook’s mobile application indicate that the changes are unified, tying your mobile activity into the fold. This changes the iPhone application development game, allowing for a window into the consumer’s habits and more accurate record of activity executed on mobile devices.

While the Open Graph protocol is set up to make Facebook the desktop hub of the Internet, it’s hard to say whether the mobile infrastructure will be possible. Changes in mobile web that the new iPhone may usher in, will possibly open new doors to technology that better analyzes web activity in order for marketers to target users within a few standard deviations. In order for Open Graph the have the same role as mobile Internet hub, this thype of application development will have to advance beyond the point it is now, although changes have already been implemented to current versions of Facebook Mobile.

Right now 95% of mobile search goes through Google. How might this change?

Google has overwhelming control over mobile search, something to the tune of 97-percent. If Open Graph integrates web activity into the cohesive framework of Facebook, it may be possible for Facebook to deliver information users search for on the Internet. It’s a long shot, to be sure. Google is number one for a reason. Other companies specializing in Search have had a hard time bucking Google from the Ivory Tower of Search Deities. However, that’s not what Facebook is trying to do.

Facebook is trying to create a local ecosystem, on desktops and mobile web through which people interact with the Internet. Obviously no one is tied to using Facebook for watching Hulu, or playing songs in Spotify, but the more people opt-in for that kind of integration, the more information they are making available for the use of marketers. There will undoubtedly be a move to incentivize this integration and generate the opt-in.

This is all part of the evolution of personal technology. Moves from touch notebooks, to, cloud computing, and the migration from offline to online file storage.

Google+ for Everyone!

Google Plus

This great cartoon from the Funny Pictures Blog just says it all

Google+ has finally released its stronghold on exclusivity. For the first few months of the social networks life, it has been an

exclusive club. The world was divided between the invited and the non-invites. Well, the world for people who cared. The invite only policy did create some buzz surrounding it. Leaving the more well connected with techno-geeks to be the first to get invites. But as people tired of exclusivity, getting an invite was not that hard. Even Chris Brogan wrote a blog post saying if you want an invite to tweet him use a certain hashtag and someone will send you an invite.

Many of us “invited” have questioned the value of leaving it invite only for so long. As Google+ struggles to leap into mainstream acceptance, the ongoing exclusivity was creating a lack of interest instead of a growing interest. But that has all been put to rest as Google+ has opened up to the public. Now everyone can have their chance at the newest social network.

In honor of the Grand Opening, Google+ plus added an update to the networks most popular feature, hangouts. Hangouts is essentially a group video chat. You could let people know that you were “hanging out” in a chat room and other people could join you. This is great for group video chat. Despite its popularity, it still seems to be a highly under utilized feature of the network. With the Grand Opening, Google gave hangouts a big update for mobile. It is now available from your mobile phone.

Now that the exclusivity is over. The big names in tech and social media are pushing the network onto everyone. The mobile update has been released. The buzz has been created, died down, and created again. The question still remains, will Google+ be a viable competitor to Facebook?

Google+ making the jump?

Article first published as Google+ Making the Jump? on Technorati.

The big question about Google+ has been will they make it. When a new technology comes out they go through a adoption cycle from inception to worldwide domination. This is called the technology curve. The concept is pretty easy. It starts with innovators who design the product. The early adopters try it out. The early majority bring it into mainstream. Late majority are the ones who pick it up after everyone else has tried it and the laggards are the last people to pick it up. On this curve, there is a little space, a chasm is you will, that is the determining factor as to whether a product makes it or not.  Crossing the chasm is the biggest challenge a new technology faces.

Technology Curve

This is the best technology curve I have yet to see. It made me laugh.

Google+ has been standing on the edge of this cliff for a while now. People keep asking if they are going to successfully make the leap. There is a good chance of it.

Often times landing your jump to the early majority requires the involvement of influential people. Getting someone who has a wide following and who looks to them for guidance on their tech to adapt your technology and then endorse it is like making he jump with a big parachute.

Well, Chris Brogan is often considered one of those people. He is essentially the father of social marketing and has been carving the path for the rest of us for a decade. Many people in social media look to him for trends and guidance. Well, guidance is something Brogan frequently offers. He just recently endorsed Google+ on his blog. He explains how to best use it and tells everyone to go and sign up. He even offers a solution to the “invite only” issue.

With endorsements from people like Brogan, it is very likely that Plus will make the leap and have a safe landing on the other side.

Facebook adds Circles?

Google Plus vs. Facebook

This fabulous image is from the Puffs of Genius blog

The competitive edge that Google+ had over Facebook was circles. It is a form of micro-sharing. Basically you can share updates with a subset of your friends instead of all your friends. This kind of micro-sharing is what makes people feel that Google+ has better privacy control than Facebook.  Well Facebook has decided to be competitive and has created smart lists.

Lists are not anything new in Facebook. In fact, they have been around for years, but only about 5% of Facebook users actually use lists. Most do not even know they exist and the ones that do often find it more cumbersome than helpful.

Facebook is now trying to take the cumber out of cumbersome. They are making automatic smart lists where it will group people for you based on your user information and usage habits. So if you have friends from your same college, they may get grouped into a “College” or “School” group. People you work with will be put in “Work”. You will be able to move people around in these groups to adjust them as you see fit. But Facebook is trying to make micro sharing more of a reality for its users.

Though grouping our friends for us might make it easier for us to manage our lists, it will not necessarily get people to start using the list function. Google+ was formed around the idea of circles and micro-sharing. Facebook was formed around the more general concept of social sharing. Not to mention that many of us get rather annoyed at how much Google tried to understand and anticipate our every move. So it might not be a good idea for Facebook to try to emulate that model. We already get annoyed at some of the friend suggestions, especially when not only are they people who are not friends but they are people we don’t want to see.

I am one of the 5%-ers that use lists, but will that number now increase? Do you plan to use lists now that they are automated?

Twitter Traffic Times Three

Twitter BirdsI love alliteration! Twitter traffic times three is not how to get three times the amount of traffic. Rather it is the three type of traffic coming from Twitter that you are generating. Understanding the source of your traffic will help you understand the power of Twitter to your marketing and branding.

1. Link

Link traffic are the clicks you receive on the links you put in your posts. When you tweet out a link and someone clicks on it, that is considered one of the most valuable kinds of clicks. From a sales point of view it is considered a “qualified lead”. It is qualified because the person who clicked on it is already interested in what you are tweeting about. By clicking the link in the tweet, they are saying they are also interested in the link. Now it is your job to convert the lead.

This is also the easiest link to track because you can use a link shortner which will allow you to get thorough analytics.

2. Profile

In your profile you have your website. Because this is your profile and part of your branding you want to make sure this is your dot com and not a shortened link. People will be able to click this link and go directly to your main website. This will be harder to track. If you are using a website analytics tool like Google analytics or Statscounter you will be able to see the traffic coming in from twitter, but you will have to go into your analytics to identify the source of your traffic, as opposed to the url shortner analytics that will show you the traffic from a specific link.

3. Direct Traffic

This is the traffic that is untrackable. Direct traffic is when someone types your URL directly into their web browser. It is also when someone knows your brand name and finds your URL by searching for it in Google.  In your analytics it may come up as a google search or just direct traffic.

The engagement you do in Twitter will increase your brand awareness. Many people will go to your website because of your Twitter efforts, but because it is direct traffic you will not specifically know that it is a result of your social media efforts.  This kind of traffic is extremely valuable and not at all quantifiable. So we cherish it and get frustrated with its enigmatic essence.

Does + always equal more?

Google Plus CartoonThe Internet is buzzing with waves of chatter about Google+. It’s still in beta, with invitations quickly being disseminated among early adopters. Rumors about the Google network are running wild and range from the curious to the hilarious. One insider has it that that the final version will have a time and attendance feature to clock how much time you spend on Plus, then Google actually pays YOU to use it. Wishful thinking? Perhaps.

The search (and advertising) behemoth is making its third foray into the world of social networking, after two busted attempts that shall not be mentioned here, for austerity’s sake. Whether Google can topple Facebook is a hot topic that has been addressed on this blog. Google+ is brand new – not even completed, in fact – and Facebook has been around for many productive years, so it’s not really fair to compare the two services at present. We can, however, look at the features of Google+ to see whether it will prove to be a viable social media platform or fall to the same grim fate as W-ve and B-zz.

Pros – The Case For (+)

 G+ is appearing at the right time. People are starting to get bored with Facebook, and the possibility of a similar, improved-upon experience with a known company is attractive. Google has the advertising acumen to make G+ an attractive option, and the coders have the technical know-how to scale the size of the service to whatever it needs to be. Also, one big pro: Google controls the Internet. You don’t do anything without Google knowing about it. This is a scary thought, but also great when you think about sharing; if I’m searching for something on Google anyway, find it and want to share, +1 will always be there, even in rare cases where [Tweet] and [Like] are not.

 Cons – The Case Against (-)

Google lacks social network experience, or at least the kind that competitors have been gaining over the past decade. Google is definitely good at connecting people and integrating services but Wave and Buzz failed for good reason; they just weren’t intuitive. G+ also has a lot to prove. Learning new social networks can be like learning a new language and as it stands, there is not reason for people to switch to G+ aside from curiosity. Google needs to create an engaging, easy to use experience (Like Maps, for example) that can grow with users.

What does Google+ have over Facebook right out of the gate? Well, to start: a potential user base and a more defined, integrated group system.

Anyone with a Gmail address (read: many, many people) will be able to participate when the final version of Google+ arrives, and they won’t even have to sign up; they just activate their Plus account and Boom! G+ automatically has a few hundred million users. Moreover, G+ has room to grow whereas Facebook has hit a cap somewhere around 750M users.

The group system addresses Facebook’s biggest problem: how to share. It’s hard to use potty language or share rugged stories when you know Uncle Ricky is checking your profile every now and again. Facebook allows you to determine what each person sees on your page, but the process is convoluted, labyrinthine and most people just don’t want to deal with it. Google gives you the mystical ‘Circle’ and says, “Share whatever you want with the people in this group [circle].” Ideally, it eliminates potentially embarrassing situations while giving you the freedom to post what you want for whomever you want.

What Does Google+ Need to Succeed?

The creator of MySpace, Tom Anderson, has said that Facebook’s success has hinged on integration of good ideas from other networks at the right time. The status bar was an innovation clearly inspired by Twitter and the ability to add videos in comments is a recent addition pulled straight from the OG competitor: MySpace. Similarly, G+ has pulled some cues from among the many other available social networks: Facebook’s clean design (though G+ is considerably less populated at this point) and Twitter’s ability to “follow” a G+ profile without being “friends”.

Whether G+ will do to Facebook what the Roman Empire did to Greece is unclear. There is speculation as to whether Google is even trying to overtake the social media atmosphere or play an accessory role to the larger, more developed Facebook. At current, it is barely the latter, but again, it is an infant service and will likely come into its own over the next year or two.

What Google+ promises is an integrated social networking experience that pulls from popular sections of the web – Twitter, Foursquare, The Book of Faces – in order to create a more efficient web sharing experience. It’s certainly poised to do that, but we’ll have to check back in a year to see if the third time’s the charm with Google’s social media endeavors.

Can Google + beat FaceBook?

Google Plus

Google+ is challenging Facebook, but will it be enough to take down the giant?

Will Facebook be the last dominant social network? I’m not sure anyone really knows the answer to this. Only time will tell. Looking back at history, I can tell you that FB certainly wasn’t the first. Even before Mark Zuckerberg even got off the ground with there were already online social networks. LinkedIn and MySpace had more than a year on FB. How FB made these two sites obsolete will give us clues regarding how Google + will fair as a social network.

Facebook VS MySpace

When users starting migrating from MySpace to FB, my initial hypothesis was that it was a fad. Similarly to the migration from MSN to AIM, I thought these networks went through cyclical shifts. I figured that within a year we’d be messing with something else. What I now realize is that in the case of social networks, boredom alone won’t cause a mass migration. I figure that for a social network to fall there has to be a big upgrade waiting on the other side. Facebook was far superior to MySpace. Facebook’s interface was far superior. While MySpace was overcrowded, FB was beautifully minimalist.

This interface offered not only something different for users but was also simply a better interface (MySpace pages took forever to load). On top of that FB had game changing features. Features like the newsfeed and picture tagging put interaction on a whole new level. The real game changer though, was something as simple as a relationship status. This innovation basically hit the nail on the head as to why social networks exist in the first place. This feature while technically unimpressive was the greatest addition ever. So, can what happened to MySpace happen to FB.

Google +, Google Buzz, Google Wave (The Threepeat)

Google Plus

Are privacy circles enough to truly challenge Facebook?

Based on the FB MySpace controversy, to beat a dominant social network you need user migration. To do this you need boredom and new features. I myself am quite bored with FB, and wouldn’t mind a change. Unfortunately I won’t be moving till my friends move. As such, boredom will only get the user base half way.

If Google + wants to beat FB it will have to do more than simply matching it. In its current condition Google + doesn’t even quite do that. In their defense, they have some interesting interface ideas with their privacy circles. Unfortunately I just don’t see any groundbreaking reason to change.

What Google needs for success in the social market is a game changer. I am not exactly sure Google has what I t takes to compete. Very rarely are companies able to find second acts. Microsoft and Apple found there’s with Office/Xbox and iPod respectively. Google has had a myriad of side projects over the years while trying to find their second act (Gmail is admittedly pretty cool). Just like Microsoft however, Google is suffering from classic old monopoly symptoms. They no longer know how to compete. Luckily for Google, they have a tremendous long fall to the bottom. Both Google and Microsoft can never innovate again and still make billions for years to come.

Google Buzz

The only buzz Google Buzz generated was for privacy violations

+ isn’t Google’s first attempt at competing with FB after all. Last year Google announced Buzz. Other than making headlines for some severe privacy violations Buzz was a non starter. Google even tried to gain an instant user base by integrating it with Gmail. Google went about Buzz completely the wrong way, and because of that Buzz was a failure.

Google Wave

Google Wave was a complete no-go

Two and a half years ago, Google announced Wave, an innovation that would change the way we interact with computers; the less said about Wave the better.  If things don’t go their way with +, will they simply call another redo?

My last point is that even if + does come out of beta with creative innovations over FB, will it make a difference? Just because certain conditions killed MySpace doesn’t mean the same for FB. FB is now a completely different animal then MySpace. FB now has over half a billion users. It is no longer the case of a bunch of kids getting bored and moving. It is fair to say that FB now has deep roots in our society. It is very well possible that no social network regardless of quality can best it. We will just have to wait and see.


Jonathan Rosen is a business major at Miami University. He is an avid fan of different media and how its covered. His website Call It Like I See It strives to be a source on info about entertainment and technology. You can read more from Jonathan at www.callitlikeiseeit.com

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