Here’s How to Use Your Daily Habits For Writing Better Content in Less Time

Posted by Lesley_Vos

I write every day for my blog as well as other publications. I’m a big fan of guest posting, and every day I do everything I can to reinforce better writing.

The problem: Content creation is time-consuming.

  • Content marketers deal with multiple tasks: social media content (93%), newsletters (81%), articles for websites (79%), blogs (81%), in-person events (81%), and more.
  • Lack of time is one of top 5 challenges for 51% of content marketers, while 50% face the challenge of producing truly engaging content.

As a result, we have to find and apply different tactics to become more productive and efficient, as well as optimize our work to achieve better results.

Yes, creating content is hard work. Every time I read works of Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, or Jon Morrow, I wonder, “How do they write so many articles every week, together with dozens of other tasks to complete?”

Do they “work 80-hour weeks?” Do they have an “army of assistants?”

It seems Neil Patel somehow heard my silent moanings when he wrote How to Write 5 or More Articles a Week and Not Burn Out, explaining the best tactics available for content marketers anytime and anywhere.

His article made me think of using alternative habits for writing more content in less time.

Famous writers didn’t hesitate to use their weird habits for more efficient work. So, maybe it makes sense to follow their lead and find benefits in our love for coffee and music for better content writing?

So, I’ve taken my daily habits and decided to learn how to develop them for writing better content in less time.

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#1 — Read the news

I can’t help but read the news online. Turns out, this daily habit holds benefits for content writers:

  • It improves writing skills, encouraging better cognitive skills and brain functioning. Plus, it enriches vocabulary.
  • It provides ideas for new content.
  • It lets them learn from professionals and follow their methods.

To make this work, avoid reading everyone and everything. Make a list of channels and resources that inspire you, as well as educate you.

Learning from experience, I can say Moz, Copyblogger, QuickSprout, and Smart Blogger are the best helpers in my niche. Rand Fishkin and Neil Patel teach me all the aspects of and latest trends in content and Internet marketing, while Brian Clark and Jon Morrow demonstrate the art of writing and encourage me to polish up my writing skills.

And applications such as Digg or Newsbeat have helped me organize my newsfeed in a way that gleans the most from my reading habit.

#2 — Free writing

If your daily habit is getting up early, your free writing is ripe for development.

It’s a writing technique described by Julia Cameron and Mark Levy as a way to free the subconsciousness by telling all your worries to a piece of paper. All you need to do is start every day with writing three pages of text.

The topic doesn’t matter. Just sit and write.

When developed, the habit of free writing can be a big help, including providing topics for new content and allowing you to create drafts quickly.

To develop this habit and use it for content creation, you should do nothing but write three pages of text every morning. Don’t try too hard. Simply allow your thoughts to flow, write quickly, and set some time limits.

I dared to try it after I had read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. While I’m a night owl, and it’s an act of bravery for me to wake up early, I was faithful in writing three pages of text every morning and even discovered the site 750 Words. Working and spending 8–10 hours at a computer regardless the day of a week, I supposed it would be easier for me to free write online.

The most helpful thing about this website was its analytics and charts about every piece I wrote:

750words_screenshot.png

It let me analyze my writing and see what I needed to change for faster and more accurate work: I decreased the number of distractions and the level of wateriness in my writing (the tool showed which words I used the most).

My final attempt to fall in love with free writing was a master class by one local artist. Armed with a pen, a notebook, and cappuccino, I was in a good mind to give free writing a chance…

She gave us three tasks:

  • “You have 5 minutes. Write about the latest problem that worried you and how you solved it.” It helped me realize what a slow writer I was. Five minutes wasn’t enough time for me to describe the problem, much less speak of the solution.
  • “You have 10 minutes and three topics. Choose one and write about it.” Mine was to take a phrase and begin a story with it. It taught me to start my writing with a hook, as it saved time and made me write faster.
  • “You have 15 minutes. Make a to-do list for 2016.” The trick was to write 100 items and avoid mentioning the same deed twice. It taught me to concentrate on my train of thought to avoid wateriness and save time for editing my writing afterward.

Now I use free writing when I need to come up with writing ideas. It saves time for brainstorming, and every free writing session gives me 2–3 ideas for future articles. Plus, I write faster now. (Yes, time frames matter.)

The moral of this story: free writing is a daily habit worth developing. Don’t give up. Just write.

This technique is a big hit today, and many tools have been developed to use it with comfort. Try 750 Words, Write or Die, or Written? Kitten!

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#3 — Drinking coffee

A daily habit of drinking coffee has its scientifically proven benefits, too:

  • Coffee stimulates productivity.
  • Coffee helps to stay more alert.
  • Coffee increases creativity and mood.

I’m a coffee addict, so I can say with full confidence that it helps with my content marketing endeavors. The trick is to know when and how much coffee to drink for better writing.

I drink two cups per day.

Although the perfect time is between 10 a.m. and noon, and between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., I take my first americano with milk on early mornings. It stimulates my workflow and gets me into the swing of writing.

My second cup comes between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. It works like a charging system to revive spirits and, therefore, support a sufficient level of productivity in the afternoon. After my second cup of coffee, I have the energy to research and write outlines for my content.

#4 — Plan everything in advance

Does your organized nature make your friends smile? Mine still don’t understand why I want to be ahead of the game and plan everything two or three months before deadlines.

This habit is my savior:

  • It leads to better and more organized research.
  • It sets time limits, stimulating you to write faster.
  • It lets you create content plans and schedule like a boss.

With that in mind, I’ve chosen Trello to make this habit of planning flourish. My favorite thing about this tool is its keyboard shortcuts that allow me to manage tasks with one click. Plus, I use its Google Drive integration and desktop notifications to share and edit content quickly, as well as remember deadlines for planning my time properly.

Besides Trello, Asana, Evernote, or Wunderlist are worth exploring as well.

#5 — Listening to music

This one is my favorite.

Working in an open-plan office with 14 people, half of whom regularly practice idle chitchat, I’ve found the perfect escape from frustration and, therefore, procrastination: music.

Music helps me concentrate on work, lowers my frustration, helps me write letter-perfect text, and speeds up my writing.

Listening to music in the office has also helped my writing accuracy.

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Image via Music Works For You infographic

Following the advice from Neil Patel on “youifying” content (I love that word), I use music to cheer up, gain inspiration, awaken creativity, and put me back on a productive track while writing my articles.

Listening to music also helps me save writing time:

  • It signals to others that they shouldn’t interrupt you. (Headphones work perfect for me!)
  • It stimulates thinking.
  • It makes writing more enjoyable. (Thank you, Karl Frierson!)
  • It raises efficiency. (Jazz is my #1 choice here.)

Numerous studies confirm music’s positive influence on productivity and efficiency at work. University of Birmingham, England shares that music makes repetitive work more enjoyable. And according to researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, music boosts moods and helps us focus.

(HubSpot shared six science-based playlists to choose from for listening at work.)

But when it comes to tasks requiring more brainpower, sounds of nature, songs without lyrics, or classical music seem to have the best impact on our productivity.

Are there any daily habits you use for writing content and organizing your time for better productivity? How do they work for you?

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August 11, 2016  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

An Essential Training Task List for Junior SEOs

Posted by DaveSottimano

Let’s face it: SEO isn’t as black & white as most marketing channels. In my opinion, to become a true professional requires a broad skill set. It’s not that a professional SEO needs to know the answer for everything; rather, it’s more important to have the skills to be able to find the answer.

I’m really pleased with the results of various bits of training I’ve put together for successful juniors over the years, so I think it’s time to share.

This is a Junior SEO task list designed to help new starters in the field get the right skills by doing hands-on jobs, and possibly to help find a specialism in SEO or digital marketing.

How long should this take? Let’s ballpark at 60–90 days.

Before anything, here’s some prerequisite reading:

Project 1 – Technical Fundamentals:

Master the lingo and have a decent idea of how the Internet works before they start having conversations with developers or contributing online. Have the trainee answer the following questions. To demonstrate that they understand, have them answer the questions using analogies. Take inspiration from this post.

Must be able to answer the following in detail:

  • What is HTTP / HTTPS / HTTP2? Explain connections and how they flow.
  • Do root domains have trailing slashes?
  • What are the fundamental parts of a URL?
  • What is “www,” anyway?
  • What are generic ccTLDs?
  • Describe the transaction between client and server?
  • What do we mean when we say “client side” and “server side?”
  • Name 3 common servers. Explain each one.
  • How does DNS work?
  • What are ports?
  • How do I see/find my public IP address?
  • What is a proxy server?
  • What is a reverse proxy server?
  • How do CDNs work?
  • What is a VPN?
  • What are server response codes and how do they relate to SEO?
  • What is the difference between URL rewriting and redirecting?
  • What is MVC?
  • What is a development sprint / scrum?
  • Describe a development deployment workflow.
  • What are the core functions that power Google search?
  • What is PageRank?
  • What is toolbar PageRank?
  • What is the reasonable surfer model?
  • What is the random surfer model?
  • What is Mozrank, Domain Authority, and Page Authority — and how are they calculated?
  • Name 3 Google search parameters and explain what they do (hint: gl= country).
  • What advanced operator search query will return: all URLs with https, with “cat” in the title, not including www subdomains, and only PDFs?
  • Describe filtering in search results, and which parameter can be appended to the search URL to omit filtering.
  • How can I Google search by a specific date?
  • If we say something is “indexed,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “canonicalized,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “indexable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “non indexable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “crawlable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “not crawlable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “blocked,” what does that mean?
  • Give examples of “parameters” in the wild, and manipulate any parameter on any website to show different content.
  • How should you check rankings for a particular keyword in a particular country?
  • Where are some places online you can speak to Googlers for advice?
  • What are the following: rel canonical, noindex, nofollow, hreflang, mobile alternate?(Explain each directive and its behavior in detail and state any variations in implementation)

Explaining metrics from popular search tools

  • Explain SearchMetrics search visibility — how is this calculated? Why would you see declines in SM graphs but not in actual organic traffic?
  • Explain Google Trends Index — how is this calculated?
  • Explain Google Keyword Planner search volume estimates & competition metric — is search volume accurate? Is the competition metric useful for organic?
  • Explain SEMrush.com’s organic traffic graphs — Why might you see declines in SEMrush graphs, but not in actual organic traffic?

Link architecture

  • By hand, map out the world’s first website — http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html (we want to see the full link architecture here in a way that’s digestable)
  • Explain its efficiency from an SEO perspective — are this website’s pages linked efficiently? Why or why not?

Project 2 – Creating a (minimum) 10-page website

If the trainee doesn’t understand what something is, make sure that they try and figure it out themselves before coming for help. Building a website by hand is absolutely painful, and they might want to throw their computer out the window or just install WordPress — no, no, no. There are so many things to learn by doing it the hard way, which is the only way.

  1. Grab a domain name and go setup shared hosting. A LAMP stack with Cpanel and log file access (example: hostgator) is probably the easiest.
  2. Set up Filezilla with your host’s FTP details
  3. Set up a text editor (example: Notepad++, Sublime) and connect via FTP for quick deploy
  4. Create a 10-page flat site (NO CMS. That means no WordPress!)
    • Within the site, it must contain at least one instance of each the following:
      • <div>,<table>,<a>,<strong>, <em>, <iframe>, <button>, <noscript>, <form>, <option>, <button>, <img>, <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <p>, <span>
      • Inline CSS that shows/hides a div on hover
      • Unique titles, meta descriptions, and H1s on every page
      • Must contain at least 3 folders
      • Must have at least 5 pages that are targeted to a different country
      • Recreate the navigation menu from the bbc.co.uk homepage (or your choice) using an external CSS stylesheet
      • Do the exact same as the previous, but make the Javascript external, and the function must execute with a button click.
      • Must receive 1,000 organic sessions in one month
      • Must contain Google Analytics tracking, Google search console setup, Bing webmaster tools, and Yandex webmaster tools setup
      • Create a custom 404 page
      • Create a 301, 302, and 307 redirect
      • Create a canonical to an exact duplicate, and another to a unique page — watch behavior

The site must contain at least one instance of each of the following, and every page which contains a directive (accompanying pages affected by directives as well) must be tracked through a rank tracker:

  • Rel canonical
  • Noindex
  • Noindex, follow
  • Mobile alternate (one page must be mobile-friendly)
  • Noarchive
  • Noimageindex
  • Meta refresh

Set up rank tracking

The trainee can use whatever tracking tool they like; https://www.wincher.com/ is /month for 100 keywords. The purpose of the rank tracking is to measure the effects of directives implemented, redirects, and general fluctuation.

Create the following XML sitemaps:

  • Write the following XML sitemaps by hand for at least 5 URLs: mobile, desktop, Android App, and create one desktop XML sitemap with hreflang annotations
  • Figure out how to ping Google & Bing with your sitemap URL

Writing robots.txt

  • Design a robots.txt that has specific blocking conditions for regular Googlebot, Bingbot, all user agents. They must be independent and not interfere with each other.
  • Write a rule that disallows everything, but allows at least 1 folder.
  • Test the robots.txt file through the Search Console robots.txt tester.

Crawl the site and fix errors (Use Screaming Frog)

Project 3 – PR, Sales, Promotion and Community Involvement

These tasks can be done on an independent website or directly for a client; it depends on your organizational requirements. This is the part of the training where the trainee learns how to negotiate, sell, listen, promote, and create exposure for themselves.

Sales & negotiation

  • Close one guest post deal (i.e. have your content placed on an external website). Bonus if this is done via a phone call.
  • Create & close one syndication deal (i.e. have your content placed and rel canonical’d back to your content). Bonus if this is done via a phone call.
  • Close one advertising deal (this could be as simple as negotiating a banner placement, and as hard as completely managing the development of the ad plus tracking)
  • Sit in on 5 sales calls (depending on your business, this may need to be adjusted — it could be customer service calls)
  • Sit in on 5 sales meetings (again, adjust this for your business)

PR

  1. Create a story, write a press release, get the story covered by any publication (bonus if there’s a link back to your original release, or a rel canonical)
  2. Use a PR wire to syndicate, or find your own syndication partner

Community involvement

  • Sign up for a Moz account and answer at least 15 questions in the forum
  • Sign up for a Quora account and answer at least 5 questions
  • Write 3 blog posts and get them featured on an industry website
  • Speak at an event, no matter how small; must be at least 10 minutes long

YouTube

  • Create a screencast tutorial, upload it to YouTube, get 1,000 views (they will also need to optimize description, tags, etc.)
  • Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXhmF9rjqP4 (that was my first try at this, years ago which you can use as inspiration)

Facebook & Twitter Paid Ads

  • On both networks, pay to get 100 visits from an ad. These campaigns must be tracked properly in an analytics platform, not only in FB and Twitter analytics!

Adwords

  • Create 1 campaign (custom ad) with the goal of finding real number of impressions versus estimated search volume from Keyword Planner.
  • Bonus: Drive 100 visits with an ad. Remember to keep the costs low — this is just training!

Project 4 – Data Manipulation & Analytics

Spreadsheets are to SEOs as fire trucks are to firefighters. Trainees need to be proficient in Excel or Google Docs right from the start. These tasks are useful for grasping data manipulation techniques in spreadsheets, Google Analytics, and some more advanced subjects, like scraping and machine learning classification.

Excel skills

Must be able to fill in required arguments for the following formulas in under 6 seconds:

  • Index + match
  • VLOOKUP (we should really be teaching people to index-match, because it’s more versatile and is quicker when dealing with larger datasets)
  • COUNTIF, COUNTIFS (2 conditions)
  • SUMIF, SUMIFS (2 conditions)
  • IF & AND statement in the same formula
  • Max, Min, Sum, Avg, Correl, Percentile, Len, Mid, Left, Right, Search, & Offset are also required formulas.

Also:

  • Conditional formatting based on a formula
  • Create a meaningful pivot table + chart
  • Record a macro that will actually be used
  • Ability to copy, paste, move, transpose, and copy an entire row and paste in new sheet — all while never touching the mouse.

Google Analytics

  • Install Google Analytics (Universal Analytics), and Google Tag Manager at least once — ensure that the bare minimum tracking works properly.
  • Pass the GAIQ Exam with at least 90%
  • Create a non-interaction event
  • Create a destination goal
  • Create a macro that finds a value in the DOM and only fires on a specific page
  • Create a custom segment, segmenting session by Google organic, mobile device only, Android operating system, US traffic only — then share the segment with another account.
  • Create an alert for increasing 404 page errors (comparison by day, threshold is 10% change)
  • Install the Google Tag Assistant for Chrome and learn to record and decipher requests for debugging
  • Use the Google Analytics Query explorer to pull from any profile — you must pull at least 3 metrics, 1 dimension, sort by 1 metric, and have 1 filter.
  • Create one Google Content Experiment — this involves creating two pages and A/B testing to find the winner. They’ll need to have some sort of call to action; it could be as simple as a form or a targeted click. Either way, traffic doesn’t determine the winner here; it’s conversion rate.

Google Search Console

  • Trainee must go through every report (I really mean every report), and double-check the accuracy of each using external SEO tools (except crawl activity reports). The point here is to find out why there are discrepancies between what SEO tools find and what Google Search Console reports.
  • Fetch and render 5 different pages from 5 domains, include at least 2 mobile pages
  • Fetch (only fetch) 3 more pages; 1 must be mobile
  • Submit an XML sitemap
  • Create https, http, www, and non-www versions of their site they built in the previous project and identify discrepancies.
  • Answer: Why don’t clicks from search analytics add up compared to Google Analytics?
  • Answer: How are impressions from search analytics measured?

Link auditing

  • Download link reports for 1 website. Use Google Search Console, Majestic, Ahrefs, and Moz, and combine them all in one Excel file (or Google Doc sheet). If the total number of rows between all 4 exports are over Excel’s limit, the trainee will need to figure out how to handle large files on their own (hint: SQL or other database).
  • Must combine all links, de-duplicate, have columns for all anchor texts, and check if links are still alive (hint: the trainee can use Screaming Frog to check live links, or URL Profiler)

Explore machine learning

Scrape something

  • Use at least 3 different methods to extract information from any webpage (hint: import.io, importxml)

Log file analysis

  • Let the trainee use whatever software they want to parse the log files; just remember to explain how different servers will have different fields.
  • Grab a copy of any web server access log files that contain at least the following fields: user-agent, timestamp, URI, IP, Method, Referrer (ensure that CDNs or other intermediary transactions are not rewriting the IP addresses).
  • Trainee must be able to do the following:
    • Find Googlebot requests; double-check by reverse DNS that it’s actually Googlebot
    • Find a 4xx error encountered by Googlebot, then find the referrer for that 4xx error by looking at other user agent requests to the same 4xx error
    • Create a pivot table with all the URLs requested and the amount of times they were requested by Googlebot

Keyword Planner

The candidate must be able to do the following:

  • Find YoY search volume for any given term
  • Find keyword limits, both in the interface and by uploading a CSV
  • Find the mobile trends graph for a set of keywords
  • Use negative keywords
  • Find breakdown by device

Google Chrome Development tools

The candidate must be able to do the following:

  • Turn off Javascript
  • Manipulate elements of the page (As a fun exercise, get them to change a news article to a completely new story)
  • Find every request Chrome makes when visiting a webpage
  • Download the HAR file
  • Run a speed audit & security audit directly from the development tool interface
  • Change their user agent to Googlebot
  • Emulate an Apple iPhone 5
  • Add a CSS attribute (or change one)
  • Add a breakpoint
  • Use the shortcut key to bring up development tools

Project 5 – Miscellaneous / Fun Stuff

These projects are designed to broaden their skills, as well as as prepare the trainee for the future and introduce them to important concepts.

Use a proxy and a VPN

  • As long as they are able to connect to a proxy and a VPN in any application, this is fine — ensure that they understand how to verify their new IP.

Find a development team, and observe the development cycle

  • Have the trainees be present during a scrum/sprint kickoff, and a release.
  • Have the trainees help write development tickets and prioritize accordingly.

Have them spend a day helping other employees with different jobs

  • Have them spend a day with the PR, analytics folks, devs… everyone. The goal should be to understand what it’s like to live a day in their shoes, and assist them throughout the entire day.

Get a website THEY OWN penalized. Heck, make it two!

  • Now that the trainee has built a website by hand, feel free to get them to put up another couple of websites and get some traffic pouring in.
  • Then, start searching for nasty links and other deceptive SEO tactics that are against the Webmaster Guidelines and get that website penalized. Hint: Head to fiverr.com for some services.
  • Bonus: Try to get the penalty reversed. Heh, good luck :)

API skills

  • Request data from 2 different APIs using at least 2 different technologies (either a programming language or software — I would suggest the SEMrush APIand Alchemy Language API). Hints: They can use Postman, Google Docs, Excel, command line, or any programming language.
  • Google APIs are also fantastic, and there are lots of free services in the Google Cloud Console.

Learn concepts of programming

Write 2 functions in 2 different programming languages — these need to be functions that do something useful (i.e. “hello world” is not useful).

Ideas:

  • A Javascript bookmark that extracts link metrics from Majestic or Moz for the given page
  • A simple application that extracts title, H1, and all links from a given URL
  • A simple application that emails you if a change has been detected on a webpage
  • Pull word count from 100 pages in less than 10 seconds

If I were to pick which technology, it would be Javascript and Python. Javascript (Node, Express, React, Angular, Ember, etc.) because I believe things are moving this way, i.e. 1 language for both front and back end. Python because of its rich data science & machine learning libraries, which may become a core part of SEO tasks in the future.

Do an introductory course on computer science / build a search engine

I strongly recommend anyone in SEO to build their own search engine — and no, I’m not crazy, this isn’t crazy, it’s just hard. There are two ways to do this, but I’d recommend both.

  • Complete intro to Computer Science (you build a search engine in Python). This is a fantastic course; I strongly recommend it even if the junior already has a CS degree.
  • Sign up to https://opensolr.com/, crawl a small website, and build your own search engine. You’ll go through a lot of pain to configure what you want, but you’ll learn all about Apache Solr and how a popular search technology works.

Super Evil Genius Bonus Training

Get them to pass http://oap.ninja/, built by the infamous Dean Cruddace. Warning, this is evil — I’ve seen seasoned SEOs give up after just hours into it.

These days, SEO job requirements demand a lot from candidates.

Employers are asking for a wider array of skills that range from development to design as standard, not “preferred.”

Have a look around at current SEO job listings. You might be surprised just how much we’re expected to know these days:

  • Strong in Google Analytics/Omniture
  • Assist in the development of presentations to clients
  • Advanced proficiency with MS Excel, SQL
  • Advanced writing, grammar, spelling, editing, and English skills with a creative flair
  • Creating press releases and distribution
  • Proficiency in design software, Photoshop and Illustrator preferred
  • Develop and implement architectural, technical, and content recommendations
  • Conduct keyword research including industry trends and competitive analysis
  • Experience with WordPress and/or Magento (preferred)
  • Experience creating content for links and outreach
  • Experience in building up social media profiles and executing a social media strategy
  • Ability to program in HTML/CSS, VB/VBA, C++, PHP, and/or Python are a plus
  • A/B and Multivariate testing
  • Knowledge of project management software such as Basecamp, MS Project, Visio, Salesforce, etc
  • Basic knowledge of PHP, HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Develop + analyze weekly and monthly reports across multiple clients

The list goes on and on, but you get the point. We’re expected to be developers, designers, PR specialists, salespeople, CRO, and social managers. This is why I believe we need to expose juniors to a wide set of tasks and help them develop a broad skill set.

“I’m a Junior SEO and my boss is making me do this training now, I hate you Dave!”

You might hate me now, but when you’re making a lot more money you might change your mind (you might even want to cuddle).

Plus, I’m putting you through hell so that….

  • You don’t lose credibility in front of developers (hint: these are the people who will have to implement your consulting). By using the correct terminology, and by doing parts of the work, you’ll be able to empathize and give better advice.
  • You don’t limit yourself to specific projects/tasks because of lack of knowledge/experience in other specialisms within SEO.
  • You will become a well-rounded marketer, able to take on whatever Google’s Algorithm of Wonder throws at you or jump into other disciplines within digital marketing with a solid foundation.

Feel free to ping me on Twitter (@dsottimano) or you can catch me hanging out with the DMG crew.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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August 10, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

An Essential Training Task List for Junior SEOs

Posted by DaveSottimano

Let’s face it: SEO isn’t as black & white as most marketing channels. In my opinion, to become a true professional requires a broad skill set. It’s not that a professional SEO needs to know the answer for everything; rather, it’s more important to have the skills to be able to find the answer.

I’m really pleased with the results of various bits of training I’ve put together for successful juniors over the years, so I think it’s time to share.

This is a Junior SEO task list designed to help new starters in the field get the right skills by doing hands-on jobs, and possibly to help find a specialism in SEO or digital marketing.

How long should this take? Let’s ballpark at 60–90 days.

Before anything, here’s some prerequisite reading:

Project 1 – Technical Fundamentals:

Master the lingo and have a decent idea of how the Internet works before they start having conversations with developers or contributing online. Have the trainee answer the following questions. To demonstrate that they understand, have them answer the questions using analogies. Take inspiration from this post.

Must be able to answer the following in detail:

  • What is HTTP / HTTPS / HTTP2? Explain connections and how they flow.
  • Do root domains have trailing slashes?
  • What are the fundamental parts of a URL?
  • What is “www,” anyway?
  • What are generic ccTLDs?
  • Describe the transaction between client and server?
  • What do we mean when we say “client side” and “server side?”
  • Name 3 common servers. Explain each one.
  • How does DNS work?
  • What are ports?
  • How do I see/find my public IP address?
  • What is a proxy server?
  • What is a reverse proxy server?
  • How do CDNs work?
  • What is a VPN?
  • What are server response codes and how do they relate to SEO?
  • What is the difference between URL rewriting and redirecting?
  • What is MVC?
  • What is a development sprint / scrum?
  • Describe a development deployment workflow.
  • What are the core functions that power Google search?
  • What is PageRank?
  • What is toolbar PageRank?
  • What is the reasonable surfer model?
  • What is the random surfer model?
  • What is Mozrank, Domain Authority, and Page Authority — and how are they calculated?
  • Name 3 Google search parameters and explain what they do (hint: gl= country).
  • What advanced operator search query will return: all URLs with https, with “cat” in the title, not including www subdomains, and only PDFs?
  • Describe filtering in search results, and which parameter can be appended to the search URL to omit filtering.
  • How can I Google search by a specific date?
  • If we say something is “indexed,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “canonicalized,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “indexable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “non indexable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “crawlable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “not crawlable,” what does that mean?
  • If we say something is “blocked,” what does that mean?
  • Give examples of “parameters” in the wild, and manipulate any parameter on any website to show different content.
  • How should you check rankings for a particular keyword in a particular country?
  • Where are some places online you can speak to Googlers for advice?
  • What are the following: rel canonical, noindex, nofollow, hreflang, mobile alternate?(Explain each directive and its behavior in detail and state any variations in implementation)

Explaining metrics from popular search tools

  • Explain SearchMetrics search visibility — how is this calculated? Why would you see declines in SM graphs but not in actual organic traffic?
  • Explain Google Trends Index — how is this calculated?
  • Explain Google Keyword Planner search volume estimates & competition metric — is search volume accurate? Is the competition metric useful for organic?
  • Explain SEMrush.com’s organic traffic graphs — Why might you see declines in SEMrush graphs, but not in actual organic traffic?

Link architecture

  • By hand, map out the world’s first website — http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html (we want to see the full link architecture here in a way that’s digestable)
  • Explain its efficiency from an SEO perspective — are this website’s pages linked efficiently? Why or why not?

Project 2 – Creating a (minimum) 10-page website

If the trainee doesn’t understand what something is, make sure that they try and figure it out themselves before coming for help. Building a website by hand is absolutely painful, and they might want to throw their computer out the window or just install WordPress — no, no, no. There are so many things to learn by doing it the hard way, which is the only way.

  1. Grab a domain name and go setup shared hosting. A LAMP stack with Cpanel and log file access (example: hostgator) is probably the easiest.
  2. Set up Filezilla with your host’s FTP details
  3. Set up a text editor (example: Notepad++, Sublime) and connect via FTP for quick deploy
  4. Create a 10-page flat site (NO CMS. That means no WordPress!)
    • Within the site, it must contain at least one instance of each the following:
      • <div>,<table>,<a>,<strong>, <em>, <iframe>, <button>, <noscript>, <form>, <option>, <button>, <img>, <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <p>, <span>
      • Inline CSS that shows/hides a div on hover
      • Unique titles, meta descriptions, and H1s on every page
      • Must contain at least 3 folders
      • Must have at least 5 pages that are targeted to a different country
      • Recreate the navigation menu from the bbc.co.uk homepage (or your choice) using an external CSS stylesheet
      • Do the exact same as the previous, but make the Javascript external, and the function must execute with a button click.
      • Must receive 1,000 organic sessions in one month
      • Must contain Google Analytics tracking, Google search console setup, Bing webmaster tools, and Yandex webmaster tools setup
      • Create a custom 404 page
      • Create a 301, 302, and 307 redirect
      • Create a canonical to an exact duplicate, and another to a unique page — watch behavior

The site must contain at least one instance of each of the following, and every page which contains a directive (accompanying pages affected by directives as well) must be tracked through a rank tracker:

  • Rel canonical
  • Noindex
  • Noindex, follow
  • Mobile alternate (one page must be mobile-friendly)
  • Noarchive
  • Noimageindex
  • Meta refresh

Set up rank tracking

The trainee can use whatever tracking tool they like; https://www.wincher.com/ is /month for 100 keywords. The purpose of the rank tracking is to measure the effects of directives implemented, redirects, and general fluctuation.

Create the following XML sitemaps:

  • Write the following XML sitemaps by hand for at least 5 URLs: mobile, desktop, Android App, and create one desktop XML sitemap with hreflang annotations
  • Figure out how to ping Google & Bing with your sitemap URL

Writing robots.txt

  • Design a robots.txt that has specific blocking conditions for regular Googlebot, Bingbot, all user agents. They must be independent and not interfere with each other.
  • Write a rule that disallows everything, but allows at least 1 folder.
  • Test the robots.txt file through the Search Console robots.txt tester.

Crawl the site and fix errors (Use Screaming Frog)

Project 3 – PR, Sales, Promotion and Community Involvement

These tasks can be done on an independent website or directly for a client; it depends on your organizational requirements. This is the part of the training where the trainee learns how to negotiate, sell, listen, promote, and create exposure for themselves.

Sales & negotiation

  • Close one guest post deal (i.e. have your content placed on an external website). Bonus if this is done via a phone call.
  • Create & close one syndication deal (i.e. have your content placed and rel canonical’d back to your content). Bonus if this is done via a phone call.
  • Close one advertising deal (this could be as simple as negotiating a banner placement, and as hard as completely managing the development of the ad plus tracking)
  • Sit in on 5 sales calls (depending on your business, this may need to be adjusted — it could be customer service calls)
  • Sit in on 5 sales meetings (again, adjust this for your business)

PR

  1. Create a story, write a press release, get the story covered by any publication (bonus if there’s a link back to your original release, or a rel canonical)
  2. Use a PR wire to syndicate, or find your own syndication partner

Community involvement

  • Sign up for a Moz account and answer at least 15 questions in the forum
  • Sign up for a Quora account and answer at least 5 questions
  • Write 3 blog posts and get them featured on an industry website
  • Speak at an event, no matter how small; must be at least 10 minutes long

YouTube

  • Create a screencast tutorial, upload it to YouTube, get 1,000 views (they will also need to optimize description, tags, etc.)
  • Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXhmF9rjqP4 (that was my first try at this, years ago which you can use as inspiration)

Facebook & Twitter Paid Ads

  • On both networks, pay to get 100 visits from an ad. These campaigns must be tracked properly in an analytics platform, not only in FB and Twitter analytics!

Adwords

  • Create 1 campaign (custom ad) with the goal of finding real number of impressions versus estimated search volume from Keyword Planner.
  • Bonus: Drive 100 visits with an ad. Remember to keep the costs low — this is just training!

Project 4 – Data Manipulation & Analytics

Spreadsheets are to SEOs as fire trucks are to firefighters. Trainees need to be proficient in Excel or Google Docs right from the start. These tasks are useful for grasping data manipulation techniques in spreadsheets, Google Analytics, and some more advanced subjects, like scraping and machine learning classification.

Excel skills

Must be able to fill in required arguments for the following formulas in under 6 seconds:

  • Index + match
  • VLOOKUP (we should really be teaching people to index-match, because it’s more versatile and is quicker when dealing with larger datasets)
  • COUNTIF, COUNTIFS (2 conditions)
  • SUMIF, SUMIFS (2 conditions)
  • IF & AND statement in the same formula
  • Max, Min, Sum, Avg, Correl, Percentile, Len, Mid, Left, Right, Search, & Offset are also required formulas.

Also:

  • Conditional formatting based on a formula
  • Create a meaningful pivot table + chart
  • Record a macro that will actually be used
  • Ability to copy, paste, move, transpose, and copy an entire row and paste in new sheet — all while never touching the mouse.

Google Analytics

  • Install Google Analytics (Universal Analytics), and Google Tag Manager at least once — ensure that the bare minimum tracking works properly.
  • Pass the GAIQ Exam with at least 90%
  • Create a non-interaction event
  • Create a destination goal
  • Create a macro that finds a value in the DOM and only fires on a specific page
  • Create a custom segment, segmenting session by Google organic, mobile device only, Android operating system, US traffic only — then share the segment with another account.
  • Create an alert for increasing 404 page errors (comparison by day, threshold is 10% change)
  • Install the Google Tag Assistant for Chrome and learn to record and decipher requests for debugging
  • Use the Google Analytics Query explorer to pull from any profile — you must pull at least 3 metrics, 1 dimension, sort by 1 metric, and have 1 filter.
  • Create one Google Content Experiment — this involves creating two pages and A/B testing to find the winner. They’ll need to have some sort of call to action; it could be as simple as a form or a targeted click. Either way, traffic doesn’t determine the winner here; it’s conversion rate.

Google Search Console

  • Trainee must go through every report (I really mean every report), and double-check the accuracy of each using external SEO tools (except crawl activity reports). The point here is to find out why there are discrepancies between what SEO tools find and what Google Search Console reports.
  • Fetch and render 5 different pages from 5 domains, include at least 2 mobile pages
  • Fetch (only fetch) 3 more pages; 1 must be mobile
  • Submit an XML sitemap
  • Create https, http, www, and non-www versions of their site they built in the previous project and identify discrepancies.
  • Answer: Why don’t clicks from search analytics add up compared to Google Analytics?
  • Answer: How are impressions from search analytics measured?

Link auditing

  • Download link reports for 1 website. Use Google Search Console, Majestic, Ahrefs, and Moz, and combine them all in one Excel file (or Google Doc sheet). If the total number of rows between all 4 exports are over Excel’s limit, the trainee will need to figure out how to handle large files on their own (hint: SQL or other database).
  • Must combine all links, de-duplicate, have columns for all anchor texts, and check if links are still alive (hint: the trainee can use Screaming Frog to check live links, or URL Profiler)

Explore machine learning

Scrape something

  • Use at least 3 different methods to extract information from any webpage (hint: import.io, importxml)

Log file analysis

  • Let the trainee use whatever software they want to parse the log files; just remember to explain how different servers will have different fields.
  • Grab a copy of any web server access log files that contain at least the following fields: user-agent, timestamp, URI, IP, Method, Referrer (ensure that CDNs or other intermediary transactions are not rewriting the IP addresses).
  • Trainee must be able to do the following:
    • Find Googlebot requests; double-check by reverse DNS that it’s actually Googlebot
    • Find a 4xx error encountered by Googlebot, then find the referrer for that 4xx error by looking at other user agent requests to the same 4xx error
    • Create a pivot table with all the URLs requested and the amount of times they were requested by Googlebot

Keyword Planner

The candidate must be able to do the following:

  • Find YoY search volume for any given term
  • Find keyword limits, both in the interface and by uploading a CSV
  • Find the mobile trends graph for a set of keywords
  • Use negative keywords
  • Find breakdown by device

Google Chrome Development tools

The candidate must be able to do the following:

  • Turn off Javascript
  • Manipulate elements of the page (As a fun exercise, get them to change a news article to a completely new story)
  • Find every request Chrome makes when visiting a webpage
  • Download the HAR file
  • Run a speed audit & security audit directly from the development tool interface
  • Change their user agent to Googlebot
  • Emulate an Apple iPhone 5
  • Add a CSS attribute (or change one)
  • Add a breakpoint
  • Use the shortcut key to bring up development tools

Project 5 – Miscellaneous / Fun Stuff

These projects are designed to broaden their skills, as well as as prepare the trainee for the future and introduce them to important concepts.

Use a proxy and a VPN

  • As long as they are able to connect to a proxy and a VPN in any application, this is fine — ensure that they understand how to verify their new IP.

Find a development team, and observe the development cycle

  • Have the trainees be present during a scrum/sprint kickoff, and a release.
  • Have the trainees help write development tickets and prioritize accordingly.

Have them spend a day helping other employees with different jobs

  • Have them spend a day with the PR, analytics folks, devs… everyone. The goal should be to understand what it’s like to live a day in their shoes, and assist them throughout the entire day.

Get a website THEY OWN penalized. Heck, make it two!

  • Now that the trainee has built a website by hand, feel free to get them to put up another couple of websites and get some traffic pouring in.
  • Then, start searching for nasty links and other deceptive SEO tactics that are against the Webmaster Guidelines and get that website penalized. Hint: Head to fiverr.com for some services.
  • Bonus: Try to get the penalty reversed. Heh, good luck :)

API skills

  • Request data from 2 different APIs using at least 2 different technologies (either a programming language or software — I would suggest the SEMrush APIand Alchemy Language API). Hints: They can use Postman, Google Docs, Excel, command line, or any programming language.
  • Google APIs are also fantastic, and there are lots of free services in the Google Cloud Console.

Learn concepts of programming

Write 2 functions in 2 different programming languages — these need to be functions that do something useful (i.e. “hello world” is not useful).

Ideas:

  • A Javascript bookmark that extracts link metrics from Majestic or Moz for the given page
  • A simple application that extracts title, H1, and all links from a given URL
  • A simple application that emails you if a change has been detected on a webpage
  • Pull word count from 100 pages in less than 10 seconds

If I were to pick which technology, it would be Javascript and Python. Javascript (Node, Express, React, Angular, Ember, etc.) because I believe things are moving this way, i.e. 1 language for both front and back end. Python because of its rich data science & machine learning libraries, which may become a core part of SEO tasks in the future.

Do an introductory course on computer science / build a search engine

I strongly recommend anyone in SEO to build their own search engine — and no, I’m not crazy, this isn’t crazy, it’s just hard. There are two ways to do this, but I’d recommend both.

  • Complete intro to Computer Science (you build a search engine in Python). This is a fantastic course; I strongly recommend it even if the junior already has a CS degree.
  • Sign up to https://opensolr.com/, crawl a small website, and build your own search engine. You’ll go through a lot of pain to configure what you want, but you’ll learn all about Apache Solr and how a popular search technology works.

Super Evil Genius Bonus Training

Get them to pass http://oap.ninja/, built by the infamous Dean Cruddace. Warning, this is evil — I’ve seen seasoned SEOs give up after just hours into it.

These days, SEO job requirements demand a lot from candidates.

Employers are asking for a wider array of skills that range from development to design as standard, not “preferred.”

Have a look around at current SEO job listings. You might be surprised just how much we’re expected to know these days:

  • Strong in Google Analytics/Omniture
  • Assist in the development of presentations to clients
  • Advanced proficiency with MS Excel, SQL
  • Advanced writing, grammar, spelling, editing, and English skills with a creative flair
  • Creating press releases and distribution
  • Proficiency in design software, Photoshop and Illustrator preferred
  • Develop and implement architectural, technical, and content recommendations
  • Conduct keyword research including industry trends and competitive analysis
  • Experience with WordPress and/or Magento (preferred)
  • Experience creating content for links and outreach
  • Experience in building up social media profiles and executing a social media strategy
  • Ability to program in HTML/CSS, VB/VBA, C++, PHP, and/or Python are a plus
  • A/B and Multivariate testing
  • Knowledge of project management software such as Basecamp, MS Project, Visio, Salesforce, etc
  • Basic knowledge of PHP, HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Develop + analyze weekly and monthly reports across multiple clients

The list goes on and on, but you get the point. We’re expected to be developers, designers, PR specialists, salespeople, CRO, and social managers. This is why I believe we need to expose juniors to a wide set of tasks and help them develop a broad skill set.

“I’m a Junior SEO and my boss is making me do this training now, I hate you Dave!”

You might hate me now, but when you’re making a lot more money you might change your mind (you might even want to cuddle).

Plus, I’m putting you through hell so that….

  • You don’t lose credibility in front of developers (hint: these are the people who will have to implement your consulting). By using the correct terminology, and by doing parts of the work, you’ll be able to empathize and give better advice.
  • You don’t limit yourself to specific projects/tasks because of lack of knowledge/experience in other specialisms within SEO.
  • You will become a well-rounded marketer, able to take on whatever Google’s Algorithm of Wonder throws at you or jump into other disciplines within digital marketing with a solid foundation.

Feel free to ping me on Twitter (@dsottimano) or you can catch me hanging out with the DMG crew.

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Moz Blog

August 10, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Giving Duplicate Listing Management the Upgrade it Deserves

Posted by George-Freitag

Duplicate listings have been a plague to local search marketers since local search was a thing. When Moz Local first introduced duplicate closure in the fall of 2014, the goal was to address the horribly time-consuming task of finding and closing all those duplicate listings causing problems in Google, Bing, and various mapping platforms. Though we’ve consistently been making improvements to the tool’s performance (we’ll get into this later), the dashboard itself has remained largely unchanged.

Not anymore. Today, we’re proud to announce our brand new duplicate management dashboard for Moz Local:

Here’s a rundown of the features you can look for in the Moz Local upgrade:

  1. New Duplicates Dashboard providing full visibility and transparency of duplicate listings at each stage of the workflow — open, reviewed, and closed — for all of your listings or any subset
  2. Enhanced duplicates workflow making detecting, reviewing, and closing duplicate listings in Moz Local even easier through advanced filters
  3. Enhanced duplicate management for faster and more accurate duplicate listing detection, submission, and tracking across all of Moz Local’s partner networks

This duplicate management update represents a new standard in the industry and will help our users be more productive and efficient than ever.

A bit of context

Eliminating duplicates and near-duplicates on major data sources and directories has always been one of the most effective ways to increase your presence in the local pack. It’s a key part of citation consistency, which was rated as the second most important tactic for getting into local pack results according to the 2015 local ranking factors survey. On top of that, in last May’s Mozinar on local search, Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide mentioned that he saw a 23% increase in presence in the local pack just by addressing duplicates.

So we know that seeking and destroying duplicates works. The problem is that doing it manually just takes for-e-ver. Anyone who works in local search knows the pain and monotony of combing through Google for variations of a business, then spending more time finding the contact form needed to actually request a closure.

How duplicates cause problems for search engines

Our duplicate listing feature has always focused on easily identifying potential duplicates and presenting them to marketers in a way that allows them to quickly take action. In the case of the aggregators (like Infogroup and Localeze) and direct partner sites (like Foursquare and Insider Pages), this takes the form of single-click closure requests that are quickly reviewed and sent directly to the source.

For sites that aren’t part of our direct network or don’t accept closure requests from anyone, like Facebook, we still do our best to point our users in the right direction so they can close the listing manually. Originally, the dashboard took the form of a long list where marketers could scroll down and take action, as needed.

Though this worked great for many of our users, it quickly became problematic for large brands and agencies. Based on data collected from the thousands of brands and locations we track, we know that the average enterprise client can have around 3,500 duplicate listings and, in some cases, that number can be as high as 100,000 duplicates. Even though we estimate our tool can reduce the time spent managing duplicates by around 75%, when you have literally thousands of duplicates to parse through, a single to-do list quickly becomes impractical.

1. New dashboard for full transparency

The first opportunity we saw was to provide you with a bit more transparency into our closure process. Though we always provided some insight related to where we were in the closure process, there was no way to view this at an aggregated level and no way to see how many duplicates had been closed so you could track your progress.

So we fixed that.

Now all Moz Local customers can easily see how many duplicates are still marked as “open,” how many are being reviewed, and how many listings have been successfully closed. If you’re an agency or consultant, this can be especially useful to demonstrate progress made in identifying and closing duplicates for your clients. If you’re a brand, this can be a great way to build a business case for additional resources or show the value of your local strategy.

We also saw another opportunity to improve transparency by further breaking down the reporting by the type of data partner. Moz Local has always been very deliberate in surfacing the relationship we have with our partners. Because of this, we wanted to add another layer of insight based on the nature of the partnership.

Verification Partners include Google and Facebook, since they’re sources we use to verify our own data. Though we can’t close duplicates directly at this point, they’re so influential we felt it was imperative to include the ability to identify duplicates on these platforms and guide you as far as possible through the closure process.

Direct Partners are data sources that we have a direct relationship with and submit business listings instantly through our distribution service. For all major aggregators and most of our direct partner directories, you can use our single-click duplicate closure, meaning that all you have to is click “Close” and we’ll make sure it’s removed completely from their database, forever.

Lastly, we have our Indirect Partners. These are sources that receive all of our listing data via our direct partners, but we do not submit to directly. Though we can’t close listings on these sources automatically, we can still detect duplicates and send you directly to their closure form to help you request the closure.

2. Improve workflow through filters

The second opportunity was to address the long list-view that our users used to identify, evaluate, and take action related to duplicates we discovered. With so many of our clients having hundreds or thousands of listings to manage, it quickly became apparent that we needed some advanced sorting to help them out with their workflow.

So we added that, as well.

duplicate-listings-filter-feature.png

Now, if you only want to view the listings that need action, you can just click “Open,” then scroll down and choose to close or ignore any of duplicates in that view. If you then want to see how many duplicates have already been closed and removed from the data partner, you can just click that checkbox. If you want to only see the open duplicate listings for a certain partner, like Foursquare, that’s an option as well.

Further, just like everything else in the Moz Local dashboard and Search Insights, reporting strictly follows any filters and labels from the search bar. This can be especially useful if you’re an agency that wants to narrow your view to a specific client, or a brand that wants to only view reporting for a single marketing region.

For example, if you only want to see closed duplicates from Infogroup located in Texas that are part of the campaign “hanna-barbera” well, there you go.

All data in any filtered view is easily exportable via CSV so you can repurpose it for your own reporting or research.

Lastly, all of these reports are retroactive, meaning any duplicates you’ve requested closure or closed in the past will show up in the new duplicates dashboard and be available for advanced sorting and reporting.

3. Enhanced duplicate management

The new interface and reporting features aren’t the only things we’ve improved. Over the last year, our developers have been spending countless hours fine-tuning the duplicate closure process and improving relationships with our data partners.

Early on, the Moz Local team decided that the product should focus on the data sources that have the greatest impact for local businesses, regardless of their relationship with us, directly. As a result, we built the widest and most complex set of partnerships with aggregators, direct and indirect partners, and business directories in the industry. This update not only launches a new dashboard but also marks the kickoff for some huge improvements to our back-end.

Faster closure processing

The challenge that comes with working with a network as diverse as ours is that each of our partners handle duplicate listings in completely different ways. The Moz Local team has always had resources devoted specifically to work with our partners to improve our data submission and listing management processes. For duplicates, however, this meant we needed to help some of our partners enhance their own APIs to accept closure requests or, in some cases, create the API all together!

As part of this update, our development team has implemented new instrumentation and alerts to better identify submission errors sent to our partners, speed up the closure process, and quickly re-submit any closure requests that were not processed correctly.

Shorter review cycles

Additionally, we’ve shortened our internal review cycle for closure requests. In order ensure the quality of duplicate closures and to be sure our “alternates” feature isn’t being used maliciously, we manually review a percentage of closure requests. Through a variety of processes, we are now able to programmatically approve more closures, allowing for faster manual reviews of all other closure requests. As a result, we are now able to automatically approve around 44% of all closure requests instantly.

The future

The most exciting thing about this update is that it’s only the beginning. Over the next few months expect to see further integration with our data partners, discovery and progress notifications, increased closure efficiency, and more.

We hope you find our new duplicates dashboard useful and, most importantly, we hope it makes your lives a little bit easier.


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Moz Blog

August 9, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

​The Finalized MozCon 2016 Agenda & Congratulations MozCon Ignite Speakers!

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

All the puzzle pieces have come together, and MozCon 2016 is ready to rock! Over the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of peeking at our speakers’ outlines, and I cannot wait. Whether you’re looking to for the latest SEO information, ready to tackle mobile’s biggest issues, wanting to push your content to 10x, or generally wanting to absorb everything online marketing, it’s going to be so good.

If you’re reading this post and remembering you haven’t bought your ticket yet, I’ll pause:

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

Now let’s get to the good stuff:

The MozCon 2016 Agenda

Monday


08:00–09:00am
Breakfast


Rand Fishkin

09:00–09:20am
Welcome to MozCon 2016! with Rand Fishkin

Wizard of Moz
@randfish

Rand Fishkin is the founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. Rand’s an un-save-able addict of all things content, search, and social on the web.


Cara Harshman

09:25–10:10am
Uplevel Your A/B Testing Skills with Cara Harshman

Content Marketer and Storyteller at caraharshman.me
@caraharshman

A/B testing is bread and butter for anyone who aspires to be a data-driven marketer. Cara will share stories about how testers, from one-person agencies to dedicated testing teams, are doing it, and how you can develop your own A/B testing expertise.

Cara Harshman just celebrated her four-year anniversary at Optimizely. Besides managing content strategy, customer case studies, and the blog, she has been known to spend a lot of time writing parody songs for company all-hands meetings.


10:10–10:40am
AM Break


Lauren Vaccarello

10:45–11:15am
The Big One: Relaunching Your Website with Lauren Vaccarello

VP of Marketing at Box
@laurenv

Change makes us all nervous, and relaunching an entire site can be both thrilling and daunting. Lauren will walk you through how to do it right, from infrastructure and content to design, information architecture, and marketing automation, and share real life triumphs and cautionary tales.

Lauren Vaccarello is a best-selling author and currently runs corporate and field marketing at Box.


Justine Jordan11:15–11:45am
The Hidden Talents of Email: Creating Customer-Centric Messages with Justine Jordan

VP Marketing at Litmus
@meladorri

Far from dead, email is a powerful workhorse that belongs in every marketer’s optimization toolkit. Justine will show you how to use email to deliver personal, 1-to-1, and contextually relevant messages that delight your subscribers and encourage engagement.

After mastering table-based layouts in college, Justine Jordan fell in love with the unruly art of email design back in 2007. Currently VP of Marketing at Litmus, Justine and her team are passionate about inspiring fellow marketers to create better email.


Rhea Drysdale11:45am–12:15pm
How to Do Reputation Marketing with Rhea Drysdale

CEO at Outspoken Media
@rhea

Dig into the discipline of reputation marketing and strategy. Rhea will show you what the role of a reputation marketer looks like, what analytics to track, and why everyone should be investing in their organization’s reputation to diversify and reduce marketing spend and other high business costs.

Rhea Drysdale is the Co-Founder and CEO of Outspoken Media, a reputation marketing agency that offers custom solutions for difficult SEO, content, and reputation problems.


12:15–01:45pm
Lunch


Joe Hall

01:50–02:20pm
Rethinking Information Architecture for SEO and Content Marketing with Joe Hall

SEO Consultant at Hall Analysis LLC
@joehall

Information Architecture (IA) shapes the way we organize data, think about complex ideas, and build web sites. Joe will provide a new approach to IA for SEO and Content Marketing, based on actionable insights, that SEOs can extract from their own data sets.

Joe Hall is an executive SEO consultant focused on analyzing and informing the digital marketing strategies of select clients through high-level data analysis and SEO audits.


Talia Wolf

02:20–02:50pm
Breaking Patterns: How to Rewrite the CRO Playbook with Mobile Optimization with Talia Wolf

CMO at Banana Splash
@Taliagw

Best practices lie. Talia shares how to build a mobile conversion optimization strategy and how to turn more mobile visitors into customers based on A/B testing their emotions, decision making process, and behavior.

As CMO at Banana-Splash and Founder of Conversioner, Talia Wolf helps businesses optimize their sites using emotional targeting, consumer psychology, and real-time data to generate more revenues, leads, and sales. Talia is a keynote speaker, author, and Harry Potter fan.


Rob Bucci02:50–03:20pm
Taking the Top Spot: How to Earn More Featured Snippets with Rob Bucci

CEO at STAT Search Analytics
@STATrob

Featured snippets (also known as “answer boxes”) are steadily appearing in the first organic SERP spot, providing big opportunities for SEOs able to snag them. Armed with the latest data and analysis, Rob Bucci will take you on a deep dive into the constantly evolving featured snippet and show you how to earn more for your site.

Coming from Vancouver, Canada, Rob Bucci is the CEO of STAT Search Analytics. He especially loves tackling big data challenges in data mining and analysis. When he isn’t doing that, you can find him splashing in the ocean, or taking cookies out of the oven.


03:20–03:50pm
PM Break


Ross Simmonds

03:55–04:25pm
Content Chaos: Building Your Brand through Constant Experiments with Ross Simmonds

Co-Founder at Crate
@TheCoolestCool

A look at how taking risks on content and making investments can work out in a big way for brands and marketers. Whether it’s Reddit, Slideshare, Quora, or Instagram, Ross shares some of the lessons he’s learned from a variety of different content experiments.

Ross Simmonds is a digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur. He’s worked with both startups and Fortune 500 companies and is the co-founder of two startups: Crate and Hustle & Grind.


Dana DiTomaso

04:25–5:10pm
Social Media: People First, “Rules” Second with Dana DiTomaso

Partner at Kick Point
@danaditomaso

You can follow all the “rules” about perfect post length, perfect time to post, perfect image size, and everything else and still not see any financial impact from social media. Dana doesn’t think social media should always revolve around community building and group hugs. When you show the right people what they want to see, when they want to see it, you’ll start attributing revenue increases to social media efforts.

Dana DiTomaso is a partner at Kick Point, where she applies marketing into strategies to grow clients’ businesses, in particular to ensure that digital and traditional play well together — separating real solutions from wastes of time (and budget).


07:00–10:00pm

Monday Night #MozCrawl

Catch the pub crawl on Monday night, details coming soon! You’ll be able to explore some of our favorite haunts and make some new friends. Spread across multiple bars, go at your own pace and visit the stops in any order. Each stop is sponsored by a trusted partner and one by us. You must bring your MozCon badge — for free drinks and light appetizers — and your US ID or passport. See you there!

Official MozCrawl stops and partners coming soon.


Tuesday


08:00–09:00am
Breakfast


Dr. Pete Meyers

09:05–09:50am
You Can’t Type a Concept: Why Keywords Still Matter with Dr. Pete Meyers

Marketing Scientist at Moz
@dr_pete

Google is getting better every day at understanding intent and natural language, and the path between typing a search and getting a result is getting more winding. How often are queries interpreted, and how do we do keyword research for search engines that are beginning to understand concepts?

Dr. Pete Meyers is Marketing Scientist for Seattle-based Moz, where he works with marketing and data science on product research and data-driven content. He has spent the past four years building research tools to monitor Google, including the MozCast project.


Joanna Wiebe

09:50–10:20am
How to Be Specific: From-The-Trenches Lessons in High-Converting Copy with Joanna Wiebe

Creator and Copywriter at Copy Hackers
@copyhackers

Abstracted benefits, summarized value, and promise-free landing pages keep marketers safe — and conversion rates low. Joanna shares how and why your copy needs to get specific to move people to act.

The original conversion copywriter, Joanna Wiebe is the founder of Copy Hackers and Airstory. She’s optimized copy for Wistia, Buffer, Crazy Egg, Bounce Exchange, and Rainmaker, among others, and spoken at CTA Conf, Business of Software… and now MozCon.


10:20–10:50am
AM Break


Samuel Scott10:55–11:15am
Server Log Files & Technical SEO Audits: What You Need to Know with Samuel Scott

Director of Marketing and Communications at Logz.io
@samueljscott

Server log files contain the only data that is 100% accurate in terms of how Google and other search engines crawl your website. Sam will show you what and where to check and what problems you may to need to fix to maximize your rankings and organic traffic.

Samuel Scott is a global marketing speaker and Director of Marketing and Communications for log analysis platform Logz.io, as well as a contributor to TechCrunch and Moz.


Emma Still11:15–11:35am
Digital Marketing Skill Pivot: Recruiting New Talent with Emma Still

Marketing Lead at Seer Interactive
@mmstll

Torn between your marketing work and hiring? Emma shares how to take the skills you already have, flip them on their head, and find people to hire on your growing marketing teams. Spoiler: they’ve been under your nose the whole time.

Emma Still leads all Marketing efforts for Seer Interactive. Prior to that, she led a team of SEO professionals at Seer, where she leveraged her digital marketing skills to recruit team members to build stronger, more successful digital teams.


Alex Stein11:35–11:55am
Boost SEO Rankings by Removing Internal Links with Alex Stein

SEO Manager at Wayfair
@sonofadiplomat

Learn how to optimize internal link structure for an easy and surprisingly large SEO ranking wins. Alex will cover the math behind how authority flows through your site, how to evaluate links in your global navigation, common mistakes on CMSs, and other tactics to improve your site’s most important pages.

Alex Stein is currently SEO Manager at Wayfair.com, an online home goods store. Follow him on Twitter @sonofadiplomat for all things SEO, and he is, in fact, the son of a diplomat.


Robyn Winner11:55am–12:15pm
Improve Your UX & SEO through Navigation Optimization with Robyn Winner

SEO Manager at Hornblower Cruises and Events
@robyn_winner

Learn the tactics for creating a navigation that increases your organic visibility, streamlines user experience, and boosts conversion rates as Robyn walks you through the most important steps to getting your navigation in order.

Robyn Winner is a passionate SEOer with a deep love for data analytics, user experience optimization, content strategy development, and her two adorable cats who fill her life with joy and fur… on everything.


12:15–01:45pm
Lunch


Mike Ramsey

01:50–02:35pm
Local Projects to Boost Your Company and Career with Mike Ramsey

President at Nifty Marketing
@mikeramsey

Mike will walk through the projects that his individual team members took on to improve how they handled local links, reviews, reports, and lots of areas in between.

Mike Ramsey is the President of Nifty Marketing, which works with big brands and small businesses on digital marketing. He talks about running agencies, local search, and Idaho a lot.


Kristen Craft

02:35–03:05pm
Reimagining Customer Retention and Evangelism with Kristen Craft

Director of Business Development at Wistia
@thecrafty

True customer loyalty and retention lies in the experience people have with your brand. Kristen will show you how to leverage video to optimize for experience, foster loyalty, lower churn, and create evangelists.

As Director of Business Development at Wistia, Kristen Craft loves working with Wistia’s partner community, building connections with other companies that care about video marketing. Kristen holds degrees in business and education from MIT and Harvard.


03:05–03:35pm
PM Break


Rebekah Cancino

03:45–04:15pm
Optimizing the Journey to Deliver Radically Relevant Experiences with Rebekah Cancino

Co-Founder and Content Strategy Consultant at Onward
@rebekahcancino

How do you connect your search rankings to your long-term conversion rates? Customer journey mapping. Rebekah will show you how to bridge the gap between SEO, content, design, and UX with an effective framework your team can use to deliver radically relevant digital experiences when and where it matters most.

Rebekah Cancino spent the last decade helping clients, like Aetna and United Way, overcome some of their toughest content problems. Her consultancy offers workshops and training for in-house teams that bridge the gap between content, design, and technical SEO.


Wil Reynolds

04:15–05:00pm
Putting Trust into Domain Authority with Wil Reynolds

CEO/Founder at Seer Interactive
@wilreynolds

Domain Authority is a trust sentiment, not a pure numeric value. Wil will show real examples of sites that build authority and trust by understanding and then solving users’ problems. He’ll also give you practical ways to use Google SERPS to uncover the many ways to best solve these problem.

Wil Reynolds — Director of Strategy, Seer Interactive — founded Seer with a focus on doing great things for its clients, team, and the community. His passion for driving and analyzing the impact that a site’s traffic has on the company’s bottom line has shaped the SEO and digital marketing industries. Wil also actively supports the Covenant House.


07:00–10:00pm
Tuesday Night Networking: MozCon Ignite!

We’re thrilled to bring back MozCon Ignite: A networking and passion-talks event for attendees on Tuesday night from 7–10 pm at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. Here you’ll meet-and-greet your fellow Community members and hear them give five-minute talks about their hobbies and passion projects. Last year, we heard about everything from how to cook the perfect hot dog to what it’s like to lose your short-term memory. Leave that notebook in your hotel and settle in for some fun. Enjoy light appetizers, non-alcoholic drinks, and two alcoholic drink tickets on us. It’s going to be a blast! Speakers announced here.


Wednesday


09:00–10:00am
Breakfast


Kindra Hall

10:05–10:35am
The Irresistible Power of Strategic Storytelling with Kindra Hall

Strategic Storytelling Advisor at Kindra Hall
@kindramhall

Whoever tells the best story wins. In marketing, in business, in life. Going beyond buzzwords, Kindra will reveal specific storytelling strategies to create great content and win customers without a fight.

Kindra Hall is a speaker, author, and storytelling advisor. She works with individuals and brands to help them capture attention by telling better stories.


Mike Arnesen

10:35–11:20am
29 Advanced Google Tag Manager Tips Every Marketer Should Know with Mike Arnesen

Founder and CEO at UpBuild
@mike_arnesen

Google Tag Manager is an incredibly powerful tool and one you’re likely not using to its full potential. Mike will deliver 29 rapid-fire tips that’ll empower you to overcome the tracking challenges of dynamic web apps, build user segments based on website interactions, scale the implementation of structured data, analyze the consumption of rich media, and much more.

Mike Arnesen has been driven by his passion for technical SEO, semantic search, website optimization, and company culture for over a decade. He is the Founder and CEO of UpBuild, a technical marketing agency focusing on SEO, analytics, and CRO.


11:20–11:50am
AM Break


Tara Reed

11:55am–12:25pm
Engineering-As-Marketing for Non-Engineers with Tara Reed

CEO at AppsWithoutCode.com
@TaraReed_

Tara shares how to build useful tools like calculators, widgets, and micro-apps to acquire millions of new users, without writing a single line of code.

Tara Reed is a Detroit-based entrepreneur and founder of AppsWithoutCode.com. As a non-technical founder, she builds her own apps, widgets, and algorithms without writing a single line of code.


Kirsty Hulse12:25–12:55pm
Persuasion, Data, & Collaboration: Building Links in 2016 with Kirsty Hulse

Managing Director at Manyminds
@kirsty_hulse

Securing links can be tough, and it’s not about how creative or productive or smart we are, but how persuasive we are. Kirsty will walk you through how to get clients and managers to say yes to your best ideas, how to get interesting, affordable data, how to get experts to collaborate with you, and how to create outreach emails that compel people to cover your campaign.

Kirsty Hulse is the founder of Manyminds Digital, a digital marketing agency made entirely of expert, independent resource. With a decade’s experience, she has defined search strategies for some of the world’s leading brands.


12:55–02:25pm
Lunch


Cindy Krum

02:30–03:15pm
Indexing on Fire: Google Firebase Native and Web App Indexing with Cindy Krum

CEO and Founder at MobileMoxie, LLC
@suzzicks

In the future, app and web content will be indistinguishable, and Google’s new Firebase platform allows developers to use the same resources to build, market, and maintain apps on all devices, in one place. Cindy will outline how digital marketers can use Firebase to help drive indexing of native and web app content, including Deep Links, Dynamic Links, and Angular JS web apps.

Cindy Krum is the CEO and founder of MobileMoxie, LLC, and author of Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are. She brings fresh and creative ideas to her clients, and regularly speaks at US and international digital marketing events.


Sarah Weise

03:15–03:45pm
Mind Games: Craft Killer Experiences with 7 Lessons from Cognitive Psychology with Sarah Weise

UX Director at Booz Allen Digital Interactive
@weisesarah

How often are you asked to influence people to click a button? Buy a product? Stay on a page? We like to think of ourselves as logical, yet 95% of our decisions are unconscious. Sarah shares how to weave cognitive psychology concepts into your digital experiences. Steal these persuasive triggers to boost engagement, conversions, leads, and even delight.

Sarah Weise is UX Director at Booz Allen Digital Interactive. She has crafted experiences for hundreds of websites, apps, and products. Over the past decade, she has specialized in creative, lean ways to connect with customers and build experiences that matter.


03:45–04:15pm
PM Break


Rand Fishkin

04:20–05:05pm
Link Building’s Tipping Point with Rand Fishkin

Wizard of Moz
@randfish

Links still move the needle — on rankings, traffic, reputation, and referrals. Yet, some SEOs have come to believe that if we “create great content,” links will just appear (and rankings will follow). Rand will dispel this myth and focus on how to build the architecture for a link strategy, alongside some hot new tools and tactics for link acquisition in 2016.

Rand Fishkin is the founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. Rand’s an un-save-able addict of all things content, search, and social on the web.


07:00pm–12:00am
Wednesday Night Bash

There ain’t no party like a Moz party! It’s true. We invite all MozCon attendees to join us on Wednesday night until midnight at the Garage for pool, photos, bowling, karaoke, and more. Let’s relax and celebrate with all the new friends we’ve made.


Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

Congratulations to our MozCon Ignite speakers!

MozCon Ignite is quickly becoming one of our favorite evening events. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this Tuesday night MozCon event where our community comes together to share ideas, heartwarming tales, hilarious fun, and more about their lives outside of business and marketing. All in 5-minute stories. If you don’t know what Ignite is, check out this 5-minute Ignite talk about what Ignite presentations are. This year, MozCon Ignite will be at McCaw Hall, home of the Seattle opera.

Our lineup (in alphanumerical order):


Adam MelsonHelp! I Can’t Stop Sweating – Hyperhidrosis with Adam Melson

Seer Interactive
@adammelson

With a love for all things digital, Adam Melson works for Seer Interactive as a team lead and has been there for over eight years. Outside of work, Adam loves running, hanging around his wife and baby, and sweats. A lot. Many people have a sweating problem. He’ll go into that problem and solutions for it.


Adrian VenderLife Lessons Learned as a Special Needs Parent with Adrian Vender

Internet Marketing Inc
@adrianvender

Adrian Vender is a seasoned digital marketing and analytics consultant, currently acting as the Director of Analytics at IMI. Adrian has a passion for integrating technical solutions to marketing strategies to provide the best opportunity for campaign optimization. When Adrian decides to give up on working for the day, he can get lost in the world of Reddit or in quality family time.


Anneke Kurt GodlewskiHow Pieces of Paper Can Change Lives with Anneke Kurt Godlewski

Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC
@amkurt

After traveling and studying abroad in the Netherlands, Anneke Kurt Godlewski settled in Toledo not only to be close to family, but also because northwest Ohio has the most interesting and compassionate people, which has helped her career in community-based marketing and PR.

Anneke has been called an excellent cook (she’s just a great recipe-reader!), and she loves to take photographs, read, write, and give. She’s also a freelance writer and currently working on a memoir called The Curvy Catholic, which chronicles keeping faith after bad dates, self-acceptance issues, and crazy motherhood.


Caitlin BorodenPrison and a Girl that Loves Puppies with Caitlin Boroden

DragonSearch
@caitlinboroden

Caitlin Boroden is a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at DragonSearch in the beautiful Hudson Valley, NY. She is fascinated by SEO, photography, puppies, and has a slight addiction to Reddit.


Daisy QuakerMy Year of Fuck It! with Daisy Quaker

AMSOIL INC.
@daisyquaker

Daisy Quaker is an Online Marketing Manager at AMSOIL INC. She leads in-house SEO, online advertising, marketing automation, and lead nurturing efforts. She moonlights as co-founder at NezLab. NezLab specializes in Online Advertising (AdWords) audits that help clients maximize the return on their online ad campaigns. She also makes a mean curry and tries to get seven hours of sleep every night.


Ed FryA Plane Hacker’s Guide to Cheap *Luxury* Travel with Ed Fry

Hull.io
@edfryed

Ed Fry is a London-based marketer, employee #1 at inbound.org, and has just joined Hull.io as their first marketer. Outside of marketing, one of his favorite past times involves indulging in tea and scones at 35,000 feet.


Hannah CooleyEmbracing Awkward: The Tale of a 5′ 10″ 6th Grader with Hannah Cooley

Seer Interactive
@hccooley

Hannah Cooley is an SEO manager at Seer Interactive in San Diego. (Yes, she knows Wil Reynolds. No, she doesn’t have his personal phone number.) She may have been the most awkward 6th grader on earth, a phase that never quite went away.


Kevin SmytheHornets, Soba, & Friends: A Race in Japan with Kevin Smythe

Moz
@KevSmythe

Kevin Smythe is a trail runner based in Seattle. When not running in the mountains, he’s the controller at Moz, crunching numbers to provide balance to his life.


Lindsay Dayton LaShellWooly Bits: Exploring the Binary of Yarn with Lindsay Dayton LaShell

Diamond + Branch Marketing Group
@lindsaydayton

Lindsay Dayton LaShell is an experienced digital marketer, content strategist, and the founder of Diamond + Branch Marketing Group. She wishes she had six arms so that she could drink beer, scritch her dog, answer email, and knit a sock at the same time.


Lisa HuntFinding Myself in Fiction: LGBTQUIA Stories with Lisa Hunt

Moz
@gentlethorns

Lisa Hunt is a Moz Helpster: the first to be hired outside of the U.S. and part of our small UK team. Before moving into support, she worked in retail as the manager of a bookshop. She was very disappointed to learn that they don’t teach you to read in your first year at primary school and insisted that her mum teach her instead.


Michael CottamIs Your Family Time for Sale? with Michael Cottam

Visual Itineraries
@Michael512

Michael Cottam is an independent SEO consultant from Bend, Oregon. Michael’s a full-time single dad of 9-year old Benjamin, and when not saving clients from the wrath and whim of Google, he takes Ben traveling around the world and exploring the great outdoors.


Nadya KhojaHow to Start an Underground Restaurant in Your Home with Nadya Khoja

Venngage Inc.
@nadyakhoja

Nadya Khoja is the Director of Marketing for Venngage and online infographic maker. When she is not working on promoting the tool, she hosts trade-based dinner parties in her apartment in Toronto.


Sarah LivelyFlood Survival: Lessons from the Streets of ATL with Sarah Lively

Nebo Agency
@sarahinatlanta

Sarah Lively is a Senior SEO Specialist at Nebo Agency where she specializes in building online reputations and helping clients perfect their digital strategies. She is also considered to be an amateur meteorologist and spends most of her spare time studying rain patterns and hiding from storms.


Steve HammerHow a Cartoon Saved My Life with Steve Hammer

RankHammer
@Armondhammer

Steve Hammer is the co-founder and president of RankHammer, the 2015 US Search Awards small agency of the year. He’s best known for his love of Adwords scripts and eating better than most anyone in Internet marketing.


It’s going to be a blast! Thank you to everyone who tossed their hats in the ring. Seriously, it takes courage to try.

Hope to see you all at MozCon! Make sure to buy your ticket, as we sell out in advance every year.

Buy your MozCon 2016 ticket!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

August 8, 2016  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments



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