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APRIL 27, 2017

Media Morphin Time: The Digital Marketing Evolution

By: ymarketing

Origins
The summer of ’93 was a big one for me. Clinton (Bill) was President of the United States. Jurassic Park just became the top-grossing movie of all time. Super Nintendo maintained its grip as the leader in the gaming space. And Fox launched a kids programming block, headlined by a “new” series called The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which, quickly became a 1990s pop culture phenomenon.

Something else happened in 1993, something that plays a big part in my current day-to-day: Global Network Navigator sold the first online ad to a Silicon Valley law firm.

The world’s a different place nearly 25 years later. Kind of… Hillary Clinton almost became President. Jurassic World peaked as the #3 top-grossing movie of all time. Nintendo made waves in the gaming space with its new hybrid console, Switch. And Saban’s Power Rangers movie debuted last month.

Those digital ads? They’re still around as well.

A Hero’s Journey
A 25-year span across any industry will always result in drastic transformation. This is especially true in advertising, thanks to the World Wide Web.

The digital space has blown up in a huge way. Traditional media has morphed as well. But why? Is it the natural progression of technology? Was it the recession that forced all advertising to be more trackable/accountable (which will naturally skew digital)?

I’m no screenwriter but I did stay at a Holiday Inn once, and the more I think about it the more I feel advertising took the script straight out of a Power Rangers episode.

It’s Morphin Time!

Cast
Range-1

As a Gen-Xer, I remember when people made sure to be home at 8pm on a Thursday night to watch Friends. Today, DVRs and chord cutting drive the TV landscape. TV remains king, but the way it’s planned and purchased from a media standpoint has drastically changed. TV has evolved into Advance TV, where non-TV planners and buyers can now purchase TV one of three ways: Connected TV (think Smart TV, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire), Programmatic TV (don’t think programmatic digital, but a more traditional way of buying TV through a web-based platform), and Addressable TV (think data segments and targeting by household and eventually by bedroom!).

It’s not a TV screen anymore – it’s a computer with a very large monitor!

Range-2

Consumer magazines hit their prime in the center of the first decade of the 21st century, just prior to the recession. Time, Inc., Hearst, Conde Nast, and Meredith were the big players. When the first iPad launched we started to get pitched on “digital magazines,” but that never really took off. Then, sadly, came recessions, followed by way too many print-publishing closures. Many saw the writing on the wall (or were forced to) and have adapted well by rebranding as a digital property. Complex, Sporting News, and Newsweek are good examples. With the expansion into apps, they all have another platform with which to engage their reader base.

As for those publishers who still print a magazine, it feels like there’s a resurgence geared towards categories for all thingsniche, with an emphasis on quality and imagery. Remember: you can’t always replace something tangible for something digital.
Range-3

AM/FM or Satellite? For the latter, it used to be Sirius vs. XM. With streaming, it’s Pandora vs. Spotify vs. iHeartRadio. In the past we would discuss the differences between radio and TV, i.e., MSAs vs. DMAs, formats vs. genres, :60 spots vs. :30s. Now the conversation is how we can onboard 1st or 3rd party data to run display/audio campaigns programmatically.
Range-4

Throughout my career, I’ve planned and purchased all flavors of out-of-home advertising: billboards, bus wraps, gas station tops, coffee sleeves… even sky writing! Despite the many options available to advertisers, the mainstay of outdoor media is the static billboard you see on the freeway. Have you noticed that many are more like a TV screen in that they alternate creative every few seconds? This isn’t limited to billboards. One can argue that the “digital” in digital billboards is not the same “digital” as online display, but it’s headed in that direction. Think of every movie you’ve seen that takes place in the future (Star Wars, Minority Report, Total Recall). Remember those interactive ads that seemed to reach out and move about the physical space? We’re not that far off…

With tracking technology, you can see how many people are viewing your advertisement at any given time. Thanks to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and beacons, these outdoor units can now interact with consumers, setting a new level of engagement.

Range-5

As mainly a digital shop, ymarketing works with all forms of digital: video (pre-roll, skippable, out-stream, verticals), banner (standard IAB, rich, HTML5, sequential, dynamic), native/sponsored content (in-feed, widgets), programmatic, mobile/apps, as well as all-things paid search that come with our preferred partnerships with Google, Bing, and Yahoo. That’s all great, but it’s the data behind those campaigns (the how/who/when we target) that elevates digital as the future king of media.

Range-6

Social. No explanation needed. We know how valuable this newest Ranger is to advertising.

Pitch
All media channels have morphed: television, print, radio, and outdoor going more digital, with digital itself pushing the boundaries of possibility. Each has become more powerful in how they’re planned, purchased, tracked, and optimized. They’re a byproduct of both the recession (Rita) and advancement of technology (Zordon). With the help of data-driven technology (Alpha 5), they fight the traditionalist world (evil space aliens) in order to introduce the new age of planning & buying: Tradigital.

Signing Off,

The Forgotten Brown Ranger

If you want an agency of tradigitally-adept rangers who can do it all, from display to paid search to advance TV, get in touch with us here.

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APRIL 6, 2017

Acquiring PPC Ad Grants for Nonprofits

By: ymarketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is not usually what comes to mind when marketing non-profits organizations (NPOs). However, with the little known Google and Bing charitable programs, marketers can really make an impact for these organizations.

Both Google and Bing offer programs that allow nonprofit organizations to run paid search advertising with significant in-kind media budgets. If the qualifications (outlined below) are met, NPOs can advertise on the top tier search engines to drive quality traffic to their website, recruit volunteers, and/or collect donations. With grants up to $10,000 in paid media per search engine, there is a real opportunity to make an impact for a good cause.

ymarketing has taken advantage of this opportunity for the NPO, University of the People. This online university provides affordable, accredited higher education to people all over the world. After acquiring grant money from both Bing and Google, ymarketing helped to deliver thousands of quality applicants to the University of the People website.

Here’s how to see if your organization (or client) qualifies for in-kind money from Google and/or Bing:

  1. Ensure that you (or your client) holds valid charity status. Please see the Google for Nonprofits site for definitions of charity status in your country as well as Microsoft’s terms of eligibility.
  2. Apply to Google for Nonprofits. And apply to Bing’s philanthropy partner Techsoup.
  3. Acknowledge and agree to both engines required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  4. Have a live website with substantial content.

Once the grant money has been accepted, your NPO will be able to manage the campaigns the same as any other SEM campaign with a few exceptions. Below are some of the restrictions that Google enforces for its nonprofit partners:

  • Ads will be entirely text-based (no videos or images).
  • Ads will appear only on Google search results pages in positions below the ads of paying advertisers.
  • All campaigns must be keyword-targeted.
  • The maximum cost-per-click (CPC) is $2.00 USD.
  • Nonprofit partners receive $10,000 USD (up to $40,000 USD for Grantspro participants) of in-kind AdWords advertising each month.

Some of these constraints can make it tough to spend the full allotment of grant money. Partnering with University of the People, ymarketing expanded their digital footprint by targeting additional countries around the world. Not only does this help drive new applicants, but also increases global brand recognition and awareness.

For more information on search engine marketing, or to see how ymarketing can help your business, get in touch with us.

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MARCH 9, 2017

yValues: Caring

By: ymarketing

[kair-ing]
verb

  1. To feel concern about
  2. To wish; desire; like

Hey there. I’m James Ninness, the Senior Copywriter at ymarketing. To now I’ve been writing the yValues series as ymarketing but this blog on our final value, caring, calls for a different approach. I’m going to write it as me, James. I’m a husband, father of three kids and two dogs, and an employee of ymarketing for about two years now.

I promise to be honest. You can trust me, I’m in advertising.

ymarketing cares about their employees.
Let’s chat benefits. They and pay are what keep we employees from constantly updating our LinkedIn profile as we look for hope elsewhere. There’s a certain bundle that most companies offer: paid time off, life insurance, health, vision, and dental insurance, 401k, etc. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but that’s a pretty basic offering. Companies that care do more.

There are a good many above-and-beyond perks offered here I could mention, but two are of particular note to me. The first is an enormous subsidy with a gym across the street that most of us could never afford: Equinox. Signing up for just the Newport Beach location runs the average dad-who-has-neglected-his-body at least the monthly due of $159 plus the $300 initiation fee. Thanks to ymarketing we pay a lot less (under $50, total).

“I care about many things in life. I care about my family, ymarketing, and the planet… I also care about the work that I do with this company. It’s important that I do my best so our customers get the best results. Caring motivates me. “ —Jose Quezada, Web Developer

My favorite benefit is Summer Fridays. After spring and before autumn the ymarketing team gets to leave work on Fridays after four hours of work, but we still get paid for the entire day. With a staff our size, that adds up quickly…

Culture is the second piece of the happy-employee puzzle. ymarketing is teeming with a diverse group of talented folks. It should be a challenge to keep all of those people from different backgrounds with varying worldviews happy, but it certainly looks easy here. The ymarketing employees are inundated with mini-celebrations for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, each with an abundance of food, drink, and games. We just celebrated Hot Sauce Day. It was delicious. Even when it’s not a “special day” the mood around the office is generally jovial. Memes are traded, laughter is heard, and teams mingle with one another in the break room, around the lunch tables, or in clusters at any given desk.

ymarketing cares about their home.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a lifestyle at ymarketing. Every single decision is dependent on its impact upon the environment. We recently won the Green Office Award from Hines, our building management company. This is not an easy thing to do, as there are a ton of requirements. I won’t list them all but to give you an idea, here are a few:
• “Replace end-of-life computer monitors with ENERGY STAR qualified liquid crystal display flat screen monitors.”
• “Angle all mini-blinds “up” at a 45-degree angle to prevent the sun’s radiant heat load from being transferred into the tenant space.”
• “Transition from paper products to compostable products such as corn-based or potato-based products if disposable plates, cups or bowls are necessary.”

CSR is about more than our environmental footprint. Most of the ymarketing leadership says they want to make a direct impact in our community. They mean it. In my time here I’ve seen two particular programs bloom despite the daily chaos of agency work.

“There’s no such thing as a great employee who doesn’t care about their work. There’s a sense of responsibility and ownership within every project: Make something you’re proud of!” —Rachel Krumwiede, Community Manager

FOCUS is the first program. I’ve already written about what FOCUS is and why we do it, but let me tell you what I’ve seen. When the sessions begin the kids young adults future billionaires show up a bit unsure… They’re excited to be here, but it’s a tad intimidating. By the end of their time with us, they’ve forged fast friendships with the volunteers who take the time to lead classes, answer questions, and challenge the students’ understanding of what it is a digital agency does.

PaStars is the other program. This one is the closest to my heart. Like FOCUS, I’ve already written about what PaStars is, but let me tell you what it does. I’ve volunteered for many shifts at the Boys & Girls Club and I look forward to it every week. Kids are excited, lined up down the hallway for some pasta. We feed them, talk to them, hang out with them, and sometimes help with homework. Each week a few of them help serve their peers (our sign-up sheet is loaded with names weeks in advance). They have fun. We have fun. It’s a blessing for all involved.

Remember: ymarketing pays for all of this. They pay for the tangible resources (pens, paper, aprons, etc.) and they foot the bill for their employees to serve the community. That’s rare and something to be proud of.

ymarketing cares about their clients.
ymarketing says, “Yes.” Look, stuff happens. Things rarely go to plan. Last-minute changes come, mistakes are occasionally made, and sometimes minds are changed and efforts must be redoubled to hit a deadline. I’ve worked at some places where workflows are not nimble, where course adjustments come at an incredible cost of both time and money on the parts of the client and agency. Not here. At ymarketing the entire team goes above and beyond to do what they can, when they can, for the people we’re working with. We bend (and yes, sometimes to the point of near-breaking) to get the job done right, on time, and always above expectation.

“We come to work because we care. This company is fun but more than anything we care for our clients. Everyone here is emotionally invested, which allows us to produce the highest quality work.” —Richard Varalla, Account Executive

ymarketing says, “No.” This may not seem like a sign of caring, but stay with me here… Some agencies and clients don’t work well together. The relationship just isn’t meant to be. Most times this regretful future can be avoided with an honest decline early on. Some agency actions are dictated by dollar signs and what should be an emphatic “No,” turns into a dribbled, “Sure.” Chaos ensues. Sometimes the best way for an agency to care for a company is to tell them that the pairing just isn’t a good fit.

A lot of companies claim to care. Few actually do. Even less do something about it. Whether you work with ymarketing as a part of the team, the community, or a client, you’re in luck. At least, that’s how I feel. And I’m not just saying that because they are paying me to write this blog, which they are.

Get in touch and find out for yourself.

 

 

 

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FEBRUARY 23, 2017

Headspace

By: ymarketing

Our office comes with a remote section near the windows lined with a few stand-up desks. These desks are ideal when looking for a distraction-free environment. In my effort to get to a stand-up desk to write this article, I was interrupted, disrupted, and stopped more times than I can count. I never made it.

Interruptions are commonplace in the fast-paced agency environment.

I was discussing this with a friend and she said, “Maybe you shouldn’t plan on being creative at work.” That’s crazy talk. I’m the Creative Director. The word creative is in my title. It’s why I’m here.

I spend a lot of time in meetings. Most of them are productive. Some require creative problem solving (brainstorming), some roadmapping, but many are administrative. There is little time left in the day for actual creativity. When not in meetings I am usually downloading various bits of information to the rest of my team.

The more I consider not being creative at work the more it starts to make sense.

When I need to work through something on a personal level I head to the trails on my mountain bike or go for a surf. I find nature. I leave all that is familiar and distracting behind. Being active outside clears my mind. I notice things like my breath and heartrate. I hear waves breaking, birds chirping, and the grind of tires on hard packed dirt.

I am present.

Seldom do I think about problems I should be working on (which is the intention). But afterward, when I am driving home from the beach or cleaning off my bike, solutions to those problems start to present themselves.

I find clarity. The noise is gone.

If my goal at work is to be available for meetings, to keep my team on fire, and our current project fresh, I need to be clear, empty, and focused. Planning to spend time in creative pursuits at work sets me up for frustration when the time just isn’t there. I feel unproductive. If I plan on not being creative at work, I am left disappointed, as I don’t accomplish my goals.

I, like so many creatives, believe that I work great under pressure. What that really means is that my forced, laser focus on an idea removes the unnecessary. While it is a form of being present, it can be a struggle and often results in walking away and returning to the idea. It can also mean pushing something else aside.

Clearing my headspace before and after work – and sometimes at lunch – allows me to be open for whatever the day holds. There will still be stress and demands on time and creativity, but the source of my perspective changes for the better.

Productivity requires creativity, but one must have the space for it.

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FEBRUARY 7, 2017

yValues: Smart

By: ymarketing

[smahrt]
adjective

  1. Quick or prompt in action, as persons
  2. Having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability
  3. Clever, witty, or readily effective, as a speaker, speech, rejoinder, etc.
  4. Dashingly or impressively neat or trim in appearance, as persons, dress, etc.
  5. Saucy; pert

This isn’t a particularly easy blog to write. Of the yValues series, this is the stickiest. Telling people you’re smart is…tricky. People like to be known as intelligent, but claiming that intelligence is more often seen as hubris than informative. We certainly think we’re smart, and the clients we partner with seem not to disagree, but how do we get that point across to you, dear reader, without coming across as, well, egomaniacs?

It’s a conundrum, to be certain. But that’s what we do, isn’t it? We solve problems. Let’s give this one a try.

“Our industry is dynamic. It is imperative that our team be, and remain, smart to provide cutting-edge insights to our clients day in and day out.” —Henry Crook, Media Planner

The sum total of ymarketing’s intelligence comes from its people. Those who bolster brands tend to define them, and ymarketing is no different.

Our team wasn’t just taught; they were forged. Professionals in their own right, each member of the ymarketing family stands alone as a pillar in their field. Most of our team comes with a long list of accomplishments from within their discipline, bringing with them an independent brand of their own.

Not every person who works here is a fully blossomed flower. Our team of experts is supplemented with new blood as we occasionally welcome hungry young minds to be trained, mentored, and crafted by the very experts previously mentioned. No person is an island at ymarketing, with each group rooted in tenure and seasoned with ambition.

“Smart teams make everything a little bit easier. I rely on them to do my best work. With faith in my team, we can solve any problem, get through any obstacle, and produce quality work. I am more excited about the work I do because I learn and grow with my teammates.” —Lonna Dayhoff, Sr. Account Executive

We are smart enough to know that we are not smart enough. There is no end to education. The marketing game changes often with new technologies, methodologies, mediums, and tools revealing themselves daily. It’s not enough to have a degree or some experience – we have to adapt, constantly, regardless of the particular field we are in. It’s one thing to know what the cutting edge of technology is, but it’s another to be able to utilize it.

ymarketing is fully invested in each person that works here, encouraging a constant flow of training, education, and understanding for all industries. Is there new software available for our Paid Media Team? Let’s send them to training. A rare conference with a hard-to-access creative wizard? Book the Creative Team a flight. We expect everyone on our team to continue sharpening his or her professional toolkit, and ymarketing is ready and able to help however possible.

“New technologies are rapidly accelerating the speed at which companies can go to market. Our clients can’t afford us to be anything other than smart and evolving.” —Mark Palmer, Sr. Analyst, Analytics & Insights

As Isaac Newton said, “Only my application brings me success.” Do you know what’s better than being smart? Using that intelligence towards an admirable goal. All the training in the world wouldn’t make the ymarketing team add up to much if we couldn’t make it worth our partners’ while. We are genuinely excited by strides in our disciplines, and anxious to leverage that momentum for our clients. We do this not only because it helps to maximize our partners’ top lines, but also because new toys are fun for us to play with.

Since, as we said, the marketing space changes daily, so to do the problems that come with it. With clients across multiple industry spaces, each of those problems requires a unique solution. Every day presents a new set of hurdles to vault. To overcome those challenges effectively we depend on smart people who like to be challenged. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty.

 

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JANUARY 26, 2017

2017 SEO Trends

By: ymarketing

The world of SEO is constantly changing. What SEO looks like in five years could be completely different than SEO today. What is true one year can depreciate by the next, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest industry happenings.

Let’s take a look at the trends in SEO for 2017:

Mobile Indexing
Google has begun testing on their mobile-first index, which means that their results will make mobile the primary consideration of their ranking algorithm. While Google has stated that their primary index will still be a single index of websites and apps, their algorithms will use the mobile versions of a site’s content to rank pages, understand structured data, and show snippets from those pages in the results.

Google stated that those without a mobile site don’t need to worry about ranking as they will use the desktop site instead. The only drawback is that if someone does not make their site mobile-friendly they will not enjoy the mobile-friendly ranking boost.

Per Google’s official post on this launch:

  • “If your content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, and your site is responsive or a dynamic serving site, you shouldn’t have to change anything.”
  • “If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making changes to your site.”
  • “Structured markup must exist on both the desktop and mobile version.”
  • “If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user-agent to view your site.”

Since Google is testing their mobile index it is likely to become their official index in 2017, including a primary focus on mobile users overall. In fact, as of this writing, the Google mobile-first index has been pushed live for certain subsets of users. Google’s move towards mobile signals a shift in SEO towards the optimization of websites for the mobile experience.

During the latest SEJ Summit in New York, Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, reinforced this idea, noting that it is important to focus on creating mobile-first content since mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches.

AMP and Page Speed
Google launched their new framework for enhancing page speed back in February of 2016. In an effort to curtail the ranking of sites that aren’t optimized, Google created a custom framework to ensure that all sites have the best-optimized page speed when loaded from their search results.

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, are a “spec to enforce the critical rendering path” as laid out in this presentation from Michael King, Managing Director of iPullRank Digital Marketing Agency. Alternatively, Ms. Ohye confirmed that it would be required to have HTTPS websites for PWAs (progressive web apps) and much of the AMP functionality on Google’s search results. She also confirmed that there are 150 million AMP pages currently in the Google index, with about 4 million new pages being created every week. This reinforces Ms. Ohye’s April 2016 SEJ Summit assertion that Google is “investing in AMP in a big way”.

An Increase in Website Implementations Featuring Sweeping Technical SEO Changes
Despite the rhetoric of some (see: “Why Modern SEO Requires No Technical Expertise”), good SEO does, in fact, require a great deal of technical expertise. Coding, code structure, website structure, optimizing site speed, and a deep understanding of several other topics are all required to be the most effective at SEO. One can concentrate on things like content and/or links alone if that’s preferred, but it is a mistake to think that those things make up SEO entirely.

Java

If the above graphic is any indication, JavaScript is not going away. In fact, more and more websites are using JavaScript in their implementations, like Angular JS and ReactJS (Facebook’s MVW framework). Per Mr. King, “although it has a built-in feature for making sure that it renders proper HTML, it’s still a framework one should know how to optimize for.” Though HTTP/2 is “fast as hell” there has been a slower adoption rate (compared to HTTP 1.1) among websites.

Some may say that SEO is not technical. To anyone seeking to reap the most benefits from their SEO work, the naysayers are wrong. The most technically savvy SEO folks will be at the forefront of a technical renaissance in 2017 – why not be with them? This is not to say that quality content takes a back seat to technical know-how. It will be important to get both content and technical SEO right in 2017 since they work hand in hand towards a synergistic power rankings relationship.

Entities Will Become Even More Important
According to a patent filed by Google, they are working on methods to associate entities with an actual search query. Upon the integration of this kind of search protocol, when a person enters a search query it will be more likely to return results that entities associated with the query. This means more accurate search results for users and these search results can end up associating other objects with the entity in question.

In 2017, Schema.org markup will become even more important and should be heavily considered for all SEO workflows (some industries will be heavily reliant on Schema.org markup compared to others). Not only is the individual markup important, but the markup’s relationships and how it defines entity-related items on websites as well. This will become even more crucial to get right when running SEO campaigns.

New TLDs Will Become a Big Thing
.com, .net, .org – these are all known as TLDs (top-level domains). For a while, they remained the TLD kings because they were all that most people were familiar with. In the past year, however, some TLDs have seen significant growth: .nba, .you, .shop, .nike, and .open to name a few. And TLDs like .zip, .cc, .gdn, .mov, and .buy have all seen a substantial increase of usage.

As more and more people become familiar with new TLDs it will be easier to use them. While they will become more popular they will probably not be as utilized as .com. This will make them much easier to use in nabbing new online sales from a marketing and SEO perspective. It is likely we will also see the emergence of new TLD markets as a result.

TLDs

As the research (and above image) shows, many domains are purchased to ensure that nobody else in a given competitive space snatches them. High trust flow and authority websites have not yet been created with these domains and there is no sign that these sites are in a development stage. It would be a good idea to check on this every few months to see just how the use of these newer TLDs is progressing.

What Should an SEO Campaign Look Like in 2017?
With the rise of mobile indexing, website owners should concentrate on making their sites more mobile-friendly, which includes AMP implementations. The mobile-first focus should help websites have a top-down development approach and take into account Google Analytics data. This development approach should include responsive designs rather than separate websites that use a .mobile subdomain. Proper implementation will allow one to modify content on the mobile site without ever touching the same content on a desktop site.

Technical SEO implementations should focus on improving site speed so that a website is faster than competitors in the same space. Development should be focused first and foremost on laying out code so that it is optimized as much as possible for both AMP and improving site speed.

Schema data types, relationships, and how they interact with one another should be a focus of optimization workflows, ensuring that the end result is increased proliferation throughout rich snippets showing up in Google search. In order to have the best possible results, it will be necessary to include research and optimization in Schema.org SEO campaigns, focusing workflows on accurate coding implementation.

Keeping up to date on the latest SEO technologies above will help any website be at the forefront of the industry, beginning with two major foundations: cross-device compatibility (with a mobile focus) and technical SEO. The more technical SEO gets, the more granularity can be expected, and the better SEO will be.

 

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