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A Complete Guide & Steps To Success

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A Complete Guide & Steps To Success


With more than 1 billion active users in 2022, the phenomenon that is TikTok has captured the attention of marketers and brands.

Since its start in 2016, the social media video-sharing platform has taken the digital world by storm and expanded into over 150 markets.

Despite this stellar growth and large audience base, TikTok advertising opportunities are still something of a mystery to many.

If you’re one of those sitting on the fence wondering if you should invest in TikTok ads, you’re not alone.

This TikTok ads guide for beginners can help you learn how this advertising platform works, how to get started with TikTok Business Manager, and the steps for creating a new campaign.

Plus, we’ve included some best practices and recommendations. Let’s get to it!

To TikTok Or Not?

Before considering running ads on TikTok, ask yourself – is my brand a good match for TikTok?

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Is my target audience even on TikTok?

Screenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

With a very young audience, TikTok is quite different from the likes of Facebook and Instagram.

In fact, it was reported that most users are under 30 years old, and Gen Z and Millennials represent the largest age groups of people using the app.

Besides, when we consider its global footprint, TikTok certainly benefits from widespread adoption worldwide, especially in the U.S., the Middle East, and Asia.

So if your products or services resonate with younger audiences and you have international aspirations, TikTok might be the biggest yet untapped opportunity for your brand.

That said, even if you run a smaller, local business, it’s possible to make TikTok ads work for you (more on that later), but for now, let’s look at how to get started with the advertising platform and what’s required to create your first ad campaign.

Check out this list of over 40 TikTok facts and statistics to learn more.

Step 1: Sign Up For A TikTok Business Manager Account

First, create a TikTok ad account.

Even if you already have a user account, this separate login is necessary to create ads.

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When you sign up, you will need to provide some basic information about yourself and your business.

Once this is completed and your account is confirmed, you will be ready to start using the self-serve platform.

Step 2: Create Your First Campaign

Once the above formalities are out of the way, the fun can begin!

Create your first campaign giving it a descriptive name, and choose between the objective options you are presented.

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Campaign objectives in TikTok are Awareness, Consideration, and Conversions.

 TikTok Ads Manager create campaignScreenshot from TikTok Ads Manager, April 2022

As the names go, these are pretty self-explanatory.

Choose Awareness if you would like to drive as much reach and visibility to your brand as your budget allows, or narrow down your targeting

Choose Consideration if you want likes and to grow your followers for a higher engagement through website traffic, app install, or video views.

But if your marketing goal is mostly to drive conversions, choose the Corresponding campaign objective.

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With the latter, you will need to ensure you have the TikTok pixel installed and configured to properly track and measure the success of your ads.

This is a necessary step, and very much the same as installing the Facebook pixel or any other tracking code on your website.

The TikTok algorithm will also use the pixel to optimize your campaign and help you achieve your goals.

For the campaign, budget options are either a daily budget or a lifetime budget.

Note that no matter which of these two options you choose, the minimum investment required to advertise on TikTok is $50.

Step 3: Create Your Ad Group(s) And Select Your Ad Placements

At this stage, you can choose to run your ads on one or multiple properties, including the suite of apps that are part of the TikTok network such as BuzzVideo and Pangle.

The easiest option to start with is auto-placement.

More advanced users can also choose fully manual and select the placements where they prefer to run the ads.

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TikTok create ad groupScreenshot from TikTok Ads Manager, April 2022

First-time and less experienced users can get started with auto-placement and let TikTok optimize and test different combinations based on the target objectives as the algorithm learns which options work best.

Leaning further on the automation, it is then possible to select the automated creative optimization.

Again similar to other platforms (think Google or Facebook, for example), TikTok lets users upload various assets and then build ad variations to test for finding the best performing combinations.

This is a great option for businesses lacking the resources for ad creation and testing, but possibly not for those who would rather keep more control and/or have strict brand guidelines to adhere to.

Audiences

For those familiar with Facebook Ads, ad group (the equivalent of Facebook ad sets) settings define the target audience(s), and the options are very much the same: Demographics (age and gender), location, device, behavior, and interest targeting.

TikTok Ads Manager demographicScreenshot from TikTok Ads Manager, April 2022

Some would argue that interests can be quite loose and broad and therefore not as precise (or refined) as what you have on Facebook, or that the list of interest categories to choose from is short and limited.

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However, we are sure that as TikTok’s advertising will keep evolving; options will increase and provide more value.

Customer Lists

Using customer lists, it’s possible (and often advisable) to create lookalike audiences for prospecting campaigns, while leveraging website traffic and engagement to set up custom audiences. Having the TikTok pixel installed and working is required.

Like any other form of push advertising, the time and effort you put into carefully crafting laser-targeted audiences and effective ads will pay off with better and more rewarding results.

So let’s look at what the options are when it comes to the creative.

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Step 4: Choosing the Right Ad Type and Building Effective Ads

TikTok offers a range of ad options, but not all are affordable to all advertisers; some are rather expensive and more suitable for larger brands.

In-feed Ads

These are the ads that will show within the feed on the user’s “For You Page” and natively integrate with it making them look more organic and less intrusive compared to some of the other formats.

Additionally, users can interact with these ads as they can like, share and leave comments.

TikTok For BusinessScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Brand Takeover Ads

Suited for brands looking to make an impression and with a budget that allows it, this ad is visually effective and memorable.

A Brand Takeover ad will show as soon as the user opens the app and visits a category with a short full-screen video for three to five seconds.

TikTok only allows one takeover per day per user to maximize the impact.

As mentioned, this comes at a cost. You will have to budget a minimum of $50,000 for it.

TopView Ads

Similar to a Brand Takeover ad, TopView ads will also show at the top of the user feed and are the first video users see when they open the app.

They also show on full-screen. However, they can be up to 60 seconds long.

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According to TikTok, TopView ads boost brand awareness and trigger interactions, with 72% of users saying they prefer TopView.

TikTok For Business Balenciaga adScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Hashtag Challenge

Branded hashtag challenges are ad formats that promote awareness and engagement, and encourage users to create content aligned with the brand’s products, services, and values.

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Hashtag ads are shown at the top of the discovery page and lead to a landing page on TikTok showcasing a collection of other videos from the challenge.

TikTok For Business Photosi adScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Branded Effects

Similar to other platforms, TikTok Branded Effects allow brands to create their very own stickers, lenses, and general effects that users can share and engage with the business using TikTok’s AR.

Branded Effects can last up to 10 days.

TikTok For Business slide featureScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Spark Ads

Spark ads are a native format that leverages existing posts and turns them into ads.

Brands can use their own organic posts, or posts made by creators, and all views, comments, shares, likes, and follows are attributed to the organic post.

Search Ads

As of the previous week, TikTok has started testing search ads – video ads with a ‘sponsored’ label displayed within the users’ search results.

Once you start running ads in search results, you may retrieve the search terms for the ads that converted and utilize those terms with high click-through rates as titles for your best-performing TikToks, to add value to your video advertisements.

While it is unclear if search ads are only for managed accounts, we do know this is an excellent opportunity to get in front of your target audience with high purchase intent.

Final Considerations

Now that we have quickly seen which ad formats are available to advertisers on TikTok let’s discuss what it takes to build a good and effective ad.

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We have seen that TikTok is quite a different platform from other social media networks, and as such, content creation and distribution must take those differences into account.

First, there is a strong sense of community within TikTok.

This is likely because a large majority of its users are part of a young generation that strongly resonates with authentic content.

These users want to engage with brands that are also authentic and share common values.

With that in mind, it is pivotal that the content advertised is natural and adds value to TikTok users.

Boosted organic posts, UGC, or sponsored creators’ content are all good options for businesses that treat the platform as a long-term investment and are willing to get started with TikTok ads.

With these TikTok ad basics, best practices, and recommendations under your belt, you’ll have a good leg up on the competition in TikTok advertising.

More resources: 

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Featured Image: maridart/Shutterstock





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A Complete Google Search Console Guide For SEO Pros

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A Complete Google Search Console Guide For SEO Pros

Google search console provides data necessary to monitor website performance in search and improve search rankings, information that is exclusively available through Search Console.

This makes it indispensable for online business and publishers that are keen to maximize success.

Taking control of your search presence is easier to do when using the free tools and reports.

What Is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free web service hosted by Google that provides a way for publishers and search marketing professionals to monitor their overall site health and performance relative to Google search.

It offers an overview of metrics related to search performance and user experience to help publishers improve their sites and generate more traffic.

Search Console also provides a way for Google to communicate when it discovers security issues (like hacking vulnerabilities) and if the search quality team has imposed a manual action penalty.

Important features:

  • Monitor indexing and crawling.
  • Identify and fix errors.
  • Overview of search performance.
  • Request indexing of updated pages.
  • Review internal and external links.

It’s not necessary to use Search Console to rank better nor is it a ranking factor.

However, the usefulness of the Search Console makes it indispensable for helping improve search performance and bringing more traffic to a website.

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How To Get Started

The first step to using Search Console is to verify site ownership.

Google provides several different ways to accomplish site verification, depending on if you’re verifying a website, a domain, a Google site, or a Blogger-hosted site.

Domains registered with Google domains are automatically verified by adding them to Search Console.

The majority of users will verify their sites using one of four methods:

  1. HTML file upload.
  2. Meta tag
  3. Google Analytics tracking code.
  4. Google Tag Manager.

Some site hosting platforms limit what can be uploaded and require a specific way to verify site owners.

But, that’s becoming less of an issue as many hosted site services have an easy-to-follow verification process, which will be covered below.

How To Verify Site Ownership

There are two standard ways to verify site ownership with a regular website, like a standard WordPress site.

  1. HTML file upload.
  2. Meta tag.

When verifying a site using either of these two methods, you’ll be choosing the URL-prefix properties process.

Let’s stop here and acknowledge that the phrase “URL-prefix properties” means absolutely nothing to anyone but the Googler who came up with that phrase.

Don’t let that make you feel like you’re about to enter a labyrinth blindfolded. Verifying a site with Google is easy.

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HTML File Upload Method

Step 1: Go to the Search Console and open the Property Selector dropdown that’s visible in the top left-hand corner on any Search Console page.

Screenshot by author, May 2022

Step 2: In the pop-up labeled Select Property Type, enter the URL of the site then click the Continue button.

Step 2Screenshot by author, May 2022

Step 3: Select the HTML file upload method and download the HTML file.

Step 4: Upload the HTML file to the root of your website.

Root means https://example.com/. So, if the downloaded file is called verification.html, then the uploaded file should be located at https://example.com/verification.html.

Step 5: Finish the verification process by clicking Verify back in the Search Console.

Verification of a standard website with its own domain in website platforms like Wix and Weebly is similar to the above steps, except that you’ll be adding a meta description tag to your Wix site.

Duda has a simple approach that uses a Search Console App that easily verifies the site and gets its users started.

Troubleshooting With GSC

Ranking in search results depends on Google’s ability to crawl and index webpages.

The Search Console URL Inspection Tool warns of any issues with crawling and indexing before it becomes a major problem and pages start dropping from the search results.

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URL Inspection Tool

The URL inspection tool shows whether a URL is indexed and is eligible to be shown in a search result.

For each submitted URL a user can:

  • Request indexing for a recently updated webpage.
  • View how Google discovered the webpage (sitemaps and referring internal pages).
  • View the last crawl date for a URL.
  • Check if Google is using a declared canonical URL or is using another one.
  • Check mobile usability status.
  • Check enhancements like breadcrumbs.
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Coverage

The coverage section shows Discovery (how Google discovered the URL), Crawl (shows whether Google successfully crawled the URL and if not, provides a reason why), and Enhancements (provides the status of structured data).

The coverage section can be reached from the left-hand menu:

CoverageScreenshot by author, May 2022

Coverage Error Reports

While these reports are labeled as errors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. Sometimes it just means that indexing can be improved.

For example, in the following screenshot, Google is showing a 403 Forbidden server response to nearly 6,000 URLs.

The 403 error response means that the server is telling Googlebot that it is forbidden from crawling these URLs.

Coverage report showing 403 server error responsesScreenshot by author, May 2022

The above errors are happening because Googlebot is blocked from crawling the member pages of a web forum.

Every member of the forum has a member page that has a list of their latest posts and other statistics.

The report provides a list of URLs that are generating the error.

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Clicking on one of the listed URLs reveals a menu on the right that provides the option to inspect the affected URL.

There’s also a contextual menu to the right of the URL itself in the form of a magnifying glass icon that also provides the option to Inspect URL.

Inspect URLScreenshot by author, May 2022

Clicking on the Inspect URL reveals how the page was discovered.

It also shows the following data points:

  • Last crawl.
  • Crawled as.
  • Crawl allowed?
  • Page fetch (if failed, provides the server error code).
  • Indexing allowed?

There is also information about the canonical used by Google:

  • User-declared canonical.
  • Google-selected canonical.

For the forum website in the above example, the important diagnostic information is located in the Discovery section.

This section tells us which pages are the ones that are showing links to member profiles to Googlebot.

With this information, the publisher can now code a PHP statement that will make the links to the member pages disappear when a search engine bot comes crawling.

Another way to fix the problem is to write a new entry to the robots.txt to stop Google from attempting to crawl these pages.

By making this 403 error go away, we free up crawling resources for Googlebot to index the rest of the website.

Google Search Console’s coverage report makes it possible to diagnose Googlebot crawling issues and fix them.

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Fixing 404 Errors

The coverage report can also alert a publisher to 404 and 500 series error responses, as well as communicate that everything is just fine.

A 404 server response is called an error only because the browser or crawler’s request for a webpage was made in error because the page does not exist.

It doesn’t mean that your site is in error.

If another site (or an internal link) links to a page that doesn’t exist, the coverage report will show a 404 response.

Clicking on one of the affected URLs and selecting the Inspect URL tool will reveal what pages (or sitemaps) are referring to the non-existent page.

From there you can decide if the link is broken and needs to be fixed (in the case of an internal link) or redirected to the correct page (in the case of an external link from another website).

Or, it could be that the webpage never existed and whoever is linking to that page made a mistake.

If the page doesn’t exist anymore or it never existed at all, then it’s fine to show a 404 response.

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Taking Advantage Of GSC Features

The Performance Report

The top part of the Search Console Performance Report provides multiple insights on how a site performs in search, including in search features like featured snippets.

There are four search types that can be explored in the Performance Report:

  1. Web.
  2. Image.
  3. Video.
  4. News.

Search Console shows the web search type by default.

Change which search type is displayed by clicking the Search Type button:

Default search typeScreenshot by author, May 2022

A menu pop-up will display allowing you to change which kind of search type to view:

Search Types MenuScreenshot by author, May 2022

A useful feature is the ability to compare the performance of two search types within the graph.

Four metrics are prominently displayed at the top of the Performance Report:

  1. Total Clicks.
  2. Total Impressions.
  3. Average CTR (click-through rate).
  4. Average position.
Screenshot of Top Section of the Performance PageScreenshot by author, May 2022

By default, the Total Clicks and Total Impressions metrics are selected.

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By clicking within the tabs dedicated to each metric, one can choose to see those metrics displayed on the bar chart.

Impressions

Impressions are the number of times a website appeared in the search results. As long as a user doesn’t have to click a link to see the URL, it counts as an impression.

Additionally, if a URL is ranked at the bottom of the page and the user doesn’t scroll to that section of the search results, it still counts as an impression.

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High impressions are great because it means that Google is showing the site in the search results.

But, the meaning of the impressions metric is made meaningful by the Clicks and the Average Position metrics.

Clicks

The clicks metric shows how often users clicked from the search results to the website. A high number of clicks in addition to a high number of impressions is good.

A low number of clicks and a high number of impressions is less good but not bad. It means that the site may need improvements to gain more traffic.

The clicks metric is more meaningful when considered with the Average CTR and Average Position metrics.

Average CTR

The average CTR is a percentage representing how often users clicked from the search results to the website.

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A low CTR means that something needs improvement in order to increase visits from the search results.

A higher CTR means the site is performing well.

This metric gains more meaning when considered together with the Average Position metric.

Average Position

Average Position shows the average position in search results the website tends to appear in.

An average in positions one to 10 is great.

An average position in the twenties (20 – 29) means that the site is appearing on page two or three of the search results. This isn’t too bad. It simply means that the site needs additional work to give it that extra boost into the top 10.

Average positions lower than 30 could (in general) mean that the site may benefit from significant improvements.

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Or, it could be that the site ranks for a large number of keyword phrases that rank low and a few very good keywords that rank exceptionally high.

In either case, it may mean taking a closer look at the content. It may be an indication of a content gap on the website, where the content that ranks for certain keywords isn’t strong enough and may need a dedicated page devoted to that keyword phrase to rank better.

All four metrics (Impressions, Clicks, Average CTR, and Average Position), when viewed together, present a meaningful overview of how the website is performing.

The big takeaway about the Performance Report is that it is a starting point for quickly understanding website performance in search.

It’s like a mirror that reflects back how well or poorly the site is doing.

Performance Report Dimensions

Scrolling down to the second part of the Performance page reveals several of what’s called Dimensions of a website’s performance data.

There are six dimensions:

1. Queries: Shows the top search queries and the number of clicks and impressions associated with each keyword phrase.

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2. Pages: Shows the top-performing web pages (plus clicks and impressions).

3. Countries: Top countries (plus clicks and impressions).

4. Devices: Shows the top devices, segmented into mobile, desktop, and tablet.

5. Search Appearance: This shows the different kinds of rich results that the site was displayed in. It also tells if Google displayed the site using Web Light results and video results, plus the associated clicks and impressions data. Web Light results are results that are optimized for very slow devices.

6. Dates: The dates tab organizes the clicks and impressions by date. The clicks and impressions can be sorted in descending or ascending order.

Keywords

The keywords are displayed in the Queries as one of the dimensions of the Performance Report (as noted above). The queries report shows the top 1,000 search queries that resulted in traffic.

Of particular interest are the low-performing queries.

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Some of those queries display low quantities of traffic because they are rare, what is known as long-tail traffic.

But, others are search queries that result from webpages that could need improvement, perhaps it could be in need of more internal links, or it could be a sign that the keyword phrase deserves its own webpage.

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It’s always a good idea to review the low-performing keywords because some of them may be quick wins that, when the issue is addressed, can result in significantly increased traffic.

Links

Search Console offers a list of all links pointing to the website.

However, it’s important to point out that the links report does not represent links that are helping the site rank.

It simply reports all links pointing to the website.

This means that the list includes links that are not helping the site rank. That explains why the report may show links that have a nofollow link attribute on them.

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The Links report is accessible  from the bottom of the left-hand menu:

Links reportScreenshot by author, May 2022

The Links report has two columns: External Links and Internal Links.

External Links are the links from outside the website that points to the website.

Internal Links are links that originate within the website and link to somewhere else within the website.

The External links column has three reports:

  1. Top linked pages.
  2. Top linking sites.
  3. Top linking text.

The Internal Links report lists the Top Linked Pages.

Each report (top linked pages, top linking sites, etc.) has a link to more results that can be clicked to view and expand the report for each type.

For example, the expanded report for Top Linked Pages shows Top Target pages, which are the pages from the site that are linked to the most.

Clicking a URL will change the report to display all the external domains that link to that one page.

The report shows the domain of the external site but not the exact page that links to the site.

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Sitemaps

A sitemap is generally an XML file that is a list of URLs that helps search engines discover the webpages and other forms of content on a website.

Sitemaps are especially helpful for large sites, sites that are difficult to crawl if the site has new content added on a frequent basis.

Crawling and indexing are not guaranteed. Things like page quality, overall site quality, and links can have an impact on whether a site is crawled and pages indexed.

Sitemaps simply make it easy for search engines to discover those pages and that’s all.

Creating a sitemap is easy because more are automatically generated by the CMS, plugins, or the website platform where the site is hosted.

Some hosted website platforms generate a sitemap for every site hosted on its service and automatically update the sitemap when the website changes.

Search Console offers a sitemap report and provides a way for publishers to upload a sitemap.

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To access this function click on the link located on the left-side menu.

sitemaps

The sitemap section will report on any errors with the sitemap.

Search Console can be used to remove a sitemap from the reports. It’s important to actually remove the sitemap however from the website itself otherwise Google may remember it and visit it again.

Once submitted and processed, the Coverage report will populate a sitemap section that will help troubleshoot any problems associated with URLs submitted through the sitemaps.

Search Console Page Experience Report

The page experience report offers data related to the user experience on the website relative to site speed.

Search Console displays information on Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability.

This is a good starting place for getting an overall summary of site speed performance.

Rich Result Status Reports

Search Console offers feedback on rich results through the Performance Report. It’s one of the six dimensions listed below the graph that’s displayed at the top of the page, listed as Search Appearance.

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Selecting the Search Appearance tabs reveals clicks and impressions data for the different kinds of rich results shown in the search results.

This report communicates how important rich results traffic is to the website and can help pinpoint the reason for specific website traffic trends.

The Search Appearance report can help diagnose issues related to structured data.

For example, a downturn in rich results traffic could be a signal that Google changed structured data requirements and that the structured data needs to be updated.

It’s a starting point for diagnosing a change in rich results traffic patterns.

Search Console Is Good For SEO

In addition to the above benefits of Search Console, publishers and SEOs can also upload link disavow reports, resolve penalties (manual actions), and security events like site hackings, all of which contribute to a better search presence.

It is a valuable service that every web publisher concerned about search visibility should take advantage of.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: bunny pixar/Shutterstock



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