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How To Create Content Tagging Policies For News Publishers


How To Create Content Tagging Policies For News Publishers

September 2022 was one of the most turbulent months of recent times for news publishers.

The month started with the Helpful Content Update, which targeted low-quality, unhelpful content.

That was swiftly followed by the September 2022 Core Algorithm Update: one of Google’s broader updates, which overlapped with the September 2022 Product Reviews Update, targeting low-quality affiliate content (among other things).

For some of the biggest publishers in the game, this has caused major disruption, with publications like the Metro seeing a 40% decrease in visibility.

In an industry that often relies on fairly turbulent traffic sources such as breaking news stories and Google Discover, appropriate content tagging can provide the safety net in which traffic consistency can be somewhat more reliable.

I’ve been working with several large news publishers across entertainment, football, gaming, music, and healthcare this year, some of which attract tens of millions of users each month. They all seemed to be lacking in one particular area: content tagging.

Why Content Tagging Is Important For News Publishers

When used appropriately, content tagging can help to boost a publication’s organic performance massively. However, many publishers are getting it wrong. Three of the main motivations for optimizing content tagging are as follows.

Stronger Topical Authority

We know that with Google’s various updates, there’s a big focus on ensuring that websites that are a genuine authority for the user’s search query are ranked higher. For news publications, becoming an authority relies on a number of factors, such as author specialties, relevant backlinks, and expert content.

With content tagging, you can pull all your expert content on a particular topic into one place, making it easier for Google to crawl, find the connections between different articles, and understand just how authoritative your publication is in this area.

This means each article is directly supported by a tag page and multiple other relevant articles, giving Google more confidence in its topical authority.

Safety Net Of Consistent Organic Traffic

Tag pages can do much more than pull all of your articles together, though. They can actually become strong landing pages that rank for high-volume, generic keywords.

Due to the nature of tag pages being a central hub that can answer various questions on a specific subject, Google is more likely to rank a tag page within the normal organic listings (rather than Top Stories, etc.) for a high search volume generic query.

For example, when someone searches for “Love Island,” there isn’t a huge amount of context behind what the searcher is looking for about Love Island. By serving a tag page, Google gives the user a wider variety of content to consume, therefore increasing the likelihood of satisfying their search intent.

Using the Metro as an example, a quick look in Semrush shows tag pages potentially pulling in hundreds of thousands (and in many cases millions) of organic users each month.

Screenshot from Semrush, September 2022

And most of this tag page traffic, unsurprisingly, is coming from the high volume, generic keywords such as”‘Love Island”:

Metro traffic driving keywords

Screenshot from Semrush, September 2022

When the Metro also ranks in Top Stories for “Love Island,” they’re doubling the chances of capturing the click.

If they do happen to see a drop in organic performance for their Love Island articles, their site still has the safety net of the tag page to pull in the traffic from high-volume, generic keywords.

That is, if the tag page maintains rankings, of course.

What Can Happen Without A Tagging Policy

Having started working with a few large publications which haven’t properly implemented a tagging policy, I’ve seen firsthand how messy things can get when a tagging policy isn’t in place.

When not properly trained on the ins and outs of content tagging and how it relates to SEO, writers have added endless random tags to articles, creating masses of tag pages that offer no real benefit to the website.

From an SEO perspective, these are the issues this causes:

  • Wasted crawl budget: When large volumes of articles are created daily, alongside masses of new tag pages, this results in Googlebot (and other bots) wasting resources by crawling low-quality tag pages rather than the articles themselves.
  • Diluted topical authority signals: When tagging is overdone, you can end up with multiple tag pages which essentially focus on the same subject but spread the articles and topical authority across multiple tags. An example of this would be writing an article about Cristiano Ronaldo breaking his nose, then creating a tag page for “Cristiano Ronaldo,” “Cristiano Ronaldo nose,” “Cristiano Ronaldo broken nose,” and “Cristiano Ronaldo nose injury.” Really, we only need the “Cristiano Ronaldo” tag here, as the article itself will be targeting the “nose” related keywords. So, not only does the main “Cristiano Ronaldo” tag page have to compete with three other related tag pages, the article itself does, too.
  • Index bloat: When niche tag pages are created (such as “Cristiano Ronaldo nose” and “Cristiano Ronaldo nose injury”), they end up having just one article tagged, resulting in thin, low-quality tag pages being indexed, which end up being almost exact duplicates of each other.
  • Hardly any traffic or rankings for tag pages: When writers don’t know how to effectively tag content and optimize tag page performance, the tag pages just end up being a wasted opportunity, as they likely won’t rank or drive traffic.

When improper tagging has been done for a long time, the clean-up job is quite time-consuming and requires detailed analysis to ensure nothing of value is removed. Prevention is definitely better than the cure!

So, tag pages can act as the glue that holds relevant content together and as consistent, evergreen traffic drivers when article performance declines.

But how do you ensure your writers are united in an approach to tagging which benefits the site as a whole? Through tagging policies, of course!

How To Implement Tagging Policies For Writers

Every news publication that publishes content on multiple topics should have an appropriate tagging policy in place, but what should be included? And how should it be written? Below are the items I would advise publishers to focus on.

Create An Introduction To The Policy

Start with a one-paragraph explanation of why the policy is needed and what it aims to achieve. If tagging has been a historical issue for the site, then this is an opportunity to give examples of where things have gone wrong and why. This helps writers to understand the purpose of the policy.

Rule 1: Make Tags Generic Yet Relevant

As mentioned earlier, tags have real potential to rank for high search volume generic keywords, so they should ideally target just that!

You also prevent the risk of diluting topical authority signals through multiple niche tag pages, which all compete for similar keywords.

Rule 2: Use A Maximum Of X Tags Per Article

A good target for tagging is to have one or two tags per article (though this does vary for each publication).

That way, writers will be less likely to create multiple, similar tags, which helps to control index bloat and crawl budget efficiency.

Rule 3: Use Existing Tags Where Possible

Hopefully, your publication creates more than one story per topic, so ensure writers are searching for an appropriate existing tag before they start creating a new one.

Rule 4: Use Lowercase Text And No Special Characters

Depending on the system being used, tags that writers input with capital letters or special characters can end up being applied to the tag page’s URL, which isn’t ideal – and can, once again, result in duplicate tag pages being created (e.g.,/Cristiano-Ronaldo/ and /cristiano-ronaldo/) or just generally unoptimized and messy URLs.

Rule 5: Add Internal Links To Tag Pages From Articles

This one is important. While all of the other points relate to the creation of tagging pages, internal linking from articles is how you start to build up the authority of the tag page itself.

Writers should be linking to the article’s main tag page within the first paragraph if possible, and to other secondary tag pages within the rest of the article where possible.

Ensure You Are Providing Context

One of the main reasons writers end up not adhering to general rules around content tagging is that they simply haven’t been given the context behind why they should be doing things a certain way.

A publication’s SEO strategy relies on writers understanding how their efforts support that strategy, so ensure training is done to help them understand why tagging needs to be done a certain way (feel free to point them towards this article!).

The policies themselves should be simple documents that just outline the basic rules of tagging, almost like a checklist. Training should be provided with the introduction of these policies to provide the context, which can be done in video form to ensure everyone gets the exact same training.

General Tag Page Setup

Beyond the writer’s responsibilities, publication owners need to ensure they have the right technical setup to support the growth of tag pages, too. The following areas should be adequately addressed to support the writer’s efforts.

Convert Tag Pages To Landing Pages

Simple things like indexability need to be considered when setting up tag pages, as well as basic optimizations such as meta titles and descriptions, headers, and intro text.

Providing more detail than your competitors’ tag pages (bio information, introductory text with internal links to related tag pages, etc.) and ensuring that many tagged articles are made immediately available on the first page will also give you an advantage.

Break Content Up Over Multiple Pages

Pagination is an important consideration, and although Googlebot can crawl and index pages that utilize infinite scrolling, my preference would be to break content up over multiple pages, using pagination to make things simpler for Googlebot and avoid any potential issues with rendering, etc.

Add Tag Page Breadcrumbs To Articles

Although writers and editors are responsible for ensuring internal links to tag pages are included within the article’s body text, the technical setup of the page should ensure that the main tag page is linked to by default.

Add breadcrumbs to the top of each article that links to the main tag for that particular article. Article pages will often include a breadcrumb link to the main category (e.g., “Music”), but breadcrumbs also present a fantastic opportunity to promote tag pages.

Add Tag Page Breadcrumbs To Article Schema

Along with the physical breadcrumb link on the page itself, breadcrumb schema can be used within the Article or NewsArticle schema on the page to link to the tag page, giving Google another indication of the connection between the two pages.

Create A Tag Page XML Sitemap

Big news publications inevitably end up with multiple XML sitemaps, including a Google News sitemap and multiple other sitemaps for the masses of older articles, all stored within a sitemap index.

There is also a great opportunity to group tag pages together within their own sitemaps, which can be split out according to their category.

For example, “Artist” sitemaps for music publications, “Team” sitemaps for sports publications, etc., give Googlebot quick and easy access to these important pages.

Create HTML Sitemaps For Priority Tags

To make tag pages even more accessible to both crawlers and users, creating HTML sitemaps is a great way to ensure there are easily accessible internal links to all of your priority tag pages, which essentially become topic indexes.

Again, this might come in the form of an ‘Artists’ or ‘Teams’ page.


Publication owners need to lead by example when it comes to tagging, so by creating a technical setup that prioritizes tag page visibility and sharing a tagging policy that helps writers to understand what they should be doing – and why they should be doing it – everyone can work towards the same goal together.

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Featured Image: Zerbor/Shutterstock


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Microsoft Announces ChatGPT Capabilities Coming To Bing


Microsoft Announces ChatGPT Capabilities Coming To Bing

Microsoft announced today that it is bringing cutting-edge AI capabilities to its Bing search engine, with the addition of a new ChatGPT-like feature.

Microsoft revealed its plans for integrating ChatGPT at a private event held at its Redmond headquarters today, which centered around its partnership with OpenAI.

Unlike recent virtual events, this particular press conference was held in person and not broadcast online.

During the event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted the significance of this new feature and how it will revolutionize the way people interact with search engines.

“I think this technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category,” says Nadella.

Nadella proclaimed, “The race starts today,” and Microsoft is going to “move and move fast.”

The event attendees were given a sneak peek at the latest search experience, which Microsoft refers to as “your AI-powered copilot for the web.”

This new experience combines the all-new Bing search engine and Edge web browser, which are designed to complement each other.

Nadella explained that the new Bing would provide direct answers to questions and encourage users to be more creative.

He also stated that the current search experience is not working as efficiently as it should be, as 40% of the time, people click on search links and then immediately click back.

This clearly indicates that the search experience needs to be updated and improved. Nadella claims that the search engine user experience hasn’t changed in 20 years, and it’s time for Microsoft to adapt.

Introducing The New Bing

The new Bing is powered by a next-generation language model from OpenAI, which has been specifically customized for search purposes. It’s even more powerful than the ChatGPT model.

Microsoft has implemented a new way of working with OpenAI called the “prometheus model,” which enhances the relevancy of answers, annotates them, keeps them up to date, and more.

The search index has also been improved by applying the AI model to the core search algorithm, which Nadella calls the largest jump in relevance ever.

It runs on a new user experience with an expanded search box that accepts up to 1,000 characters. Examples shared during the event look exactly like recent leaks.

The new Bing includes a chatbot that behaves similarly to ChatGPT, allowing users to interact with Bing in a natural language.

Bing’s new ChatGPT-like feature will take it a step further by allowing users to have an actual conversation with the search engine, with the ability to follow up on previous questions and provide more context for their search.

The new Bing is now available for a limited preview on desktop, and anyone can try it out by visiting Bing.com and performing sample searches.

You can also sign up to be notified when it becomes more widely available.

The preview will be expanded to millions of users in the near future, and a mobile version will be available soon.

The New Edge Browser

The chat interface Microsoft demonstrated in Bing is available as a sidebar feature in Edge, allowing users to access it without navigating to the Bing website. The interface can run alongside any webpage and interact with it.

During a demonstration, the AI assistant in Edge could summarize a 15-page PDF with one click and even translate a code snippet from Stack Overflow into another programming language.

Another benefit of the Edge browser’s “AI co-pilot” is having it complete tasks for you, such as filling out forms and writing emails.

In Summary

Microsoft has made a substantial leap in search engine technology by integrating a ChatGPT-like feature in its Bing search engine.

The new Bing is powered by a next-generation language model from OpenAI, which takes key learnings and advancements from ChatGPT and GPT-3.5.

Bing with the AI co-pilot is now available for a limited preview on desktop, and a mobile version will be available soon.

Additionally, the chat interface will be available as a sidebar feature in the new Edge browser, which has the ability to summarize information, translate code, and even complete tasks.

Source: Microsoft

Featured Image: Poetra.RH/Shutterstock


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From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics


From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics

Conductor, a leading enterprise organic marketing platform, has acquired European-based competitor, Searchmetrics, to accelerate its expansion in the European market.

After acquiring ContentKing in 2022, the acquisition of Searchmetrics continues to strengthen Conductor’s position in the industry.

Seth Besmertnik, Conductor’s CEO and co-founder, said that the acquisition would bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and its shared customers:

“Searchmetrics has been a competitor almost since we started Conductor, with a strong data foundation and a powerful presence in the European market. We are excited to bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and to our now shared customers. Our goal is for customers to greatly benefit from this acquisition through delivery of more product value on a global scale.”


Matt Colebourne, the CEO of Searchmetrics, expressed his excitement for the company to join Conductor, calling it the “definitive global leader”:

“Conductor is indisputably the SEO space market leader. For years, we’ve admired their commitment to innovation for customers and their efforts to foster a dynamic and rewarding workplace culture for employees. By joining Conductor, we bring the best of what we do along with a large European customer base—solidifying Conductor as the definitive global leader. We cannot wait to build more for customers going forward.”


Ken Ogenbratt, Searchmetrics’s Chief Financial Officer, said the acquisition is a “pivotal step” for the SEO industry as the two companies move forward as partners with the opportunity to drive even greater value to customers.

With this acquisition, Conductor continues its commitment to creating a single, global platform that integrates all parts of the SEO workflow.

With Searchmetrics’ strong European presence and solid customer base, the acquisition will significantly accelerate Conductor’s growth in Europe.

Conductor has completed its second acquisition in a year with the purchase of Searchmetrics, which follows the company’s significant funding round from Bregal Sagemount in 2021.

This acquisition is seen as a sign of Conductor’s recent growth. It is expected to solidify its position as a leading player in the SEO space by incorporating the strengths of both companies for their shared customers.

Featured Image: dotshock/Shutterstock


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How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)


How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)

In 2015, Brian Dean revealed a brand-new link building strategy. He called it the Skyscraper Technique.

With over 10,000 backlinks since the post was published, it’s fair to say that the Skyscraper Technique took the world by storm in 2015. But what is it exactly, how can you implement it, and can you still get results with this technique in 2023?

Låt oss börja.

What is the Skyscraper Technique?

The Skyscraper Technique is a link building strategy where you improve existing popular content and replicate the backlinks. 

Brian named it so because in his words, “It’s human nature to be attracted to the best. And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest ‘skyscraper’ in your space… and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.”

Here’s how the technique works:

Three steps of the Skyscraper Technique

How to implement the Skyscraper Technique

Follow these three steps to execute the Skyscraper Technique.

1. Find relevant content with lots of backlinks

There are three methods to find relevant pages with plenty of links:

Use Site Explorer

Enter a popular site into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Next, go to the Best by backlinks report.

Best pages by backlinks report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows you a list of pages from the site with the highest number of referring domains. If there are content pieces with more than 50 referring domains, they’re likely to be good potential targets.


Ignore homepages and other irrelevant content when eyeballing this report.

Use Content Explorer

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is a searchable database of 10 billion pages. You can use it to find mentions of any word or phrase.

Let’s start by entering a broad topic related to your niche into Content Explorer. Next, set a Referring domains filter to a minimum of 50. 

We can also add:

  • Language filter to get only pages in our target language.
  • Exclude homepages to remove homepages from the results.
Ahrefs' Content Explorer search for "gardening," with filters

Eyeball the results to see if there are any potential pieces of content you could beat.

Use Keywords Explorer

Enter a broad keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Next, go to the Matching terms report and set a Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to a minimum of 40.

Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Why filter for KD? 

The reason is due to the method we use at Ahrefs to calculate KD. Our KD score is calculated from a trimmed mean of referring domains (RDs) to the top 10 ranking pages. 

In other words, the top-ranking pages for keywords with high KD scores have lots of backlinks on average.

From here, you’ll want to go through the report to find potential topics you could build a better piece of content around. 

2. Make it better

The core idea (or assumption) behind the Skyscraper Technique is that people want to see the best. 

Once you’ve found the content you want to beat, the next step is to make something even better

According to Brian, there are four aspects worth improving:

  1. Length – If the post has 25 tips, list more.
  2. Freshness – Update any outdated parts of the original article with new images, screenshots, information, stats, etc.
  3. Design – Make it stand out with a custom design. You could even make it interactive.
  4. Depth – Don’t just list things. Fill in the details and make them actionable.

3. Reach out to the right people

The key to successfully executing the Skyscraper Technique is email outreach. But instead of spamming everyone you know, you reach out to those who have already linked to the specific content you have improved. 

The assumption: Since they’ve already linked to a similar article, they’re more likely to link to one that’s better.

You can find these people by pasting the URL of the original piece into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and then going to the Backlinks report.

Backlinks report for ResumeGenius' how to write a resume, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows all the backlinks to the page. In this case, there are 441 groups of links.

But not all of these links will make good prospects. So you’ll likely need to add some filters to clean them up. For example, you can:

  • Add a Language filter for the language you’re targeting (e.g., English).
  • Switch the tab to Dofollow for equity-passing links.
Backlinks report, with filters, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Does the Skyscraper Technique still work?

It’s been roughly eight years since Brian shared this link building strategy. Honestly speaking, the technique has been oversaturated. Given its widespread use, its effectiveness may even be limited. 

Some SEOs even say they wouldn’t recommend it.

So we asked our Twitter och LinkedIn following this question and received 1,242 votes. Here are the results:

Pie chart showing 61% of respondents feel the Skyscraper Technique still works

Clearly, many SEOs and marketers still believe the technique works.


According to Aira’s annual State of Link Building report, only 18% of SEOs still use the Skyscraper Technique. It’s not a go-to for many SEOs, as it ranks #20 among the list of tactics. I suspect its popularity has waned because (1) it’s old and SEOs are looking for newer stuff and (2) SEOs believe that content is more important than links these days.

Why the Skyscraper Technique fails and how to improve your chances of success

Fundamentally, it makes sense that the Skyscraper Technique still works. After all, the principles are the same behind (almost) any link building strategy:

  1. Create great content
  2. Reach out to people and promote it

But why do people think it’s no longer effective? There are a few reasons why and knowing them will help you improve your chances of success with the Skyscraper Technique.

Let’s start with:

1. Sending only Brian’s email template

In Brian’s original post, he suggested an email template for his readers to use:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

<generic compliment>

It links to this post: http://post2

I made something better: http://post3

Please swap out the link for mine.

Unfortunately, many SEOs decided to use this exact template word for word. 

Link building doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If everyone in your niche decides to send this exact template to every possible website, it’ll burn out real fast. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now, if a website owner sees this template, chances are they’ll delete it right away. 


Judging by my inbox, there are still people using this exact template. And, like everyone else, I delete the email immediately.

I’m not saying this to disparage templated emails. If you’re sending something at scale, templating is necessary. But move away from this template. Write your own, personalize it as much as possible, and follow the outreach principles here.

Even better, ask yourself:

"What makes my content unique and link-worthy?”

2. Not segmenting your prospects

People link for different reasons, so you shouldn’t send everyone the same pitch. 

Consider dividing your list of prospects into segments according to the context in which they linked. You can do this by checking the Anchors report in Site Explorer.

Anchors report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can clearly see people are linking to different statistics from our SEO statistics post. So, for example, if we were doing outreach for a hypothetical post, we might want to mention to the first group that we have a new statistic for “Over 90% of content gets no traffic from Google.”

Then, to the second group, we’ll mention that we have new statistics for “68% of online experiences.” And so on. 

In fact, that’s exactly what we did when we built links to this post. Check out the case study here:


3. Not reaching out to enough people

Ultimately, link building is still a numbers game. If you don’t reach out to enough people, you won’t get enough links. 

Simply put: You need to curate a larger list of link prospects.

So rather than limiting yourself to only replicating the backlinks of the original content, you should replicate the backlinks from other top-ranking pages covering the same topic too.

To find these pages, enter the target keyword into Keywords Explorer and scroll down to the SERP overview.

SERP overview for "how to write a resume," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

In this example, most top-ranking pages have tons of links, and all of them (after filtering, of course) could be potential link prospects.

Pro tip

Looking for even more prospects? Use Content Explorer.

Search for your keyword, set a Referring domains filter, and you’ll see relevant pages where you can “mine” for more skyscraper prospects.

Referring domains filters selected in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

4. Thinking bigger equals better

Someone creates a list with 15 tools. The next person ups it to 30. Another “skyscrapers” it to 50, and the next increases it to 100.

Not only is it a never-ending arms race, there’s also no value for the reader. 

No one wants to skim through 5,000 words or hundreds of items just to find what they need. Curation is where the value is.

When considering the four aspects mentioned by Brian, don’t improve things for the sake of improving them. Adding 25 mediocre tips to an existing list of 25 doesn’t make it “better.” Likewise for changing the publish date or adding a few low-quality illustrations. 

Example: My colleague, Chris Haines, recently published a post on the best niche site ideas. Even though he only included 10, he has already outperformed the other “skyscraper” articles:

Our blog post ranking #3 for the query, "niche site ideas," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

He differentiated himself through his knowledge and expertise. After all, Chris has 10 years of experience in SEO. 

So when you’re creating your article, always look at any improvement through the lens of value:

Are you giving more value to the reader? 

5. Not considering brand

As Ross Hudgens says, “Better does not occur in a branding vacuum.”

För det mesta bedöms innehåll inte enbart efter dess kvalitet. Det bedöms också av vem det kommer ifrån. Vi upptäckte detta själva också när vi försökte bygga länkar till vår sökordsforskningsguide.

För det mesta läste folk inte artikeln. De länkade till oss på grund av vårt varumärke och vårt rykte – de visste att vi publicerade bra innehåll konsekvent, och de hade förtroende för att artikeln vi presenterade också var bra.

Med andra ord, det finns tillfällen där oavsett hur hårt du "skyskrapar" ditt innehåll, folk bara inte länkar till det eftersom de inte vet vem du är. 

Att ha ett eget personligt varumärke är viktigt nuförtiden. Men tänk på det: Vad är ett "starkt varumärke" om inte en konsekvent produktion av högkvalitativt arbete som människor tycker om? En ensam skyskrapa gör inte en stad; många av dem gör det tillsammans.

Vad jag säger är detta: Bli inte avskräckt om din "skyskrapa"-artikel inte får några resultat. Och bli inte avskräckt bara för att du inte har ett varumärke just nu – du kan arbeta med det över tid.

Fortsätt att skapa bra innehåll – skyskrapa eller inte – och resultat kommer om du litar på processen.

"Rom byggdes inte på en dag, men de lade tegel varje timme.” 

Slutgiltiga tankar

Skyscraper-tekniken är en legitim länkbyggande taktik som fungerar. Men det kan bara hända om du:

Några frågor eller kommentarer? Låt mig veta på Twitter.


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