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SEO | Apr 19
Masooma Memon on October 9, 2020 (last modified on November 2, 2020) • 33 minute read
Homepage SEO can be challenging. But it’s not impossible.
With the right keywords used naturally and strategically in your copy, fast page loading speed, a great design, and a mobile-friendly site, you’ve almost hit homepage SEO nail on its head.
Too much to handle? Don’t you worry.
We’ve put together this checklist-style post to help you understand what you need to do to ace at SEO optimizing your homepage, which keywords to use, where to add them, and much more.
Overall, you’ll learn:
A good homepage is one that’s neatly designed, clutter-free, adequately answers the questions target visitors would have in their minds and has call to actions (CTAs) directing visitors to take the next step.
So that’s three important elements that make a good homepage:
There’s no hard and fast rule to how long your homepage should be. As long as your homepage sufficiently answers your site visitors’ questions and shares your services or product features, you are all good.
Here’s how your homepage should unroll:
Put simply, “Make sure the homepage is well thought of in terms of the content and the call to actions,” explains Divij Mehta of Websites ‘N’ More. “Be clear, concise, and try to gain the trust of the visitor. The aim is to engage the user and allow them to navigate through your website with ease as they shop for the product or service that you are trying to sell.
This will in turn result in good user experience and help you to rank your page on search engines as well.”
One last thing to remember: don’t write paragraphs after paragraphs of what you do or the benefits you offer. Instead, write succinctly but clearly. Keep it to the point and fluff-free.
And use enough whitespace in your homepage design to make it easy for visitors to read your copy.
Optimize your homepage for SEO by adding 3-4 industry-related keywords strategically and naturally. It’s important you include branded keywords (keywords that are searches made by your brand name) too.
Our expert contributors have a lot to share on what sort of keywords to add. For instance,
Rankable Co.’s Franco Colomba notes, “[Optimize] for service-based local keywords instead of national. Too many agency owners or individuals try to optimize for popular keywords such as ‘backlink building service, SEO backlinks, get backlinks, etc.’ and the reality is those keywords are to conversion based.
Everyone is competing for these types of keywords making them highly competitive. Instead keywords with a [location] + service approach work better. You can even see the difference in keyword tools and see what I’m referring too.
Keywords such as ‘SEO services in Florida or SEO south Florida’ are much better keywords to optimize for on your homepage. Since limited space and area is permitted for optimizing a homepage, you want to make the best use of a low competing keyword versus trying to stuff a high competitive one that you’ll never rank for.”
As for where to use these keywords, follow the checklist below.
Just keep in mind: don’t overstuff keywords so much so that your web copy starts sounding inhuman.
In this section, we’ve put together tips to SEO optimize your homepage from our expert respondents. We’ve also slipped in two bonus tips from our side in the end so you hit the homepage SEO mark right!
Here’s a quick checklist of all that you’ll need to do:
1. Optimize the title
2. Optimize the meta description
3. Optimize the H1 tag
4. Make sure you offer a good user experience
5. Revise your site Structure and navigation
6. Optimize homepage loading speed
7. Add proper structured data markup
8. Homepage content SEO
9. Add an SSL
10. Optimize your home page for the main keyword
11. Use branded anchors as your keyword tags
12. Focus on a subset of keywords
13. Optimize around branded terms
14. Add visual features of your blog posts
15. Create a clear, focused homepage
16. Homepage image SEO
17. Use SEO audit tools
18. Pay attention to your CTA
19. Optimize your logo
20. Check mobile-friendliness
Let’s dive into the detail now, shall we?
“Give your homepage an SEO friendly title,” suggests Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. “For example, if you’re in the SEO space and you want to rank for ‘best SEO blog’ you’d include that keyword in your site’s title, next to your brand’s name.
So when people link to your homepage, they’ll sometimes include your whole title as anchor text. So you get a bit of a boost there. Also, since homepages usually get the most links overall, yours can end up ranking for that keyword in the title.
I picked up this tip when I saw the title of Nathan Gotch’s (from gotchseo.com) website.
His homepage’s title is ‘Free SEO Training by Gotch SEO’
It’s obvious what keyword he’s targeting, especially when you look at his site’s meta description which mentions the words like ‘small businesses’ ‘SEO training and services’…”
Here are some suggestions you can follow for optimizing your homepage title tag:
“The title tag is one of the most commonly missed SEO elements on the homepage. Many companies think that simply using the same of their company as the title tag will suffice. This is not the case. The title tag needs to include target keywords that identify exactly what your business does,” Jasz Joseph, SyncShow.
“A strong keyword-heavy top of page anchor text/title is going to rank you higher and stronger for closely related searched key terms or what some call long-tail keyword searches!” Patrick Tanner, Missouri House Buyers.
“Too focused on keywords can make your title look too plain and dull. You need some creativity to make it more catchy and stand out. And don’t forget, it should be between 50-60 characters in length,” Andre Oentoro, Breadnbeyond.
“[Remember] to target a well-researched search term that will bring traffic to your website. Look for traffic volume, competition, and keep it relevant and used throughout the homepage copy text,” Andrew Witts, Studio 36 Digital.
“Be sure to use all 60 characters to offer a clear and unique description that incorporates your brand name and your most important business keywords. Don’t keyword stuff though, make sure it reads natural for both customers and search engines,” Matt Zajechowski, Digital Third Coast.
“For local SEO the most important element for optimizing your homepage for SEO is a clear title that explains to customers what you do and where you do it. It should be extremely focused to the main niche you do and the main city/focus for where you’d like your homepage to rank. Never assume visitors know where you serve which is why the location is so important,” Jorge Sheffy, Loclweb.
“Your homepage is the most important to optimize because it receives the most traffic. Inexperienced SEOs will call the home page ‘home’ which is a total waste because Google already knows it is home, and it already has a good idea of your brand name because most URLs include the brand in the URL. So, avoid starting your SEO title tag on your homepage with ‘home’ or ‘brand name’ and instead start with your most profitable keyword such as ‘HVAC Calgary’ followed by the name of your business and location again.
For example, ‘HVAC Calgary – Wilson’s Heating and Air Conditioning Calgary AB’ instead. Make sure your page title and first headline start with ‘HVAC Calgary’ (or whatever phrase you have chosen) and for good measure sprinkle in a few more ‘HVAC Calgary’ throughout the text on your homepage,” Steve Yanor, Sky Alphabet Social Media.
One last thing to be mindful of according to FansRaise’s TJ Kelly: “The vast majority of homepage traffic (in most cases) comes from branded search. Optimize your homepage to rank #1 for your brand name and variants. It sounds redundant, but it’s crucial—imagine if your competitor outranked you for your own name! Stay focused on owning your own brand.”
“An important element in optimizing a site’s homepage is strong meta descriptions,” suggests Lilius’ Osiris Parikh.
Why? Parikh explains: “Judging that the small snippet is one of the first things SERPs see, it’s vital to write catchy descriptions that pull users in and boost on-page SEO.”
Kris Olin from Social Media Revolver shares a tip to write your meta description, “This tag should cover the essence of your entire website. It is like an elevator speech when someone asks you ‘What do you do for a living?’ …and you have to answer in one long sentence in a very short time.”
Summing up, Upgrow’s Mia Liang says, “One of the most important things you can do to optimize your homepage for SEO is making sure that you have an eye-catching and click-worthy meta tag and description. They’re often something that gets overlooked but they are as important as creating copy for ads.”
“H1 headers are a prime spot for keywords,” says AutoVerify’s Samantha Kohn “but if they don’t actually speak to the product or service you’re selling, the customers you’ve worked so hard to attract will likely leave. Finding the balance between a catchy, meaningful headline that includes high-value keywords isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial to your homepage SEO.”
However, keep in mind, “Don’t sacrifice messaging,” as Brooks Manley puts it. “Ensuring your top priority keyword is the first heading on the page might help you rank for it, but it’s not going to convert your visitors or leave a great impression. Work your keywords in while still hooking your user.”
For example, Dan Uyemura from PushPress shares, “At PushPress, we work with small local businesses (boutique gyms) and the ultimate homepage SEO hack is having an H1 tag, which includes your specialty and city name. For instance, a Yoga Studio in Chicago IL should have an H1 with literally ‘Yoga Studio in Chicago, IL’.
This signals the locality to google so you can get hit when someone searches ‘Yoga Studio near me’ (or any of the zillion variants or map searches similar)”
Stan Mead of Summit Home Buyers LLC sums this up, “Header tags should contain the keywords you want to rank for, and the subsequent text body should also contain those keywords. For example, if f you want to rank for the keyword, ‘we buy houses,’ that text should appear in an H1 tag, an H2 tag, and somewhere in the first paragraph of text.”
Want to learn about more other place to add keywords strategically? “You could search for testimonials from recent customers which have the keywords in place or set up a FAQ section addressing the pain points ensuring the keywords are placed naturally.
The idea is to have a homepage that talks about what your brand does and has enough text content to be considered long enough (>600 words), ”Akram Tariq Khan from YourLibaas shares.
PupDigital’s Daniella Pozzolungo shares another interesting tip for improving your homepage SEO: “Ensure you keep the user experience positive.” To this end:
Pranay A of TIZ also adds to this: “Keep it simple & clean. Use less & precise categories to define all the pages on website, so that the link juice flows evenly & also it’s easy for users to navigate through the pages. Don’t spam the footer with links, should be minimalistic usage but effective one which you can get to it by doing A/B experiment over the period of time.”
In short, “The best optimization of a homepage is simple,” in BrandExtract’s Chris Wilks’ words. “Provide the best user experience possible. Of course keywords help but ultimately, what’s going to give your site staying power in SERPs is a solid easily navigable user experience.”
“Ensure that all of the highest SEO potential pages are included in the main navigation menu of the homepage,” highlights Hunter Adams of Power Digital. “Just like a user, the search engine places more value in pages that are linked in the main navigation as it can find and crawl them much easier.”
Keeping this to the fore, understand what David Lewis of Kitchen Ambition advises, “When structuring your home page, think about how you can feature internal links to areas of your site that drive revenue. You want your site to be navigable for visitors, so that they can reach meaningful content while also providing Google with strong signals about what the most important pages on your site are.”
But there’s one thing that you shouldn’t neglect here: clean navigation.
Barbi Gardiner from Best Blog Tools talks about this: “I think the most important element for optimizing your homepage for SEO is having a clean navigation/menu structure. If you are intentional and careful with your site structure, you will create a site that achieves good results in search engine searches.
In fact, the fewer items in your navigation the better for search engine ranking. This is true because homepages have more sites linking to them than interior pages and, therefore, have more authority than interior pages. The authority of your homepage trickles down to the inner pages of your site.
If your homepage has too many links, this can negatively affect the authority passed down to your interior pages. This reduces the likelihood that your interior pages will rank.
The more concise and well thought out your navigation the more likely your site is to rank.”
Vapor Empire’s Edwin Rubio is also of the same opinion, “The most important element for optimizing your homepage is to have a clear navigation structure that allows users to find what they are looking for. This can range from finding a specific product or locating the ‘about us’ page, as long you are able to get from point A to point B with ease you will have no issues.”
There’s also another pro thing you can do to improve your homepage navigate and improve user experience. This one comes from one of our expert contributors, Sam Gooch from Kinsta. Gooch suggests: “Use the homepage as a hub to channel this value to your most important pages.
This can be done through navigation and footer links, which will spread some value around the site, but it’s also a good idea to summarize key sections or features on your site, with links to these from the main content of your homepage.
Limit the overall number of links on your homepage, since every additional link effectively dilutes the overall value each link can pass, meaning fewer, more powerful links to key areas of your website.”
Creating an easy to navigate homepage isn’t a tough nut to crack though. Vergouwen Media’s Bram Vergouwen shares, “At least the first 50% is common sense.”
Here’s Vergouwen explanation to this: “Logic. It might be the most important element for optimizing your homepage for SEO because so many people seem to get caught in either over-optimizing their homepage for search engines or not optimizing it at all because ‘there’s no point.’
If you make sure you have an intuitive navigation that allows visitors (and search engines) to reach all pages on your site either directly or indirectly, answer any questions visitors might have after landing on your home page (who are you? What do you do? etc.) and show your (company’s) best side by means of testimonials and reviews, you’ve already done very well.”
One last tip here comes from Rory Woodbridge of Whereby: “Be sure to include a link to your main products, landing pages or ‘money pages’ somewhere on the homepage, ideally the middle.
Google loves to index websites with a clear site structure. So if you can show that this is my homepage and this is what we are about and here are our main products – it ticks their boxes. You can send each customer to a specific landing page which is all about that product, then you are in a great place to maximize your SEO results.”
To tie it altogether, “Your homepage is the most precious SEO resource at your disposal. It will almost certainly have the best domain authority and the most links of any page on your site. Use the real estate wisely and only link to your most important pages, whether that means high-converting or high-traffic-driving pages. Don’t waste that link juice on low-value pages,” as per Shortlister’s Jakub Rudnik.
“Page speed is the MOST important element for optimizing a homepage for SEO,” notes Company Man Studios’ Joe Fortunato. “You can have perfect copy, all the right tags, beautiful images, and top of the line video…but if the user has to wait 10+ seconds for your page to load, they’ll be hitting the back button and clicking on the next result in the SERPs.”
Jessica Campos of Marketing For Greatness comments, “Every second matters! See these numbers from hostingtribunal.com: The most remarkable 1-second stats:
Which explains why Campos suggests: “Before discussing keywords and CTR’s, we take a look at load time!”
There’s another important page load speed-related point that Reece Mack of Trek Marketing makes. “Page loading speed is a critical factor for improving positioning in organic listings now that Google prioritizes mobile-first indexing. But, improving positioning isn’t the only benefit of prioritizing page speed for homepages—the improved user experience helps websites retain their visitors and from my experience will lead to a greater return on the investment versus a homepage that hasn’t been optimized for speed.”
Mack shares an example too: “One client, who we helped improve their page speed by 2 seconds, saw a 35% increase in traffic, tripled their revenue and transactions, and improved their conversion rate by 0.52% versus the year before and saw similar numbers versus the month before too.”
One way to improve your page load speed is to remove elements that take time to load. For instance, Melissa Smith from Raw and Fresh shares, “Image carousels and sliders are notorious for slowing down page load times. Simply get rid of them and make sure that the images you do have on your homepage are compressed.”
In the same vein, Alex C. from Essay Writer NZ recommends, “Optimize your content first. The big amount of elements, graphics, and pictures slows the loading speed of the homepage of the browser.” Here are some tips Alex C. lays out:
Editor’s note: Have a Vimeo video to introduce your business to your potential customers? Keep a pulse on your video analytics with the help of this Vimeo OTT Video Overview dashboard. You can instantly learn how many visitors played your video, how many finished it, and much more.
“Make sure to add proper schema markup,” reminds Juliette Tholey Consulting’s Juliette Tholey. “When it comes to markups for the homepage, you need to ensure that you define the following schemas: Organization, Local Business (if you have a local physical presence) or Person (if you are running a personal blog).”
Chima Mmeje from Zenith SEO Copywriting Service adds to this: “Add NAP Information for Local SEO. If your business has a physical location, then local SEO elements such as Business Name, Phone number, and address at the top and bottom of the homepage makes it easy for Google to list your local business and for your target audience to reach you. Ensure your NAP information matches your Google My Business Listing for Uniformity.”
“If your homepage is ranking mostly for your brand name, it’s worth focusing on effective copywriting instead of keyword stuffing,” notes Sendible’s Veronika Baranovska.
Vasyl Kafidov from Writing Metier shares, “It [homepage] should be at least 600-700 words long (better around 1000-1200 words). It should be unique, of course, and explain everything needed to the customer.
And yes, the last, but not the less important – DO NOT forget that you should include your focused commercial keyword or several keywords to the main page. Why? Because usually, the homepage is the most promoted one. You spend days and months promoting your brand linking to the main page. Why not use this ‘juice’ collected for commercial purposes?
If you are using one or two commercial keywords on your main page, chances are way higher that you’ll rank in the Top 20 or even Top 10 within a shorter period.”
Kafidov continues, “Once I have mixed the content of my homepage by adding a focused commercial keyword. Within one week, my page ranked in the Top 5 for this keyphrase without any extra movements. I definitely recommend starting from this perspective.”
Before you go about writing your homepage content, here are some factors you need to keep in mind:
Now, once you get to optimize your homepage content, make a checklist of the following must-dos:
As for homepage copy, keep the following in mind:
This may help in some minor ways, but the big picture is ranking for your main keywords in headings, internal linking, and not giving your audience too many options. Aside from SEO, our reports/analytics have shown that user experience mixed with targeting main keywords have been the most effective ways to get our page to rank well, and we’re #1 across nearly all competitive keywords in our market using this approach,” Alex Cascio, Vibrant Media Productions.
Lastly, our experts also had some homepage content SEO best practices to share. Keep these front and center as you plan to optimize your homepage:
“One important element for optimizing your homepage SEO that I feel many people overlook are the security features,” points out Vickens Moscova of Moscova Enterprises, INC.
“Attaining a SSL certificate is one of the first steps to making your site more secure by using https://. This internet protocol is a bit more secure than http://. It’s also smart to add a widget or app that keeps the security team alert if any bugs come up.
These features become important as one uses their site in different ways such as e-commerce. Also adding security software itself to the site will help make potential customers feel secure making transactions or even visiting your site.”
“It has to be a focus on the main keyword,” suggests Dennis Seymour of Now Serving.
“Nowadays, there are a lot of talks about user experience, CTR, and other things to improve your score with Google but do not forget the basics. Optimize the homepage for your most important and relevant keyword.
Sometimes you need to experiment to find out what that keyword is but for most products, you already know from the get-go. Optimize for that main keyword, and support it with other internal pages that are relevant. It’ll rank and you’ll reap the benefits. Decades later, it still works.”
“When building links yourself to your company homepage, never focus on keyword-rich anchor text,” advises SEO.co’s Nate Nead. “Focus instead on branded anchors. Your desired keywords will rank naturally, but in order for the site to naturally rank, the ranking itself must be natural.”
A couple of our expert contributors had to add to this. To begin with Storm McManus from Storm Marketing Consultancy outlines, “When it comes to optimizing your homepage for SEO, the one area you should focus on is your keywords. However, instead of focusing on just ONE keyword (like you would for your inside pages or blog posts), for your homepage you’re going to focus on a subset of keywords that relate to your product/service, niche, and where possible, your brand name.
This is going to give both Google and your audience a well-rounded idea of what your website is about. And always remember to avoid keyword stuffing, to incorporate the words naturally, and to consider using synonyms and related terms.”
Acadian Windows & Siding’s Stacey Harris also thinks, “When looking to optimize a homepage for SEO, it’s smart to focus on a broad number of keywords – rather than zeroing in on one or two. A single, brand-focused keyword can get lost in the shuffle of other brands competing for the same one keyword – having a number of themed keywords can generate interest from more than one angle, and bring website traffic from multiple sources.”
So it’s best to “use a small handful of keywords that relate to the overarching theme of your business and website along with branded keywords,” according to Natalie Alleblas of Natalie Alleblas SEO Sleuth. “This helps Google and readers understand what your website is about.
The home page gives a good overview of what your business does, but it shouldn’t cover specific details; therefore, you shouldn’t target specific, long-tail keywords.”
“The homepage should be optimized for a more generalized theme of your website, then service pages can dive into more specifics,” adds Utah SEO Companies’ Tonya Davis.
“The reason for this is because many people don’t often know what they want until they’ve conducted a few searches. You are missing out on the opportunity to capture a large amount of searchers who are just starting their search journey if you’ve chosen to optimize for a singular, specific term.
For example, a cosmetic surgeon might optimize their homepage for a more general term like ‘Cosmetic Surgery’ then use internal service pages to rank for ‘facelift’, ‘rhinoplasty’, ‘lip injections’, etc.,” Davis explains.
“In order to optimize your homepage for SEO, you will definitely want to optimize around branded terms,” writes INK’s Alexander De Ridder. “If you don’t rank for your own company or product name, that’s a problem and a clear optimization opportunity for your homepage.
In addition to branded keywords, research the general keywords you want your brand to rank for and optimize the page around those. These would be the terms your target audience is using to find products, services, and content like yours. These are also terms that your competitors might be targeting and ranking for, and you should capitalize on.
But, don’t forget to “maintain the balance between branded and non-branded keywords,” SaaShook’s Rohit Chavane. “Your homepage is the first impression of your brand. Make sure you optimize for branded terms like ‘Databox’, for example. At the same time, you can also describe what your brand is about. E.g. ‘Business Analytics Platform’ is a non-branded k/w which you can use in the title tag, meta description, headings, and page content.”
Branko Kral of B King Digital suggests you “include visual features of blog articles. One or two for the most recent piece, one or two for top converting piece that you choose manually. Your home page is the front door to your content for both the visitors and the crawlers, so this can be a boost for both user flow and link juice. The results are similar to distributing content on an external channel.”
ExaWeb’s Patrick Garde reminds us, “Keep it focused. Your homepage should be clear on what your visitor can find on your website. It should highlight your Unique Selling Point (UPS). It must lead your visitors to the most important pages of your website. Don’t clutter your homepage with unnecessary links or flood your menu or footer with the said links.”
“Nowadays, when more and more emphasis is put on the visual aspect of a homepage, one should remember that search engines are blind,” notes Listonic’s Filip Jędraszczyk.
“They have trouble understanding images and videos. For this reason, when optimizing the homepage for SEO, it is worth complimenting its visual elements with the appropriate alt text. Alt text helps the search engines understand the content of your homepage better, and rank it higher as a consequence.”
Dr. Colette Widrin from Balance Blends adds, “With the rising popularity of Google Images, your images can now draw visitors to your homepage. Be sure to include your main keywords in the alt text of your image, and condense your images so that large files don’t slow down the loading time of your page.”
So how do you go about SEO optimizing your homepage images? By “using Alt Text, (which is short for ‘alternative text’),” explains Taylor Roberts from Movers Chicago. “When you have Alt Text in place and a user hovers their mouse of an image it will show text to the user. This is helpful in case there is a problem loading the image or for users who may be visually impaired and use screen readers.”
SoftwarePundit’s Bruce Hogan notes, “It’s important to use a site auditing tool to identify the main SEO issues that exist on your homepage.”
Deepak Shukla from Pearl Lemon points out the same, “The number one key to successful SEO is making use of professional audit tools. These online tools will perform regular crawls of your entire website and check data points. They will also tell you about any issues that need optimizing, and if they are a good tool (try SERPwizz or SEOptimer) they’ll also tell you exactly how to go about this!”
Hogan recommends, “Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can be used to quickly scan your homepage for missing HTML elements, duplicate content, page speed, broken links, and more. In addition, the tools typically help you prioritized discovered issues to ensure that you start with the most impactful solution first.”
“You do everything in terms of rich content, keywords, heading tags, and clutter-free design to rank on the search engine but if the home page doesn’t have great CTAs [call to action’, then you’re missing a huge chance of moving the visitor to lead funnel. While CTAs do not fall into SEO, they do help in achieving the overall SEO goal i.e., retaining the visitor and converting into a business lead,” shares Blogging Explained’s Mudassir Ahmed
“Call-to-action buttons are one important element for optimizing a website’s homepage,” notes Vertex Mechanical Inc’s Vince Youndt.
For example, Youndt shares, “In our industry, giving customers the opportunity to schedule online or get a quote fast can be the difference between them choosing us over a competitor. Showing these call-to-action buttons right away gives us a greater opportunity to convert new business and retain our loyal customers.”
Ahmed shares some more ideas for an effective call to action: “A home page CTA could be a free trial signup, email subscribe, FAQs, or a knowledge video. What kind of CTA convince the visitor to trust you, make a decision to reach you out for further? It depends on your business, targeted audience mindset, and your goals.”
This is the first bonus tip we’ve for you – optimizing your logo, which is essential for helping Google understand what your business is for. Take the following steps to SEO optimize your logo:
In the second quarter of 2020, mobile users accounted for 51.53% of global website traffic. Translation: you need a mobile-friendly homepage as lots of people visit sites using mobile devices.
Editor’s note: Keep tabs on how many of your site visitors are via mobile with this free Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic dashboard. You can see your sessions by device, pages per session by device type, and bounce rate all on one screen.
Check your site’s mobile-friendliness with this free tool by Google. Simply add your URL, and it’ll instantly analyze your page’s mobile-friendliness within seconds.
To recap, homepage SEO involves using keywords in your title tag, H1 tag, meta description, and the rest of the copy. Don’t forget to add an SSL certificate, make your homepage quick to load and mobile-friendly. Not to mention, optimizing your images is important too. Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.
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