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Written by Backlinko Team –

SEO Agency of the Year Winner Harry Sanders started StudioHawk when he was just 17 years old and homeless.

Fast-forward, StudioHawk grew its revenue from 3.4 million in 2021 to 5.6 million in 2023.

Their no. 1 SEO software of choice?

Semrush.

Semrush will cover most of your SEO needs. But to scale your agency, you’ll benefit from specialized software across different areas of your business.

This post shares nine SEO tools verified by agencies, turning over at least a million dollars a year.

Let’s get started.

What’s The Best SEO Software For Agencies?

  1. Semrush – Best for doing all SEO work end-to-end
  2. Google Search Console – Best for monitoring site performance in Google Search
  3. Screaming Frog – Best for technical SEO and crawling
  4. BrightLocal – Best for local SEO
  5. Google Analytics – Best for tracking website traffic
  6. Respona – Best for link-building campaigns
  7. Agency Analytics – Best for client reports
  8. Frase – Best for on-page optimizations
  9. Notion – Best for procedures and documentation

1. Semrush

Best all-in-one SEO software for agencies of any size

Price: Starts at $129.95/month with a 7-day trial

Semrush – Homepage

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an article that doesn’t recommend Semrush as the top tool for your agency tech stack.

And for good reason. It’s not just SEO software. It’s an online visibility platform with PPC, social media, and digital PR tools—perfect for marketing agencies.

Let’s look at some features.

Competitive Research

Whether you’re prospecting new clients or doing competitor research, analyzing website performance is one of an agency’s most helpful functions.

And Semrush’s “Domain Overview” is marvelous at this.

Say your client sells organic bedding and bath products online. They mention that Coyuchi is their top competitor.

Semrush – Domain Overview – Coyuchi

At a glance, you can see Coyuchi’s authority score, estimated search traffic, and total backlinks.

It gets better.

Go to “Organic Research” in the sidebar, then click “Pages”.

Semrush – Organic Research – Pages

You can see Coyuchi’s most trafficked pages, the keywords those pages rank for, and the number of backlinks pointing to those pages. You can drill down on the page for more data.

Organic Research – Pages – Report

This information is everything you need to impress a prospective client and build an effective campaign.

Keyword Research

Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool will save your team hours each month doing keyword research.

For example, enter a seed keyword like “organic blankets.”

Within seconds, you can see about 1,500 keyword variations, with a combined search volume of 12,660 and an average keyword difficulty of 13%. That’s pretty magical.

Keyword Magic Tool – Report

You can filter and sort the data at will. You can also see questions related to your topic, filter by exact match phrases, or find related search queries.

Topic Clusters

Grouping keywords for your clients can be daunting. It requires intimate knowledge of the niche and meticulous planning to drive a positive return on investment.

Semrush’s Keyword Manager makes it easy to generate cluster ideas and see how topics relate.

This time, your client is an electronic signature tool, and you’re helping them create agreement template pages. Enter “agreement template,” and here’s what Semrush outputs:

Semrush – Keyword Manager

Semrush identified 660 keywords grouped into 25 clusters. You can drill down on each cluster to understand the difficulty, traffic potential, and intent.

For a more visual experience, you can view the cluster in a mindmap—perfect for presenting to clients.

Keyword Manager – Cluster map

Link-Building Prospecting Lists

Earning links for clients is a core service for SEO agencies. The first step to a link-building campaign is creating a quality prospecting list.

Semrush’s Referring Domains dashboard makes it easy to filter out rubbish links.

For example, 8,213 domains link to coyruchi.com.

Coyuchi – Referring domains

But many of these links are inactive, low quality, or irrelevant. Vetting this list in its current form would take too much time.

You can add a filter to target websites with active links and an authority score of 21 to 100. You can also set the link attributes to “follow.”

Referring Domains – Report – Filters

Now, this list is down to a more manageable 824 links.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Get organic and pay-per-click keyword research data under one roofPricing can get costly for agencies when you add users, projects, and add-ons
Agency toolkit provides white-label reports, CRM, and client portalsLocal search data is limited
Advanced competitor metricsThe user interface can be overwhelming when using it for the first time
Access to Semrush Academy to upskill your team
Easily track performance trends for each client with projects
Detailed backlink analytics with prospecting capabilities
Visual reporting to make it easier to digest complex information
Regular updates to improve the software

Pricing

Semrush – Pricing

Semrush has four pricing plans:

  • Free: The free account is an excellent way to get a feel for the product before committing. It allows for one project and the tracking of 10 keywords.
  • Pro: $129.95/month (500 tracked keywords), best for one-person agencies with a handful of clients. It offers extended limits for tracked terms, advanced features, and more comprehensive reporting. Additional users can be added for $45/month.
  • Guru: $249/month (1,500 tracked keywords), suitable if you need extensive-tracked term quotas, more advanced features, and comprehensive reporting. Additional users can be added for $80/month.
  • Business: $499/month (5,000 tracked keywords), best for medium to large-sized agencies. Additional users can be added for $100/month.

Optional add-ons:

  • Semrush Local: This feature enhances local visibility and customer choice. It includes listing management and review management for an additional $20/month or $40/month for the premium plan.
  • Agency Growth Kit: This kit offers inbound and outbound marketing leads, project management capabilities, collaboration, and reporting tools. There are three levels available: Start ($69/month), Scale ($149/month), and Advanced ($249/month).

Semrush Alternative: Ahrefs

Ahrefs is another excellent choice for an all-in-one SEO tool for your agency. It offers many of the same features, including keyword research, competitor analysis, and site audits.

The user interface is slick, enabling you to quickly process immense amounts of data. Ahrefs’s backlink database is one of the most comprehensive out there.

With that said, Semrush offers more features for a comparable price. As an agency, you can manage social media, PPC, and even email outreach campaigns without using another platform.

2. Google Search Console

Best for monitoring site performance in Google Search

Price: Free

Google Search Console

Every agency should use Google Search Console (GSC), a free SEO software.

Once you add your clients’ website, you’ll get the most accurate traffic data for Google Search performance.

Here are the top features.

Index Coverage Report

GCS’s Index Coverage Report tells you which pages Google has indexed. This is one of the first things you want to check for a new client project.

You want to ensure no issues are preventing their most essential pages from being seen by Google.

GSC – Index Coverage report

For a step-by-step guide on how to fix index errors, check out Backlinko’s guide on Google Search Console.

Performance Report

The performance report lets you see how many clicks and impressions your website gets from Google. You can also view the average CTR and position.

GSC – Performance report

Check performance metrics for pages or individual queries.

With this data, you can advise clients on how to improve performance either through updating existing content or publishing new pages.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
The most accurate performance data for Google searchThree-day data delay
Free to use without any restrictionsData is restricted to Google search
Manually submit page indexing requestsCan be tedious to set up and manage for multiple clients
Quick access to technical issues

Pricing

Google Search Console is free.

3. Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Best technical SEO Software

Price: Free for up to 500 URLs, then starts at $259/year

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a desktop application that can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. It allows you to crawl websites and analyze them for SEO issues.

Even John Mueller, Google Search Evangelist, endorses Screaming Frog.

Twitter – JohnMu – Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is a long-time SEO agency from the UK. The team built the crawler software to help clients with technical SEO.

Here are the top features.

Quickly Check The Indexability of Pages

One of the first things on a technical SEO to-do list is to ensure the pages you want to appear in Google are being indexed.

In Screaming Frog, it’s as simple as sorting your table of URLs by indexability.

Screaming Frog – Indexability

At a glance, you can check the status of your non-indexed pages and determine if you need to take action.

Review Page Titles

Each tab has its own filter, including finding issues. In the “Page Titles” area, you can check which URLs have missing titles, duplicates, over 60 characters, and more.

This view is also helpful to see if the heading 1 tag is the same as the title tag.

Screaming Frog – Page titles

Priority Setting

Technical SEO audits can be overwhelming.

Where do you start?

Screaming Frog organizes issues by priority so you can focus on getting quick and impactful wins for your clients.

Screaming Frog – Priorities

It also groups issues by “Type.” So, a warning type means it could be an issue, not that it’s guaranteed.

Helpful Explanations

Another pain of technical SEO is figuring out what issues mean—especially for new team members.

Screaming Frog describes issues simply so you can understand how to fix them.

Here’s how it explains soft 404 page:

Screaming Frog – Issue description

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Crawling customizations to target your resources for each clientLimited reporting
Identifies and prioritizes your website’s technical SEO issuesSteep learning curve
Integrates with Google Analytics and Google Search Console for combined data analysisOnly available on desktop
Bulk exporting

Pricing

Screaming Frog – Pricing

Screaming Frog has two plans:

  • Free: You can install the application and crawl up to 500 URLs for free.
  • Paid: $259/year, no limit on URLs. You can access the configuration settings and can integrate with Google Analytics and Google Search Console. You can also save and compare your crawls.

The paid license is only for one user.

Screaming Frog Alternative: Sitebulb

Sitebulb is a one-stop website audit software available on desktop and cloud. Like Screaming Frog, you can customize your crawls in detail. And Sitebulb will provide a priority list of tasks to improve or fix your SEO.

Sitebulb offers better reporting options than Screaming Frog. For example, you can generate white-label PDF reports for your clients. Being in the cloud, Sitbulb is easier to implement in your agency.

With that said, there are restrictions on Sitebulb’s crawl limits depending on the plan. On Screaming Frog’s paid license, you get unlimited crawls. Screaming Frog also provides more raw data, so you can manipulate what you want with more precision.

4. BrightLocal

Best local SEO software

Price: Starts at $39/month with a 14-day free trial

BrightLocal

BrightLocal is the go-to software for managing local SEO projects.

Helping local businesses get traffic and leads through search is one of the most common SEO services for agencies.

But, manually managing Google Business Profiles (GBPs) and citations is tedious. Especially if you have a decent client roster size. BrightLocal takes care of this.

My Social Practice, a marketing agency for dentists with an estimated annual turnover of $7 million, uses BrightLocal to generate client leads.

Let’s look at the top features in more detail.

A Single Source of Truth

You no longer need to search for your clients’ GBP on Google to make updates. You can make all the changes in BrightLocal and automatically notify your clients via email.

BrightLocal – Location Manager

Citation Searches

After importing a Google Business Profile, BrightLocal will find citations relevant to your listing.

The citation tracker gives you a list of citations and links to the websites to add them.

BrightLocal – Citations List

BrightLocal also provides a citation score to see if there are any errors to action.

BrightLocal – Key Citations

Don’t want to add citations manually? BrightLocal has a paid, done-for-you citation service you can request from your account.

Review Management

BrightLocal has reputation management. This means you can see and respond to reviews in BrightLocal without going to the websites where the reviews were published.

BrightLocal – Review management

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Manage multiple Google Business Profiles from one dashboardLimited keyword research
White label reportsThe interface can be a little overwhelming at first
Local rank tracking
Efficient citation building and cleanup services
Offers a 14-day free trial without requiring billing information
Provides free online training courses

Pricing

BrightLocal – Pricing

BrightLocal has three pricing options:

  • Track: $39/month, includes tracking local rankings, auditing citations, monitoring GBP, and competitor insights.
  • Manage: $49/month, includes everything in Track, plus enhanced listings management across multiple platforms like Google, Bing, Facebook, and Apple, and also includes the capability to suppress external edits and schedule GBP posts.
  • Grow: $59/month, has advanced review management capabilities like monitoring and responding to reviews, running review generation campaigns, and creating website review widgets.

Annual plans provide a 25% discount. Pricing will go up depending on how many listings you manage.

BrightLocal Alternative: Semrush Local

Semrush Local is an excellent alternative to BrightLocal. You can manage GBP listings and reviews from one dashboard.

On the Premium Plan, you can use AI-generated replies to respond to customer reviews at volume. And the Map Rank Tracker lets you see your local rankings in an area.

Semrush – Map Rank Tracker

Semrush Local plans are add-ons to a Semrush subscription. So, if you already use Semrush, BrightLocal’s prices are competitive. And you get the benefit of an all-in-one tool.

But if you just need a local SEO tool without Semrush’s main features, then BrightLocal is cheaper and offers more features.

5. Google Analytics

Best for tracking website traffic

Price: Free

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is essential software for tracking website traffic and conversations for your clients. Like GSC, Google Analytics is free—so there’s no reason not to use it.

Traffic Sources

One of the most used GA4 reports is the “Traffic Acquisition Report.”

GA – Traffic Acquisition report

This lets you see your traffic sources, including organic search.

Pages and Screens

Another popular report is the Pages and Screens Report, which lets you see traffic to individual pages.

GA – Pages & Screens report

If you have conversions configured, you can see how many sales are linked to pages on your website.

Purchase Journey

If your client has an online store, you can visualize the conversion funnel from session to purchase.

GA – Purchase journey

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Accurate conversion trackingPotential privacy issues with collecting personal data
It’s freeNo customer support
AI-powered search to quickly find reportsLearning curve to configure
Tight integration with other Google productsLimited page-level reports

Pricing

Google Analytics is free.

Google Analytics Alternative: Clicky Analytics

Clicky Analytics is privacy-friendly website analytics software with a simple yet effective interface. On the homepage, you get a snapshot of visitors, conversions, incoming links, and the most trafficked pages. Clicky also offers real-time analytics; you can see how many actions each visitor has taken on your website.

But Clicky’s conversion tracking is limited compared to Google Analytics. It has far fewer integrations. Also, you need to go on a paid plan if you’re managing more than one website.

6. Respona

Best outreach tool for link-building

Price: Starts at $79/month with a 14-day free trial

Respona

Respona is also a powerful tool to help you scale link-building campaigns for your clients.

uSERP, a link-building agency, scaled from 0 to $1 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) in just one year. Using Respona, uSERP earns 300-350 quality links from high-authority websites monthly.

Here are some top features.

Campaign Templates

Respona – Campaign template

There are 15 (and counting) link-building campaign templates available. These are tried and tested strategies, including the skyscraper technique.

Link-Building Opportunities

Once you complete your template, you can source link-building opportunities in Respona.

For example, you can integrate with Semrush to create a prospecting list by analyzing search results and competing URLs.

Respona – Semrush automation

Then run automations to find contacts for websites.

Respona – Find contacts

Contact Vetting

Once Respona has finished the automations, you can bulk-select your prospects or vett them individually.

Respona – Contact vetting

Respona finds the best contacts for each website, including verified emails and LinkedIn profiles.

So, no more emailing support. Or using other tools to scrape contacts.

Imagine how much time your team will save.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Automated contact list-buildingNo monthly billing options
AI-powered email personalizationReliant on third-party tool subscriptions for vetting data
Content-based prospect search
Email templates for proven link-building campaigns
In-built vetting criteria

Pricing

Respona – Pricing

Respona offers three plans:

  • Starter: $79/month includes one email account and 60,000 data credits. Best for a one-person agency.
  • Pro: $399/month for five email accounts and 300,000 data credits. Suitable for a small agency.
  • Custom: 600,000 data credits, best for large link-building agencies.

All plans are billed annually, which is typical for outreach software that provides a lot of contact data.

Respona Alternative: Pitchbox

Pitchbox helps agencies, publishers, and brands build relationships with influencers and bloggers. It has a clean user interface and is a powerful tool endorsed by our founder, Brian Dean.

Pitchbox

The best feature is how it leverages data from external SEO tools like Semrush and then provides vetting criteria for each contact—cutting down your research time.

But.

It’s expensive.

The professional plan starts at $495/month billed annually.

Responsa is better value with the automations and templates at a more affordable price.

7. Agency Analytics

Best client reporting software for agencies

Price: Starts at $12/month with a 14-day free trial

AgencyAnalytics

Agency Analytics is the best tool for pulling your marketing analytics (including SEO) into a gorgeous dashboard your clients can understand.

A lack of client reporting will result in losing budget.

It’s that simple.

Native Rank, a marketing agency in Denver, understands this. With a $38 million ARR, Native Rank uses Agenceny Analytics to track and deliver exceptional results to over 500 active clients.

Here’s precisely how Agency Analytics can help.

80+ Integrations

You can pull data from all the big marketing tools into your Agency Analytics dashboard. For SEO, this includes Semrush, Ahrefs, Google Search Console, and Google Business Profile.

AgencyAnalytics – Integrations

Customizable Dashboard

The dashboard is as simple as drag and drop. You can build it from scratch or use one of the Agency Analytics templates.

AgencyAnalytics – Dashboard

Automated Reports

Rather than scrambling at the end of each month to create reports for clients, you can set up an automated report that goes out at the same time each month based on your integrations.

AgencyAnalytics – Reports

Alternatively, you can share a link to the dashboard with your client.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Great range of integrationsHeavily dependent on integrations
Customizable visual dashboardsCan get costly
Automated reportsImported data customization is limited
Attentive customer support
In-built keyword rank tracking

Pricing

AgencyAnalytics – Pricing

Agency Analytics has three plans:

  • Freelancer: $12/month/client campaign (five minimum) best for one-person agencies with a small client roster.
  • Agency: $18/month/client campaign (10 minimum) is best for medium-sized agencies. It includes white-label reporting, custom branding, and internal report approvals.
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing (minimum 50 campaigns) is best for large agencies that need onboarding support and API access.

Agency Analytics Alternative: Looker Studio

Looker Studio is a free data visualization tool from Google that many SEO agencies swear by. It integrates seamlessly with GSC, Google Analytics, Google Ads, YouTube Ads, and Google Sheets. It pulls data from most third-party tools even if you’re not in Google’s ecosystem.

That said, it takes much time to customize reports for your clients, eating into your wages. Looker Studio is an excellent choice if you want to stay close to your reporting and tinker endlessly.

Agency Analytics is the better option for a much faster process—with the additions of keyword tracking and automated reporting.

8. Frase

Best content creation and optimization tool

Price: Starts at $14.99/month

Frase

From research to outlining, writing, and optimizing, Frase is the best tool to speed up your content production.

Here are the best features.

Automated Outlines

Analyzing the heading structure of the top-ranking pages for a query and then turning that into an outline is a common SEO task.

It involves opening each page and reviewing it manually. This can add up when dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of SEO briefs in an agency.

Frase does this for you, so you don’t have to leave the app to create an outline that perfectly matches the search intent.

All you have to do is select which headings from the top pages you want to add to your outline. Or you can write your own.

Frase – Explore headings

Use Frase research to update your outline with populated data from the SERP. This includes stats, questions, headings, news, and Wiki information. Again, without having to dig around the SERP.

Frase – SERP results

Page Topic Scores

Frase provides a simple topic score to keep track of your on-page optimizations.

Frase – Topic Score

This is helpful to understand if your page has enough related keywords for the topic without having to guess or manually track.

Frase also has a heatmap to see how often competing pages include keywords. At a glance, you can see where you have content gaps.

Frase – Explore topics

Page Optimization Opportunities

Hands down, one of the best features of Frase is the GSC integration. It pulls data from your GSC property and tells you the traffic trends for your keywords and pages.

One of the hardest things in SEO is staying on top of existing pages trending down—defined as “decay”—where the query or page has lost more than two positions and clicks have decreased.

Frase – Content Analytics

You can drill down to the page to see what keywords are dropping, then whip up a Frase doc from the data.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Get detailed analysis of trending queries and pages from Google Search ConsoleDoesn’t have keyword research data
Quickly create SEO briefs, and outlines
Affordable compared to other content optimization tools
Integration with Google Docs and WordPress
Ease of use

Pricing

Frase – Pricing

Frase has three pricing plans:

  • Solo: $14.99/month. This includes 1 user seat and optimize 4 articles/month.
  • Basic: $44.99/month. This includes 1 user seat and optimize 30 articles/month.
  • Team: $114.99/month. This includes 3 user seats and optimize unlimited articles.

Discounts vary with annual subscriptions.

Frase Alternative: Clearscope

Clearscope works similarly to Frase in that it generates briefs for your page based on the top-ranking pages for your target keyword. But Clearscope grades your content based on semantic relevance.

Clearscope has more competitor data, such as search volume, grades, and readability level. It also has a Google Docs add-on. But Frase has more research tools like stats, questions and concept maps.

Frase also has powerful AI writing tools and content decay tracking. All for a much more affordable price. Clearscope plans start at $199/month. Read our full Clearscope review.

For what it’s worth, we use Frase to create briefs and optimize content for Backlinko.

9. Notion

Best for procedures and documentation

Price: Starts at $10 per user/month.

Notion

Notion is a flexible tool for managing your agency operations. The main benefit is you’re not constrained. You can make Notion what you need for your team and clients.

Here’s a video tutorial showing you how to run a marketing agency in Notion.

Payton Clarke Smith grew his agency, Pait Digital, to $600,000 ARR in 2022 using Notion to run his remote team. In fact, Payton uses the versatility of Notion to run four businesses simultaneously.

Here are the top Notion features.

Client Portals

A client portal is a dashboard for clients to see all the SEO work completed and collaborate with you.

The main reason for client churn is a lack of visibility, reporting, and results. All of this is mitigated with a client portal.

With Notion, you can create client portal templates for technical SEO, content planning, outreach, reporting, style guides, personas, you name it.

Notion – Client portal

You can store all of your client keywords and content projects.

Notion – Content Planner

Choose different views from a calendar, table, timeline, or the popular Kanban style.

Notion – Content Planner – Progress

Streamline client and team communications in a single source of truth. And avoid getting lost in confusing email threads or undocumented phone calls.

Notion – Communication

Once you’ve built a client portal you’re happy with; it becomes a selling point in your prospecting calls. You can demo your portal to give clients a feel for your transparency and what working together is like.

Standard Operating Procedures

Notion is an exceptional tool for storing and sharing knowledge with your team. You can create a detailed knowledge base of all the tasks you repeatedly do in your agency.

Notion – Knowledge base

Whether it’s how to understand search intent or how to log time, you can create a resource for everything—significantly increasing productivity.

Notion – Resource

Customer Relation Management (CRM)

You can build a CRM in Notion to track your pipeline and close more deals.

Notion – Pipeline

Within each contact, your team can use Notion comments as an audit trail for client activity so everyone is on the same page.

Notion – Messages

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Highly customizableLack of reporting
Extensive databases with different viewsCan be overwhelming for new users
AI assistance contextual to your workspaceLack of database permissions
Available on web, desktop, and mobile apps
Great community of creators sharing templates

Pricing

Notion offers a free plan, with unlimited blocks for individuals. There is a limited block trial for team accounts.

There are three pricing plans:

  • Plus: $10 per user/month. This includes unlimited blocks, 30 page history, and up to 100 guests.
  • Business: $18 per user/month. This includes additional features, including 90 day page history and up to 250 guests.
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing for advanced functionality.

Discounts vary with annual subscriptions.

Notion Alternative: ClickUp

ClickUp is a powerful project management tool. It has a robust hierarchy system, so every task is captured. Your team can track time against client work and internal projects. Then, you can create automated dashboards to get an overview of productivity and budget allocation. This is a significant advantage over Notion, as you can get accurate status updates.

The challenge with ClickUp (and Monday.com, Asana, Trello, etc.) is that you’re limited to the structure of the software. It’s also not the best for creating knowledge bases and SOPs.

Read: Notion vs. Monday Head to Head

So, choosing between Notion and ClickUp depends on your goals and how your team likes to work.

Ready to Start? Here Are Our Top 2 Picks for SEO Software

You can scale a 7-figure SEO agency with two tools: Semrush and Notion (or any project management tool).

Software #1: Semrush

For 90% of your execution, Semrush will be more than enough.

It covers keyword research, site audits, rank tracking, competitor analysis, and link vetting. You can even run outreach campaigns and do on-page optimizations under one roof.

If you sign up for , you can create white-label reports client portals, and run your CRM for lead generation.

Software #2: Notion

Notion is the knowledge base and team collaboration tool that sits behind Semrush. It’s a source of truth for your internal team to get information on HR, projects, and company procedures.

You can also create self-service client portals to track and report your SEO campaigns. This will reduce long email threads, undocumented phone calls, and other ambiguities.

Your Next Step

Now that you have the tools for the job, your team needs the knowledge to crush client campaigns and keep those monthly retainers rolling in.

Check out our guide on how to be an SEO expert. This post is a foundation for building a knowledge base for your agency resources.



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