10 SEO tasks you should perform today

This is an extract from 50 Shades of Yay, a free ebook by Nikki Pilkington

Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engine Opti...

Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engine Optimization (Photo credit: Hobo!)

SEO Tasks to help your website today!

1: Check your page titles

Your page titles are the words that appear at the top of the browser window. For example on the front page of my website, mine says ‘Social Media Marketing Support – NikkiPilkington.com – Internet Marketing Expert UK’. Titles are one of the most important aspects of SEO, as they tell Google where to put you. Change yours to describe what you do, not just to say ‘MyCompany.com’. Make each page’s title different. You should be able to do this in your Content Management System.

2: Work on your META descriptions

Although general theory says that the description tag isn’t used in determining where a website is placed in a search engine, it is still an important part of SEO. Your description is the thing that will make people click through to your site – if it’s dull, people won’t click. Again, every page should have a different description tag, and you should be able to do this through your CMS.

3: Add in some internal links

Have a look through the pages on your website and see where you can then link to OTHER pages on your website (Google loves internal links). For example, if I were talking to you about having someone else write your blog posts, I might link to the page on my site featuring my Bonkers Blogging Offer. That’s a link to another page on this site – so it’s an internal link. The link to Birds on the Blog above is an external link. Go through your pages and see where you can add internal links.

4: Look at your page names

The name (address) of the original blog post promoting this ebook is http://www.nikkipilkington.com/10-seo-tasks-you-should-perform-today. Now look at your website page names – do they accurately describe what is on your page? Page names such as /about, /contact, /services aren’t helping your SEO at all. Change them to more descriptive names: /about-your-company-name, /contact-for-xxx-service, /xxx-services-in-place for example.

 

5: Sort out your image alt tags

If you have images on your pages, take the time to use the alt tag to describe them. This not only helps with SEO, but helps with accessibility for certain types of website readers (for the blind for example). You should be able to do this in your CMS. Don’t keyword stuff them, but do describe them accurately. For example: ‘the xxx company logo’, ‘picture representing xxx service’.

6: Check your Webmaster Tools account

If you don’t have one, sign up for one now. Once your site is verified your WMT account is a veritable mine of information. It can tell you where you’re listed, who’s linking to you, any errors on your site etc. It’s also invaluable if you run a WordPress setup and get hacked at any time, as you’ll need to resubmit your site to Google through a Webmaster Tools account

7: Vary your incoming link anchor text

There was a time when SEO companies recommended that you used a single phrase as anchor text for your incoming links. (What’s anchor text?) However, with the recent Penguin update this has changed. It’s now recommended that you vary the text on your incoming links to get the best effect.

8: Change your content

Once the main pages of your website are there, it’s tempting to just leave them – after all you may have spent a long time or a lot of money putting them together, right? However, for SEO purposes it’s good to change things around a little occasionally – not whole swathes of text but maybe the odd paragraph here and there to show that the page is being updated semi regularly.

9: Add in H1 headlines

If at all possible, use your main keyphrase for each page as a H1 heading. (A different keyphrase for each page, remember?) Only use one per page though – any more could be seen as spam. H1 has the double advantage of letting the search engines know that that phrase is important, and drawing your visitor’s attention to the headline, reinforcing their belief that they are in the right place

A H1 heading appears between two H1 tags, which look like <H1> and </H1>

10: Review your results

There’s no point doing lots of SEO work if you don’t track your results. How many visitors are you getting? Are they coming in for the phrases you’re optimising for? Are any of your phrases not working? Use something such as Google Analytics on your site (I use Clicky) and check it regularly. You’ve done the work – review and measure the results. You’d be surprised how many people don’t, and only care about their positions in Google.

Want more SEO help? Get the 30 Day SEO Challenge now!

Want the other 40 Yay! tips, for Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and more? Get it over at Birds on the Blog.

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50 things you could do today to promote your website…

… or 50 Shades of Yay!

If you can manage to put down Mr Grey, and drag your mind back to your business ;) let’s take control of your website.

twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

For any small business owner it’s easy to feel shackled to your website, chained to Google, and to tie yourself in knots worrying about how to bring in the traffic.

My 50 Shades of Yay will give you release from all of that frustration, allowing you to fulfill your potential and giving life to your website.

50 Shades of Yay!

50 Shades of Yay is an ebook split into 5 different areas of promotion. This blog post aims to give you a sense of each section, but you’ll need to download the ebook to get the full 50 (don’t worry, it’s free).

Yay! 1 -SEO

1: Check your page titles

Your page titles are the words that appear at the top of the browser window. For example on the front page of my website, mine says ‘Social Media Marketing Support – NikkiPilkington.com – Internet Marketing Expert UK’. Titles are one of the most important aspects of SEO, as they tell Google where to put you. Change yours to describe what you do, not just to say ‘MyCompany.com’. Make each page’s title different. You should be able to do this in your Content Management System.

2: Work on your META descriptions

Although general theory says that the description tag isn’t used in determining where a website is placed in a search engine, it is still an important part of SEO. Your description is the thing that will make people click through to your site – if it’s dull, people won’t click. Again, every page should have a different description tag, and you should be able to do this through your CMS.

Want the other 8 Yays in this section? Download the free ebook now and please share with other people!

Yay! 2 – Blogging

1: Sort out your tags and categories

Tags are like keywords for your blog – you should add 4 or 5 to each blog post. Let’s say you wrote a blog post about children needing sunblock in the summer – your tags could be: children, kids, summer, sun care, skincare.

Categories are there to help you and your readers, so use them. They’re different to tags in that they can be more generic, and relate to areas of interest, topics, rather than specific posts. So, a telemarketing blog may use categories such as these: telemarketing, telesales, appointment setting, business development, lead generation. All related to telemarketing, but in different areas.

Tags and categories help search engines and readers – use them!

2: Write an editorial calendar

If you’re rubbish at blogging, the best thing you can do is put together an editorial calendar. This is a document that plans your blog posts for the next month, 3 months, however long you want. It not only makes you think about what you’re going to write, it gives you a sense of resposibility to then write it :) WordPress has a great plugin called Editorial Calendar  that allows you to look at each month at a glance and enter topic ideas for the future. Or just make your own in Word and stick it above your desk!

Want the other 8 Yays in this section? Download the ebook now and why not mention this blog post in your next blog?

Yay! 3 – Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

1: Ask for the business

We’re so bombarded with people telling us that we shouldn’t use Twitter to sell, and social media is about being social, that we’re scared to put a foot wrong.  I’m not saying those statements are wrong – anyone who has known me for any length of time knows I’m a great believer in the ‘Social’ in social media.  However, most of us are there to build our businesses – we’re not just in it for a laugh. So I’ll be interested to see how many of you take up my next challenge – which is to ask for the business.  Not from your followers, but from people they know.  In the true spirit of networking, ask your followers if there’s anyone they could refer you to:

–       Who do you know who needs xxxx, I’d love an introduction

–       If anyone says they’re struggling with xxxx pass them my way, I may be able to help

–       Do you know someone looking for xxxx, please introduce me to them

No hard sell, no desperate please, just straightforward networking. If you see others posting this kind of thing, think about who you’ve seen or know who has been saying they have that particular problem recently, and introduce them.  I get a lot of my suppliers from Twitter, but I also post Tweets looking for suppliers that get no response – one of those could be one that may bring you business.  So go on, ask for the business – I dare you ;)

2: Track your results

As in anything, it’s nice to see how well you’re doing on Twitter. There are many tools out there to measure Twitter impact, both free and paid. Twittercounter www.Twittercounter.com will track the amount of followers you have, predict how many you’ll have in X days and allow you to see how many Tweets you’re sending a day. Tweetstatswww.Tweetstats.com – this is an amazing free application that will graph your Tweet stats for you.  Tweetreachwww.Tweetreach.com – will tell you how many people your Tweets reached, counting reTweets – well worth playing with.  SocialMentionwww.socialmention.com – allows you to track mentions of your name in various social media and is very addictive! There are many paid Social Media tracking systems out there – of these, in my opinion, Sprout Social is the best – www.sproutsocial.com. Pricing starts at $39 per month.

Want the other 8 Yays in this section? Download the ebook now – then please pay it forward by Tweeting about this post.

Yay 4! – Facebook

1: Update your description

I see many Facebook Business Pages not using their description effectively. The ‘about’ description is the text that will appear when someone shares your page on their profile – use it to fully describe your page so people will know what it’s about. Change it regularly and track what works best.

2: Highlight a post

Once you have written a post on your Facebook page, if you hover next to your name and click the star, this ‘highlights’ the post. What this means is that the post is made double width and thus gets more attention from visitors to your page. I’ve used this to good effect to promote my 30 Day Challenge books, so it’s well worth doing for important posts.

Want the other 8 Yays in this section?  Download the ebook now – please consider posting this to your Facebook wall and share the love 🙂

Yay 5 – Extras

1: Pinterest – rename your boards

When you first start with Pinterest, it’s tempting to give your boards funky and funny names – but that’s going to do you no good in search. Look at your boards and give them names that mean something and are likely to show up in a search. As an example, my board called So True is never going to turn up in a search (which doesn’t matter because it’s only quotations and funnies) but my board named Business Blogging Beginner To Pro, and the one called Facebook for Business, does show up. Don’t just give your boards generic names such as ‘blogging’ and ‘telemarketing’ – think this through as an SEO exercise and use your keyphrases where you can.

2: Forums – change your signature

Often when you sign up to a forum such as UK Business Labs, you’re entitled to use a signature file with links. You set it up, include a bit of HTML to create a signature, and Bob’s yer uncle, your signature is set in stone, to be appended to any post you make. If you’re like most people your signature will stay as it is for months, maybe even years, with no change. But if you regularly change your forum signature you not only create interest within the forum itself, you’ll be developing varied links into your site (which Google loves).

Want the other 8 Yays in this section? Download the ebook now and consider sharing this post on Pinterest, in forums, LinkedIn etc.

Bonus Yay!

1: This post – share it on your networks ;)

Yes, that benefits me, of course. However it also benefits you. Why? Well, for one, your networks will appreciate the share and probably remember you for it, making them more likely to recommend your content in future. Secondly, if you tell me that you’ve shared it, *I’M* more likely to promote your content and share your Tweets etc in future.

So, go ahead, Tweet, Facebook, LinkedIn, Stumble, Digg, Pin, Blog and more – and if you’d like to offer ebook as a free download on your own website please drop me a line on nikkipilk@gmail.com

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Another reason your META description tag is oh so important!

Smiley from the sMirC-series. "Doh!"

Image via Wikipedia

Why Meta Description is So Important

A guest post from Chris “Kip” Carrier of Kip FX Design

This morning when I was checking my G+ (I love Google Plus), a friend {Nikki’s note: ahem, it was me, having been lazy…} had shared one of her blogs, yet the snippet was displaying all of her follow info, and not an excerpt of the actual blog entry, this is something that needs to be avoided, as the first few lines of the blog/page need to tease people, make them click through to the main page.

There are a few ways of doing this, a lot of the time, your blog theme will automatically use the first few lines of the article, this blog will explain how to ensure you are displaying the right teasers, both in search engine results and with social media link sharing (Facebook, Google + etc).

Search Engine – Meta Description

This is extremely important, writing a good meta description is one of the most important parts of any blog or web page, and we are not just talking SEO here, but as a CTA (Call to Action), below is a picture of how I write a meta description for clients, but more importantly, how it displays in Google.

meta descriptionAs you can see, I have dropped in some relevant keywords, kept it short and sweet, and added a CTA with the number to call. When you have spent time and money in making sure your website appears on the front page of Google, you do not want to lose out on traffic and clients because your competitors have meta descriptions that entice people to their sites, and you have a bunch of random keywords that make no sense.

Social Media – Meta Description

There is no real difference when sharing on social networks, the same rules apply, but you want people to share this, tell their friends, tweet it, FB it, G+ it, so it has to be right. Below is an image of how the same page that showed up in Google, displays when shared on Facebook, starting to see a pattern yet?

Social media meta description

The reason it is so important on Social Networks is because of the shareability (did I just invent a new word?), like, comment and share are underneath this link, so the better the meta description, the more chance of it getting a wider coverage.

Meta Description – How To:

  • Keep it under 160 characters.
  • It has to have relevant keywords.
  • Do not keyword stuff (too many keywords, bad move).
  • It has to make sense.
  • Tease your viewers.
  • Add a CTA at the end (only seen if kept under 160 characters).
  • CTA: Call Now 01234 567 8910 (good for trades etc)
  • CTA: Read More, Click Now (good for blogs or info sites)
  • CTA: Buy Now, Check Stock (Good for eShops)
If your blogging platform (I use WordPress), does not have a place for adding the meta description, then a good SEO plugin will help solve this problem, All in One SEO. If you are not using WordPress, you can always Google “adding a meta description to [whatever you are using]”, and look for one with a good meta description.
Chris “Kip” Carrier is a web & graphic designer, primarily WordPress, with a passion for Social Media Marketing and iMacs. You can find him at Kip FX Design
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The 30 Day SEO Challenge is here!

It’s been great seeing you all do so well on our 30 Day Blogging Challenge, 30 Day Facebook Challenge, and sign up for the soon to be launched 30 Day Adwords Challenge, and so on August 1st 2011 we launched the challenge you’ve all been asking for – The 30 Day SEO Challenge!

The 30 Day SEO Challenge from Nikki Pilkington

In this Challenge you’ll learn about:

  • Finding the right keyphrases
  • Making META tags work for you
  • Why Titles matter
  • How to get front page Google listings and keep them
  • Whether link building campaigns are worth it
  • How to get links to your site that really make a difference
  • and more!

Alongside the Challenge is a brand new ebook – which is priced pretty reasonably we think at just £8.

Should I get the ebook or sign up for the email course?

That depends on how impatient you are 🙂

The email course will be free for the first 100 signups – after that it will be chargeable.

The ebook contains everything that’s in the course, plus a fair few extras – resources and articles that will help you – and more access to me if you need it 🙂

OK I want the ebook

Just pop over to our ebook store to pick it up – have a look at some of our other challenge ebooks while you’re there!

OK I want the email course

Cool – we reached 100 free signups pretty quickly, so I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat on that one.  However, we’re going to do things a little differently on the paid signups for this one 🙂 Instead of me telling you what to pay, you can make a donation. Minimum is £1, maximum is whatever you like. I would say if you were thinking of paying over £8 though you’d be better off getting the book 🙂 You can donate using the Paypal button below.

Things to note: Once you have paid, Paypal will route you to a page where you sign up to the emails – please wait for this to happen, or you won’t be added to the course, then you’ll email me in a grump 🙂

 

 

Want to make £60 for doing next to nothing?

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? But one of our affiliates did just that in less than 3 weeks last month.

OK, £20 a week isn’t going to set the world alight, but it’s better than nothing, I’m sure you’ll agree!

So what did he do to make this magnificent amount of money?

Well:

1) He signed up to our affiliate program, to sell our ebooks

2) He emailed his newsletter list, recommending our last book, the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

3) He updated his Facebook page, recommending our latest ebook, the 30 Day Facebook Challenge

4) He added details of our 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven to his email signature, and posted about it on his blog

5) He let everyone he knows know that 299 Steps to Website Heaven is available for just £3

That’s it! It probably took about 20 minutes all told, and he’ll continue getting affiliate payments every month while his links do all the work and sell for him.

Like I said, it’s not a life changing amount of money, but it’s better than nothing and might pay for a night out once a month – so what are you waiting for? Sign up as an affiliate now and get started!

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Research Keyphrases for Better Business Blogging

If your blog is a business blog then the chances are you’re hoping to promote your products or services, and get more sales, right?

Well the great thing about blogs is that they do well in Google, IF you think about how you’re blogging.

You may already know the keyphrases you’re aiming to get good results for on your website, so let’s translate that info into your blogs.

Today, instead of writing a blog, pop over to the Google Keyword Tool and type in your keyphrases to see what other variations come up.

Pick a few of these variations and start thinking how you can incorporate them into your blog titles and copy.

In the 30 Day Blogging Challenge Ebook I talk about the structure of a blog that is written to do well in the search engines, but for that you’ll need to buy the book 😉

Now, don’t just choose generic phrases that have lots of searches – think carefully about this – you want targeted relevant traffic to your blog, right? So think targeted and niche, not generic and widespread.

For example:

Generic phrases:

plumbers

accountants

tax returns

gifts

hotels

kids clothes

business advice

Targeted phrases:

plumbers in berkshire

advice from accountants

last minute tax returns

mothers’ day gifts 2011

low cost hotels in bristol

designer kids clothes

local business advice and help

You can get some great traffic and quick wins on search engines by using less generic phrases.

I cover this in depth in 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven.

Also consider downloading my free 67 Tips on Blogging for SEO.

Your challenge today is to find a handful of useful phrases you could use in your blogging.

This is an extract from the latest Nikki Pilkington ebook The 30 Day Blog Challenge – kickstarting your blogging in just 30 days – get it now while it’s still only a fiver!

The one single way your Content Management System could be ruining your chances in Google

Angry Penguin

Image via Wikipedia

Content Management Systems are great. They allow you to update your site yourself, add and delete pages, upload pictures, link to files and more. And all without (hopefully!) messing up the look and feel of your site.

I’m a BIG fan of Content Management Systems (hereafter shortened to CMS).

HOWEVER, there is one BIG way in which your CMS could be ruining your chances in Google and other search engines, and that is if it doesn’t let you change the title and META tags on each and every page.

When I talk about title, I mean the title that appears at the top of the browser, not the title / subject of a page. When I talk about META tags I’, talking about the META description tag that tells Google what description to show for your page.

Now, I know that a lot of CMS DO let you do this – and that’s great. But in the past 6 months alone I’ve come across 4 clients with CMSs that WON’T allow this.

Let’s put it bluntly – it’s NOT enough to be able to change a ‘master’ set of tags that govern the whole site – you need to be able to change the <title> and <META> tags on each and every page individually so they can say something different.

Why?

Because it’s not possible to optimise a site for every phrase you want with just one set of META data – it simply isn’t. Each page of your site should be focused towards specific phrases, and the META data (including browser title tag) should reflect this.

You can’t stuff a million keywords into your site’s ‘sitewide’ browser title and hope for the best. Similarly the description Google shows for your home page shouldn’t necessarily be the one that should show for other pages on your site, where it needs to be more focused to encourage clickthrough.

It amazes me that in this day and age I’m still coming across this problem, but what amazes me more is that the designers who use these systems are telling their clients ‘it doesn’t matter’. It does. Unless of course you don’t care about search engine listings, in which case, don’t worry about it 😉

Not sure whether your CMS is SEO friendly? Drop me a line to nikkipilk@gmail.com for a free review – it will take up to a week, but Leigh and I will check them out and let you know. No obligation, no sales pitch, no follow up emails. All I ask is that in return you share this post on Twitter / Facebook / by email / on your blog.

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"Google no longer uses title tags" and other blatant untruths…

burglarI like to think I’m a fair person. I don’t believe in slagging off my competition, and always try to be even handed if someone asks for my advice on work done by someone else.

But every so often someone sends me something that makes my blood boil. Well yesterday I had 2 emails from 2 separate people, who I’d given some advice to on public forums.

I won’t name them here, but I will cover the downright lies they’ve been told, and the bad service they’ve received from their SEO consultants.

To clarify: SEO Consultant 1 is a web designer specialising in SEO & Social media, SEO Consultant 2 is a company using dubious telesales tactics and mentioned in several places elsewhere for ripping customers off.

SEO Consultant 1 told his client that:

  • Google no longer uses title tags
  • The META description isn’t important
  • Link exchange is the way to good listings
  • No-one searches for your search phrase anyway

This was blatantly to cover up the fact that he’d done no work on the site and achieved nothing.

Well, let’s put those lies to bed:

  • Google DOES use the title tag – in fact it’s one of the most important parts of onsite SEO. Granted, it’s not the be all and end all of SEO, but it is a major part, and without it, you may as well not bother. If every page of your website simply has your company name as it’s title tag, then you’re not going to be found for anything else. And don’t get me started on the dreaded “Home Page” title tag. The simple fact was, the SEO had done no title tag work and was claiming that they’re not used any more by Google in order to dupe his client. That’s wrong.
  • The META description IS important – it’s the description that Google shows when your site shows up in the results, and can be the difference between someone clicking on your listing or not. Of course, if you don’t have any listings anyway because your SEO hasn’t done the work they’re supposed to, then I guess the description tag doesn’t really matter after all…
  • Link exchange CAN be a good way to help your listings if everything else is in place, but the link exchange page that this client was given was a FFA (Free For All) links page where anyone could sign up and no checks were made. This meant that the site could be linking to unrelated sites, and there was no check in place to ensure that reciprocal links were given. I’m not a big fan of reciprocal links, and it’s been proven that one way links from well respected sites work far better to enhance your SEO, so although this cold be said to help, I think the client was misled.
  • “No-one searches for your search phrase anyway” – well, I’m sorry, but this makes me REALLY angry! In the first instance, why wasn’t proper keyword research done to find out whether the phrase chosen was a) suitable, b) achievable and c) worth optimising for in the first place. If hardly anyone is searching for it (which, as it happens, was a blatant lie – it’s one o the most competitive searches on the web), why on earth bother optimising for it in the first place?

The client involved had paid for a year’s SEO up front and from what I could tell, received very little. The site had 9 backlinks showing in Google, of which 6 were internal links from the site itself, there was no Webmaster Tools account, and in 5 months there had been no reporting, no help and advice, no status checks – nothing.

SEO Consultant 2 promised his client:

  • Full website optimisation
  • In 6 languages
  • Keyword research
  • Ongoing reporting

For just £295 up front and then £50 a month.

As the £50 was due to come out of his bank acount, the client asked what had been done so far. He was presented with a 3 page word document telling him what to change the title and META tags on 3 pages of his site to read. As he said to me:

It can’t have taken them more than 30 minutes to produce, and I could have done it myself!

So, far from the ‘full website optimisation’ of his 100+ pages, he got given (bad) advice on how to change 3 of his pages. No content advice. No Webmaster Tools account. No offsite optimisation advice. No page structure advice. Nothing. Just 3 badly formatted pages of a Word document that to be honest my 9 year old stepdaughter couldprobably have written better, and her first language is French!

No mention of the 6 languages optimisation he was promised (which is impossible anyway as the site was only in English), or keyword research.

When he queried this, he was told that he can’t have been promised what he was, and all calls are recorded. He asked to hear his recording and this was rapidly altered to ‘some calls are recorded’.

Now, I’m going to put the ‘you get what you pay for’ argument to one side – the guy involved feels a bit stupid, but he was promised a lot, and most of it was blatant lies.

Is it any wonder that this industry has such a bad rep?

I will hold my hands up and say i’m not perfect. I’m not the best SEO in the world (there’s always something to learn from someone). And do you know what, I’m scatty as hell! But because of that I’ve put systems in place that mean that every site we optimise goes through a number of checks, and a whole process from start to finish. Once a site is ‘finished’ it goes into another process line that makes sure that ongoing recommendations and reports are sent. I like to think we keep in touch with our clients, and that goes some way towards the many people who come to us because they’re been recommended to by current clients.

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Everyone forgets, misplaces something, or has software / hardware issues that mean things don’t go quite to plan. But to blatantly lie to your clients, tell them things that are clearly untrue and provide them with substandard work? That’s scumbaggery of the highest standard.

When I speak with people like the two companies being ripped off above (and no, I didn’t pitch them for work) I feel ashamed to be in the industry I’m in.

Tip #44 – Best before date

If your content is time sensitive, it may be that you don’t want it to be indexed after a certain date – for example if it is a promotion or an event.
You can tell Google when to stop indexing your content by using the following META tag and replacing the date with your date:
<META NAME=”GOOGLEBOT”CONTENT=”unavailable_after: 31-Dec-2007 23:59:59 EST”>

Tip #43 – Lost in translation

Sometimes in their search results Google offer a translation option.

As this is an automated translation, the results are a bit hit and miss, to say the very least!

If you’d rather that your site wasn’t translated in this way, or you have your own translated pages, tell google not to translate the page by using the following tag:

<meta name=”google” value=”notranslate”>

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