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New inspection article: Aluminum Siding Inspection

October 29th, 2010

Aluminum siding is no longer the first choice for exterior building cladding, but its former popularity and durability mean that InterNACHI inspectors are likely to encounter it for years to come.  Read up on some inspection tips and the telltale differences between aluminum siding and other types of cladding in Aluminum Siding Inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Nick Gromicko.

New inspection article: Rodent Inspection

October 29th, 2010

Rats and mice are not uncommon to homes, but their presence can be potentially deadly. Find out more about how to prevent and handle infestations so that you can protect homeowners from these unwelcome visitors in our new article on rodent inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New inspection article: Unvented Roof Assemblies

October 29th, 2010

Roofs are typically vented, but unvented roof assembles are becoming more common as proponents argue they can actually be more energy efficient and comfortable for occupants. That is, if they’re constructed right. Find out about their alleged benefits and what critics have to say about them in our new article on unvented roof assemblies.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New inspection article: Daylight Saving Time

October 29th, 2010

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is about to end, meaning we’ll have an extra hour to sleep in on Sunday. It also means that, according to proponents of DST, homes and businesses have saved energy over the past six months, primarily through reduced time using electric lights. But many experts now believe that DST does not promote energy efficiency and that it might in fact cause homeowners to use more electricity. Find out about the history and controversy surrounding DST in our new article on daylight saving time.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New inspection article: Inspecting Manufactured Stone for Water Damage

October 27th, 2010

Manufactured stone is a versatile building material that has many applications.  Its attractiveness is matched only by its durability.  But if it’s installed improperly, it can lead to moisture-related structural damage that can begin the slow devastation of a home before the damage is detected.  Read all about it in Inspecting Manufactured Stone for Water Damage.

This blog entry was posted by Nick Gromicko.

New inspection article: Housewrap Inspection

October 25th, 2010

Home inspectors can help their clients understand some basic principles that make modern housewrap a necessity for preventing water intrusion through a home’s exterior cladding.  While tar paper and older types of housewrap may still be encountered on the job,  today’s newer housewrap is typically made from synthetic fibers that help a home breathe while keeping damaging moisture out.  Read all about it in Housewrap Inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Nick Gromicko.

New article on cockroach inspection

October 25th, 2010

Did you know that cockroaches could survive underwater for a half hour or they can subsist on the glue on the back of postage stamps? They’re incredibly hardy insects but infestations can be prevented or eliminated through adequate precautions. Find out much more in our new article on cockroach inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New article on bamboo construction and inspection

October 25th, 2010

Bamboo is becoming more and more popular as homeowners recognize it as a beautiful, sturdy, and ecologically-friendly alternative to traditional wood. Find out how to make sure homeowners have implemented their bamboo construction properly in our new article on bamboo construction and inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New article on outhouse inspection

October 25th, 2010

In some parts of the country, outhouses are not just a thing of the past. While valued for their cost-effectiveness and simplicity, they can also introduce some unwanted odors, insects and groundwater contamination. To find out more, check out our new article on outhouse inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

SEO and the Inspection Industry

October 21st, 2010

Note: this is a pretty long post.  If you don’t feel like reading the back story, you can jump to the summary.

A lot of things on the Web have changed in the last 10 years, and search engine optimization is certainly one of them.  Years ago, when Nick and I started to really focus on InterNACHI’s growth, SEO was a pretty brute-force tactic: you made sure you had keywords on your pages, and lots of links to them.  Nowadays, SEO is much more nuanced.  On-page optimization is much more complex; PageRank (Google’s search engine ranking “score”) matters a lot less; links can’t just be any old link; etc, etc.

One of the biggest changes to hit our industry is Google “local” results showing up in regular searches.  Go ahead and do a search for home inspectors in your city.  You’ll see something a lot like this (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot of Google Search Results

Being #1 in traditional search rankings really puts you at #8 or #9 when local results come into play.  If you’re not in these top 6–7 local results you’re going to have a much harder time getting visitors from search.

So what does that mean for InterNACHI and its members?  Well, it certainly means that our members should all have a Google Places account, and should be optimizing their listings.  But it also means that InterNACHI has had to change the way that we send leads to our members.

A lot of these changes focus on the flow of “link juice”—the SEO term for the quantity, type, and value of links pointing to your site.  If you think of the Web as a large plumbing system, each link to your site is another pipe directing link juice to it.  The more juice you have flowing to your site, the better your site will rank.

Well, in the early days of SEO, most links delivered about the same amount of juice, with PageRank having some effect of the pipe’s “diameter.”  Nowadays, that’s completely changed.  There are tons of factors that determine the quality of a link, with brand, age, PageRank, industry, speed, and other factors all playing a role.  InterNACHI has focused on optimizing these factors, so that links from our thousands of inspection-industry sites all deliver the most link juice possble to our members’ web sites.  This helps both our members’ local search listings, as well as their traditional search listings.

On top of that, new technologies have been created specifically to solve some of the problems with location-based search (what most people are doing when they’re searching for a home inspector).  Specifications like Microformats and RDFa help spiders like Google’s Googlebot gather more meaning from pages.  And we can optimize that data so that our members benefit from it most.

It used to be that we’d constantly hear from members, thanking us for all the calls and emails they got from our search engines.  Some folks would get 2-3 inspections a week directly from our web forms.  But as Google and other search engines have changed, we’ve had to move our focus away from direct leads to an approach that sends clients directly to our members’ websites without necessarily knowing that they got there through InterNACHI (we no longer think of our “Find an Inspector” search engines as destinations, but rather as hubs).  It’s bad for our image, but good for our members, and we’re not interested in compromising our members’ success just to make the organization look better.

But at the same time, it’s nice to know that our organization is working for you.  So a few months ago, we started publicly listing a small portion of the leads that we send to our members.  But we wanted to take this feature one step further.  So starting later this week, or early next week, we’re going to start sending our members a custom list of the leads they receive through InterNACHI.  It will be a weekly digest of the leads you received, and which InterNACHI website they came from.

If you don’t want these emails, you can opt-out right now.  But I urge you not to opt-out, because receiving this information has an added benefit that will help your business.  Each week you’ll see a list of all the people that InterNACHI is sending to your website.  If you’re not turning 10-20% of those leads into phone calls or emails, that means your site is not performing as well as it should.  If you’re getting a lot of leads and not a lot of phone calls, it may be time to rework your site.

This post got pretty long, so in summary:

The SEO industry has changed a lot in the past 10 years, and InterNACHI has changed with it, even if that’s meant that our influence in our members’ success is less obvious.  Local search has particularly changed how inspectors need to optimize their sites, and InterNACHI has implemented technologies like RDFa and microformats to ensure that we’re highly influential data providers for search engines.  But we recognize that it’s nice to see evidence that we’re working for you, so we’re going to start sending out weekly notices about a portion of the leads we’re sending to our members’ sites.

This blog entry was posted by Chris Morrell.

New article: Vinyl Siding Inspection

October 21st, 2010

Vinyl siding is probably the most popular exterior cladding material used in the U.S.  Its durability and ease of maintenance make it the first choice for cost-conscious homeowners.  Home inspectors encountering it on the job can help their clients understand its properties — as well as some of the issues surrounding what it doesn’t provide — to ensure its long service life.  Read all about it Vinyl Siding Inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Nick Gromicko.

New article on spill switch inspection

October 19th, 2010

Spill switches are safety devices placed on modern gas-burning heating appliances. They sense when carbon monoxide spills into the home instead of out the chimney, halting the flow of fuel to the appliance. They must be installed in the correct location, however, and they must respond within 10 minutes of exposure to spilled CO. To find out how they are tested and more, check out our new article on spill switch inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New article on rent-to-own home leases

October 19th, 2010

Many homeowners aren’t aware that they can combine a rental agreement with a home purchase, so they get to stay in a house or condo for some time, paying rent to the owner, before finally buying it. In most cases, the renter has the option to buy at a predetermined price by a certain date it if they choose. While the seller loses some freedom in the deal, they get to keep at least a portion of the rent, or all of it if the renter decides not to buy. In slow housing markets like this one, rent-to-own becomes a more popular option. Read more in our new article on rent-to-own-home-leases.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New article on soil contamination inspection

October 19th, 2010

A home’s soil may be chock full of contaminants that are potentially toxic to people and pets alike. Find out how to inform and protect homeowners from the hidden dangers lurking beneath their feet in our new article on soil contamination inspection.

This blog entry was posted by Rob London.

New article: Air Sampling for Mold Inspections

October 19th, 2010

Mold inspection is serious business, and a variety of testing methods is available to inspectors who find or suspect mold growth in a home.  One of the most accurate methods is air sampling, which can differentiate between various types of airborne particulates, as well as differences between indoor and outdoor mold levels.  Learn about this method in  Air Sampling for Mold Inspections.

This blog entry was posted by Nick Gromicko.

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