Generators are convenient in supplying power to homes in the event of a power outage. But they also can also cause deadly ‘back feeding’ and other hazards if not used correctly. Find out how to protect homeowners from the dangers associated with generators in our new article on generator hazards and inspection.
Inspectors who’ve been in the business for a while can probably know what kinds of problems they’ll run into based on the age of the house alone. We’ve assembled a handful of the most common defects found in old homes so you waste less time recognizing them. Take a look at our new article on inspecting for defects in older buildings.
Ungrounded electrical receptacles can be unsafe, especially if they’re used to power large appliances that are designed to be grounded. Homeowners have a number of options if they’d like to modernize their ungrounded electrical systems, but they should avoid common quick fixes that may make the situation more dangerous. Read about the subject in our new article on ungrounded electrical receptacles.
Photovoltaic arrays are an exciting new possibility when considering saving money on energy. But they can potentially be hazardous to firefighting operations if the proper guidelines are not followed. Learn how to make sure that solar panel systems remain a safe and effective tool for harvesting solar energy in our new article on solar panel fires and electrical hazards.
Polyurethane foam insulation can be sprayed into locations in either closed cell or open cell form. Closed cell has a higher R-value but it’s more expensive, while open cell is a better sound barrier. Find out more about where these insulation types are appropriate and where they’re a bad idea in our new article on polyurethane spray foam insulation.
Salvaging building materials can be an exciting and thrifty way for homeowners to save money, but extreme caution should be taken with certain items. Find out how to protect homeowners from the potential hazards of their newly found treasures in our new article on salvaged building material inspection.
Type B and Type L vents are commonly found in houses, and they both have their own requirements. Inspectors can be on the lookout for improper vent type, clearance, and plenty more, all of which is explained in our new article on type B and type L vent inspection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.