How to Create Home Inspection Websites

Gromicko on Home Inspection Websites: Brutality Online
 
PREFACE:
 
The home inspection business is different than almost any other business in that you (the home inspector) never meet your client until AFTER you're hired.  That’s right -- when you get out of your truck at the inspection site and introduce yourself to your client, s/he has already hired you.  There is almost no salesmanship involved in the home inspection business.  Success relies almost solely on marketing.  But where should an inspector market?  Well, a home inspector’s clients are nearly always home buyers.  And many of these home buyers are  conveniently all in one place… online.  They are online touring new homes, researching schools, emailing their real estate agents, shopping for mortgages, and looking for home inspectors.  And since you won't have an opportunity to sell your inspection services in person, it's important that your website be capable of doing your selling for you.  To a potential client, your website is a sample of what you and your report are going to be like.  It makes little sense to drive traffic to a website that doesn’t represent you well.  The door to your website is your homepage.  It's the most important page of your website.  Most of your visitors will never even click through to your other pages if your homepage doesn’t make them want more.  As a home inspector, you might work on some of the most expensive real estate in the world, but no home is as valuable, per square foot, as your own inspection website’s homepage.  The right homepage can generate you many thousands of dollars in inspection business, if it's designed properly.  You only get one chance to make a good first impression.  Make sure your site doesn’t un-sell your inspection services.
 
WARNING:
 
Some of the advice in this article is wrong.

Most of what I have to say here is specific for home inspectors' websites.  In fact, it's so specific that it's actually bad advice for most other website designs.  If you're not developing a website for a home inspection service, stop reading now.  This article is not for you. 
 
Some of the advice in this article isn't.

I'll admit that I have a big ego and I like to see my own name in print, hence the title of this article.  But the other reason for including my name in the title is to make it clear that this is not so much a set of general guidelines as it is my own commentary on the subject.  I did not offer a boilerplate website for good reason.  This article is more my own personal thinking than a rigid set of rules.   
 
Nearly none of the advice in this article is technical.

A technical paper geared more toward website developers is in the works.  This article is its precursor.  I also saved the subjects of traffic generation and search-engine optimization for my future articles.
 
Some of the advice in this article is brutal.

I’ve always fancied myself a gentleman, and so I am rarely crude.  However, when it comes to giving marketing and sales advice, I am often brutal.  This "marketing brutality" can even be found in the code of the many thousands of InterNACHI-owned sites on the Internet sending members work.  It is how some mediocre InterNACHI inspectors are able to compete with excellent inspectors, and how some excellent InterNACHI members can dominate entire markets.  Some advice I offer here is very much in keeping with my marketing brutality.  So, be forewarned.
 
Having said all that, if you're a good home inspector, you have an ethical duty to market yourself and stay in business so as many of your fellow citizens as possible can use your services.  In my own career at InterNACHI, I have never pulled any punches when touting the fact that there is no place a home inspector can spend a dollar a day that is better or more profitable to his/her business than joining InterNACHI.  In my heart, I truly believe that InterNACHI members get far more back from InterNACHI than the membership dues they spend, and that nothing can compete with the value provided by membership in InterNACHI.  If you feel your clients who are about to make the purchase of their lives are served well by hiring you… you shouldn’t pull any punches, either.  Marketing is no place for humility.  You are serving your clients by allowing them learn of, and benefit from, your good work. 
 

Your website isn’t about you.

Your website should be all about your prospects.  Toward that end, your website should be in the second-person voice.  That means you should refer to your website visitors as “you,” just like what you're reading here, as opposed to referring to them as "my clients."

NOPE:
 

Your website is not a brochure.

A company brochure is nothing more than a pompous business card.  Brochures are widely accepted as corporate propaganda.  Readers don’t expect to find much real information in them, so brochures are not really something a potential client is going to study with any seriousness.  You should consider yourself lucky to have a potential client even open your brochure.   However, Internet users are much more goal-driven.  They have clicked on your website for a specific reason -- not to just flip through its pages.  Therefore, your web developer has to predict what information these visitors are seeking and then quickly give it to them, or at least make the visitor believe they are just a click away from finding it.  I believe a website is far more important to a home inspector than a brochure.

Your website is not a TV.

There still exist some web developers who forget what the real purpose of a home inspector’s website is… to generate inspection business for the inspector.  Some designs still include slow-loading graphics, a happy couple standing in front of their new home, virtual tours, and, of course, the obligatory tie-wearing, clipboard-holding, smiling inspector.  These sites look great, but they generate very little inspection work for their owners.  Visitors are seeking information.  Your web developer’s job is to quickly make visitors believe that the information they're seeking is just a click away (at most), and then shape the delivery of that information such that it leads each visitor toward a decision to hire you for the inspection.  That’s it.  This isn’t art -- it's science.  There is a big difference between a professional-looking website and a pretty one.  Gromicko’s Law of Websites:  Pretty websites only sell their developer’s services.  However, there is some correlation between clean, visual design and quality.


The worst thing I ever saw on a home inspector’s website was a virtual home inspection tour.  And, I confess, we almost created one at InterNACHI, until we discovered that most visitors misinterpreted it as some sort of newfangled, online sample inspection report that they did not like.

Your website is not a magazine.

Your website is not a magazine, and your homepage is not a magazine cover.  The purpose of a magazine cover is to grab your attention so you pick up (or visit) the magazine.  However, there is no sense in trying to make your homepage grab attention, since no one can see it until after they choose to visit it anyway.  It is the links on your homepage leading the visitor toward a decision to hire you that must be the attention-grabbers.  A homepage cannot attract or send visitors to itself. 
 
Your website is not a building.

Your website is not a building, and your homepage is not a true "lobby."  Most websites have a homepage that acts as a lobby, directing traffic in different directions.  However, a home inspector’s homepage should be a "trick lobby."  The signage (links) should appear to offer visitors directions to different departments.  But, in reality, they should merely take visitors through sales pitches that all lead back to making the visitor decide to hire you.  These departments (pages) are not destinations in and of themselves, but, rather, they're routes that you allow the visitor to pass through on his/her way to hiring you.  Common link titles that lead to such sales routes are: "Reasons to Hire Me," "My Qualifications," "What My Full Home Inspections Include..." and "My Promise to You." 
 
Your webpage is not a newspaper.  

Your webpage is not a newspaper, and your homepage is not the newspaper’s daily headline.  A newspaper, or a site like NACHI.org, is expected to have fresh news every day, and readers revisit the same newspaper every day, rightly expecting to read something new.  However, your homepage is not going to be visited daily.  Very likely, you’ll get only one chance to say anything to a potential client with your homepage.  Forget about freshness.  People buy a house only once every seven years, on average.  Throw your same old but best pitch every time. 

Furthermore, a newspaper’s format is recognized all over the world.  Readers all know that the sports scores and weather are on other pages within the newspaper.  This advantage permits newspaper publishers to dedicate their front pages to big headlines.  However, your visitors are not as convinced that what they seek exists within other pages of your website, so you'ill have to use part of your homepage to assure them.  For instance, if you offer ancillary inspection services, such as wood-destroying insects or radon, you'll need to say so on your homepage.  Little changes make all the difference.  
 
YEP:
 
A home inspector’s website should have only one lone goal.

A home inspector’s website is not a brochure, not a TV, not a magazine, not a building, and not a newspaper.  Unlike many websites, it should not serve multiple purposes.  Don’t give your visitor any freedom to find anything but reasons to hire you.  You must have an understanding of who your visitors are and who among them are important -- who is likely to hire you.   A home inspector’s website has only one purpose… to cause visitors to contact you to hire you. 
 
While your website may also cause someone to refer business to you (typically, a real estate agent), your sole purpose is still essentially the same. 
 
Virgins

Because most people buy homes only every several years, nearly all visitors to a home inspector's website are first-time visitors and will likely never return.  This is the main reason your homepage must use universally adopted conventions, which you must finely tweak and customize to suit your business.
 
Your website is a series of billboards.

No visitor reads all your website content.  They glance at your homepage, scan it, and make a crucial decision -- crucial to you, the home inspector.  The decision they make is whether or not to click on anything on your homepage, or to exit and head for a competitor’s website.  There are only two ways to get them to choose to stay:

  • Give them what they want quickly.  Unlike other industries that have to worry about fulfilling many visitors' multiple needs, your visitors have one basic need that you need to meet.  Immediately let them know that you have what they want, and that it is, at most, a click or two away.  This should be easy because home inspectors already know what their visitors want… to hire a good home inspector.  So just give it to them.                   

                OR

  • Give them something they weren’t originally seeking, but, rather, something that appears so enticing that they can’t help but click it.  An irresistibly titled link pointing to https://www.nachi.org/3mistakes.htm is an example of this strategy being used on an InterNACHI-owned site. 


Omit needless words on your homepage.  This will make the pertinent words more prominent.  Your homepage is like a billboard that your visitors are whizzing by.  Give them only those words that will cause them to hit their brakes.  Gromicko's Law of Site-Stickiness:  Stickiness begins with one click on the homepage.  Yes, I know this sounds obvious, but your homepage must compel visitors to make that first click.  

THE TARGET:
 
Your visitors arrive with baggage.

By the time most visitors arrive at your website, they will likely have experienced thousands of other sites and will expect yours to follow the same standard conventions.  Visitors expect your site design to follow common conventions.  To the extent that your web design veers from these internationally adopted conventions, your visitors will find it uncomfortable, assume your inspection report is similarly difficult to navigate, and, with a click of their mouse, leave.  Most visitors won’t drill down into your site if they don’t immediately find what they want and find it where they expect it to be.  So, your site has to be smooth -- smooth in terms of meeting visitors' expectations.  Forget about being creative.  Play the odds and appeal to the masses.  Let your competitor’s web developer be creative.  If you want to be an artist, go be one.  Many web developers should be on stage doing interpretive dances or pounding lumps of sculpture clay.  They have no business screwing up our website designs.  I once visited a home inspector's website where the links were all placed on different parts of a picture of a house.  It was cute, but almost impossible for a first-time visitor to navigate.  Conventions only become conventions under the force of natural selection.  In other words, they are conventions because they work.  Visitors get a reassuring sense of comfort from a website that doesn’t veer from standard conventions.  This sense of comfort earned by your website then transfers to their sense of you, the inspector.  Remember:  this is a science -- and your business! -- not an art. 
 
You must deny your visitors their freedom.
 
InterNACHI's website at www.NACHI.org is a horrible example for a home inspector to follow when developing his/her own website.  It's the opposite of what your website should be.  InterNACHI's website is hailed by usability experts as near perfect, in large part, due to its homepage.  Within a second or two, first-time visitors to NACHI.org, regardless of what they're looking for -- online education, interactive message board, industry news, etc. -- all come to the conclusion that they’ve found it, or at least they've found the page that will take them to it with just a click or two.  This is fine for the homepage of one of the world’s best trade associations because NACHI.org’s 265,000+ other pages truly deliver what its homepage promises.  NACHI.org is able to be everything to all visitors, and it grants visitors the freedom to seek and -- more importantly -- find anything they might want.   
 

Conversely, a home inspector’s website must deny this freedom.  Every link on your homepage should lead to a page that starts with something relating to that respective link title (the "lead-in").  Then, every link from that page should link to a sales pitch for your services.  Then, every link from that page should lead to sales closings (reasons to contact you now).  Finally, every link from that page should lead to your contact information.  I love to link these pages with the one-way title “Continue,” as visitors have no business navigating themselves around.  Your site should covertly chauffeur your visitors.  Don’t worry -- your visitors won’t ever figure out that they aren’t behind the wheel unless you give them a site map… so don’t. 

Unlike NACHI.org, your website should have only one goal… to cause your visitor to hire you.  Like the former Soviet Union’s elections, where every candidate was a Communist, your visitors should also be free to choose any link that leads them toward a same end.  Your website is a funnel with visitors "freely" and unconsciously choosing to spiral down it.  You cannot afford to grant your visitors any real freedom.   

Let your competitor build a website like NACHI.org, one that provides visitors with real freedoms and lots of information.  You build a website that provides food for your family, one that will pry visitors away from their hard-earned money.  Gromicko's Law of Site Usability: Visitor freedom and sales are inversely related.  Grant your visitors the complete freedom to never choose incorrectly. 

How to treat visitors seeking something you don’t sell:

If your visitor wants something else, something you don’t sell, treat that visitor like a window-shopper instead of a potential customer.  Don’t let him cost you anything.  Let your competitors waste precious homepage real estate with stuff like “Search the Web” functions.   Design your site as if every visitor was there to hire you. 
 
DESIGN:
 
Don’t use too many pics on your homepage.

People are naturally drawn to photos (pics), so if a pic doesn't tell a story that sells your inspection service, don’t use it.  An example of a pic that sells would be a shot of you (the home inspector) kneeling to check a gas valve near a heating system using an electronic leak detector.  This action shot of you holding a gadget that the average client likely doesn't own or understand is a strong visual sales pitch that you might consider building your homepage around. 
 
Look in the mirror.
 
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but many visitors will, so reconsider using a picture of yourself if you:
  • look very overweight. It implies that you can’t inspect the crawlspace.
  • look very young. It implies that you are inexperienced.
  • look like a mass-murderer.

If you are male and have a ponytail, hide it in the photo. You want the reader to identify with you.  Keep your picture as simple as possible. Consider using digital air-brushing to touch up your picture.  Don’t wear a tie, except for maybe in "My Promise" (discussed later). This look is generally too professional and implies that you are so dressed up that you won’t inspect the attic.  Also, don’t wear a t-shirt. This is too unprofessional.  You are a step above, inspecting the work done by men in t-shirts.  Try to find a middle ground -- perhaps a nice collared shirt with the top button undone.

Another pic you could add to your homepage is a cutout of a sample of your home inspection report, all fanned out and laying on a table.  Make it a cutout instead of a square photo, though.  It will look much better.  Trust me.

There is one additional pic which may serve to increase sales.  That is a pic or a cutout of something -- anything -- that conveys that you are locally owned and operated.  Use an image depicting the local sports team, a familiar town monument, or a recognizable local geographic feature.  Visitors like to contact local inspectors, which is why I’m also generally against toll-free numbers.  Local exchanges are much friendlier.  Anyway, a pic that shows you are a local is a fine addition to your homepage.

Fight the temptation to include most other pics on the homepage.  For example, pics of defects can go inside the site on their respective pages, but not on the homepage.  They will dilute your visitor’s attentiveness, which is so critical to sales.  Pics also slow download times.  Gromicko’s Law of Pics:  Pics distract visitors from critical, interactive sales text, unfortunately.  See https://www.nachi.org/images.htm

Use high-contrast colors for legibility.

Dark text on a light background works best, especially since convention dictates blue for links.

Scroll.

Avoid adding blank space between bodies of text or inserting blank lines between paragraphs if it looks like it might fall on the "fold" of the homepage.  Otherwise, a blank space might happen to land at the bottom of the visitor’s screen, making it appear that they're at the end of the page.  A continuous body of text will allow visitors to realize they should scroll to reach the end.
 
InterNACHI Certification Verification Seal

Put your InterNACHI certification verification seal somewhere above the fold of your homepage and with the other logos at the bottom of every page (where a visitor wouldn't need to scroll to notice).  The seal is an InterNACHI member's most powerful sales tool, designed to be interactive with your visitor.  Use it.  You'll find it at  https://www.nachi.org/webseal.htm
 
Add logos to the very bottom of every page.

If you've earned them, use logos that demonstrate your third-party certifications. They should go at the very bottom of every page.

Certified:  The word "certified" creates the most positive response from the general public, which is why you should write out the words Member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and not just use the acronym InterNACHI. Various InterNACHI logos are available for members' use at https://www.nachi.org/logos.htm

Licensed:  The word "licensed," along with your state license number (for example, Texas: TREC #12345), should be included, and its inclusion may, in fact, be required in some states.  However, consumers give you little credit for being licensed, as they know licensing is a bare minimum standard, and they assume that you're operating legally, even in states without licensing.  Nevertheless, make it easy for a consumer to verify your licenses.

Society:  Anything with the word "society" in it should be avoided, as studies have shown that the general public equates a society with a social club, and not a professional trade organization.

Training Institute:  Unfortunately, the schools or training institutes you attended can work against you a bit.  Schooling is sometimes associated with being a novice.  Use only their logo (if permitted).  Don't write out "graduated from..."  Your qualifications list (discussed later) is the better location for detailing your educational background.
 

Add your local market region to every page.

By tracking IP addresses, Google knows where their users are searching from and customizes their search results accordingly.  Therefore, it's important that Google knows where your market area is.  Put your address, market suburbs, market sub-regions, satellite cities, and metro areas on every page of your website.  If you serve more than one town or city, include them all.  Even better, add geographically-specific phrases about your market area within your website text.
 
Your Company Logo
 

Put your logo in the upper left-hand corner.  It should be bigger than anything else on the homepage, except maybe one main pic (described below).  One hundred pixels is about the max, though.   Avoid cartoons.  Cartoon graphics do not present a professional image.  No Sherlock Holmes characters looking at a house with a magnifying glass.  Would a professional engineer use cartoons?   

There is an emerging convention that makes logos link to the homepage.  There is no harm in linking your logo to your homepage, but many users are not aware of this convention yet (so maybe I’m premature in calling it a convention).  Therefore, link your logo to your homepage, if you wish, but not in place of having a link titled “homepage” on every page.  Every page should have a link titled “homepage.”

Your Tagline

This is the most important part of your homepage.  The main role of a tagline is to communicate what you do, quickly.  It is the sign over your store, and it should be placed to the right of your logo.  A tagline is especially important to inspection companies that don’t have the word “inspection” in their company name. 
 
For example:

A & B Enterprises, LLC

This company name doesn’t clearly convey what business they’re in.  Imagine seeing a sign for a store without knowing what it is they sell.  A tagline solves this problem.  The best tagline for home inspectors is Inspected once, inspected right!®  It not only quickly defines what business the company is in, but it's also a powerful ad within itself.  Inspected once, inspected right!®  insinuates that if you hire someone else, you might end up having to have it inspected a second time.  It also confidently touts that A & B Enterprises, LLC inspects it right the first time. 
 
See how much better the company name looks with a tagline under it: 
 
A & B Enterprises, LLC
Inspected once, inspected right!® 
 
Another good tag line is: "Anyone else is just looking around."®   And for multi-inspector firms, a good tagline is: "The right inspector, right away."®
 
Note:  "Inspected once, inspected right!", "Anyone else is just looking around" and "The right inspector, right away"  taglines are Registered Trademarks of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).  InterNACHI members may use the taglines as they wish.  InterNACHI recommends that members italicize and punctuate the tagline as depicted.
 

Fonts

Avoid using many different fonts.  It diminishes the continuity of your website.  Stick to two fonts:  one for headlines and one for the body text.  "Impact" fonts are best reserved for headings.  Impacts command attention, and they help the reader determine what's important.  Choose a sans serif font, such as Verdana, Arial or Helvetica for the body text.  Sans serifs exist for a purpose:  they help the reader’s eye pick up the shape of the letter.  Bolding or italicizing do not necessarily count as separate fonts.  The same thing goes for varying colors.  Use an alternate color to emphasize a word or set of words, but don't overdo it.  Use these techniques only to add emphasis and clarity.  And never use comic fonts.  You're a professional, not an entertainer.

NAVIGATION:
 
Your homepage links constitute ads in and of themselves.

Because a homepage serves as the portal to the different areas of a site, homepages tend to have more links than other pages.  I like a wide border of navigational links.  However, be mindful that navigation facilitation is only a secondary purpose of home inspector’s homepage.  The primary purpose is to sell your services.  Therefore, the links on your homepage should create ads for your home inspection company in and of themselves, even if your visitor never clicks any of them.  Compose your navigation links as if they weren't live links, but, rather, copy (which is the advertising industry's term for text within an ad).
  
Left-Border Navigation vs. Top-Horizontal Navigation

Most tests that have been conducted on this subject declare that navigational links are best placed vertically in the left border for left-to-right reading languages, including English.  Visitors often suffer from banner blindness and so ignore anything horizontal at the top of a webpage.  Furthermore, vertical lists imply hierarchy, whereas horizontal tabs do not.  This hierarchy can be especially exploited by home inspectors' websites, which typically sell only one service, to compose a sort of ad made up of link titles.  (More on this below.)
 
"Home" vs. "Homepage"

As a home inspector, you will likely use the term “home” a lot within the content of your website.  Therefore, unless you're making it clear that the term "home" is a link back to the homepage (such as by making it an option in your navigation bar), don’t use the term “home” to also refer to your homepage within text boxes.  Instead, reserve the word “homepage” for your homepage, and use the term “homepage” instead of “home” to link to your homepage within text boxes.
 
Distinguishing Your Homepage

Unlike monster sites like NACHI.org, where many millions of visitors arrive through pages other than the homepage, almost all your visitors will arrive at your website through your homepage.  Nevertheless, it should still be apparent to your visitors when they are on your homepage.  The best way to distinguish your homepage from other pages is with the word “Welcome.”  The word “Welcome” is universally used as a signpost for homepages.  This signpost will help ensure that visitors recognize their starting point, should they return to your homepage after exploring other pages of your website.  
 
Don’t be compelled to offer a lengthy welcome message or happy talk that eats up prime homepage space.  The simple and lone word “Welcome” at the start of your homepage text is plenty.   
 
Also, don’t make “Welcome” the first word in your window title, determined by the title tag of each HTML document, since titles play a critical role in search-engine bookmarking.  Use “inspector,” or, better yet, your city name to exploit differentiating site information.  A good window title might be: Boston’s best home inspector, or even InterNACHI's tagline: Inspected once, Inspected Right!®
 
Border Links to Include

The following list includes the internal links that your website should have.  They should probably be placed in a left border underneath your logo in this general order.  But, again, this is not meant to be a boilerplate.  Toward that end, I offer this example of the development of your navigation composition.  Remember:  Your links comprise ads in and of themselves, even if your visitor doesn't click any of them.

Homepage
Full Home Inspections

Additional Inspections
Why Hire Me
My Qualifications 
Download My Brochure
Certification Verification
Standards of Practice
Code of Ethics
My Promise to You
Contact Me

If you offer more than two additional inspections, you can list them separately under the category of "Additional Inspections" so that visitors know you provide these services without having to click.  "Additional Inspections" would then become a category title, and not a link that is blue or underlined, like so:

Homepage
Full Home Inspections
Additional Inspections
    Radon Gas
    Wood-Destroying Insects (Termites)
    Mold
Why Hire Me
My Qualifications
Download My Brochure
InterNACHI Certification Verification
Standards of Practice
Code of Ethics
My Promise to You
Contact Me Now 

I like putting the word “Gas” after “Radon” to help those who are unfamiliar with radon.  And I like putting the word “(Termites)” in parentheses after “Wood-Destroying Insects.”  Don't use "WDO," since few visitors are familiar with that abbreviation.

The whole purpose of your website is to get your phone to ring, so if you have both an email address and you answer your phone regularly, you might want to also turn “Contact Me” into a category titled “Contact Me Now” and put the actual contact information under it.  Also, if you're willing to answer your phone in the evening, say so in parentheses after your phone number.  This removes a visitor’s hesitation to call you late. 
 
I also believe that a small percentage of visitors (mostly real estate agents) visit a home inspector's website for the sole purpose of looking up a familiar inspector's contact information.  Some real estate agents who regularly used my home inspection services for years never committed my phone number to memory and always went back online to retrieve it.  Therefore, repeating your contact information again on the right side of your homepage, near the top, seems reasonable.  Furthermore, some clients referred to you only by company name may be visiting your site solely to retrieve your contact information to schedule a home inspection.  Ahhhh, the power of referrals!
Homepage
Full Home Inspections
Additional Inspections
    Radon Gas
    Wood-Destroying Insects (Termites)
    Mold
Why Hire Me
My Qualifications
Download My Brochure
InterNACHI Certification Verification
Standards of Practice
Code of Ethics
My Promise to You
Contact Me Now
     bob@bobshomeinspection.com
    (123) 456-7890 (8:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.) 
 
If you can offer a sample report online that is downloadable, put it as link at the bottom of the “Full Home Inspections” page, as well as a sub-line underneath it.  It's frustrating to be thrust into a new medium, so if the sample report link goes to another site or is a PDF file, warn your visitor in parentheses, like so: 
Homepage
Full Home Inspections
    Download a Sample Report (PDF)
Additional Inspections
    Radon Gas
    Wood-Destroying Insects (Termites)
    Mold
Why Hire Me
My Qualifications
Download My Brochure
InterNACHI Certification Verification
Standards of Practice
Code of Ethics
My Promise to You
Contact Me Now
    andy@abenterprisesllc.com
   (123) 456-7890 (8:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.) 
 
I like each word of categories to be capitalized and sub-categories to be all lower-case, as this helps make clear the distinction between their relative importance.  All uppercase words are difficult to read.  However, if you are an inspector who has many qualifications, you might want to capitalize every letter in your “MY QUALIFICATIONS” link and/or make it bold font so as to draw attention, and more clicks to it, like so: 
Homepage
Full Home Inspections
    Download a Sample Report (PDF)
Additional Inspections
    Radon Gas
    Wood-Destroying Insects (Termites)
    Mold
MY QUALIFICATIONS
Download My Brochure
Why Hire Me
InterNACHI Certification Verification
Standards of Practice
Code of Ethics
My Promise to You
Contact Me Now
    andy@abenterprisesllc.com
   (123) 456-7890 (8:00am to 10:30pm)
There is a small percentage of visitors who, despite your “MY QUALIFICATIONS” being blue, underlined, and its own live link, will misinterpret it as a category title and everything under it as a subcategory and will, therefore, not click on your “MY QUALIFICATIONS” link. Solve this problem by changing the order of your “MY QUALIFICATIONS” link and your “Why Hire Me” link (see above), and then listing the content from your qualifications page under the content on your “Why Hire Me” page, so that they get it either way. 
 
I also like the "MY QUALIFICATIONS" link title to be bigger and bolder than the others, as if you were gloating with pride about it.  It is its own mini-ad.
 

Where are we taking them?

Your "Homepage" link takes your visitors to your homepage, of course.  Many web developers add extra code to prevent the homepage link from being live on the homepage itself.  Some even remove the homepage link from the border on the homepage, since there's no reason to try to go to a page you're already on.  I think this is unnecessary code and may even cause rather than eliminate confusion.  Nowadays, Internet users are well aware that navigational links often include links to the very page they're on. 

Your "Full Home Inspections" link should take your visitor to a page that describes what you inspect.  It's really a subset of InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice and should include something like this:

Our Full Inspections include:

  • roof, vents, flashings and trim;
  • gutters and downspouts;
  • skylight, chimney, and other roof penetrations;
  • decks, stoops, porches, walkways and railings;
  • eaves, soffits and fascia;
  • grading and drainage;
  • basement, foundation and crawlspace;
  • water penetration and foundation movement;
  • heating system;
  • cooling system;
  • main water shut-off valve;
  • water heating system;
  • interior plumbing fixtures and faucets;
  • drainage sump pumps with accessible floats;
  • electrical service line and meter box;
  • main disconnect and service amperage;
  • electrical panel(s), breakers and fuses;
  • grounding and bonding;
  • GFCIs and AFCIs;
  • fireplace damper door and hearth;
  • insulation and ventilation;
  • garage doors, safety sensors and openers;
  • and much more.

Review our Standards of Practice at www.nachi.org/sop.htm for complete details.
Download our sample report.

Note:  There are sound legal reasons to include a live link to InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice at the bottom of this list.

Each of your links under "Additional Inspections" should take the visitor to a page that offers information about that issue, a short description of how you inspect that issue, and the additional fee you charge for that inspection (so that no one accidentally assumes that it's included in your full/standard home inspection). 

Your "My Qualifications" link should take your visitor to a page that lists every qualification you can come up with.  Make your list of qualifications as long as possible. Your list of qualifications can be broadened to include information such as your reporting system and schedule availability.  If you make the list long enough, no one will read it.  Your visitors will be impressed enough by its sheer length.  Gromicko’s Law of Surfing:  Only competitors read your webpage content; everyone else just scans it.  Each qualification you have can be broken up and expanded.  For instance, instead of stating merely that you are a member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, state something like this:

  • I am a member in good standing of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).
  • I have passed InterNACHI’s Online Inspector Examination.
  • I have completed InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics Obstacle Course.
  • I have taken InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice Quiz.
  • I abide by InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics.
  • I follow InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Safe Practices for the Home Inspector course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's 25 Standards Every Inspector Should Know course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Residential Plumbing Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Residential Electrical Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Roof Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's HVAC Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Exterior Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Attic, Insulation, Ventilation and Interior Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Deck Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Moisture Intrusion Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Green Building course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Wood-Destroying Organism Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Mold Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Inspecting Foundation Walls and Piers course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Log Home Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Radon Measurement Service Provider course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Commercial Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's Septic System Inspection course.
  • I have completed InterNACHI's How to Perform Energy Audits course.
  • I fulfill 24 hours of Continuing Education every year.
  • I own and use state-of-the-art equipment, such as a gas-leak detector and infrared camera.
  • I am available on Saturdays.
  • I generate easy-to-read inspection reports.

Deliver the message: I am the quality home inspector you want to hire.  

If you use sub-contractors to perform any portion of your inspections, include their qualifications.  For instance:  "Wood-infestation inspection performed by Licensed Pest-Control Inspector #12345."

Notice that the last few qualifications are nothing more than additional reasons to hire you.  Again, make this factual list as long as possible.

Your "Why Hire Me" link should take visitors to a page that's similar to your "Qualifications" page, only backwards.  List the reasons to hire you first, followed by your formal qualifications. 

Your "My Qualifications" page list and your "Why Hire Me" page list are really just the same list in reverse order.

Your "InterNACHI Certification Verification" link points to InterNACHI’s online certification verification seal system.  When making a purchase online, most consumers will look for a seal of approval from a company such as Thawte or VeriSign.  You can give your clients the same kind of confidence by letting them know you are certified by the world's largest home inspection organization.  HTML code for this link can be found at https://www.nachi.org/webseal.htm

Your "Standards of Practice" link should point to https://www.nachi.org/sop.htm and be included for legal reasons. 

Your "Code of Ethics" link should point to https://www.nachi.org/code_of_ethics.htm

Your "My Promise to You" link should take visitors to a page that has a promise and a pic of you.  Include a head shot of yourself looking straight into the camera, and position it above the promise.  Also, add your signature on a slight angle below it.  Few will actually read the promise word for word, but the message will be conveyed nonetheless.  See a sample at https://www.nachi.org/promise.htm

                                                   My Promise to You

Choosing the right home inspector can be difficult.  Unlike most professionals, you probably will not get to meet me until after you hire me. Furthermore, different inspectors have varying qualifications, equipment, experience, reporting methods and -- yes -- different pricing. One thing for sure is that a home inspection requires work -- a lot of work. Ultimately, a thorough inspection depends heavily on the individual inspector’s own effort. If you honor me by permitting me to inspect your new home, I guarantee that I will give you my very best effort.  This I promise you.

John Smith
A&B Enterprises, LLC
Inspected once, Inspected right!®

 
This leads us to the length of the text on the pages that the navigation links point to.  The answer is "short."  Even if you have a lot to say, don’t say it without offering the visitor a chance to shut you up with cash.  For example, let’s say you have a link titled “Radon Gas.”  It may be tempting to put all sorts of scientific definitions of radon, the history of radon, graphs alerting visitors to the cancer risks that high radon levels pose, etc., but refrain.  Instead, have the link go to a short radon page which quickly describes why testing for radon is important, why your form of testing is the best, and how to contact you to order the inspection.  If you're worried your sales pitch on this short radon page doesn’t satisfy overly inquisitive visitors, simply add a “More About Radon” link at the bottom of your short radon page that contains everything anyone would ever want to know about radon, and then some.  Include all the information you can on this page.  Make it all one long page, and feel free to make it as long as you like, with pics.  Include the advantages of your testing method (your testing equipment manufacturer or your analysis laboratory can provide you with plenty of this kind of information).  However, have this long "more" page periodically offer to bring the visitor back to your short radon page with “Back” links.  Let your visitors decide for themselves when they’ve been sold. 

Avoid naming links “Click Here.”

Never title a link “Click Here.”  Instead, tell the visitors what they get when they click the link.  For example, rather than saying: “Click Here for My Code of Ethics,” just title the link “Code of Ethics” or “My Code of Ethics.”
 
Avoid naming links “More.”

Rather than having a link titled “More” at the end of a list, tell the visitor what there is more of.  For example: “More References and Testimonies from My Past Clients.”
 
Don’t change your links' colors once they're visited.

Most websites have links that change colors once they're visited to keep a visitor from revisiting a page.  However, assuming every page of your website is designed to sell your services, I see no reason to stop a potential customer from reading anything twice.  Therefore, if possible, remove the code that provides this courtesy to your visitors so that all your links remain underlined and blue, even after being visited.  (I know -- it's brutal.)
 
Tip:  Font and color changes for link hovering are fine as they encourage your visitor to click on the link.
 
Don’t choose icons or buttons over simple text links.

Nearly all visitors to a home inspector's website are first-time visitors.  First-time visitors can read a word faster than they can discern what an icon means.  Don't make them interpret icons (other than, maybe, a well- recognized one, like a printer icon).  Use text-only links.
 

Don’t live-link any graphics.

If a visitor’s pointer or cursor changes over a graphic, indicating a live link, the visitor will often check every other graphic for live links.  This is a distraction.

PRICE:
 
You’re not fooling anyone. 

Don’t offer a downloadable discount coupon.  Such built-in coupons are a silly way of simply charging less, and everyone knows it.  Something available to everyone is worthless.  Don’t make your client download and present a $20 coupon when they're buying a house costing several hundred-thousands of dollars.  You might get away with it if you announce that it's exclusive and only available on this website till the end of the month or something similar.

Huh?
 

Avoid complicated or ambiguous pricing formulas. Example: “Base price + $1 for every $1,000 in home price over $250,000.  Additional fees and Saturday/mileage surcharges apply.  Call for quote.” Instead, keep your price structure straightforward and respectably high.


Nothing says Quality louder...

If your pricing is much higher than you competitors, flaunt it.  High pricing is the sure-fire way to convince a customer that you're one of the best.  Americans believe that you get what you pay for.  If your website is making the contention that you're the best home inspector in town, your pricing has to support this contention.  Charging too little contradicts this claim.  Read https://www.nachi.org/convert.htm.

Get More Inspection Work:  Capture Leads from Your Website

 
Is your home inspection business's website capturing inspection leads for you?  Do consumers visit your website but find no compelling reason to contact you?  Give them something irresistible and free. 
 
You can now offer these professionally-written e-booklets to potential homebuyers who visit your inspection website.  These e-booklets include tips that every homebuyer needs to know.  You can offer them in exchange for their contact information so that you can send them additional information about your inspection business.   Some inspectors wisely work every lead forever, regularly sending the consumer inspection-related information, until the lead develops into a scheduled inspection.
 
The following are instructions to use InterNACHI's "Tips for Homebuyers" e-booklets to generate more inspection jobs:  
 
STEP 1:  We currently have four e-booklets to choose from: for those of you who offer radon testing, one includes a recommendation to test for radon and why; one mentions our "We'll Buy Your Home Back" Guarantee (for members who participate); one e-booklet mentions neither; and one e-booklet mentions both. You get the idea. Their main purpose is to generate leads of consumers who are about to hire a home inspector.  You first have to decide which e-booklet is right for your inspection business.  
 
  • The first is our basic e-booklet (yellow cover).  It is appropriate to use if you DO NOT offer radon testing and ARE NOT participating in InterNACHI's "We'll Buy Your Home Back" Guarantee. 

  • The second e-booklet (blue cover) is appropriate to use if you DO offer radon testing but ARE NOT participating in InterNACHI's "We'll Buy Your Home Back" Guarantee. 

  • The third e-booklet (green cover) is appropriate to use if you DO NOT offer radon testing but ARE participating in InterNACHI's "We'll Buy Your Home Back" Guarantee. 

  • The fourth e-booklet (red cover) is appropriate to use if you DO offer radon testing and ARE participating in InterNACHI's "We'll Buy Your Home Back" Guarantee. 
Choose the e-booklet that is appropriate for you first--you only need to choose one.


STEP 2:  The next step is to add the image of the appropriate e-booklet cover to your inspection business website.  Most visitors never get past the homepage of your website, so you should add your e-booklet image to your homepage (rather than at a deeper page or link).  Remember to choose the right e-booklet cover for your inspection business:
 

STEP 3:  The next step is to create a line of text to place under the image.  For search engine-optimization purposes, the line of text should include your city and state/province.  But search-engine optimization aside, you already know a bit about your inspection business website's visitors.  You know that they are likely homebuyers, and you also know that they are likely in your local market area.  Therefore, you want to craft the text with that information in mind.  You want to include the word "homebuyer" in the text, as well as your town or city.  Customizing the text in this way speaks specifically to the very visitors who are most likely in need of your inspection services and thus increase your click rate.  For example, if you are inspecting in Toledo, Ohio, your line of text should read as follows:  

Email me to download your free e-booklet: Tips for Homebuyers:  
What Every Homebuyer in Toledo, Ohio, Must Know

Place this line of text under the image of your e-booklet cover.  

Tip:  The text should be very prominent in comparison to the image of the e-booklet cover, as the text should be customized (including your town/city) to particularly attract the attention of your site's visitors.


STEP 4:  The next step is to hyperlink the image of your e-booklet cover and your line of text to your email address.  For example, if your email address is Bob@ToledosBestHomeInspections.com, you would hyperlink the image and the text to:

mailto:bob@toledosbesthomeinspections.com
 
Don't forget to hyperlink both the image of your e-booklet cover and your line of text under the e-booklet cover image to your email address.

In HTML, the code would look like this:
 
<a href="mailto:bob@toledosbesthomeinspections.com">What Every Homebuyer in Toledo, Ohio, Must Know</a>

You might also want to pre-insert the subject line of your email to your site's visitor to read "Tips for Homebuyers" so that it's easy for you to recognize what their incoming response email is about.
 

STEP 5:  When you receive an email requesting your free e-booklet, email the consumer back with a link to the appropriate e-booklet.  The link will open as a PDF.  Remember to choose the right e-booklet link for your inspection business:
 

STEP 6:  This is the important step.  

 
Systemize your drip-marketing campaign so that you don't accidentally send a prospective client the same thing twice.

Remember  

The secondary purpose of these "Tips for Homebuyers" e-booklets is to provide information to the visitors of your website.  The main purpose is to capture your visitor's email address to give you an opportunity to engage that consumer, over time, until they are finally ready to hire a home inspector.
 
Now that you have a constant stream of homebuyer leads coming in... work them!  Email them every week (even if it is only a personal message).  It is not unusual to work a lead for many months until the consumer is ready to hire a home inspector.  Work every lead forever, or until it converts into a client who is ready to hire a home inspector... you! 

MISTAKES:
 
Noise

Don’t use watermarks, background images or wallpaper.  They add clutter, decrease visibility, slow download time, and are merely decorative.  Some tasteful exceptions exist, but those are few.

Don’t offer a "search" feature.

Don’t grant your visitor any real freedom to search your site, or, worse, the entire Web from your website.  Don't let them wander to weather forecasts or stock quotes.  The goal of your website is to lead the visitor toward a decision to hire you.  Your website does not exist to provide your visitors with any distracting conveniences or information other than that which you want them to have, in the order you want them to get it. 
 
Don’t offer to ship visitors anything they didn't purchase.
 

I was a licensed Realtor with RE/MAX for many years.  Typically, an inspection addendum within a real estate sales contract gives the buyer only a week or two to perform all the inspections.  This means that when visitors are on a home inspector’s website, they're not looking for a home inspector… they're looking to hire a home inspector, and 99% of them have no spare time.  And you shouldn't offer some trinket or costly book to your visitors in the hope that they’ll give you their address, in the hope that you can ship them something, in the hope that it will arrive before they hire a home inspector, or in the hope that, upon receipt, they’ll hire you.  As my fellow New York InterNACHI members would say… fuggedaboudit.  It's better to ask for their email address.  Besides, all visitors are justifiably hesitant to give up their actual home addresses but have no problem giving up their email addresses.  So, if you get their email address, use it!  Email them something every day, forever, or until they scream Stop!  Work every lead to death or until that lead turns into a scheduled home inspection.  The top real estate agents will often work leads for years until those leads produce.  We can learn something from these agents. 

The worst giveaway I ever saw was the “Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Home Inspections.”  For obvious marketing reasons, I don’t have to explain why this is so… well… idiotic. 
 
Tip:  It is fine do offer an e-publication so as to capture your visitor's email address.
 
Help Wanted = Poor Service

Never use your home inspection website to advertise employment opportunities.  It gives the impression that you're short-handed or that you might send an inexperienced inspector to your client's job site.  Reserve your home inspection website for only one thing… to convince visitors to hire you.   
 
Forget about online booking.

Any hint of online booking, even posting your schedule on an online calendar, will deter sales.  No home buyer -- or agent representing one -- who's about to make the purchase of his/her lifetime, under the contractual time constraints of a home inspection contingency, is going to trust some newfangled online booking function on your website.  It may be cute, but there's a reason real salespeople are employed all over the world.  Answer your phone.
 
Don't yell.

There's no reason to use exclamation marks on your homepage, ever.  Never yell at your visitors!!!!!

Don't act like you’ve never been in the end zone.

Avoid giving the impression that you're new to the business…even if you are.  Don’t put anything on your website that would reveal your inexperience.  Kiss-of-death terms include: New to the Business, Affiliate, Just-Licensed, Grand Opening, Recent Graduate, Introductory Offer, and the mother of all kiss-of-death terms:  Associate.
 
Don't misppel.

Because home inspectors are in the report-writing business, it's important to check and double-check for typos, as well as broken links. 
 
Don't pollute.

Your site should not contain any slow-loading intros, ads, pop-up windows, rollovers, pull-downs, music, animation, Flash, banners, things that move content, things that blink, things that make sounds, and instructions.  Yes, instructions.  If you have to include long instructions, even for downloading sample reports, you're doing something wrong.  Don’t make your visitors think.
 
ADDITIONS:
 
"Call Me Now" Button

Give your visitor immediate gratification by adding this button.  An automated assistant calls you when your visitor asks to be contacted.  https://www.nachi.org/immediategratification.htm
 
"Download My Inspection Brochure" Button

Allow your visitors to download and print off your inspection brochure using these buttons: https://www.nachi.org/download-my-inspection-brochure-buttons.htm

Inspection-Related Articles

These articles are great for search-engine optimization and may be used by any InterNACHI member:  https://www.nachi.org/articles.htm 
 
InterNACHI Membership Certificate

Don't lead with this.  Place it at the bottom of your qualifications page:  https://www.nachi.org/mycertificate.htm
 
Move-In Certified™ Logo

Place this logo on your services page:  http://www.moveincertified.com  You can also use the Move In Certified Site Widget.
 
Infrared-Certified™ Logo

Use this logo on your IR page if you're Infrared-Certified:  https://www.nachi.org/ir.htm
 
First-Time Home Buyer-Friendly Seal

Use this seal to attract first-time home buyers and their agents:  https://www.nachi.org/first-time.htm 
 
IAC2 Logo

Use these logos if you're a member of IAC2:  http://www.iac2.org/logo.php  Membership in IAC2 is free.
 
A Goal Other than Direct Sales

If you market heavily to real estate agents, you might want to put something on your website that causes them to refer clients to it.  Links pointing to https://www.nachi.org/what_really_matters.htm and https://www.nachi.org/3mistakes.htm are examples of links that generate referrals.
 
Agreement Between You and Your Client

Some inspectors argue that displaying your standard agreement (or contract) between you and your client on your website might be useful in defending the charge that your client "didn't have time to read it" on-site.  InterNACHI's pre-inspection agreement is the best in the industry.  Find it at: https://www.nachi.org/newagreement.htm  You can also use InterNACHI's free, online, signable inspection agreement.
 
Testimonials

When I was in the inspection business, I used to ask every client (after they moved in) for a letter of reference.  I used to send them a postage-paid envelope and a letter asking them to scribble me a reference letter.  I found that you get more replies if you permit them to scribble.  After you accumulate at least 20, you can put them on a page and link to it.  No visitor will really read that many, but they might just check to see how many you have, so wait until you collect a bunch.  InterNACHI did this at: https://www.nachi.org/thankyou.htm 
 
Actual Pics of Your Clients
 

Consider asking for permission to take and use actual photos of your clients.  You can place these above each of their testimonials.  This will give the testimonial credence.  Make sure your client is smiling in the pic.

 
MATH:
 
Website design is only one-third of the equation.

For example, if your website is getting 500 hits a month, and of those hits, 3% of the visitors contact you (attributable to website design), and of those who contact you, one-third of them schedule inspections, then you are getting five jobs a month from your website, which can be translated mathematically as  500 x 0.03 x 0.33 = 5.  However, if you can double all three factors in the equation so that you're getting 1,000 hits a month, 6% are contacting you, and you're converting two-thirds of those contacts into scheduled inspections, then you far more than doubled your results as 1,000 x 0.06 x 0.67 = 40 extra jobs a month!  Each factor counts.  Do the math and make sure your website is not the weak link in your formula for success.
 

Test Drive

Have someone test-drive your website.  Tell them to talk out loud as they move about your site, describing what they're looking for, what they're noticing, and what they're having trouble finding.

 
Brutal Truth

The total number of inspections to be performed is a constant.  The margins in the home inspection business are greater than nearly every industry, as there are so few supplies to buy.  So, every inspection job you perform after you pay your overhead for the month is nearly pure profit.  Every inspection counts.  Furthermore, every job you get is one your competitor doesn’t.  Like I said, the total number of inspections is a constant.  Make sure you're doing everything you can to get your share of the pie. 
  
THE END
 
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Search-Engine Optimization Tips for Inspectors
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