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Archive for January, 2006

The Do's and Don'ts of Requesting Links

SEO for DummiesHaving two websites (FollowSteph.com and LandlordMax.com) with decent traffic and respectable Google PR ratings, I find myself being asked for both links and reciprocal links quite often. Before I was the one initiating the contact, now the reverse is true.

Having been on both sides I’ve decided to compile a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help other people, businesses, and so on, get better results from their link requests. So without further ado, here’s a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts of Requesting Links:

Do’s

Concentrate your efforts on getting relevant high quality links. The more popular the site, the better rated it is (for example the higher the Google PR), the more valuable the link from it is. A good rule of thumb is that each increase in PR is an increase in magnitude of value.

People are more likely to link with you if you already have a link to them. So if you’re going to ask for a reciprocal link, first create your links before you send out any of your link request emails.

Keep the links focused to your topic, or to items your visitors will be interested in. Don’t just randomly link to other websites, you’re your visitors and the search engines will both devalue you if you do.

The more PR you have, the easier it is to get links. I know this is a catch-22, but it’s the truth. So don’t expect much at first. Aim more for sites that have lower PR’s and work your way up. Don’t expect a website with a PR of 7-8 to link with a site of a PR2-3. Odds are it just won’t happen.

Probably the #1 do, have good, unique, and relevant content that’s interesting! If you don’t chances are you won’t get many links. Getting links to interesting sites is a whole lot easier than to boring “spammy” sites.

When you request a link be personable, be specific about what attracted you to that site, explain why you’d be a good linking partner, etc. In the past, I’ve found that I’ve gotten great results when I commented on a particular text from another website that got my attention. I’d spend a few sentences explaining why I found it interesting, and relate it to something on my website. It’s very effective, people like when you notice them, and you’re genuine. Do note that if you’re faking it or if you’re sending a template letter, it will produce the opposite effect.

Keep your link requests brief. People are busy and don’t want to read long emails. If you send me more than one or two paragraphs, you’ve lost my attention. So if you’re going to comment as I just suggested on the previous Do, keep it short and sweet.

Peak the persons interest. If you send someone an email with just “reciprocal link request”, or something common like that, it will probably just be put on top of a pile of other link requests to get to when time permits. However if you draw the person’s attention by talking about something specific, like a topic they recently wrote about, or some exciting news related to their topic, chances are much higher that you’ll connect with them and get linked.

Don’t be shy about putting links to other sites in your articles. I know I regularly look through my web logs to see where the traffic is coming from. Who knows who might find you? I can tell you from experience it’s worked for me.

Have your links page close to your home page. Don’t embed it somewhere where no one can find it. I’ve seen this done often with the precept that it’ll increase your PR by not giving it away (for lack of better term). Maybe it’s true, maybe not. In either case, I personally won’t reciprocate with you if all you’re offering is the 300th link on page 10 of your links page that is 10 clicks deep.

Don’ts

Don’t participate in link farms and exchange programs. Most are completely irrelevant to your website and the search engines already know about them. If you’re unlucky enough, you might even get your website banned from some search engines as a result.

Don’t use redirects or link tricks when you offer link exchanges. Most people see through these and they quickly backfire.

Don’t make your link pages look like just a large lists of web pages. No one values these links. They generate no traffic or PR for the websites listed. Rather spend the time to create a valuable links page with name, description, and some comments. It shows that you took the time to evaluate them and you really are interested.

Very important, don’t send duplicate link request emails. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen multiple requests within minutes from the same website. I won’t go into the debate of whether or not automating link requests is good, but if you do automate it, don’t make it so blatantly obvious.

Don’t CC lots of people in your link request emails. This is even worse than sending multiple copies of the same request to the same website.

I understand that this is a catch-22 again, but I get many requests from people who have been blogging for 1-2 weeks, maybe 3-4. In any case, if you’re the new kid on the block, don’t expect links from larger sites right away. How do I know you’ll be around in another month or so? Give yourself some time to build your reputation up, and then ask for higher quality links. Like I mentioned before, start smaller and build up.

Don’t send emails with “warnings” that I’m in danger of losing my link from you. Firstly, they won’t work, secondly they tell me you’ve automated the process and I’m one of lots, and lastly, odds are that your links are worthless because of their sheer quantity. Never mind that more often than not they have no relevance to my website.

When asking for links keep your link description brief and to the point. Don’t try to seed your link requests with as many keywords as you can possibly squeeze into it. I can’t tell you many times I’ve seen linking titles that make no sense, that seem to be a dozen or more keywords randomly slapped together.

Don’t capitalize your link title and/or description. The harder you make it for someone to incorporate your links, the less likely they’re going to link to you.

Don’t try to ask for reciprocal links by falsely saying how much traffic your site gets. It’s usually pretty obvious, and if not it will be obvious within no time at all. No one likes to link to dishonest people.

All in all these are my tips. Like I said before, I’ve been on both sides of the fence and these are the simple Do’s and Don’ts that really helped me.






Looking at the Possibility of adding LandlordMax PDA Support

PDAMy company LandlordMax Property Management Software, has had many requests over the last several years to offer PDA support. That is, people have requested that they can get certain key pieces of information on they’re PDA while they’re on-site, such as their tenant contact information.

These requests have not fallen to deaf ears. We’re currently in discussions with another company that might be able to provide us with PDA access to key LandlordMax features, such as the tenant contact information, etc.. For the first version, it would require synchronizing with LandlordMax to get and update the latest information on your PDA.

Rather than try to guess the details, I’m placing a call out to all of you who own, or are interested in owning LandlordMax Property Management Software. This is your chance to provide feedback that I guarantee will be very thoroughly reviewed. To help us decide if we will go ahead with this partnership, we need to determine three things.

1. Would you be interested in this add-on?

2. What are you looking to be able to do with the PDA version? Obviously retrieving tenant contact information is one task, and we also have several other ideas based on the suggestions we’ve received. However we’d like to know, what would you like to have the PDA version do?

3. Because of the complexity of developing this piece of software, it would be considered an add-on module. Therefore, at what price range would you consider purchasing a PDA add-on?

I’ve create a new thread in the discussion forum. Please feel free to post any comments and/or suggestions you might have, we’d love to hear your comments. If you’d like to send them directly by email rather than post them publicly, you can also email me.

The feedback we get over the next week or so we’ll determine whether or not we pursue this partnership and create an add-on today, or if we postpone it until there’s more demand. I look forward to hearing from you all.






How to Calculate the Real Estate Market's Overvaluation

I recently had an email discussion with someone about the real estate market and trying to determine when it will be done falling. After thinking about it I realized that although we couldn’t predict when, we will be able to easily figure out how much the real estate market is overvalued when it’s done falling. That is, we will be able to figure out by how much people are overpaying for real estate properties today.

The easiest solution that most people will think of right away is to calculate how much properties drop in price. We can’t do that! It’s completely inaccurate. So how can we really calculate the premium on today’s price? Ignoring inflation for simplification, I’m going to suggest that we can only really calculate that premium by determining how much the monthly mortgage payments drop for the same size of property.

Why can’t we just say that if a property was say $500k, and drops to $400k, that the premium was then $100k, or 20%? Because of the effects of interest rates on real estate prices! As interest rates climb back up, prices have to fall, there’s nothing we can do about that. Therefore if real estate prices fall at exactly the same rate that interest rates climb (a good rule of thumb is that for each percent interest rates climb, real estate prices have to drop by 10% to keep the same monthly payment), then we can say that the market is fairly priced today.

Since I don’t believe that the real estate market is properly priced today, I also think that prices will drop faster than dictated by interest rates. I actually think the real estate market is highly inflated. For example, a general rule of thumb of real estate investing is that your yearly rental income should cover at least 10% of your total purchase price, including renovations, closing costs, etc. This is almost impossible today for the average residential properties. Getting positive cash flow is also almost impossible in today’s market. The market is overpriced, plain and simple.

But just by how much? The key to calculating this is by seeing how much the monthly mortgage payments will drop! Again, if interest rates increase, prices have to drop to keep the same monthly payments. Therefore, if the market is efficient, and the real estate market is correctly priced, we should see little to no difference in the monthly mortgage payments. That is to say prices will only fall in proportion to the interest rate hikes to keep the monthly mortgage payments the same. Cash flow would then also remain where it is.

However, if the real estate market is inefficient and real estate properties are overpriced, then the monthly mortgage payments will drop to bring properties back to profitable levels, to positive cash flow. Therefore prices will have to fall faster than dictated by interest rates alone. If the market is 10% overpriced (assuming no change in interest rates), then we should see monthly mortgage payments drop by 10%.

So for example, if interest rates increase by 3%, then prices have to drop by 30%, nothing new here. However if the market is overpriced by 10% then real estate prices will drop by not only 30% as dictated by interest rates, but by 30% + 10% (the market premium), which means real estate prices will drop by 40%.

As you can see, calculating the premium in today’s real estate market is basically determining how much monthly mortgage payments for a real estate property drop, not how much the purchase price drops.






FollowSteph Traffic is Exploding!

Normally I write once a week because I’m so busy running my company LandlordMax Property Management Software. However today I had the chance for the first time in a very long time to look at the statistics for this website (FollowSteph.com). What a good surprise it was! It went from nothing to 12,322 unique visitors a month in just 7 months! This growth is truly exponential as you can see in the graph below.

FollowSteph Traffic

The site went from first being registered and created in June to
397 unique visitors per day seven months later in December! At this pace I suspect it’ll get 25k-50k unique visitors a month by the end of 2006 without a problem. Apparently a lot of you out there like this site, because a good portion of you also come back and read other articles (the logging tools only give me averages, not specifics, so unfortunately I can’t really be more detailed).

The best compliment a blog can get is high traffic because traffic means that you’re providing interesting and informative content. Thank you!






Biggest Inventory of Homes For Sale in 19 Years

Sales of previously owned homes have fallen for the second consecutive month, bringing the inventory supply to its largest in 19 years! The supply of homes on the market has increased by 14.3% since November 2004, a very significant increase.

To quote USAToday “Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, called the inventory figure for November a “real major warning flag for prices.” But he noted that with mortgage rates still historically low, the softening in housing will likely be “orderly.”

I personally believe that real estate prices are going to drop, and drop significantly! If rates return to their 8% range from 2000, only 6 years ago, then you can expect as much as a 20% drop in price! This is great news for real estate investors because as the market drops investing opportunities will start to increase.






 
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