Friday, April 22, 2011

Alt Attribute & SEO Optimization

SEO Optimization images has become more and more important in SEO (Seo optimization) for websites. The ALT attribute is really a critical step that is often overlooked. This can be a lost opportunity for better rankings.

In Google's webmaster guidelines, they advise using alternative text for the images in your site:

Images:. Use the alt attribute to provide descriptive text. Additionally, we recommend using a human-readable caption and descriptive text around the image.

Why would they ask us to achieve that? The answer is simple, really; search engines like google have the same problem as blind users. They cannot begin to see the images.

Many webmasters and inexperienced or unethical SEOs abuse using this attribute, attempting to stuff it with keywords, looking to achieve a particular keyword density, which isn't as relevant for rankings now as it was previously.

On the other hand, high keyword density can, on some search engines, trigger spam filters, which may result in a penalty for your site's ranking. Even without such a penalty, your site's rankings will not benefit from this tactic.
This process also puts persons who use screen readers in a greater disadvantage. Screen readers are software-based tools that really read aloud the items in what's displayed on the screen. In browsing the net, the alt features of images are read aloud as well.

Imagine listening to a paragraph of text which is then repetitions of many keywords. The page will be not even close to accessible, and, to put it bluntly, will be found quite annoying.
What is an Alt attribute?

An ALT attribute shouldn't be used like a description or perhaps a label to have an image, though many people use it in that fashion. Though it might seem natural to assume that alternate text is a label or perhaps a description, it is not!

The words used inside an image's alt attribute ought to be its text equivalent and convey the same information or serve exactly the same purpose that the image would.

The goal would be to supply the same functional information that the visual user would see. The alt attribute text should be the "stand in" in the event that the image itself is unavailable. Think about this: If you were to replace the look using the text, would most users receive the same basic information, and would it create the same response?
A few examples:


Some SEO Optimization Tips

If your search button is a magnifying glass or binoculars its alt text should be 'search' or 'find' not 'magnifying glass' or 'binoculars'.

If an image is meant to convey the literal contents of the look, a description is suitable.

If it is meant to convey data, then that data is what is appropriate.

If it's designed to convey using a function, then the function is what ought to be used.

Some Alt Attribute Guidelines:

Always add alt attributes to images. Alt is mandatory for accessibility as well as for valid XHTML.

For images that play only a decorative role within the page, use an empty alt (i.e. alt="") or perhaps a CSS background image to ensure that reading browsers do not bother users by uttering things like "spacer image".

Keep in mind that it's the function from the image we're attempting to convey. For example; any button images shouldn't include the word "button" in the alt text. They should emphasize the action performed through the button.

Alt text ought to be determined by context. Exactly the same image inside a different context may need drastically different alt text.

Try to flow alt text with the remainder of the text because that is how it will be read with adaptive technologies like screen readers. Someone listening to your page should hardly remember that a graphic image is there.
Please keep in mind that using an alt attribute for each image is needed to satisfy the minimum WAI requirements, which are used as the benchmark for accessibility laws in UK and also the rest of Europe. Also, they are required to meet "Section 508" accessibility requirements in the US.

It is useful to categorize non-text content into three levels:

Content and Function

I. Eye-Candy

Eye-Candy are things that serve no purpose apart from to make a site visually appealing/attractive and (in many cases) satisfy the marketing departments. There isn't any content value (though there may be value to some sighted user).

Never alt-ify eye-candy unless there is something there which will boost the usability of the site for someone using a non-visual user agent. Make use of a null alt attribute or background images in CSS for eye-candy.

II. Mood-Setting

This is the middle layer of graphics which might serve to set the atmosphere or set happens so to speak. These graphics are not direct content and could 't be considered essential, but they are important in they help frame what's going on.

Attempt to alt-ify the second group as is sensible and it is relevant. There may be times when doing so might be annoying or detrimental to other users. Then avoid it.

For instance; Alt text that's just like adjacent text is unnecessary, as well as an irritant to screen reader users. I suggest alt="" or background CSS images in such cases. But sometimes, it's vital that you understand this content in there for those users.

Most times this will depend on context. Exactly the same image inside a different context may require drastically different alt text. Obviously, content ought to always be fully available. How you go in this example is a judgment call.

III. Content and Function

This is when the look is the actual content. Always alt-ify content and functional images. Title and long description attributes can also be in order.
The main reason many authors can't figure out why their alt text isn't working is that they don't know why the images are there. You have to figured out exactly what function an image serves. Think about what it is concerning the image that's vital that you the page's intended audience.

Every graphic includes a reason behind being on that page: since it either improves the theme/ mood/ atmosphere or it is advisable to what the page is attempting to explain. Knowing what the look is for makes alt text simpler to write. And practice writing them definitely helps.
A way to look into the usefulness of alternative text is to imagine reading the page over the telephone to someone. What would you say when encountering a specific image to make the page understandable towards the listener?

Besides the alt attribute you have a couple more tools at your disposal for images.
First, in level of descriptiveness title is in between alt and longdesc. It adds useful information and may add flavor. The title attribute is optionally rendered by the user agent. Remember they are invisible and not shown like a "tooltip" when focus is received via the keyboard. (A lot for device independence). So use the title attribute only for advisory information.
Second, the longdesc attribute points to the URL of a complete description of the image. If the information found in an image is important to the meaning of the page (i.e. some important content would be lost when the image was removed), a longer description than the "alt" attribute can reasonably display ought to be used. It can provide for rich, expressive documentation of the visual image.

It should be used when alt and title are insufficient to embody the visual qualities of the image. As Clark [1] states, "A longdesc is really a long description of the image...The goal is by using any period of description necessary to impart the facts from the graphic.

It would not be remiss to hope that the long description conjures a picture - the image - in the mind's eye, an analogy that holds true even for that totally blind."

Although the alt attribute is mandatory for web accessibility and for valid (X)HTML, not every images need alternative text, long descriptions, or titles.

In many cases, you're best just going with your gut instinct -- if it's not essential to include it, and when you don't have a strong urge to do it, don't add that longdesc.

However, if it's essential for the whole page to operate, then you have to include the alt text (or title or longdesc).

What's necessary and what's not depends a lot on the function of your image and its context on the page.

The same image may need alt text (or title or longdesc) in a single spot, although not in another. If the image provides simply no content or functional information alt="" or background CSS images may be appropriate to make use of. However, if the image provides content or adds functional information an alt would be required and perhaps a long description would be in order. In many cases this kind of thing is really a judgement call.

Image Search Engine Optimization Tips

Listed here are key stages in optimizing images:

Choose a logical file name that reinforces the keywords. You should use hyphens within the file name to isolate the keyword, but avoid to exceeding two hyphens. Avoid using underscores as a word separator, such as "brilliant-diamonds.jpg";

Label the file extension. For example, if the image search engine sees a ".jpg" (JPEG) file extension, it's going to assume that the file is a photo, and if it sees a ".gif" (GIF) file extension, it's going to assume that it is a graphic;

Make sure that the text at the image that is relevant to that image.
Again, do not lose an excellent chance to help your site with your images searching engines. Begin using these steps to rank better on all of the engines and drive increased traffic for your site TODAY.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

SEO Company

In 1999, years before major traditional publishing outfits cared about making money online or knew their bottom lines would soon depend on it, a small Melbourne startup called SitePoint figured out how to make money as the premiere destination for those looking to learn about building websites.

I remember my visits to SitePoint as a teenager fondly. I had a head full of ideas on grand businesses that would make me rich, and all I needed to do was pick up the skills to build them — or so I thought. I got my hands on the classic ‘Build Your Own Database Driven Web Site Using PHP & MySQL‘ by Kevin Yank and read SitePoint’s articles (this was before blogs existed) as often as I could.

In the end, things didn’t quite go as planned. My first job after high school and a bit of uni was (fortunately, before corporate life could claim me) my own business, which involved pushing out word count at breakneck speed, not creating web apps. Even still, I imagine those hours spent learning what SitePoint had to offer had a part to play in my early success, or I wouldn’t have know where to begin building my completely web-based service business.

Humble Beginnings

SitePoint was co-founded by Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz. Before SitePoint, Mark was a founding member and programmer with the company that developed HotDog, which you may remember as one of the few HTML editors available in 90s. Matt, on the other side of the world in Canada, had started a site that would soon become very popular —, which these days redirects to SitePoint (and would probably sell for a small fortunate on the domain market).

By 2000, the two were working on SitePoint full-time and making advertising deals to keep the site in the black. In 2001, they turned their most popular tutorial into a book, which they sold themselves through a print-on-demand service.

The experiment was worthwhile, because the book was a success, enough to warrant a switch from the print-on-demand model to ordering large print runs. The company’s library today features books and kits on everything from running an SEO business to hosting your site using Amazon Web Services.

They’re also the company behind three popular marketplaces — 99designs, a design crowdsourcing site, Flippa, where users buy and sell websites, and Learnable, which is a platform for user-generated education.

Making Money with Information

SitePoint was one of the earlier companies in the world to bring in enough revenue from online content to support a growing staff — and on top of that, was listed several times in the BRW Fast 100, Deloitte Technology Fast 50, and the Deloitte Asia Pacific Fast 500. I spoke with co-founder Matt Mickiewicz to find out how they figured it out so early while News Corp continues to flounder years later.

“When we first launched our Forums in 1999, I made going in there, reading discussions, and helping out people personally one of my core daily activities. I used to answer hundreds of emails every week providing feedback to people about their websites, helping them troubleshoot problems, and in general be as helpful as humanly possible,” said Mickiewicz.

When the infamous ‘social media experts’ talk about building community as an essential part of doing business online, they’re not wrong — even if they don’t seem to know how to do that themselves. Putting some elbow grease into daily and helpful interactions with visitors put SitePoint in the right place for the company’s expansion into new markets. According to Mickiewicz, even SitePoint’s weekly newsletter would result in hundreds of email responses — something I’d be surprised to see today.

“SitePoint really was a community in every sense of the word, and when we published our first books and asked people to buy from us, we had build up a huge amount of trust and goodwill so that people happily opened up their wallets to us.”

Advertising’s No Golden Egg

In the last few years, the annual online ad spend has declined, but SitePoint still walks away with both a good profit and happy customers. To SitePoint, selling ad space isn’t just about slapping banners up when their clients’ ad-men send it over. They work hard to deliver extra value, and that means SitePoint doesn’t have to bring ad rates down to the point of commoditization while its competitors slash their inventory prices in desperation.

“Ad agencies & clients are as demanding as ever, so it’s our job to provide them with the absolute best customer service and justify our value and offer out of the box ideas to clients,” said Mickiewicz.

Mickiewicz and SitePoint started in an era when online advertising was a Wild West and have watched as Internet advertising standards were established by the IAB and the technology that made it possible to target their ad serving based on user demographics — things that have made the job of delivering a great experience for advertisers easier.

Even still, Matt doesn’t recommend that new media businesses rely completely on advertising revenue. “Products sales play a very important role in our business to this day in monetizing our traffic,” he says, though he’s not eager to tell me how much of their revenue is made up by products versus advertising.

“No one wants to buy advertising from you when you’re small, and when you get to a certain size you end up backfilling with ad networks which devalues your ad inventory.”

SitePoint’s continued success has been born of diversification. With a business that gets its revenue from marketplaces, subscriptions, advertising and a plethora of popular products, the company is largely resistant to recessions and market disasters — if one revenue source gets knocked out, they know they’ve got plenty of backups.

The surprising part for me in recent weeks is that there are many Acquisition Marketers who still doubt that investing in SEO is even worth the effort. And, they have not even given it a try.

In some sense, it’s the “paralysis by analysis” conundrum. As SEO practitioners, we have all been faced with the question of “what’s the ROI?”

In my last article, 10 Quick & Dirty SEO Success Metrics, I made the case that tracking SEO success can get messy when you look at attribution tracking, and that you may have to resort to some more basic measurements to prove success.

It is exactly this messy success tracking that makes Acquisition Marketers hesitant to invest in SEO.

The Case For SEO As An Acquisition Vehicle

So, here’s my case for why SEO is a necessary piece of Acquisition Marketing:

A well-executed SEO strategy requires crafting and generating valuable content, promoting that content, and finding ways for trusted resources to link to that content. It takes time to see organic search results.

In this process, the most likely scenario is that “The Rank Hound” will be disappointed, and the “The Small Portfolio Ranker” will begin to have doubts, but may see some positive signs.  “The More, The Merrier” will see the breadth of keyword traffic begin to expand, and will be happy to see that progress.  But, even “The More, The Merrier” will begin to question if the right tail keywords are bringing in traffic.

However, this entire SEO process is moving the acquisition dial in the right direction!

Acquisition benefits include:

  • Purchase Influencing. Quality content that is generated is positively influencing buyer behavior. Whether or not the content is found via a search engine (at the beginning), the content is still pushing website visitors closer to being buyers. By “content”, I don’t just mean written text (which is of course valuable) – great content will take many forms, including video, images, graphical depictions (including infographics), webinars, contests & promotions, local search assets (e.g. Google Places), and many other forms of great, creative, and convincing content.

  • Awareness. Visits from long-tail keywords, even if not the best-converting keywords, are building brand awareness, and planting the seed that your site is there for them to come back to. You may see this traffic come back to you in future visits in your analyitcs as “Direct/Bookmark” or search queries for your brand name. But, it was the initial visit, for a very specific phrase that even gave you the opportunity for that second visit.

  • Creating A Voice. In order to promote the content, you need a voice. That voice is a combination of social media engagement, PR, and traditional link building. These traffic channels, and communication processes, will be there even when Google changes the search game on us all again. People will be finding you not just via search, but through good-old-fashioned communication. But, you did the groundwork, in part, to improve SEO results.

  • Competitive Keywords Will Come To You. Your quest for ranking for the best-converting, and more competitive, keywords will provide results. It will just take more time than many Acquisition Marketers are typically comfortable with. But, without making the investment in organic search, your competitors will keep taking your customers away from you.

As organic search traffic, and traffic from related sources, flows in, Acquisition Marketers can do one of the things they do best – test and optimize the user experience to capture customers and prospects, and build marketing lists to nurture with care.

Every Industry Evolves & Requires Convincing Doubters In Order To Grow

As I was drafting this article, I was bouncing ideas off of a trusted adviser, Mike Schultz, from the Rain Group. Mike’s specialty is sales training.

As I talked about my surprise at still finding so many “doubters” who have not yet invested in SEO, Mike drew an analogy to how even “mature” industries need to be re-introduced to how to sell their own services. He talked about how roughly 20 years ago, law firms began to revolutionize the way they market and sell their services (even though lawyers have been around for centuries).

It became evident, that if a competitive law firm did not engage in more aggressive marketing and demand generation, then not only were they leaving potential business on the table, the perception was that they were behind the curve.

While the SEO industry is far from mature, it is true that the speed of adoption has been at a much more rapid rate than many other marketing channels. In fact, Brian Halligan and the rest of the Hubspot team, have proven how fast a new marketing concept, such as inbound marketing, can take hold.

So, my hope is that the sophisticated, ROI-driven Acquisition Marketers will take note of the broad benefits of SEO, and invest time and money in building organic search as an acquisition channel. Even when ROI measurement is not immediately available.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: In The Trenches

seo optimization services

Seo-Company-California5 by Henry Keller

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bench Craft Company on the specialty of www com

There has been a lot of talk as to whether or not social media is the front runner in another inflated internet bubble waiting to burst, leaving users “virtually” friendless and clueless. Will everyone be out of the loop, with no one keeping track of daily deals, happenings or status updates? Warren Buffet confirmed this fear stating that although it’s not as big as the dot com bubble, social media is not long term by any means. However, industry trends and buyer behaviors are stating otherwise.

Facebook has proven beneficial to marketing efforts for B2C companies, but B2B marketing has struggled to find its footing on the platform. That’s where LinkedIn has emerged as the go-to medium for B2B marketers.

A recent study done by BtoB Magazine, showed that when asked “Which of the following social media methods does your company currently use for your B2B marketing (i.e. not personal use)” 72% of B2B marketers said LinkedIn. After reaching more than 100 million users, LinkedIn has solidified its niche as Facebook in a business suit, and B2B companies have taken notice.

The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing (an annual report done by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company) found that 61% of B2B marketers who participated in the survey acquired a customer through LinkedIn. The targeted and measurable aspect of inbound marketing is what makes it so attractive to smart business owners who are tired of spending money on marketing with no proof that it’s working. Former Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s, M. Lawrence Light said, “It no longer makes economic sense to send an advertising message to the many, in hopes of persuading the few.”

Continued on the next page

There has been a lot of talk as to whether or not social media is the front runner in another inflated internet bubble waiting to burst, leaving users “virtually” friendless and clueless. Will everyone be out of the loop, with no one keeping track of daily deals, happenings or status updates? Warren Buffet confirmed this fear stating that although it’s not as big as the dot com bubble, social media is not long term by any means. However, industry trends and buyer behaviors are stating otherwise.

Facebook has proven beneficial to marketing efforts for B2C companies, but B2B marketing has struggled to find its footing on the platform. That’s where LinkedIn has emerged as the go-to medium for B2B marketers.

A recent study done by BtoB Magazine, showed that when asked “Which of the following social media methods does your company currently use for your B2B marketing (i.e. not personal use)” 72% of B2B marketers said LinkedIn. After reaching more than 100 million users, LinkedIn has solidified its niche as Facebook in a business suit, and B2B companies have taken notice.

The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing (an annual report done by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company) found that 61% of B2B marketers who participated in the survey acquired a customer through LinkedIn. The targeted and measurable aspect of inbound marketing is what makes it so attractive to smart business owners who are tired of spending money on marketing with no proof that it’s working. Former Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s, M. Lawrence Light said, “It no longer makes economic sense to send an advertising message to the many, in hopes of persuading the few.”

Continued on the next page

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Deron Williams likes New Jersey Nets, open to extension

Deron Williams reportedly said that he likes the Nets and would be open to an extension.

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New Google <b>News</b> for Opera Mini - Official Google Mobile Blog

So we have rolled out a redesigned Google News for Opera Mini in all 29 languages and 70 editions of Google News. This includes an enhanced homepage featuring richer snippets, thumbnail images, links to videos and section content ...

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Courteney Cox Does Letterman and Other <b>News</b> - The Superficial <b>...</b>

Gwyneth Paltrow makes bulimia fancy again. - Robert Pattinson is spreading disease. - Emily Browning stars in a movie about high-end date rape and,

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Video calls were a mainstay of classic sci-fi films, and even today there’s something almost magical about seeing your friends and family on the screen of a portable device. Video calling has been around for some time, but it’s only really in the past year or so that its got more attention among regular users. That’s thanks in no small part to Apple and FaceTime, as found on the iPhone 4, iPad 2 and other gadgets from the company’s range. Read on as we give FaceTime the full SlashGear 101 treatment!

So Apple invented video calling, right?

No, not at all, though they did do a lot to make it easier to use – just as long as you have the right hardware. Video calling is actually a part of the 3G standard, which – if the carrier and whatever phone you’re using supports it, which isn’t the case in the US – has been available since around 2003. Unfortunately a combination of high pricing, poor understanding by users, mediocre quality and patchy reliability meant this form of video calling has never really taken off.

Apple’s FaceTime takes advantage of the company’s tight control over the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and MacBook software, which has allowed it to polish the video calling experience to the point where everyday use is possible. Now FaceTime is available to anybody at the touch of an on-screen button.

Do I need an Apple phone to use FaceTime?

Not necessarily a phone, but definitely something with the Apple logo. FaceTime was first supported on the iPhone 4, which was Apple’s first mobile device with a front-facing camera (i.e. one that looks at the user, rather than out the back of the handset). The latest iPod touch and iPad 2 both have front-facing cameras and FaceTime support as well, and Apple has released a FaceTime app for its Mac and MacBook computers so they can join in the fun as well. FaceTime comes free on the mobile devices and the very latest Macs, and is a $0.99 download from the Mac App Store for earlier Mac owners.

Okay, so how do I use it?

It’s pretty simple, just as Apple was aiming for. On the iPhone you make a voice call in the normal way and then tap the FaceTime button on-screen to switch to video. On the iPod touch and iPad 2, you start a video call in the FaceTime app. You’ll need an Apple account in order to make and receive calls, since that’s used as the “phone number” for devices other than the iPhone 4.

Currently, FaceTime video calls can only be made when you have a WiFi connection, not when you’re using the mobile network for data. That’s a limitation Apple has put in place itself, though the company has said it is working on removing it in the future.

I’m not into Apple, can I video call with something else?

You certainly can, though the process gets a bit trickier. Various apps are available for Android and other mobile phone platforms which promise video calls, sometimes over not only WiFi but the 3G mobile networks too. That means you can make video calls when away from your home network or a WiFi hotspot, as long as your signal is strong enough.

Skype, Fring and Qik are all among the companies offering video calling apps, though their effectiveness often varies on a phone-by-phone basis. Not all phones have front-facing cameras, either, though they’re becoming more common on the latest handsets. A future SlashGear 1010 feature will look at the best video calling apps if FaceTime isn’t your thing.

Apple has said it plans to open up FaceTime to other manufacturers, so that non-Apple phones can make and receive calls too, but so far there’s no sign of that actually happening.

More information at Apple’s FaceTime page.

Apple has reportedly become more aggressive in securing components from overseas suppliers, making moves such as upfront cash payments to both ensure supply and block out competitors.

Analyst Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities said in a note to investors on Thursday that Apple began "aggressively attacking" the component situation in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country. The iPhone maker reportedly sent executives to suppliers immediately to ensure adequate supply of components, and also began offering upfront cash payments.

Separately, White's contacts in Taiwan also revealed that Apple is allegedly securing component capacity using what is known as a "three cover guarantee," referring to capacity, stock and price. Apple's move is seen as one that could potentially block out competitors and prevent them from building ample supply of devices.

The information comes as a separate report out of the Far East suggested that a one-month delay for Research in Motion's PlayBook tablet was as a result of Apple securing most of the available touch panel production capacity. The delay has forced the PlayBook to go on sale after Apple's in-demand iPad 2.

Last month, it was said that Apple could agree to price hikes in order to secure touch panel supply, particularly in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake. Apple was said to be in talks with component makers about touch panel pricing, and allegedly considered some price increases in negotiations.

In the company's last quarterly earnings call, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook revealed that Apple had invested $3.9 billion of its nearly $60 billion in cash reserves in long-term supply contracts. He declined to reveal what components Apple had put its money toward, citing competitive concerns, but said that it was a strategic move that would position the company well in the future.

Analysts largely believe that the secret investment was related to touch panel displays that are the centerpiece of devices like the iPhone and iPad. One cost breakdown estimated that such an investment could secure Apple 136 million iPhone displays, or 60 million iPad touch panels.

It's a move similar to 2005, when Apple inked a major deal with Samsung to secure longterm supply of flash memory. NAND flash would go on to become a major part of Apple's products, including the iPhone, iPad and new MacBook Air.

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Over the years, entrepreneurs and corporate executives have devised any number of clever ways for getting rich off the working poor, but you'd have to look long and hard to find one more diabolically inventive than the RAL. Say you have a $2,000 tax refund due and you don't want to wait a week or two for the IRS to deposit that money in your bank account. Your tax preparer would be delighted to act as the middleman for a very short-term bank loan—the RAL. You get your check that day or the next, minus various fees and interest charges, and in return sign your pending refund over to the bank. Within 15 days, the IRS wires your refund straight to the lender. It's a safe bet for the banks, but that hasn't stopped them from charging astronomical interest rates. Until this tax year, the IRS was even kind enough to let lenders know when potential borrowers were likely to have their refund garnished because they owed back taxes, say, or were behind on child support.

Hewitt didn't invent the refund anticipation loan. That distinction belongs to Ross Longfield, who dreamed up the idea in 1987 and took it to H&R Block CEO Thomas Bloch. "I'm explaining it," Longfield recalls, "but Tom is sitting there going, 'I don't know; I don't know if people are going to want to do that.'"

Tax-prep shops are as common as fast-food joints in many low-income neighborhoods—there are at least half a dozen on one three-block stretch of South Broadway in Yonkers, N.Y., where these photographs were taken. A few offer reasonably priced accounting, while others charge hundreds of dollars for 20 minutes of work. But Longfield knew. He worked for Beneficial Corp., a subprime lender specializing in small, high-interest loans for customers who needed to finance a new refrigerator or dining-room set. His instincts told him the RAL would be a big hit—as did the polling and focus groups he organized. "Everything we did suggested people would love it—love it to death," he says.

He also knew Beneficial would make a killing if he could convince tax preparers—in exchange for a cut of the proceeds—to peddle this new breed of loan on his employer's behalf. Ultimately, Longfield persuaded H&R Block to sign up. But no one was as smitten as John Hewitt—who understood that people earning $15,000 or $20,000 or $25,000 a year live in a perpetual state of financial turmoil. Hewitt began opening outposts in the inner cities, Rust Belt towns, depressed rural areas—anywhere the misery index was high. "That was the low-hanging fruit," he says. "Going into lower-income areas and delivering refunds quicker was where the opportunity was."

Customers wanting a RAL paid Jackson Hewitt a $24 application fee, a $25 processing fee, and a $2 electronic-filing fee, plus 4 percent of the loan amount. On a $2,000 refund, that meant $131 in charges—equivalent to an annual interest rate of about 170 percent—not to mention the few hundred bucks you might spend for tax preparation. "Essentially, they're charging people triple-digit interest rates to borrow their own money," says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

In 1988, the first year he began offering the loans, Hewitt owned 49 stores in three states. Five years later, he had 878 stores in 37 states. And five years after that, when Cendant Corp.—the conglomerate that owned Avis, Century 21, and Days Inn—bought Jackson Hewitt for $483 million, his earliest backers received a $2 million payout on every $5,000 they'd invested. Today, with 6,000 offices scattered across the country, Jackson Hewitt is more ubiquitous than KFC, and has about as many imitators.


THERE WOULD BE NO refund anticipation loans, of course, without tax refunds. And by extension there would be no RALs without the Earned Income Tax Credit, the federal anti-poverty initiative that served as the mother's milk nourishing the instant-refund boom. Welfare reform was the catalyst for the EITC, which was aimed at putting extra cash in the pockets of low-income parents who worked. What motive does a single mother have to get a job, conservative thinkers asked, if there was scant difference between her monthly take-home pay and a welfare check? It was Richard Nixon who first floated the idea that led to the Earned Income Tax Credit; Ronald Reagan dubbed it "the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress." In 2007, the US Treasury paid out $49 billion to 25 million taxpayers.


The Business Rusch: Royalty Statements

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Imagine this:

Pretend you run a very large business.  The business has a lot of built-in problems, things not easily fixed.  You’re aware of the problems and are trying to solve them.  A decade ago, you actually had hope you could solve them.  It will simply take time, you thought, but back then, your business was a leisurely business.  Back then, you had no idea that the word “leisure” would leave your vocabulary and never return.

In that decade, your business has changed dramatically. Your corporate masters sold out to large conglomerates, so now you can no longer point to your small but steady profit as normal for your industry. The conglomerate doesn’t care.  All the conglomerate cares about is quarterly profits, which should rise steadily.

Your industry doesn’t work that way, but you do your best to make those quarterly balance sheets work for the conglomerate.  Unfortunately, that means any long-term outlook you used to have no longer works for your corporate masters.  Now you can only look one year ahead, maximum, because that’s all the focus the conglomerate will allow.

One of your business’s largest problem comes out of the nature of the industry itself. The success of each product cannot be replicated.  Just because you build one really good widget doesn’t mean that your next widget will sell at all.  Your business has a luck aspect to it, an unpredictability that no matter how much you plan, you can’t fix.

The other built-in problems mentioned above cause your prices to verge on too high.  If you solve the built-in problems, you might lose even more revenue, because most of those problems benefit the stores that sell your product. Those stores have made it clear they will not order from you if you take those harmful (to you) perks (to them) away.  So your prices hover at a point too high for an impulse purchase, even though your business does better when consumers can buy your product on impulse.

You have maintained this system for decades now, trying different ways to fix the built-in problems.  None of the solutions work, because the only way to fix the built-in problem would be to have an industry-wide change, one that all of the businesses in the industry agree to.  Unfortunately, if all of the businesses in the industry make that change, it will hurt stores, which will say that the industry businesses colluded to hurt their retail business—and sadly, the stores, under U.S. law, would be right.

So the easy solution is impossible, and all other solutions are half-assed.  You hang on and your business maintains a consistent, if unspectacular, profit year after year after year.

Then some changes hit your industry that force you to cut costs where you can.  Some of that cost cutting comes in employees.  You have to lay off necessary folk and hope that the remaining staff can pick up the slack.  These things have happened before, and you believe that you’ll be able to rehire in a few years.

Only this time, the economy “craters” and a global recession hits.  Every business loses much-needed revenue and products like yours, which are not necessities, sell to fewer and fewer consumers because the consumers have less disposable income.

You anticipate, cutting everything you can, dumping real estate, abandoning rent, maybe even negotiating your way out of some long-term contracts.  At the very end, though, you can’t prevent it: You cut staff to the bone.

Now, in some departments of your business, one person quite literally does the job that five people used to do as recently as a decade ago.  You have no flexibility left.

And then the industry you work in undergoes a technological revolution, one so big, so profound, that it changes the way business gets done.  Because you aren’t flexible, you adapt to the change late.  You can’t hire new employees to help with the shift without firing the remaining good, valuable (and dare we say it), unbelievably efficient employees that you kept when the recession started.  Yet your old employees can’t adapt to the new world.

Worse, this new world requires new systems.  You have to figure out new ways to produce your product.  You need to shoehorn these changes into the existing contracts with your suppliers.  You need an entirely new production crew because the old ways to produce your widgets are becoming obsolete.

And, most annoyingly, you need to develop an entirely new accounting system, because everything you’ve known, everything you’ve done, no longer applies in this brand-spanking new technological age.

But you can’t hire employees who can actually help you develop these systems.  Because those employees won’t earn you any money.  At best, they’ll prevent a loss of revenue. At worst, the systems they develop will cost you money because your suppliers, whom you pay a percentage of the retail price of the product they supply, will realize you’ve been inadvertently shorting them since the technological change hit at the same time as the beginning of the global recession.

In other words, to fix this problem, you will need to invest—in  new employees, in brand new technological systems, in new ways of doing business.  More importantly, you will have to take a huge loss as you make this change.  A loss that might eat into your profits for not one, not two, not three quarters, but maybe for two to three years, something your corporate masters will never, ever allow.

Better to close your eyes and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.  Better to hope no one notices.  Better to keep doing business as usual until profits rise, the recession ends, the world becomes wealthy again, and you can make the changes without causing a series of quarterly losses on your balance sheet.

Better to keep kicking this problem down the road until you retire or move to another company, preferably one which has already solved this problem so you don’t have to deal with it.

Does this scenario sound familiar? It should if you watch the evening news or read a daily newspaper.  Industry after industry suffers a variation of these problems, some caused by inefficiency, some by technological change, and all exacerbated by the worst recession to hit in the last eighty years.

But this blog deals with publishing, and what I just described to you is the situation at traditional publishers—the big publishers, the ones most people mistakenly call The Big Six (there are more than six, but leave it)—all over New York City.

Last fall, I dealt with these problems in depth.  Before you decide to comment on this post and tell me that traditional publishing will die (which I do not believe), read the first few posts I did in the publishing series, starting here.

I’m grappling with the changes in publishing just like everyone else is.  I knew that the changes—particularly the rise of e-publishing—would hit traditional publishing hard.  And it has, although not as hard as I initially thought.  As Publishers Weekly reported earlier in the month, traditional publishers have remained profitable in the transition so far.

The reasons why should sound familiar to those of you who read my earlier posts.  Publishers Weekly puts it succinctly:  “While the improvement in the economy helped all publishers in 2010, companies where profits improved all pointed to two main contributing factors—cost controls and skyrocketing e-book sales.”

Right now, e-books comprise about 10% of the book market, but some analysts believe that e-books will be as much as 50% of the e-book market by 2015.  Some see evidence that e-books will grow faster than that.  A month ago, a Barnes & Noble executive made news when he stated in a speech that e-books will “dominate the market” in 24 months.

We all know these figures are important.  Daily, writers tell me about their careers and then ask me if they should become independent publishers or go to traditional publishing.  As I’ve said repeatedly, I see no harm in doing both.

Earlier this month, however, I opened my mail to find a big fat warning sign of the future.  And if the problem that I—and hundreds of other writers—noted doesn’t get resolved, then traditional publishing will cease to be viable for all writers.

What happened?

I got a royalty statement for backlist titles of one of my on-going series.  The statement came from a traditional publisher.  Let me give you some background.

A few years ago, the publisher refused to buy the next two books in the series saying that while the series had some growth, the growth was not enough to justify the expense of a new contract.  I started writing some novellas in that series and publishing them in the magazine markets while I searched for a new publisher.

Then the e-book revolution hit, and as an experiment, I put up two of those novellas as e-books. Since they were the first two e-books I had ever done, the covers—in a word—sucked.  I did no promotion and no advertising, except to say in the cover copy that these e-books were part of this particular series.

In the first six months of 2010, those badly designed short novels sold about 300 copies each on Kindle, the only venue they were on at the time.  No advertising, bad covers, just hanging out waiting for buyers to find them.

I would occasionally check the Amazon sales ranking (that weird number you see on each book Amazon publishes, the thing they use to compile their hourly bestseller list).  Even though that ranking did not give me actual sales numbers, I did note that the sales of the novellas were less than the sales of the traditionally published e-books on Kindle in the same series.

In August, I wrote to the traditional publisher, asking that my rights revert.  The kind woman in rights reversal explained to  me that she couldn’t revert the book rights because the e-books were “selling too well” to revert.  Okay. All well and good. What I care about is getting books into the hands of my readers. I figured I would eventually be compensated for this.  I just had to wait until the royalty statement hit.

Which it did. At the beginning of this month.

How many e-books did the traditional publisher say I sold? 30.  That’s right. 30.

When the novellas, which had worse sales rankings from Amazon, sold 300 each.

That 30 number didn’t pass the sniff test for me.  So I talked with other writers who have books in the same genre with the same company. The writers I talked with also had some e-book savvy.

Guess what? They had been shocked by how low their e-book numbers were as well, especially in comparison with their indie published titles.  The indie books which had Amazon rankings indicating fewer sales sold more copies than the traditionally published books by a factor of ten or better.

Let me indulge in another sidebar for a moment.  I’m involved with four different indie publishers, two of which allow me to see the day-to-day operations, and one of which I own part of.  We’ve been having trouble setting up an accounting system that works efficiently for more than 100 different e-book titles.  The problem is, in short, that the ebook distributors report sales by publisher and then by title, and not by author, so if you’re published by AAA Publishing and your book is called  The Embalming and I also have an older book called The Embalming through AAA Publishing and they’re both in e-book, AAA Publisher will get sales figures on a daily basis for The Embalming. Which Embalming does that statement refer to?

Also, the e-stributors report at varying times throughout the year (some daily, some monthly, some quarterly), so if I want to know how many copies my book The Embalming sold in March of 2010, I can’t easily get that information because the info might not have been reported yet from some e-bookstore in some faraway country.

What all of the various indie publishers have figured out is that using a standard spreadsheet for each title is labor-intensive.  You can easily input data into a spreadsheet for one or two or even ten novels.  But when it comes to 50 or 100, the data-entry—figuring out what book belongs where and when (even if you use the estributor’s the computerized spreadsheet)—becomes prohibitive.

What we need is a cloud-based system that can be queried.  For example, the system should easily answer these two questions: How many copies did KKR’s The Embalming sell worldwide in March; and how many copies did KKR’s The Embalming sell through Kobo’s out-of-country distribution channels?  Right now, no spreadsheet program can answer that information easily from a pool of 100 titles and various e-book outlets without a lot of man-hours of data entry.

Traditional publishers—and indie publishers, for that matter—don’t have the staff with the ability to organize this wealth of information. Still, traditional publishers must —by contract— report the information to the best of their ability on royalty statements.

To do so, they revert to an old pre-computer accounting method.  The method existed back when there was too much data to be quickly processed. We all learned it in school.  They used little snippets of data to estimate, often using an algebraic equation that goes something like this:   If The Embalming sold (x) copies in January and e-books sales rose on a trajectory of (y) copies over a six-month period of time, then (x) times 6 adjusted for (y) equals the number of sales of The Embalming.

Close enough.  And frankly, I would be satisfied with that, if the number the publisher had come up with wasn’t so wildly off.

For me, in the instance with the traditional publisher I mentioned above, the difference between 30 copies per title and 300 copies per title is pennies on the dollar.  It’s not worth an audit.

But I never think in small terms.  My training in three fields—journalism, history, and the extrapolative field of science fiction—forces me to think in terms of the future.

Right now, e-book rights are a subsidiary right, negligible and relatively unimportant.  Between two and five years from now, e-book rights will become the dominant book right.

If traditional publishers do not change their accounting methods now, then these accounting methods will end up costing writers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.  (In some writers’ cases, millions of dollars.)

Those of you who have any knowledge of journalism have just looked up and asked, Why the hell did Rusch bury her lead? That’s the story: publishers are screwing writers on e-book royalties.

But those of you who have had journalism careers know why I buried that lead.  When I was a news director faced with a reporter who had brought me information like the information I gave to you above, I would have said, Sounds like a good story.  But it’s all supposition.  Now get me something concrete.  Somthing I can use.

So that’s what I tried to do.  Last week, I contacted dozens of traditionally published writers who also had put up some backlist on their own in electronic format.  The writers who had the information handy responded with actual numbers.  The writers who didn’t told me that they had worried about their royalty numbers when the statements arrived, but had no real proof that anything had gone awry.

I also spoke to some trusted agent friends, several lawyers who are active in the publishing industry, a few certified public accountants, and other professionals who see a lot of publishing data cross their desks, and I asked those people if they had heard of a problem like this.

To a person, they all confirmed that they had. All spoke off the record, none with numbers.  A few hinted that they couldn’t talk because of pending action.

In other words, I got the confirmation I needed, just nothing that a reputable journalist could print.  Most people spoke to me on what’s called deep background, confirming my theory, and giving me some suggestions of places to look, and people to contact.  Several people, mostly writers, spoke on the record, but rather than using their information in isolation, I’ve chosen to keep their statistics confidential and to only go with mine.

Frankly, what I’ve learned is this:

Right now, some—and I must emphasize some, not all—traditional publishing houses are significantly underreporting e-book sales.  In some cases these sales are off by a factor of 10 or more.

This is a problem, but at the moment, not a serious one.  When e-books are 10% of the market, we’re talking a relatively insignificant amount of money per author. As one long-term writer said to me, “Ever since I got into this business, I expect my publisher to screw me on the sales figures.  This is no different.”

If you don’t understand that writer’s point of view, read the trust-me post I wrote a few weeks ago.

In the past, I would have agreed with that writer.  But I don’t in this instance.  We’re at an important moment in publishing.  We have the opportunity to change the behavior of traditional publishers.  We can, with an effort, get them to change their accounting practices.

The reason I started the blog post the way I did is this: I wanted to explain, before I got to the heart of this post, how traditional publishing works.  I wanted understanding before I worried some of you.

Because here’s the truth: traditional publishers are not indulging in a criminal act. They’re doing the best they can out of necessity.  They see no reason to spend precious dollars revamping their accounting systems to accommodate e-publishing when those dollars can be used elsewhere in the company.  Especially when an accounting change will cost them money, and might lead to payouts that will hurt quarterly profits for months to come.

It’s up to writers—and writers organizations—to force publishers to allocate those scarce dollars to develop systems for accurate e-book accounting.

If you are a traditionally published author, do not—I repeat, do not—write a blistering letter to your publisher accusing him of stealing your money.  Instead, contact any writers organization you belong to and point that organization to this blog.

What needs to happen is this: writers organizations need to band together and order group audits of e-book sales on behalf of their traditionally published authors.  One organization cannot handle the cost of this group accounting alone.  It’s better to have all of the writers organizations work in concert here.

A group audit of all the traditional publishers in various publishing divisions will force an accounting change—and that’s all we need.  But we need it before e-books become the dominant way that books are sold.

If you’re a traditionally published author who has also produced some self-published e-books and you want to do more than contact your organization, do this:

1. Look over all of your royalty statements.  Compare your indie e-book sales to your traditionally published e-book sales.  Make sure your comparison is for the same time period. For example, do not compare January 2011 sales to January 2010.

2. Compare similar books.  It’s best if you have books in the same series, some indie published and some traditionally published.  If you don’t have series books, then compare books in the same genre only.  Comparing romance sales to science fiction sales will not work because romance novels always outsell sf novels.

3. If you see a discrepancy, report that—with the numbers—to your writers organization.  Be clear in the letter you send to your organization as to what level of involvement you want in this issue.  Are you only there to provide background information? Will you take part in a group audit? Will you work on this project?

I’ll be honest.  I’m not going to participate in any group action.  Even though I’ve published with every single major publisher in New York, I only have two books caught in this problem.  I’m more interested in getting the rights in those books reverted than I am in insignificant back royalties.

If I was still a reporter, I would spend the month or two going after this story with a vengeance. But I am not.  In  nonfiction, I am just your humble blogger, stirring up the pot.  My career is in fiction, and I have found no problem with the publishers of my frontlist books.  I also have six novels with firm deadlines that won’t allow me to take time away from fiction writing to pursue this.

So all I can offer is a blueprint.

If you’re a reporter who specializes in the publishing industry and you want to tackle this story, e-mail me privately.  I’ll tell you what I can without revealing confidential sources.

If you’re a traditionally published writer, please follow the steps above.

If you’re an indie-only writer, stop gloating and for heavens’ sake don’t tell me or anyone else that this is proof traditional publishing is dead.  The majority of writers don’t want to self-publish, even when told how easy and financially beneficial it is.  They want a traditionally published novel.

Here’s what I believe: If a writer wants to publish traditionally and can secure a contract, then that writer should be treated fairly, with accurate sales reporting and good royalty rates.

Let me state again for the record.  I do not believe that anyone in traditional publishing is setting out to screw writers on this issue.  I do believe the scenario I wrote in the first 800 words of this blog: I think traditional publishers are overwhelmed and stretched to the limit.  Accurate e-book sales reporting is not even on their radar.

Right now, changing the accounting system is not high on their priority list.  It’s up to the writers—acting in concert through their writers organizations—to make accurate e-book sales reporting and accurate e-book royalty accounting a number-one priority in publishing houses across the country.

Let’s work together to solve this glitch before it becomes an industry-wide disaster for writers—anywhere from two to five years from now.

Last week, a few of you asked in e-mail why I have a donate button on this blog.  Also, last week, this blog marked its two-year anniversary. Every Thursday for two years without a miss, I have published an article on freelancing, business, writing or publishing (and sometimes on all four of those topics).  For the first 18 months, those blog posts were part of a book I was writing called The Freelancer’s Survival Guide (which, even though it’s now published, is still available for free on this website).

Initially, I had hoped to make my publishing articles into a book as well, but the industry is changing too fast.  I cannot make the publishing articles into a book that will be accurate in the short time it takes to produce.  So when this month rolled around, I did the numbers like I always do.  When I do a strict economic analysis, I am losing about $100 per week on each post—even with donations.  That’s because I can’t leverage these posts into any other income source.

However, I always ask the next question: am I getting something besides money out of these blogs? Right now, I am.  I would be doing the same research, the same work, and the same analysis with or without the blog.  I would be discussing the changes with my writer pals.  But I would lose the week-to-week contact with writers all over the world, who comment on the blog or in e-mail, sharing their own stories.

And that would be a significant loss.  It more than makes up for the financial loss.  But the donate button is here to minimize some of the financial damage, and to encourage me in busy or difficult weeks to carve out the time to write my post.

I hope that answers the question.  As always, I appreciate the feedback and all of the support.

“The Business Rusch: Royalty Statements” copyright 2011 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.



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Fox <b>News</b> Reports That GWU Student&#39;s Suicide &#39;Tragically Coincides <b>...</b>

UPDATE: As of 4:30 p.m. EST, Fox has apparently pulled the article in question from their site.

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New Google <b>News</b> for Opera Mini - Official Google Mobile Blog

So we have rolled out a redesigned Google News for Opera Mini in all 29 languages and 70 editions of Google News. This includes an enhanced homepage featuring richer snippets, thumbnail images, links to videos and section content ...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Roofing Contractors Vancouver - 5 Questions to Really think

Roofing Vancouver - Faq's

1. Repair or Replace?

There's no opinion like an expert opinion. Most contractors will provide you with a free estimate. Get a summary of a few trusted contractors and phone them well in advance of when you want to obtain your homes roof fixed to help you compare costs and opinions.

2. Beauty versus Practicality?

Discuss this with your spouse or partner. (The kids could care least the young ones.) Truth is, nobody wants an ugly roof the same as nobody wants to be viewed with bed hair. If you've got a great quality roof and you just have to repair it, it's worth it to pay the cost of the initial shingle rather than doing patchwork. A roof replacement doesn't happen frequently (we hope!) and so make a decision that suits you and your loved ones well or it'll stand out like a sore thumb everyday you go home.

3. Should I replace the rooftop so I can sell the home for additional?

Consider this very carefully before making a choice. Depending on the roofing material you select, a brand new roof can last between twenty, fifty, to one-hundred years! This means you have to check the year from the roof that's currently too deep first. Are you at year 18 of the 20-year warranted roof or year 30 of a 50-year warranted roof? Obviously, the standard is what makes the rooftop last longer, but when you're not likely to stay in your current home throughout your life, the higher expense might not be worth your investment. Although a brand new roof can improve the worth of your value, the increase might not be enough to cover neglect the and that's definitely going to hurt your wallet.

4. Is it a good idea for me to repair the roof myself?

Sure it's. Before you need to do, consult a specialist first. You can do it yourself, however, you shouldn't be considered a complete ‘lone ranger.' With respect to the extent of your repair, you may or might not convince you. In either case, it will help to get a professional eye on the problem first and perhaps a free quote to help you do the math later and see if it's truly worth your time, sweat, and cash to become mister or miss fix-it.

5. Just when was a good time to get the roof replaced?

Weather may cause delays from days to weeks. Most people plan ahead to have their roof replaced in the summertime when they know someone will be home during the day for any solid fourteen days. Once you've this era in your mind, make a call to some trusted contractor months in advance to obtain a quote. Some companies get reserved fast and chances are, they're probably the most reputable. Preparing in advance from the summer also provides you with time for you to ask around many compare costs...especially if you need to possess the roof made by a particular date.


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The roof of your Vancouver home is the very first type of defence against wind, rain, snow, ice and other weather conditions. Make sure it's up to the task. Among Vancouver Roofing companies, only Crown Roofing has the depth of experience and successful track record to ensure your roofing system is going to be properly designed and installed.


One reason Crown Roofing continues to be probably the most successful roofing contractor in Vancouver is our commitment to our neighbors. We treat your home as though it were our own and we were building a roof to protect our own family. That's what neighbors do, and you can rely on Crown Roofing being here to support you and also back our work. In the end, we've been repairing and replacing roofs in Vancouver since 1902!


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Monday, April 11, 2011

Tacoma Roofing company: Help your house be Beautiful

Not many people view the worth of a solid roof, your knowledgeable Tacoma Roofing contractor does. From first hand experience, they'll be able to let you know why you need a strong, secure, and leak-free roof in your home.

The local Tacoma Roofing company is knowledgeable how important a financial investment your house is for you, especially as it is a lasting one. Your house might have been damaged slowly through the years and you have to take steps to minimize this damage. For a number of people, keeping their property beautiful is also a few pride. There are those too who'd prefer to turn their house right into a economical and efficient living place. Your roof is a valuable part of your house and contributes to each one of the aspects mentioned above. For this reason, you should employ the services of qualified a Tacoma Roofing company.

Kinds of Roofs installed by a Tacoma Roofing contractor

Among the more prevalent types of roofs are asphalt shingles, steel or metal sheeting, fiberglass, slate and terra cotta tiles.

Each kind of roof invites distinct problems, however they can all be easily looked after by a trusted Tacoma Roofer. It's vital that you nip roof problems in the bud before they become too expensive or dangerous. You can schedule an appointment with the Tacoma Roofing contractor to consider a look at your homes roof to determine if there are any issues or potential issues with it. If there are, they may be in a position to let you know how to approach them.

A Tacoma Roofing company Helps you to Build Strong Homes

The exteriors of any house, primarily the rooftop and gutters, face the onslaught of bitter and varying weather conditions, day after day. Painting, repairing, and cleaning gutters might be necessary. In some instances you might want to replace them completely. Usually, whenever your gutters show signs of trouble, your homes roof must also be inspected for problems. Whatever issues there may be, a skilled Tacoma Roofing company can examine them at length and suggest the remedy.

In case your gutters tend to clog too often, or you will find leaks across the walls of your home, it may imply that there's debris piled-up on the top. Loose branches, piles of leaves, along with other light objects which are swept onto your roof during a storm can all contribute towards damaging your roof, which damages could be lasting. An educated Tacoma Roofing contractor will explain that birds, mice, along with other kinds of rodents often build nest within the debris that collects on the roof. While these nests may look rather innocent, they're great at collecting moisture, which can lead to loose shingles, mold, and indoor leaks in your home. Additionally, this may also cause vermin infestation. Following a storm, your Tacoma Roofing contractor will claim that you inspect your roof for just about any signs and symptoms of debris or damage.

Reverse Damages with the Help of a Tacoma Roofing company

However high quality the roof might be, it will eventually wear out with time. You will find shingles that are known as "25 year" or "30 year" shingles, but those numbers are only related to warranty made by the makers. They seldom require that long. Realistically speaking, "25 year" shingles will not last more than a few years. Within an area that's vulnerable to storms, shingles or even the entire roof should get replaced every 10 years. With a Tacoma Roofing company, the cost is going to be less than what you believe.

If there you lose any shingles, or there is some harm to them, a Tacoma Roofer can assist you to. Damaged shingles can lead to indoor leaks, since the substrate from the roof becomes exposed to the elements. Shingles that are loose or broken can slip off and pose a potential hazard to people standing below. Missing shingles produce a gap that allows rain, wind, ice, and debris to develop under the adjoining shingles, which creates a "domino effect" that affects other shingles and they become loose or broken. A thorough investigation is going to be produced by the local Tacoma Roofer, should you call them up with your suspicions of loose or missing shingles.

Your Tacoma Roofing company come in a situation to inform you what the smartest choice is for your homes roof. In case your roof is not inside a good shape, it is advised you have it replaced completely. The Tacoma Roofing company may take you thru the various roofing possibilities for you which will fit your requirements as well as your budget.

Tacoma Roofer: Enhancing your Home's Efficiency

Your roof shelters you against storms, sleet, and hail. By giving adequate ventilation, your homes roof protects your house from overheating, and by holding in the heat, it keeps your house warm. That's why you ought to ready your roof from indoors in addition to outdoors for just about any sort of weather emergency. A Qualified Tacoma Roofing company can offer help in this case.

First of all, inspect your homes roof thoroughly for just about any and all sorts of type of damage, prior to the beginning of a new season. The gutters should be clear, debris should not be piled on or trapped under shingles, tthere shouldn't be homes of squirrels or birds in the eaves or attic, and also the roof ought to be structurally sound. For your last part, you will need the assistance of your local Tacoma Roofing company. It can be quite dangerous to climb onto the roof of your property. This is when the contractor from Tacoma Roofing company comes in. He'll check out the strength and security of your roof and shingles, and do a general inspection of the entire roof structure, to make certain that it is in proper working order. They'll be able to point to issues that you need to keep an eye on and problems you might not have spotted.

You will need all the assist you to can get from the Tacoma Roofing company. You are able to help your roof by installing a gutter guard or leaf cover to assist prevent debris from forming inside your gutters. The additional weight of debris prevents the gutters from draining and can even tear them down. Look into the fasteners in your gutters and when they are loose, tighten them. Take steps to alter worn screws and brackets. For those who have a chimney in your house, inspect the bricks and mortar signs of wear. A reliable mason can be recommended because of your Tacoma Roofing company, if there are any repairs to be done.

Tacoma Roofing contractor: Someone You are able to Count On
When you realize or suspect that there is a problem, your Tacoma Roofing contractor should be contacted. They can use their knowledge and expertise to get your home in ace condition by simply focusing on the roof. Your homes roof deserves attention. So give them a call today, to enable them to conclude caring for your roof.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

What is Distinction between Commercial Roofing Companies From Residential Roofing Companies

If you are hiring a roofing company to re roof your home or building then you can be wondering what are the differences are between residential roofing companies and commercial roofing companies. To start with, the main one big difference is usually that times an industrial roofing company might have signed a contract with and become obligated to a roofing union in able to focus on union commercial jobs.

If this is the case then their labor costs will prohibit them from working on non union residential jobs. Beyond that, if your commercial roofing company has not signed an agreement having a union they might be outfitted simply for commercial jobs and that means that their workers and equipment might not be in line with smaller residential jobs.

Residential roofing contractors in general tend to run smaller companies and therefore, tend to be more capable of bid competitively on residential jobs, which tend to be small compared to comercial jobs. Actually, quite often residential roofing contractors will run one man operations, where the contractor that you simply speak with may be the one that actually does the job on the building.

residential by jpignanello

Also, liability insurance for commercial roofing is more expensive and a larger bond is needed for any commercial roofing work which will make it not economical for a commercial roofing contractor to do residential roofing jobs.

Still an additional factor is the fact that commercial jobs can run on a tighter time frame for any quantity of reasons, requiring an industrial contractor to employ a larger crew or crews which again makes smaller jobs not as profitable for them.


Difference Between Commercial Roofing and Residential Roofing

Did you know that the rooftop of the house or building has a huge impact on the entire structure itself? Damage caused to roofs because of natural or another disasters causes a considerable lack of property everywhere. The kind of materials accustomed to construct the rooftop that ought to be sturdy and long-lasting, the way in which the roof continues to be installed and even its timely maintenance are very crucial. There's two types of roofs which are used on all of the buildings that people see around us: commercial and residential. Although it may seem that commercial roofing is done only for businesses or offices and residential roofing is done for apartments and houses, the truth is the differences tend to be more complex than that.

residential by jpignanello

Residential roofing is generally completed by just one hired contractor but commercial roofing typically takes an entire team to accomplish the task. This is because a commercial roof tends to be larger when it comes to sq ft than the usual residential roof.
Commercial roofs need to be made carefully keeping the character and reason for the building in your mind. For instance, when there is a cafe or restaurant in the building then external components like ventilation systems, smoke stacks and pipes is going to be required. Residential roofs usually do not have such components other than a chimney or two at the most.
Commercial roofs tends to be flat in design to support further changes in a later period, whereas most residential roofs have peaks along with other architectural features like roof gardens.
Commercial roofing is a lot more expensive than residential roofing because of the special tools, materials and safety equipment that are needed onsite. Often the patching or maintenance jobs are completed in segments unlike for any residential roof where the repair or replacement work could be carried out a short while. This really is another reason why the gear used for residential roofs is often smaller and less expensive too.
Commercial roof installations take a extended period to accomplish in comparison to residential roof installations and are usually constructed in large sections. During this phase however, it is important to make sure that there aren't any leakages, cracks or any other visible deterioration signs as it can cause considerable harm to the whole building.
It is important to install the right roof for any building depending on its purpose. Ensure that you hire a construction company that utilizes top notch materials and has the best equipment for the job or neglect the risk turning to be a huge loss later.


Commercial Roofing Contractors: How to Find a Qualified Commercial Roofing Company

If a business is seeking to have work done on its roof, you should work with commercial roofing contractors which have a keen understanding of any special needs that a business might have. For example, a roofing job is often disruptive for the operation of business as always. Because of this, it might be essential for the business to become temporarily turn off, or the roofing to take place after business hours have ended. A roofing contractor that understands these needs can work together with a business in order to make sure that these types of issues are minimized.

Buffalo Residential Commercial Roofing Company 1 by Buffalo Roofing

The first thing that a business should do when it is searching for commercial roofing contractors is to find out who other businesses in the area will work through. Obviously, this information will 't be helpful whether it comes as an indicator from competitors, but you will find circumstances by which it is not too difficult to locate this information from suppliers or retailers. Since roofing isn't an industry-specific service, this post is readily available.

It's a wise decision for just about any business to obtain in touch with a minimum of three commercial roofing contractors to make bids on the price. In this way, the business could get a better price. It's also vital that you ensure that each of the roofing contractors is licensed and bonded. This information can be found by permitting touching the state contractor's board. This assists you to determine if there has been any claims filed from the company previously.

When examining bids, it is just as vital to check out what services are now being offered and which products will be used as it is to check out the overall cost. The prices can vary quite drastically, but as tempting as it can be to go for the lowest bid, this is not always the best option. In many cases, more costs now will mean fewer costs in the long run due to a poor roofing job. To further investigate the quality of the job, it's a good idea to check on with the Bbb to be able to find out if the company continues to be accredited, and when it's not, to a minimum of see what its rating is.


Picking out a Commercial Roofing Contractor

Buffalo Residential Commercial Roofing Company 1 by Buffalo Roofing

When you're searching for a roofer for your commercial roofing project you need to find a contractor who understands the special needs of a commercial roofing project. For example it can be harder to operate on a business during business hours so either the company needs to be shut down for that repair or replacement or even the job has to be done after conventional business hours. May be the roofer you are thinking about to do the job ready to work around your schedule constrictions that might involve working weekends or evenings?

When you start your search for a roofing contractor you don't only need to answer those questions but you should also find someone that will perform a top quality job without a great deal of time delays. Going about finding someone can seem like an obstacle by itself but there are some methods to make the search easier.

Ask people around you for referrals and then try to find at least three contractors to provide you with written bids on your job. Before you go any further you have to ensure that the contractors you are considering are fully licensed and bonded. A simple search using the state contractor's board will verify in case your roofer is licensed and if there are any past judgments or claims against their license.

When you select 3 or 4 roofers to place bids, you should prepare yourself for the bids to be widely varied. Roofers will have brand preferences which will vary and may factor in pretty much compared to next guy for a labor estimate. The more detailed a written bid is the more helpful it will be to focus on in which the cost are going to be incurred. Don't, however, pick a roofer based solely about the bid price. Any low ball bids may be tempting to take, but if they are low because of low quality workman ship it might not be worth it ultimately.

As the saying goes, you generally get that which you purchase, if you are able to afford a mid-priced bid it's always smart to go up within your budget instead of down. You also ought to decide your roofer depending on how professional these were and just how comfortable you anticipate you will be working with them.

Finally your cost will be different based on what type of roofing material you select along with the cost to haul your old roof towards the landfill. If you are looking for places to chop corners on your roof, instead of cutting labor set you back might want to inquire about a metal roof option. Metal roofs can be cost effective and energy efficient which makes them overall money savers for the long run, as well as on commercial buildings they can be very low maintenance. Plus given that they can be put on top of an existing roof, you don't have to have the old one removed and hauled away, which can make a big effect on your cost.

Choosing a comerical roofing company nearer your home, does not have to be a difficult task. To learn more, visit


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Seattle Roofing Companies - How To Find The very best

In your home of rain and sleet, commercial coffee and grunge, and also the famous space needle, you'll find a house which will suit you. Seattle, Washington can be a good place to construct a home, however, you need Seattle roofing contractors to help you out. Your roof is, after all, the crowning glory of your house, and your strongest line of defense against the elements. You need to have something that isn't just created to last, but built to attract making your house more beautiful

Harsh Weather

How come roofing contractors essential in this part of the country? Because Seattle is usually bombarded by rain along with other harsh weather conditions, you need a roof that may withstand all of the forces of nature. With this in mind, you'll need people who know the Seattle weather best, and who know what materials can best go into your homes roof for it to last far longer in the region. In addition to all this, you need to blend with the rest from the houses inside your living space, which means you cannot simply get whatever roof you please.

In all these aspects, a Seattle roofers should be able to help you out. All that you should do is look for Seattle roofing contractors online so that you can get the best bang for your buck without wondering if the contractor will suddenly try to escape with it and leave you roof-less.

Why the Contractor Model Works

If you want to set up your roof on your own, you'll have to buy a good deal of materials, secure permits and licenses, and get materials that are suitable for keep you safe against harsh extremes of Seattle weather. Which means that if you're a DIY sort of guy or gal, you will have to undergo a large amount of legwork to get the task done.

On the other hand, a Seattle roofing company can perform all of the jobs for you personally and provide you with a package that may help you save money and time. Because contractors operate under licenses and buy materials in large quantities, they can get discounts on building materials that you'd not otherwise get if you were buying merely for your own home.

Roofing Associations

Roofing And Roofing Contractor In NORTON, MA by roofinghub

Most roofing contractors also belong to roofing organizations which are bound by strict guidelines and standards. When they do well on their roofing job, they are able to showcase their roofing contractors association; if they do poorly, they can ruin the trustworthiness of their roofing contractors association and keep other contractors within the association from getting good roofing jobs. There is lots of pressure to do well, so you can be confident that prefer a roofing job completed in Seattle, you can aquire a contractor from a roofing association to assist you.

For instance, Seattle Roof Brokers operates with more than five hundred roofing contractors within the Puget Sound. This group has over half a century of roofing experience and experience dealing with Seattle roofing contractors, so it will know what type of roofing you would like. The rooftop Brokers group can put you in contact using the contractor that you'll require so you don't have to look for contractors individually.

What In the event you Demand out of your Contractor?

When you finally get a contractor in the Seattle area, you must do lots of research about the roofing contractors themselves. Ask for a summary of previous companies or persons the contractor caused to get a clear look at the roofing contractor's work ethics and roof quality. Your roofer should also possess the appropriate working licenses and city licenses required by the Seattle city government.

Select a Seattle roofers that insures its employees, and that has courteous workers who'll respect your opinions and ensure that the needs are met. Make sure that you get the best value for your money: if you're not satisfied with the job, you need to be guaranteed either money-back, or perhaps a free, new roof. Moreover, additionally you need the workers to get the job done promptly, so be strict with your deadlines - and discover a contractor that's as strict as you are.

You'll need guarantees and warranties in your roof, so locate a contractor that can meet your budget and roofing needs. If you get touching good Seattle roofing contractors, you may be guaranteed a great roof and a better house in this fantastic city.

Choosing the proper Roofing Contractor Company for Replacing Your homes roof

The shingles inside your roof degrade and you are minded to find a roofing contractor to replace the them. Maybe you have already called a few and therefore are evaluating which contractor to use for your upcoming roof repair. How can you select the best contractor for caring for your roof? Listed here are several things you should look at when looking for the best roofer.

Where is the roofing contractor located? It is important to hire a roofing contractor that's local. Chances are you will get the next step of service when the roofing company is located near your home or has an office near your residence.
References. To look for the reliability of the contractor, references should be provided of their previous customers who're prepared to vouch that excellent service was received. This should not be the only element in choosing your future roofing contractor as some may claim they value the privacy of the clients and do not desire to bother them. If this sounds like the situation, ask for business related references. The places that supply the contractor with supplies can reveal the quantity of materials and regularity of supplying the contractor to assist determine their stability.
So how exactly does the roofing contractor company handle complaints? There's a multitude of issues that can arise throughout the progress of the roofing replacement. Ask what their process is perfect for handling complaints if they arise. It's also a great idea to get a past client reference who were built with a complaint which was resolved towards the satisfaction of the client.
Terms of payment. What are the the payment schemes to do the job? What's the down payment and amount due upon completion? Even though it is certainly reasonable that the substantial payment be made before a contractor begins work on a project, it is strongly advised that full payment isn't made until after the entire job is completed.
Written contract. All the roofing replacement ought to be place in an itemized contract. No part of the contracting job should depend on verbal assurances.
Bonding. There are stuff that will go wrong with roofing installations that end up costing quite a bit of money to repair. If this happens on your roofing replacement, you will feel a great deal better understanding that your roofer is bonded. This will supply the funds to fix whatever mistakes were made. Look for a roofing contractor that is bonded.
Manufacturer Warranty. Quality materials for roofing typically have a warranty. It is important to verify that there's actually a warranty on the materials being installed. Request a duplicate of the warranty.
Period of time running a business Just how long has got the company you are interviewing experienced business? A short in time business may reflect instability. If the contractor has been around business under 3 years, verify just how long they have actually been in the market. A brand new contractor may have many years experience working on roofs before they form their own business. Seek a company that has been around for 3 years, or where the contractor has already established many more years performing roofing replacements. This again should not be the only real factor, all of us have to begin sometime. Balance this with referrals and also the other points raised in this article.
Appropriate Permits. A Seattle roofing contractor should know what permits are needed for repairing your roof. They should be conscious of how to obtain these permits for you. Ask the contractor whether they will obtain the permits essential to repair the roof.
Liability. If a worker becomes injured, who is responsible for the worker's compensation? When the contractor's equipment damages your house, who's responsible for the repairs? A great contractor will give you certificates of insurance for liability and worker's compensation before they start fixing your roof.
Subcontractors. Verify whether the contractor will be using subcontractors. If so, it is strongly advised that everything contained in this article for verifying if the contractor is credible should also be relevant to subcontractors. You should receive the names and license numbers of all subcontractors. You should verify whether each subcontractor can also be insured so you aren't held liable for their accidents.
Pending Legal Actions. It is important to verify whether you will find any legal actions against the contractor. This is not only necessary for verifying if the roofing company is legitimate (credible roofing companies should not have to defend themselves in court), it's also important because a lost lawsuit could cause the contractor to visit bankrupt. If you have designed a substantial deposit for services immediately prior to the company goes bankrupt, you can lose many thousands of dollars and never have your roofing completed.
Material Disposal. Who's accountable for disposing of the waste generated in the roof being replaced? Will your contractor handle every aspect of the? Is there an additional cost for disposing of this waste?
NRCA Membership. Membership in local or national roofing associations, like the NRCA, shows commitment to staying up to date with the very best means of roof replacement and maintenance. Find a roofing contractor with a high standard of education regarding their trade.
Replacing your homes roof is a significant investment. It makes good sense to ask serious questions before using a roofer. Here are a few more tips that you should consider when choosing the best roofing contractor for the upcoming roofing replacement.

Payment. Do not create a full payment for services unless all jobs are finished.
Inspection. Do not create a full payment without having done a final inspection of all services rendered.
Workers liens. Don't fully purchase the roofing replacement job until worker's lien releases have been obtained.
Oral Agreements. No agreement ought to be made verbally without backing up in writing. Every point which are vital that you you ought to be produced in writing.