Latest Posts

The 5 Ways to Save Money on Your Mortgage

Mortgage interest rates have been near rock-bottom lows for many years but are likely to increase over the next few years. Even though you can no longer count on record low-interest rates, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you save money on your mortgage loan. Here are the top five:

1. Increase Your Down Payment

By saving a little longer, getting money gifted to you by relatives, or selling off big assets, you could pull together a larger down payment. If you can bump up your down payment to 20% or more, you will avoid paying for private mortgage insurance, saving yourself hundreds of dollars each year. Plus, a larger down payment means your loan balance will be lower and require less interest to pay off. Interest rates are often lowest for those who can contribute 20% or more because those loans are much less risky to lenders.

2. Pay Points

If you pay some discount points at closing, you can buy down the mortgage interest rate, lower your monthly payment and save money on interest over the course of the loan. This plan works best if you plan to stay in the home for a long time. One point is typically equal to 1% of the loan amount, so you need to stay in your house long enough to start realizing the savings on that upfront outlay of cash.

3. Consider a Piggy Back Loan

While these so-called “piggyback” loans were more popular in the past, they are still possible and could save you money. Also called an “80/10/10” mortgage, this scenario involves, taking out a loan from one lender for 80% of the purchase price, contributing 10% yourself as a down payment and taking out a second loan to cover the last 10%. This is another way to avoid paying PMI and could help you get a lower mortgage payment if you pay off the second mortgage as quickly as possible. A piggyback loan often makes the most sense if you do not have a full 20% of your own money to put down. Be aware, though, that second mortgages often come with slightly higher interest rates and those rates are usually adjustable based on market conditions.

4. Be Willing to Negotiate

In order to save some money, it is important to talk with your lender. If you never ask for better terms, you will never know what you could have gotten. It won’t hurt to ask for lower fees or interest rates.

5. Improve Your Credit Score

And finally, if you do not qualify for the interest rates or terms you hope for, take a little extra time to improve your credit score. This involves making all payments on time for many months as well as keeping your total debt-to-available-credit ratio low. Do not open any new credit accounts while working toward a mortgage. Obtain a copy of your credit report to look for any inaccuracies. Clearing those up could increase your score almost immediately. While a score of 760 or higher is ideal, the closer you get the better terms and rates you will receive.

Don’t be afraid to ask your lender about even more ways to save money on your mortgage. They may offer special programs or give you other tips on how to reduce your home loan costs.

 

Blog Source: Mitten Mortgage Lending | 5 Ways to Save Money on Your Mortgage

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BEGINNERS GUIDE IN BUYING A FIREPLACE

Electric fireplaces are growing in popularity as an easy and cost reduced alternative to installing wood burning or gas burning fireplaces. Before you buy an electric fireplace online, you’ll want to keep reading.

Below you’ll find a handy guide of the three most popular types of an electric fireplace, their functions, pros and cons, price points and how to plan for installation.

BUY AN ELECTRIC FIREPLACE ONLINE: OPTIONS UNDER $1500 AND 150 LBS

There are a few different types of an electric fireplace, each with different features suitable for different scenarios.

The first is arguably the easiest to buy and install, and many models are available at the lower price points. Indeed, top quality brands are available under $1500 CDN.

The wall hanging electric fireplace can come in various sizes, some no bigger than a wall covering, yet heats up to 400 sq feet with a dazzling array of flame colors and insert options. Think rocks, faux logs, crystal rocks, faux embers and more.

Often placed on a focal wall, in place of a painting or photograph, electric hanging fireplaces have been described as moving art. A longtime favorite of interior designers, hanging fireplaces add an element of “wow” to just about any space in a home or office.

The larger models, up to an incredible 100”  long, are often used for bigger homes or commercial spaces, in waiting areas or at the reception.

If you’re looking for the modern aesthetic that provides the ambiance of a fireplace with minimal inconvenience or effort, this may be the best kind of electric fireplace to buy online.

Another pro to this type of electric fireplace is that they don’t usually weigh that much, under 150 lbs even for a 72” length, which means it can be shipped inexpensively and in most cases, you won’t need a professional installer.

You’ll still want to follow the installation instructions carefully though; ensuring you are following framing, clearances, and proper electrical requirements. Each model will come with its own specifications that we recommend you read prior to purchasing your electric fireplace online.

The last thing you want is to learn on the day your fireplace arrives that your space isn’t suitable for what you had envisioned.

 

BUY AN ELECTRIC FIREPLACE ONLINE: DOUBLE SIDED

Double sided fireplaces provide two times the coziness and glow of a one-sided fireplace.

A double-sided electric fireplace is the next step up in investment and logistics, but in our opinion, the end result is well worth it for the additional benefits:

 

Space & Light:

A two or three-sided electric fireplace provides one of the most appealing ways to divide two rooms while maintaining a spacious, airy feel.

 

Anchor Point:

Completely open concept spaces can feel unanchored without a focal point. A double-sided fireplace can unite living and dining spaces by drawing the eye to the glow of the customizable flames.

 

Privacy:

A clever way to let in some light and space without compromising privacy, a double sided fireplace is a favorite go-between from master bedroom to ensuites to walk in closet.

 

Logistics of a double sided fireplace:

The two-sided fireplace will provide heat for a 400 – 500 square foot space, and like it’s wall hanging cousin doesn’t require gas hookups. The dual or triple sided fireplace is designed to sit flush to the wall, so it will require professional installation in drywall, a stone mock chimney or another surface.

Surprisingly light, many models of dual or triple sided electric fireplace still fit under the 150lb weight we consider relatively easy to deliver and move.

Priced from two to three times the price of the wall hanging electric fireplace, you can still get incredible value from some of the top manufacturers like Napoleon and Amanti.

 

BUY AN ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: AN INSERT

What is an electric fireplace insert?

Inserts are inserted into an existing wood burning fireplace

An insert mimics the more traditional styling of a hearth than the wall hanging electric fireplaces.

Typically, inserts are more square than the rectangular shape of the linear wall hanging electric fireplaces.

These are a great solution to those who no longer wish to use their wood burning fireplace

They require more logistical installation considerations than the wall hanging fireplaces, but less than the dual sided;  they’re a nice in between option.

If you’re converting from a wood-burning fireplace you’ll find an insert considerably warmer, less effort to use and more energy efficient.

Sizes are typically around 33’ to 40’ and they can still weigh below 150lbs.

 

BUY AN ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Whether you choose a wall hanging, multi-sided or insert, before you buy an electric fireplace online, confirm the shipping costs and timeline, whether or not you’ll need to pay taxes, what happens should the electric fireplace arrive damaged, what the return and warranty policy is as well the reputation and reviews of the supplier and manufacturer.

You should be able to enjoy your investment for years to come, so as a rule and where possible, opt to spend a little more for a reputable brand.

Diamond Fireplace in Northeast Calgary has been serving Calgary and surrounding area for over 30 years. Their extensive showroom, award winning service and great after sales service has made Diamond Fireplace Calgary’s choice for electric fireplaces.

 

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended as a summary of electric fireplace options and isn’t shouldn’t be construed as professional advice appropriate for every situation.  Do your research and always read the safety precautions and user’s manual prior to purchasing and installing a fireplace to ensure you understand and consent to the requirements and safety precautions required to operate your fireplace. Some electric fireplaces you can buy online will require framing and should have a dedicated line to ensure safety. do your research and ensure the fireplace.

 

BLOG SOURCE: DIAMOND FIREPLACE & STONE | BEFORE YOU BUY AN ELECTRIC FIREPLACE ONLINE – READ THIS BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THREE POPULAR OPTIONS

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Learn The Difference Between PPC and SEO

Looking to bring in more traffic to your site? Then you’ve probably wondered what type of marketing would be best.

PPC and SEO are two popular methods for bringing in a lot of traffic. Each method is different and each is effective.

Which one should you focus on, and how are they different? Keep reading to find out. Here’s everything you need to know about PPC vs. SEO and which option might be right for you.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Pay per click advertising places ads on various sites to let people know about your site and services. You’ll have to pay for these ads. Costs can be lower than with other methods of marketing, though, because you only pay when people click on your ads.

Because you’ll have to keep paying though, it’s important to assess if you’ll get a good enough return on your investment. Start small, do some analysis, and see if this type of marketing works well for your site.

The most popular PPC platform is Google AdWords. When using Adwords you’ll pay more for better keywords and ad placement.

The cost for each click is minimal. Those costs add up if you get a lot of clicks, though. While your costs may rise, more clicks mean a higher likelihood that visitors will stick around or purchase your goods or services, though.

If you’re looking for a marketing method that seeks to bring in traffic from other sites, PPC is a good option to consider.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to bring traffic to your site. Essentially, it uses tactics that specifically help Google and other search engines know what your site is about.

As search engines realize what’s on your site, they’re better able to recommend your site to people who’re searching for content like yours. How does it work? Largely through the use of keywords.

SEO keywords are very specific. Simply choosing your own keywords won’t do the trick. Instead, you’ve got to find out which keywords are trending and which ones are already associated with other brands.

That’s not to say you can’t go after keywords that are already closely linked with a big competitor. But you’ll have a hard time doing it if they’re already the top-ranked site for those keywords.

Keyword research helps you find keywords that will help your site perform well. That includes competing well with your competitors.

SEO keywords are used in many places. These include written content, tags, and headings. Because SEO is used a lot in written content, it’s ideal to have a blog on your site.

While including keywords in published blog content is a huge part of SEO, there’s more to SEO than that. There are a few types of SEO.

SEO can be used in the technical aspects of your site, as well as in your content. It can even be performed off-site. This includes using SEO tactics on social media sites.

SEO Examples

You’ve likely seen SEO at work without realizing it. This is especially true if you’ve ever read a post that was from a company’s blog.

Great SEO doesn’t stick out. If you’re too obvious with your use of keywords Google will notice that you’re trying too hard. Ultimately, your efforts will hurt you more than helping you.

For this reason, it’s important to use our SEO keywords as naturally as possible. As long as you choose good keywords and use them right, it’s easy to add them to headings and written content without sounding like you’re trying too hard.

If you’re looking for a very natural and effective way to bring in traffic, SEO is a great way to do it.

Main Differences Between PPC and SEO

In terms of goals, PPC and SEO aren’t all that different. They’re both aimed at bringing new traffic to your site. They are different in how they go about doing that, though.

PPC aims to grab attention through paid ads that show up in various places other than your website.

SEO takes a very different approach. Instead of using paid ads, SEO aims to bring in organic traffic to your site. Specific marketing keywords help bring people to your site through content that’s already on your site.

In order to keep PPC working for you, you’ll have to keep putting money into it. It is a very effective way to bring in traffic.

SEO could be more cost effective since once your content is on your site, it keeps working for you but you don’t have to pay for it again. In order to get great SEO content on your site, you may need to invest some money.

Whichever option you choose, the funds you spend will likely be worth it. Both work well, just in different ways. To maximize your incoming traffic, try one of these methods, or use both together.

PPC vs. SEO: Two Effective Methods of Marketing

There are plenty of marketing methods to choose from. Some are more effective than others though, so it’s important to choose the right methods for your site.

Both PPC and SEO are great options for bringing in traffic. You’ll hear plenty on PPC vs. SEO but in the end, the decision to use one or the other (or both) is up to you. Consider your site and the resources you have available to help you make the right decision.

 

Blog Source: Section Media 5 | PPC vs SEO: What’s the Difference?

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The Importance of Wall Art In Your Home

No matter what room you are putting together, accessories and decorations are one of the most important things to focus on.

Wall space is crucial to bringing a room together, and the number of items and what you use will complete the overall look you are going for.

The proper use of wall art is a great way to add some flair to your room and really put your own personal touch on it.

If you are an art lover, here are some tips on how to work wall art into your home decor no matter what room you are designing.

Why You Should Use Wall Art

If your room feeling unfinished or lacking some much-needed texture?

One of the best ways to accomplish both of these tasks is by introducing some exciting new wall art to your space.

By utilizing these pieces as a focal point for your room, you have a great design to work the rest of your room’s style off of as the art simply ties everything together.

This is also a great way to add texture and feel to a room that doesn’t have too much variety going on with it.

Properly Using Space

If you have a lot of blank space on your walls, you may be wondering how exactly you can fill it properly.

This is where some fun and creative wall art can come into play and really help you make it your own.

One of the best ways to incorporate wall art into space is by creating some sort of collage with a variety of different paintings and photographs.

By utilizing different sizes and shapes of frames with photos and paintings that can either feature a similar color palette or incorporate a variety of colors, you can fill the space and bring some excitement and style to the room.

How to Use Color

When selecting the artwork for your walls, one of the most important things to think about is the color of the art itself.

Whether you are using traditional canvas paintings or simply a variety of different framed photos, there are several choices you have to make when selecting the perfect art.

If you are using traditional paintings or even a combination of paintings and photographs, this is a great way to incorporate color and pick a similar shade a popular base that is found throughout each piece of art. Whether it is a light blue or a natural green, these colors found in each piece can give you a great color base to match off of with the rest of your room.

If you are using only framed photographs, this is the perfect place to incorporate a cool looking black and white collage of photos with similar frames.

With black and white matching any of your other decors, it opens up your options for what you utilize throughout the rest of the room.

 

Blog Source: TIFFANY L SHOP | Importance of Wall Art In Your Home

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TIPS FOR KEEPING A CAR COOL IN THE SUMMER

No one likes getting into a hot car in the summer. We’ve all been through those first awful minutes when the car is too hot to even sit in, let alone drive. Wouldn’t it be better if once you got into your car, it was an escape from the heat?

Luckily, you can make this dream a little bit more of a reality. There are some killer items that you can sell to customers to add to their cars that, once they do, will make the car significantly cooler in the summer. Check out the additions below, and see if your carwash could benefit from selling any of them.

Windshield visor

One of the most common additions people make to their cars in order to keep the heat out is a windshield visor. Cars become warm in the summer because direct sunlight enters in through the windows. This is why we park in the shade whenever we can. Since the windshield is the largest window in the car, blocking the sun from coming in would make a huge difference.

Windshield visors and sunshades are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. You just pop them open once you park and lay them underneath the windshield. While they won’t block heat from entering your car entirely, they certainly help.

Tinted windows

To help customers block out even more of the sun, consider offering window-tinting services. Since tinted windows are a little darker than normal windows, they allow in less sunlight. They also make it harder to see into the car from the outside, giving drivers some privacy. Keep in mind that some areas have laws against how dark tinted windows can be, so you should check the laws in your area before you proceed.

Seat covers

What often makes a car so unbearable to be inside during the summer is that everything is hot to the touch. This often includes the seats, making it hard to drive when you’re wearing shorts or a skirt. To solve this problem, you can sell and install some seat covers. For example, Neoprene seat covers help to deflect some of the heat from inside the car, so you have a more comfortable ride during the summer. Not only that, but since they are water resistant, you don’t have to worry about sweat stains or spilled drinks. Seat covers are a great way to not only give a customer a more comfortable ride year-round, but they also protect the underlying fabric to retain a car’s value.

A solar-powered fan

Finally, a solar-powered fan might make a drive a little more comfortable. Since there is so much sun out during the summer, you might as well make use of it. With a solar powered fan, you get a nice breeze throughout the car at all times, even if the car isn’t running. This is great when you have to sit in your car for some reason, but you don’t want to waste gas by running the car and the AC the entire time. A solar-powered fan doesn’t use any energy from your car, and many models can clip right onto the window to give the driver or passenger a nice breeze.

Don’t suffer inside a hot car this summer

We’ve all had that moment where we dread getting into our cars because we know how hot it is going to be. You reach into your car to start it up, and the warm air inside is almost suffocating. You then have to wait outside your car for a few minutes while the AC does its work before you can even think about sitting down inside the car.

By offering some of the killer additions above, you can hopefully help customers make this a problem of the past.

 

Blog Source: Professional Carwashing | KILLER ADDITIONS TO KEEP A CAR COOL IN THE SUMMER

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Tips When Bringing A New Cat Home To Another Cat

Introducing A New Cat

Worried about bringing a new cat home to another cat? Our team at VIP Petcare has weighed in on the best ways to ensure your new cat’s transition is as easy and as anxiety-free as possible; allowing your ever-growing cat family to get along with one another right off the bat.

First and foremost, it’s best to adopt a new cat that has previously lived with other cat siblings, as they are more likely to get along with a new brother or sister much more quickly than if they didn’t have that social experience. When choosing a new feline friend, try to pick out personality traits that your cats at home already have. For instance, if your cat likes to play often, it’s best to choose another cat that has the same characteristic. Additionally, if your cat at home is older and lazier, it’s best to adopt another cat around the same age with the same activity style.

Eliminating Cat Conflict Before It Happens

Regardless if the new cat you have adopted has similar characteristics and personality traits to your cat at home, there is still a chance of conflict when the two strangers meet for the first time. Because cats are territorial, it’s best to provide your new cat with his or her own “territory” or room, completely outfitted with a second set of the cat accessories you already own: a new litter box, new water dish and food bowl, new scratching post, and a comfortable place to lie in the sun and snooze. In each room, make sure there are ample places for each one of your cats to hide or retreat to if they get scared. Cardboard boxes with holes cut in the sides make great fortresses, as well as large cat carriers. If one of your cats is cornered by the other, they need a place to escape to right away.

Move-In Day

The second you bring your new cat home, take him or her straight to their designated room. Try to spend a minimum of one hour with each cat in your household per day, each in their individual territories. Play and treat regularly as you watch closely for signs of stress or anxiety, such as hiding, aggressive behavior, decreased appetite, and/or excessive vocalization. If you notice any of these signs, your cat could be suffering from deeply-seeded stress. If the signs persist for more than several days and/or if your cat stops eating, consult with your local veterinarian right away.

If your new cat shows mild signs of anxiety, give them the opportunity to properly acclimate to the new sights, smells, and living quarters. Once your new cat shows signs of comfortability, you can swap rooms with each individual cat, giving both of them the chance to pick up on one another’s scents in a non-threatening way. Additionally, you can place both of your cats on either side of a closed door or baby gate, giving them the chance to smell, hear, and/or see one another in a non-aggressive way.

Cat Pheromones

Rather than moving each one of your cat’s individually to their new sibling’s room, you can utilize cat pheromones to introduce their new scents to each other. When your cat rubs his or her cheek against a wall, chair, or your leg, pheromones are produced, which are chemical substances that can help to relieve anxiety and provide information about the cat who is producing those pheromones. Exposing each cat to towels that were gently rubbed on the new cat’s cheeks may be a good way to introduce them.

Face-To-Face Cat Introductions

If you’ve noticed that both of your cats are acting relaxed and comfortable with the sight and smell of one another, you can go ahead and introduce the two outside of their individual territories. It’s best to find a large room where the two can start on opposite ends. If you have a close friend or family member to help, it makes the face-to-face introductions even easier. Each person can take one of the cats and sit down with them on either side of the space, treating and playing to promote happiness and contentment. After a few minutes, you can gradually start moving the cats closer and closer until they finally meet freely. If any cat shows signs of significant stress or agitation, separate them again and introduce them more slowly. Once your cats begin to harmonize and play in the same room, they will start to understand that they are not a serious threat to one another.

Contact VIP Petcare Today For Expert Cat & Kitten Care!

Bringing a new cat home to another cat can sometimes be a daunting task, but with patience and dedication, your new cat will become a member of your family in no time at all. Remember, if one or more of your cats are due for vaccinations or preventatives, VIP Petcare is here to help! With mobile clinics and wellness centers located all across the country, our pet care experts take pride in providing comprehensive care to both cats and dogs alike. For more information on our cat vaccinations and preventatives, don’t hesitate to find a VIP Petcare clinic near you!

Blog Source: VIP PET CARE | Bringing A New Cat Home To Another Cat

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The Importance of SEO for Your Website

small business seo

Search Engine Optimization. SEO. You may know that it’s important to get your site on the first or first few pages of a Google search. You may even know a few tricks about how that’s done, like the use of keywords and metadata.

You may not know that there exists a deep knowledge of how Google ranks websites and that there are at present, more than 200 ranking factors that Google uses to determine where your site shows up in a search. The closer to the top of the search, the more traffic to your site. Increased site traffic leads to increased sales.

We’re here to talk about the benefits of SEO, how it links to Google rankings, and how SEO works to grow your business.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Some brands are so popular that their name becomes what’s called an eponym, or generic trademark. More than 70% of internet users search for what they want through Google, making it one of the world’s newest eponyms. The combination of market share and expertise have granted Google the right and responsibility to manage how their search results appear to the user.

Google’s ranking is meant to provide its users access to the best quality search results. For example, when someone searches for your product, Google knows that you are actually selling it, that your site is secure, that others have spent time on your site in search of the same product, and that their experience on your site is a good one.

Inbound Marketing and SEO

Inbound marketing is an extension of your visitor’s experience. Good inbound marketing is the practice of attracting customers and then converting them to loyal promoters to your business. Good results are achieved through social media marketing, SEO, and content marketing.

Inbound marketing uses two types of media: owned media and earned media.

Owned media: Owned media are your business channels such as your website, YouTube channel, social media profiles, and blogs.

Earned media: Online earned media is comprised of likes and mentions, online conversations or forum discussions, and online reviews.

SEO can help your inbound marketing efforts by crafting your owned media website to earn the best Google rankings. Your customers are looking for you, not the other way around. You already have the advantage of them wanting what you’re offering.

How Does SEO Work?

We’ll start by explaining how search engines work. A user types a word or string of words into the engine’s search bar, also called a query. The search engine then uses a set of rules, or algorithms, to determine what pages to show, in what order in response to that query.

The user is then presented with a list of results on the first page. The higher up on the list, the more clicks that page receives. In fact, around 50% of users will click the top result, and all the other results will share the rest of the traffic. Additionally, only a few percents even visit sites beyond the first page.

The algorithms are complex and use hundreds of factors to determine the rank of their search engine results pages or SERPs. We mentioned earlier that Google uses at least 200 ranking factors to determine their SERPs. SEO is the process of using as many of these factors as possible to increase your site’s visibility on those results pages.

How Do You Start?

You or your SEO marketing service increase your inbound marketing by starting with three core metrics that these search engines use for evaluation: site architecture, site content, and links. How these are designed into your website directly affects your rankings, and is part of what a good SEO marketing service can help you with.

Let’s examine these three metrics in depth, starting with site architecture, or structure.

Site Structure

Your site’s structure is crucial to many of the ranking factors used to bring your site to the first SERP. You may have performed a query and seen not only a site URL but under that a few internal links to choose from. These are called sitelinks and they don’t happen by accident or through basic coding.

Sitelinks appear because Google recognizes your great site structure and awards your site with them. Google’s crawlers index your site’s contents and return it in their search results, so a good hierarchy needs to be part of your website plan.

Ideally, your site structure should be planned before you or your developers start building your site. A site hierarchy looks like a pyramid, where the top is your front page and from there it is easy to navigate to other categories.

For instance, say you search for a restaurant in your area. You find the page and from there you see links to their menus, hours, locations, catering, and contact pages. That is a clear hierarchy that is likely to show up on a SERP with those convenient direct links under the main URL.

Site Content

Some people call this “content SEO” and it is a combination of good copywriting and keyword strategy to help rank your page higher in search engines. We mentioned Google indexing your site’s contents: it reads your website so the words you use in your copy determine whether your site will rank in their SERPs.

Good website copywriting is going to incorporate good keyword research. All good content SEO scheme should start with keyword research which helps you identify the words you want to rank for.

Aside from understanding your business’s purpose, the steps to creating well-ranked content are:

  1. Good keyword research
  2. Listing all the keywords you want to be found for, and
  3. Creating landing pages for those keywords

There is a whole science behind keyword research and some concepts behind it include understanding your searcher’s intent, defining a focus keyphrase, and use of long-tail keywords that can pinpoint a search string.

Links

The more a site is linked to within a different site, the more it establishes its authority and demonstrates its popularity. Many optimization specialists think that a top SEO objective is getting your site to be an external link on another page. This metric is called off-page (or off-site) SEO.

Some factors that search engines consider when assessing the value of external links include:

  • The linking domain’s trustworthiness
  • The linking page’s popularity
  • The link’s anchor text
  • The frequency of the link’s usage

Links that lead to your page from another site are called backlinks. The more sites that include backlinks to your site, the better your search engine ranking.

There are three types of backlinks that affect your off-page SEO. The first is called a natural link and happens when the site creator points to another site logically. These links are logical, helpful, and contextual. They feel like they belong within their content, and are often created organically through social media and other channels.

The second type of backlink is a manually-built link. These links are created by asking others to share your content. You may ask a customer to include a link to your site or product or asking influencers to do the same.

The third type is a self-created link. These are more manipulative and tactical, like linking from a forum or press release. Some of these methods earn ranking disapproval, so be careful with this tactic.

The Benefits of SEO

By now you are beginning to understand how SEO works, and some of the benefits of optimizing your website for search engine rankings. It’s time to dig further into how SEO marketing services can help grow your business.

If you are working with an SEO marketing service, they will employ some of the following techniques to improve your ranking and conversion rate.

Site Siloing: This approach employs deeper keyword and keyphrase research. It also requires a rich understanding of your site’s theme and subject.

Imagine a cookie jar containing different types of cookies. A search term for cookies in a jar returns companies who sell cookies because a search engine thinks that’s what you sell.

Separate the cookies into their own jars, yielding cookie type 1,  type 2, and type 3. Search results would yield companies that sell those types of cookies.

Now stack the three types separately inside the jar. Well-planned keyphrases can yield cookies, types of cookies, and how to find them in your jar.

Good Graphics: Walls of text will cause customers to bounce away from your site, which can hurt your rankings. Use of relevant and attractive graphics break up the content and provide an enjoyable user experience.

Choose HTML5: Flash’s time has ended. Over half of internet searches take place on mobile devices and Flash content limits those users’ accessibility and prevents search engines from crawling that content. HTML5 is the new format developers use to make your content accessible from all devices.

Test Regularly: Your SEO marketing service knows how to analyze your site’s performance to identify and inform your marketing strategy. They have the tools and expertise to monitor your site for visitor behavior and track your conversion goals.

Asking the Real Questions

The goal of this research is to convert your visitors into customers. Search Engine Optimization and Conversion Optimization combine to drive people to your site, keep them there, and convince them to buy what you’re selling. You know it’s important but you need to know how much SEO costs.

SEO and Conversion Optimization are both sciences and arts. It’s a science because it employs strict methods of monitoring and measuring to determine what works. It’s an art because each site is different and presents unique challenges for the marketing agency.

People are usually good at one thing and not the other. If you decide that you want to do your own optimization, and you can code, you may only pay for your time. You’re at a disadvantage though, since you’re learning as you go and your results may not be the best available.

The Value of SEO Marketing Services

An SEO marketing service will cost more than your time, but you have access to a group of people with combined skills to maximize your investment. They will also have real-world experience and a broad knowledge base which will yield you more value.

Here are some levels of expertise your SEO partners possess:

They can pinpoint the pages that show to search engine crawlers. Sometimes you don’t need all your site’s pages in the site index, and an agency pays attention to what’s valuable.

They make sure the crawlers understand what they are reading on your site. You may have some code that is returning inaccurate results or has a script issue.

They know exactly how to research keywords and phrases because they already know your audience better than you do. That research yield better rankings.

They know how to leverage social media to earn backlinks to your site. Those valuable links give your site authority and earn search engine trust. That trust increases your rankings as well.

Now You Can Choose Wisely

One way you can track your ROI is to use your analytics to calculate how much you would have spent on outbound marketing efforts. The cost of a web or print advertisement can easily be compared to your conversion numbers online.

SEO agencies have access to more tools and resources than you do, and they know how to use them well. It is now a more mature industry, and SEO is the way to leverage inbound marketing to your advantage.

Now that you have learned the benefits of SEO, you can work with your SEO partner to achieve your best possible ROI. By using the information in this post, you can connect what they do with your results. A simple way to think about SEO is to understand that ranking equals visitors, visitors equal traffic, and traffic leads to either sales or sales leads.

Between your SEO marketing service’s expertise and your new-found knowledge, you can give your website the head start it deserves, and start converting your visitors. Stay ahead of the technology curve by hiring a partner that harnesses the power of the search engine.

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How to Qualify for Down Payment Assistance?

One of the biggest obstacles to homeownership is coming up with enough cash for a down payment. When your own savings are not adding up quickly enough and you don’t have a rich uncle to tap for an early inheritance, you may find some help in a down payment assistant programs.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

Many state and local governments, as well as local lending institutions and non-profit organizations, have created down payment assistance programs because of their vested interest in helping residents and fellow community members become homeowners. Those who own homes are likely to take better care of their properties and participate more in their communities. Because of this, down payment assistance programs are designed to help potential homeowners overcome the most common hurdle. They can offer help in the form of grants, forgivable second mortgages, and even savings matching programs.

Down payment grant programs gift borrowers money for down payment or closing costs as long as they meet certain requirements. Grants are the most advantageous for borrowers as this money does not have to be repaid.

Another great option, however, is programs that offer forgivable second mortgages. These loans can charge interest, but many of them offer zero percent interest with no payments as long as the loan requirements are met. After borrowers stay in the home for a certain amount of time without refinancing, the loan is completely forgiven.

Other agency and lenders offer matched savings programs. These are similar to employer retirement investment matching programs. For every dollar a potential borrower puts into the down payment matching account, the sponsoring organization with a match it. Some even multiple their matching contribution. For example, Indiana’s Individual Development Account program puts in $4 for every $1 contributed by savers. These programs can obviously help potential homeowners save up for a down payment much faster.

Program Requirements

Each program has its own specific requirements, but they are often based on things like income-level, credit score, and how many members are in the household. There are also more specific programs that require military or veteran status or public service employment. Other programs may require borrowers to complete a homebuyer education program. There are also often rules about the property itself, ranging from the neighborhood to the purchase price.

Borrowers should also be aware that taking part in a down payment assistance program may come with a higher interest rate.  The risk to lenders increases when borrowers do not have as much to lose on the loan, so you may have to pay more in interest if your down payment is not completely self-funded.

If down payment assistance sounds like something that could aid you in your homeownership quest, start by researching programs available from your state or local government. Check with community lenders and non-profits as well. While it takes some work to locate these programs, it will be worth the effort if you are able to realize your dream of home ownership sooner.

Or you can just call us at 734-992-2252. We know what state, community and local down payment and grant assistance programs are available in Michigan and the qualification guidelines for each of them.

 

Blog Source: Mitten Mortgage Lending | Can I Qualify for Down Payment Assistance?

 

 

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GUIDE TO REMOTE CAMP DESIGN AND MODULAR BUILDINGS

Work sites in the mining, mineral exploration, oil and gas, construction, natural resources, and research industries are often located in remote areas that tend to have harsh climates and less than optimum conditions. Such work sites tend to be geographically isolated, and not easily accessed by road – often requiring days of travel and using a number of methods to transport equipment, materials, supplies, and personnel.

Whether it is a small mineral exploration team scouting potential sites for future mining projects, or the establishment of a man camp for oil field operations, projects in these locations can be designed to operate for short periods of time (days, weeks, or months) and require a high degree of portability or solicit bids for establishing permanent workforce accommodations and on-site infrastructure to support full-time production efforts lasting years or decades.

This is a guide is for informational purposes. If planning a camp, we recommend contacting your state or country’s governing agency for rules and regulations related to using modular buildings for establishing temporary remote camps or permanent workforce camps.

THE NEED FOR REMOTE CAMPS AND MODULAR STRUCTURES FOR WORKFORCE HOUSING

Remote work sites can be so far removed from civilization that it’s impractical for workers, if not outright impossible for commuting and being able to work long shifts and meet the physical demands of remote jobs. In order to ensure a high-level of worker productivity, as well as attract and retain skilled work crews, companies recognize the need for providing safe and comfortable job site housing.

Whether it is prefabricated bunkhouses, living quarters, temporary worker housing, construction site housing, or employee housing, remote camps can quickly be established using modular structures to provide not only workforce accommodations but the kitchen and dining facilities, as well as recreational facilities.

EXAMPLES OF REMOTE FIELD CAMPS AND EXTREME SITE CONDITIONS

When planning a remote camp, special consideration needs to be given to the climate, location, and the duration of the project. Real-world examples of different remote camps can illustrate the wide range of extreme conditions which some remote workforce camps must endure and withstand.

REMOTE ALASKA CAMPS: WHERE THE YUKON RIVER MEETS THE BERING SEA

Mike Smith, owner, and operator of Alaska Minerals Inc. has been providing the mining, construction and reclamation industries with remote camp systems for decades. The most remote work camp that Alaska Minerals operated was at the Western terminus of the Yukon River, about 20 miles from the Bering Sea. Equipment was transported from Anchorage to a small town on a river in the heart of Alaska. From there, a barge carried the equipment almost 800 miles to the site.

Mike and his crew had to fly in on a float plane from Bethel to set up the camp. The nearest supplies and provisions for the 18-person camp were only accessible via a 90-minute float plane flight from Bethel.

Providing remote camps and expediting services to isolated locations in Alaska requires a high degree of portability and durability. Equipment and portable buildings need to be compact and designed to withstand the rigors of being set up and taken down on a frequent basis, as well as endure transportation over harsh terrain.

REMOTE CAMPS ABOVE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE IN NORTHERN GREENLAND

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology operated a 12-person camp with a workshop and storage facilities on a remote site in Northern Greenland while conducting ice sheet research for nearly a decade. Located above the Arctic Circle, the research camp and its inhabitants were subjected to extreme arctic conditions, including temperatures as low as -60 degrees F and winds up to 110 miles per hour. The modular structures used to build the research camp were engineered to meet snow loads of 200 pounds per square foot. Depending on the season, scientists, researchers, and staff experienced either 24 hours of sunlight or lived and worked in the winter darkness. Another consideration for polar camps is extreme solar radiation. Because there is less atmospheric ozone above the poles, more UV radiation reaches the surface. Camp facilities and infrastructure must be specifically designed for use in Arctic climates to withstand prolonged exposure to high solar loads as well as function in extremely low temperatures.

When it comes to remote camps and research stations, few places on Earth are as remote as the Arctic and Antarctica.

HIGH-ELEVATION MOUNT EVEREST BASE CAMPS

There are two base camps on Mount Everest. The base camps are located approximately 12 miles from the summit of Mount Everest. The South Base Camp of Mount Everest, in Nepal, is situated at an elevation of 17,598 feet. The North Base Camp of Mount Everest is at an elevation of 16,900 feet and is located in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

It is a short window between April and May when most climbers tempt their fate to climb Mount Everest. Mountaineers wishing to stand on the highest point on Earth – an elevation of 29,030 feet, typically start their journey in March, arriving at the Mount Everest base camp in late March where they spend time acclimating, preparing for their summit, and waiting for a break in weather when conditions at the peak are optimum.

Such remote base camps, which are located at the very edge of what the human body can withstand, need to be engineered for portability and designed to hold up to freezing temperatures, snow loads, frequent avalanches, sudden storms, and hurricane-force winds.

REMOTE CAMPS FOR THE HOTTEST PLACE ON EARTH

It’s not just cold weather camps in remote locations. Mining and mineral exploration companies operate in humid tropical jungles as well as in scorching hot and bone-dry deserts around the world. If there are valuable resources to be mined in remote locations, there is a need for modular structures for workforce accommodations.

 

Known as the hottest place on Earth, the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is visually stunning and described as being “out of this world”. Its unique terrain is something you’d expect to see in a sci-fi movie, but in reality, it is a deadly place to conduct mining, exploration and drilling operations for any sustained period of time. With an elevation of -330 feet below sea level, temperatures can soar as high as 125 degrees F and routinely exceed 100 degrees F. Formed as a result of diverging plates in the northern part of the Afar Triangle, the Danakil Depression requires building solutions designed for extremely high temperatures, unrelenting solar loads, and the ability to withstand the sand-blasting effect of strong desert winds.

A ZINC MINE THREATENED BY WINDY CONDITIONS AND CORROSIVE SEA SPRAY

The world’s largest zinc mine is located in the DeLong Mountains of the western Brooks Range of Alaska. A 52-mile road is used to haul the ore to crushing and processing facilities, where it is then transported to the mine’s port site on the Chukchi Sea by way of overland conveyors. The port site is located approximately 90 miles north of Kotzebue, Alaska and above the Arctic Circle. Travel to the remote zinc mine is done by air, or during a 100-day shipping window.

In this particular location, snow falls for more than half the year and winter storms can bring hurricane-force winds of more than 100 miles per hour as well as blizzard and whiteout conditions. Being located on the coast, mining equipment, mine site infrastructure, and the material handling systems are subjected to not only severe winter conditions but a continuous blast of corrosive sea spray.

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation learned of finely ground ore escaping from uncovered conveyors into the surrounding environment and ocean, the mining company was fined civil penalties and risked being shut down if not corrected in 30 days. The mine’s environmental supervisor quickly set out to develop a solution to control the “fugitive dust”.

Building a mile-long conveyor enclosure out of timber would take too long. Metal buildings when exposed to the sea spray would quickly corrode and the hurricane force winds would “rip the panels right off” as stated by one of the material planners on the project.

It was decided the best solution for designing and building a conveyor belt containment system was to use engineered fabric structures capable of withstanding the corrosive sea spray and meet the wind and snow loads for safety and durability.

PLANNING A REMOTE WORK CAMP

The above examples highlight some of the challenges associated with planning a remote work camp and how to choose the best type of buildings for workforce accommodations in remote locations. Each remote camp, be it for mining, mineral exploration, oil and gas, construction, or for the science and research industries, is unique and requires a high degree of planning, including knowing the extreme climate conditions, understanding the terrain and logistical issues of getting equipment, supplies, and personnel to the site, and the building requirements of the remote camp project. Perhaps just as important, if not the most significant aspect of planning a remote work camp – relying on proven experience and building technology from a company capable of engineering modular structures specifically designed to meet the functional challenges while providing lifesaving technology in the most extreme environments.

Whether you are working with an engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) firm, as part of an EPC contract, or whether your site director, operations manager, or lead scientist is working with a consulting firm or directly with suppliers, it is essential to follow these steps for successfully planning and designing a remote camp or modular buildings for workforce accommodations in remote locations:

  • The planning and engineering design of the remote camp project must be completed to ensure a full and comprehensive solution for providing workforce accommodations and support infrastructure needed to carry out the requirements of the operation, including meeting local or international regulations and building codes for safety.
  • Procurement of all the equipment and materials needed for the remote camp project is done at the right time to streamline operations and minimize risk by utilizing strict quality control processes to ensure equipment arrives safely, has all the necessary parts, and is tested for quality and compliance. In such remote locations, it’s not as simple as going to the local hardware store if you forget a bag of bolts needed to assemble a critical piece of equipment!
  • Oversee and manage the construction of worker housing as well as other camp facilities to ensure they are completed per the designed engineering specifications, meet safety and environmental regulations, and to deliver a functional and complete camp system on-budget and on-time.

 

BLOG SOURCE: ALASKA STRUCTURES | GUIDE TO REMOTE CAMP DESIGN AND MODULAR BUILDINGS FOR WORKFORCE ACCOMMODATIONS

 

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Learn These 7 Tips for Studying Science

Developing an in-depth understanding of complex scientific principles can take an enormous amount of time and effort. Tackling a difficult text can be daunting, even for the most intelligent student. So daunting, in fact, you may be tempted to put off your assigned reading until the last possible moment. Don’t do it! Late nights and caffeine add up to an incomplete understanding of the concepts you need to know. Instead, use these tips to confidently undertake your science reading assignment.

Do the Assigned Reading Before Class Discussion

This will enable you to ask the teacher/professor to clarify anything you may have found unclear in the text. S/he also can explain any differences between the way a topic is covered in the text and the way the material is presented in the lecture.

Before reading the assigned text, read:

  • The summary at the beginning of the chapter
  • The questions and problems at the end of the chapter

This will give you clues about what the author wants you to gain from the reading.

Read for Understanding

Science textbooks follow an outline format—pay attention to the way the material is laid out on the page: the larger the heading, the broader the topic; the smaller the heading, the more specific the topic.

Scrutinize Each Paragraph

As you ferret out the facts, you need to keep in mind how they can be integrated with the material from your class. It is also helpful to notice what kind of study support the book itself provides: detailed indexes, glossaries, appendices, website links, etc. Pay close attention to details, formulas, charts, graphs and inter-related concepts.

Read Each Chapter More than Once

It may take you several readings to fully grasp and absorb the material. Don’t start taking notes until your second reading—and when you do, follow the same format that the author used, using the chapter’s basic structure as a guide.

Then turn the headings and sub-headings into questions and see if you can answer them through either the class notes or your own knowledge of the topic. If you can’t, go back and review that section of the chapter.

Don’t Skip Sample Problems

Sample problems emphasize important concepts in the chapter. Make sure you can solve each problem without referring to the text. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What principle(s) is the problem demonstrating?
  • What part of the problem suggests that this principle is involved?
  • Why was a particular formula used in this chapter, as opposed to other formulas?
  • Why was each calculation performed?

Try to make associations between the system or process described in the problem and the scientific principles that are being applied. In time, you will begin to see the same principles recurring.

Work with the Formulae

They are an important component of the problem-solving process. They are concise, mathematical statements that describe and make sense of some system or process in the real world. If you have only a superficial understanding of the meaning of a given formula, you will use it inappropriately. To gain a thorough understanding of this relationship, ask yourself:

  • What system or process in the world does the formula describe?
  • What does it say about the system or process?
  • What can it be used to find?

Think of ways to apply a given formula to your own experience. After you have calculated an answer, make sure that your answer has addressed the problem’s underlying question.

Check your Work

Don’t just check for mistakes. Also be sure that you understand the principles, concepts, and formulas that are explained in the reading.

Extra Credit

Many students avoid reading science journals because they are put off by the terminology, tables, graphs, and diagrams. Don’t let that deter you! A good journal article can make a complex scientific topic come alive. These journals often have valuable information that can help you better understand your coursework. They also can be a great resource when you’re trying to make a decision about your health career.

Dr. Stefan Bosworth, author of several MCAT preparation books, as well as books and articles on learning skills for the sciences, and Lolita Wood-Hill, Director of Pre-Health Advisement at Yeshiva University, contributed to this article.

 

Blog Source: Explore Health Careers | 7 Tips for Studying Science

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