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SEO Tip – Linking to Your Home Correctly



there's no place like homeWelcome to another in my series of SEO Tips.  The last few weeks have been pretty geeky, covering META Tags and other mysterious things.  Today is an easy one; Link to your Home page correctly.

I know – that’s TOO EASY to even count as a tip, right? Ha! Guess again bucko!

We have to remember that even though Google and the other engines TRY to be more human in their analysis of our Web sites, they are still just stupid computers.  And stupid computers don’t understand that even though we might use many different ways to link to our sites, they all point to the same thing. For example, even though it’s clear to us humans that “”, “”, “” and “” all point to the same place on a Web site, to the engines these appear to be four different places.  Because they think these are different places, they split authority and page rank across them, that’s bad and will lower your placement in search results.  Half of this problem is easily fixed using a 301 redirect to do what’s known as “canonicalization”.  Essentially you tell your web server to send to traffic to either the www or non-www version of the domain, but not both.  We’ll cover how to do this in future post.

Fixing the links with file names is up to you.  You should avoid linking to “/index.html” or .php, or .asp or whatever your system uses as its default page.   Instead, you should link to either “/” or use the full domain name (without the file name).  There are pros & cons to each (of course); using just the slash “/” will usually load faster since the visitors’ Web browser does not have to do a complete URL lookup again.  However, if your site gets scraped (stolen and reposted elsewhere) and you have the full URL in your links, the visitors to the scraped site will likely end up back on your site quickly.  Within your own site this should be fairly simple to fix, just be consistent in whatever method you choose.

Correcting incoming or “back-links” could be a bit more of a challenge.  You should at least make an attempt to seek out those that link to your site and verify they link in the best possible way. Finding sites that link to you will be covered in another SEO Tip.

OK, now you have another thing to go check on your site.  Have fun and we’ll see you next time.

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG ( In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.

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  1. Baltimore Homes

    October 3, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Great Post! I noticed this issues a few weeks ago and was wondering why my google ranking were split for search term “baltimore homes” based on
    the following url’s:

    “”, “”, and “”

    We tried to redirect them to the same locatinos and are waiting to see if the Google bot actually identifies them as the same website at this time. You explanation was great and gave me a better grasp on why this happons. Thanks!

  2. Matt Stigliano

    October 3, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Jack – Pretty funny how some of the SEO stuff is so logical and clear. You might never think of the obvious, but something like this proves how you have to think as simple and logical as you can – act like a stupid computer. My wife and I often talk about the difference between www and no www, I prefer the former, she prefers the latter. Even though the “www.” is for the most part unnecessary, I prefer the symmetry it provides.

    Is there any thought on which is better to use? Are there advantages to either? (My host is set up to bring both back to the “www.” version.)

  3. Rob McCance

    October 3, 2009 at 10:13 am


    Nice post.

    “The last few weeks have been pretty geeky…”



  4. Jack Leblond

    October 3, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Matt – I still prefer the “www” myself, but I’m just nostalgic from the olden days. There is no advantage one way or another, other than length. Just pick one and be consistant.

  5. Fred Romano

    October 3, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    I have never used the www in any of my sites… seems to me that it’s a waste of time since it’s easier to say … It all resolves anyway.

  6. Mack Perry

    October 4, 2009 at 6:05 am

    If memory serves me correctly you can also tell Google that the http://www.domain.whatever and the domain.whatever are the same site in your webmaster tools. I like the info that webmaster tools provides site owners and that could be a post for Jack. He would probably shed some light and tips for all of us. Thanks for this series of SEO tips Jack.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    October 4, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Jack – That’s what I figured, just thought I’d double check with you. Glad to hear I’m not the only one that is a bit nostalgic. Some sites drive me nuts when they cut off my “www.” after I type it in. I’m so used to typing it that it’s not a big deal to me (in terms of using up a slice of time or anything).

    Fred – I just never liked the way it looked…maybe I’m a bit crazy with symmetry. Of course, if someone asked me what my URL was, I wouldn’t give them the “www.” just “domainname dot com.” I really dislike it when anyone spells out “h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash” for me when giving me a website – now that annoys me.

  8. Mark Maty

    October 4, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Great tip. Your article makes a lot of sense. Should we leave the .php off on the secondary pages as well?

  9. Jack Leblond

    October 4, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    @Mack – Good idea. I’ll see if I can put something together.

    @Mark – Hope I didn’t confuse things. Use of the file extensions (.php, .html etc) is not the issue. It’s linking to a file name rather than the folder or domain name that’s the problem. For example, don’t link to – instead, link to

    Make sense?

  10. Paula Henry

    October 6, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    I have experienced the difference it makes because Google sees mine as two different sites and I can’t seem to change it. At least I can be consistent in linking back – thanks!

  11. Jack Leblond

    October 7, 2009 at 8:13 am

    @Paula I checked your site, it does properly redirect from to the www version with a 301. A google search for “” returns only results for the www version. Looks like they have you properly indexed.

  12. Paula Henry

    October 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Jack – Thanks for checking it out for me.

  13. Bob

    October 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    You can check to see what redirects are in place using this header checker tool. The HTTP status code is what you want to look at.

    If you have the non-www redirected properly to the www URI, you will get a “HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 200 OK” response for the www URI, and a “HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently” for the non-www URI.

    The converse will true if you have it resolving to the non-www. Anything else in the HTTP status code is not optimum.

  14. Bob

    October 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    You can check to see what redirects are in place using this header checker tool. The HTTP status code is what you want to look at.

    If you have the non-www redirected properly to the www URI, you will get a “HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 200 OK” response for the www URI, and a “HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently” for the non-www URI.

    The converse will true if you have it resolving to the non-www. Anything else in the HTTP status code is not optimum.

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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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