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MindMyHouse News 22 February 2006

by Susan Holtham, 23rd February 2006

The MindMyHouse project is one year old today – we’re very excited to have come this far in so short a time. We even had a record number of new house sitter memberships on the 20 February and a record number of home owners join us one day later, so that is the icing on our birthday cake!

Check out the first birthday edition of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: we’re extending your house sitter memberships for another year; a selection of our latest sitter wanted adverts from the Caribbean to Canada to Florida; creating your own email alert has just become a lot easier; the ins and outs of our internal contact form system; page ranking – what is it and why is it so important to us?; and finally: we ask you to help us out – not with money, silly – but by doing something as simple as advertising your services with us!

Posted in: MindMyHouse News2006

Dear MindMyHousies,

(Fanfare…) If all the excitement of reading about our 1000th house sitter members in last month’s e-newsletter didn’t completely knock you off your chair, how about this: the MindMyHouse project is one year old today!!! OK so maybe that isn’t turning your crank but believe us, we’re very excited to have come this far in so short a time. We even had a record number of new house sitter memberships on the 20 February and a record number of home owners join us one day later so that is the icing on our birthday cake!

With the help of the lovely Gulf Stream that hugs Britain’s coast we are defrosting under a nice weak winter sun so I think us Antipodeans are going to survive another northern hemisphere winter. Phew. We used to complain to friends in Aussie about the lack of space in our one bedroom flat here in west London. Since the last edition we have moved into a teeny tiny basement flat and have only just realised that we used to live in a palace!

During our recent move we haven’t had our home Internet connection, so your heroic webmaster, Alan, has been giving you his time in the form of customer support. He is a busy man so may have seemed a bit rushed but I’m back online now and ready to give you the attentive service you have come to expect.

Check out the first birthday edition of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: we’re extending your house sitter memberships for another year; a selection of our latest sitter wanted adverts from the Caribbean to Canada to Florida; creating your own email alert has just become a lot easier; the ins and outs of our internal contact form system; page ranking – what is it and why is it so important to us?; and finally: we ask you to help us out – not with money, silly – but by doing something as simple as advertising your services with us!

We’re extending your house sitter memberships for another year

As I’ve always said, without you, our valued house sitter members, we are nothing! Our database may be filling up but it hasn’t burst its dams yet so we’ve decided to extend all of your house sitter memberships for another year free of charge. We hope you continue to feel you are benefiting from our service (even if you’re just enjoying reading your copy of MindMyHouse News every month ; j.) Please stay with us and be a part of what promises to be an exciting second year in the weird and wonderful world that is house sitting worldwide. If you received an email recently telling you that your membership was about to expire – ooops – please ignore this message as it was automatically generated by our system and is incorrect!

Attention house sitters – your services are required here!

(To contact these home owners you need to login to your account area first.)

Does the Caribbean call you?
If more than two months spent soaking in the heat of the hottest part of summer in the Caribbean sounds appealing to you then check out this recent sitter wanted advert:
http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=38

Fancy some cool time in Canada?
A very cool apartment in Vancouver has two cool cats who need your companionship for two weeks in April.
http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=36

Spring time in the USA’s southwest corner
A cat lover is required for a comfortable home near Alberquerque for three weeks this coming northern spring.
http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=37

June in the Florida panhandle
Hot hot hot. Need I say any more? This home owner is looking for someone who will take very good care of two much loved parrots and two very social dogs.
http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=39

Urgent call for a house sitter for rural Ireland. You are needed by 6 March!
http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=40

Internal contact forms – what are they and why would you use them?

Bringing our lovely home owner and house sitter members together is what we are all about here at MindMyHouse. As part of our scheduled raft of upgrades to the site we’ve extended our internal contact form system so that both house sitters and home owners can contact each other via these forms. House sitters have always had to use these forms to reply to home owners’ sitter wanted adverts. Now home owners can email house sitters via an internal contact form too. Of course, home owners can still email house sitters directly using their usual mail software and house sitters can reply directly to these emails, but we thought you would appreciate more choices in the matter!

For much more on how to use our extended internal contact form system please see the following FAQs:

For home owners: http://www.mindmyhouse.com/faqs/view_faq.php?id=202

For house sitters: http://www.mindmyhouse.com/faqs/view_faq.php?id=203

Your email alerts just became a whole lot easier to set up

Since we created a general ‘all countries’ alert for all of our house sitters’ member accounts there has been an upsurge in communication between home owner and house sitter members on the site. We think this is a great thing! However, a few of you have asked how to unsubscribe from the ‘all countries’ alert and replace it with your own customised alert. With one swish of his cape, the webmaster has greatly simplified the process of setting up your own email alerts. Once you have logged into your account area you can create your own customised alert in a relatively effortless two clicks of the mouse (down from a previously cumbersome five)!

For much more information on how to manage your alerts see this FAQ:
http://www.mindmyhouse.com/faqs/view_faq.php?id=150

Page ranking – what is it and why is it so important to us?

(In the interests of transparency we thought we would let you in on the sorts of things that go on behind the scenes here at MindMyHouse. The following article is only for those who are interested in the techie stuff that webmasters worry about night and day…but you guessed that from the title didn’t you.)

Page ranking is a bit of IT jargon describing something close to every webmaster’s heart: how high in a search engine’s list is our website ranked when users are making a search? You may be asking what page ranking has to do with your MindMyHouse membership. The answer is: a great deal! The higher our page is, the more traffic visits our site, the more new members register with us and then the more folks go on to read and respond to your adverts.

To find our website in the top 10 (ie, on the first page) in a list of search results is like having a great big neon advertising sign that can be seen from space. Unfortunately we are STILL being penalised by the top search engine Google, who have yet to release our
three top keyword phrases from the cruel embargo they impose on all new sites. If you are interested, try finding us by searching for our top keywords: ‘house sitters’, ‘house sitting’, and ‘house sit’ on Google. Bizarrely you will not find MindMyHouse. Naturally we think Google have got a very flawed system in place.

However, the good news is that the other two big players, Yahoo and MSN, impose no
such penalty for a year-old website such as ours. Both of these global behemoths have rewarded MindMyHouse for its excellent, fresh and evolving content with a page rank of 11 and 12 respectively (when searching for our best keywords ‘house sitters’ on 18 February 2006). Hoorah! Now if only Google would catch on…

Please create your own sitter available advert

We’re surprised to see that less than 40% of you have actually taken the time to compose your own sitter available advert. There are thousands of home owners out there who would like to use your services but they can’t find you if you don’t advertise!

Don’t fall into the trap of waiting for home owners to advertise their assignments so that you can contact them. Very few home owners choose to fill a house sitting position this way. The vast majority prefer to search our database of sitter available adverts and contact house sitters directly. If you have your own advert, there’s every chance they could contact you! If you want to see the proof, look no further than our online survey at http://www.mindmyhouse.com/advice/polls.php, where 56% of home owners have said that they want to contact house sitters directly (correct on 19 Feb 2006). The only way they can do that is if you advertise!

We realise that many of you may have registered with us to take advantage of our introductory free offer and you may not be interested in house sitting at this time. However, be aware that home owners often book their house sitter well in advance of the beginning of their assignment. So, if you’re not looking to house sit for another six months, there’s no harm in posting your advert now and saying so!

So, please get behind this effort and start putting some honey out there (your well-written sitter available adverts) so that we can attract larger and larger numbers of honey bees (home owners) to our site.

(This message will be going out in an email to our entire membership list so please bear with us if you receive it twice.)

Happy house sitting (or best of luck with your sitters!)

Susan Holtham
aka the team at MindMyHouse

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About the author: Susan Holtham

Susan Holtham

The editor at MindMyHouse is a fun gal, intrepid traveller (in a former life), holder of three passports and enthusiastic house sitter. A book editor by trade, she did a three-year stint with Lonely Planet Publications at the start of her career. During her time at LP she shepherded many titles through the production process. Baaaa-aaaa-aaaaaa! Now that two gorgeous little girls call her mummy she's a very busy woman tending to their needs and to the occasional cries for help from among our 5000+ membership. No really, she's always keen to help!