Author - Brian Houdek Web Design

Urgent! Beware of Fake Copyright Emails

Urgent! Beware of Fake Copyright Emails

Recently I've had multiple clients report that they received emails (usually from website contact forms) notifying them of copyright images being used on their website. I knew it was a scam immediately because I only use licensed images or images taken by my clients when designing websites. There are occasions where a client will send me an image that does not belong to them, and I am extremely clear that if the image is used, you could get sued. It's not worth it.

Email scams usually have a few giveaways that help identify them. The first is the most common - improper English or misspellings. This email has both. Another VERY concerning part of this scam is the fact that they provide a link to "see an example" of the copyright materials. In this case, it's a Google Drive link. If you click on the link a file will be downloaded to your computer and your computer and network can be compromised immediately. Additionally, they're able to see your Gmail address if you're logged in when you click the link. With that, they can find out more information about you by using simple Google searches. They will use that information in future correspondence to intimidate you into complying with their demands. Most times they want Bitcoin because it's tough to trace.

Below are two examples of the emails. They are very similar:

Email 1

Hello,

This is Melina and I am a certified photographer.

I was surprised, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without my consent, you should know that you could be sued by the copyrigh owner.

It's unlawful to use stolen images and it's so mean!

Check out this document with the links to my images you used at [URL HERE] and my earlier publications to get evidence of my legal copyrights.

Download it right now and check this out for yourself:

THIS IS WHERE THE GOOGLE DRIVE LINK IS

If you don't delete the images mentioned in the document above within the next few days, I'll write a complaint on you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn't work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

Email 2

Hi there!

This is Melisha and I am a experienced illustrator.

I was baffled, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without my approval, you must be aware that you could be sued by the copyrigh owner.

It's against law to use stolen images and it's so filthy!

Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at [URL HERE] and my earlier publications to obtain evidence of my copyrights.

Download it right now and check this out for yourself:

THIS IS WHERE THE GOOGLE DRIVE LINK IS

If you don't delete the images mentioned in the document above within the next several days, I'll write a complaint against you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn't work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

This email has misspellings, improper grammar, links and threats. That's pretty much standard for any scam email. If you get one of these emails DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK.

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Honoring Those Who Gave The Ultimate Sacrifice

Honoring Those Who Gave The Ultimate Sacrifice

Please take a moment to remember the brave men and women who have given their life so you can live yours. I have the utmost respect for all military personnel. Please pray for the families of these service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Fly your American flag proudly today but never forget many people have given their lives so you can have that honor. Respect the flag and always follow the United States Flag Code.

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BuiltWith Trends - Web and Internet Technology Usage Statistics

BuiltWith Trends – Web and Internet Technology Usage Statistics

BuiltWith is a tool that helps web developers "inspect" what technologies other websites are using (previously discussed in this post). Their simple interface allows you to enter a website URL and instantly reveal every piece of technology that's used to create the website. For example, if you ran a query for my website on BuiltWith you could see I use Wordpress as a CMS, host my website with InMotion Hosting and you could even see the individual Wordpress plugins I use.

BuiltWith Trends

BuiltWith Trends compiles information gathered on websites around the globe and provides some outstanding statistics on the most popular web and internet technology tools being utilized. Want to know what the most popular Content Management System is? That link will show you WordPress is by far the most used CMS on the internet. Want to know the most popular eCommerce platform? WooCommerce for the win with Shopify a close second. Personally I think WooCommerce is a far superior eCommerce platform, but I'm slowly learning Shopify since it's widely used. What's the most popular E-mail provider? You will see SPF (private hosting) is #1, but Google Apps for Business (GSuite) is the most popular privately hosted e-mail platform.

Make Informed Technology Decisions

This tool helps me make decisions on what technology to use and what technologies to recommend to my clients. It's no coincidence I recommend WordPress as a CMS, WooCommerce as an eCommerce platform and GSuite if you're looking for e-mail hosting (I also host mail on my server). While the "most popular" doesn't always mean "the best", it helps make informed decisions on technology usage. If you look at the most popular VPS Hosting Companies my preferred host, InMotion Hosting, comes in 6th place. For the price, speed, locations and support I believe InMotion is better than the 5 companies ahead of it.

Go check out your competitors' websites. Maybe you'll find a tool they're using that we can incorporate into your website. If you're looking for a new website, have an existing website, or just need some SEO improvement, please contact me today. I'd love the opportunity to help your business improve its web presence.

 

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Happy New Year - Website Tips For 2020

Happy New Year – Website Tips For 2020

I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. I'm so grateful for my loyal customers and look forward to continued growth in 2020. My clients vary tremendously by industry and location, but the basics of website design, advertising and SEO can be applied to any industry. A visually attractive, informative and SEO optimized website is the best investment you can make in your company.

Website Tips for 2020

Google has over 90% of the search market. The best thing you can do for your companies reputation on the web is to focus on what Google looks for in a company. Google is all about business reputation. First and foremost your business website should be optimized to target the keywords your customers are searching for. Once that is accomplished Google looks at many other factors. Your Google My Business profile should be fully optimized and reviewed on a regular basis. Also, make sure to optimize your Bing Places For Business profile.

Google loves fresh content on your website. The best way to accomplish this is with a consistently updated blog. Social Media interaction is also a huge ranking factor. You should have business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I typically connect my client's blogs with their social media profiles. Multi-platform posting tools like Buffer are essential. I also recommend following other companies in your industry for inspiration and additional followers.

Your business information should be in as many databases as possible. Google gives credit for backlinks, which are links to your website from credible sources. The best way to get your business information out there is to use a tool such as BrightLocal's Citation Builder. This ensures your business name, address, phone number, hours, website URL, description and images are consistent across the internet. I've seen clients rankings jump multiple positions after a BrightLocal campaign.

I can go on and on but the things I've listed above should a priority for your company in 2020. If you're looking for a new website, have an existing website, need some SEO improvement, graphic design, or advertising please contact me today. I'd love the opportunity to help your business improve its web presence.

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How Important is an SEO-Friendly Domain Name?

How Important is an SEO-Friendly Domain Name?

Often times I'm asked by clients to help them choose a domain name. Google does give some weight to the keywords in domain names, although not as much as they used to. Nevertheless, having keywords in your domain name is still important because it can give you a small bump, possibly improving your search engine ranking. Let's say you have a roofing company that primarily serves the Chicagoland area and your business name is XYZ Roofing. Some good SEO-Friendly domain name options would be xyzroofingchicago.com or chicagolandxyzroofing.com. Whenever possible you want to combine your service (roofing), service area (Chicago or Chicagoland) and company name.

I have an existing domain name - Should I change it?

No. Another more important ranking factor is the age of your domain. A domain that has been in existence for 20 years with a company website on it gets a lot of credit from Google. If you already have a domain name with a website on it just keep it. I have moved existing websites to a new domain with 301 permanent redirects from all the old URL's to the new URL's. 100% of the time the ranking takes a hit. It will eventually rebound, but most companies can't afford to lose traffic.

Where can I see what domain names are available for purchase?

There are many domain registrars but my favorite is Namecheap. They charge $8.88/year to register a domain, which is one of the lowest prices you will find. Their website is easy to use and they've been around for a long time. Right on their homepage, there's a box to search available domain names.

Is a long URL going to be tough for customers to type in?

While SEO-Friendly domain names are great for SEO, a super long domain name can be annoying for customers. Try to limit your domain name to 20 characters or less. Another thing to consider is that most people will just do a Google search (ie XYZ Roofing) when they're looking for your company, so don't worry too much about the URL. One of my customers on Long Island, NY came to me with a URL he already had, which is longislandwindowwashingpowerwashing.com. While it's a really long and inconvenient URL to type in, his search rankings are really good because of it. Balance is key.

There's a lot more to SEO

While your domain name is a ranking factor, it's not a huge factor. Having a good title, description, headings and content is also crucial. Backlinks to your website and company information listings are also very important. If you're looking for a domain name, have an existing domain or just need some SEO improvement, please contact me today. I'd love the opportunity to help your business improve its web presence.

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InstantCard - Great ID Cards and a Great Company

InstantCard – Great ID Cards and a Great Company

When a customer asks me for ID cards I know just the place to go. InstantCard is a company I've worked with for a few years and I've always been very happy with their product, staff and turnaround time. You may think an ID card isn't anything fancy, but you would be surprised how fancy you can get. Aside from the design they also offer holograph's, QR codes, smart chips, mag stripes, barcodes and more.

Every order I have placed has been shipped out the day I ordered it or the next day. Their UI (user interface) is very well designed and easy to use. You can save ID card templates so when it's time to order you simply click a button. Their ID cards cost $7.80 per card (volume discounts available). If you need ID cards designed contact me today for an estimate.

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Brian Houdek Web Design Has Moved

Brian Houdek Web Design Has Moved

As a freelance website designer, graphic designer, and marketing professional I have the ability to work out of my home. I lived in Naperville for about 7 years but as my family grew I needed more space. I currently have 3 daughters (Bianca - 6, Natalie - 4, Evelyn - Almost 2) AND another baby on the way. We ended up buying a home in Batavia and we absolutely love everything about the town. My new address is:

1629 Derby Dr
Batavia, IL 60510

I have a lot of clients in the Naperville area, so, fortunately, I didn't move too far. I look forward to working with more clients throughout the Tri-Cities (Geneva, Batavia, Saint Charles) and beyond. I have clients throughout the United States from New York to California, so for those clients, nothing has changed.

One fun thing about moving your business is updating your business listings online. As I've posted previously, your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency on the internet is crucial. I have to make sure my address gets changed EVERYWHERE. Below are the important places I had to update my listings:

In addition to these, there are MANY other databases and websites with my company information. To update those I like to use a tool called Citation Builder by BrightLocal. BrightLocal is a service that goes out and corrects inaccurate information or adds your business information if it's missing, to many of the largest online databases. I plan on writing an article about them in the future, but in the meantime definitely check them out. If you need a reliable, trustworthy web or print guy, contact me today.

 

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BuiltWith - A Great Tool to Figure Out What Technology a Website Uses

BuiltWith – A Great Tool to Figure Out What Technology a Website Uses

Ever visit a website and think... that's pretty cool. It happens to me all the time and I always turn to the best tool out there to figure out what technology a website is using. BuiltWith is an unbelievable tool that can show you everything there is to know about a website. Not only can you figure out which CMS (Content Management System) they're using, but you can even figure out which plugins they're using (and the technology those plugins use sometimes). For example, if you look up my website you'll not only discover that I use WordPress as a CMS, but it also shows that I use the theme Porto. You can figure out every single plugin I have installed on my website very quickly.

I always tell clients if you've seen it on another website, you can have it on yours. BuiltWith is how I quickly determine what technology was used so I can recreate it and put my own twist on it. If you need a new website, need to improve your existing website or have a graphic design project, contact me today and I'd be happy to discuss how I can help.

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Adobe Color - A Great Color Palette Generator

Adobe Color – A Great Color Palette Generator

Whenever I design a website one of the first considerations is the color palette that will be used. Colors are typically pulled from an existing logo or based on customer preference. Considering there are 16,777,216 hex colors to choose from, selecting colors can be extremely subjective. Occasionally a client will want a certain color, only to say "a bit lighter" or "a bit darker". The solution to this problem is a tool from Adobe called Adobe Color.

What I like about Adobe Color is the simple interface and the ability to easily create complimentary colors for the colors you select. The various options on the left give you a quick twist on the shade of the color you selected. Click on the Explore tab at the top, and see popular color pallets and randomly generated color palettes that may inspire your creativity. The hex code (looks like #ababab) is what web designers need to use the color within a design element. Whenever I lack natural creativity this tool help spark my creative flare.

If you're looking for a website or graphic designer, contact me today for a free estimate.

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