First things first, I need to start with this: My name is Deb Harrison and I am a web designer. My company is indeed called DVH Design, but we are not a registered company in any way.
I’ll repeat that, we are not DVH Design Limited.
Something strange has been happening over the last couple of months: We have had the odd enquiry saying that money has been being taken out of people’s account for branded shoes. The red flag here for me was all the pricing is in dollars ($) This is confusing because I am a web designer.
Originally I thought it was someone trying to flog me the premium domain name dvhdesign.com originally owned by a company in the Netherlands and now appears to be free. I did look and thought that might be the solution to the issue. They gave me the price tag of $2,000. Yeah, that’s not happening!
I thought the emails were stooges trying to get me to buy the premium domain and thought no more of it. Until a week ago when I got an email from an elderly lady asking for her money back. This got to me because my Mum’s also elderly and very sceptical of online. When I asked for a bit more information, she reached out to me in the same way my Mum would. I naturally checked my bank account in case there was an error that we could all clear up and get on with life. There was nothing.
Someone with a similar name to my company name appears to be going on an online shop and taking more money than the shoes are worth. Cue me getting an enquiry on my website or an obscene message on Messenger that I am the fradulent one. For someone who has been transparent since day one, this is hurting me.
For anyone reading this that has been stung, I recommend the following:
Do a search on Companies House: From this alone you will see that the name on the search is not Deborah Harrison and I am based in Essex, not London.
Review online shopping sites before using them. The site the elderly lady referred me to appears to be based in America. Regardless, read reviews of shopping sites before using them. Or do as I do and search their company name. The first result told me all I needed to know about this particular company.
Report them to Trading Standards: I’m not completely sure about the fine line between a US Company trading and a UK Cashier taking the money, but the Federel Trade Commission should be kept informed (https://www.ftc.gov/). There’s also Trading Standards in the UK (https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office). If in doubt, report them to both.
But I assure you: I am not the culprit here. All I know about shoes is that they go on your feet and stop them getting wet. If you take a look at my shoe collection, with exception to the running shoes to compensate for my massive instep, my shoes are Matalan or Primark specials.
I do have an online store: HOP Solutions but this is for height adjustable furniture for home offices, studies and schools. Registered Company link is here https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/14267630/officers. Spot the difference between the 2 listings: There are many.
I have toyed with the idea of going Limited, but that would also mean getting VAT registered, which I cannot fathom. Besides DVH Design Limited was taken 2 years ago by a company in London, so now I cannot. if I now did I would have to change my company name altogether.
But hindsight is a great thing.
This week has been my favourite time of the year. It’s nothing to do with Christmas: It was the interview episode of The Apprentice where the 5 remaining candidates get the pleasure of having every aspect of their progress businesses past and present, business plan and general characteristics by 4 of Lord Sugar’s key aides.
I watch this every year, not because I’m mean, but because nothing gets past these 4 musketeers. They analyse everything from how accurate the candidate’s market research is to how realistic their figures are. And they always look at the candidate’s current business website and for about 80% of the time, there are flaws.
Last year, out of the 2 finalists that went on to become Lord Sugar’s business partners, one hadn’t updated her website for about 5 years and the other one had an accreditation displayed on his website which shouldn’t have been there. ironically both of these budding business owners, went on to become Lord Sugar’s business partners.
This year was no exception: There was the hangover cure guy who boldly claimed on his Amazon page that he’d sold over 1 million sachets, when realistically he’d only sold 47,000 and the Tennis events organiser that had listed half her events on her website as cancelled. And my personal favourite: Camilla, the nut milk entrepreneur whose original online branding was so provocative that it bordered on soft-core porn.
My son, who was also watching this with me, was looking up their websites on his iPad and we both had a good look. And indeed there are flaws. There were superficial flaws such as a logo that had been cropped to the extent that you couldn’t read the company name, a website that was clearly designed just for desktop users and my critical eye found that one of the slogans was “Just another WordPress site.”
I’m not saying Claude Littner, Linda Plant, et al are looking at your website right now, but like it or not, humans are naturally curious species beings. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that after meeting someone either in person or interacting with them online, I’m straight onto Google or Linkedin to find out more about that person and their business. Making it all the more important to keep your website and social media profiles updated.
Even after 18 years of working in the web industry, it kills me when someone dismisses updating their site saying “no one is looking me up online” Wrong. So wrong. People are looking you up whether you want them to or not. If your website or online profile aren’t up to scratch, it is going to reflect badly on you, whether you are #1 in Google #1000.
So take half an hour on a regular basis and look objectively at your website and social media profiles: Are they up to date? Is there anything new you can add? Are you emphasising your achievements? And more importantly, is it truthful? Can you back up your achievements (with accreditations, testimonials and media coverage)? Even better ask a friend or colleague to take a look. What do they think? Sometimes a fresh set of eyes makes all the difference.
it is the final tonight and I wish the final 2 candidates the best of luck. It is hard to tell who is going to win this year. I have looked at both of their websites this morning (Sunday) they have both been updated since Wednesday night, so its anyone’s guess.
My blog has remained abused this year. My last entry was announcing my interview with Switch radio, which has been and gone. Sadly it wasn’t recorded by the station so I have no evidence. On the bright side I have been invited back so watch this space.
I haven’t used my blog to my advantage this year for two reasons: The first reason is just pure workload, which is a good thing. Secondly(and not so great) has been for personal reasons. In a nutshell I am in the middle of a divorce, so most of this year has been spent either in mediation or between solicitors. The hardest part is over but this does mean that we will have to relocate premises next year but hopefully still in either Braintree or Notley.
So for sure this has drained me and I have felt down. But I am not out.
I have plans for 2018 and this is where I need your participation in a little product research: I am asked so many times by people I meet at networking and exhibitions to look at websites that are under-performing and offer my advice and recommendations. I am just throwing out ideas but if you could get a detailed analysis report about your web’s responsiveness, performance and ranking (to name a few), would you be prepared to pay for that privilege?
For an extra measure of cheekiness, could you leave a comment with how much you would be prepared to pay for such a detailed analysis.
I greatly appreciate any feedback.
It’s true! Deb Harrison from DVH Design will be speaking on the Zel-AfriQ show on Switch Radio on Wednesday 18 January 2016.
Along with 3 tracks of my choice, Deb will be talking to Zelma Holt about DVH Design: how we got here, and where we’re going.
The podcast will be published on our blog after the event but do feel free to have a listen live at Switch Dunmow Online at 7.30pm on Wednesday.
So we are at the end of 2016 and a lot has been going on behind the scenes at DVH Design. This year has seen us contribute to our Social Media Channels. Now during the week you can see our regular updates on:
But this week, we have also set up a YouTube channel. From the new year, we will be posting interactive how to’s on subjects from setting up Email to simple ways to make your website work for you. Please do subscribe to our channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7GIwu_euemSTHYmcC3GDbw
We are also studying to become a certified Google Partner. We have completed one exam, we just have one more to go. But although our main focus is Search, we would also like to become certified in Display Network, Video and Shopping. These are the best Channels for our current client base.
There are more exciting things planned for DVH Design: on Wednesday 17th January, Deb Harrison will be interviewed on Switch Radio in Dunmow on Zelma Holt’s Zel-AfriQ show.
Also DVH Design will be exhibiting at the Business Expo Essex at Chelmsford City Racecourse on Wednesday 22nd February. Please do come and meet us for a chat and a coffee and see how we can help you with your website woes.
We haven’t featured much on our blog this year, but we ae also in the process of revamping our website. This will reflect our current services, portfolio and our new slogan. So please do stay tuned.
So 2017 is going to be an exciting year and we hope you can join us. In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas and prosperity for 2017.
In the past I have written about image copyright and how you should read any small print to ensure that you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a nice big fat royalty bill from a disgruntled photographer. But your website content can also be vulnerable to plagiarists.
Just before I start, the actual definition of Plagarism according to The Oxford Dictionary is this:
The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own
From the Latin plagiarius ‘kidnapper’ (from plagium ‘a kidnapping’, from Greek plagion) + -ism.
Yes, basically someone who kidnaps your content and passes it as their own. You don’t really need me to tell you how unethical a practice that is?
You can check for duplicate content by going to Copyscape.com. You simply add your page URL and they search for websites that have similar content. It then gives you a percentage of how similar the page’s content is to yours.
The free service allows you 10 searches per day, which is adequate for a small website. For larger websites, it might be easier to subscribe to their premium service.
I originally performed a search about 10 years ago, before web copyright was being taken seriously . I noticed my web rankings had gone down. I used Copyscape and found to my horror that a web design company up north had swiped my content and shamelessly added it to their website.
I rang up their company and had to leave a message. I went out for a moment and on my return had quite a snotty message left back on my website. The guy in charge basically thought it was socially acceptable to swipe content from other websites and then palm it off as their own content.
So I rang back this little Herbert to set him straight, but in the time between leaving his answerphone message and the phone ringing again, he either realised that the Essex girl wasn’t backing down or (more than likely) he didn’t actually have a leg to stand on. So he turned from snotty MD to noble and apologetic MD.
Naturally it was one of his employees was responsible for the content and would be “having words” with him and asking him to change it that day. It did get changed that day.
Fast forward 10 years later, and online copyright infringement is quite rightfully taken very seriously. Also action is taken more quickly, even to the extent of the hosting company taking action or, even worse Google.
So, when I came to writing this guide, I ran a check on my website. My content is about 3 years old so I checked my pages and this time I find that not only one but two websites have copied my content: One had copied a section about e-commerce on my services page, but another had blatantly swiped my content from the ecommerce page.
It is very tempting to rip chunks out of the website owner, but that could just get messy. So instead I looked up their contact details and dropped them a polite, but firm email.
I did indeed check both sites after a few days: The website that copied the small section from my services page had taken the offending content down and either copied someone else’s or wrote it themselves.
But after one week the duplicate page was still there. Nothing had changed and this little twerp wasn’t taking my email seriously (he hadn’t even told me to get lost!). So it was time for the next stage.
So if the web owner wasn’t going to take their content down, then maybe a polite word to their hosting provider would do the trick. So a quick look on http://who.is for the domain name and I can find out the hosting company. In this case one in the Netherlands.
The hosting people not only need to know the whole story but also need evidence that one of the websites they allocate space for is doing anything wrong. It is also worthwhile to prove that you were the originator of the content. https://web.archive.org/ takes regular captures of your website. It doesn’t take regular updates, but in this case it proves that my web content has been on my site for a couple of years.
I sent them a polite email explaining the situation and that they should take down the page (or even better the site) as they are infringing copyright. Again I have given them a deadline to do something about it.
In this case I didn’t have to wait very long. Within a few hours I had a reply. Short but polite.
And on that same afternoon, their website (and at the point of writing this) the website is still down.
So it was resolved with slightly less stress than the case 10 years ago. But if the hosting company hadn’t responded, then there is a step 3.
This is a last resort: Get onto Google Webmaster Tools and file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)
Big ‘G’ provide a lot of support and information about this process and guide you through the entire process. Take the time to read the support on offer and answer the questions and provide as much info as possible. Google will then in turn review your DMCA and decide which action to take. For a straightforward act of plagarism, that should resolve it.
No not really. Online, you are always going to get hackers, spammers, scammers, cheapskates and general weirdos, and there will always be some imbecile with minimum brain activity, that thinks they just might get away with swiping someone else’s content for use on their own website. The key is to check your content regularly and to take appropriate action.
There are a few workarounds, especially for blogs, but I will cover that in a separate article.
You’re working on your website, writing up some great content that contains lots of lovely rich keyphrases. Just one quick question: Who are you writing all of this for: The search engines or your end user?
Sure the user cannot find your content unless they find it on the search engines first, but if you have written this purely for the benefit of getting your site listed, are your readers really going to stick around for manufactured tot that was merely spun off to keep Google happy?
Google has the reading age of a 14 year old, which for sophisticated software, is pretty good going. So if you just keep your content clear, to the point and easy to read. then both reader and search engine should be happy. Keyphrases naturally occur and that’s fine. But just don’t force it.
If you’re still unsure, give it to your Mum (or someone whos not in the know) to read. If they haven’t got a clue what you’re on about then you definitely need to revise your content!
This is one in a series of SEO Shorts. For more short-term tips. Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter or RSS Feed
A few weeks ago, I just felt that despite all my efforts to encourage people to work on their website and keep it fresh and current quite a few had been left to rot. So I took matters into my own hands and for the last 3 weeks I have been writing up a report outlining the main things you should consider when re-designing your website and I have finally finished it.
Whether you already have an existing website or if you are planning a new website, I wrote this guide for you. For a new website, you can simply use the report as a checklist. If you have an existing website, then just go through one step at a time and act on it.
Although my report does cover basic SEO, which is out into place at the development stage, it doesn’t cover the whole subject in its entirety. That is going to have to be a separate report for another time.
So please do register, download and read my report. I should also point out that constructive criticism is always welcome: If you feel that I haven’t covered a topic or could have elaborated further on anything in the report then please feel free to drop me a line.
It has certainly been an interesting last couple of weeks in the technology world. A bug was found in the code of a popular SSL encryption program used by about 66% of the internet. Pretty scary stuff.
Armand Valdes at Mashable.com explains this in very simple terms:
Luckily it wasn’t a potential hacker that spotted this flaw, it was the researchers. Luckily the issue was remedied with a security patch. Even more luckily, the major companies that use the encryption software have applied this patch quickly.
But the problem is not resolved yet. As I said earlier, a lot of websites have been affected by this flaw and this includes email setups, social networks, banks and websites that are used every day:
Someone has already been arrested for attempting to steal compromised data from the Canadian IRS: http://www.christianpost.com/news/man-charged-in-heartbleed-attack-virus-compromised-canadian-irs-118121/ Therefore you should, without delay, go through http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/, and see which websites affect you and change your passwords. Even if you haven’t included payment details, your personal information is still there for the taking.
It is a pain changing passwords and trying to remember them, but to keep things running as smoothly as possible, here’s a few tips:
So no excuses, change your passwords and have a nice rest of the day.
A few days ago, the media player on my PC needed updating, so as normal I went through the necessary procedure to update it. It was only when I came to open my local web browser that I realised my default home page had been reset to Conduit Search that I realised what had happened.
Being a web developer, I have 5 browsers running on each PC that I use for testing my websites. All except one of these browsers had Conduit listed as both the default search engine and the default home page.
I cleared this up form my browsers as much as I could, but this proved to be a fruitless action because when the Browser Updater sprang into action a couple of days later, the default pages were reset back to Conduit Search and it was again listed as a search engine!
Some software websites do take the liberty of including extra toolbars in with their software. I have no idea if they think they’re improving their viewers experience or if a regular bit of commission is involved. Regardless, they did ask for permission during the download/installation process, via a very discreet checkbox that is already checked.
Looking up Conduit in Google, one of the entries labels Conduit as a virus. It is actually an adware program. Basically you can use Conduit to search for photos, videos etc. However it does collect your personal information, along with browsing history and search habits and it hijacks your browser settings. Whatever the definition , it’s a pain in the backside and should be removed without delay.
Furthermore, if there really is a hell, programmers who sneak Conduit and other such softwares should be sent to it. But that’s just my opinion.
So for the above reasons, I have compiled a complete guide to removing this pesky software for good and then a few pointers of what to watch out for next time.
NB: I do target Conduit search in this article, but this should work with other similar software. I have also tested this on Windows 7 and 8. If I have overlooked anything then please feel free to either comment or drop me a line and I will gladly update it.
First things first you will need to uninstall the program from your machine for Windows:
So click Start > Control panel
Select Programs and Features
Right click the program and select Uninstall
That at least stops the PC updating it and re-installing it onto your browser. After which just run a quick search on Conduit. Sometimes more than one program will install itself, so searching for anything related to Conduit or conduit.com will show any further programs that will also need removing.
Next lets remove the program from your browser. This normally includes in your browser’s search engine selection, your default page on opening the browser and a search bar. Did I mention I had 4 of these little bad boys to remove?
Click the Advanced Tab
This is followed by a procedure window
When finished click Close
Restart Internet Explorer
Go to Help > Troubleshooting Information
Under the section Reset Firefox to its default state Click the Reset Firefox button
Click the Reset FireFox button in a separate window
NB: This process might take a while for various tidy programs to run
Click Finish button when completed
Anything listed under Conduit click the trash can alongside it
Then we need to remove Conduit from the search engines as well:
Under Search, Click the Manage Search Engines button
In the list, find Search Conduit hover over it and click the x that appears
Click Done button
Conduit has also changed your default home page to search.conduit.com:
While still in Settings, Under On Startup, select the radio button Open a specific page or set of pages and click the set pages link
If listed, hover over Conduit and remove by clicking x
Back in the Settings page, under Startup, Select the Open new Tab page radio and test by clicking the new tab
Surprisingly, Safari on Windows 7 wasn’t affected by Conduit in any way. I did search online and have found that its a different story with a Mac.
Go to Extensions > Manage Extensions
Remove Search Conduit from the list by clicking Uninstall
Close Opera browser and restart.
As a safety measure, go into the Search bar and click Manage search engines
Once you have removed everything from your PC, it would be worthwhile to download an adware program and run it on your machine.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&sqi=2&ved=0CDkQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdownload.cnet.com%2FAdwCleaner%2F3000-7786_4-75851221.html&ei=X8TfUeKSKMqa0AXv3IHACw&usg=AFQjCNGKixggWUWfjgTc4wJ-OwLikOHF8A&sig2=fy70S_mIW3krwzcLvZryIQ&bvm=bv.48705608,d.d2k&cad=rjt Is a free download that runs on Windows 7. Follow the instructions to download and install carefully and then let it do the work.
As an extra precaution, run a full system scan using your anti-virus software. I use have used Norton 360 for a number of years, but even they proudly announce that Conduit updates were safe. This bold claim may change over time (I sure hope so!), but malicious software will get picked up by a reputable virus software that is updated regularly.
There is also Malware Bytes which also removes trojans, viruses, worms and other general nasties from your system https://store.malwarebytes.org/342/cookie?affiliate=17877&redirectto=http%3a%2f%2fwww.malwarebytes.org%2fproducts%2fmalwarebytes_free that enables you to a 14 day free trial.
Pace yourself when setting up the new software
It is so easy to just click to the next screen during an installation wizard but this is how they get on there in the first place. Read software reviews prior to downloading: If anyone has had a bad experience, they are most certainly going to alert others.
Read the download screen and uncheck the boxes. Yes it will take longer, but it takes longer to sift through your browsers and PC to remove the carnage.
As covered earlier, regularly run a full system scan of your machine. This will resolve or permanently remove any viruses or other particular nasties from your machine.
This will of course slow your PC down, but most virus softwares can be scheduled to run automatically when your machine is not being used (eg night time or early morning)
It should go without saying that make sure said virus software is set up to update as and when needed.
Install/setup your firewall
While we’re on the subject of protection, a reliable firewall is also a good investment as this can block unauthorised software communications made from your PC.
So there we have it. If this has helped at least one person from this pesky browser hijacker then please could you let me know. If you would like me to write up a version for Windows XP or Vista, then please do drop me a line.
One particular news item caught my eye this morning: The story of the Teen Crime Commissioner in Kent that refuses to resign over offensive comments that she made on Twitter. In the 17 year-old’s defence, all the offending tweets were made before she took the post, but the whole scandal could have been avoided with a bit of common sense and a good old-fashioned spring clean.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even YouTube, social networking can be a great tool for your business: It can be a way of meeting like-minded people, sharing ideas, asking a quick question. But since the dawn of the internet, where you bring people together you also bring the opinionated, the ungracious and the downright rude.
Recent examples include the anti-Jew comment made by an Arsenal player; A handful of workers being sacked for updating their Facebook saying how much they hate their work; The Gallagher brothers’ spectacular row on Twitter and pretty much everything Rio Ferdinand tweets. I could go on.
How you deal with trolls, time wasters, troublemakers and general buffoons can make or break both your personal and your company image. Let’s not forget your potential clients, employers or colleagues can access your social profile at any time to find out about you and if they see your online slanging match for whatever reason, it’s not really going to do you many favours.
So how do you not commit social suicide?
I can’t believe I am having to suggest this first – it seems like the best advice for all cases: Use your brain. If it’s work, don’t moan about how much you hate it if your boss and colleagues are on your friend list. Also if you wouldn’t say it to the person’s face then don’t say it on your public profile. Even if that person isn’t on your social network, their friends might be. For the rest of us to view is both unpleasant and awkward. Sometimes the safest course is to just say how you’re feeling or don’t say it at all. Also steer clear of social networking when under the influence.
On all the social platforms you can set up both a business profile and a personal one. If however, you haven’t got the time, then use filtering: LinkedIn has groups that you can send related posts to; Twitter you can opt for personal posts to only be seen by followers you have approved and on Facebook you can limit posts to your friends and even exclude people from receiving the update.
A spring clean prior to accepting the position would’ve avoided the embarrassing situation of the Teen Crime Commissioner. Prior to accepting someone’s friend request or following someone, go through your updates and think “will this be deemed offensive?” If so then delete the post and any repercussions from your timeline. After all, it’s been said and not really doing much now except sitting there on your profile. On this note a regular spring clean of followers/ friends would also keep abreast of any potential problems.
Sadly even after these basic precautions, you are not completely protected from rants, and offish comments. If that’s the case, see what they are getting at: Do they have a point with something you have previously suggested? Have you said something that might have been misinterpreted? They might not be portraying themselves very well on a social level, but they may also have a good point. If it’s just a simple misunderstanding and that someone might be thankful that you’ve taken the time to explain it to them.
You can’t please all the people all the time, so keep your replies gracious. Sure argue your point and If it’s something you have claimed then back it up with statistics or a separate resource. Don’t get lost in a war of words and personal insults. Also avoid swearing: the English language is wide and varied. Use it. I’m not saying become a saint, but once you start swearing as well, you have lost that struggle.
Some people may just be intent on causing trouble and just will not listen to reason. If this is the case, then just leave the conversation. It does take a bigger person to walk away. Also remember on each network you can simply unfriend them or block them altogether. If they were really that unpleasant, report them to the social network staff.
Welcome to the resurrection of the DVH Design blog. After a 5 year break from blogging, I have finally got my act together and revived my blog to keep abreast of the latest topics affecting online businesses along with how-to’s and tips that might even make your life easier.
Before I proceed, I feel that I have to explain what actually happened 5 years ago when I abandoned blog and ran for the hills: My main issue was most of my time was spent dealing with projects (which definitely isn’t a bad thing), but with the introduction of all these social networks at the time (I did say this was 5 years ago) my old faithful insurance company had decided that in order to cover all its clients for defamation online, they would bump their prices up by £600. Now I was, and still am a small business, and £600 can buy a lot of more necessary things. As a result, I thanked them kindly, took my blog down and spent the first 6 months of social networks treading on virtual eggshells.
Two things have changed since then: First of all, as far as social media is concerned, the hype has died down and short of wiping the floor with a few trolls on Facebook (The chain letter posts are a particular favourite of mine), I am actually responsible enough to not warrant a lawsuit. The second issue is that insurance companies have cottoned on that professional indemnity insurance is a nice little earner and so long their guidelines are followed, I’m actually paying less for my insurance than I was 5 years ago.
There was another reason why I have resurrected my blog: Search Engines love information and resourceful websites as do people. Who doesn’t search on terms they aren’t sure on? A good few! I am an expert on web design and search marketing – I have after all lived and breathed it since 2000. But even I am still learning. I will tackle this further in a future post because by then I should have visual evidence to prove it!
So sit back, grab your coffee and see what I have to say. Feel free to comment or give me feedback with any of my posts. All I will ask is:
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