San Diego Web Design Blog
San Diego Web Design
October 1, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

About The Author


Google+

Author and owner of San Diego Webworks LLC. I am a Web Designer, Developer and SEO service provider.

I attended the Art Institute of Seattle from 1985-1987. Graduated from The La Jolla Academy of Advertising Arts in 1989. I worked as a Graphic Designer until 1997 Then moved into the field of Web Design. I started my own company “San Diego Webworks” in 1999 and have been designing websites for the past 13 years.

Some of my clients include: DELL, Oracle, Sears, SDSU, Websense, and ESET.

 

San Diego web designer, developer and Web marketing by San Diego webworks

Full-Service web design, development and marketing to companies in San Diego and around the world

San Diego Webworks is a professional web design company based in Southern, California. Our award winning web designers specialize in best-in-class custom web site design, website development, flash multimedia, corporate identity, and SEO Services.

We have launched many successful projects for clients such as DELL, Sears, MADD, San Diego State University, Meadsdurket Advertising, Memec, Websense, Kintera, La Mesa RV, ESET, Spartan, HK Plastics, and many others. We have appeared in the news, The View and many publications such as The New York Times, Union Tribune, Seattle Times, and information Magazine.

San Diego Webworks integrated business-driven approach separates us from typical web design companies. Top designers, big-picture thinking, personal attention, competitive prices, and real world results – Give us a call to learn more about us.
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August 11, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

Web Designers Get your Free Download: UI Kit

Printed in Free Resources

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Free Download: Fine UI Kit

The resources enclosed during this UI kit are free to be used on personal and industrial sites, no attribution needed. Please see the “readme” file for transfer details.

Download (zip file)

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June 19, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

How to Get Rid of Google’s Unnatural Links Penalty

I have been a web designer and SEO professional for the past 12 years and have seen many trends and changes over the years with Google rules and algorithms, but I have never seen as many changes as there have been in the past four months. I am constantly monitoring my website positions, as well as customers’ and competitors’ website positions. The search positions are all over the map. Some of them have stayed at the top and never moved but a lot of the websites are changing daily.

In April of this year I started getting calls from people who received the dreaded message from Google about unnatural links detected on their website. Some of them were penalized within a few days of receiving the message. I realized that since Google was enforcing their new algorithm and moving websites back several pages, and in some cases de-indexing them, these people will need help. In order to help I knew the first thing I needed was a way to identify where the unnatural links were coming from. Were they on their website? Coming from other websites?

If you look at the definition of unnatural links Google has on their support pages it’s kind of hard to figure out, especially for a normal business person who does not know anything about SEO. I knew I had my work cut out for me. I started looking into what Google provides in their webmaster tools to find out where the links could be coming from. Google does provide a pretty good picture of where your links are at but unfortunately they don’t tell you which ones are bad. Personally I like Google and all their tools, but in this case I think it is a bit unfair to give someone a penalty without revealing where the penalty came from. I could go on and on and complain up the yin and yang about this subject but that is not going to fix anyone’s problem.

So my next step was to find a company that could provide the kind of information I was looking for. I searched on Google and found three companies (SEOMOZ, MajesticSEO and Blurbpoint) offering link data analysis and signed up for their initial SEO audits. I was a bit disappointed with each one. Although they did do a good job of finding links and showing me things like page authority, anchor text, and broken links, they did not show me which links were considered unnatural or even suspicious. I needed something that would take all the guesswork out and make it easier to distinguish which links were ok and which were bad. I needed something an ordinary customer could look at and see where the problem is.

Finally I found a company that could provide me with the kind of data I was looking for.
Google website SEO Audit Report

I signed up for an SEO link audit and they were able to give me a report that made sense and had the data that pointed out where the bad links reside. I have since partnered up with this company and I am now able to help my clients with their troubled websites. If you or anyone you know is also lost and can’t find a solution, sign up and get a FREE link audit at www.unnaturallinkrepair.com. They will provide the proper data and in conjunction with my company San Diego Webworks we will provide a full service solution to cleaning up your links and helping you get your business back on track. Every day that your website is not on the first page of Google is another day that you will lose business.

Here is a video I think may be helpful:

If you are looking for a full service solution for cleaning up your website’s unnatural links, contact Mark Lauzon at San Diego Webworks.

E-mail: webmaster@sdwebworks.com

Website: www.sdwebworks.com

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May 12, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

There is hope for SEO recovery

I recently read this article in search engine land.
After weeding out all the BS I pulled what I thought was important.
HOPE! for all of you that have been recently hit with Google’s latest Panda and Penguin changes and now sit in nowhere land.
Please see this.

How Can You Recover?

One of the most difficult things with this update is telling people how to recover. Anyone hit by Penguin was deemed to be spamming Google.

In the past, if you spammed Google, you were told to file a reconsideration request. However, Google’s specifically said that reconsideration requests won’t help those hit by Penguin. They’ll recover naturally, Google says, if they clean the spam up.

However, one of the main reasons I’ve seen when looking at sites hit by Penguin seems to be bad linking practices. People have used sponsored WordPress themes, or poor quality reciprocal linking, have purchased links or participated in linking networks, such as those recently targeted by Google.

How do people pull themselves out of these link networks, if perhaps they don’t have control over those links now?

“It is possible to clean things up,” Cutts said, and he suggested people review two videos he’s done on this topic:

“The bottom line is, try to resolve what you can,” Cutts said.

Waiting On Penguin To Update Again

If you do clean things up, how will you know? Ideally, you’ll see your traffic from Google recover, the next time Penguin is updated.

That leads to another important point. Penguin, like Panda, is a filter that gets refreshed from time-to-time. Penguin is not constantly running but rather is used to tag things as spam above-and-beyond Google’s regular spam filtering on a periodic basis.

Is Penguin a site-wide penalty like Panda or page-specific? Cutts wouldn’t say. But given that Panda has site-wide impacts, I think it’s a fair assumption that Penguin works the same.

What that means is that if some of your site is deemed Penguin-like, all of it may suffer. Again, recovery means cleaning up the spam. If you’ve cleaned and still don’t recover, ultimately, you might need to start all over with a fresh site, Cutts said.

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May 2, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

Googles unnatural links policy can kill your business

Here is an article that I think every website owner and webmaster should read.

 

Advice and Confessions from a Reformed Link Network Spammer

There was only one time when link building was the easiest, least challenging part of my SEO work. I was a link network spammer, relying upon services with names like “blog networks” and “article networks.” These services allow paid subscribers to post their content to a network of sites for the sole purpose of building links. Because the sites aren’t meant to be read by people, many networks accept and actively encourage spun content. The resultant content quality is absolutely horrific.

Sodium Body of water Town - Uhhh, you mean Salt Lake City?

I pulled this example from an active blog network site. “Sodium Body of water Town” is spun garbagese for “Salt Lake City.”

Using blog networks, I had multiple sites penalized, re-included, and, once I had learned the ropes, I even had a few that gained rankings and escaped unharmed. I ultimately gave up my spam-content ways because it became clear that it was not an effective long-term strategy. The writing was on the wall – Google was getting smarter, and I was at risk of losing any time I invested.

And the writing was, and still is, on the wall. Google rolled out Panda, which dealt a heavy blow to some blog and article networks that had paid almost no attention to users. Starting this year, blog networks, both private and public, starting dropping. In one of the highest-profile incidents, Google crippled BMR’s blog network.

Webmasters began receiving warnings in Google Webmaster Tools around the same time that now strike fear into the hearts of those using manipulative or questionable tactics to build links:


Google WMT Warning Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links to http://example.com/


Dear site owner or webmaster of http://example.com/,

We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.

If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.

If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Sincerely,

Google Search Quality Team

In short: you’re caught – the game is up. Some sites received this warning without penalties, and some sites were penalized immediately. In either case, the links need to be taken down to retain or regain rankings. So what now?

Identifying Posts from Blog Networks

There are plenty of webmasters, site owners, and SEOs who have no idea what Google is talking about when they receive the warning. For example, I recently spoke with a friend from a reputable SEO agency who had the bad lack of taking over the same week his client was penalized for the previous SEO firm’s work. In any case, the first step to fixing the problem is finding the links in question. We can use tools like Open Site Explorer and Google/Bing Webmaster tools to find bad links.

Because BMR’s sites have already been outed, penalized, and rendered useless for the foreseeable future, we can use an old BMR site as examples of what to look for:

BMR-spam-blog-example

That’s right – you can get misinformation about water shoes, Dubai shopping, and constipation remedies – all in one place! BMR posts actually had limited quality reviews, making them higher quality than most existing blog networks.

The identifying marks of a blog network post are as follows:

  1. Terrible content and a boring template; you find yourself asking, “Why would anyone ever subscribe to this blog?”
  2. Topics are jumped, unrelated to the site’s theme, and categorization is poor.
  3. There is rarely an about section, author name, or means of contact.
  4. Lots and lots of exact-match anchor text seemingly pointing to sites at random.
  5. Posts tend to be 400-500 words with 2-3 links per post – generally all to the same site.

If you have recently received an unnatural link warning, there’s a pretty good chance that you have a lot of links like this in your link portfolio. You will also wish to look for footer/blogroll links, especially from irrelevant sites, and any other links that were clearly not intended to be viewed by visitors.

Fixing and Recovering From Unnatural Link Penalties

There is a way back to Google’s good graces, but it’s not going to be fast, and it’s unlikely that your traffic will reach the same heights it once did if you relied heavily on link networks or paid links to gain rankings. Once you’re caught, you must sacrifice all paid or spammy links, submit a reconsideration request, and develop a legitimate backlink portfolio.

Removing Penalization-Inducing Links

The removal of links has to be thorough, or the reconsideration request will be denied. If you rent links on a monthly basis, the obvious step is to stop paying for the links and request their removal. If your links were built by an external company, contact them and see what they can do about taking any links from blog networks offline. For BMR users, I recommend clicking the following link, which BMR was professional enough to offer:

Take them all down! Now leave the site without exporting those low-quality posts that you won’t need, thanks to the fantastic new link-building strategy you’re going to develop. Other link networks often provide simple solutions to taking down your links – speak with the person who put these links up if you don’t have access.

In the case of paid links not submitted through a blog network, you may have to contact the site directly and request removal of links. It’s a tedious process, but a reasonable effort has to be made.

Submitting a Reconsideration Request

If your site hasn’t been penalized yet, but you received the warning, you can skip this step. Do not skip the step above, as you will eventually face into a penalty if you don’t clean up your act and link portfolio. In a blog post on 6 Ways to Recover from Bad Links, Dr. Pete offers some advice for reconsideration requests:

  • Be honest, specific and detailed.
  • Show that you’ve made an effort.
  • Act like you mean it (better yet: mean it).

You have to explain that you have changed your views and your strategic focus. A good way to show effort is by including a link to an accessible Google Doc spreadsheet showing the bad links, which ones were removed, and which ones you made unsuccessful efforts to remove. Be specific, and touch on everything requested on the reinclusion request form:

Tell us more about what happened: what actions might have led to any penalties, and what corrective actions have been taken. If you used a search engine optimization (SEO) company, please note that. Describing the SEO firm and their actions is a helpful indication of good faith that may assist in evaluation of reconsideration requests. If you recently acquired this domain and think it may have violated the guidelines before you owned it, let us know that below. In general, sites that directly profit from traffic (e.g. search engine optimizers, affiliate programs, etc.) may need to provide more evidence of good faith before a site will be reconsidered.

Be open and specific about what you were doing, what you changed to comply with Google’s guidelines, and what you will do going forward. Right now there is doubtless a long line of websites requesting reinclusion, so make sure you’ve done a good clean-up. The last thing you want is to have to go through the whole process again in a few months. You’ll also have to be patient, especially if you’re a smaller site or lesser-known brand. In the meantime, though, we will develop a legitimate link-building strategy.

Build a Legitimate Link Portfolio

Under most conditions, Google appears to assess link penalties algorithmically. Most of the sites that I have seen receiving warnings about unnatural links have serious problems with the over-optimization of anchor text and links from low-quality sites.

Link penalties - exact match over optimization and spammy sites

Low quality sites, in this diagram, refers to sites (and pages) that have little or no relevance, few incoming links, unnatural link portfolios of their own, and few branding signals. Having too much exact-match anchor text from legitimate domains is a hard thing to do, but it has happened through things like widgets with unnatural anchor text.

Building links from legitimate sources is hard, and in competitive and boring industries it take a lot of creativity and work. Some have taken this as a license to manipulate rankings and build spammy links.

In competitive and boring industries; however, the online world looks very much like the real world. The secret to success in both is a unique selling point (USP): what makes you different or better than your competitors? Your USP can be customer experience, site interactivity, prices, or content resources. Online businesses will profit in much the same way that offline businesses did and continue to.

It is time to start thinking of ways to build links and attract users in a way that is scalable, effective, and long-term. Building links manually is boring, difficult, and often unrewarding. There’s a reason a lot of industry leaders have been talking about content marketing.

New Questions and Concerns

There’s a lot of change in this industry, and we’ve become good at adapting and changing our roles. As with all significant changes, there have been a flood of questions about what to do. First, I do not think that this was related to Google’s reported semantic search or the upcoming over-optimization penalty. The later was was pre-announced after large numbers of sites had already been pummeled my something else entirely.

My Blog Network is Running Strong. Should I Stop?

Yes. Those who have not received warnings for using blog networks should recognize that blog networks are not a sustainable long-term strategy. You’re spending time building bad links instead of relationships and branding. Additionally, Google has hit several blog networks, and it’s likely to continue. Standing and waiting for the hammer to fall is strategy at its absolute worst.

Couldn’t I Hurt Competitors?

The last defense for the link spammer is a fallacious line of reasoning: “search engines can’t penalize me, because I could do it to my competitors.” Yes, in theory, you could trigger a link spam penalty on a competitor site. You will find; however, that companies with strong branding signals who have built real editorial links – usually the companies that actually rank highly – are nearly impervious to link spam attacks.

Yes, you can do horrible things to other people – but why? Ethics aside, it just doesn’t make sense in this industry to waste effort tearing others rather than building a site up. Restaurant owners don’t go around attacking nearby restaurant owners’ stores, because it takes a lot of effort and, even if you do temporarily close a restaurant, it doesn’t really bring new customers. There are a lot of restaurants in the city – and even more sites on the internet.

Note that there may be legal ramifications if you successfully harm a competitor with link spam. Once the subpoenas start falling, the invincible feeling of anonymity disappears quickly.

Strategies for Agencies

One line in the reconsideration request stood out to me:

“Describing the SEO firm and their actions is a helpful indication of good faith”

People rarely describe a company without mentioning its name. What actions might we expect from firms mentioned in multiple reconsideration requests? Direct action is unlikely, but companies who relied on networks to build links to clients’ and their own sites may be wise to worry, devise a new strategy, and stop publishing crap.

I have absolutely no interest in the obnoxious and mostly-imaginary “war” between white hat and black hat SEO. Whether you care about adding value to users – and at the world of link penalties and Panda, it’s insane not to – it’s time to drop tactics and schemes like blog networks. The links have been low value for a long time, but now they carry with them an unacceptable risk.

About Carson Ward —    Carson is an SEO consultant with Distilled. He has worked for several years in in online marketing fields such as SEO, affiliate marketing, and paid advertising.
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May 2, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

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March 13, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

Web Design

When selecting a web design agency, it goes without saying that you should take a look at the company’s own website in order to get a better idea of their skills and abilities. Similarly, you should ask the company for some references and to provide you with the URL of other sites they have created. Be certain to take the time to view several of these sites thoroughly in order to make sure they are user-friendly and are attractive. In addition, you can get a general feel for the designer’s methods and style while viewing these sites.

Selecting a web design agency should go further than just viewing sites the agency has created. In order to get a better idea of how the designer works, ask him or her to take a look at your current site if you have one and to offer suggestions. This way, you can determine if the designer has the ability to think on his or her own and to offer creative input. If you do not already have a website, select a few sites from the Internet and ask the designer what he or she thinks about the site and to offer suggestions for improvement.

Since you will have to work closely with the web site designer, you want to make sure that you can communicate clearly. By viewing sites together and discussing them, you can get a better idea of whether or not you are on the same wavelength. If you feel that the designer is truly listening to you and understands what you are looking for, you just might have found the right person to do the job. If not, take the time to discuss your ideas with other designers. There are plenty of web design agencies available and it is well worth your time to find the one that best suits the needs of you and your company.

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February 27, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

Web Developers

Web Designers and Web Developers are two very different animals altogether. Web Designers draw pictures all day then go home to enjoy their evenings with friends and family, go to the cinema, sports clubs, pubs, or watch a movie at home with their nearest and dearest whilst tucking in to a fantastic take-away. Web Developers (or Programmers as they were called in the good old days) on the other hand write code all day, then go home and write more code until they collapse on the keyboard. Night after night after night. Yes, this article is written by a Developer. Don’t get me wrong, one is no more important than the other when it comes to producing your website, it’s just that one puts in ten times more effort than the other!

So what’s the difference? Well for a start, Web Developers are rubbish at designing websites, and Web Designers are rubbish at making websites actually work. Developers have no artistic creativity at all, and absolutely no idea which colour goes with what. Pantones what? CMYK what? Forget it. Developers cannot even match their handbags to their shoes. They can cut graphics up which they’ve been given and optimise them for the web but that’s as far as it goes. Secondly, Web Developers cannot incorporate your beautiful web design into any kind of printed literature. The Designers are the ones who look after your corporate identity right across the breadth of your marketing activities, and they talk to printers in language they can understand. Developers cannot do that (and don’t want to do that).

So it pains me to say it, but Developers need Designers to keep feeding them beautiful designs because they are simply not genetically equipped to do it themselves.

However, these pictures of websites they produce, these designs, will remain pictures until the Web Developer gets his/her hands on it and brings it to life on the internet. Yes, it’s the developer who actually makes it work. And it’s the Developer who spends ten times longer getting it to work than the Designer did drawing it!

Unless the Designer is very familiar with web work, the Developer can be presented with impossible tasks. Designing for print is a far cry from designing for the web because the web design is something that is functional, it has navigation requirements, sometimes complex ones, and the design has to take this into account. In fact website navigation is a key aspect of the design, and if it’s not right the Developer will pass it back to the Designer who then has to go back to the client.

The Designer also needs a good understanding of what is technically possible so they can design their widgets with confidence. And if you’re VERY lucky, you’ll come across a designer who also has an understanding of what works well for the search engines. So I’ll admit, designers do need SOME technical understanding, much like they need some technical understanding of the print process.

But let’s not get carried away here, Web Designers still draw pictures all day and Web Developers still write code all day and all night.

So, the Designer is the one who is responsible for putting your corporate image across on the web and giving your website that ‘wow factor’; the one thing that will create a good first impression (because as we all know, you only get one chance to create a good first impression). But the poor Developer is the one in the back room cutting the design up and coding it up so that it works not only efficiently, but just as the Designer (and the customer) had envisaged.

Steve Ballmer again shows off his professionalism with this display at the MIX 2008 conference. Now it’s all about the web developers baby. You’re scaring us Steve. . .


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February 23, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

Web Design

Web Design as a Business

The world wide web just keeps growing. Business realize the benefits of being on the web, but don’t always know how to design a good site. If you have some creativity and know basics about web design, you might be interested in starting a web design business.

Starting a web design business is not much different from starting other businesses. Just knowing how to design a website is not enough. You need to do some research to be certain you have all the tools you need. A computer and printer are essential. You’ll need graphics software and HTML editing software. Remember that you are working for businesses, so you some knowledge of what makes a business site effective.

It helps to target a niche market. Find a field you’ve always had a passion for and develop ideas for that particular market. In this way you will stand out as one of the best in that particular field.

If you are just starting your web design business, you can learn some of the ropes by volunteering to help somebody put up a site or improve their site. Look at sites from local businesses and call them to offer your services. Many times the smaller businesses have put up their own site with no professional help. They may welcome your skills, and will later serve as a valuable reference.

When starting your web design business, don’t forget that it is a business. Learn how to set your rates and keep good records for tax purposes.

As you consider starting your web design business, make sure you know what you need to know before offering your services. If you have creativity and an interest in building websites, this could be a business for you.

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February 6, 2012 by Mark Lauzon

Seo

So you want to SEO your website. You and thousands of others. There is no magic potion or tricks to SEO. I hate to bore you but SEO is just math. If you know how Google does their math to rank websites then guess what? Your on your way to the first Google search results page and an increase in sales big time.

I found a few websites that are extremely helpful to the internet marketer and website owner. If you are having a problem with your website not showing up in Google search for your products, then you might as well not even have a website.

Does your website get minimal traffic and you don’t know why? There are a lot of questions on this subject, but I am not here to answer them. I will refer you to the experts and the best online sources where I learned my SEO skills.

I will also be telling you about how I increased traffic to my website by taking a couple of online Google Adwords and Article Marketing classes.

You can take a Google Adwords Class or a Article Marketing class online in one evening for the condensed version of the course.

I don’t want to overwhelm you so I will give you three things that will improve your knowledge on this subject beyond belief. Later on when I update this article I will be offer more info on improving your ranking on Google.

The top things I recommend you do first is to help your ranking:

  1. Take the Article Marketing Course & Adwords Pro at WA by clicking here.
  2. Watch this SEO Video
  3. Stop back by the website and leave your feedback and let us know what you thought. If you found this article helpful please say so to let others know.

Bookmark this article now. It will be updated often.

You will see future articles on:

seo services

I wish you luck and hope you stop back by for updates and to leave your feedback.

Thanks

Google I/O 2010 – SEO site advice from the experts Tech Talks Matt Cutts, Greg Grothaus, Evan Roseman A perfect opportunity to get your website reviewed by the experts in the Google Search Quality team. Attendees can get concrete search engine optimization (SEO) feedback on their own sites. We’ll also answer real-life questions that affect developers when it comes to optimizing their websites for search. For all I/O 2010 sessions, please go to code. Google. Com


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