Help!!! Pornographers Hijacked My Website!

Worst case scenario for a business website. If you think a professional web developer is expensive, imagine the cost of a complete rebrand and name change of your business. 


Among my favorites Portland restaurants is a white linen table cloth, yet affordable Indian restaurant in the stylish, bustling Northwest Neighborhood on 23rd Avenue. After several meals at this restaurant, I left two 5 star review on Trip Advisor, Google Reviews, and checked in on Facebook, not a common practice for me.

This was different. This was great food, in an otherwise empty place. I made it a point to sit near the window, visibly reveling in my meal to lure in passers-by.

A month later, I noticed a Grand Opening banner covering the very nice, presumably expensive lit sign on the front of the building. It had a new name on it.

I recalled during my last visit I chatted with the owner. The dinner hour was slow. The lunch buffet was the busy time of day but night life in the area and foot traffic should translate to more business. I made a quick check of the website, noting it was in dire need of an update. I offered my services. He directly asked a price, sensing a price sensitive, cash strapped small business owner, I quoted a much lower than normal price. After all, this is a fantastic place and I want to participate in success stories. It’s profitable in the long term.

Facing a slight language barrier, the owner politely declined. I offered my card, knowing he would stay with the mobile unfriendly, outdated, slow loading site that didn’t reflect the quality or ambiance of his establishment.

I was disappointed, I prize being a useful resource. My meal was so satisfying, I left content anyway.

A friend of mine called. He was in town and wanted to meet for dinner. “Wonderful!” I thought, “I know just the place.”

I Googled the restaurant to find my web security software literally blaring red flags, warning the site was not secure. The meta description of the site contained a rather explicit description of, well, porn. I couldn’t believe it.

I continued to search for the restaurant; I found double entries under the new name, a difficult to pronounce Indian word, much like the old name. Now all the reviews on Google, Yelp, Yahoo Local, Urban Spoon, Facebook, Trip Advisor and more were lost in a confusing jumble. I had always used the location to find the place, OK Googling: “Indian Restaurants on 23rd Ave.” Google maps found this confusing as well. My friend from out of town could not easily navigate to the place. We ended up going somewhere else.

I thought about all the expense involved in rebranding as a low profit margin business in a high rent, highly competitive industry. Changing menus, signs, business documents, untold hours notifying vendors, adding a dba to a business license, new business cards and on and on.

Brand equity is an actual value that having a well-known name brings to a business. In the digital era, brand equity comes from reviews, check-ins, Instagram photos of delicious meals, website bookmarks and word of mouth marketing. All this was lost because it seemed too expensive to redevelop the website. It’s even more basic, it was simply a matter of reregistering the web domain. A service I would have performed free of charge, even without a client relationship. Fostering good will is critically important to Howe Innovative Design.


In the end, cheap is very expensive.