Alcohol Rehab London & Essex

New Alcohol Rehab Website

Alcohol Rehab London & EssexWe’re proud to be working with the UK’s premier alcohol rehab in London and Essex, The LIghthouse by Step by Step Recovery.

As a full service agency, we are not only undertaking the company’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), but have redesigned and redeveloped their new website, launched their Google Adwords campaign, as well as undertaking all social media strategies.

If you would lke to find out more about how XLWEB can help your business become more visible online, and generate, enquiries and sales, please contact us.


Become GDPR Compliant For Only £200

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive (ePR) affect how you as a website owner may use cookies and online tracking of visitors from the EU.

Let us help you make sure your website and business is compliant. Continue reading

Has Your Website Lost Rankings Recently? Google Updates.

Google has updated its Search functions in the last few weeks with many people reporting that they are affected. I have seen quite a fluctuation in certain rankings for clients, with the majority of our clients with great gains with no clients going back the way – proof that we do SEO properly here at XLWEB.

Google SEO Updates

Google SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) monitoring tools showed a lot of activity in September. Source:


Google Updates – Penguin and Possum

There seems to have been two different types of update. The Penguin algorithm – which focuses on the quality of links pointing to your site –  is really a change in its frequency. Google used to update Penguin periodically (often yearly or longer) but now says it is real-time meaning factors affecting the Penguin algorithm happen live rather than having to wait for updates. This is a significant boost for business and for SEOs. For example, if you had poor links pointing to you and removed them or disavowed them, you would have to wait until Google refreshed Penguin on its servers, which took a lot of time meaning damage to your rankings and business. Now, changes in your backlink profile should happen as soon as Google discovers the changes. This is a SIGNIFICANT change in how Google works behind the scenes.

Here’s the blog on Google Webmaster Central Blog confirming this update on September 23rd >

The Possum Update

The name of this update wasn’t created by Google but rather some people in the SEO industry. The update happened on September 1st and rolled out for a few weeks. It affected localised SEO, particularly the ‘snack pack’ or Google map entries you see when doing a search. This is a SERIOUS issue for local business, with many people fluctuating in the map entries. The change affected low quality websites with poor or spammy backlinks – filtering them based on quality.

The major impacts of the Possum updates seem to be these:

  • Businesses that have more than one address and entry in Google might find it hard to have more than one entry in maps. Many expect that if you currently have two entries in the maps, then one will disappear (be filtered from the top 3) soon, if not already
  • Separate businesses AT THE SAME ADDRESS may be affected with only one showing – despite there being a clear differentiation between their sectors – this is BAD news
  • Business that are outside the city/town centre or city/town limits are ranking higher now
  • On mobile devices/location searches, businesses that are nearby show more prominently
  • Change in variations of similar searches affected – ‘Lawyer Glasgow’ NOT THE SAME as ‘Glasgow lawyer’. On the whole before the update these would return similar results, now they are different. I SEE SOME EVIDENCE OF THIS but much the same as before the update.

Ultimately, these updates by Google can only be good for people who do good SEO as the two types of update are designed to filter out rubbish – spammy backlinks and spammy map entries. That’s not to say bone fide business won’t be affected.

If you need help with your local SEO, get in touch for a free audit. Call us on 0141 374 2468 or email:


Top 10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins

WordPress is the leading content management system (CMS) on the web. It accounts for well over a quarter of all active websites in the world. What makes it so popular is the sheer number of customisation options available to take advantage of, its speed, ease of deployment and that it’s Open Source.

There are literally millions of plugins to choose from. It can be overwhelming for anyone who wants to get started, or even just someone who wants to review their current range of plugins.

WordPress Logo

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO is more than a basic SEO plugin. It comes with a website optimisation package so you can make your whole website ready for Google.

It does the basics of adding meta titles and descriptions to your articles. But what it also does is give you access to things such as open graphs, advanced meta data, page analysis, and the XML sitemap. It’s a matter of a few clicks to install it on your website.

In a world where technical SEO has taken a backseat to social media popularity, this plugin will cover the few bases left to cover when it comes to appealing to Google’s crawler bots.

2. BackupBuddy

While WordPress is renowned for its security, it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer. A backup and the ability to migrate your data is essential for defending your hard work should the worst happen.

This plugin allows you to establish a backup schedule. It will automatically create backups of your website as often as you want. If you wish to create a backup each week, this plugin will do it for you without any input. All backups are stored in the cloud, so it does not matter if your computer is hit by some unspecified problem.

You can also download backups if you prefer to keep hard copies on external hard drives and USB memory sticks.

3. W3 Total Cache

Speed is a performance indicator in the eyes of Google. Every page should load within at least three seconds, and that includes images and any videos. Fail to do this and your site will be penalised in the rankings.

W3 Total Cache helps optimise your website for speed. It will compress pages and install a unique delivery network for any of your static files. The plugin comes with a guide for beginners on how to make use of its features.

4. Gravity Forms

Unfortunately, WordPress does not make it easy to set up a basic ‘Contact’ page. Most people have to download a plugin to get the functionality they need.

We recommend trying out Gravity Forms. This plugin has practically every kind of contact form you could want. Other features include the ability to create surveys and web directories.

5. OptinMonster

If your business relies on lead generation, try out this plugin. Some users have reported a 600% increase in email subscribers from using this plugin. It’s designed to create opt-in forms with an emphasis on converting as many visitors as possible into subscribers.

Features include page-level targeting, split testing, and analytics.

6. Edit Flow

If you are running a blog, things can get hectic pretty quickly. This editor’s plugin gives you everything you could need, from a way to assign posts, managing your author team, and creating an editorial calendar. Edit Flow enables you to plan your whole content marketing strategy from the comfort of a dashboard.

7. Soliloquy

We believe that as far as WordPress sliders go you will not go far wrong with Soliloquy. It is one of the few slider plugins that does not increase page loading times. Another benefit of this epic slider plugin is that it comes with a free version to help you decide whether it’s for you.

8. Sucuri

We have already offered you a way to back your website up, but this plugin will reinforce security. Every website is a potential target, so Sucuri offers real-time alerts, complete with security scanners and malware removal. It works in conjunction with existing standard WordPress security measures.

9. Floating Social Bar

At first glance, Floating Social Bar is like any other social media plugin for WordPress. Look closer and you will see it’s the same without all the unnecessary parts. With streamlined scripts to ensure your site runs fast, it only includes the social media sites that actually matter.

10. Disqus

WordPress comments are best handled by the default system if you have a small website. As your site increases in popularity, consider switching over to Disqus. It better handles larger volumes of comments, plus it’s a third-party service, so your servers are entirely unaffected by sudden spikes in activity. Over time, we have found Disqus to be reliable and easy to use.


So, there you have it: our top 10 must-have WordPress plugins. We know there are others out there you might have in your top ten, but we love these. Enjoy!

Google Adwords Generic List of Negative Keywords


Here’s the list of generic NEGATIVE words Google Adwords Specialists send out.

This is Google’s Official List Of Generic Negative Keywords.

Please check before you upload them as some or many may not apply (e.g. if you have a PPC campaign and you sell aluminium, and upload this full list, you may struggle to sell anything via Adwords!).

We cannot accept responsibility for anyone who uploads this whole list without checking – you have been warned!

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic and display advertising is probably a term you have heard before but, like many, unsure what it is. or know a bit or two. In the world of advertising and the need to actually spend money to make money, programmatic advertising is an essential part of the process. In this article, we are going to show you exactly what it is and explain the concept and process.

programmatic advertising

Programmatic Advertising in a Nutshell

Programmatic advertising is about using software to purchase advertising on your behalf. In a nutshell, it is about machines buying ads.

Is that it?

It’s a tad more complex than that, but this is the fundamental principle. Programmatic advertising does not just seek out new advertising opportunities. It goes through the negotiation and payment process for you. It can take some setting up, and you do need to install careful parameters, but after that you can sit back and relax while the software does the job for you.

Why Does It Matter?

Yes, efficiency and targeting.

It is that simple. Manually, it takes a long time to seek out digital ads, apply for them, wait for a response, and then begin the negotiation process. Furthermore, humans are prone to error. The software isn’t (hic!). Remember that digital ad sellers are also using software to automate the process on their behalf.

Humans are prone to paying too much for ads. Purchasing the wrong ads. And spending too long on trying to get ads.

The primary benefits of programmatic advertising are:

  • Making ads more affordable
  • Increasing the efficiency of the ad buying process
  • Purchasing ads when you cannot. The software will operate when you’re sick, sleeping, or busy with another project.
  • Targeting

The Concept of Becoming Robotic

People are rightly concerned about the continued automation of business processes. Some critics say that increasing our reliance on robots is throwing humans out of the process. While it is true that in this case technology is replacing humans, robots can only do so much.

Technology is about removing the menial, time-consuming tasks humans have to deal with on a daily basis. For example, technology has automated the processes of submitting insertion orders, inserting tags, and other similar tasks.

Humans still have to set parameters, and they still have to tell the software what to do. Planning is still down to us, but the bureaucracy isn’t.

Any business that wants to increase the amount of spare time it has would be foolish not to consider using technology to automate some of its advertising tasks.

Is this Real-Time Bidding (RTB)?

Programmatic buying is not a fancy word for real-time bidding. Real-time bidding is a type of programmatic ad buying, though. Programmatic advertising is the parent of real-time bidding.

Here’s a simple, good (and a bit long) explanation of the whole concept:

Real-time bidding is simply the act of purchasing advertising in an auction house environment. Programmatic software is a way to guarantee ads in advance. In other words, there are no guarantees with real-time bidding, but programmatic buying does provide a guarantee.

Even though you can automate both processes, they are different.

Does this Represent the Future of Online Marketing?

While it is far too early to tell, there are strong signs that this (some say it is) will be the future of advertising. The problem is that it’s impossible to determine how many companies are using automation software and how many companies are not. But we don’t know that it’s starting to rise. Some agencies are mass buying advertising through these channels, and some massive brands have even taken to setting up whole departments for programmatic ad buying.

For now, this is almost exclusively the domain of online ads. We will likely see marketing brands explore the idea of buying traditional media segments for radio and TV in the near future, though. Currently, certain TV and Movie companies are using this technology for product placement.


Programmatic ad buying is well worth exploring if you are a company investing heavily in online advertising – although it depends on your sector, contact us for advice if unsure. It will take a previously time-consuming process to streamline it. Take note, you will have to continually monitor it, but it should only take a few minutes a few times a day to make sure it is running as it should.

You do not need a dedicated department, as is the case with some larger companies.

Once you get it up and running, you will have much more time to dedicate to more important tasks like product research, testing, and customer research, and, actually doing what you do.

Ideas for Blog & Social Media Content

Content is king! Apparently. So, SEO’s, social media marketers, web designers/devs and anyone else and anyone in this industry claims. Here’s the facts: Google is a search engine, but ultimately, when you get down to it – it simply publishes other people’s content. So, yes it is (assuming the rest of your SEO set-up is squeaky clean). So, they’re all correct. Let’s get the best out of your marketing…

Content Generation & Sales

I should have told her the benefits, not the features……

There is no getting around it. Coming up with great content is easy (should be!) in the beginning. With all the ideas running around your head, you can run for a day/week/months without coming up against a creative block. But when you have exhausted your initial ideas, you are left wondering where to turn to next. Social media campaigns that fail, fail because they run out of content. And, most social media campaigns do fail. I know the stats. For social media, you have to be persistent, and continuous. Publishing 4 posts a day for the first week and then 2 a day, then twice a week etc. Sound familiar?

My research has proven (industry dependant but generally e-commerce) that 3 general posts, then 1 product/sale post is the general rule. So, a 3:1 ratio on product placement. Otherwise people will just unfriend you. And that might make you feel sad 🙁

Use these sources to generate content that’s fresh, unique, and guaranteed to attract new readers, and keep old ones.

The News/Current affairs/Trade events

To make a splash in social media, your content has to be trending. Luckily, the news is always present on social media. Relate your next blog post to a major news story, as long as it is relevant. This will naturally slip into any trends on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s not evergreen content, but it is going to win you a spike in traffic.

Just make sure the connection doesn’t look forced. If you are struggling to relate your brand to a recent news story, take the safe option and don’t to it. You industry and trade has news out there. Go find it.

SEO Competitor & Social Media Blogs

Your competitors are not brands to be ignored. They’re brands to take inspiration from. Take a look at the competitors who are above you in the search rankings and think about how you are going to overtake them. The easiest way is to start is not with imitation but with variation.

What’s creating the biggest buzz for your competitors?

Drill down into this and come up with a variation on the same topic. That way you are creating unique, fresh content people actually want to read.

Current Events in Your Company

If you cannot think of anything to say, look at yourself. Most companies will constantly look at competitors and recent news for ideas, but they are missing an important opportunity much closer to home.

Customers want to see what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s why companies have been so successful in producing Vine and Instagram videos that are only seconds long. They give people an insight into what is going on with the brand.

What Are You Selling?

Sometimes you may want to generate some excitement for a product before it is released. Instead of a simple Facebook or Twitter update, consider writing a piece on your latest product.

Here are some ideas for the angles you can take:

  • A brief background to the product.
  • Uses for the product.
  • Your inspiration for the product. Why did you want to add this to your portfolio in the first place?

Benefits versus Features

Remember the difference between features and benefits. EVERY great salesperson in the world practices this. A feature for a kid’s toy might be “Batteries included”. Benefit is: no upset, crying disappointed kids, trips to the shop on Xmas day etc. Here’s the classic pen features versus benefits video:


Too many brands don’t ask customers what they think. They do not allow them any input, and then struggle to meet their expectations. Get around this by asking customers what they want to know and what they want to hear about. What they want. And, ultimately, what is it about you that makes them buy from you.

For info on the age old marketing question, go here: Why should I buy from you (opens in a new link)

You could even look into your customer service files and see which queries you receive the most. Turn this into a blog post where you answer it once and for all. Q & A – that’s why the web exists.

Ask Your Staff

You don’t have to take on the burden of coming up with ideas all by yourself. If you’ve exhausted your list, call in another pair of eyes. Another person could see a subject in an entirely different way, and that completely different pair of eyes could turn into a brand new blog post/tweet.

To make the content unique to that person, have them write it as a guest speaker. The different style will give readers a different flavour and keep things fresh and interesting for them.

We recommend doing this on a regular basis. Create a list and write down ideas as and when they come. Don’t leave it until the last minute.

What if You’re Stuck?

Everyone has slow weeks. Sometimes you are out of ideas, there is nothing going on, and the news does not relate to your company or niche. In this case, do not post if you have nothing to say. Or, do you? What about just engaging with others? Liking, following, commenting?

Long gone are the days where you had to post once or twice per week. Silicon valley no longer cares how often you publish content as long as you are not entirely inactive. If you have to wait for a couple of days for an idea to leap out of the darkness, so be it. Do not force it because people will instantly notice it, and that will do more to hurt your brand than help it.

P.S. Don’t publish nonsense, the web’s full of it 😉

SEO in 2016 – What Will Change?

Every year, as online marketers, we go through the same thing – SEO is changing, and companies from all sectors need to think about how they are going to adapt their SEO and online strategies. SEO won’t change – good content and good links are how it’s done. Maybe this is more about how Google will change.

Most good SEO’s know that Google toys with us – marketers trying to influence (manipulate, ahem, it) and a lot of info it releases or suggests may or may not happen. I suppose it’s their way of staying one step ahead of some very intelligent SEOs & online marketers to prevent exploitation.

But, in order to do what we do best, we need to take everything into account (whether we believe it or not, or implement what they say). So, for SEO in 2016, we might see some significant changes. Google has, and will continue, to become more than just a search engine by reducing the need to actually visit websites, and we can expect to see the continuing rise of image and video content.

Phone Search

“Hello, is that Google? I’ve heard that I can search quicker and get better results if I have a mobile compared to a desktop. Also, can you tell me where I can get mobile?”

Let’s take a look at the big changes you are going to have to contend with this year.

More Direct Search Answers in 2016

Google understands that when we are on the move, we do not have time to enter a query and choose a website to find our answer. This is why it is going to increase the number of direct answers in 2016.

In other words, if you ask it a question, you type the query, and the answer appears in a box at the top of the search results. It already happens for a limited number of queries, and is the latest in search engine innovation. Alright, it might not cover absolutely any question, but if you have something on your mind, you’ll be able to get the answer straight away. This is a serious worry for website owners, as it means users will not click-through to websites, meaning a drop in traffic (and, the other consequences this brings including, less readership, Adsense clicks, contact and so on).

Currently, only 4% of all questions asked gain a direct answer, so there is a lot of space for Google to expand in this area.

Here’s the good news and the bad news about direct answers:

If your business is based on providing data you didn’t own, such as an encyclopaedia, you are going to be in direct competition with Google. Good luck with that one. Specialised search engines are going to suffer because Google is now encroaching their territory.
Most searches cannot be turned into a direct answer (at least not yet), so multi-step searching will still reign supreme. Local businesses can welcome this change simply by becoming the answer to any direct questions. Primarily, that is what websites are there to do: answer questions (as well as offer products for sales and be portals to other forms of information)

As you can see, this change can be good or bad, depending on which sector you are in. Some businesses may have to change their whole models, but for the majority this is a positive change designed to help them.

Voice and Mobile Searching

Speed is everything. It’s SEO’s, web designers and advice from Google that recommend that sites need to load in under two seconds for a single page (Google expects 0.5 seconds) or it will affect ranking factors, and associated loss of visitors and so on. There’s a good recent post at Hobo Web that discusses this.

Now, it’s Google increasing the speed of searching. Most interestingly of all is the incorporation of voice searching from a mobile device. Speak into your mobile device and the question will appear in Google. This is where direct answers will become even more potent and important.

Research shows that people are mort likely to use voice search when they are looking for something local. For example, they may ask, “Where’s the nearest coffee shop?” or “I need the number of a local taxi company”.

Google will provide an answer, but you have to make sure it’s your business that appears at the top of that list of results. The answer lies in local SEO. It has been on the cards for a while now. Local SEO is important because Google is determined to provide a personalised search experience for all.

Improve your local SEO efforts and concentrate on creating a foothold in your local community; if you are a local, land-based business of course.

The Process is Complete…

Over the last few years, we have seen a steady process of mobile dominance. In 2016, this process continue. Mobile devices (in some countries) have surpassed the number of desktop devices using search engines ( See this great article by Danyl Bosomworth for more on this). As expected, this will continue to increase as the years goes on, and desktops searches further decrease in number.

What will this mean for SEO, though?

It will mean that if you already have a responsive website you will (should!) experience a little SEO boost. Google will (or should) hammer those of your competitors that have not yet made their sites responsive. If you are the company without a responsive website, though, be prepared for a significant drop in your rankings. 2015’s  “Mobilegeddon” pandemonium that ensued didn’t impact as much as many in the industry thought (particularly website designers wanting to capitalise on this from website owners on the fear of dropped rankings – but to be fair, Google did indicate a drop in rankings was inevitable). I would expect responsive websites to continue to improve in the rankings. Good post on Mobilegeddon on Search Engine Land here.

The Main Takeaway

The main idea you have to get used to is that Google designed its search engine for users, not for you: website owners, businesses, SEO’s, web developers). I’m aware that this is a controversial statement! Businesses and websites are secondary to the people entering those search queries.

While it can appear as if Google is constantly trying to make your life difficult, the behemoth is only responding to what users want. You should see this as a helpful indicator for what you need to do to better meet your customer’s expectations for SEO in 2016.