At least weekly we’re spending significant chunks of time deconstructing design elements and functionality to influence better site speed scores. Good speed tests are Pingdom and GT Metrix.
Why is Site Speed So Important?
As a completely integrated marketing company just for law firms, we manage the end-to-end marketing for the far majority of our clients.
In this context, it is irrefutable that site speed or lack of, impacts upon every facet of marketing. On the SEO front, our clients benefit from top rankings and they’re increasingly difficult to hold unless you have everything on your side.
In relation to Google Ads, slow loads mean lost opportunities and a wasted CPC charge. We run Google and Facebook Ads for a number of personal injury law firms with an average CPC upwards of $60. Slow load times cost money, simple as that!
What Do We Do About It?
If your law firm’s website has a slow site speed there are a bunch of options, some less complicated than others.
There are some great software applications on the market that essentially reduce the size of your website’s CSS, HTML and Javacript files. Gzip is pretty good, but resist using it on image files!
Having your website developer by cleaning your website’s code can make good improvements. Removing spaces, commas and getting rid of any old, unused code will help. Try CSSNano and Uglify JS.
At times you can be unnecessarily redirecting visitors to a page, with each redirect taking time.
For example, a potential client visits on mobile and a direct that may occur might be like this. www.lawyers.com to m.lawyers.com then to m.lawyers/home, each step is punctuated by a delay.
Your law firm’s website browser cache is essentially a temporary storage location where browsers save copies of static files so next time a user visits your website those recently visited webpages will load much more quickly, instead of needing to request the same content repetitively.
What your developer can do is basically instruct browsers to cache those elements of the website not prone to change often. For example, homepage, practice area pages etc.
This can have a significant impact on speed improvement. We use Cloudflare.
Look at Your Server
You might think that all servers are the same. Not true! Practically speaking, we host all our law firm’s websites with the exception of a few, one of which sits on a server that is notoriously slow and not well-maintained.
Your server response time is seriously influenced by the amount of traffic your firm’s website gets, all the resources each page may use and the software your server is using to serve the website.
Having your website on antiquated servers, or platforms like Squarespace and others that inhibit your control, will impact negatively on your firm’s website speed.
This is a big one! We see this when first engaged by new clients who have websites being managed by internal staff. Typically, they’re loading images that aren’t optimised and are of significant weight. If your firm’s website is on WordPress, there are some plugins that can help. Image Optimizer plugin is pretty good!
Sometimes there is no way around this. For example, if your law firm has a CRM (Hubspot, Active Campaign etc) then its likely that numerous things like forms, guides, bots may be hosted on that platform. These scripts cause delays as your firm’s website are reliant upon pulling the requested functionality. Too many external scripts kill website speed.
What About Building a New Website?
There are occasions where you need to concede that your firm’s website simply needs to be rebuilt. If your firm’s website is older than 2 – 3 years, it’s probably at that stage.
Should We Build With WordPress?
As you may have seen when reading our resources, there are a number of incumbents that are being used by a growing number of design and development companies. The most notable is what we call a Headless CMS that basically departmentalises key attributes of a website.
We recently launched a new website using Craft CMS and whilst site speed is tremendous, there are teething issues both with a build and the ongoing management of the site, particularly if your firm likes to frequently change design elements etc.
From a practical perspective, we have long-enjoyed and still do, the agility of WordPress in being able to dev up new design changes that may be on singular pages as opposed to across the whole website.
For example, your firm wishes to dress up your family law practice area pages, by deploying some new design features and additional functionality just on those pages, it’s easier to do with WordPress than a Headless CMS.
So, What Should We Do?
If your firm isn’t up for a new website then implement the above recommendations and see if that helps.
If your firm is at a point that a new site is necessary, or your speed results are woeful, then talk to us about your firm’s marketing objectives and we can guide you with your choice of technology.