Slow and steady does not win the race when it comes to the performance of your law firm website. We know that optimizing your website speed is critical for online success, but why is it so important and how do you fix a lagging website? If your law firm site is sluggish, consider making the changes below to improve its speed.
Understanding Page Speed vs Site Speed
When a user clicks on a link to your website, they land on a single page. The amount of time it takes for that page to load for the user is known as the “page load time” or “page speed.” This includes loading everything on the page: text, images, forms, live chat pop ups, maps, and any other elements.
But a website is comprised of multiple pages of content. Search engines, therefore, are interested in knowing how quickly on average every page of a website loads, and how quickly each individual page loads as a user navigates through a single website. Therefore, “site speed” represents the performance of the entire website while “page speed” represents the performance of a single page on the website.
It is important to keep in mind that page speed impacts site speed. If the majority of your pages load very quickly, but there is one single page that takes forever to load, that single page will impact the overall site speed – even though all other webpages are performing well.
Why Page Speed AND Site Speed Are Important
The general purpose of a law firm website is to establish the entity’s brand within the legal industry and to garner potential clients and other valuable professional connections. Slow site speeds and page speeds can have a variety of impacts, including on:
- Search Rankings: When performing legal searches, prospective clients usually start by visiting a search engine like Google. In 2010, site speed became a ranking signal in Google’s algorithm for desktop searches; in 2018, page speed became a ranking factor in mobile searches. What does this mean for your law firm website? Websites and pages with slower load times are potentially pushed down in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) on both desktop and mobile devices, which makes it harder – if not impossible in many cases – for clients to find your law firm online.
- User Experience: The rate at which a page loads greatly affects user experience, which is the overall interaction visitors have with the website. When visitors search the web for legal answers, they are looking for rapid results. In a recent study, delays in loading pages can increase the user’s heart rate by 38%. The stress is equivalent to anxiety felt when taking a test or watching a horror film. A few seconds’ delay can and will drive traffic away from your website if slow or if pages fail to load, which is known as a “bounce” in marketing terms. Bounce rate indicates the percentage of people who enter your site and leave after visiting a single page. Studies show the average bounce rate for a page loading in two seconds is only 9% versus a page loading in five seconds with a bounce rate over four times higher at 38%. The longer users wait for a page to load, the more likely they will leave your website entirely.
- Conversions: A conversion occurs when a user completes a desired action on a website. For law firms, conversions equate to phone calls, contact form submissions, emails, and live chat, among other mechanisms. Studies show that faster page speeds result in better conversion rates, which means more business for your firm if your page speeds are healthy.
Six Adjustments to Fix a Slow Website
If you have conducted a speed test and find your site or page speed to be very slow, make the following adjustments to give them a boost:
- Optimize and scale images to reduce file size, compressing them without losing quality.
- Reduce the number of webpage redirects. Redirects to another webpage can confuse the browser and cause additional wait times for the user.
- Minimize the website’s use of plugins, using only those that are essential.
- Use browser caching, which stores copies of your website’s files so the entire site does not have to reload when visitors refresh or return.
- Minify HTML, CSS, and Java Script files. Minification removes unnecessary characters from the site’s code.
- Use a webhosting service that provides performance optimization services.
Ready to Improve Your Law Firm’s Website Speed?
With the migration to online services, it is now more important than ever to fix your site and page speed. Internet users are less tolerant of slow websites, and if your law firm site is not fast enough, it will lead to decreased exposure in search results and less engagement with visitors. Optimizing your website for speed can be tricky if you are not familiar with coding. If your law firm is considering improving its website, the digital marketing experts at Stacey E. Burke P.C. can help, so contact us for more information today.