In an age of instant gratification, speed matters. Most attorneys realize this; it is no longer optional for lawyers to have slow websites and slow landing page load times. A few years ago it just may have been bad practice, but in 2020 is doesn’t only affect your conversion rate. It also hurts your search rankings.
Google announced in July 2018 that its mobile ranking algorithm will factor in page loading speed when it considers search rankings (for desktop, this has always been true). While they insist the change will only affect the really slow sites, and not necessarily reward the fast ones, they didn’t give specific criteria. The “slowest experience” and the “small percentage of queries” they mention are dependent on their interpretation. If you’re an attorney trying to enhance your firm’s online presence, that should make you pay attention to your own site speed. You are operating in a highly competitive field; if your site is slower than your competitors’, Google may penalize you, and potential clients will certainly not be impressed. Even if you think your landing pages are fast enough, you need to make sure that Google sees you as a quality, high-speed source on all devices. (You can check Google’s analysis of your web speed with their PageSpeed (speed on all devices) tool or their TestMySite (speed on mobile) tool.)
Even without the push from Google, you should always prioritize site speed. You meticulously designed (or hired someone to design) your landing pages to be perfect, spending a lot of valuable time on the content, design, and functionality … it would be a shame if you did all that work for nothing! No one is going to look at your landing page if it takes forever to load. It’ll lower your chances to get users to convert, and ultimately cost you money.
Consider these statistics straight from Google:
- 53% of visits are likely to be abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load
- Mobile sites that load in 5 seconds vs 19 seconds observe 70% longer user sessions
- As page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%
If your landing pages take too long to load (the ideal is under 3 seconds), don’t panic – there are many things you can do to speed them up. Because this is one of the most common concerns we hear from lawyers, we wanted to start you off with the three easiest ways to address the issue.
1. Optimize Your Images
The larger the image resolution or file size, the longer it will take to load.
Often, people just upload images to their site as they find them, and then crop or alter them once they are on the page. This results in blurry/distorted/pixelated images and in slow loading speed. You need to ensure your images are saved for web, compressed, and adjusted to be the correct size for their purpose if you want your page to load faster.
What we do (and what we recommend to others, because it’s worked well for us and for our clients) is to first save any image you’re going to use on a landing page for web by using the “Export > Save for Web” option in Photoshop. Select the width and the height based on the size of your content area on your page (for example, if your content area is 800 pixels, make sure your image is no greater than 800 pixels, or your layout will quickly get messed up). Then we like to use a free image compressor called TinyPng to reduce the file size. Only after we’ve put our images through TinyPng do we put them on the page.
2. Use a Caching Plugin/ Enable Page Caching
Have you ever noticed that if you visit a site more than once, it loads much faster on the second and subsequent visits than it did on the first one? That’s because the developer is smart and all of the web pages have caching enabled.
Caching is the way that browsers store data on a user’s computer when a user visits a landing page. Then, when the user comes to that page again, the browser serves a static HTML version of the page, so that it doesn’t have to load all of the custom information each time (like your logo and CSS file). This increases the likelihood of conversion.
Imagine if a user views your home page, then decided to leave your site and look around for other attorneys offering the same services. The user is torn between choosing you and choosing your competitor, because both of you established credibility well, have aesthetic home pages, and offer the legal services they’re looking for. If they try to view your site again, and your site doesn’t load instantly, then research shows that they are likely to choose your competitor.
If you have a WordPress site, then all you need to do is install a caching plugin to do the heavy lifting for you. We have three favorites: W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and WP Fastest Cache (real creative names, but they perform well!) If you don’t have a WordPress site, see if your CMS supports caching, or contact your web master – in many cases, they will do it for you. If you want to do it yourself, install the following code into the .htacess file on your server:
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
3. Check hosting server response time
If your website is loading slowly, it might be because of the server. When someone visits your site, the browser accesses remote files that are stored in your server. When your hosting, which controls the server, is slow, then the server will be slow to load. Some free or low quality web hosting will result in slow loading times, and if you are on a shared server, then other sites’ speed could be affecting your own. Consider a dedicated or VPS hosting plan, or contact your host to see why your server is slow and what they can offer to fix it.
Want to know other ways to improve your landing page and website speed if you’re an attorney? Do you know what other factors besides speed are critical to legal landing page success? Empirical360 has more than 25 years of experience in digital marketing and web development, designing websites for numerous attorneys and firms that are more than just pretty pages. We have the expertise to help you realize your monetization potential and acquire your dream cases. If you want to get more traffic, more conversions, and more revenue, contact us!
Shea Antonucci - Author
Director of Content Marketing
Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!