Choosing the Right Web Hosting for Your Law Firm

mobile-searcherAs of August 2016, nearly 60% of all web searches happen on a mobile device. Mobile device internet connections are more strained than desktop or lan connections, making it essential that your law firm’ website is served up by a reliable, fast, and consistent connection speed from your web host.

In the past some sites have gotten away mid or low-level web hosting, but in 2017 and beyond, fast, reliable web hosting will be essential for winning online.

The Importance of First Impressions

While it goes without saying, first impressions are important in forming an opinion about something. Actually, Google’s research shows it can take as little as 17ms for a person to form an opinion. If about 47% of visitors expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, you don’t have much time to make that all important first impression.

We also know that with every second of delay in page response time will reduce conversion rates by up to 7%. That really puts the pressure on to make a great first impression quickly. Both the website itself and the web host are responsible for accomplishing successful, on-time delivery of your website to your potential clients. The foundation of your site, however, is the web hosting.

Search (SEO) Benefits from Quality Hosting

Choosing a quality web host not only directly affects the quality of the user’s interaction with your firm’s website, but also the quality of your site in the eyes of search engines. Googlebot, like all search engines, relies on being able to consistently and quickly access your site’s information in order to properly index it for related searches. Ensuring that your content is always served up efficiently to Googlebot will improve your crawl budget as well as earn your site a potential ranking increase.

The obstacles for search engines with web hosting include inconsistent connection times, timeouts, and in the worse case, downtimes. Though users may not always be on the site, that doesn’t mean Googlebot sleeps. Downtimes and update times are major factors to consider when choosing a web host.

Time for a Change?

Because of the constant cyber security threat and software updates, the performance of any large web hosting company is often erratic. With some web hosting companies sacrifices are made in the name of being consumer friendly, both those sacrifices end up degrading overall server performance. In our experience, there isn’t a perfect web hosting company. Over the years we have on occasion felt compelled to change hosting companies for our client’s websites in order to get the quality of service that we demand for our own sites.

expectation-v-reality

It might be time for a change if you’ve been having problems.

What to Look for in Web Hosting?

Disclaimer: Depending on your website’s requirements some of our recommendations may not work. We are a WordPress shop and so our recommendations are based on that assumption. In any case, using a server (or creating your own) with these features will greatly benefit the end user.

Minimum Hosting Requirements:

  • Site Caching Options
    Web files ought to be properly compressed and cached for re-access. This lessens the load of a total webpage by creating a memory of your website. Using caching can drastically improve site performance, so be sure to pick a web host that utilizes web caching.
  • Minimal Server Downtime
    Making sure the server is up and can be accessed consistently without problem is essential for users and search engines. If your web site isn’t up it’s hard to capture new leads.
    There are a variety of uptime monitor services that can help you understand how often your web hosting fails.
  • Easy to Reach Support
    Make sure to choose a web hosting company that will communicate with you in your preferred way and that you know will do their best to help you when issues arise. Many hosting companies offer different ways to interact with support; phone, chat, email tickets, etc. Choose both the team and method you will be most comfortable with.
  • Quick, Consistent Connection Time
    Web hosting metrics can be hard to sift through to find a ‘good’ host. Something that’s consistent with a quality host and server is a consistent and quick connection time. This is also often described as the TTFB or first byte time. The first byte time is a measure of the server’s responsiveness to browser requests. With first byte time, the smaller the better; we like to see less than 350ms. You can use Bytecheck.com to quickly find your site’s first byte time.
Bonuses:

  • Site Backups
  • Monitoring
  • SSL Certificate
  • CDN
  • Managed*

*Managed Web hosting is specifically setup for a CMS or application. This is most commonly seen for WordPress websites.

Who We Recommend:

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WPEngine (WordPress Managed) – Over the years we’ve tried many web hosts with in some cases limited success, but WP Engine has been consistently proactive in their updating and continually impressive with their support. That said, this service is specific to WordPress or is a ‘WordPress Managed’ option and may not be ideal for your site or application. So we wanted to provide some other alternatives.

Solid Alternatives:

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FlyWheel (WordPress Managed) – This is another WordPress only option. Similar to WPEngine, FlyWheel has good uptime and support. Their hosting dashboard is pretty easy to use as well.
BlueHost-Logo
BlueHost (CPanel Hosting) – Bluehost offers an affordable service to get started with a professional site and also offers email services unlike the other solutions. One item to note is that we’ve seen more downtime issues on Bluehost than either of the hosting alternatives above. Bluehost is a good, not great hosting service, but it is affordable.
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SiteGround (CPanel Hosting) – SiteGround tends to be a little more expensive than BlueHost but has a similar offering. They have a little more refined dashboard and solid support in all mediums.

 
You made it to the bottom; thanks for reading! If you have any web hosting tips, or questions about our advice here, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments below.

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Frank Scharnell

Frank wears a variety of hats but WordPress development, technical SEO, pagespeed optimization, and conversion rate optimization are his key areas of focus for our clients. Frank has been in the digital marketing industry since 2011.