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How Does Site Speed Affect Your Site’s Ranking in Google


WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world, but it can at some point, slow down. When this happens you’ll notice that it takes a bit longer to bring up one of your WordPress pages. A page that takes longer than a few seconds to load can be a problem, as it may affect law firm's web site search engine rankings, and the user’s experience.

The Bots Like it Faster

Search engine spiders crawl fast loading blogs more quickly. They categorize legal blogs more efficiently for the keywords used. Additionally, pages that load quickly use less bandwidth, so Google and other search engines will rank fast loading law blogs above those that load more slowly.

The Problem

While WordPress is an easy-to-use platform, load speeds slow as a result of high traffic, disorganized  developer code and the overuse of large media formats and plugins. This slow-down doesn’t make WordPress any less popular as a preferred blogging tool, it just means there are certain tweaks and configurations you need to perform to your law firm blog to make it perform optimally. The following are a few things you’ll want to consider to keep your blog loading optimally:

1. Your WordPress Theme

Poorly designed code in a WordPress theme slows down your website. Make sure that the theme you are using is designed with CSS. Ask your webmaster to clean up the WordPress code to make it load more efficiently.

2. Update

Though updates may seem challenging, especially for inexperienced law firm WordPress users, they are important. WordPress developers constantly update the platform and create security patches so it’s important you keep your Wordpress installation up to date. It is a simple process, just log into the WordPress dashboard, cPanel of your hosting account and upgrade there, or if you created a manual installation, download the latest version of Wordpress and follow the installation instructions offered on Wordpress.org.

WordPress Dashboard Installation

cPanel Installation

3. Plugins

Although plugins are very useful, just as in everything else, too much of a good thing is harmful. You want up to update plugins, and make sure you install a login limiter to prevent brute force and malware attacks from taking up your bandwidth or worse, from gaining entrance to the website. Other than that, you want to watch the number of plugins you do install. Although, there are thousands of plugins out there and many of them very useful, the more you install, the slower your site loads. Be sure you remove those that you aren’t actively using. You especially want to be careful with the following plugins as they do require a large amount of bandwidth: wp-forum, geo-mashup, wassup and wp-digg.

4. Caching

Your page can load slowly because of a large amount of traffic, a large number of posts and heavy images. To prevent slowdowns, you should install a W3 total cache solution. High-traffic and numerous hits cause WordPress to degrade and slow down. A W3 cache stores your Wordpress pages as static HTML files, allowing them to be accessed quickly when pulled up by viewers. It also reduces the amount of work for the MySQL and manages the PHP recompilation more efficiently. A W3 total cache, or even the WP-Super-Cache reduces memory and CPU usage for a Wordpress website by as much as 70 percent, thereby increasing the load time by as much as 50 percent.

5. Don’t Overload Your Law Blog Homepage

Naturally, the homepage of your legal website is likely to get the highest amount of traffic, so you need to compensate for this by not overloading your homepage with too many posts. Wordpress, thinking of this issue, allows you to select the number of posts you want to display here, or allows you to select a few of your latest posts to populate the homepage. To prevent slowdowns, don’t use more than 8 to 10 posts on the front page.

6. Beware of Images and Media

Note that the sizes of your images and media will also significantly slow your website load time, even to a point of your assuming you are being victimized by a brute force attack. When your posts contain streaming media, large images and heavy advertisements, your site will take longer to load. So you want to downsize and limit the images on your WP website. A good rule of thumb is to keep images smaller than 500 to 600 pixels.

7. SUPHP Vs. DSO

There are two webhost handler types used by the cPanel hosting account to load Wordpress: SUPHP and DSO. By default WordPress uses SUPHP. This type of handler  makes the PHP files run under a specific user account. Although secure, this user account verification can cause the website to slow down. By contrast Dynamic Shared Object (DSO) runs faster but it runs under a ‘nobody’ user, which means you will need to make permission amendments to the files and directories need to be changed. Users who experience large amounts of traffic often find it beneficial to switch to DSO.  But because of the complex directory changes, a DSO transfer needs to be handled by an experienced Wordpress developer. 

Bottom Line

When first starting a law firm blog, you may not notice slowdowns or any load issue with your WordPress website at all, which is normal. But later as you develop your site, you may notice a substantial slowdown.The reasons for this decrease in performance will vary; it could be a result of increased traffic, a need to update Wordpress or poorly organized data. But it could also be a hosting issue, because your site is being targeted by brute force attacks or some other reason. The point is, this is an issue that you need to address, as slowdowns can affect your Pagerank and the indexing of your website on the search engines.  

If you have any other tips do increase the load speed of a WordPress site please leave them in the comments!

Are you having trouble with the load speed of your law firm's website? Feel free to reach out to me on twitter (@JoeBrickk) and I will review you site and give you some advice on what you need to do to fix it.

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