Basic Website Info
Content Management Systems
What CMS' do most attorneys use?
It is no surprise that WordPress is the clear winner here. 74% of these sites use WordPress as their content management system. Most of the remainder were set to “Unknown” as I could not tell from viewing the source code or running through tools. It is very possible that some of those websites were also WordPress sites.
Law firm websites are a perfect fit for WordPress development. WordPress allows for custom designs, plugins for things such as testimonials, shortcodes for buttons and an easy to use blogging system. WordPress developers are easy to find, and WordPress is also a very intuitive CMS to work with if you are wanting to update your site yourself without having to pay a developer.
HTTPS vs HTTP
What percentage of law firm websites have a security certificate installed?
Just one lonely attorney had a website without a security certificate.
Back in 2014, Google released an article on their official Google Webmaster Central Blog stating:
“Over the past few months, we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”
Beyond the obvious security benefits of using an SSL certificate, it became a must-have for any website that cares about its positioning on Google. Google has essentially forced the entire internet’s hand into adopting security certificates.
If you have an attorney website that is not secure and currently shows “not secure” in Chrome, then you are missing the boat.
Responsive / Mobile Friendly
How many personal injury sites are using a responsive web design?
Every website in this study was mobile friendly.
Responsive web design can be described as a web design that dynamically responds to the width of the window it resides in. Items that, for instance, are side-by-side on a widescreen monitor become stacked when viewed on a skinny window width like a phone, allowing for more comfortable viewing and better usability.
In 2018 the share of mobile phone website visits grew to an astonishing 52.2%, topping desktop viewers.
Not being mobile friendly in 2019 likely means giving half of your visitors a terrible user experience and Google is certainly holding back your rankings (at least for mobile search).
How many law firm websites can be read in multiple languages?
With roughly 20% of the US being multilingual, it makes more and more business sense to have language selections for web visitors.
43% of all top personal injury attorney web designs have options that allow people to read the site in either English or a second language. The second language in almost all cases was Spanish.
It may not, of course, be possible for all attorneys to offer their services in multiple languages, but I do think if it is remotely feasible, you would be opening up more opportunity.
How old are the domain names of these law firms?
The top 100 page one attorneys have an average domain name age of 13 years. The oldest website is 22 years old and the youngest is not even a year old yet (that’s impressive!).
Google has stated that the ranking power the ranking power between a 6-month-old domain and a one-year-old domain is marginal.
I think the takeaway is that these firms have been at it for a long time. To be able to rank as a PI attorney in this super competitive vertical requires significant time and cost investment.
Domain Name Length
How long are the attorney’s domain names?
The average domain length for all attorney websites was 14.15 characters long.
For this observation, I only counted the “meat” of the URL.
For instance, this URL:
… would be counted as six characters in length.
The number of characters in a domain name appears to be immaterial from an SEO perspective. It is very likely more of a click-through factor though. A shorter name could “feel” more like a real brand to a searcher.
Your entire URL is also less likely to be truncated in a SERP the shorter it is. BUT having keywords in your domain, as you can see from the next section, can help in search as well as in giving people a clue as to the nature of the website they are clicking. Thus, longer domains may be better.
I was a little surprised there were not more short domain names in this list given the age of most of these sites. It was vastly easier 13 years ago to find an available concise domain name than it is now.
Keyword in Domain
Do these law firms use keyword stuffed domain names?
According to MOZ “If you can include a keyword that helps make it obvious what your business does while keeping your domain name catchy, unique, and brand-friendly, go for it.”
From both a click-through perspective and an SEO point of view, keywords in a domain do play a role in your law firm’s potential visibility. It is not the golden egg some marketers make it out to be, but it does indeed matter.
When analyzing these law sites, I was concerned with seeing if the domain names had any iterations of “personal injury” or “car accident” and DID NOT count domains that only had “law firm” and the like. Given that our seed keyword was “Personal Injury Attorney XXX” I wanted to stick to only counting the domains that very closely matched the original search term’s intent.
As an aside: I did not see any instance of a lawyer’s domain having hyphens.
Pingdom Performance Grade
What Pingdom grade do the law websites have?
Pingdom’s Performance Grade is on a 1 to 100 scale and is calculated using the YSlow method that you can read about here. It is essentially a collection of rules in a scoring system that Yahoo came up with years ago to help measure the performance of a web page.
Bigger numbers = better!
When running this test (and the next two), I selected the data center that was closest to the attorney’s actual location.
The average law site had a grade of 71, with the lowest score being 60 and the highest coming in at 87.
Total Page Weight
How many megabytes are the lawyer’s landing pages?
Considering how much design has gone into some of these law firm websites, it is amazing to see how light in weight the pages are in general. The lightest website was under 1 megabyte, and the average site was 3.07 mb.
It is always a balancing act to have a fantastic web design while not creating so much bloat that it creates a slow site and thus, a terrible user experience.
Educating yourself about image compression is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your file sizes down to a minimum.
Obviously, do not overdo it. Seeing an image with compression artifacts will quickly detract from your overall look and feel. It will feel like a boom arm has fallen into the frame and it will ultimately take away the user’s attention.
Seconds to Load Landing Page
How fast do the top legal websites load?
2.44 seconds was the average loading time for all 100 personal injury websites.
Measuring the speed of these law sites is a somewhat arbitrary exercise in that you could measure the same site a little later in the day and see drastic differences. The state of the server, current traffic situation and caching can all affect your load time in significant ways.
That being said, the test I ran would not be much different from a real-life user experience. A user would not give a slow site a second chance before moving away from the site. If I visited the slowest site on this list at a 12.46 seconds load time, I would likely never visit that site again strictly because of the lack of speed.
The speed of most of these websites felt very snappy to me. Seeing that most attorney sites fell just under the 3-second mark, I feel that aiming for that as a benchmark would be a legitimate number to keep your eye on for your own site goals.
Page speed is also now a verified ranking factor with Google. It’s also one of the first things you can look at to keep users from bouncing.
Check out the study Pingdom did below comparing page speed to bounce rate: