September 27, 2021

Volume XI, Number 270

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September 24, 2021

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A Simple Guide to Legal Website Hosting

There has been a surge in the number of potential clients searching for legal services online.  74% of all potential clients visit a law firm’s website to take action.  Any law firm that wants more incoming clients needs to be online. Every firm without a high-quality website is losing leads because relying on word of mouth lead generation is no longer an option. Legal website hosting basics are essential for every firm to know – from choosing a hosting platform to search engine optimization.  

What is website hosting?

Website hosting is renting or purchasing space on a server to host a website.  All of the images, content, and code that make a website is stored in this space– which is then accessible through the World Wide Web.  To better understand it, think of website hosting like online real estate. People rent or buy a home to live in and that home is attached to an address so it can be found.  

But with web hosting, a website’s address is called a domain name or URL (uniform resource locator). Then that URL is connected to the server space, using DNS (domain name system). Once it’s all connected, search engines index the site, then it’s accessible on the internet. 

Fortunately, setting up hosting doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds. Many hosting platforms simplify the process or even set it up for the site owner.   

When it comes to hosting platforms, there are many options to consider. Each platform offers multiple plans with varying features. Deciding which is the right one should be based on a few different factors.  

Purpose and planning

Every hosting service has different capabilities, features, and services. That’s why deciding the purpose of the site is an essential first step.  

So, consider what the site will need to do before looking into hosting services. Will it need to host multiple email inboxes for lawyers?  How many pages does it need to host?

Another thing to think about is the goal when a prospect lands on the page. This should help answer some of the questions above. Knowing this information will also help when choosing a hosting plan.    

Build or buy a site

One of the next things to consider is who will build and maintain the site. For do-it-yourselfers, ease of use should be a priority. Most hosts provide some sort of website builder in the hosting plan. However, these site builders all vary immensely in how easy they are to use. Some simplify the process so anyone can quickly build an aesthetically pleasing site. Others cater to the technically inclined and require coding in HTML.  

There are even some drag-and-drop site builders available. Some products, like WordPress, utilize plug-ins that can change the building interface. Services like that make the process more user-friendly for novices. 

Depending on what the site needs to do, the possibilities are limitless. 

How to set up hosting

The next issue is deciding how to set up the hosting. Just like with building the website, hosting set up varies by platform. 

Most domain name sellers like GoDaddy and NameCheap also offer hosting. Although the platform is typically more limited, the DNS and domain are connected as part of the purchase.  As such, the simplest way to set up hosting is to purchase it when buying a domain name. This option is ideal for do-it-yourselfers because of the ease and convenience. All the complicated setup is completed, leaving only the page build to handle.

The other option is using an independent hosting service such as BlueHost or HostGator. This option leaves the site owner to attach the hosting space and domain. It isn’t extremely complicated to do, but it is a more hands-on setup than GoDaddy or NameCheap. YouTube has countless tutorials and walkthroughs that simplify the process.

This host setup is primarily ideal for people with time, skill, or tech interests. The main upside to hosting companies like this is storage and features. These companies offer more features, optimizations, site security, and storage than other domain sellers do. 

Plans and cost

No matter which hosting option you choose, they all offer a wide selection of prices. Your firm should base this decision on your needs, features, and overall budget. Website hosting prices can vary drastically for standard service and the more advanced types, like dedicated hosting, can be very costly.  Fortunately, most platforms offer lower rates to first-time customers.

However, cost should never be the deciding factor when selecting a plan or type of hosting. It all comes down to what best suits your firm’s needs.

Plan options

There are different hosting plans intended to cater to different needs. This is why knowing the purpose and needs of the site is essential. Most hosting plans include a set amount of storage on the server, but that storage is shared by the site’s pages, photos, and content. Then storage is further used up by email inboxes for people in the organization. So, the larger an organization is, the larger the required storage.      

Depending on the hosting service provider, there are many optimizations available.  Some providers may include some optimizations in the hosting package. Others offer them as addons for an additional fee.

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) improves a website’s location in search query results. By improving it, a website climbs closer to the top of the search results. The higher on the list a site is, the more traffic it receives. 

Good SEO ranking is crucial in lead attraction, but when it comes to SEO, not all hosting services are created equal. Some even limit a website’s ranking, making SEO an important consideration when choosing a hosting platform.

There is a lot to consider when choosing a legal website hosting service. No two platforms are built the same, so it’s important to identify what your law firm’s specific needs are in a website and use that to guide your decision. You’ll also need to consider skill level and the amount of time you have for setup.

With this guide and a clear plan of your firm’s needs, you’ll be on your way to holding a domain in the digital space.

© Copyright 2021 PracticePantherNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 232
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About this Author

PracticePanther helps lawyers get more done in less time. Our technology streamlines your workflows, supercharges your profits, and helps you increase client satisfaction. We make it easier and faster to practice law.

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