Artificial intelligence and attorneys have something in common.
I promise that I’m not about to say that your job as a lawyer will be replaced by robots — AI is nowhere near the point of representing a human client. (There are other issues facing the legal profession right now, like the commoditization of law.)
But here’s the one thing that brings attorneys, AI, and your next client together:
Words are the lawyer’s tool, and they’re also an priceless tool for AI. A recent piece from SearchEngineLand gets right to the heart of it:
Words can provide invaluable substance to the AI technology that powers voice search. We unconsciously change our behavior when using voice search. While a text query would typically be one to three words, a spoken query is often three or more words. For marketers, the longer query strings from voice search provide richer user intent data because they tend to explicitly ask a question, characterized by question words like who, how, what, where, why and when, with the expectation that the search engines will provide an answer back.
Even text search has moved past using basic keywords. Your potential clients are even likely to type Google complex questions about their case these days — one reason for the creation of Google’s RankBrain. But there’s really something different about voice search — and your potential clients are using it more and more to learn information about their case or problem.
So what does that mean for you and your law firm? Here’s what we can learn from the search method of the future — because the “future” is now.
Potential Clients Use Voice Search To Find Law Firm Websites
The future of search has been evolving and changing a lot recently. Just ask former Google Search Chief Amit Singhal. Singhal recognized that many people were not only buying mobile devices more than ever before, but that the average consumer is using these devices to browse the web. So what did he do? Singhal took the “when in Rome” approach and dedicated an entire year to mobile-only searches. He made some amazing discoveries.
Singhal said that in his free time, it’s not unusual to find him “talking” to his phone. His 15-year-old son does, too. Singhal said that he has “rarely” seen his son ever type queries into mobile devices.
“He does his homework — I’m not kidding — like this,” said Singhal. “A pencil in one hand, his phone in the other hand.”
Singhal said his son’s natural habit is to use voice search to ask Google questions.
Older generations are starting to be dazzled by voice search and are learning to use it. But, as we see here, younger generations of Google searchers may not even think to type in a query when voice search is simply easier.
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Potential Clients Find Attorneys Online By Asking “Who, What, Where, When, Why” Questions
As the SearchEngineLand article pointed out, those using voice search tend to ask “who, what, where, when, why” questions often. The author gives an example to show how voice and text search are sometimes different:
For example, on my desktop I would search for “teal dress.” But when it comes to a voice query, I might ask, “Hey Cortana, where can I find a teal jersey knit cotton dress?” The conversational tone provides a signal of intent to purchase and style preference, as well as context to my desired shopping locations if I have granted it access to my geolocation.
AI isn’t perfect yet, but digital assistants like Cortana, Siri, and Google Now are getting smarter each time they deal with humans. AI may not be a person, but with the way your potential clients ask questions, it might as well be. One major thing that we can take away from advances in voice search is that people tend to use a conversational tone when they ask a question to a digital assistant. We’re learning more about user intent, and that’s helpful to know when considering what content you’ll write for your law firm website.
Your potential clients are asking questions to their digital assistants. That means that your law firm should be focused on writing content that addresses the conversational questions they’re asking. The more you’re able to focus on the questions your potential clients have — whether they speak those questions or type them — the better chance your law firm has to be returned in search engine results.
So, think about those questions as you’re writing evergreen content and blog posts. Get into the mindset of your potential client. What sort of questions do they have before they engage your firm?
Let’s say you’re a DUI attorney. The questions you answer could range from:
“I’ve been arrested for a DUI in [your state]. What do I do now?”
To something more complicated:
“How does a second DUI offense affect the outcome of a pending case?”
Divorce attorneys might want to choose topics such as, “7 Things You Need To Know Before Asking For A Divorce In [your state].” Or, “Should I Wait Until After The Holidays Before I Ask For A Divorce?”
There are a lot of options here for every practice area and a lot of topics for you to write about. Don’t just write about what you find interesting: think about what your potential clients are asking and answer those questions thoroughly in an easy-to-read format.
The face of search is evolving and changing, and your law firm needs to be ready to adapt along with it. Use the available information about how your potential clients are asking questions — and how they’re finding law firms on the web. You’ll be better prepared to bring the age-old legal profession into the future.
Want to know how to get more clients online? Check out these blogs and webinars:
Law Firm Websites: Blogs & Webinars For Modern Lawyers
- Mobile-Friendly Matters: 3 Reasons Your Law Firm Needs A Modern Website
- Why Lawyers Should Blog About What They Know
- Webinar: How Attorneys Get Clients Online
- Why Law Firm SEO & Content Marketing Aren’t That Different