What Lawyers Can Learn from Google’s Generative AI Search Tool

by Oct 2, 2023

Google’s latest response to the growing popularity of AI is the addition of an AI-powered Search Generative Experience for its users. To compete with the information exchange that is experienced when using AI softwares such as ChatGPT, Google aims to “reduce the number of steps it takes for the searcher to accomplish a task or complete a goal.” 

When considering the primary goal of your law firm website, which is to deliver information and give potential clients a way to get in touch, what can lawyers learn from Google’s latest tool?

In this blog, we will review the basics of Google’s generative AI search tool and explore how lawyers can take a page from Google’s playbook to improve the conversion power of their law firm website.

What is Google’s AI-Powered Search Generative Experience?

Google’s new AI-powered Search Generative Experience (SGE) provides Google users AI-generated answers that appear above Google’s search results listings. While the tool is still in testing, it has been made available to many Google users on an “experimental” basis.

After entering a search query, Google’s SGE will display an additional, boxed-in search result in addition to the traditional group of relevant links. The SGE answer holds the top spot on your search results page and provides an AI-generated answer to your search query along with citations to the websites the AI tool used to generate the answer. Users can then click into those sites for a deeper dive on the query, or follow up with an additional question that is prompted along the bottom of the search result. 

How Lawyers Can Take Cues from Google’s SGE

Google has been working hard to improve the power of its search engine using AI, but what does this mean for solos and small law firms who manage their digital presence? For one, lawyers can take a page out of Google’s playbook when strategizing a website’s written content.

Catering to the Question Format for Search

Google’s approach to the new generative AI search tool is focused around search queries that are written in question format. In the past, Google users understood that in order to get the best search results they needed to focus on the keywords that best represented their query. However, this keyword-focused format, while still effective, is no longer the dominant search style of Google’s users. Instead, searchers are opting for a conversational tone where they ask Google a query in the form of a complete question. 

This shift in user behavior has influenced the designed behavior of Google’s SGE. And, for lawyers, this should signal a very important search engine optimization factor for their firm’s website. 

It’s commonly known that to start showing up in more relevant and local search results  high-quality written website content is key as it has a better likelihood of matching with the queries of your potential clients. In the early days of Google, this often meant having the right stack of keywords in your content that would match your web page with a search query. Today, with tools like SGE, Google takes into account the search intent of the user as well as their location and other factors. 

If Google is focusing on improving its answering power for queries that are in a question format, this is an indication that your website should follow suit. To mirror this, your website content should aim to address queries that may be written in question format rather than just focusing on keywords. This may mean thinking through how your potential clients tend to approach any research into their legal issue and considering how your written content can support their information journey.

Fostering a Natural Information Journey

One major feature of Google’s AI-powered search tool is the “ask a follow-up” option. Google users can feed their natural curiosity with prompted follow-up questions that lead them to learn more about their chosen subject. As a result, users are more likely to engage with the search tool for a longer period of time.

The main objective of the “ask a follow-up” feature is actually quite similar to the desired functionality of your law firm website. If your website has successfully attracted a web visitor who was looking for an answer to their legal question, it should also work to engage them further, and ultimately encourage them to reach out to your firm. By creating website content that mimics the natural information journey your potential clients may undergo when learning more about their legal issue, you can effectively showcase your firm’s expertise, build trust, and drive more business. 

To get started, it’s helpful to first look at Google’s model for creating follow-up questions. Google “carries over context from previous questions to reformulate the query to better reflect the intent.” Your website content can act similarly by anticipating where a potential client might want to explore a topic more. To do this, your written content should aim to fully answer the question that brought a potential client to your website while also thinking ahead to additional questions they may have.

Holding Your Website to a Higher Information Standard 

If Google is holding their SGE tool to a higher information standard, you should do the same for your website content. When building this tool for search, Google has noted that “information quality is critically important” when generating responses for users. This signals to lawyers that the quality of their website content will need to be up to par in order to continue to receive priority on search. While in the past, a wider range of high-quality content has been able to effectively appear in the relevant and local search results of your potential clients, the SGE tool will likely only pull from content that it deems most informative and reputable. 

Stay Competitive on Search with LawLytics

The digital landscape can feel as though it’s in a state of constant newness with AI technology changing the way businesses and consumers interact with each other online. LawLytics helps solos and small law firms stay ahead of their local competition by using SEO best practices and the latest technologies that help websites compete on search. 

With features like our SEO Snapshot, members can review their website’s optimization, learn more about what their website needs to succeed, and explore optional optimizations they can make to help their website’s visibility in search. Plus, our built-in content creation engine helps you create pages of high-quality web content in just minutes, saving time and money on what matters most for staying competitive on search. 

If you’re not yet a LawLytics member and would like to know how we can help you increase the visibility of your law firm online and drive more business to your practice, schedule a 20-minute interactive demo with a product expert.

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