Voice Search Meets Law Firm Websites

Voice Search Meets Law Firm Websites

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

Voice Control

I received the Amazon Echo Dot for my birthday. It is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, answer questions, or read the news. There is some setting up to do, which I have not completed yet, so I use her to tell me the weather and play music. However, I am not alone in using a voice-controlled device to find information.

Many of you already use some form of an intelligent personal assistant, such as Siri, Google Now, or Cortana, available on your mobile devices, to quickly find information. Voice search is the fastest growing type of search. It's faster, hands-free, and allows you to multi-task. According to Google's latest survey, 41% of adults use voice search daily, while 55% of teenagers—your future clients—use it on their mobile devices.

Thanks to technology, voice search has improved. The current speech recognition word error rate is as low as 8%. And, voice understanding—a search that responds by interpreting the meaning and context behind words—is also improving.

What does voice search mean for law firms?
First, realize that those using voice search tend to ask for the information in the form of "who, what, where, when, why, or how." Second, the asker uses a conversational tone such as, "What lawyer in my area writes wills?"

For you, that means the content on your website should focus on answering the questions your potential clients are asking. The better you're able to answer those questions, the better chance you have to be found in the search engines. Think about the questions you're asked when meeting with clients, at a Rotary luncheon, or at a bar association event, and write content that answers those questions.

Your content should be written in a conversational tone, using active verbs, ordinary—not legal—vocabulary, and presented in an easy-to-read format. Informative, easy to read, and understandable content will attract both voice and writing seekers. Using the Frequently Asked Questions format is effective for both types. For example, if you're a family law attorney, you can choose topics such as, "Can a single person adopt a child in Michigan? Or, "How do courts decide custody?" Or, "Six things to know about divorce in Michigan."

How does voice search affect SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of using strategies and techniques to obtain a high-ranking placement in the search results. Those strategies include great content, easy to navigate sites, and use of keywords to identify your topic. Experts recommend using long-tail keywords such as Traverse City Family Law Lawyer or Michigan DUI Lawyer. In other words, phrases that will answer the questions: "What family law lawyers practice in Traverse City?" Or, "What lawyers in Michigan defend DUI?"

The face of searching is changing and evolving. Use all the available information about how your clients find you and the questions they ask to keep current. Doing so will bring your website and this age-old legal profession into the future.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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