The way people find products and services online is changing. Rather than typing a few words in a search screen box, people ask questions of their voice assistants and other apps. Voice search began with questions about the weather and directions. Now people ask Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortona and Google Assistant about anything, including legal issues and services. Voice search if going to become more prevalent as Amazon Echo or Google Home devices are finding their way into more homes.
To stay competitive, law firms must adapt their marketing and branding efforts in response to the way people are searching for information and answers.
In 2016, ComScore projected that 50 percent of all searches would be voice searches by 2020. That statistic drew the attention of marketers. In 2019, eMarketer estimated that 111.8 million people in the United States will use a voice assistant at least once a month in 2019. This amounts to 39.4 percent of U.S. internet users and 33.8 percent of the overall population. eMarketer predicts that by 2021, the number of voice assistant users in the United States will grow to 122.7 million, representing 42.2 percent of internet users and 36.6 percent of the population.
Voice searches versus text searches
Voice searches differ from text searches, and a law firm should recognize the differences and alter its marketing and branding to adapt to the new trend. Voice searches are more conversational. People talk faster than they can type. So, it is easier to ask a question using a smartphone or speaker. Voice searches have long-tail keywords – three words or more – while text searches are only one or two words. Using longer keywords increases the chances a voice assistant will display a law firm's snippet in response to a voice search.
Voice searches are usually performed on mobile devices. They are often performed on-the-go or otherwise occupied. They are particularly useful when a searcher's hands are occupied.
Mobile voice searches are more likely than text searches to be location-based. Therefore, a law firm should make sure its website provides up-to-date information about its location when, for example, a firm opens an office in a new city.
Optimizing website content for voice search
A law firm should optimize its website content for voice searches:
- Natural speech: When someone undertakes a voice search, they speak in a conversational manner. Like they would talk with friends or family. A law firm should use that same natural language when providing answers on its website to questions it anticipates a potential client may ask.
- Long-tail keywords: Voice searches contain more words than text searches, so a law firm's website should contain long-tail keywords. The firm's content should use keyword phrases that someone would use when forming a voice search. The firm should update its website content to capture phrases voice searchers use.
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Focusing on natural speech and long-tail keywords, a law firm should place FAQs on its website. Phrase the questions as the voice searchers would ask them. The more questions on the firm's website, the more likely the response to voice searches will feature content from the firm's site. The more the question matches the query, the more likely it will provide the preferred response and attract potential clients. Lawyers know what questions clients ask and how they phrase the questions. The lawyer should jot down the exact language the client or potential client uses. A law firm should monitor Chatbot conversations to determine what questions potential clients ask. Keep the questions current as phraseology can change over time.
- Local searches: Voice searches tend to be more localized. A law firm should make sure its address, phone number and hours of operation are current. Claiming the firm's Google My Business listing can improve the chances a response will be taken from the firm's website when a voice search is from the firm's geographical area.
- Schema: Schema is standard vocabulary a search engine uses to determine the content of a law firm's website. The schema markup tells the Google search bots the firm's name, address, office hours and phone number. For example, the firm can link to the Google map.
- Website speed: Google considers speed in ranking mobile searches. If the answer to a voice searcher's query takes longer than a few seconds to load, the searcher will head to another firm's website for the answer.
- Consistency: A law firm needs to make sure the tone and language used in voice search results are in line with its brand. A firm should coordinate practice descriptions, social media content, advertising copy and Chatbot dialog.
A law firm should reexamine its search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and incorporate best practices to get better results from voice searches. Voice searchers do not choose a link from a search engine result page. The firm is competing for the number one spot. Google focuses on featured snippets when providing a voice searcher an answer to his or her query.
Advantages of optimizing a firm's website content
Changing a law firm's SEO strategy to incorporate the uniqueness of voice searches can benefit the firm's branding and marketing efforts. Being the top result or featured snippet will result in more traffic to the law firm's website. Optimizing a law firm's website content improves the experiences of clients and potential clients. Incorporating the best SEO practices to respond to voice searches helps the firm stay ahead of the competition in a society changing the way it gets its information.