If you’ve ever asked a question of Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google or any other personal assistant device, you’ve performed a voice search. According to comscore, 40% of adults use voice search every day, and half of all searches will be voice searches within three years.
The growing prevalence of voice search will have an undeniable impact on SEO for businesses, including law firms. Optimizing web sites for voice search is different than traditional search since voice queries are typically full sentences and questions rather than keywords. In addition, the artificial intelligence driving personal assistant devices is constantly evolving to comprehend the intent of the user and the context of the search, taking into account past searches and location.
Here are some things that should be on your checklist to ensure your sites are optimized for voice search:
Clean up local profiles. Most voice searches are local, with people looking for something “near me.” So it is in your best interest search-wise to be sure all your local profiles are in place and correct:
- Check your NAP (name, address, phone) information to make sure it is consistent across every listing you have on the Internet — your website, blog, social media profiles, directories like Avvo, etc.
- If you don’t have your office hours published, add them to your contact pages.
- Post client reviews on your website and ask clients to review you on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Avvo and any other relevant review sites.
- If you don’t have a Google My Business page, claim yours and be sure you have the proper category information as well as good images.
Understand how people are using your site. Do most of your website visitors come to your site to do research or are they looking for a lawyer immediately? To satisfy both audiences, be sure your website has content that speaks to both groups as well as others whose intentions may not be so easily gauged by reviewing your site analytics.
Most voice searches are done by people looking for immediate information. Therefore, your site content needs to feature answers to questions these people are most likely to ask. Remember to include Q&As for both types of queries — those who are just doing research may ask something like, “What does a car accident lawyer do?” and those who are closer to hiring an attorney may ask, “How much does a car accident lawyer cost?”
Be sure your site has structured markup. Structured markup is code that helps Google identify what kind of content is on a website page. Google uses structured markup to display mobile search results. Most website data can be marked up; ask your webmaster or marketing person to add structured markup to your website.
Increase page speed. Page speed is one of the main factors Google uses to determine which sites should be served up first in search results so make sure your site loads as quickly as possible. Even trimming off a few microseconds can improve your ranking. Some ways to accomplish this include:
- Compressing site images.
- Compressing code and removing slow scripts.
- Optimize mobile content using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Google’s Page Speed Insights tool can provide you with any other technical changes that may be necessary to increase your page speed.
Have relevant, conversational content. Because people speak differently than they write, your content needs to be more conversational in tone in order to optimize your site for voice search. Forget about keyword density and focus instead on creating shorter sentences that include your location(s) and practice area(s). Think about how you talk about your firm at a networking event or during a consultation and write your content like that. Cut out any legalese that the average person would never use in a voice search. For example, people don’t look for a “family law attorney,” they look for a “divorce lawyer.”
Use your FAQs. Think about the questions you hear every day from clients and prospects, write them down with the answers and add them to your website. The questions you post should be ones you think your target market will be asking on voice search. Be sure you post each question on its own page. If you have a Live Chat function on our website, search that data for questions that people routinely ask. Another good resource for finding commonly asked questions about specific subjects is answerthepublic.com. I just searched for “divorce” and found that a couple of the most commonly asked questions about divorce are, “Are divorce records public in (state)?” and “How divorce works in (state).”
Do your research. Even if you area already a frequent user of voice search yourself, you need to be educated on how most people use it. One of the best ways to do this is to review the guides for the various personal assistant devices from Google, Apple and Microsoft.
As the use of voice search continues to grow, you want to be sure your law firm is well positioned to be found by prospects looking for answers to their legal issues. Since law firms are historically slow to adapt to emerging technologies, making it easy to be found on voice search can give you a real competitive advantage.