When it comes to digital marketing, it seems the only constant is how fast things change. In 2023, it seemed generative AI might revolutionize writing content for lawyer websites, but it turns out that AI cannot replace the need for significant human involvement in content creation to ensure accuracy, originality, and voice.
And there may also be legal ramifications associated with AI-generated content. Laws regulating the use of AI in content creation have not kept pace with the technology, and there are several issues – such as copyright infringement – that are just beginning to come under legal scrutiny.
While generative AI may not be the best idea for creating content for law firm websites, Google has been testing its use to enhance the search experience of its users. Known as Search Generative Experience (SGE), the SGE feature is able to create personalized responses to detailed search inquiries, thereby reducing a user’s need to evaluate search results.
The SGE feature is scheduled to go mainstream in 2024 and has many marketing professionals concerned about the potential affects the new feature could have on current SEO marketing strategies. This article talks about the upcoming changes, what they mean for law firm marketing, and how law firms can create content that will continue to rank well and generate website traffic in the coming year.
- Why AI Still Doesn’t Work (Well) for Creating Content for Lawyer Websites
- How SGE Will Affect Search Results
- Does SGE Spell the End of SEO?
- SEO Content Best Practices for Law Firms That Will Continue in 2024
- What Law Firms Can Do to Succeed with Content Marketing Efforts in 2024
- Get More Bang for Your Legal Marketing Buck in 2024 with Blue Seven Content
Why AI Still Doesn’t Work (Well) for Creating Content for Lawyer Websites
As generative AI continues to evolve and become even more refined, it might be tempting to see how well it can create website content for your law firm. Although we don’t use AI to assist with content creation at Blue Seven Content, we do acknowledge its usefulness for generating ideas and structuring outlines.
But AI-generated law firm website content is far from ready to go without being reviewed and edited by a human. Information still needs to be verified and accurately sourced. The tone and focus of the writing may need to be adjusted if it is not consistent with how a law firm wants to brand itself.
The following issues are some of the pitfalls that lawyers need to be aware of when using AI to generate content:
- The information presented is not always accurate or up-to-date and must be fact-checked.
- The output may be very similar to other content and hard for search engines to distinguish for ranking purposes.
- The output is limited by the quality of data used to train the AI.
- Strategic human prompting is necessary to get the intended results.
In 2024, search users will be looking for anything but generic when it comes to content. Users almost expect content to be specifically tailored as though responding only to their inquiry. In fact, SGE will be rewarding content that is more targeted and personalized by placing the best results right at the fingertips of users.
While incorporating AI to help streamline operations and improve client experience is almost essential in the competitive legal services market, it cannot be trusted to produce authentic, original, accurate, targeted content with your law firm, your legal practice, and your desired clients firmly in mind.
How SGE Will Affect Search Results
SGE takes Google searches to the next level using AI. Generative AI accesses deep learning algorithms called large language models (LLM) that enable it to understand more of the context of a given search and provide results that are more personalized and interactive. SGE is an attempt to make a computer seem more human.
According to Google, SGE will enable users to:
- Enter search queries that are more complex and specific
- Read an AI-generated overview of the search results and click on links to the relevant sources
- Access needed information right from the search results
- Ask follow-up questions to refine a search without starting over
The SGE feature is currently available to Google Chrome users in the US who are at least 13 years old, visit the Search Labs tab, and enable the feature. Not all inquiries will generate SGE responses. SGE will not generate a response for explicit or dangerous topics or queries that indicate a vulnerable situation. SGE is currently intended to help users engage more deeply with longer-form informational content. For inquiries where an SGE response is appropriate, it will appear at the top of the search results.
Does SGE Spell the End of SEO?
Well, no, but SGE may spell the end of SEO as we now know it. When a search query is entered, two search engines will provide results. The traditional search engine results pages (SERP) still appear, but they will appear below the AI-generated search results. What this means is a lot of organic search results that would have ranked well as the result of traditional SEO may now not be seen or be seen less often.
The SGE results will display an AI-generated summary of information (snapshot) intended to answer a user’s search query. The information included in the snapshot is pulled from organic sources AI determines will be most helpful to the user. The user is able to click on links to the organic sources for further reference. Also featured is a carousel of three clickable cards where a user can link to additional sources that might be of interest.
So, how can your law firm website content get selected as a source for the SGE snapshot or appear in the SGE card carousel?
Those details are not yet precisely known, but an overview of SGE released by Google indicated that the AI search would be integrated with the ranking and quality systems developed and used by the core search function so content that ranks well in the traditional search results may have a strong possibility of also appearing in the SGE results.
According to the SEO tool platform Semrush, the content displayed in SGE results does tend to share the following similar characteristics, which may shed some light on what kinds of content Google’s AI considers to be reliable, trusted sources.
- Expert opinion or analysis
- Full sections and blocks of text suggesting an affinity for lists, bullet points, or other structured text
- Content displaying topical authority
- New or novel information
An additional marketing challenge law firms may face as SGE becomes widely integrated is getting prospective clients to click through to their websites. If the SGE snapshot answers a user’s question completely, there may be no incentive to go further than the search results page. This type of zero-click search experience has been increasing as Google has added more search enhancements to the SERP, such as knowledge panels and local packs. It is anticipated that SGE will contribute to declining click-through rates.
SEO Content Best Practices for Law Firms That Will Continue in 2024
Despite the growing influence of AI on the digital marketing landscape, certain optimization strategies will remain among the best ways for law firms to achieve higher search rankings in 2024 and are certainly consistent with what is now known about SGE.
Establish Topical Authority
Content that has topical authority provides comprehensive information on a particular topic. Google algorithms prioritize content that demonstrates authority. Indications of authority are expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).
An SEO strategy that helps content for lawyer websites establish authority is called a topic cluster. A topic cluster begins with a core pillar page and links to related sub-topic pages. A pillar page provides a broad general overview of the topic, and the sub-topic pages go into greater detail on the related topics.
Topic clusters provide a structure that makes it easier for search engines to navigate the content and improve internal linking so users can find relevant information faster. A well-written pillar page may also be seen as an authoritative resource, making it more likely to generate backlinks and improve link authority.
Update or Refresh Old Content
Google still loves fresh content. SEO expert Neil Patel recommends evaluating older content for accuracy and relevancy at least once a year. Updating content can provide the following benefits that impact SEO and user experience:
- Gives content an updated publication date, letting Google know it is current
- Newer content is more likely to rank and motivate user click-through
- Provides an opportunity to correct grammatical and spelling errors
- Improves content accuracy and relevancy
- Can replace broken links or add links to higher-quality resources
- Re-optimize keywords or phrases for better performance
Refreshing older content for lawyer websites benefits not only the updated content but also gives a rankings boost to the website publishing the content. The more frequently content is updated, the more often Google will crawl the website for new information.
Focus on User Experience
All of Google’s changes are made with the objective of improving the experience of its users. User experience involves how quickly content can be accessed, its visual appeal, the accuracy and depth of the information presented, and its readability.
Google is looking for content created to help people rather than produce marketing results. The trick is to create content that is foremost valuable to users and also attractive to search engines.
Content that is well-organized provides comprehensive, up-to-date information, is well-researched using credible sources, and is written in a friendly, relatable manner is the kind of content Google is looking to present to users.
Tailor Content to Match Search Intent
Search intent is what actually motivates a user’s search. Google can evaluate how well content matches a user’s intent based on how a user interacts with the content. Does a user get the information they are looking for from the content, or do they quickly leave and click on other search results? Content that is relevant to a user’s search will rank higher than content that misses the mark.
A way to gain a better understanding of user intent is to do a search on keywords before writing and then reviewing the content that is ranking well. The information in content ranking well for particular keywords can be used as a guide for creating content that provides the answers a user is actually looking for.
What Law Firms Can Do to Succeed with Content Marketing Efforts in 2024
As more becomes known about how SGE prioritizes information, marketing strategies will continue to adapt in order to optimize the opportunities for recognition in SGE results. Law firm website content writing may need to evolve from a focus on anticipated keywords to addressing more comprehensive and detailed search queries as more information is learned about AI preferences.
Content marketing may be evolving, but some practices remain effective even with the addition of AI-generated search results. The following content marketing strategies are still recommended and will continue to be productive in 2024:
- Update old content
- Post content frequently and consistently
- Use multiple content distribution channels
- Make content more engaging/interesting by sharing success stories, new or little-known information, and unique viewpoints
- Optimize for local SEO
- Post only authentic, original content that is well-optimized, researched, and sourced
Get More Bang for Your Legal Marketing Buck in 2024 with Blue Seven Content
When it comes to writing content for lawyer websites, Blue Seven Content has you covered. We may not yet know exactly what AI will be looking for, but we’ve got a pretty good idea of what will always work. It is our business to create quality content that answers the questions your new clients are asking. We aim to position the law firms we work with as trusted authorities and thought leaders serving their communities with integrity and compassion.
Our authentic, original content is written entirely by a team of human writing professionals and thoroughly edited for composition and accuracy. If you are looking to make 2024 a great year for your law firm, Blue Seven Content can help get more of the right clients walking through your doors. Call us at 843-580-3158 or visit our website to learn more about our content creation services.
Written by Mari Gaines, JD – Legal Content Writer