A substantial number of people dealing with legal issues turn to the Internet to look for the right attorney to take on their case. This means your law firm’s popularity, credibility, and visibility online have a substantial impact on how successful your law firm may be.
Although blogs for law firms may seem like something you do not have time for, the truth is that having a comprehensive blog with valuable information for prospective clients can not only help generate business but also improve your law firm’s website search engine rankings and help build authority online.
If you hope to get your lawyer blogs and law firm practice area or landing page ranking, it is important to understand the essential ranking factors. Some of these can be handled by your digital marketing company. For example, having high-quality backlinks, fast page loading speed, and core web vitals are crucial. However, none of these ranking factors will matter if your web content leaves much to be desired. In December 2022, Google released an algorithm update that focused on ranking content that more adequately meets user’s needs. The most notable include E-E-A-T and YMYL.
What Is E-E-A-T?
E-E-A-T is an acronym that stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Although E-E-A-T is not technically a Google ranking factor, Google and other search engines are more likely to rank pages with strong E-E-A-T. Here is a rundown of how you can utilize these factors to improve user trust, build authority, and create content that converts traffic into leads:
The content on your law firm blogs should always be high-quality and provide users with the information and subject matter they are looking for. Your blogs should be written in a way that users understand your law firm has first-hand experience in this area of law. One way you can do this is by highlighting your law firm’s case results, awards, and accolades in handling legal issues similar to what your potential clients have experienced.
Google is more likely to boost your lawyer blogs in the rankings if users can see that you have the credentials and qualifications to provide the knowledgeable and reliable information they are looking for. Lawyers providing valuable information about their practice areas through blogging is a prime example of topical expertise in action online.
Authoritativeness describes your online reputation in the legal community. If your law firm or attorneys are widely recognized as being respected and knowledgeable in their subject matter, the pages accredited to them are more likely to perform well in search engine rankings.
Having a reputable SEO content provider that devotes their efforts toward legal content writing may be the best way to put your law firm on the map. Then, your competitors will help boost your website’s authority by linking back to your content because it provides value to web users. This will help set your law practice up as a leader in the legal marketing industry.
Your blogs and web pages absolutely will not rank if they are not deemed trustworthy. Google Quality Raters will consider the factual accuracy of a page and whether trusted sources have been cited, such as legal statutes and government (.gov) pages when determining whether a blog, landing page, or practice area page is trustworthy enough to rank in the top three search results.
What Is YMYL?
YMYL refers to “Your Money or Your Life.” These are topics that could have a significant impact on the reader in some way. For example, information about local car accidents in the news may not be useful to most readers. However, a blog post about how to report a car accident or obtain copies of a crash report would be. The more YMYL content on your site, the better your rankings will be.
What High-Quality Legal Blogs Cover
Most lawyers do not have time to create their own blogs. You are likely not a professional writer – you are a legal representative who needs to devote as much of your attention as possible to your client’s cases. Having a legal content writer craft compelling blogs on your behalf is the answer. Legal writers and content consultants can not only write content that ranks but also offer suggestions on what topics you should cover on your law firm blog.
What to Do’s and How To’s
When you are trying to decide what to blog about, consider what your target audience is searching for. Most often, they are searching for long-tail phrases and keywords that focus on What to Do’s and How To’s. Some examples could include:
How to Deal With the Insurance Company After a Car Accident
What to Do if Police Try to Question You Without a Lawyer
How to Avoid Probate
What to Do if A Client Breaches a Contract
How to Appeal a Denied Social Security Disability Claim
Why Potential Clients Need an Attorney
People dealing with legal issues almost always think about trying to navigate their case without a lawyer. They envision lawyers as being expensive, greedy, and maybe even conceited. Writing blogs about why your readers can benefit from a lawyer will challenge these preconceived notions while boosting traffic and leads to your site.
What to Expect Articles
Many people who truly need a lawyer are hesitant to reach out for help. When you write what you expect articles on your law firm blog, you can help prepare potential clients for what’s to come.
This can give them the confidence boost they need to fill out your contact form or contact your law office directly to schedule a free or confidential consultation and discuss their specific needs. You can even write blogs that focus on what to expect from your attorney fees when costs are holding would-be clients back from contacting your office for help.
Writing comprehensive guides is another way to build authoritativeness and trustworthiness online. Even someone dealing with a legal issue likely has little to no understanding of the intricacies of the laws and which statutes are going to impact their case. Although these guides should be comprehensive, they should also be written in a way that helps readers easily understand the laws and feel confident that you truly understand what they are going through.
Updates to State and Federal Laws
One of the best ways to blog on your law firm’s website is by writing content that describes updates to state and federal laws affecting your potential clients. For example, in 2023, Florida made major changes to its personal injury statute of limitations and contributory negligence laws. When you notify your readers of these changes, it can help set you apart from your competitors and ensure your readers understand that law changes could have a profound impact on their case.
Frequently asked questions blogs are some of the most untapped and underutilized resources you can offer to your readers. Not only do FAQs give web users answers to questions they may be too intimidated to ask, but Google has an entire section on Page 1 of the SERPs devoted to “People Also Ask,” where your law firm blog could rank as a featured snippet.
The Buzz Around ChatGPT and Why You Should NEVER Use AI to Write Lawyer Blog Content
When you do not have time to write compelling law firm blogs for your website, it may be tempting to turn to AI and ChatGPT to generate these blogs for you. However, we strongly discourage any law firm from utilizing AI products in any way, shape, or form. While many in the digital marketing community have embraced ChatGPT, our team at Blue Seven Content has no preconceived notions about how ChatGPT and other AI programs work or how AI content will impact your law firm’s rankings.
When you use these programs to ask specific queries or write content for a specific target keyword or longtail phrase, it will generate nearly the same response every time it is asked. This is problematic when other law firms across the country are also asking ChatGPT to write the same types of content. Not only will your content be unoriginal, but in many cases, it will plagiarize existing content online, which will have a devastating impact on your rankings.
Furthermore, ChatGPT and other AI models are not always accurate. In fact, at this point in time, they are not updated regularly enough to give accurate information or answers to your readers. For example, when laws are changed, if the AI model has not been updated to reflect these changes, you run the risk of creating content that is factually inaccurate, which would seriously harm your authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
When you do not have time to write content for your law firm website, do not turn to these artificial intelligence programs. Instead, work with a professional legal content writer who will do thorough research and already has an in-depth understanding of the information users are looking for to craft compelling and original content for your lawyer blog.
Connect With Our Wordsmiths at Blue Seven Content Today
Our expert legal content writers at Blue Seven have extensive knowledge and experience writing high-quality SEO content for law firms and law firm websites. Whether you need to build out your practice area pages, are interested in focusing on niche landing pages, or are ready to focus on your law firm’s blog, our wordsmiths know how to write content that is sure to rank.
When you are ready to improve your existing web pages or craft evergreen blog content, connect with our digital content marketing professionals at Blue Seven Content. Complete our confidential contact form or call us to get started as soon as today.
Written by Dianna Mason – Legal and Construction Content Writer
Law firms are beginning to explore what the search generative experience (SGE) means for them. Surely, most law firm marketing directors or partners have spoken to their marketing agencies, and there may be some internal panic.
At Blue Seven Content, we only generate written content for law firm websites, so SGE has the potential to significantly affect our business. In fact, if SGE and ChatGPT play out how many in the industry think, we won’t have a business at all.
But I don’t think it’s as bad as people think. So far, as I’ve delved into SGE responses for law firms and law-related queries, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how it’s working.
When it comes to the SGE results, it doesn’t currently seem like Google is trying to make waves. I typed in “medical malpractice attorney Charleston SC,” after I geocoded my location to Charleston. First, I got the usual SERP results, but there was also a “generate AI response” option for me to press:
When I clicked the AI button, it seemed like it pulled a list of medical malpractice attorneys in the area, and it appeared to reward reviews from various sources (uh oh, back come the directories?). However, what doesn’t seem to play a role in this generative response (yet) are the PPC or organic results you’d usually find on the SERP. They give these as 4- or 5-pack for each search:
At the bottom of the SGE response, there were a few prompts for related follow-up questions, presumably what people typically ask around the same time they are looking for a medical malpractice lawyer:
How long do you have to sue for medical malpractice in South Carolina?
What is the statute for medical malpractice in South Carolina?
What are the limits for malpractice in SC
These types of responses are the norm for SGE when you type in the usual keywords that would bring you to a law firm practice area page. It does not yet give you an automatic generative response – you have to choose to click it.
We should really pay attention to the follow-up queries on the bottom of these responses. These are the type of long-tail keywords that lead to responses we already write answers for, but this gives us an idea of what Google (and readers) want to see.
These types of queries are harder for SGE to even make a coherent response for. What are they going to do – describe what a car accident or family law attorney is? No, I think these queries will remain relevant to the traditional SERP results.
However, the long-tail keyword queries are a different story.
The Law Firm Long-Tail Keywords
I’ve predicted that Google would keep legal queries YMYL, but that may not actually be the case. Of course, this is all still experimental, so I may be proven right. I could just as easily be proven wrong.
So, I decided to delve into general queries such as “steps to take after a slip and fall accident” or “when should I call a lawyer after a car accident.”
I’ve found that these types of searches generate an automatic SGE response. For these queries, we’re getting a response you could expect to find on ChatGPT, except Google can draw from, well, Google. This AI can access the internet.
When you type in these types of searches, the SGE does give you a response, and it does show a 3-pack (4-pack if you scroll right) of pages where it draws its answer from. Usually, these are law firms, but there are other sources, depending on your question.
My immediate questions, and ones that people smarter and with more experience than me are tackling, are:
What makes a page “good” for SGE to draw from?
How do we best optimize for SGE?
I geocoded myself to Charleston, SC, again and typed “steps for a medical malpractice case in Charleston.” I got the SGE answer straight away, above the fold:
You can see a small photo of, supposedly, where the information used to generate the response comes from. Again, I want to know what makes these the “best” pages to use for an SGE response.
Again, we get the same follow-up prompts on the bottom that we got when we looked up the “medical malpractice attorney Charleston SC.”
Below the SGE, we go right into what we’re used to seeing on the SERP, but not sponsored ads. It goes right into the organic search results (my content writer’s heart sings when ads aren’t first), but I also know that so many searchers won’t go beyond the SGE response.
Something funny happened when I typed, “when should you call a lawyer after a construction accident.” I got the sponsored results first, and THEN I got the SGE response in the middle of the page, finally followed by the organic results:
I’m sure these results will be replicated the more I play with SGE queries. Again, Google is experimenting with all of this, and they will try to figure out what works best for the average user AND for them. Google is not going to throw away revenue, so having the sponsored results show up first shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Do We Already Know How to do This?
As I think about law firms and search generative experience exploration, I was curious as to how this would work when I entered the keywords that Blue Seven Content usually ranks well for anyway. First, I typed in “law firm practice area pages”:
We already ranked second in organic for this keyword (on most days), and we show up in the SGE as well. Look what happens when I expand the SGE result:
When I expand it out, Blue Seven ranks number one in the SGE response. Now, the results don’t show the meta description that we have for that page, but that’s not surprising. Google has a way of looking at your meta and ignoring it anyway, so there’s that.
I did the same with “law firm FAQ pages” because we’re frequently number one with that search. Here’s the result:
Here, we show up number one in organic SERP and number one and two in the SGE response:
We Still Have ChatGPT to Deal With
As I’ve noted multiple times before, ChatGPT is a “threat” to us legal content writers. Not legal marketing agencies, though. Legal marketing agencies that handle all of a law firm’s online marketing will always be around, and they’ll adapt. No, it’s the content writers who have to worry.
But do we?
Okay, maybe some legal content writers have to worry. The ones who can’t produce content better than ChatGPT are certainly on the chopping block. But that was always going to be the case. What I think will happen, as I’ve said before, is that ChatGPT has had its sugar rush. It’s given the industry a high (or a bad trip, depending on what your role is).
But as I’ve toyed around with Google’s SGE, I’ve seen that good content matters. Google is meeting AI in a way that (1) provides simple answers that users are looking for and (2) seeks to maintain the main revenue driver for the platform – ads.
For now, SGE results are generally pulling answers from well-ranking organic content that already answers, or closely answers, the search query. Could SGE end up pulling content that someone generated with ChatGPT and published? Yes, of course. But not if that content isn’t better than what’s already out there.
Currently, ChatGPT has many flaws. Phantom court cases and rulings. Massive plagiarism. Predictable writing that reeks of AI. Zero human touch.
And, of course, there’s the issue of what happens to content online when ChatGPT gains access to the internet (it’ll happen eventually) and begins learning new stuff based on content people have generated using ChatGPT. It’s a self-feeding loop with little new input from actual humans.
Content degradation is waiting to happen.
Was there content degradation with human legal content writers consistently regurgitating each other? Of course there was. This is why I’ve said I’m grateful to ChatGPT for snapping us (at least Blue Seven) out of any comfort zone we may have fallen into.
We have to constantly improve. We have to be better content creators, thinkers, researchers, and writers. Writers have to be better than the silver bullet LLMs that many (lazy) marketers think will be their golden ticket.
With my intro research into SGE responses to legal queries, I’m positive that quality, human-written content will reign supreme. Humans can and should use the tools available at their disposal, much like SEOs use Ahrefs, Semrush, and Clearscope. They should use tools like editors use, including Copyscape, Grammarly, or Hemingway. These technological advancements didn’t kill the SEO or the editor, and those who are good at their craft don’t completely rely on the tools. Because they are tools used to build the larger product – a good piece of writing.
Law Firms and Search Generative Experience (SGE) – My Take for Now
I think SGE will seek to answer basic queries with assistance from results that already rank. Perhaps this will go to paid results eventually, but Google is drawing from organic results for now. Ranking in SGE will be more competitive because it’s taking from 3 or 4 organic sources now, then the rest of the SERP responses appear.
Who knows what this will look like in six months or a year, but I don’t think it’s the death of the legal content writer. I think it’s the beginning of a new search experience, and we have to adapt. What we’re adapting to is still up in the air. How will law firms respond to search generative experience? Stand by, we’ll be back for more.
Written by Allen Watson – Founder and CEO of Blue Seven Content
(UPDATED FEB 2023) WRITTEN BY ALLEN WATSON: FOUNDER & CEO OF BLUE SEVEN CONTENT
ChatGPT and legal marketing – AI is about to completely upend the legal marketing field.
Okay, not really. But that’s what a bunch of people are about to tell you. Perhaps you’ve already heard that your law firm practice area pages and blog posts no longer need to be written by a human. Maybe someone has raved about how much money you’ll be able to save by not having to pay for content anymore. Since November, all people can talk about is ChatGPT.
Let me be clear – ChatGPT is far more advanced than any other AI that’s come out, at least publicly. In fact, it can create content that’s better than some of the drivel I’ve seen on law firm websites. But I don’t think it’s a legal marketing killer, and I think law firms and legal marketing agencies need to do their research before declaring victory over human writers.
If you’ve been anywhere on social media recently, you’ve seen people raving (or ranting) about ChatGPT.
But what the hell is it?
ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, which is a research lab focused on advancing artificial intelligence technologies. The organization was founded in 2015 by various individuals, including Elon Musk. However, Musk resigned from the board of OpenAI in 2018.
ChatGPT was released in beta version to the public on November 30, 2022, and amassed more than a million users less than a week after its launch. ChatGPT uses a large artificial intelligence model created by OpenAI, called GPT-3.5 language technology. This system has been trained by using a massive amount of text data from various sources.
The current way to use ChatGPT is sort of like a chatbot, where a user will input a question or prompt into a search bar and watch as ChatGPT responds with what it believes to be the appropriate information for the prompt or question. Perhaps the best part of ChatGPT is that you can get it to respond in pretty much any form you want. You can have it craft a five-paragraph essay, or you can command it to give the answer or response as a poem.
Want to dig further? Tell ChatGPT to craft a response to a question or prompt in iambic pentameter or in the speaking style of William Shatner. It can do it.
I asked it to write me a love story between Luke Skywalker and Yoda. It did it, and it convinced me that was the true story behind the whole saga.
This AI system responds really well to the prompts imputed. You can get very specific and creative. I do strongly suggest you go try it out. It’s honestly great for entertainment. You’ll also see the potential for this tech to disrupt everything.
Responses to ChatGPT
To say the response to ChatGPT has been resounding and immediate is an understatement. Educators have proclaimed that the essay is dead because there will be no way to know what’s student-written and what’s generated by ChatGPT. Teachers say there is no way they’ll be able to assign take-home tests.
Some have questioned whether ChatGPT will make lawyers obsolete, as it may be able to create arguments and draft legal documents. Imagine a courtroom where all you do is wait for AI to tell you the outcome of the case because it’s already read every possible law and court case.
The Washington Post has said that Google (and other search engines) face a major threat because of ChatGPT. The argument is that ChatGPT could spell disaster for Google by providing better answers to the queries that we typically ask Google.
Google crawls and indexes billions of web pages. It then ranks this content in order of the most relevant answers (most of the time). When you perform a search, you get a list of links to click through, typically beginning with ads related to your search and then moving on to the organic links related to your search. This, my friends, is where SEO wizards have made their bones.
When individuals type in a question on ChatGPT, they are presented with a single answer based on the AI search and synthesis of the information already online. The idea is that now, instead of you having to click through the most relevant links to find the information you need, ChatGPT will handle the hard part for you and give you THE answer. The definitive answer.
Of course, there have been significant discussions about what comes next for the internet. Web 3.0 is typically seen as the next phase, even though there is little consensus about what this means or what it looks like. We’ve discussed the metaverse as being the key component in a Web 3.0 world, and ChatGPT and other AI technologies could aid that shift.
How Could ChatGPT Disrupt Legal Marketing?
Legal marketing SEO agencies make a living off of helping law firms rank toward the top of search engines for specific queries. The industry, quite frankly, isn’t ready to handle a world where SEO isn’t a thing.
All I can do is approach ChatGPT from the angle of a content writer that understands and uses SEO but focuses on providing content that readers need/want to see.
What I Found When Using ChatGPT (Legal Content Writer Explorations)
I’ve been creating legal marketing content for years. I’ve written thousands of law firm practice area pages and blog posts, and I’ve supervised writers who have written tens of thousands. So, it was only natural for me to begin by prompting ChatGPT with topics that frequently crop up when crafting a page.
I asked, “What types of compensation are available for a car accident in California?” and it gave me a solid answer, one that you’d typically see on a law firm’s website.
I asked, “Is there a cap on damages available for a successful personal injury claim in Michigan?” and ChatGPT gave me a convincing answer.
I asked, “What are the most common injuries caused by a moped accident?” and the AI provided an indisputable list of injuries.
Finally, I asked, “What are the four elements of negligence for a personal injury claim?” and the AI gave me exactly what you’d expect to see on a law firm’s website.
Each one of these responses came back with data organized in a way that we would typically see on a law firm web page. There was a brief explanation, a bullet list or a number list of some sort, and often a little conclusion to wrap it up. I could certainly envision a legal content writer crafting a law firm practice area page or blog post, inputting their H2s into the ChatGPT prompt, and then copy and pasting the answer to their page.
After these basic queries, which would essentially be sections of a longer page for a law firm, I decided to get more specific with the requests. I asked ChatGPT to write a 500-word law firm practice area page targeting those who need a Chicago car accident attorney.
You know what?
The page wasn’t bad. It was surface-level, but it certainly provided enough information to maybe convince someone that they’d need an attorney if they’ve been injured in a crash.
But it was certainly not the type of page that I would create. I do see the value of using ChatGPT and other types of AI tools for coming up with ideas for a page. This is a tool, not a replacement. At least not yet.
The Issues With ChatGPT for Legal Content Writing
Just because I said the responses given by ChatGPT were convincing and organized does not mean that they were without issues. In fact, everything that I put into the prompt would never pass muster at Blue Seven Content, and it certainly wouldn’t fly on a law firm’s website.
Plagiarism is a problem
The most glaring issue that cropped up was plagiarism. This is the biggest sin when it comes to writing website content, no matter the industry. If a law firm content writer plagiarizes content from either themselves or from other sources, this is going to hurt the web page. Google’s algorithms know how to spot copied content, and they can penalize a page or even an entire website for it.
The prompt on car accident compensation in California came back as 33% plagiarized.
The query about moped injuries came back as 23% plagiarized.
My question about the four elements of negligence came back 19% plagiarized.
A prompt asking how burn injuries are classified was returned as 17% plagiarized.
Not once did I ask it a “typical” legal question and get a response that was less than 15% plagiarized. This challenge is not insurmountable if you have the ability to detect plagiarism and have a competent editor (even then, all you’re doing is wordplay without originality). Right now, ChatGPT is not capable of original thought. It has to provide answers using information already available.
Also, remember that 500-word practice area page I told ChatGPT to write? Well, it came back 34% plagiarized. Sources it drew from ranged from other law firm websites to the Daily Mail. If you’re a veteran legal content writer, you already know to avoid citing competitive law firms and sources that lack credibility.
Jan 2023 Update – I wanted to know how ChatGPT has evolved, if at all, since it’s release. I asked it to craft a law firm page for fairly simple prompts. I received answers that were less than 10% plagiarized and was fairly impressed. However, I then asked the AI to write a page that required a slightly more technical response, but still fairly basic for a law firm website. There was more than 20% plagiarism.
Bottom line so far – ChatGPT simply cannot help but provide plagiarized answers for anything more than a VERY basic prompt.
Incorrect information is the last thing a law firm needs on its website. One of the biggest problems with ChatGPT is the lack of sourcing, and the fact that you have to 100% know the material in order to detect incorrect responses.
I asked ChatGPT, “Is there a cap on damages available for a successful personal injury claim in Michigan?”
If you know anything about these caps, then you know they typically apply to non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims, which is the case in Michigan. However, ChatGPT responded that there was a cap for ALL non-economic damages in Michigan.
ChatGPT presents incorrect information as if it’s fact and in a pretty convincing way. With this tech, you can’t see that there may be other answers the same way you can when you perform a Google search. Nor does it provide room for nuance of the law or the geographic area of the law you are searching.
The AI tech behind ChatGPT isn’t at a level where it can detect incorrect information, or at least where it can analyze and synthesize information correctly. Somewhere, the AI read that Michigan had a non-economic damage cap, and it had no clue that the information was incorrect. We can look directly at a tweet from Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI:
I asked ChatGPT, “What are the exceptions to California’s medical malpractice statute of limitations?” The response I got was lacking in substance.
The AI response failed to properly explain the exception for minors who sustain injuries due to a medical error. It didn’t highlight that there is a difference depending on the age of the minor when the injury occurred. ChatGPT failed to mention the exceptions to California’s medical malpractice statute of limitations for foreign objects left behind in a person’s body after a procedure.
These are just a few of the mistakes I found during a cursory review. I can only imagine the issues that would arise for slightly more complex queries.
It cannot can cite sources
I initially thought ChatGPT wasn’t able to cite sources, but it can. When you write your prompt, you can tell the AI to use and cite reputable sources and it will do so. However, I caution anyone doing this, because we don’t currently know how ChatGPT decides what is “reputable.” Conrad Saam, my friend and president of Mockingbird Marketing, has said that the program has given him Wikipedia as a “reputable” source. While Wikipedia is generally accurate, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll be citing it on a law firm practice area page, FAQ page, or blog post.
We also don’t want to pull information from John Doe’s hobby blog. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll use those sources as a starting point, but we have to verify the information and cite using trusted sources.
I’m still of the opinion that, no matter what citations ChatGPT provides, there needs to be a human fact-checker. This is particularly true for those of us who write content that demands a certain degree of accuracy. This, in my opinion, would lead to the most time-consuming part of preparing a page for publishing. If you are going to cite data or statistics, then you need to be able to source the information through a hyperlink on the web page. Anyone relying on ChatGPT to craft legal content will have to have an editor go back and (1) go to the source provided by the AI (2) verify the information, and (3) hyperlink the external sources into the content.
All of this is beginning to sound like work writers already do when they create a new law firm website page from scratch, and it’s likely to take nearly as long. If not longer. Content writers often loathe having to go in and adjust or correct other people’s work. It’s typically easier to simply make a new page.
Very surface-level content
The information returned through ChatGPT is fairly surface level, at least for the purposes of law firm website content. Even if we can get passed the plagiarism issue with good editing, the pages ChatGPT provides are equivalent to what I’d expect from someone who has never written this type of content before. It’s fluffy and lacks nuanced research.
No current information to pull from
Right now, ChatGPT relies on information only up to a certain point in 2021. The AI does not use current data or any real-time information. This will be a problem if you want to use current data and statistics or any new laws on your law firm’s website. Additionally, if you need to craft a blog post about current changes or updates to your particular field of law, ChatGPT will have no way to do this.
Ramping up ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence programs to allow for real-time updates will be a massive undertaking. This requires enormous computing power, something that will take some time to build.
I recently read “The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything” by Matthew Ball, and one possible solution to this problem could be on our tables and in our pockets – our devices. Almost everyone has a computing device (or four or five of them), and the reality is that they remain dormant much of the time.
If a larger system had the ability to tap into these devices for their computing power, this could allow for the systems needed to control a real-time AI program (as well as potentially power a metaverse immersive environment). It’s essentially crowd-sourcing computer power.
This comes with a whole slew of privacy and legal questions that many of us are certainly not ready to think about, which highlights some of the issues that AI developers will have to overcome.
Where does new information come from if everyone stops posting new content?
Maybe this is just my limitations on what I am able to understand about ChatGPT’s capabilities and AI in general, but if this type of technology is used to create new content, where will the AI be able to draw from and learn from in the future?
I envision a future where, if this type of artificial intelligence becomes common, we see AI copying other AI responses. Somewhere, AI systems need to intake new information from human sources in order to stay relevant.
Possible legal or legislative issues
There will inevitably be legal issues that arise. The courts and lawmakers will step in to address these issues, but that could take a while. For example, will anyone face liability if ChatGPT or another AI gives incorrect information that then causes harm to others? Imagine a WebMD controlled by AI. Will people listen to the advice given by the AI, or will they find a way to verify what they’ve been told?
What if it’s determined that anything written with AI must be labeled as being “machine-generated,” much like the requirement on most platforms that certain posts have to be labeled as ads? Will your legal clients trust you if they see your website is created by AI?
None of the ChatGPT legal marketing issues are insurmountable
ChatGPT is currently in beta form, and we’re all the test subjects. The more prompts we put into the system, the more it will learn. Developers will continue to tweak the code to determine what works best, and the AI will learn as it goes.
The system will get better at understanding why incorrect information is, in fact, incorrect. It will learn that it needs to take existing information and craft it in a way that doesn’t plagiarize others. Coders can help the AI recognize what an authoritative source looks like, and they can show it how to use anchor text to hyperlink. Hell, the AI can probably teach itself how to do that.
Microsoft and Google – The Battle Brewing
Microsoft recently announced they were investing $10 billion into OpenAI, and there is strong speculation they’ll integrate ChatGPT into their Office tools. This is the third, but largest, round of investment the tech giant has made into the AI company. Microsoft has clearly seen the value of artificial intelligence, and they’re always working to reinvent the company and stay ahead of the curve.
As of February 2023, it seems that Microsoft is beginning to use ChatGPT through their search engine Bing and browser Edge. This is still in limited testing, but it seems that users will be able to conduct a search but that half of the results page will incorporate the chatbot. This could be a huge push for the search engine that’s so long been eating Google’s dust for breakfast in the search world. It could be a paradigm shift for the world of search.
Google is nervous. Google called in the big dogs, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to help guide them through this credible threat to the company’s main source of revenue (search engine results and ads). Unfortunately for Google, their first foray into the competition with Bard AI was a flop. The search engine giant’s demo of the AI and their search engine resulted in an inaccurate response, and this response led to Google losing more than $100 billion in valuation in one day.
Until we see how the battles between Google, Microsoft, and other major companies end, we’ll have to keep adjusting strategies. As a legal content writer or SEO company for legal marketing, this is something you’ll need to keep an eye on over the next few months and into 2024.
Legal marketing companies and law firms may actually need to start focusing on Bing much more than they’ve done in the past. Let’s be honest – Google has driven SEO over the last two decades. That supremacy is threatened right now.
Embrace Technological Advances Instead of Dismissing Them
It may seem like I’m against AI. I’m not. In fact, I want to embrace it. ChatGPT and legal marketing aren’t avoidable.
There’s never been a time when rejecting new technologies has worked out for anyone in the long run. Horse and carriage operators vehemently hated the concept of a motorized vehicle, and many people doubted whether cars would actually become mainstream. For years, people doubted that computers could ever revolutionize the way individuals went about their daily lives. Even the benefits of the internet weren’t fully understood for quite a while. In fact, many scoffed at the idea of online shopping and “social media.”
Here we are, looking at what could represent another major shift in the way we approach “knowledge.” We have a choice – both as a society and as individuals. We can reject the technology and deny its ability to shape our lives, or we can embrace this type of AI and figure out how to make it work best for us.
No matter what choice we make, the end result will be the same. There is no putting a genie back in the box. ChatGPT is already far more advanced than any other type of AI chat we’ve seen, and it’s still in a rudimentary form. For those of us in the legal marketing sphere, the idea of ChatGPT can be terrifying if we don’t understand what it means for us.
Maybe ChatGPT or another AI program will eventually address the shortcomings I mentioned above. Why would any legal marketer want to be behind on the trend because they wanted to “protect” their industry? Protectionism only delays the inevitable.
We don’t need protection from tech – we need to work with it. We have to embrace the possibility inevitability of change. We can use this to be better.
Law firm SEO is a highly competitive legal market, and reaching your target audience organically may not be enough. Writing the best law firm content will improve the quality of your website and help you obtain higher rankings on search engines.
Luckily, when you need the best legal content writers for attorney search engine optimization (SEO), Blue Seven Content can offer considerable insight.
Having the best legal content means nothing if your target audience never sees it. A recent study analyzed billions of search results on Google:
70.7% of users click one of the first five rankings
The 10th position on Google only gets a 2.5% click-through rate
Users rarely proceed to the second page of a search engine. If your website is stranded in Google’s “no man’s land,” it’s time to step up your SEO.
You Need Fresh, Well-Researched Content for SEO
Google’s search criteria change constantly. For 2022, SEO focused on fresh, quality content. According to Google Search Central, the search engine defines quality content as content containing expertise, content that is authoritative, and content that is trustworthy (E-A-T). What you previously knew as E-A-T, though, has transformed into E-E-A-T (but if you say it out loud as one word, people will think you’re having a medical emergency) in search and SEO.
What is (E)EAT?
Under the Quality Rater Guidelines, Google released a 167-page document describing E-A-T and how the search engine is focused on the human experience, not bots. In December of 2022, Google updated E-A-T to E-E-A-T, and it was clearly a response to the late November 2022 release of ChatGPT from OpenAI. The guidelines emphasize the following:
Experience. Does the content you put on your website convey to the reader that you have some degree of experience related to the topic at hand? That’s what this new “E” is all about. Artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT don’t have their own experiences – they take information from others and create a conglomeration of, sometimes incorrect, responses. This “experience” factor works to build on the other three parts of EAT by establishing the author as someone who has “walked the walk.” Google is looking mainly for first-hand life experience.
Expertise: Expertise is difficult to attain in the legal field. New practices may need to publish a substantial amount of content over time to be considered an expert by Google standards. Keep in mind that SEO expertise is very different from claiming legal expertise, which can put a law firm on ethically shaky ground. The idea is to have enough well-researched content on your site to position yourself as highly knowledgeable on the subject.
Authority: Authority represents the evidence of your expertise online. How many other sites link back to yours? Do visitors to your social media sites find their way to a blog or news article you have published on your site? The more recognition your legal pages receive, the stronger “authority” you’ll have in your niche.
Trustworthy: Making your law firm website trustworthy in the eyes of SEO involves proving your site as a quality source of information. Using external links to government sites and unbiased studies are great sources of data. Conversely, using an external link to an unreliable source, or source whose information can be altered by anyone, may hurt your SEO standing.
Reader-friendliness is crucial to any site. A lack of readability can increase your bounce rate, impeding your website’s ability to convert visitors to clients. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your legal website after viewing only one page.
A good bounce rate tends to vary by type of business. For your law firm website, aim for a bounce rate of 50% or less.
To reduce your bounce rate, consider the following reader-friendly factors:
Avoid long, wordy blocks of text
Too many or too few images
Too much clutter (e.g., pop-ups, banners, pages without headers)
Lawyers have years of education and experience to offer prospective clients. Still, no matter how educated you or your audience, keeping your readability at an 8th-grade level is important.
Keep Content Fresh
Google loves fresh content for several reasons. Fresh and recently updated content tends to be more accurate, adding to the expertise and trustworthiness of your site. In addition, fresh content gets indexed more frequently, usually resulting in higher search engine rankings.
To keep your website fresh, consider creating a schedule to add new content regularly. Your law firm website could benefit from adding:
Also, make sure to update old content. Refresh the statistics on your practice area pages each year. Update old blogs with recent news stories. Check external links and update the source information. If you have similar blogs, think about combining them into a new one.
YMYL and Law Firms – What You Need to Know
“Your Money or Your Life.” Maybe you’ve heard that before, but you may not know why that matters for your law firm website content or law firm SEO strategy.
YMYL refers to how Google classifies certain content that could impact “a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” There is no hard and fast rule about what is for sure considered YMYL, but some topics are clear. For example, pages related to medical advice, evacuation routes for hurricanes, local news about an ongoing natural or manmade disaster, how to fill out tax forms, etc. Law firm content/legal queries should be YMYL, but that’s not a guarantee.
There are also topics that could be YMYL, like weather reports, information about how to use certain products or when to replace products, and repair advice.
There are many other YMYL topics, but Google clearly states that YMYL topics should demonstrate the highest E-E-A-T levels of any content on the web. Google has not said that law firm content is for sure YMYL, but a few things are true – law firms and attorneys certainly help people in ways that affect their happiness, health, financial stability, and even safety.
As an industry, we NEED law firm website content to be considered YMYL, because that’s the only way SEO and SERPs matter. Google is experimenting with Bard, and AI responses could potentially be the norm at the top of the search results when you type in a query.
Google Search and AI-Generated Responses
Of course, Google had to respond to the rapid changes in internet user behavior brought on by ChatGPT. Millions of people were using OpenAI’s program within a week of its release, and it’s no longer a mystery that ChatGPT has affected many industries, including content writing, academia, medicine, coding, and others.
You may have seen the rollout for certain users as Google experiments with its own Google Bard to provide answers to users based on their search. They’re calling this Search Generative Experience (SGE). These answers pop up before any of the search results, paid or organic. The answers are presented similarly to ChatGPT, except in your regular search instead of a separate website. It’s an experiment right now, but you can expect it to become a reality. Google can’t fall behind because they know what happens to big tech that falls behind new competitors (anyone still missing their adjustable Myspace backgrounds?).
Google has said that this new SGE experience won’t affect YMYL queries, including legal ones, but that’s not a guarantee. Regardless of whether or not law firms get sucked into the AI responses for Google (we think organic and paid search will still matter for law firms), the content produced and put onto your web pages MATTERS.
Law firms should put out quality content that the reader can use and trust. They should do this for their potential clients and for their website’s trustworthiness factor, but they should also do this to prepare for any AI upheaval. Once ChatGPT and other AI platforms connect to the internet, the game changes.
But law firm websites won’t be replaced. Other YMYL websites will still matter. But these websites will be incorporated into the AI landscape somehow. We just don’t know what that will look like yet. We’re still figuring this new tech out. One thing we know is that 90% of what people think new tech will do for the world isn’t what actually happens. AI platforms like ChatGPT will grow a life of their own and, as with other tech in the past, carve out their own future while we play catch up.
What You Should Know About Keywords and Keyword Phrases
SEO basics center around the common keywords people search for a given topic. For example, if your law firm offers personal injury services in New York, some common keywords may be:
Car accidents attorneys in New York
New York Truck crash lawyers
New York Slip and fall injuries attorney
Keywords and keyword phrases help Google better categorize your page. A skilled team with experience handling content for law firm websites can help incorporate these keywords seamlessly.
Keywords for Law Firm SEO
Think about your legal practice and what services you offer. Do some practice searches in your area or use a keyword tool. A few companies, including Google, offer a keyword planner to get the best phrases for your SEO goals.
Consider the following when doing your keyword research:
What is the user’s intent?
How competitive is the keyword phrase?
Should you use long keyword phrases or short ones?
User intent, i.e., query intent, is what the user wants to find when doing a search. Does the user want information about a subject, or are they looking to hire an attorney? Keywords are phrased to capture the motivation of the user.
In addition, finding a set of keywords that are too competitive may leave your site stuck on page 2 or 3 of a Google search. Ideally, your keywords should be unique enough to offer low competition. Longtail keywords may be a great solution to lowering your SEO competition.
An example of a longtail keyword phrase could be, “Best legal content writers in Chicago.” A short keyword phrase may be “legal content.”
The latter offers a much more generalized term, making SEO more challenging. Long keyword phrases provide focused results to drive prospects to your site.
Don’t Forget to Include LSI Keywords
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords relate to the meaning of your overall content. Mixing short and longtail keywords is important, especially for headers. However, LSI keywords help Google recognize that your entire page relates to the topic.
For instance, suppose you are a criminal defense law firm in New Orleans and would like to focus on DUI defense. Your short keywords may be “DUI defense,” and your longtail keywords may be “best DUI defense in New Orleans.” An example of some LSI keywords may include “defense for driving under the influence in Louisiana” and “New Orleans defense attorneys for a DUI arrest.”
Learn how your clients (or prospective clients) are searching for your service. The power falls to those who know what their clients’ needs are before they need them.
Why Style is Important When Writing the Best Law Firm Content
Writing style builds your online brand. For legal sites, the difference between using victim or survivor is can make a deep impact on the tone of your page. Consider the impression you want to make using your blog or practice area page. Which stylistic terms suit your target audience?
Header capitalization and punctuation
Descriptive bullet lists/H3 (heading size 3)
Whatever your choice, remember to stay consistent. Style fosters your developing voice and brand. Inconsistent styling can make your legal site seem poorly managed.
How Important is a Blog to Your Law Firm SEO?
A blog is an excellent way to add continuously fresh, quality content to your law firm website and establish credibility in your niche. It’s also a great tactic to build trust with your prospective clients.
Unfortunately, the legal profession has led to some unfair stereotypes. Users looking to hire an attorney may feel put off by in-your-face advertising, especially if their legal issues are of a sensitive nature.
According to a consumer research study, 82% of prospects feel more positive about a company after reading the company’s blog. Having a blog that helps the average user answer some simple legal questions or highlights a local matter can help bridge the gap.
What Are Some SEO Do’s and Don’ts for Law Firm Websites?
SEO is complicated, especially for those just getting started. For law firms, there are a few do’s and don’ts for the best legal content.
Legal SEO Do’s
Break up text blocks with bullet lists and headers (H2’s and H3’s)
Keep your sentences and information short and simple for the average reader
Get to the point and avoid lots of unnecessary fluff
Use the FAQ format for your headings to improve your organic searches and the possibility of a Google Snippet feature
Remember to include a call to action (CTA) on every page
Make sure you include relevant internal links and well-researched external links
Use too much CTA. A sentence at the beginning and end is sufficient
Use legal jargon
Offer guarantees or absolutes
Write strictly for SEO
Remember, your audience is human. While much of SEO involves keyword phrases and other taglines, your content should appeal to humans. Don’t write for a Google bot. Write for your prospective clients.
Law Firm SEO Considerations for State Bar Ethics and American Bar Association (ABA)
After years of schooling and experience in the field, you’re likely familiar with all the ethical considerations for your practice. However, writing ethically for a website practice page may prove challenging.
Specialization or Expertise
After years in a particular field of law, you may feel like a true expert. Unfortunately, stating that you are an expert or specialist in a field can violate state and ABA ethics codes. The American Bar Association has its own board certification and specialization programs.
Some examples of bord certifications include:
Board Certification in Family Law Trial Law
Board Certification in Criminal Trial Law
Board Certification – Consumer Bankruptcy Law
State bars also have their own certifications and specialty programs. Unless you are certified through the ABA or state board, refrain from using the terms expert or specialist.
Keep Legal Information General
While you have the experience and education to accurately answer legal questions for your clients, remember to avoid giving legal advice. Instead, keep your explanations of law generally. For complicated topics, giving a hypothetical can help sidestep giving direct legal advice while keeping things simple for the reader.
As a rule of thumb, it is best to avoid words and phrases that are definitive or absolute. For example, replace always with can be or may be.
Criminal trials are always a lengthy process.
Criminal trials can be a lengthy process.
Speaking in generalities is a great way to stay compliant with the ABA and the State Bar Ethics Advisory:
Careful with Results
Many law firms like to put verdicts and settlements on their webpage. Showcasing your past successes can add credibility to your practice and value to your services. However, state ethics bards may regulate how verdicts and settlements are presented. For instance, South Carolina requires all favorable verdicts and settlements to be displayed with a clear disclaimer.
Contingency fee structures can be a touchy subject online. While offering contingency fees can help drive prospective clients to schedule a consultation, the wording can be tricky. To avoid any issues with the bar requirements, use general terminology when describing your fee structure.
Advertising vs. Blogs
Advertising is another tricky area in the ethics department. The ABA regulates how attorneys advertise for their services. In addition, many state bars have created advertising rules and regulations.
Blogs, however, may not fall under the same strict code of ethics. Check with your state bar to see if blogs are free from ethical review.
Why Lawyers May Not Be the Best Legal Content Writers
Writing the best legal content requires continuous upkeep, researching new guidelines, and knowing content style guides. While you know the law best, professional legal content writers know your target audience’s online behavior and how to drive them to your site.
Whether your firm has been in practice for decades or is just hitting the stage, consider the following reason to outsource your legal copywriting.
You would rather spend your time lawyering.
Writing copy tailored for SEO takes knowledge and work. Every hour you spend writing a practice page, a blog, or updating old pages is time away from lawyering. Every twenty minutes here and there you spend researching how to improve your website’s rankings on a search engine is a minute not billable to a client.
Spend your time doing what you love. Leave the rest to a legal SEO copywriter.
Why You Need a Law Firm SEO Copywriter
You are a professional. Shouldn’t your law firm website support that? Point your law firm SEO strategy in the right direction.
Your legal content is an extension of the hard work and dedication you’ve given your field. Just as clients come for your experience and skill, every attorney deserves to have their content handled professionally. Contact the Blue 7 Content Founders Allen Watson and Victoria Lozano today by phone or email to learn more about our tailor-made legal content pages. You can reach us at (843) 580-3158.
Written by Morgan Sprinkle – Legal Content Writer
Updated by Allen Watson – Co-Founder of Blue Seven Content