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
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.
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.
AI website content has serious implications concerning copyright laws, whether we are talking about copyrighted material receiving copyright protection or whether the AI-generated content you use for your website violates existing copyright laws.
The astronomical rise of artificial intelligence technologies over the last few years has not only disrupted many industries but has also threatened the very existence of some. There have been serious conversations in business and government about how best to regulate AI, but there’s no consensus on what that would even look like.
At Blue Seven, we’re deeply invested in the trajectory of AI laws. We are a company of trained, professional writer-researchers, but we are well aware of the impact of AI and large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT on our industry. We (company founders Allen Watson and Victoria Lozano, Esq.) have kept a close eye on developments, particularly the ones that directly impact website content writing.
We’re at the one-year mark since the release of ChatGPT to the world, and it’s certainly been a year. This is a good time to review the still-evolving issues surrounding AI website content and copyright laws in the US.
Could AI Written Content on Your Website Violate Copyright Laws?
Before diving into the debate over whether or not AI-generated content violates copyright laws, we have to understand what can be copyrighted in the first place.
The US Constitution authorizes federal legislators to “secur[e] for limited Times to Authors . . . the exclusive Right to their…Writings.” As with every facet of federal law, a regulatory agency gets to interpret what the law (or Constitution) actually means (or what they think it means). Throughout history, regulatory agencies have been given significant leeway when it comes to these interpretations.
The Copyright Act was born out of the aforementioned language from the Constitution, and this Act allows for copyright protection to “original works of authorship.”
One of the main issues of note as we dive into this subject is the failure to define what it means to be an “author,” which is something that didn’t need much clarity throughout history. However, history didn’t have to contend with artificial intelligence.
As with all pieces of legislation, their trajectory is determined by legal precedence, which there is plenty of when it comes to the Copyright Act. The Copyright Office only recognizes a copyright for works “created by a human being.” We can look to various court cases to narrow down what the Act, through the Office, defines as “human” in the copyrighted works.
Courts have denied protection to non-human authors, holding that a monkey cannot receive copyright protections for photos it took because it lacked standing to sue (non-humans cannot bring a legal action in court).
Courts have explicitly said that some human creativity is needed for a copyright when they decided on whether or not to issue a copyright to celestial beings (seriously).
Courts have denied a copyright for a living garden because a garden does not have a human author (this could probably be argued otherwise, but, alas, the Courts have spoken for now).
More recently, Dr. Stephen Thaler was denied an application to register a piece of AI artwork with the Copyright Office. The piece of art was authored “autonomously” by an AI technology called the Creativity Machine. Dr. Thaler argued, unsuccessfully, that the piece did not need “human authorship” as required through existing copyright laws. A federal district court disagreed, stating clearly that “human authorship is an essential part of a valid copyright claim.”
This decision will almost certainly be appealed.
Is There Any Hope For AI and Copyrights?
All hope is not lost for those who want to obtain copyrights for material that gets created using AI.
Generative AI programs could still receive copyright protections, but whether or not they do will depend entirely on the level and type of human involvement in the creative process for the piece. One major preemptive blow for those seeking AI-generated content copyright came in the form of a copyright proceeding and copyright registration guidance. Both of these indicate that the Copyright Office is unlikely to grant human authorship for any AI program generating content via text prompts.
Before the release of ChatGPT, the major discussions around AI and copyright protections centered on artwork. In October 2022, the Copyright Office canceled copyright proceedings for Kris Kashtanova.
Kashtanova filed a copyright protection in 2022 for a graphic novel containing illustrations created by AI tech Midjourney through a text prompt. The Office said that Kashtanova failed to disclose that the images were made by AI. Kashtanova responded by arguing that the images were made through a “creative, iterative process,” but the Office disagreed. Guidance issued by the Office in March 2023 (4 months after the release of ChatGPT) says that when AI “determines the expressive elements of its output, the generated material is not the product of human authorship.”
Counterarguments have certainly been made. Many believe that AI-created works should be eligible for copyright protection because AI has been used to create works that subsequently received copyright protection. Funnily enough, we can examine a case from 1884,Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, in which the Supreme Court held that photographs could receive copyright protections in situations where the creator makes decisions about the creative elements in the shot itself (lighting, arrangement, composition, etc.). The argument could be made (and has been) that new AI tools are basically the same when a human sets the parameters for the output.
Of course, it’s much more complicated and nuanced than that. In fact, that argument doesn’t hold much weight upon closer examination. The analogy between photography and new AI is a weak thread. For example, in the Kashtanova case, the Copyright Office says that Midjourney (the technology used to create the graphic novel) is not a tool that Kashtanova controls or guides to get the desired image because it “generates images in an unpredictable way.” Whereas the photographer claiming copyright protection can distinctly point to the elements under their control, someone using generative AI will struggle with that.
The Copyright Office offered a counter-analogy by saying that using AI to create a piece is similar to a person commissioning an artist. The person who commissions the artist can’t claim a copyright for the piece if they only give general directions for its completion. The Office, again in March 2023, determined that a user does not have ultimate creative control over generative AI outputs in order to reach the level of intimacy required for a copyright.
Even though it seems like the Copyright Office is deadset against granting copyrights to AI-generated content, the issue certainly isn’t settled (are any laws ever settled?). The Office knows this and has left the door open to the idea of copyrights for works that contain AI, but, again, it’s complicated. A copyright likely wouldn’t be available for all of a piece of work containing AI-generated content – only for the human-generated portion of the piece.
Copyright office only allows copyright protection for a person’s own contributions to works that combine both AI and human-generated content. They say that a creator must “identify and disclaim AI-generated parts of the work if they apply for a copyright.”
Having said all of that, it’s important to understand that regulatory agencies, including the Copyright Office, cannot implement regulations that are considered unconstitutional. How do regulations created by regulatory agencies pass Constitutional muster?
Why, the courts, of course. That’s for discussion later in this article.
Who (or What) Owns the Copyright to Generative AI Outputs?
If we work on the assumption that some AI-generated works will be eligible for copyright protection, exactly who would own the copyright?
Would it be the person who tells the AI technology what to do?
Would it be the company or entity that created or leases the AI technology?
We could even go so far as to ask whether investors in AI technology could ultimately hold copyrights for works created by the AI. For example, Microsoft is OpenAI’s largest financial backer, and they even hired OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, to run their new AI division the day after he was fired by OpenAI’s board of directors. That was, until a day later when Altman was hired back as CEO of the company after nearly every OpenAI employee threatened to leave and go to Microsoft with him.
Alas, this is an interesting story of internal politics for another time, but it does illustrate just how intertwined AI technology is with investors and other major companies, perhaps ones we don’t want obtaining all of the copyrights available.
Chapter Two of the Copyright Act says that ownership initially falls to the author(s) of the work in question. Since we don’t have much judicial or regulatory direction about AI-created works yet, there’s not a clear rule about who an “author or authors” are for a piece of work (here we are again, debating authorship).
We would consider a photographer the author of their photographs, not the maker of the camera the photographer used. Drawing an analogy, it would seem this opens the door to copyrights for people who input the parameters for a piece of work into AI technology, not to the creators of said technology.
This particular view would equate the person who inputs the parameters for the work to an author and the initial copyright owner for the piece. However, this argument loses weight if we consider the AI creator’s claim to some form of authorship due to the coding involved in the training and the training the AI has undertaken to help it create the piece.
Regardless of whether OpenAI says users do or do not have the rights to their work, the Courts will be the ultimate decision-makers on the questions of copyrights.
Copyright Infringement – Does Your Website Content Already Violate Copyright Law?
Perhaps of more concern for our main industry at Blue Seven (law firm content marketing) is the question of copyright infringement by generative AI, especially LLMs like ChatGPT. If you’ve been in tune with legal marketing this year, you’ll know there’s an entire industry that’s sprung into existence offering rapid, scalable content for law firms (and every other industry).
Many websites quickly pivoted. Why, CEOs and CFOs reasoned, should they pay human writers to do something that can now be done for free? That’s a topic for another conversation, but suffice to say, the quality of AI-generated legal content has been less than stellar.
The issue here is that many people jumped to AI and are still jumping ship before knowing whether or not the content produced by AI would violate copyright laws. The debate over whether or not generative AI content infringes on copyrights is raging in public and in the courts. While we understand that website owners with a non-legal background wouldn’t necessarily know much about the potential copyright issues, we do fully expect law firms and legal marketers to anticipate these issues and proceed with caution.
Some have proceeded with caution. Others have bound forward like an F5 tornado through a barn.
Do generative AI programs infringe on copyrights by making copies of existing content to train their LLMs or by creating outputs that closely resemble existing content? That’s the question we don’t have an answer to right now. But we can look at where the winds could take us.
Does the AI Training Process Infringe on the Copyrights of Other Works?
This is a question that, though it needs answering, may not affect a website owner but could certainly affect AI companies pioneering new technologies.
Every complex artificial intelligence model uses specific coding that directs it (the model) to learn. But how do they learn?
AI models like the LLM ChatGPT are revolutionary. It’s great for what it is, at least. ChatGPT is good because OpenAI has trained the LLM off of, well, everything. OpenAI has had many ChatGPT models over the years, but ChatGPT 3 is the model that enthralled the world. ChatGPT 4 was released soon after, and it now has access to the web, whereas the previous version’s knowledge base ended in 2021.
OpenAI has never denied using the works of others to train its LLM. They’ve explicitly said their model learns from many sources, including copyrighted content. OpenAI says it created copies of works it has access to in order to use them (the copies) to train their models.
Is the act of creating these copies to use an infringement of the copyright holders’ rights? The answer to that depends on who you ask.
AI companies argue that the process of training their models constitutes valid fair use and, thus, does not infringe on others’ copyrights. We’ve introduced the term fair use, which needs to be defined in the context of 17 U.S.C. § 107, which outlines four determining factors for determining fair use:
The purpose and character of the content’s use, including whether the use is for commercial purposes or non-profit, educational purposes;
The nature of the copyrighted material;
The amount of substantiality of the used portion of the copyrighted material in relation to the work as a whole;
The effect of the use of the copyrighted material on the potential market for or the value of the work.
Did you know that OpenAI is a non-profit organization? Well, kind of. They transitioned to a for-profit company but are still majority controlled by the larger non-profit. It’s complicated and probably meant to be in order to attempt to claim that they (OpenAI) aren’t using the information for commercial purposes and can claim the content they use through fair use.
But, it seems the direction the conversation is heading, at least politically and in the courts, can be seen in how the US Patent and Trademark Office describes the AI training process by saying, “will almost by definition involve the reproduction of entire works or substantial portions thereof.” The way government regulators are framing this conversation, we can see they are erring on the side of copyright holders.
Do AI Outputs Infringe on the Copyrights of Other Works?
When we examine the fourth point in determining fair use mentioned above, we see where specific issues for website content come in. The major concern, and one we should all be aware of if we operate a business website, is that AI models allow for the production of content that’s similar to other works and competes with them.
There have indeed been multiple lawsuits filed by well-known individuals in the entertainment industry against AI companies and entities. These lawsuits dispute any claims of fair use by the AI companies, arguing that the products of these models can undermine the market (and value) of the original works.
In September 2023, a district court ruled that a jury trial would be necessary to determine whether an AI company copying case summaries from Westlaw constitutes fair use. Westlaw is a legal research platform, so this case will directly affect a company in our particular realm. The court already conceded that the AI company’s use of the content was “undoubtedly commercial.” The jury would be needed, however, to handle four factors:
Resolve factual disputes about whether the use was transformative (as opposed to commercial);
Determine to what extent the nature of Westlaw’s work favored fair use;
Determine whether the AI company copied more content than they needed from Westlaw to train their models;
And determine whether the AI program could constitute a market substitute for the plaintiff.
The output of AI that resembles existing works could constitute an infringement of copyright. If we look at case law, a copyright owner could make a case that AI outputs infringe on their copyrights if the AI model (1) had access to their content and (2) created “substantially similar” outputs.
Showing element one here won’t be the issue as these cases go through the court system. These companies have been fairly open about how they’ve trained their models. It’s element two, showing that the outputs are “substantially similar,” that presents the biggest legal hurdle.
Defining “substantially similar” is tough, and the definition varies across US court systems. In general, we can see the courts have described defining “substantially similar” by examining the overall concept and feel of the piece or the overall look and feel. Additionally, the courts have examined whether or not an ordinary person would “fail to differentiate between the two works” (a comparison between the original and the AI-generated output, which is trained on the original).
Other cases have examined both the “qualitative and quantitative significance” of the copied content compared to the content as a whole. It’s likely that the courts will have to make comparisons like this in court so that a judge and/or jury can make a determination.
Two types of AI outputs raise concern, with the first concerning AI programs creating works involving fictional characters. Imagine Luke Skywalker showing up in a new book about Marco Polo’s adventures. AI could certainly do this, but it would be easier to see this as a copyright infringement.
The second area of concern focuses on prompts requesting that the AI output mimic the style of another author or artist. For example, you can attempt to have ChatGPT craft a criminal defense practice area page in the voice and style of Stephen King. While this would certainly make for an entertaining read, publishing it could constitute infringement, but that is admittedly a gray area right now.
This is a New Era of Digital and Copyright Law
AI companies are preemptively blaming their models’ users for any potential copyright infringement that occurs as a result of their given outputs. As the Copyright Office weighs new regulations for generative AI, they recently published a request for public comments on the new potential regulations (a standard procedure for all regulatory bodies weighing changes to existing regulations).
The public comments and replies thus far give us an understanding of how the AI companies are going to battle this in court. Notably and predictably, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Google all have something to say about this issue.
Microsoft (again, OpenAI’s largest backer with a 49% stake in the company) says that “users must take responsibility for using the tools responsibly and as designed.” The company says that AI developers have taken steps to mitigate the risk of AI tool misuse and copyright infringement.
Google quickly lays the blame on users of the technology by reiterating that generative AI can replicate content from its training but saying that this occurs through “prompt engineering.” Google’s public comments go on to say that the user who produces infringing output should be the party held responsible, not the company behind the technology.
OpenAI flatly says that infringement related to outputs from the technology “starts with the user.” They say that there would be no possible infringement on copyrights if not for the user inputs (nevermind the fact that OpenAI has copied nearly every piece of information, much of it copyright protected, to train its programs).
The Lawyers Tackling Complex AI Litigation
The beauty and beast of the dawning of the age of AI are the legal nuances that have yet to be fleshed out. As we have already reviewed, the concept of authorship and copyright issues are becoming increasingly scrutinized. However, there is also the element of how AI is trained to “learn” how to better answer questions or provide more specific– not necessarily accurate– information.
In an elementary understanding, AI learns by gathering data, also known as other people’s work, into an algorithm. The machine learning system can distribute the information descriptively, predictively, or prescriptively. But who’s work is being used, where is the work going, and how is it being referenced?
We all remember the days of citing sources. Well, AI is far from doing that. Instead, these models are benefiting and learning from people who have worked their entire lives to create beautiful, funny, and charismatic (all the adjectives) words and images that are now being filtered through an algorithm without any mention of where this information is coming from.
From authors to comedians to legal institutes, creators are filing suits against various AI programs on the legal theory that their work is being used to train AI without proper recognition or compensation. AI is exploiting the work of artists and scholars. Lawyers like Matthew Butterick and Joseph Saveri are standing up against prominent AI companies like Open AI, META, and ChatGPT. They are shaping the future world of AI by standing up for the humans who are providing the work in order for AI to learn and adapt.
Like anything in the legal world, all this will take time. When filing a lawsuit, you must present a legal complaint that outlines in short, plain language the facts, their application to the elements of each offense, and relief. Currently, AI programs are being sued for negligence, copyright infringement, unlawful competition, unjust enrichment, and DMCA violations. In fact, a new lawsuit was just filed by Julian Sancton, “and thousands of other writers did not consent nor were compensated for the use of their intellectual property in the training of the AI.”
As recognized in Harvard law journal, even though the lawsuits are compiling, there is no easy clear end in sight. The courts are going to have a hard time distinguishing between AI-generated material, authorship, what is considered public sourcing, and copyright infringement, among other legal theories like templates versus AI-generated outlines.
Eventually, once these lawsuits get past state courts and appeal processes, some cases could land at the feet of the Supreme Court as a writ of certiorari. If (when) that happens, the Supreme Court can deny the petition, and whatever opinion is delivered by the highest state court will prevail.
Or, the Supreme Court will become the final arbiter.
How Will the Government Regulate AI
The idea of the US government, specifically our elected officials, crafting regulations for artificial intelligence is almost laughable. This new technology is far more advanced than “internet things” that came before it, and we’re still living with Internet laws from the 1990s. Alas, the efforts are being made.
Time Magazine has shown that Congressional inquiries into AI are still in their infancy as legislators proceed with caution. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer held a closed-door meeting with the nation’s main tech leaders in September. The goal, according to legislators, is to pass bipartisan AI legislation sometime in 2024, but with the technology evolving so rapidly, this seems like a tall order.
However, Congressional urgency on this subject is clear. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-VA., told reporters after the closed-door meeting that, “We don’t want to do what we did with social media, which is let techies figure it out, and we’ll fix it later.
A side note, and one that should be of concern, is that the average of Representatives is currently 58.4 years, and the average age of a Senator is 64.3 years. These are folks who, as smart as they may be, aren’t likely fresh on the ‘newfangled’ tech.
Hopping over to the executive branch, the Biden administration has crafted aBlueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. The White House sees the potential challenges posed to democracy with the expansion of unregulated AI into our lives and admits the outcomes could be harmful, though not inevitable.
The Blueprint highlights the need to continue technological progress but in a way that protects civil rights and democratic values. Amongst the prongs of protection outlined in the piece is a stress on data privacy, which ties directly into our copyright discussion. Specifically, the Blueprint says that “[D]esigners, developers, and deployers of automated systems should seek your permission and respect your decisions regarding collection, use, access, transfer, and deletion of your data in appropriate ways and to the greatest extent possible…”
The Blueprint goes on to call for enhanced protections and restrictions for data and inferences drawn from sensitive domains, saying this information should only be used for necessary functions (though “necessary functions” isn’t defined, giving leeway to the tech companies to craft the definition).
The AI lobby in the Capitol is already strong, and it’s growing. Every major tech company in the US has an interest in the outcome of any regulations, legislation, executive order, and judicial decisions related to artificial intelligence.
OpenAI says it “urges the Copyright Office to proceed cautiously in calling for new legislative solutions that might prove in hindsight to be premature or misguided as the technology rapidly evolves.”
These companies and their mega lobbying power will certainly influence the outcomes of any governmental regulations or new AI legislation. This is where we take a “wait and see” approach and hope for humanity to win out.
What the American Bar Association Says
As we wrap this up, we want to examine what the American Bar Association says about AI as this moves closer into our territory as legal content providers. The latest update we posted was in May 2023. The ABA provided a three-pronged approach to AI resolution to ensure accuracy, transparency, and accountability. In August 2023, the ABA created a task force to study the impact of AI in the legal profession.
The task force’s objectives are to explore:
Risks of AI (bias, cybersecurity, privacy, and uses of AI such as spreading disinformation and undermining intellectual property protections) and how to mitigate them
Emerging issues related to generative AI tech
Using AI to increase access to justice
AI governance (including law and regulations, industry standards, and best practices)
AI in legal education
The ABA is responsible for maintaining this code of ethics for lawyers. As a profession (Victoria writing here), we uphold an oath to protect the law. But we also swear to tell on each other. There is no overseer of how lawyers conduct their work. Instead, we rely on the ABA to set the tone as well as our state bar code of ethics.
With the introduction of this task force, we may see an increase in lawyers submitting complaints to the state bar if they have actual knowledge that an attorney is abusing AI to conduct their work. The ABA task force reinforces the importance of using AI responsibly, if at all.
Be Smart About Using AI Content on Your Law Firm Website
The high-stakes conversations surrounding AI and copyright infringement are playing out amongst giants. They are companies, regulators, elected officials, and academics debating the next steps for this revolutionary technology.
We’re just on the sidelines, trying to stay out of the lines of fire. We don’t yet know what AI regulation will look like. Nobody does. What we can almost certainly guarantee is that AI laws will remain in flux and likely be a few years behind wherever the technology is, especially with the rapid advancement of the tech we’re seeing right now.
As you make the decision about how to craft a content strategy for your law firm, construction company, or any other industry, we urge you to proceed with caution. A signature on a piece of new legislation, a change at the regulatory level, or a judicial decision could change everything.
Regardless of where the new era takes us, you shouldn’t take shortcuts that sacrifice the quality of your content, and you certainly shouldn’t make any moves that violate the copyrights of others. Create your content plan wisely with a team that genuinely cares about writing quality and integrity.
Written by Allen Watson and Victoria Lozano, Esq. – Founders of Blue Seven Content
Law firm marketing in the digital age is all about getting the attention of potential clients. How a law firm is able to distinguish itself and its services from other law firms with similar practices is the difference between receiving a steady stream of prospective clients and wondering where the next client will come from.
Well-written SEO content is a vital component in any law firm marketing strategy. Good content is what helps a law firm attract and maintain quality clients. Bad content causes potential clients to click away – if they even see the content in the first place.
The content that goes on a law firm website can’t be an afterthought. Writing quality law firm SEO content is a skill. It has to be thoughtfully tailored to achieve a specific purpose. Content must be interesting, informative, accurate, persuasive, and written with search results in mind. It should be created so it performs consistently over time and produces measurable results.
Pursuing white-label law firm SEO content is a way for law firms and legal marketing agencies to obtain the consistent production of expertly crafted original content written to client-specific preferences.
White-labeling is a type of business outsourcing. Outsourcing is a way for businesses to save time and money and still be able to offer high-quality products or services. White-label providers create products or services that other companies can purchase and then brand as their own.
White-label legal content writers are ghostwriters for hire. They have a working knowledge of the subject matter and the research capabilities to create accurate and authoritative content.
The writers receive information about what to write and often who it is to be written for and then produce content that will be owned by and branded as the law firm client.
White Labeling Does Not Mean Generic Reproduced Content
White labeling can describe a generic product that is branded and sold by different companies. However, it cannot describe law firm content because duplicate or very similar content found on different sites is not SEO-friendly. Therefore, each piece of white-label law firm SEO content must be distinctly crafted to the specifications and business practices of individual law firms.
Is SEO Content Still That Important for Law Firm Marketing?
Well-written SEO content is as critical as ever for successful law firm marketing. Content that is easy to read, informative, accurate, and optimized to reach the right type of client is still a key component in a law firm’s overall marketing strategy.
Most people with legal issues are going to begin to search for answers online. According to a recent survey conducted by legal marketing services provider Attorney Sluice, 70% of the persons surveyed said if they needed to find an answer to a legal question, they would first search for the answer online.
About 45% of those surveyed said they would start their search to hire an attorney online either by using a search engine or visiting a social media platform. When asked about the significance of placement in search results, 34% believed the best lawyers were those ranking the highest. Another 12% believed higher search result rankings meant more legal experience.
Law firms wanting to have their content appear before persons with legal questions or needing legal services have to publish content that is going to rank as high as possible in response to targeted search queries. Content that is poorly written or not optimized properly will likely not be seen by those it’s trying to reach, thus wasting a law firm’s valuable time and marketing dollars.
Law Firm Content Must Rank High in SERP to Get Results
Being highly ranked on page one of the relevant search results is the desired position for any law firm content targeting a specific search inquiry. The content must compete with and outrank a lot of similar content in order to achieve a top position. Consequently, close attention must be paid to the specific details that can affect ranking when creating content.
According to the SEO tool suite platform Semrush, the page landing in the number one spot in Google search results has an almost 28% chance of a click-through. The click-through rate drops by about half for the number 2 spot and falls all the way to 2% for content in the number 10 spot. Content that appears on page 2 of the search results or beyond has very little chance of ever being read.
Well-optimized content lets a search engine know that it best meets the needs of a search inquiry by including quality factors that set it apart from competing content. Following are some content creation tips that indicate content quality and can boost search engine placement.
Content should thoroughly cover a topic so it doesn’t leave a reader needing to look elsewhere for additional information.
Tell Google the content is reliable by demonstrating E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).
Make the content unique by incorporating original ideas or examples.
Make sure time-sensitive content is updated to keep it relevant to current searches.
Try to write content at about an 8th-grade reading level so it is easy to understand.
SEO marketing expert Backlinko recently analyzed close to 12 million Google search results to identify factors that correlate with first-page search result rankings. The key findings included the following factors relating to content:
Better link authority (the measure of how many other websites link to your content) means higher ranking.
Content that covers a topic in-depth ‘significantly outperforms’ superficial or incomplete content.
The average Google first page search result contains just under 1,500 words.
Websites that people stay on longer (because of great content!) tend to rank higher.
Why White Label Law Firm SEO Content?
If law firms want to achieve their marketing goals, they need to publish a lot of quality content on a consistent basis. Trying to produce a large volume of content can be time-consuming, costly, and detract from core law firm business operations.
In addition to lots of it, the content needs to have all the pieces so that it ranks well, engages readers, builds trust, enhances brand awareness, drives traffic to a website, and ultimately results in law firm clients. That means the content must incorporate current SEO best practices and be written in such a way that it pulls the reader in and convinces them they have found the solution to their legal problem.
Whether a law firm does its own marketing or uses a legal marketing agency, white-label law firm SEO content writers are specialists who can produce engaging, well-researched, original content in high quantities while maintaining consistent quality.
Digital marketing has become very specialized. To be good at it takes consistent practice and staying on top of an ever-changing digital landscape. It can be a full-time job all on its own. Yet, in addition to practicing law, lawyers also handle marketing in the majority of US law firms. Only about 33% pay internal staff or an outside agency to handle legal marketing.
So, what is the problem with lawyers creating their own content? Well, there can be several problems for the lawyer looking to improve a law firm’s ROI.
Content creation takes time away from practicing law
Content may not be promoting the law firm brand
Content may not be adequately optimized for search engines
Content may not be written to prompt readers into action
Content may not connect with the right readers
Content may not be produced consistently
The bottom line is that it is typically more cost-effective and gets a law firm better marketing results to purchase tailor-made content from writers who regularly create SEO content for law firms.
Legal Marketing Agencies
Legal marketing agencies offer a suite of services to help law firms with marketing. Content marketing is often among them. Initially, marketing agencies may produce content in-house, but as a business grows and demands for content increase, it may make sense to cut agency overhead and use a reliable white-label provider for content creation.
Legal marketing agencies may have the technical prowess to produce fabulous content, but they may be able to scale their businesses more efficiently to meet the demands of clients by outsourcing content production to white-label writers.
How To Choose a White Label Content Provider
A white-label content provider is going to create content that a law firm will be using to represent its business to potential clients. There has to be a fit between provider and client so the content is consistent with how a law firm desires to brand itself.
Some basic criteria that can help determine the best fit when selecting a white-label content service include:
Qualifications/Experience – Visit the website and social media platforms of a white-label content provider. Do you like the content posted by the provider? Are you confident in the abilities of the writers? Do they offer the services you need?
Customization – A good white-label service provider will create content to meet specific client preferences, whether they be stylistic, brand specific, or in order to optimize the content for a particular purpose.
Quality Control – Content is intended to build trust between a law firm and potential clients. Readers expect it to be factually and legally accurate without grammatical errors. How is the content edited? What assurances exist confirming the quality of the product?
Accessibility – How available is someone to answer questions, respond to feedback, and address concerns? What is the level of commitment to client satisfaction?
Transparency – Does the white-label service provider say what they do and do what they say? Are they clear about services and pricing? Are you confident the company operates with the utmost integrity? Will your privacy be respected?
Just as a law firm’s content needs to build trust between the firm and its clients, there needs to be trust between a law firm and its white-label service provider to achieve the best marketing results.
Why Blue Seven Content for Your Law Firm White Label Services?
Blue Seven Content writers are a dedicated group of professionals who love creating quality content. Our writers are carefully selected and receive ongoing training to keep their skills on the cutting edge of SEO content creation. The content we produce is well-researched, original, accurate, and designed to engage targeted readers.
All Blue Seven writers have secondary education. Some have legal experience and education. They all have diverse backgrounds and life experiences, giving them the ability to meet the expectations of even the most discriminating clients.
Providing a quality product that gets results for a client is the goal of Blue Seven Content. We are a very detail-conscious bunch and hold ourselves to high standards of performance. Each of our creations must pass through a multi-layered editing process before ever reaching a client’s inbox.
We are discreet about the law firms and legal marketing agencies we provide white-label services for. Our clients appreciate our discretion, and we are happy to respect their privacy.
We value our clients. On those rare occasions when a problem does arise, Blue Seven Founders Allen Watson and Victoria Lozano are quick to respond and work to resolve any differences to the satisfaction of the client.
Grow Your Legal Practice with Blue Seven Law Firm SEO Content
Law firms need to publish a steady stream of great content to attract new clients and retain existing ones. At Blue Seven Content, we can provide law firms and legal marketing agencies with amazing content guaranteed to be authentic and 100% written by human wordsmiths.
Whether it’s practice area pages, niche landing pages, FAQs, or blogs, you can expect high-quality, fairly priced content customized to suit your business needs. Your law firm SEO content solution is only a message away. Reach out. We will be glad to show you what we can do.
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 firm SEO writing is evolving at a rapid pace, with artificial intelligence, ChatGPT, and Google all throwing major curve balls over the last year. But it doesn’t change the fact that your law firm needs content and that content should serve a purpose. Yes, you want to be on page one of Google’s SERP, and you want to pop up in featured answers and SGE results.
A skilled legal SEO writer needs a combination of skills, of which quality writing is certainly the most important. However, there is so much more that goes into a law firm page than just research and writing. There are what we call the “nuts and bolts” of the page that really complete it and have it ready for the client and the intended readers.
Your page should be easy on the eyes, but this means a few things. A law firm practice area page, blog post, or any other page on the website should, first and foremost, be written in a way that’s easily understandable. The reading level needs to be appropriate for your intended audience, and this could look different depending on many factors, including the types of practice areas targeted and the education level of the website’s usual reader.
Seventh and eighth-grade reading levels are typically appropriate, but you can occasionally bump that up toward the college level. For example, you probably don’t need overly complex language or sentences if you’re a personal injury firm. However, if you handle, say, license defense for professionals such as doctors, financial advisors, or insurance agents, then you can get away with more elevated language.
Moving Beyond the Reading Level
Aside from the reading level of your law firm website content, there are various other ways to help make the reading process more enjoyable for the reader. This includes some easy formatting techniques.
Enough headings. Headings lay out a roadmap for the reader. They break up the page and give the reader a heads up about what’s next, allowing them to skim for the info they really need. You need the right amount of H2s and H3s, and this will vary depending on page length and the requirements of the page.
Shorter sentences. Long and complex sentences aren’t helping anyone. The rule of thumb is to keep your sentences shorter, but you can occasionally mix it up with a compound sentence.
Shorter paragraphs. Keep your paragraphs short for the most part. I know those high school English classes stressed five sentences a paragraph, but three is generally okay. Again, shorter means a person is more likely to read the information.
Bullet points. When the opportunity presents itself for a good bullet list, take it. Think about what your eyes do when they read a webpage. They probably skim, and they probably stop and read the bullets.
Between having the appropriate reading level and properly formatting a page using the suggestions above, you’ll be well on your way to crafting good content for a law firm website.
Get Those Headings Formatted Properly
We previously mentioned headings, and here we are again. Headings get their own heading in this article (SEO dad jokes?).
Your headings need to look right, and that’s not always as easy as it sounds. There are two main types of capitalization styles for headings on a website page: sentence case and title case.
Sentence case. In sentence case, only the first word of the heading and any proper nouns in the heading get capitalized. The following are examples of sentence case used:
Types of compensation available for a medical malpractice claim
How long do You have to file a slip and fall claim?
Choose Blue Seven Content for Your law firm SEO needs
Title case. In title case, all words except for articles, conjunctions, and shorter prepositions are capitalized (the last word of the heading is capitalized no matter what). One way to understand this without thinking too much about it is that words with four letters or more are capitalized, while most shorter words aren’t. Proper nouns will get capitalized, as will verbs, no matter their length, so “You,” “They,” “We,” “Do,” “Is,” etc. will get capped. The following are examples of title case properly used:
Types of Compensation Available for a Medical Malpractice Claim
How Long Do You Have to File a Slip and Fall Claim?
Choose Blue Seven Content for Your Law Firm SEO Needs
Which Style is Best for You?
The capitalization style you use for your legal SEO content will depend entirely on the preferences of your client. Over the years, I’ve seen the pendulum swing from using sentence case to title case multiple times, and I have clients who prefer each style. Right now, most clients prefer title case for headings. Still, others may prefer that every word in a heading be capitalized. This is something that is easy to get right when you work with a client regularly.
One of the main issues here is to keep it uniform. If you use title case for your headings with a client, always use title case for them. And you certainly don’t want to switch it up mid-page – that just looks sloppy. Before you start working with a client or handling content for your law firm, go ahead and decide how you want your headings formatted. Keep them uniform throughout the website as much as possible.
Choosing the Right External Links
External links are a good way to bolster your law firm website content. An external link to a quality source can help establish the facts of your page in the mind of the reader, adding credibility to your content. External links can also help increase the authority of your website.
However, you can really screw things up if you don’t use good links. Your law firm content writer should focus on reputable sources. We’re talking about looking for good .gov, .edu, or other sources from reputable entities. What you don’t want to do is link to other law firms or places like NOLO or FindLaw. While you can certainly peruse these places for information, don’t link to them on your firm’s website.
For blogs, depending on the topic, you can search for reputable news sources, but that can be tricky. Even though we’re legal marketers, we have to keep current political issues in mind. Half the country hates half of the news sources available, and the other half of the country hates the other half of the news sources. Don’t get mad at me. I just want peace.
Internal Links Back to Your Page
Internal links have to be a part of your strategy. Listen, we’re the content people. That’s all we do, so we don’t know your exact internal SEO strategy. But you’re going to need some internal links on each practice area page, FAQ page, or blog post.
Internal links help bolster your website in the eyes of search engines. They create an ever-evolving map for Google and others to use so they can understand the intent of your website. However, you don’t need to go linking to just any page. Be strategic about it. When you work with a skilled SEO team and content writers who “get it,” you’ll have the right internal linking happening to lead your readers and the search engines on the right journey.
Anchor Text for Links
This may not seem like a big deal for law firm SEO writing, but remember, we’re talking the nuts and bolts. The way a page looks and is formatted matters, and that includes the text used to incorporate internal and external links – the anchor text.
Anchor text has always been a pet peeve of mine. It’s not something you’d ever even notice on a page when it’s done correctly, but you definitely notice if it’s not.
Anchor text refers to the words you use to hyperlink your source into the law firm content page. I think some examples will help best illustrate this (ignore the actual sentence because I go in to look for data). In these examples (not actually linking out, but I’ve made it clear what the anchor text should be), we can see how the anchor text for a hyperlink should be a few words and centered on an area that would seem natural to click. We’ve all seen hyperlinks in just about everything we’ve read online.
Not so Good
When we examine data available from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, we can see that there were 40 billion motorcycle accidents last year across the Commonwealth.
When we examine data available from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, we can see that there were 40 billion motorcycle accidents last year across the Commonwealth.
When we examine data available from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, we can see that there were 40 billion motorcycle accidents last year across the Commonwealth.
When we examine data available from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), we can see that there were 40 billion motorcycle accidents last year across the Commonwealth.
When you write your page, you don’t need to actually “bold” the anchor text. I only did that so you could more easily see which words were used. Some key rules we try to stick to are:
Don’t link the first word of the sentence (first example above).
Don’t link just a single word.
Link the whole name of an agency or entity if you link some of it (including acronyms at the end).
Don’t link more words than necessary (like example three).
Link relevant words (not like example two).
If you take a minute to read some reputable sources, you’ll quickly see that hyperlink anchor text should look seamless. Check out Investopedia, Forbes, Wired, and others for some good examples.
The Right Tone for Your Call to Action (CTA)
Your call to action can be fairly obvious or more subtle. This depends on your brand personality, the type of firm, and even the type of page. For a practice or service area page, you may want a more clear CTA since, in theory, your reader is there because they need your help for some pressing issue. You should make it clear why you’re the help they need and that they can call you now for a consultation.
However, for a blog or FAQ, you may want a more subtle CTA. You may not even want one at all. Again, it depends on several factors that you need to know before crafting the page. A good call to action is nuanced and examines all of the parameters you and your client lay down.
Get the Law Firm SEO Writing Nuts and Bolts Done Right
Having a good writer is everything. A quality legal SEO writer is worth their weight in gold, but they can turn to silver or bronze if they mess up the page basics. When you work with a content writing team, you want the whole package. Otherwise, you’ll just end up spending valuable time editing an otherwise well-written page.
At Blue Seven Content, we have regular meetings to review all of this and more. All of this is included in the guides our writers receive and in the initial training we provide. Not only that, but each piece passes through an editing phase to double-check all of this before a client gets anything.
We’re ready to help, and we don’t need a long adjustment period to hit the ground running with your law firm or legal marketing agency. Give us a call or send a message today, and we’d be happy to discuss these aspects of law firm SEO writing with you and your team.
Written by Allen Watson – Founder and CEO of Blue Seven Content
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.
Bad law firm website content is a disease for your website. If you’re not reading the content on your website regularly, then you might be surprised by what others are finding there.
As legal content writers, we take pride in our craft. We know attorneys and law firms count on our creative ability to present legal information that is well-written and appeals to potential clients. Before publishing, our content goes through several edits because we want to make sure it fits well with the culture and practice of each client.
But some content creation sources are not such conscious editors and it results in the publication of some really bad legal content.
We don’t mean bad because of legal inaccuracies – although it can happen. We mean bad, as in, the words being strung together literally do not make sense. We mean content so bad that law firms may well be sending business away as people attempt to make sense of what they are reading.
How We Know the Content is Bad
We read it. We read a lot of it.
Before we write content, we research every topic. Our inquiries often retrieve articles from law firm websites. Naturally, we appreciate well-written material. Conversely, we are not very impressed with nonsensical, keyword-stuffed content that sounds like it’s coming from a robot.
Legal content that leaves potential clients scratching their heads is not doing the job it needs to do and may actually be discrediting an otherwise very capable law practice.
Just How Bad is Bad?
Well, bad is pretty bad. Lawyers want people to trust them with their lives and livelihoods. Competence is a big deal. First impressions are important. Poorly written content is one way to distinguish a law firm from its competitors – and not in a good way.
The following are actual samples of published content from law firm websites.
From the website of a South Carolina personal injury attorney:
“The classification of wrongful death cases as personal injury lawsuits means that wrongful death cases must have died by the personal injury statute of limitations.”
From the website of a Georgia personal injury attorney:
“During brake testing or mostly known as brake checking, you slam on your brakes sharply while driving along with another vehicle so that the unsuspecting car will slam on their brakes as well or swerve out of the way so that you will not cause an accident.”
From the website of a Montana criminal defense attorney:
“Criminal defense lawyer additionally offers personal sort of assistance by giving the respondent to realise the potential results and by assisting the litigant to manage the fears and frustration that might be coming forth because of being faced with the criminal justice framework.”
That’s some pretty bad content.
We assume most law firms have professional standards higher than the content on their websites may lead people to believe. People are looking for lawyers because they have problems they cannot solve on their own. They need to feel comfortable with the professionals they are entrusting with their lives. Clear explanations are what they are looking for.
How do People Pick an Attorney or Law Firm?
Prospective clients are often visiting a law firm’s website to further investigate a recommended attorney. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to clients selecting the right attorney or law firm to work with. However, studies that have been done on the subject all suggest a general two-step process involving some combination of the following:
Asking trusted advisors, family, or friends for referrals and recommendations
Using online information to compare and contrast the suggested options
Content matters. Great content might not win a law firm every potential client, but it keeps them in the fight. Comparatively bad content makes it easy to eliminate at least one option among so many offering similar services.
The Pressure on Law Firms to Consistently Post Content
By now, most law firms understand the importance of having their content rank high in search results. And they know it requires doing what will achieve and maintain the highest rankings. Consistently posting informative, timely, fresh content is a must to persuade Google that a law firm is the best answer to a search query.
So, where does all the content come from? Content creation is going to cost a law firm money whether the content is created in-house or outsourced to a content creation agency. And while it may seem like an expense to those who have to write the checks, paying for well-written and edited content is really more like an investment in the future of the law firm.
Good content does not depreciate after it is posted. It can actually appreciate in ranking value over time as it is read, shared, and linked to. When Google detects positive connections to the content, it becomes more trusted and will rank higher as an authoritative source.
Why AI is Not the Easy Solution to Your Legal Content Writing Needs
In the digital advertising age, it’s all about the content. What wins is great content and lots of it. Writing great content can take time. And extra time is something many lawyers never seem to have enough of. One proffered time and money-saving solution for creating legal content is an artificial intelligence (AI) content creation tool.
AI content creation tools are typically subscription services. The programs need human input and then are able to create articles of a specified length on specific topics. Many offer templates to help create certain types of content. Some even allow a user to select the tone for the communication.
But AI content creation has some limitations making it better suited to assist human content creation rather than replace it. AI makes bad law firm website content – humans make readable content that you need.
The Pros and Cons of Using AI to Create Legal Content
For persons who need to write content and are lacking inspiration, AI can be very helpful because it can access all available information about a topic. However, AI cannot generate new ideas. AI cannot give opinions. AI cannot add anything original to content. For these reasons, Google considers AI-generated content to be spam.
AI content creation works best on established subjects that are not controversial and not very likely to change. The less well-established the data is on a particular topic, the more likely AI will generate inconsistencies and inaccuracies. It also cannot distinguish the appropriateness of a particular term within the context of how it’s being used, which may convey a different meaning than intended.
An overuse of AI-generated content also detracts from user experience by serving up generic data that does not satisfy a novel search query. There is no value added and no information gained by selecting one piece of content over another. ‘Information gain’ is a measure of the difference in quality between the information provided by two pieces of similar content.
What does Google think about information gain? Recently, Google was given the okay to use information gain as a ranking factor. Google wants to be able to distinguish content on the basis of the value of the information presented. A higher information gain score will go to content that has unique information about a subject because it will be deemed more valuable to the user.
So while AI may provide assistance to get content creation started, it cannot generate the kind of information gain that will make the content uniquely valuable in search results and may even violate Google Search Essentials spam policy by being ‘spammy automatically-generated content.’
Freelance Content Writers and Bad Content
Freelance platforms can be a place where law firms turn to find legal content writers. But it can take a lot of sifting and sorting to find a competent, reliable freelance writer who can produce quality content in publish-ready condition.
The claimed skills and experience of freelance writers are not verified by the platforms, and reviews can be misleading. Legal content that needs heavy editing or may not even be used as written can require a renewed search for a qualified writer – costing a law firm more time and probably more money for uncertain results. If you don’t want bad law firm website content, you need to seek out writers who have years of experience producing legal content that converts readers into clients.
How to Make Sure Legal Content is Good
Hire a reputable legal content writing agency you can rely on to produce timely, accurate, unique content that is well-edited and publish-ready.
Or if you choose to have content produced some other way, be sure to review it or have somebody review it before it gets published. It’s best if the person reviewing the content understands SEO, the legal concepts being discussed, and how to write for the potential clients a law firm wants to attract.
Even if a law firm is paying someone to edit its content, it is still a good idea for a firm principal to periodically read some of the firm’s content to make sure it is representative of the image the firm wants to convey.
How do You go From Bad Law Firm Website Content to Good?
Our motives are mostly pure. We write legal content. We think it should be good. We think law firms should want their content to be good too. We’re here to help law firms get more clients, which means getting rid of your bad law firm website content.
Content is a big part of law firm marketing. Your content may be the first introduction someone has to your law firm. You want that introduction to let the reader know you understand their problem and can provide the solution they need. You want them to feel comfort in knowing they can trust you to help them resolve their situation.
At Blue Seven Content, we know bad content on law firm websites can mean the loss of potential clients. Our content is written to give attorneys and law firms the best chances of attracting the clients that need their services. Want good content? Call Blue 7.
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
Law firms need local SEO. When a search engine like Google receives a search query, it uses various indicators to determine the results that are most compatible with the search terms. Those indicators will influence how a search engine ranks and presents its search results.
Ranking in search engine results is extremely competitive. Focusing on local SEO gives Google the information it can use to identify a particular law firm as a high-ranking search result in response to a localized search query.
Law firms that optimize for local SEO will greatly improve their chances of being found by persons looking for an attorney within a particular city or geographic area. Consider the following statistics compiled by HubSpot about searches for local information.
97% of people learn more about a local business online than from any other source
92% of people searching for local information will pick a business from page one of the search results
88% of people who search for a local business on a mobile device call or visit the business within 24 hours
72% of consumers who do a local search visit a business within 5 miles
46% of all Google searches are looking for local information
Organic (Local SEO) Search Results are More Credible
When someone types a search query into Google, page one of the search results will feature a combination of paid advertisements and organic search results. The paid advertisements appear at the top and bottom of the page and the unpaid search results appear in between.
Despite being positioned further down the page, more people are likely to scroll past the paid advertisements and choose to click on one of the top organic results. According to HigherVisibility:
Organic search results generate 53% of website traffic while paid advertising generates only 27% of website visits.
Why should non-paid results appeal more to searchers than paid results? First, people may feel more like services are being pushed on them with paid ads which can result in some initial distrust. Second, organic results (properly optimized) can be a more specific match to a searcher’s inquiry making an organic result the more relevant choice.
Three Factors Most Important for Local Ranking
When determining how to rank results in response to a search for a local business, Google considers the following three factors:
Relevance – Relevance is how closely Google believes a law firm’s content matches a search query. Google determines relevancy from information in a law firm’s Google Business Profile.
Distance – Distance is how far a search result is from either the location term used in the search or from the location generating the search (if no location term is used).
Prominence – Prominence means brand authority. Google will access information about a law firm from sources all across the web to determine prominence.
Top 5 Marketing Practices for Local SEO
Attorneys and law firms can greatly improve their visibility and credibility with local audiences by taking a few basic steps to optimize local SEO.
1. Google Business Profile
When a searcher is looking for a lawyer or law firm in a specific location Google uses information from the firm’s Business Profile to determine which local results most closely match what the searcher is looking for. The Business Profile provides an opportunity to do more than just list a few facts about a business. If optimized appropriately, it serves as a strategic resource to bolster consumer confidence and boost local rankings.
Complete all parts of the profile. Be accurate, consistent, and as specific as possible.
Under business description, use all 750 characters to provide the name of the law firm and lead attorney, the main location, primary practice areas, years of experience, and any notable peer or industry recognition.
Use as few categories as possible to describe what the core business is. For attorneys and law firms, the category will usually be law firm – though a few available categories describe particular types of attorneys. Once a category is selected, the various types of law that are practiced can be added as offered services.
Add photos to provide a look inside the firm at the attorneys both at work and in the community. People are visual and will connect more easily with appealing pictures that give them an idea of what they can expect.
Create posts to share news about the law firm and the people in it. Announce community events local people might be interested in knowing about or that the law firm is participating in.
2. Business Citations
Law firm listings on directory sites give search engines more information to learn from and can increase a law firm’s local ranking potential. BrightLocal has compiled a list of some of the top citation sites for lawyers. Many sites offer free as well as paid listing options.
The most important thing to remember with business citations is to be consistent with your NAP (name, address, and phone number) from listing to listing. Discrepancies in NAP information leave a search engine uncertain about the credibility of search results. Less certainty about a search result means lower rankings because a search engine cannot be sure the result is a good match for the search.
3. Client Reviews
Positive reviews not only help law firms earn the trust of new clients, but some of Google’s most significant local ranking factors come from customer reviews. Law firms that want to get the most local SEO mileage from client reviews should have an active strategy for soliciting and responding to reviews.
Popular platforms where law firms can collect reviews include:
While good reviews can be very beneficial to a law firm, negative reviews can quickly damage marketing efforts. Negative reviews should be responded to quickly and with genuine empathy for a client’s bad experience. A good response to a bad review can actually help potential clients understand more about working with a particular attorney or law firm.
For content to perform well in local search results, it must be optimized with the keywords that searchers are using to find a local business. Try to incorporate geographic location information in as many forms as people generally use to refer to a particular area or region.
Make sure that all of the critical on-page SEO elements include keywords – URL, title tag, meta description, headings, and body. Using longer-tail keywords (5+ words) with more specific detail can produce more targeted results and will usually be easier to rank for.
For instance, instead of the rather generic ‘Portland personal injury attorney,’ a more targeted keyword might be to focus on a Portland suburb or nickname and a particular type of accident or injury – ‘Hillsboro car accident injury attorney’ or ‘Traumatic brain injury lawyer in Rose City.’
5. Inbound Links
Inbound links or backlinks are links to your website from another website. Having other popular and authoritative websites link to your website is a positive sign to Google, and it increases the prominence ranking factor of your content.
Investigate options for getting some easy inbound links such as professional organizations, alumni associations, and the chamber of commerce. Other options for increasing inbound links might include:
Sponsoring a local event
Donating to a local cause
Writing an article for a local or industry publication
Being a featured guest on a local podcast.
Remember, quality counts with backlinks. Try to obtain links from sources that are legitimate and relevant.
Maintaining Consistent Local SEO Rankings
A good local SEO strategy is dynamic. After the initial pieces are put in place, regular updating is necessary so accuracy and consistency are maintained. Fresh content must be added on a regular basis so that Google continues to index variations of local search terms.
At Blue Seven Content, we know it can be quite a challenge to consistently produce quality legal content that is well optimized because it’s all we do – and we’re not trying to practice law at the same time. We write about the laws to educate. We write about local news and events to inform. We create engaging legal content helping lawyers and law firms get noticed by the clients who need their services.
To find out more about how Blue Seven Content can improve your local SEO with original, well-researched, strategically optimized content, call 843-580-3158 or visit Blue Seven Content.