With 2023 drawing to a close, now is a great time to evaluate how SEO has been going: where should you focus more time, talent, and resources? What trends have you noticed and which ones do you need to pay attention to? Here, we detail what experts say will be the 10 most impactful law firm SEO trends for this year.
Related: SEO Basics in an Hour
Law Firm SEO Trends
1. User Intent is Crucial
If you keep up with our blog, you’ve seen the term “user intent” a lot. Law firm SEO was so crucial for so long that people started to think of content as a tool for search, rather than material created for users with their intent and keywords in mind. Google has recently made several updates to better identify the right intent behind a user’s search, irrespective of the type of queries. Focus on bringing a more holistic approach to your content strategy this year. Whether you’re creating video, blog, or web content, it needs to be properly planned for not only keywords but the user intent behind them. Look beyond keywords in their raw form and try to draw meaningful insights before creating content based on them.
Another way to include user intent in the SEO process is through Voice assistants and smart speakers which are becoming more and more common. Research indicates that around half of Americans use voice search functions every day. It’s crucial to remember that while utilizing voice search, users typically ask questions and speak in more conversational tones. Voice searches, in contrast to written searches, are frequently lengthier and more conversational in nature. Make sure to modify your content to align with these conversational patterns and offer succinct, understandable responses in order to optimize for voice search.
2. Focus on Content Quality (site-wide)
Many firms, particularly those with robust websites, may have several pages categorized as “Discovered, not currently indexed” in Google Search Console. This displays a pattern to search engines that not all published pages are high quality. Many marketers have taken on short-term SEO efforts (like adding several pages of content to gain links) that may give them a temporary boost in rank, but don’t provide long-term quality signals to Google. This trend also contributed to a ton of duplicate content on the web. Now, Google wants to differentiate which content is truly valuable to users. Spend time researching the interests of your target audience, organizing those entities by topic, and prioritizing them by alignment to firm goals. Simply put quality matters over quantity, more than ever before. Furthermore, it’s a good time to invest in resources (training, books, etc.) to help your content team improve SEO and writing expertise. Check out this free eBook, SEO for Law Firm Websites, for a deeper dive into SEO.
3. Localization of Content
Experts say that Google will be focusing a lot more on this aspect over the next year. We already started to see country-specific content outranking more global items, and that will get more obvious as time goes on. Locally-focused content will be more important than ever before. That means not only mentioning a specific location but making content locally relevant as well. For example, rather than simply using your city as a keyword in content creation, include information on professional organizations your firm partners with or legal updates from your specific municipality.
4. Unique Images Will Get Preference
Web designers and marketers’ dependence on stock photography will likely decline over the coming years. Sites that leverage original images are likely to see a boost in normal searches. Today’s web users are web and social media savvy and know how to identify images that are staged. They respond better to images that are more lifestyle-focused and convey authenticity. The more that Google rewards sites that use original imagery, the more firms will use them. This incentivizes the growth of original content from creators. In addition, Google announced a push last year to make SERPs more visually browsable and intuitive. That means bigger image blocks are likely to be displayed in the results for some queries. All of this points to the fact that firms should invest more resources in their own unique photography and graphics.
5. Some Law Firm SEO Practices Will Become Automated
Some experts say they’ve noticed more and more SEO tactics becoming automated. Things like technical audits, competitor analysis, and search intent analysis have already become automated in a few areas, and there’s good reason to believe that practice will spread. The automation of technical audits will make use of machine learning to segment technical issues by content type, making the automation of such audits even more “intelligent”. Many common SEO horror stories could be avoided with the use of a real-time SEO validation and alert system. Such a system would help to avoid the generation of issues in the first place or monitor them in real-time to be warned as soon as a problem is flagged. In a rapidly expanding environment, automation can help firms to overcome gaps in technology, skills, and resources.
6. More Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing
Some of the more subtle shifts we see in law firm SEO involve these topics. Google’s changes in multi-modal search suggest that there is a bigger focus on “search journeys” rather than independent queries. This, combined with the monopoly that the large technology companies have over data will allow developers to capitalize on these advancements in new ways. People who can take advantage of this data collection and find ways to combine it with advancements in natural language generation will be able to scale the creation of their content. You can also expect more commoditization of machine learning solutions for generating content and categorization.
Excitement has been generated among the marketers in the law firm industry by ChatGPT. Automating processes like creating content marketing plans, researching keywords, figuring out how much competition there is for a given phrase, and even coming up with catchy SEO titles may significantly reduce the amount of labor that marketers must perform every day. It is not advised to write your content solely using generative AI. It’s critical to use AI technologies in a way that balances relevance and helps you stand out from the competition. As a result, firms must become aware of AI and its meaningful and innovative tools.
7. Changes Related to Mobile Page Experience
Last year Google introduced new tools that support the optimization of mobile and page experience. As these changes mature, we are likely to see mobile page experience become more important to Core Web Vitals. The entirety of the mobile experience – from the discovery aspect all the way to how users interact, engage, and utilize pages – will come together just as we’ve seen with content experience over the past several years. This will be key for not only mobile UX but also for Core Web Vitals on mobile, mobile usability, mobile-first indexing, and mobile security.
8. Lean into Sustainable SEO Strategies
Recent advice to SEO professionals is to stop trying to “chase” algorithms and instead better plan for long-term SEO efforts. Google has already added result enhancements to incentivize sustainable choices across areas like Shopping, Maps, and Nest. Reducing the carbon footprint of websites and digital infrastructure is viewed as an important step toward achieving net-zero, and may eventually play a factor in search user’s behavior. For example, Google is beginning to display the carbon emissions of flights and labeling eco-friendly hotels. It’s not that much of a stretch to assume that someday search results will show the eco-impact of web pages. In general, we should all expect to encounter “greener” attitudes online.
This is an API that notifies search engines immediately when a website’s content is created, updated, or deleted. With this functionality, search engines can quickly crawl and reflect website changes in their index and search results. This process is changing the way that SEO professionals and search engines interact over the long term. Many IT teams can relieve a lot of frustration about how search bots hit websites. Additionally, crawlers could put a lighter load on systems, which is really important for firms that launch new pages quickly. It’s also useful when changes are made to a database that updates a large quantity of urls. Right now Bing and Yandex are leading the way with IndexNow.
10. Growing Importance of E-E-A-T
As a refresher, EAT refers to Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and is generally viewed as an important approach to SEO. As of recently, Google has added an extra “E” for experience to the acronym. It is now more important than ever to demonstrate personal experience or direct knowledge in order to rank better in Google Search results. Pages written by people with a wealth of firsthand knowledge are frequently reliable and successfully achieve their goals. Understanding how to demonstrate the right level of EEAT on your website involves tactics like link building, online PR, and technical SEO. As we mentioned above, quality matters much more than quantity. At the very least, be prepared to hire writers who are knowledgeable and passionate about your subject matter if you don’t have any on staff. There is no real metric for measuring EEAT within on-site content, but you can take a close look at ranking pages and non-ranking pages and document the differences to gain insights. For example, you might find that a lack of reviews or video content is making a difference in ranking.
It’s important to understand these trends because they matter not only for this year – but for the foreseeable future. To keep up with the latest SEO trends, tactics, and actionable tips, subscribe to our podcast or catch up on recent webinars.
We’ve helped many law firms leverage the latest trends in SEO to improve their rankings and drive digital marketing success. If you’d like additional assistance optimizing your SEO to meet your marketing objectives, contact us today for a free consultation.