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SEO for Law Firms: The Rise of AI Search

by Vondrae McCoy • November 8th, 2023 • AI, SEO | Blog

The rise of AI-powered search engines has become a popular source of information. However, understanding the nuances of AI search in the legal sector is crucial for professionals and marketers alike. How does AI search differ from regular search? And what does it all mean for legal marketers? We are breaking down what you need to know based on recent insights from Fabrice Canel, Principal Product Manager at Bing. He is in a unique position to offer insights on the future of search. 

Are AI Search Clicks Better Than Normal Search Clicks?Ai search

Many experts – including Fabrice – have stated that clicks from AI search are more valuable than clicks from a typical search engine. If you use AI a lot, then you know that the results often provide citations where readers can dig deeper. Links to websites that are shown to users from AI results are more valuable than standard links. That’s because the links translate to more benefits for the end user, which is really Bing’s goal. Because there is more context in an interaction between users and Bing, they can provide better answers and, indirectly, more qualified clicks. 

Because users provide so much query data to AI tools when searching, Bing can absorb more context and then offer the exact answer the user needs. They can include an exact link, which makes the click more “qualified.” According to Fabrice, because these interactions are so rich in data on user intent, Bing can vastly improve search. As Bing gains a deeper understanding of user queries, it becomes more adept at directing relevant traffic to your law firm’s website.

Fabrice also noted that when AI search engines understand what is being asked of them, they are better able to provide the correct answers. As a result, it’s no longer necessary to offer ten blue links. Think of an interaction between humans: if one person asks a question, and the other person understands what they are looking for, they don’t need to offer 10 responses, right? They can respond with the most accurate and relevant information.

AI Search is Not Centered on Keyword Matching

It’s important to know that when it comes to AI, the technology is not in any way focused on matching keywords in the query to the words included on a certain page. It goes far beyond term matching and is centered on understanding the context of a query and the user intent to retrieve the best possible content. 

Again, you can think of this as a conversation between humans. When someone asks you a question, do you try to match the phrases they used in your response? Chances are you use the best terminology that you know will answer their actual question, and you don’t worry about trying to use the exact phrases the asker did. AI search is designed to understand the full context of whatever question you ask and answer it like a person would. 

However, that doesn’t mean that keywords don’t matter. They do! It’s not about matching, but rather, the keywords help Bing to understand what the page is really about. Keywords matter because they inform the search engine what is actually on the page. 

On that note, verbs matter more than ever, and AI search pays special attention to these action-oriented words. For example, if you type in “book a train ticket,” chances are you are actually searching for a specific event and intend to purchase a ticket for the event – you don’t want to see information on books that you read. Both traditional search engines and AI tools are working steadily to improve their responses to user queries and focus more on the verbs that a user includes. Always think about satisfying users’ queries based on what they will do with that information. 

Are AI and Search Algorithms Connected? 

According to Fabrice, many people wonder if the Bing chat algorithm and the search algorithm are the same. He shares: 

“You benefit from having the latest content and index and we have technology for that to make sure that content can be indexed, latest content can be indexed in seconds. But it’s really this kind of interaction with the best content on the Internet that we can retrieve and we do multiple queries to retrieve. So overall I will share that the technology is the same, but in chat, there are even more complex queries that are done to really retrieve the content, analyze the content.” 

He goes on to say: 

“Chat gives us access to more time to do more things, understanding, also interacting deeper with the user via the chat experience and session, where we can also not only suggest text but suggest verbs that the customer can do to continue the discussion with a search engine to retrieve the best content on the Internet.”

Finally, he notes that Bing attempts to avoid big updates that can disrupt ranking performance. In contrast to how Google updates its core algorithm functions, Bing uses an ongoing process that hopefully is less disruptive to ranking results. Instead, there are always small improvements, small experiments, and tests that are done each day to optimize the tools and improve performance without rolling out more significant algorithm changes. 

Takeaway: 

When it comes to Bing AI and search engines, we need to think beyond keyword matching and give more consideration to the verbs being used. The larger goal is understanding what queries are really about and which search results present the best answers rather than detailing a list of potential sources of information. From there, legal marketers can drill down into more detailed information, providing more insight into the AI platform – leading to even more accurate information in the future. 

If you’d like to watch the entire interview with Fabrice Canel, you can do so in this YouTube video. It can get complicated, so if you have more questions, start a conversation with our search experts. Our team of search experts stands ready to work with firms of all sizes to develop impactful search strategies that improve their online presence. 

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