How to Use Semantic Search on Behalf of Your Law Firm

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We promised in our last post to give you a more detailed rundown of what semantic search is and how to use it – so here’s a basic primer for using this new and highly important Google feature to the advantage of your law firm.

So, what is semantic search?

Before you can understand how to use a search engine feature or technique, you have to understand what it is. We give you some of the basic information in our post “How to Keep Your Law Firm Site Relevant in 2017” (linked to above), and there’s also a great article on Search Engine Journal all about semantic search.

But here are the basics: semantic search is the “ability to put typed searches into context,” according to that SEJ article. What that means is that Google – since 2013 – has been making changes to its algorithm to make it better understand exactly what its users mean when typing things into the famous Google search bar, instead of just matching words and phrases while prioritizing more popular and respected sites.

This was a major game changer in the search engine industry – it’s essentially like giving Google’s algorithm a sort of artificial intelligence. It also completely changed SERPs when it was introduced – and since its big successes at Google, other search engine companies (Yahoo!, Bing) have been looking into semantic search as well.

How can I use it to benefit my law firm SEO?

The main thing that you need to know is that Google will now look at the phrasing of items typed into its search bar and that it will have deeper knowledge of keywords used in searches.

Here’s how the phrasing bit is a game changer – Google will try to answer questions or reply to statements its users type into search bars (or say with Google Voice Search). Searching on Google is now a bit like asking a friend a question, as opposed to punching buttons on a machine.

Your law firm can benefit from this in several ways: first, try to answer a lot of common legal questions on your site’s blog (“how can I get a divorce?” or “what do I do if I’m injured at work?”). Posts and pages answering these frequently asked questions could be more likely to appear on higher SERPs for Google and other engines.

You’ll also want to heavily emphasize your geographic location and the type of law you practice on your site – this is good advice to follow regardless of semantic search, but can be doubly important if someone tells Siri or Cortana to “find me an insurance lawyer in Chicago.”

Google’s deeper knowledge of keywords means that traditional SEO keyword stuffing will not work, though keywords have certainly still been a big part of the game since 2013 (and will continue to be in 2017). It also means that using synonyms of major keywords could help your site get even more recognition.