Recently I was dictating a text on my cell phone when it hit me: voice search has changed the way consumers find services online -- including lawyers. Earlier that day I told my cellphone, "OK Google" and searched for directions. When I was watching TV I did a voice search to find the names of the actors. I hardly use the tiny cell phone keyboard at all.
- Mobile searches overtook desktop searches last May, according to Google.
- 197.4 million people in the US own smartphones, according to comScore.
- A Google Voice Study two years ago found that 41 percent of adults used voice search more than once a day.
Google's senior vice president of search, Amit Singhal, conducts almost all of his internet search activity on mobile devices, according to LawLytics blogger Victoria Blute. "As mobile phones become more convenient, so will using voice controls to do search," she writes. "The next generation of Google users may not even think to type in a query."
Voice search features are proliferating
- Say "OK Google" on any Android phone (the #1 smartphone platform) and Google Now starts a search.
- Siri gets 1 billion requests a week on iPhone, according to Apple.
- Using the Chrome browser, you can say "Ok Google" to start a search on your desktop computer.
- Windows 10 has Cortana voice search, offering "Ask me anything."
- Amazon sells the Echo voice-controlled speaker for $180. Alexa, a cloud-based voice service, responds to a verbal requests to play music, do shopping, check your calendar, report on traffic and give you sports scores.
- Facebook has a voice-activated search assistant, known as M, in development.
People use voice search with friends, while cooking and even in the bathroom, Google says. Consumers don't like to be tethered to a keyboard on a desk. For younger people, voice is the main way to search -- the majority of teens use voice more more than once a day.
Tips to capitalize on voice search
It's easy to see that optimizing your law firm website for keywords doesn't make sense any more. Spoken English is different from written English. Consumers are not inclined to type "personal injury lawyer [city]." Instead, they'll ask Siri or Google, "I was just in a traffic accident. What do I do now?" On my phone that voice search brings up two lawyers in Arizona (where I live), Findlaw, an Allstate infographic, Howstuffworks.com, Geico, About.com and Esurance.
Here's what smart lawyers will do:
Create FAQ pages on your website that sets forth the questions -- using the actual words that clients ask -- and then answers them in a conversational style. I recommend dictating the answer, not typing it.
Directly answer the question in a straightforward, informal fashion. Write it in a complete sentence, and put the answer in the headline of your copy. Don't begin the answer with a citation, legal reference or introduction. Give the answer as if someone were standing right in front of you.
According to LawLytics CEO Dan Jaffe, your answer should be significant (add value to the conversation), unique (your content is one of a kind), insightful (teaching visitors something new) and trustworthy (accurate and reflecting your expertise).
Aim to make your answer the one that appears in the Answer Box at the very top of Google's search results. The Answer Box now considered to be“position zero” on page one of Google's search results, it's a great place to have your content featured. This will drive traffic to your site, increase brand awareness and build your audience base.